2018 del 4 – Videre med banebygning

11. september

Jeg har prøvet at køre med mere end et MFX lokomotiv under JMRI + ECOS kontrol. Og det fungerede ikke. Men frygt ej. Fejlen i JMRI er rettet og inkluderet i næste JMRI release.

Og jeg er i gang med at støve banen af og definere SCWarrants, så jeg kan have et antal tog til at køre.

Det fungerer fint nok. Men mine Heljan B-vogne er ikke stabile nok. De afsporer. Så det bliver indtil videre uden dem. Jeg skal nok have skåret hullerne til koblingskulisserne lidt bredere som beskrevet af Perfect Trains. Så kan jeg jo passende samtidig montere lys og sætte passagerer i. Men det bliver ikke foreløbig.

Når jeg får lidt mere sammenhængende tid til modeltog, vil jeg videre med landskabet. Så må Heljan vogne være Heljan vogne. De er jo også vældig fine at se på i vitrinen.

2018 Part 1 – Track at SVJ + Decoder Problems

January 7

Plywood bought. It ended up being 6 mm, since it is easier to work with and lighter than 9 mm.

I had it cut into strips by Bauhaus, so that the big part of SVJ (Spøttrup Station) was ready to use and so that I had two strips with a width of 12 cm for making the edge around the back of the layout.

Most of the edge is done and the jigsaw cut part for the stretch between Skive and Spøttrup is done. Still missing are the pillars etc. that shall hold it:235BF861-F843-4D79-85C8-7DE2DBC66FFDI will soon be ready to saw holes for servos / turnouts, to glue the green parquet underlay and finally to lay track.

January 13

All the plywood parts are now properly mounted. And this time, there is no adjustments of elevations. Everything has been calculated by the millimeter in AnyRail and then measured, sawed and mounted according to those calculations.

It may not be obvious from the picture. But give or take a few screws, the carpenter is done, except for making holes for servos. But that cannot be done until they are mounted on the turnouts:4E0DF3C6-BF6D-43B2-B731-154E312EE9ABIf you look closely at the picture, you may see my newest addition to the layout: A rail cleaning wagon from Märklin pulled by the Santa Fe locomotive. I hope it will be able to keep the track clean – especially at shadow stations.

To the right, you can see the reasonably large flat area where Rødding – in terms of a couple of houses – shall emerge. It is also starting to become clear what all three levels of track is going to look like.

It is also noticeable what just 6 cm of rise in elevation looks like. It is 4%, which is much, but no more than most model trains can cope with. And the reason that it looks so fierce is that the next level falls with 4%, so the difference between the two levels is actually 8%.

January 14

Once the shadow stations are being closed, I will install webcams so that I can see what happens inside. As a preparation for that, I am installing light in terms of LED strips from Jem & Fix. So far only in the front shadow station:CBE3C3F0-F890-456D-ACCE-5DBBDB23C165

January 20

I have been re-drawing the entire layout in AnyRail including division into blocks, turnout numbering etc.:Hele-banenAs can be seen, I have made room for a semaphore signal at Spøttrup Station. I have bought it as a kit from Conrad electronics. But that was the only thing I bought there. Everything seems very expensive at Conrad. My plan is to leave the kit in the drawer until further.

All electronics should be ready. I have been building the additional feedback module and I already have the additional turnout / servo decoder that is needed.

Next step is to build 3 turnouts, i.e. mount servos and lanterns.I have already built the 4th turnout earlier. It was aimed at the “paradestrecke”, but I will rather have a fresh turnout ready for drawing on the plywood where the track goes when I come to that.

Now it is time for sawing plexiglass. I know that I need to pieces, 25×28 mm and 28×10 mm, and that it is sawed by first covering the plexiglass with masking tape and then run the jigsaw at it lowest speed using a fine toothed saw blade.

Then I need to bend pieces of piano wire. I don’t have any more 0,6 mm wire, but 0,5 mm worked fine last time.

While I was at it, I made an extra piece of piano wire for the paradestrecke as well as enough plexiglass pieces for the next 5 turnouts.

And then I have made a paper template for each individual turnout, so that I can mark precisely on the plywood where the servo is placed and thereby where I shall saw a hole.

January 21

It was a good idea with the paper templates.It took 1½ hour to saw holes for the 4 servos, drill holes for wires etc. And that includes cleaning up the saw dust afterwards.

Next step is to put LED strips on the underside of Spøttrup Station, so there will be light at the shadow station underneath. And then I have attached some Velcro to hold wires etc. underneath:C0892171-4E23-4EE1-B3E4-542475E970EB5CFD9864-D946-44EE-892E-95B8031B9EC8Based on a YouTube video from “marklinofsweden” https://youtu.be/4CJ5Xe9Rm-8 I have been to IKEA to buy “Stopp” felt http://www.ikea.com/dk/da/catalog/products/90132261/. It is meant to be underlay for carpets. But I will use it as underlay for track instead of the green parquet underlay. According to the video, it should be good for dampening the noise from model trains. He has been testing it against cork.

My first test with just 1½ meter of track with Stopp felt indicates that he is absolutely right:imageI will finalize SVJ and the paradestrecke with Stopp. And then we will see if I am lifting the rest of the track to also put Stopp underneath there.

I do not intend to glue the felt into place. I will just attach it using a staple for each 10 cm.

January 27

Tracks at SVJ are done. I only need light in the lanterns at each turnout:imageI have removed the giant extension cord I had in the middle of the layout and substituted it with 4 smaller ones on the electronics board. It is amazing how many transformers etc. that are needed. I recently added two more for the light in the shadow stations. And I am now going to add another one as described below.

A new problem has arisen: With so many servos for turnouts (I think I now have 25), which all moves when the ECOS is coupling in, so much power is used, that the ECOS couples out again. Either they shall have a separate power supply or half of them need to be delayed when turned on. I will go for the first mentioned option, just as litra.dk has done:LitraDKdiagramPaco’s original diagram, which I have built according to, looks as this:PacoDiagramThe reason for the problems with servos moving when the DCC power is turned on is probably that PIC is sending out random signals while it boots. I hope to avoid that when the PIC is getting power at all times. It has been irritating me all along, but I have never given it much thought that it actually pulls a lot of power from the ECOS.

I have found a 12V / 2A DC power supply, that I will use for powering the servos. I will therefore keep the 7805 voltage regulators, but throw the bridge recifiers away. 12V is good for the 7805. According to the data sheet it can use between 7V and 25V:KJdiagramI.e, I will modify my boards that used to look like this:ServoDekoderPrint_v1To instead being built like this. The +12 volt wire has been added, the bridge rectifier removed and the DCC null wire has been moved. Nothing else:ServoDekoderPrint_v212V minus is simply connected to DCC null at the newly added power supply, so that only one extra wire need to go to the decoders.

January 28

I rebuilt 2 decoders. It seemed to work. I then rebuilt 2 more. But then all servos started to misbehave. The are moving at random while the ECOS is starting up and keep doing so even afterwards. In addition, at least the servos on one of my decoders have begun to move at their highest speed instead of the modest speed they are supposed to.

It is as if the 2A is only enough for 2 decoders each with 4 servos. According to specs., each servo can use 0,22A. So that fits. But it doesn’t fit my power supply very well.

Besides there is the complication with my solution, that I can no longer program the decoders. My whole patch panel is void, beause the 12V power supply is connected to DCC null. That means mixing the DCC signal with the programming track signal. And that makes ECOS report errors instead of doing programming.

I must find a better power supply and some connectors of a kind, so that I can change between DCC and programming track signal. And then I will make this little adapter between programming track signal and decoder:46FDEB5B-297A-49E9-A9F0-75B32F620A90I suppose the solution is vel ali-express. At least it is a lot cheaper than buying and ESU booster (1600 kroner for 4 A or 3000 for 8 A). Prices at ali:

12V or 5V 10A DC power supply 9-10 Euro. It is powerful stuff for little money.

3-poled jack connectors approx. 0,40 Euro per part, i.e. male or female. I need one of each per decoder, i.e. 0,8 Euro or 6 kroner per decoder.4E64864A-0B50-4176-BB24-336C708762A0 C5ACEE6C-C78E-4579-A7CA-BB6ADB23C908The biggest problem is that it will take a month or two to get the power supply etc. from China. So I must make an intermediate solution with either building 2 of the decoders back to the original or find another 2A power supply.

January 29

Things are not going very well with the servo decoders. I have found another power supply and there is no more trouble while the ECOS is booting.

But the one decoder is still moving servos at full speed. That can of course be a defect decoder or troubles in the wiring.

There is however also another and bigger problem, that I have just discovered, with the decoders with external power supply: When I am driving a locomotive (which I didn’t do yesterday), all servos are going a bit back and forth. It seems to be some kind of signal distortion – maybe the same root cause that makes the one decoder move it’s servos to fast.

Maybe it is not so strange, since I have changed it so that now a full DCC signal is being input directly to the PIC (through a 22 kohm resistor), whereas before it was only half the signal, since it was input via one of the diodes in the bridge rectifier. I.e. now it is +/- 18V. Before, it was 0V / +18V.

It could maybe be solved by a diode. But a better solution is probably to make a DCC driver equal to the one litra.dk has made to scale down the DCC signal to 5V, which is also the voltage driving the PIC.20F4A56D-197F-4190-A6A7-56DA9E53CAE2That will also give me the benefit of not sharing ground between DCC and the decoders / the separate power supply.

So I must build such a thing. I will however try a simpler version first. I have a lot of 4N25 optocouplers from current sensors. Note the polarization of the DCC signal. By driving the optocoupler when DCC ground (brown wire) is positive, I am avoiding the inverter on the output. The little diode need to be there because a 4N25 cannot tolerate more than 5V reverse voltage. The resistors will give 12mA (18V / 1500 ohm) through the IR diode and 5V / 100 ohm = 50 mA through collector-emitter:DCC-5V-converterBesides, I need to make a small 5V power supply for the converter. I need that as long as my power supplies are 12V or even more:5V-supplyI have bought an oscilloscope (small battery driven from China for almost no money at all).  So now I can actually test if the DCC converter works.DSO150The oscilloscope is generally being judged as unusable due to it’s very limited bandwith. But since DCC is not exactly high frequency, the oscilloscope actually fits the purpose very well.

January 31

I got the DCC driver including power supply built.

The good news is that the small oscilloscope shows that the +/- 16V square coming out of the ECOS is being converted to something similar but scaled down.

The not so good news is that the output is 2,3 / 5 volt instead of 0 / 5 volt.

Maybe the pull-up need to have a higher value. I have tried with 10 kohm instead of 100 ohm. That was to much. The squares are not becoming squares bit merely spikes. I then tried 910 ohm, 560 ohm, 1,2 kohm and 820 ohm, which gave these results:IMG_0249B53D7AC0-5D71-4C6D-94E1-027E02FA3FE9FA17DDBD-864B-4124-9BFC-4AB277B9880BE80F8433-BF60-47E2-89C3-F108FF90D842It does not seem possible to obtain a proper square. But I will try to use 820 ohm anyway.

February 1

It doesn’t work. And that is not so strange. 1-bits are the narrow squares in a DCC signal. According to the DCC standard from NMRA: “A Digital Decoder must accept bits whose first and last parts have a duration of between 52 and 64 microseconds, as a valid bit with the value of “1””. I.e. the width of the high and the low part must be almost equal. But on the oscilloscope, I can see a 3 times as wide low part compared to the high part.

I think I need to use an optocoupler equal to the one litra.dk uses to get as nice squares as the original DCC signal:674BD66C-7E7A-44A5-908E-28D264088031That shouldn’t be a problem, since I already have one. But I don’t have the inverter he is using.

On the other hand, I don’t see why he inverter is needed. The polarization of the signal should not matter. According to the NMRA standard, it must not matter since a locomotive on a two-track system must be able to point in any direction. And secondly my little trick with polarization of the DCC signal at the input of the optocoupler should work for 6N137 just as well as it does for 4N25. Finally, 6N137 has an open drain output which should do just fine in driving a good number of PIC input ports.

The output voltage as a function of current through the IR diode for 6N137 is according to the data sheet as follows:

For 4N25 there is no such chart in the data sheet. But there is one for collector-emitter current versus IR diode current. And that must somehow be expressing the same thing:4D27D593-5B85-4B94-A622-0BE7903789E0I very much hope that these charts expresses how nice squares that can be expected on the output from the two optocouplers. Otherwise a propagation delay of 20 microseconds (i.e. the same order of magnitude as the pulse width in a DCC signal) for 4N25 and rise and fall times at 65 and 10 nanoseconds for 6N137. So it is about 1000 faster, if these figures can be compared.

February 2

Now that is completely different. Now it works. And the oscilloscope shows a nice scaled down DCC signal. The low voltage is 0,08V and not 0,00V. But that doesn’t matter:2254FA2A-5093-4BA4-9731-893AC064D045I tried again to drive all 4 decoders with the one 12V / 2A power supply. It still doesn’t work. So I again added the second power supply.

I will not be doing more until the 5V / 10A power supply arrives from China. At that time, the 7805 shall be removed from the decoders and the small power supply for the DCC driver shall be removed and rebuilt as a programming interface by adding a bridge rectifier. Read more on the page about electronics.

2017 part 11 – Designing Next Level, Heljan MX, Current Sensors

December 3

It is about time to get all track on my layout done. I am still missing the local line SVJ – Skive Vestsalling Jernbane – as well as the front most visible piece of track at the lower level.

It is all the way through: “Timber”-work, current sensors, S88N module, servos in the new turnouts as well as leveling, test driving etc. etc.

I am attaching the front track using steel brackets. And I am using small pieces of maybe 10mm wood between the brackets and the 6mm thin plywood, so that I have something to attach screws from both sides into. Parade

SVJ is a bit more tricky to construct, since it has to “hover” 10 cm above the existing track. I.e. slopes must be calculated and implemented. It is also tricky, since landscaping and housing shall be constructed on top of it in detachable modules. I have made a few construction sketches:SVJKonstruktion_SVJ_2Konstruktion_SVJ_1Konstruktion_SVJ_4Konstruktion_SVJ_3Now it is only a matter of free time for me to get it done. It is probably not going to happen this side of Christmas, since I seem to only be able to set 10 minutes at a time aside for model trains. And that is simply not sufficient. I need at least ½ days where I can concentrate on it.

In the meantime, components for new current sensors have arrived from China. It has taken up to 59 days – probably in the Danish customs for 56 days.

In addition, I have recorded a small video with my new SQ8 mini camera (see separate page), where I attached the camera to a locomotive with a good lump of sticky tack and then just drove around the track. It is not the best video resolution in the world and colors are also far from natural. But it gives an impression on how my layout looks from the perspective of a locomotive. That is kind of funny. And it only set me back 8,55 Euro.

Another “little” thing, I have been messing with is another Heljan purchase. My excuse is that I “needed” an MX locomotive, and only Heljans can drive in the narrow R1 curves. My  previous experiences with Heljan IC3 are not exactly positive. But RC-kongen made a good offer on a Heljan MX. About 30% discount.

I had my doubts, so I investigated a little beforehand. The locomotive has no traction tires, and I know that some owners have exchanged axles and wheels with those from a Hobbytrade ME. The problem is however that those axles are no longer available. And more than one dealer convinced me that it is not a problem. But it is! Read on.

I bought the locomotive. And it was a swift delivery. To my great joy, the windshield wipers were already mounted. I have been reading about people having great difficulties mounting those themselves. And since the locomotive is of the newest generation, it is equipped with an ESU LokSound decoder as well as short coupling possibility. So far so good. The sound is good, even though rumors has it that it is from an MY and not from an MX. That might take the fun away from some, but I don’t care, since I don’t know the difference anyway.

My layout is – as mentioned a couple of times – from around 1987. That means that an MX must be equipped with snow-plows. So it was “just” a matter of mounting those. In the “manual”, it is stated as a single sentence that they shall be mounted at the back of the buffers. It is not stated that it is close to impossible to do so. But it is. However, I succeeded by using violence, a screwdriver, sanding paper and dish washer fluid. I used the sand paper to round off the edges of the back of the buffers. The dish washer fluid was used to lubricate the back of the buffers. Violence was then applied to force the buffers through the holes in the snowplows while also using the screwdriver to push on the back of the plows.

And could the locomotive run? No. It short-circuited so that the ECOS switched off when the collector shoe should enter a turnout. I solved that problem by letting the locomotive stand with rubber band holding the collector shoe tightly up against the boogie. So now the collector shoe is correctly adjusted.

Next problem was de-railing of the locomotive. After some time, I found out that the bottom of the locomotive was not correctly seated, so the the boogie in one end could not move freely from side to side.

There are two remaining problems (see the continuation February 28, 2018):

1. Every time the locomotive shall pass a turnout, it hangs a little “on top of” the turnout. It is worse on some turnouts than on others. This has the consequence that it cannot haul to wagons uphill, if it must pass a turnout uphill (which it has to on my layout). It is as if there is not room enough for the collector shoe. Bo from nettog.dk has told me that I can change the collector shoe to Märklin 7164. It should be a tiny bit more flat than the standard collector shoe (which looks like a Roco). Traction tires would supposedly be an even better solution. But as mentioned, they are not available.

2. It is impossible to make any kind of coupler work with the snowplow. Especially the Fleishmann Profi couplings. And not even the standard couplings that are delivered with the locomotive. I have to cut in either the plow or the coupling or both.

And RC-kongen has all the way been not helpful at all. He has not been answering e-mails after the purchase. He was able to answer questions before the purchase though. And latest he has been rejecting to pay for returning the locomotive for repairs. That was when I thought the de-railing problem was a thing that I could not fix myself. And that is even though the Danish e-mærket states that such a paid return is “as common as beef in a burger”. So a piece of good advice: Buy your Heljan products from your local dealer and do not try to save a few hundred DKK.

And then there is the red color of Heljan versus Mck products. I have been reading here that the Heljan color (RAL 3003) is the one DSB actually used, whereas the Mck color (RAL 3002) is supposed to be how the rolling stock looked like after a few years of rain, wind and sunshine:RAL3002vs3002The thing is that that they look different. But so did the actual trains:GM-litraAB

December 17

I will leave the rolling stock be for a while and will start the building process instead.

Current sensors first, however. I have been making another S88N module. And I have made a board with 16 current sensors of the new type. I have still not programmed the PICs and I have not interconnected the two modules:266E8B49-1348-4E09-9A02-52F050A8AFD5The new sensor type is more compact than the old one. And the green connectors instead of the home-made ones looks quite a bit nicer. Now I only hope that it works.

The grey wire on the picture is hopefully the explanation why many of the old sensors have stopped working:

My S88N-P module is supposed to do galvanic separation between the ECOS and the feedback system as well as being a power supply for the feedback system.

Anyway, I have so far been mixing ground connections between the two parts. This way there are several meters of ground wire between the S88N module and the current sensor. So who says that doesn’t make up a voltage difference big enough to hinder the input on the S88N module to become low enough? Hence the grey wire, that is real S88-ground. I am going to use this ground connection for the optocouplers in the current sensors. I should have thought of this from the beginning, since my Uhlenbrock LocoNet feedback module is equipped with such a (LocoNet-)ground connector.

But all this ground-talk is still only a theory. Next step will be to actually start testing and measuring.

December 18

So much for the ground-theory: That is not the problem. I have been measuring on both the old and the new sensor type.

The new type works great. Output from the optocoupler is 5V when no current is drawn and 0,2V when current is flowing.

But the old type never comes below 2,5V. And that voltage is undefined in the sense that it means neither 0 nor 1 for the PIC inputs.

I have spent a couple of hours to solve the mystery: The old optocouplers only detects current in one direction. The new optocouplers detects in both directions. This means that the low signal from the new type is a fairly decent DC on about 0,2V, whereas the old type output is a square switching between 0,2V and 4,8V. The DC mean that I can measure with my voltmeter is about 2,5V.

I could solve the problem by introducing the capacitor that I had on my original diagram for current sensors:

Processed with Snapseed.
Processed with Snapseed.

Haakon from litra.dk has helped me by finding an easier solution: I shall turn the IR-diode in the optocoupler the other way, i.e. switch legs 1 and 2 on the optocoupler. That will work because the DCC signal is not a fully balanced square. It is more of a series of pulses with varying spaces between them. I have tried doing so, which doesn’t bring the low voltahe down to 0,2V, but only to 0,4V. But that is sufficient.

The explanation must be seen along with a picture of how a DCC signal “looks”. This illustration from NMRAs DCC standard shows just that:DCC-signalThe horizontal line is 0V.

I.e. looking at the two wire comming out of the ECOS, they are alternately + and -. That also means that current is flowing alternately in both directions in 2 out of the 4 diodes in the diagram, and a voltage drop will arise over the two diodes that current is flowing through. This voltage drop across the 2 x 2 diodes will thereby be a replica of the DCC signal – just with only +/- a couple of volts as opposed to the maybe +/- 16V coming out of the ECOS.

The optocoupler is only activated with current flowing in one of the two directions. And in the DCC standard there are long periods “above 0”, i.e with current flowing through the diodes from right to left in the diagram and thereby with the optocoupler inactive. Unless that is I am turning the IR-diode in the optocoupler the other way around, in which case it is going to become active during those long periods.

Note that if there is no locomotive in the block, no current at all will flow and therefore the optocoupler will stay inactive no matter which way it is directed.

December 28

The old current sensors have been fixed and JMRI warrants works again, since JMRI now again knows which blocks are occupied and which are not.

I have moved the layout away from the walls and I have sawed the first pieces of wood, so that I can build the last ½ floor on the layout. Some of it has been attached using clamps:E433328A-9ECC-470C-AFB8-E096DAC6C6A1

December 29

The outer support is nearly finished. And the inner one is attached using clamps. It is a good question if I am going to be able to putting de-railed trains back on track on the lower level:

December 31

That was the end of 2017. I was at Silvan yesterday to buy 6mm plywood. But it was sold out. I have plenty to do anyway by constructing the skeleton that the plywood shall be mounted to. Today, I have been attaching Skive H the way it should be attached and I have removed the threaded rods, that were placed right where the new track is going:A0C6292C-7C92-48EA-BAC8-4B487DF06BE3 18B9145D-7B8C-43D8-ACC4-227683DFC87D

And here with the new track hovering in the air since I could not get hold of any plywood yesterday:CC551690-64B4-437B-9E16-1D1BADE133A1

Happy newyear.EE02B25A-BBC2-4E61-98A8-7598DA88C21E

2017 part 10 – Test of new Levelling + Heljan B cars

October 31

I have been staring underneath the cars trying to figure out how to exchange the coupling kinematic. I cannot see that. At sporskiftet.dk, I have founda verbal explanation about how easy it should be to take a car apart in order to install interior light. Something with pulling the sides apart and just let the chassis drop out. And then loosen 5-6 screws, which should give access to the bottom. And I wonder if access to the coupling kinematic should not be achieved as well by doing so?

In the meantime, I will be trying out Fleishmann profi couplings. I have purchased enough for one train, i.e. locomotive and three cars. See this good explanation about different couplings (in German): https://www.stayathome.ch/kupplungen.htm

At the moment the train does not derail. But the cars decouple. And after after having inspected them, I have probably turned them back and forth or interchanged them. Before, the back car decoupled. Now, it is the front car that decouples from the locomotive. So maybe it is just one of the standard couplings that is a bit skew?

Next step is Fleishmann profi couplings between locomotive and front car end between the first two cars, but still standard couplings between second and last car. At least it looks more natural with the shorter distance between cars.

With profi couplings:28A9C87B-FD4C-4357-A898-5C849364DE58

With standard couplings:76391286-59E7-407A-8C85-126E034FC3F1

But that must make it impossible for the cars to pass narrow curves without pushing each other from the track? No. See the link above with an explanation about how coupling cinematic works. In fact it seems that cars with standard couplings keep shorter distance than those with profi couplings. Maybe because the standard couplings do not force the coupling cinematic in the position where it increases the distance?

Is everything then as it should be? No. The cars do not derail. And they keep a safe distance even in narrow curves. But even the profi couplings decouple. I think somehow there is too much difference in height of the cars. Maybe the coupling cinematic moves up or down so that difference in height occur between cars? Maybe because the coupling cinematic is not rigid enough? An attribute of profi couplings is that theycan be decoupled just by lifting a car vertically up and out of the train. Nothing is holding profi coupling together in the vertical direction. They are only locked tightly together horisontally.

I have made these photos of the coupling at a place where I have observed decouplings. Even though the pictures are somewhat black in black, a certain difference in height may be observed:CDF3F3B7-60A5-4511-80EC-AB1A06782F1EEB91B75E-B3C4-48EE-BD2F-3C1154E9940EF738DF03-ADD8-4891-9055-B77E3D42D3F9The strange thing is that decouplings occur at the middle of a slope and not where flat track becomes sloping track, where I would think the cars would have an angle horizontally. But it more or less fits with the place where the locomotive starts to pull the hardest to pull all three cars up the slope and through a narrow curve. And maybe that makes the coupling cinematic bend a little?

If the problem is due to non-rigid coupling cinematics, some new ones ought to fix the problems.

Or I might have to get a few drawbars. I would rather avoid that, since it would make it hard to get a train on and off the track. I may have to tilt the train one one side and use tweezers to take them apart, when taking the train off the track. And something similar when putting them on the track. Since my train is maximum a locomotive and three long cars, it may be doable without breaking all the drawbars. But it will not be easy.

Lockdoc have these very fine drawbars from Brawa available for 5 kroner a piece (bag of ten). I.e. a quarter of the price for profi couplings. However, I am not sure they look like anything from passenger cars. And the look quite fragile too:17B26100-15F7-4609-8DFE-ABD94942CBA8Or maybe they look exactly as they should – for passenger cars as well:CF2D373D-E033-4E0A-86FB-BC855CCC3992Alternatively these from Symoba – at 19 kr a piece:8FCBBDDE-829A-42BA-BE56-42441F678488Finally there is this more solid looking drawbar from the company Ribu with the number 85505, that I have seen for 2 Euro for four. I have not been able to find them in a Danish shop:8F8FAE73-AEFE-4BD1-BF12-B1A8A340CF71Märklin produces a drawbar that can transfer current. However they only seem to be usable in Märklin cars.

It must be possible (but very hard) to wind a thin wire around any kind of drawbar.

Until further, I am waiting for my dealer to deliver new coupling cinematic for the cars.

November 1

The explanation to the decoupling cars can be that the transition between 0% and 5% slope (as described October 17) corresponds to a difference in height of 9 mm from one end of a piece of track to the other, while the track piece behind is flat. That gives an angle corresponding to a heigt difference of 2 mm of the couplings on the two cars on each of the two track sections.

The 2 mm comes from this:





En Bn vogn er 24,5m lang. I model bliver det 29,3cm.

Afstanden mellem bogie tapperne er 17,2m svarende til 19,8cm i modelstørrelse, eller ca. en skinnelængde.

Dvs., at det, der hænger ud over tappen i hver ende af vognen, er (29,3 – 19,8) / 2 = 4,75cm, hvilket svarer til 100% * 4,75/19,8 = 24%.

Og 24% af 9mm (højdeforskellen mellem vognenderne) er lidt over 2mm.

En profikobling er ca. 3,2mm høj, så der skal ikke være meget galt med hældningerne på sporet, eller koblingskulisserne skal ikke give sig ret meget, før vognene kobler af.

Så jeg må på den igen og prøve at gøre overgangene mellem forskellige hældninger mildere samt få de 5% hældning ned på 4%. Jeg er ude i marginalerne, så selv små forbedringer tæller.

Se igen sporplanen:Koter_R2_unadjustedForreste vogn (dvs. alle vogne) kobler fra lokomotivet, når toget kører ind i inderkurven fra toppen af billedet og bagenden af lokomotivet er nået ca. halvanden skinnestykke ind på billedet. Jeg er noget forundret over, at det er lige der. Måske er der en bule på skinnerne? I hvert fald ser det ud til, at den allerførste skinne-ende på billedet skal skrues fast. Den svæver lidt over tracéen.

Men det er langt fra gjort med det. Jeg vendte toget og kørte modsat vej rundt på banen. Og ikke uventet er der op til flere andre steder, hvor vognene afkobler, når jeg kører den vej.

Og værre endnu, så begyndte lokomotivet at lyde rigtig grimt et bestemt sted. Som om det er afsporet. Men det er ikke afsporet. Næste tanke var om gearkassen er gået i smadder. Men dels er lokomotivet kun to måneder gammelt, dels er det kun det ene sted på banen og dels kører lokomotivet, så det kan vel dermed ikke være tandhjulene, der sidder på tværs? Jeg kan ikke umiddelbart hitte ud af, hvad der foregår. Det er ikke i et sporskifte, men i en R2 bue.

Jeg tror jeg må gå tilbage til Lima B vogne og se, hvordan de kører. Der er i hvert fald ikke fejl på kortkoblingskulisser. For sådan nogen er Lima vognene ikke udstyret med.

4. november

For at få bløde overgange, altså undgå “knæk” på skinnerne har jeg tilføjet yderligere en 3 mm træfiberplade til netop de tre opklodsninger, der er markeret med en rød streg her:Ekstra_opklodsningHvorfor det lige var der? Tjaeh – resultatet af prøvekørslerne viste, at afkoblinger skete der, så nu må vi se, hvad der nu sker. Der er sikkert tale om unøjagtigheder, selvom jeg troede, at mine lasermålinger var 100% præcise. Men det er så tæt på, at de lange vogne kan køre, så jeg tror, at med disse få mm justering – og måske flere af samme slags, så skal det hele nok lykkes. Foreløbig kører det uden hverken afsporinger eller afkoblinger. Og både med Lima vogne og Bn vognene. Sidstnævnte endda med Fleishmann profi kortkoblinger.

I mellemtiden har jeg smadret et lokomotiv, som jeg fik til at styrte “i dybet”, dvs. ned på gulvet. Herved hoppede den bagerste bogie af og en puffer blev bøjet så meget, så man ikke kan bruge koblingen foran. Det sidste er det værste. For jeg har fået bogien sat på igen. Men jeg tør ikke at forsøge at bøje pufferen på plads. Så knækker det bare. Den må vist en tur på autoriseret værksted:1DC3FB94-8F6E-4065-AEA8-1C1E09295FFBDet får mig til at afbryde al kørsel med dyrt materiel indtil jeg har fået lavet et “sikkerhedsnet” af nogle gamle gardiner, vi har liggende.

5. november

Så er der sikkerhedsnet under banen:E1DF5678-935F-4977-A62C-4F6D737BE95DJeg lavede en ramme af 45 x 25 mm klemlister, som manden i Bauhaus instruede mig i er den rette betegnelse fremfor “lægte”. På denne ramme har jeg sat et stykke insektnet fast med hæfteklammer. Insektnettet kostede 59,95 i Bauhaus. Og det er meget nemmere at arbejde med end de gamle gardiner, der ellers var udset til formålet.

Nu er der dermed klar til yderligere prøvekørsler. Det bliver dog ikke i dag.

6. november

Jeg fandt et sted, hvor skinnerne ikke sad ordentligt. De svævede flere milimeter og endnu værre: De var meget nemme at vippe fra side til side. Og jeg har da også set en del afsporinger lige der. Det drejer sig om enderne af flex skinnerne lige der hvor de krydser ind under overetagen i begge sider af layoutet. Jeg har mokket nogen skruer og spændeskiver på, så de hverken svæver eller vipper:CDF7E6BC-33BA-4646-8AED-61A5F78EC2AFDet var ikke supernemt at komme til. Men med en kort skrutrækker og en solid opklodsning af overetagen kunne det lade sig gøre:D83E13B9-6247-4DA1-B638-E7B4A85C020DNu ser det ud til, at alle afsporings- og afkoblingsproblemer er væk, så længe togene kører forlæns i den rigtige retning med moderat fart.

Men der udestår stadigvæk en masse prøvekørsler i alle 4 retninger, dvs. toget kørende forlæns med uret, baglæns med uret, forlæns mod uret og baglæns mod uret. Og det skal testes både med lav, moderat og høj hastighed.

11. november

Jeg har justeret adskillige steder på banen. Visse steder har jeg lagt en ekstra 3 mm fiberplade i en opklodsning. Andre steder har jeg kun skullet addere et ekstra lag parketgulvsunderlag (ca. 1 mm). Og så var der også lige et sporskifte, der måtte bøjes forsigtigt med en tang. Det kan sikkert ikke anbefales generelt. Men i dette tilfælde virkede det. Endelig har jeg regnet på og opklodset det kryds, der er på tværs mellem min forreste og bagerste skyggebanegård.

Resultatet er, at nu kan mine Bn vogne køre i alle 4 retninger med middel fart uden hverken afsporinger eller afkoblinger. Jeg har endnu ikke vovet at gasse helt op. Men der er nu også meget stærke grænser for, hvor hurtigt togene skal køre på min lille bane. Det virker absolut ikke naturligt at køre særlig hurtigt.

Men man skal jo ikke nøjes med at køre med et enkelt tog. Så jeg har også prøvet med nogle godsvogne. Det går næsten godt. Men der er en enkelt (Hobbytrade) vogn, der afsporer i halvdelen af sporskifterne. Den må nok have hjælp i form af at justere hjulafstand og/eller en opvejning jvf. tlarsen.dk.

Endelig er der Lima B vognene. De kører fint fremad. Og jeg kan såmænd også godt bakke med dem. Men indimellem flipper de ud og afsporer. Sådan er det nok bare, med mindre jeg forsyner dem med Symoba kortkoblingskulisser og muligvis bygger dem endnu mere om. Men det gør jeg ikke. Så vil jeg hellere ofre endnu flere penge på nogle få nye og pænere vogne.

15. november

Godsvognen endte med at få nye AC hjul. Men så kører den også perfekt. Dermed er jeg rimelig sikker på, at banen fungerer. Og så skal jeg have valgt mit næste skridt:

a. Få strømfølerne og dermed computerstyringen til at fungere igen?
b. Bygge et paradespor foran på layoutet?
c. Bygge Skive Vestsalling Jernbane og dermed endnu en halv etage opad?

Jeg har ikke fået ret mange af dimserne hjem fra Kina endnu. De er faktisk først lige begyndt at drysse ind i postlkassen efter nu 40 dage. Så strømfølerne får lov at vente lidt endnu.

Mht. resten af banen, så var det jo planen, at det skulle bygges som aftagelige moduler. Men jeg har fået lidt “second thoughts”:

Dels er der besværlighederne med at få de oversavede skinner til at passe 100% sammen, og dels er der overvejelserne om at få de enkelte moduler gjort solide nok, uden at de kommer til at fylde for meget.

Og dels er der selve formålet med at lave aftagelige moduler:

For paradesporets vedkommende skulle formålet være, at der kan kappes 10 cm af bredden på banen, hvis værelset skal bruges som gæsteværelse. Men det viser sig ikke at være nødvendigt. Man kan sådan set godt sove inde under kanten af banen.

For SVJ skulle formålet være, at man kan komme til at udføre reparationer eller bare at sætte afsporede tog på plads i skyggebanegården. Men det behøver vel ikke nødvendigvis betyde, at selve banen skal deles op i moduler? Det er muligvis nok, at øverste etage i nødsfald (f.eks. hvis jeg på et tidspunkt skal flytte) skal kunne skrues af – lige som jeg har gjort med Skive H – samt at jeg gør selve landskabet imellem skinnerne modulopbygget og aftageligt. Afsporinger kommer jeg under alle omstændigheder til at løse ved at række op nede fra.

Men uanset modulopbygning eller ej, så er første skridt at få monteret noget 12 mm krydsfiner bag på og på siderne, så der er en stabil base at gøre næste etage fast i. Så det kan jeg lige så godt komme i gang med.

25. november

Jeg har ikke rørt banen siden sidst. Undtagen i dag.

Men jeg har tegnet og tænkt. Paradesporet såvel som øverste etage bliver på faste plader. Kun landskabet i midten bliver aftageligt. Største designmæssige udfordring lige nu er at få plads til en vej til min Faller bil. Det bliver vist kun til en enkeltsporet oval-agtig vej. Måske kan jeg få plads til en lille sidevej / et vigespor, så jeg kan få et “sporskifte” også. Men mere er der ikke plads til.

I dag har jeg anskaffet to Heljan B-vogne. De har rygte for at være pæne, men også for ikke at kunne køre i R1 (og vist ikke i noget under radius 56 cm) kurver. Jeg kan bekræfte begge dele. Og jeg kan tilføje, at den røde DSB designfarve har en betydeligt mørkere og mere afdæmpet tone end den skrigrøde, som mine Mck Bn vogne har. Og som jeg husker det og ser det på billeder, så er det altså Mck, der “har ret”.

Der er to ting, der forhindrer R1 kørslen. Dvs. “out of the box” er vognene faktisk i stand til at køre i R1 kurver, så længe de kun bliver trukket og ikke skubbet, og så længe de kun skal dreje til én side. Det sagde i hvert fald mine første prøvekørsler.

Den første og største hindring for R1 kurvekørsel er den ret store generator (eller var det en kompressor?), der sad på den ene side af den ene bogie på en B-vogn. Den kolliderer med en lille tap, der ligeledes fuldstændig korrekt var en del af B-vognene. Det sker, når vognen skal dreje til den anden side i et unaturligt skarpt sving, som en R1 kurve jo unægteligt udgør. Så enten må tappen eller generatoren væk. Tappen skal (hvis man vælger den løsning) skæres væk. Løsdelen kan med en spids pincet hives ud af bogien uden at ødelægge hverken løsdel eller bogie. Så det blev min løsning.

Den anden hindring er koblingskulisserne, som ikke tillader koblingerne at svinge tilstrækkeligt ud til siderne. Jeg oplevede det i første omgang kun, når vognene skubbes, samtidig med at jeg anvender Fleishmann profi koblinger. Men efter at have hevet generatorerne af begge vogne kan jeg nu heller ikke få dem til at køre fremad med profi koblinger.

Jeg skal måske forsøge med bøjlekoblinger. Men hvis det skal fungere ordentligt, så bliver jeg nødt til i det mindste at fjerne de to klodser underneden, der forhindrer koblingskulissen i at svinge ud. Desværre vil det dog betyde, at den lille tynde slange kommer til at svæve frit for neden, hvorved den meget let kan knække. Se mere her: https://www.perfecttrains.com/news/konvertering-af-heljan-b-vognserie-til-r1-koersel/

Det er i øvrigt samtidig opskriften på at skille vognene ad. Den kan bruges, hvis jeg en gang vil male interiøret og/eller sætte passagerer i vognene.

2017 part 9 – Defect Current Sensors, New Leveling

October 11

I have ordered components for more current sensors from China. I.e. I hope the components will arrive before Christmas. This time the current sensors will be based on bridge rectifiers and ILQ620 opto-couplers, i.e. the type that reacts to current in both directions, i.e. AC:CurrentSensor-ILQ-620I have also ordered what I hope are pretty smart connectors, where a connector is soldered to the printet circuit board and all wires are screwed into another connector, that fits into the first one:IMG_0218IMG_0219Only the printed circuit boards do not seem to be cheaper in China than in Europe. And I already have a few of them in stock.

I have prepared this layout:StrømfølerIn the meantime, I will try to find out what is wrong with my old current sensors and try to repair them.

Even before that, I will make a new levelling of heights and slopes on my layout. I have already been making the outer curves softer. I might begin with just small blocks of wood, clamps etc., but I will not be done until every bit of my layout have been tested with the Bn wagons and wood blocks etc. are glued or screwed on the layout.

I have spent a couple of hours on a few findings:

– The derailments happens with the same wagon. If I exchange the wagon with another one, the train can go through the troubled curve. I cannot see what the problem is with that specific wagon. Maybe a fault in the coupling kinematic or in a boogie?

– If I am trying another curve, there are no problems – at least not consequently. Not even with the “problem” wagon.

– There is another curve in the other side of the layout where it is always the last wagon that derails.

– The couplings are not very stable. Especially not uphill. I must try out Fleishmann Profi couplings. I also have to get the train to reverse all the way round. And I have to test both clockwise and anticlockwise.

– I can get the “problem” wagon run through the “problem” curve, if I attach the track with a clamp on a very strategic place. The train has just passed the “problem” curve on this picture, where the clamp is holding the tracks down, so the slopes are correct both along and across the tracks:IMG_0149It is a sign that I am going to have to re-level the entire layout and that I need to attach the track firmly.

At the same time, I need to take a second problem more seriously: I have been using thicker plywood for the rear shadow yard than for the rest of the layout. And the transition is quite rough. Luckily, the joint is only srewed and not glued together, So I can disassemble and then align the thickness:IMG_0150And I also need to ensure that the layout is level all the way seen across the tracks.

Finally, I need to make a safety net below the layout. I don’t believe that one should ever trust 100% that no derailment can occur. And I cannot bear thinking about trains for thousands of kroner plunge a meter or more down on the floor. The safety net should not be a coarse net so that couplings, horns, buffers, antennas etc. could become entangled and break. I imagine some curtain fabric, where I am sewing Velcro in all edges, so that I can easily remove and attach the safety net.

October 12

I have bought a small piece of 3 mm wooden fiber board (masonite) to align between the different plywood thicknesses.

I have also disassembled the layout in one side at the transition point. But now I am no longer sure this is a problem at all:imageThe front part (still green on the picture) is only screwed to the back part. And that is already aligned used some of the green foamy stuff. The alignment wasn’t perfect though, so I suppose that I will exchange it with a bit of the 3 mm board now that I have started. But I don’t suppose it will make much difference.

The rear part (where I have removed the green stuff on the picture) is glued. So I cannot put fiber board underneath the plywood. So I will have to add something on top of the thinner plywood – either extra layers of the green stuff or I might use a grinder to make a piece of the fiber board thin in one end.

The basic problem is however still the ground work where all plywood need to be firmly attached to wood blocks of the correct heights. And as part of that work, I need to find out why the rear shadow yard is askew across tracks even though the base frame is level.

October 14

Two things on my mind today: A comment for the Mck Bn wagons (maybe true for everything coming from Mck?) and a way to measure elevation.

Mck first. I have been really really careful. I have not even been running the wagons at high speed. And I have at no point in time had any wagon tip to the side when it derailed, which they have been doing several times.

Even so it is if all the small fine details are dropping off or break. It might not be all that bad yet, but two things have happened: At each end of a Bn wagon there is a tiny thin, but rather long plastic thing that I think should look like the brake tube or whatever it is, that is on the corner of each real-life B wagon:IMG_0225One such plastic thing got entangled into the coupling on the next wagon and broke. And while I was removing the wagons from my layout to put them into my showcase while I adjust the elevation on the layout, another part fell from one of the wagons. This time a box-like little thing that sits below the wagon. And a third thing that was wrong already when I unboxed the wagons: There is a tiny damper or whatever it should look like on each side of each boogie. One of these are missing.

The Mck models are very fine and very detailed. And for that one is paying extra. But I feel rather bad about the consequence of this detailing, i.e. that the wagons do not seem durable enough to be used. I will even stretch this to the point that the Mck wagons was not the right purchase for me. I am very pleased with the nice wagons. But I am sad that they only seem well suited for staying in the showcase. Maybe I should have bought other wagons that are less detailed but more durable. Heljan maybe? Hobbytrade? Togmodelle?

Heljan wagons are however equipped with many of the same details:IMG_0226 IMG_0227But at least they are quite a bit cheaper, so I would become less unhappy if something broke. 399 kroner for a Heljan B wagon. 579 kroner for my Mck Bn. Both prices from  www.nettog.dk.

And now on to the other topic: Measurement of elevation.

Until now, I have been trusting that the base frame that I built about a year ago is totally straight and level. But that is not the case. One corner is a few millimeters lower than the rest of the base frame. And then it is no good to measure with a ruler from the base frame and up to the track. In addition, a ruler is not precise enough to measure differences in elevation between levels.

But this is precise down to about 1 millimeter:image

I do like this:

1. Make sure your floor is level. Use a spirit level.
2. My floor is carpeted. Therefor I put a more even surface in the shape of the 3 mm fiber board that I just bought on the floor to have a good surface to measure from.
3. Place a steel ruler underneath the track, where you want to measure. Make sure the ruler sticks a little out over the edge, so that it can be seen from the floor.
4. Put a laser measurement device on the board on the floor and measure distance to the steel ruler. Do a few such measurements.
5. Voila - there you have it. The elevation is shown at the display.

As an example, I have measured 787 millimeters in the front edge of the front shadow yard. The back edge of the same shadow yard is 784 mm. And I can see why: The plywood is not firmly attached to the plywood, so there is a gap of 3 mm at the front. But these 78? millimeters is my elevation 0, since I cannot go any lower without sawing something of my base frame.

I.e., the rear shadow yard that according to AnyRail shall be at elevation 4 cm must then be at level 784 mm + 4 cm = 824 mm.

Skive H shall be at 8,5 cm, which equals 784 mm + 8,5 cm = 824 mm.

It may not be 2 mm error at one spot that ruins the running of a train. But the layout may not be bumpy. And the elevation may not be many millimeters wrong anywhere. That would leave me with a curve sloping across the track or a slope along the track of maybe 5 or 6 % instead of the 4 % that is the intention and which is already pretty steep for a train.

October 15

It was nice weather for gardening today. So I only managed todo the levelling for 3/5 of the rear shadow yard + a near perfect transition between 6 mm and 9 mm plywood in one side of the layout. And tonight I also glued some new green stuff on the transition piece as well as on the new outer curve.

I have attached the wood blocks for leveling firmly with a long screw down into the base frame or a steel angle, where I could not place a screw. The plywood is attached by a screw into the wood block so that it is flat towards all wood blocks and not hovering anywhere.

The important thing is that now I have begun the new leveling. Until further everything fits down to a millimeter according to the AnyRail calculations

October 17

I have decided to place wood blocks for each centimeter of change in elevation all the way round in the curves:
Koter_R2_klodserTonight I got a bit further with the new leveling in the curves. As can be seen on the illustration above, there are places where the middle curve should have an elevation of 4,1 cm whereas the inner curve should have 4,8 cm. But since the two tracks are on the same piece of plywood, they now both are at 4,1 cm. I may have to fix this at some point, but until then, it means that some slopes exceed 4%:Koter_R2_unadjustedI had to go to the attic to find pieces of wood and board and whatever of various thicknesses, so that I can fabricate wood blocks that fits the exact number of millimeters as needed. But now the track is beginning to be fitted tight at the elevation they should be and in perfect level seen across the track.

It takes some time. I have to measure many times and I have to find the right combination of board and wood thicknesses that fits to the millimeter without consisting of to many layers. And then sawing, adjusting, fitting etc. where I keep running to the garage (where I have the saw) and back again to test fit. And if the final measurement reveals a wrong elevation, then is back and start all over again.

The explanation to the derailment may have showed itself already: I had to press down the plywood about 1 or 2 cm in order to get it down to the 4,1 cm. I.e. the slope must have been very steep indeed. If there has been 1,5 cm over a single track piece, it corresponds to 10% with a sudden transition to 0%. In that case, I just don’t understand that the visual appearance was not worse than it actually was.

October 21

I have managed the 4, 5 and 6 cm elevation points in one side now:IMG_0162The 7 centimeter elevation point is somewhat more difficult. I will have to make some more build up all the way down from the base frame, since the plywood is outside (or rather inside) the base frame.

October 22

I have now constructed the 7 cm elevation point in both sides of the layout:IMG_0164I have also done the rest of the rear shadow yard. So I have now only 3 elevation points left to do. 10 down. 3 to go. Objectively it might be somewhat exaggerated, but I find it a beautiful sight to look at the new “columns” carrying the plywood:IMG_0177 IMG_0180

October 29

Yesterday I managed to empty the green house for tomato plants. So now I must get time to get the leveling finished.

I have made the exact same wood blocks for the left side elevation points as I did for those on the right hand side. And then I have measured to ensure the result is OK.

Re-iterating the test drives shows that the original problem is solved. I have bought AC wheels for the Bn wagons. But I will begin the test drives using DC wheels. And then I will mount the AC wheels afterwards – just as a safety measure. See this illustration:3etager_fase1_170201The problem was that the second wagon derailed when the wagons were pulled out of T14 and into the yellow track.

The other problem is still present:  The rear wagon derails in T10 when the wagons are being pulled out of the blue track and up through T9, T10 and T11. It looks like a mix of couplings or kinematic that do not function correctly and thus forcing the wagon sideways while the wheels are not having the right distance and therefore running up on the top of the turnout rather than through it.

Having screwed the track in the left hand side properly to the plywood and having put AC wheels on the rear wagon, I have succeeded in running some full circles without accidents. It is still as if the coupling kinematic stays in their outer position after the train has come into straight track. And  I have been reading that is a well known problem for at least some Mck Bn wagons: https://www.sporskiftet.dk/forum/modeljernbaner/skala-h0/problemer-med-mck%C2%B4s-bn-vogne?destination=node%2F16789

My dealer has promised me new kinematics, and he should really also exchange them. I don’t feel much like breaking anything in those quite expensive wagons and I cannot see how to disassemble them. The dealer explained that during production, some of the Bn wagons were equipped with faulty kinematics and some were not. But until I get the new kinematics, I might as well try if it is possible to “run them in” and that way maybe make them work properly.

The wagons can now be both pulled one way and pushed the other way round the track. So it is not all that bad. I have however still not dared to run the train at anything but very low speed.

I have not yet tried the Profi couplings either. But that is next on my list, since the standard couplings decouples when the wagons are pulled from T2 and through the crossing towards T16.

Conclusion: Success, even though I don’t quite trust it yet. But in the future, I will always make sure that everything is firmly screwed together and that all elevations are according to AnyRail.

2017 part 8 – Showcase + Changes to Ground Level

September 19

I have been calculating the correct elevation all the way round the curves / slopes, so that all slopes are 4% or less. And it was a fair bit easier with AnyRail than it would have been with SCARM. I managed to only use 48 pieces of track, so the free version (with a limit of 50) was just enough.

AnyRail is almost capable of finding the correct elevation by itself. It can even use three different elevations for the three ends of a turnout. SCARM insists that all three ends need to have the same elevation. And this makes SCARM’s slope calculations unusable for me:KoterAnd yes: I need to be accurate down to 1/10 of a millimeter in order to ensure that there is no slope anywhere beyond 4%:SlopesI don’t think I need quite that accuracy in the real world. If that at all would be possible.

But it shows pretty well, that my work until now has been far to sloppy.

Regarding SCARM versus AnyRail: AnyRail is just better. Much more logical on all points.A thing as simple as deleting a piece of track or moving it around: It is just intuitive in AnyRail. 3D display works far better. Everything is just easier.Koter-3DAnyRail probably also have it’s flaws. I have been trying to draw some rails, then do a print preview in 1:1 (that would use many sheets of paper), then delete most of the track and make another print preview. I had to redo this a couple of times before AnyRail realized that I had deleted the track. But that is a small detail. SCARM is at least as unstable.

It looks as if the are frequent updates to both programs. So I am reasonably sure that real bugs will be corrected fast if one reports them – no matter which program one chooses.

A totally different topic: Tonight I managed to drill holes for the wiring and mounted LED strips in the showcase:imageThe wiring on the back is ugly. So ugly that I will not show it on a photo. There is plenty of soldering and I have smeared the whole thing in glue to fix it and secure it.

With a little luck, I now only need to hammer two nails in the wall, and the showcase is done.

September 20

Now the showcase is hung up. And it has had it’s doors mounted:IMG_0206

September 23

I have hurt my knuckles on my right hand by unscrewing the wood blocks, that I had used to level the layout. The purpose is of course to re-do the leveling to the correct elevation, so that all the slopes become correct. But to remove the old leveling, I had to use tools for which there was not truly space enough, so I came to lift the top level plywood with the upper part of my hand.

I have also been sawing in the edge of the upper part of the curves. This is to ensure that trains can pass the curve even though the difference in elevation between the two levels is decreased.

In addition, I was at LokDoc to buy a few rail pieces – especially some with a larger radius, that I thought would help by giving a little more space for the outer curves when they go under the inner curves. But the actual problem is more that the plywood at the upper level is double thickness because it consists of two pieces joined together at those very spots.

So by now I have a few extra pieces of track. On the other hand, I also bought 4 Fleishmann Profi couplings. So now I am able to do a bit of testing with those.

But I didn’t finish anything. The weather was too fine to stay indoors.

September 24

I have by the use of wood blocks, clamps etc. made an approximate leveling of the layout according to the calculated elevations. Besides, I have fixed the track to the plywood in one side of the layout using the authorized Märklin screws.

And my old locomotive with a string of Lima B wagons can run.

But I have also tried pushing one of the new Bn wagons by hand. It must be a bit longer between boogies than the Lima wagon, since it touches the rails of the next-to-outer curve (at the higher elevation) when it is pushed through the outer curve (at the lower elevation). And we can’t have that leaving marks on my new wagons.

That means that my new R2 track pieces must be used anyway. That is quite easy in itself. But it requires 3 cm more plywood in each side of the layout. I.e. either new plywood from scratch or something else. I have settled with “something else” i.e. gluing a wood strip on each side. I have wood strips from the show case with the exact same thickness as the plywood.

Introducing the R2 curves means that the turnouts in each side are shifted a few centimeters towards the rear of the layout. And thereby it leaves space for also using R2 instead of R1  curves on the front track that is still planned, but not yet implemented. And that is a good thing. It will look better.

The resulting track plan – including elevations – looks like this:The track piece marked 11,47 cm, will be a Märklin track piece cut to length. It was quite easy last time I was cutting such a track piece for joining with the Piko flex track. I just had to add some Piko joints to the Märklin track.

Apart from that, there is still the problem with the joints at Skive H and the lack of free height underneath. The perhaps best solution is to make a new piece of plywood for Skive H without joints at those places. The second best might be to invent an other way to join the two pieces of plywood that I already have. But that will be hard to change, since the joints are glued together and therefor hard to disassemble.

I have been using 6 mm plywood. So I can gain 6 mm. If I lift the entire Skive H 6 mm instead, it will give steeper slopes up to Skive H – about 5% instead of the 4% I am hoping for. And that is not good. But since the outer curve is becoming a tiny bit longer (about 5 cm) and since 4% out of 5 cm is 2 mm, I might actually only have a deficit of 4 mm. Besides, I must be able to cut only some of the joints off and leave the rest to hold the two pieces of plywood together. I think it can all be tweaked.

First and foremost, I need a NEM 102 profile in cardboard. Or rather a NEM 103 profile. 103 is for curves, while 102 is for straight track. I have found this profile that I have printet, glued to a small piece of cardboard and then cut out: http://3modul.horsecreek.dk/standard.html

September 30

I have made the layout 3 cm wider by gluing a wood strip to the side. Or rather two wood strips – one underneath to hold the upper wood strip:image

October 1

I bought a set of tiny circular saw blades (the smallest one with a diameter of 16 mm) for my Proxxon. Using that, a chisel and a small hammer I fixed the problem of lacking distance between the two levels at Skive H.

And the outer curves with R2 track are also almost in place. I have been sawing new holes for the servos under the turnouts and I have been cutting the track pieces to length. The thing with Piko joints didn’t work. So instead I have glued the cut pieces to the neighboring track with 10 second glue:IMG_0147IMG_0147As can be seen, I was using the 10 second glue in a rather unorthodox way, Normally, one must use as little glue as possible and then press the two ends together for 10 seconds. But I had to more or less just poor a lot of glue onto the joints. And that may never harden and become strong enough. At least it did not harden in 10 seconds. I broke one of the joints pretty fast because I wanted to install the glued track right away. But the glue was still sticky, so I hurried to press the two ends together for 30 seconds. The other joints broke after a couple of hours. At that time, I glued that one in the authorized manner. So now I hope it is strong enough.

Naturally there is no electrical connection through the glue, so I have been soldering wires on the back across the joints.

The whole thing has now been put back together. Now the elevations must be adjusted again and this time everything shall be fixed with screws.imageBut ohhh no: Testing the feedback system reveals that something has gone wrong during the summer. Only the detection and feedback system only works for some blocks now. I couldn’t find any pattern, so I did a systematic test for all blocks.

It shows that all S88 inputs work fine. But out of the 32 current sensors, only 14 are now functioning. 1 has been defect all the time. It is bad if they only work for a while and then no more. I think I need to find a more stable way of making current sensors.

I have been asking litra.dk what he does. And he has transitioned to a current detector that looks much like mine:Litra_current_sensorThe biggest difference seems to be that I do not have the 470 ohm resistor. HE suggest that I introduce that. So that I will.

But I have seen others  use a different optocoupler, that works with current in both directions. And that may be necessary:One-Block-Occupancy-Detector

October 7

I spent the weekend in Schleswig. At the hotel, I saw a brochure for “the biggest model railway in Schleswig-Holstein open to the public”. I didn’t get to see the railway itself, but in the brochure they emphasized that they have cyclists that really cycle. And that sounds like fun, so I had to find out how that is done. The answer seems to be simple: Pay €159 to buy a set from MagnoRail.

2017 part 7 – More small adjustments + a showcase

June 24

It is midsummer evening tonight. But this is Denmark, so it is raining. So I sneaked myself to define warrants for my new locomotive. But this locomotive seems to require more from the layout than my Märklin and Roco locomotives. It passes the wrong way on at least two of my turnouts. Especially when it runs at fairly high speed, which is the case when it is under SCWarrant control.

When I get the time to do so, I will try to adjust the turnouts. If that is not sufficient, I could introduce a parameter to SCWarrants determining the top speed of the train.

July 7

It was enough to adjust the turnouts. But I think I am going to introduce a factor that reduces the speed of the train under SCWarrant control by a percentage.

The newest things on my layout is a couple of Bn wagons. And the seem to be challenged on my small layout with many turnouts, narrow curves and differences in elevation.

So far, I have been trying to smoothen out the transitions between level track and slopes.

But the wagons keep derailing and decoupling. I suppose I have to check up on both couplings and wheels (AC instead of DC wheels?), turnouts and the details of slopes etc.

Regarding couplings, it seems to be a science in itself: Koblinger – Couplers – Kupplungen.

If I am going to use different couplings, I might as well get some conducting couplings so that I can put interior light in the wagons. And Viessmann’s couplings seem to be a good candidate.

Regarding wagons, I have been waiting for Mck to declare that they are going to produce intercity wagons, i.e. B wagons. I could use a couple of ordinary B wagons, a couchette and maybe a 1st class wagon, i.e. an A wagon.

But but but. Latest announcement from Mck is somewhat uppity. Maybe a bit colored by my perception, they seem to be absolutely not caring about if their products can be used in narrow curves and thereby on small layouts. As long as they look nice in a showcase. So I might have to spend my money elsewhere.

I think it is a strange announcement. But it’s a free country, and they must decide for themselves what kind of products they will make.

However, my trains need to be able to run reliably. And that includes running in the shadow yards with narrow curves, turnouts and other things that are non-prototypical. There is by the way not a single model railway that is prototypical. Not even the biggest clubs. Not even Miniatürwunderland in Hamburg. Model railways are compromises. And that makes it seem strange to me when a model railway producer announces a thing like that.

On the other hand, it must be said that Mck from the very beginning has been emphasizing that they produce correct models. So one might defend them by stating that they choose to live up to just that even though they will loose sale to us who actually want to see our model trains run on our small layouts – and in shadow yards too.

Therefore, I am pleased that there are other who also make very fine models of DSB rolling stock – among them Roco, Märklin, Heljan and Hobbytrade. And quite a lot cheaper than Mck. Maybe not quite as correct models. But more than detailed enough to both run on my layout and to be shown in a showcase.

August 12

I have introduced an adjustable top speed per SCWarrant. But as my previous changes with only starting the train if the entire route of the SCWarrant can be allocated and only free the entire route at once when the train has reached the destination block, I have not yet pushed the changes to JMRI. I will test it better before I do so.

I have also been adjusting a bit here and there to try to get my tracks more level seen across the track. There is also problems with elevation where for example the middle level is a couple of centimeters higher in one side than in the other. So this has to be improved.

But my small adjustments so far has improved the running of the Bn wagons. I.e. They no longer derails every time at the critical spot, which is is downhill through a curve, through a turnout and out on a straight and level track. Before, the track was sloping sideways out of the curve in a varying degree in the curve. Now they are level. And the wagons no longer derails every time. But still too often.

I have not yet been able to get AC wheels for the wagons. They are sold out.

August 20

My track is askew seen across the track:
imageimageI think I am going to have to take a few steps back and un-mount the “upper floor”, and to fit the lower level properly and with correct elevation.

Beside that, all track will have to be screwed to the plywood. I have been thinking that the noise would be lower, if the track is not screwed. But since the noise level is significant anyhow, I might as well put those screws in. Who knows: That might dampen the noise.

Right now, there are places where the track is hovering in thin air. One such place can be seen on the pictures above. And if the track is hovering, its elevation and slope is quite random.

Last winter, I thought that “the correct elevation” meant not to tighten anything, but keep it adjustable and then do test driving and re-adjust.

But now I have decided to use mathematics instead and make the slopes as small as possible. And regarding that, there are these problems right now:

1. The elevation of Skive H is 3 cm more than necessary. I.e. I can do with less elevation and thereby smaller slopes. See the NEM 102 standard for H0 model railroads. I am closer to 10 cm than the 59 mm that are required from the upper edge of the tracks:

IMG_01972. The slope is not even over the approximately 1 meter “long” stretch where it can be distributed.

Don’t judge me and my layout to harsh about the 1 meter. Remembering my layout, the 1 meter shall only cope with half the difference between two levels. So even though the must be 8 or 10 cm elevation difference between Skive H and the lower level, this is distributed on 2 x 4 or 5 cm. I.e. A slope of 4 – 5%. If I can get down to 7 cm, it means “only” 3,5%.

And even though it is much and would be quite absurd on a real life railroad, it is not visible. So don’t worry if you think a model railroad must look “real”: It will not be seen. But it does put strict requirements on my rolling stock that it must be capable of climbing such a slope while also going through an R1 curve containing turnouts.

And precisely that is why there must be nowhere, where the slope is even steeper  because the entire 2 x 1 meters are not utilized to align the difference in elevation.

For that reason, I am now starting all over again by calculating the correct elevations, and then fixing plywood and track firmly so that these elevations become reality.

Then testing, testing and testing, before I go on by building the next level which is going to become the visible landscape as well as the local railroad SVJ and Spøttrup station.

And then there are the “small” parallel projects:

– The detachable – visible – track at the front of my layout including a small siding with room for a warehouse and a freight wagon or two. I already made a piece of plywood for the purpose last winter and I have bought the fittings. I also have most of the needed track. The most exiting thing is if I am able to make the trains run across the points where the track is cut. That is going to be necessary if the track shall be detachable. And besides that will be the prototype for making the landscape divided into modules.

– Interior light in some wagons. For this I need a Roco collector shoe (which is supposed to be reliable and almost silent) and an ESU LED strip with built-in decoder + 2 LEDs for the rear light. I thought such an interior light strip was very expensive. But it is in fact only 130 kroner (which of course is a lot compared to the value of an old Lima wagon). I will have to experiment to find out if I am going to use a collector shoe on each and every wagon or if I should use conducting couplings.

– A showcase on the wall. I have ordered one from vitrine24.de) to place the rolling stock that there is not room for on the layout on display.

– Light in the showcase as well as in the shadow yards. Regarding the showcase, I have ordered some 3 mm adhesive copper tape from China. The idea is to make it possible to turn lights and sounds on while locomotives and wagons are places in the showcase.

So there is enough for the entire winter season without getting started on houses and landscape. Not to mention my aging Faller car (still in it’s box) and a road for it to drive on.

I do however hope that I will manage to make the sceleton for the 3 or 4 modules that shall carry the landscape.

August 22

Vitrine24.de promises a delivery time for 10-12 days. But they did not live up to that. It only took 2 days. So now I have a showcase that I must put on the wall.

But I might put in some LED strips from Jem & Fix first, so that I get some light in the showcase. First I must consider if the light shall come from above or from below. At least I know already the the LED strips shall be in front of the trains:imageIt must be noted that the showcase is absolutely straight. It is just the camera perspective that makes it look crooked.

August 30

The copper tape arrived from China. That must be a new record: 1½ week.

Even though it is raining today, I am not going to get time for model railroads until autumn.

September 9

I managed to glue balsa strips for the LED strips into the showcase.

Now I only need to do the rest.

September 17

I have been gluing wood strips on the back of the showcase to make a few millimeters space for wiring the LED strips.

Besides, I have bought fittings for hanging the showcase on the wall without having to drill holes and set screws through the back, so that those screws would be visible.

With the fittings and can just hang the showcase on two steel nails, which are more than adequate in my Leca/concrete walls.

September 18

I just wanted to note elevations on the track in SCARM in order to prepare the work with implementing those elevations on the physical layout.

But no. The only thing SCARM would do was tell me that my betaversion was obsolete and had to be updated. And so I did. Then I did a lot of changes just to find out that SCARM would not write my file to disk anymore. And at the same time it told me the reason: I had to much track for the free version and needed to buy a license.

There is nothing wrong in the man trying to get a little money out of 7 years work to make SCARM. And a license price of $39 – even with a 15% discount, so the price in september is $32,90 – seems reasonable.

However: If I must pay for the program, then there are other possibilities. I have been testing the program called AnyRail. It seems much more complete, well-documented and easy-to-use. It is slightly more expensive – $59 or €44. But that is little extra within this hobby. AnyRail can also be used as a free version. The free AnyRail version is limited to 50 track pieces, whereas the free SCARM version is limited to 100.

There are also alternatives that are still free. For example XTrackCAD, which is open source with all the pros and cons that follows – for example that it is pretty much undocumented but on the other side possible to change, if I should want to. This program can by the way generate an XML file that can be opened in Layout Editor in JMRI. (The same feature is also available in AnyRail). I don’t care much about that, thogh. I don’t want the same look in Layout Editor as I have on the physical layout and thereby in AnyRail / XTrackCAD.

I don’t have the need to buy a license right now. But when the need arises, I think I am going to buy AnyRail. I want to build my model railroad and not do any more programming right now. And especially not anything so peripheral as a program for drawing track. That excludes XTrackCAD. And I don’t want to spend anymore time to analyze the entire market. So AnyRail it is, unless whatever I am doing with the free version shows that there is anything wrong with it. It is well-documented and reasonably priced. That must be enough.

Maybe the need is coming soon: The tracks are very close in both sides of my layout, where one part is going up and the other is going down (labelled 5,8 cm):CloseTrackIn can be improved by replacing a couple of 24130 with 24230 (which makes it necessary to cut the straight 24172 shorter and put joints on it):CloseTrack2That will make the curve 3 cm wider. And unfortunately it is not easy to make a piece of plywood 3 cm wider. So I will try to see if I can avoid this change.