2017 part 3 – Building New Layout – Wiring and More Track

See also the pages about the plans for the new layout:

Landscape and buildings (including semaphore signal)
Wood work, wiring, extended feedback etc.

Feabruary 14-16

The only news that is related to model trains is that I have been debating with the JMRI developers – especially the author of Warrants – about why my Signal Controlled Warrants have been removed.

It seems to be caused by a combination of several factors:

  • Unwillingness to let others touch “his” code.
  • Unwillingness to structure the code by sub-classing instead of pouring it all into one huge mix, which thereby would be doomed to be full of errors and unforeseeable behaviours.
  • A misunderstanding concerning what Signal Controlled Warrants is, i.e. multiple adaptations that makes it possible to automate the maximum number of trains on the smallest possible layout, including:
    • Controlled by all signals on it’s way and not only the final signal. This has in the meantime also been put into Warrants by it’s author.
    • Sudden speed changes as opposed to slow speed stepping. The Warrant author claims to have done the same in Warrants. But that has cluttered and complicated the code even more, and I do not trust it.
    • Possibility to run several trains on the same stretch of track one after the other. Even though he sees the point, he does not think that is compatible with his definition of Warrants. I would however not be surprised, if he soon suggests to introduce it as yet another option that will once again clutter and complicate the code and thereby entroduce even more errors.

I have already re-introduced Signal Controlled Warrants in my own copy of JMRI. We will then have to see if the JMRI community wants it. If not, and if anybody reading this are interested, please feel free to contact me. You can easily get a copy and try it out.

February 17

Just reading about how the remote steering of signals and turnouts in Denmark works at DSB or Banestyrelsen or whoever it os: http://www.blokposten.dk/sikr/elek/elek-dsb53-betj.htm – invaluable knowledge n’est-ce pas?

February 19

The debate about SCWarrants continues on Github. More news will follow.

In the mean time, I have started to mount the tracé for Skive H. Those thingies that I am screwing into the wood to get M4  threads to screw threaded rods into are not easy to get straight. But I have almost succeeded with the first five, so the tracé is now where it should be – maybe still somewhat high:image

February 21

Skive H has gotten it’s noise damping stuff:image

And I am just about to get SCWarrants back into JMRI. But unfortunately not without writing an e-mail in a tone that I am not proud of. It was difficult to get my message about that only simple code with simple functionality is stable enough that I dare trusting my trains to it.

February 25

Today, I have been sawing all the holes I need to run the cabling underneath my layout. So now I am ready to do that.

And SCWarrants have just been merged back into JMRI.

February 26

I have now reached the point where I should in principle be able to run a train around in a circle. But unfortunately only in principle: The track is dirty. Both from saw dust and from grease. Two pieces of track are without power. I don’t know why. And finally two turnouts are in the wrong position, and I have not yet been connecting the decoders.

But I have mounted the most basic parts of the electronics and then some. First my two S88-N modules:image

The S88-N-P module is attached to the shelf, where my ECOS is placed.

Testing the new current sensors showed that the highest numbered sensor does not work. I have not done anything to make it work, since I will not be using it right now and since I am going to be needing another S88-N including 16 sesnsors anyway, when I move to the next phase with the Skive – Spøttrup line.

I have also mounted IB-COM and Raspberry Pi plus my Ethernet switch, even though only the latter will be put into use in near future:image

I am using velcro tape to hold the wiring into place. I still need to mount many more of them:image

February 27

I have vacum cleaned the layout to remove saw dust and used my servo tester to set the turnouts. In addition, I have replaced the isolating track piece, that had by mistake been putting in the middle of a block.

So now my train can go all the way round in a circle. Not much fun in itself. But it means that I by now have reached the point where I once again have a functioning layout.

March 13

I have not been building model railroad for a while. But tonight, I got time to plan the next couple of steps:

I need to make a patch panel, i.e. a group of connectors to connect on one side the programming track and decoders for turnouts and signals and on the other side both command stations – both programming track and main track – as well as sensor 1.

Concerning signal decoders, it is especially the one for the semaphore signal at Spøttrup station. The other signal decoders cannot be programmed anyway, since the power supply part is going to be shared between a number of signal decoders.

I had thought of simply attaching all the connectors to the electronics board by screws directly. But it is not going to be easy to crawl underneath the layout each time something need to be programmed. So instead, I am now thinking that I will attach the connectors to a separate board, which I will then place somewhere easier to get to underneath the layout. It could be either in the rear corner or it could be near to the ECOS.

The other plan is about how to mount the trace for Skive H. I need to place two threaded rods in the front part of the trace and another couple of threaded rods in each side.

I think it is best to place those at the front so that they are right in the middle of two tracks at the ground level and then shorten them so that the upper level is just carried by them, but so that they do not go through the upper level.

The problem is that the track at the two levels combined almost covers the entire area. There seems to be a possibility to place the rods exactly 18 com from the rods at the rear edge of the trace. It is however only just. They ould probably have to be bent a little and they would be very close to the track at both levels. So hence the conclusion above.

March 18

Today, I built the patch panel. I ended up just placing the connectors on the general electronics board at the back underneath the layout.image

In doing so, I also brought my IB-COM back to life.

I have not yet connected anything (decoders and programming track) to the patch panel.

March 19

I have given the issue about mounting Skive H without the treaded rod stiking through quite a lot of thought. But the solution might be simpler than I thought. When I made the holes for wires, I produced some wooden cylinders at the same time:

And if I put threads into them, I can even make them adjustable in height.

Et voila! I finally got the mental strength to get on. There is now 10 cm spacing between the two levels:image

And I have managed to mount the first two servo decoders, so that all turnouts in the front shadow yard are now operational. And since I have also made both sidings, the entire yard is done.

It seems that I have bought some shitty (i.e. too cheap) connectors for the patch panel. I have to apply violence to connect the first time, and afterwards I had to bend the shield a bit to get proper connection to the decoders.