Saturday, 10 June 2017

Weekend wiring!

Wiring continues apace on Smestow.
Made a start on the control panel, Non of this new fangled DCC trickery here!
When I started planning this layout I did think about both changing to EM gauge and using DCC but, then I looked at all of my locos and stock and a rough costing of conversion was beyond my disposable income, Anyway, I enjoy wiring and electronics anyway so the decision was made to stick with analogue control and conventional wiring.

This is the inside of the operating control panel,
Two multicore cables with 25way D type connectors connect the panel to the layout.
The circuit board at the back is just a 12V DC distribution block bought from one of my regular suppliers on E Bay.
There are still a few wires to be connected. I'm testing and checking as I go along rather than complete all the wiring in one go only to discover that I made a mistake somewhere and have to start fault finding. Testing after each wiring session ensures all is going well and it will all work when finished.

 This is the rear of the front panel.
Again still more wiring to be done.
There is NO track power in the panel, all section switches and servo motor drivers being controlled by relays operated by the switches shown.
There is no point in bringing track power wiring into the panel only to go out again after switching,
Using this method keeps all the track wiring short and helps to prevent any volt drop through cables and connectors.

The front of the panel.

The track layout diagram is made from aluminium sheet laminated with Plasticard.
Tracks are represented by using various coloured tapes. The colours of the tapes matching the colour of the toggle switch covers making it easy to see which switch controls each section.
All points and signals are operated via servo motors and the toggle swithes for these have grey covers.

There's still a lot to do as you can see, some of the indicator LEDs have yet to be fitted and wired back to relays controlled by the servo positions, the same relays also take care of frog polarity switching.
Ah well, back to doing a bit more wiring and another update on progress soon.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Getting to the point!

A bit of an update on construction ofmy new layout "Smestow"
A start has been made on laying track and points on the scenic sections of the layout. I decided to use the new Peco code75 bullhead rail and chaired track and my first impressions are quite favorable,
It compares well alongside the C&L finescale track that I've used on previous projects, the advantage of the Peco version though is that the sleeper thickness is the same as their original code 75 flat bottom Steamline track making it is easy to connect up to Peco's turnouts and crossings, even the old Peco rail joiners can be used.
I'm also using up a few yards of C&L track that I had in stock, but because the sleepers are a lot thinner I have had to glue a strip of Evergreen 0.125in x 0.030 in under each individual sleeper.
A bit time consuming but worth the effort.
I;m using Peco code 75 turnouts, unfortunately Peco have yet to start to make point work to match the new bullhead track but having laid a couple of points and a yard or so of bullhead track the mis match isn't visually that bad, I reckon by the time the track is painted, ballasted and weathered it will look OK.

I'm going to use small servo motors to operate the turnouts and started looking at the different ways this can be done.
After watching a few methods on
U tube I must say that i wasn't too impressed by some of the Heath Robinson methods used.
I eventually found theses devices on Ebay quite cheap too, so I ordered a few to try out.
Made from lazer cut 3mm plywood they just need a bit of glue to put together.

The picture above shows the servo mount in flat pack form as they come from the seller on Ebay.
!5 minutes work, a bit of glue, some screws and a piece of piano wire later they look something like this,

The micro switch will be used to operate a small relay, the contacts in the relay are then used for switching the point frog polarity and also operating L.E.Ds on the control panel to indicate the turnout setting.  The frog relay can also operate other relays and devices so that I can interlock points and signals and so on.

Cost wise, using servos is not a cheap alternative to using solenoid type point motors in fact the cost is probably at least twice that of using solenoids but, in my humble opinion operation by servo is far better.
There's no big thump as the point changes therefore there is less chance of any damage to point tie bars and mechanisms. I also removed the over centre spring and associated non prototypical bits of plastic in the centre of the track, hopefully that will give a better looking uncluttered look to the pointwork.
Operation is smooth quiet and reliable so far so good!

Here's a picture of two of the above servo motors under a 3 way Peco point viewed from under the baseboard.
The motors are in this case under the control of a "Heathcote Electronics" control board.
Again, these are not the cheapest controllers around but, like everything else in this world you get what you pay for and the quality and build of these units is good.
However, since I aquired the Heathcote circuit boards I have joined MERG (Model Electronics Railway Group)  and I'm very tempted to order a couple of "Easypoint" kits from the members only kit locker and try those on some of the other points and signals.
I'm going to need to drive at least 12 points and signals so the MERG kits have got to be worth a try.

Well that's the update so far, I'll post more as and when things happen.
Cheers for now    Frank