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Author Topic: Layout a la Smiff  (Read 2121 times)

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Offline daversmth

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Layout a la Smiff
« on: August 30, 2016, 07:38:21 pm »
So, I decided to build myself a model railway.
So far, on and off over the past few weeks, it has been:

 - thinking
 - reading
 - planning
 - thinking
 - reading
 - planning

I am sure that you get the picture ...

Decisions so far are:

 - ngauge (hurrah!)

 - A provisional layout, using SCARM:







 I have used a minimum curve radius of 300mm ( 12" ). Sharper curves seem possible ( to save space ) but from what I have read, best avoided due to potential derailment problems. Perhaps they do not look so good either ?

Overall size was decided based on the size of my car, should I ever want to exhibit the layout. It is also a practical, manageable size in the spare bedroom.

Baseboard will be (9mm?) ply, with strengthening cross members.
I may even add periodic notches to the cross members to allow wiring if I remember.

My interest is in computer control and automation, so I will probably go the MERG route, as this seems to align with that aim. I plan to segment the power feeds for occupancy detection by drawn current, because this seems to fit in best with automation. This was a decision that needed to be made before I start any wiring. Thinking about managing the wiring is still on the to-do list ( colour coding and labelling for easier debug, where to locate the detectors, route the wires, etc )

Computer control will be by JMRI but I have not looked at in in any detail yet.

Era will be 1970's, but I am not a purist. If I see a bargain from another era, the pragmatist in me may win over.

So the next step is to start building something, and I guess that has to be the baseboard. B&Q here I come .. I already have some track from a relative's abandoned project, and have purchased a DCC ready warship loco ( but need a second to sensibly develop the control aspect ).

I have already benefitted from the knowledge posted on the forum, and have created this post with the hope that, in time, I may be able to give something back. I will post progress reports it they are of interest to anyone.

I have also found the project very absorbing so far, pushing the every day troubles aside, just as a hobby should do. Long may it continue.

Offline Milton Rail

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Re: Layout a la Smiff
« Reply #1 on: August 30, 2016, 07:44:24 pm »
Welcome to the forum Dave, as you have already said, it is a great source of help & support, lots of folks on here ready to give you feedback - look forward to seeing your updates, good straightforward layout plan to get started on, with some good operational variety in there too

Cheers,
Andrew

Offline newportnobby

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Re: Layout a la Smiff
« Reply #2 on: August 30, 2016, 09:30:12 pm »
Hi Dave, and welcome aboard :wave:
You been doing your homework and avoided several pitfalls, methinks :D
However, I would suggest you don't buy timber from B & Q but maybe from a local timber merchant.
Looking at the SCARM shot you have used Kato Unitrack for the plan. Will that translate into the reality?
Good luck and keep us posted please.

Offline Ditape

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Re: Layout a la Smiff
« Reply #3 on: August 30, 2016, 09:33:37 pm »
welcome Dave,i look forward to seeing developements.
Diane Tape



Online Bealman

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Re: Layout a la Smiff
« Reply #4 on: August 30, 2016, 10:19:18 pm »
G'day from Australia, Dave, and welcome to the NGF!  :thumbsup:

Very interesting project you have in mind!  Keep us posted!   :beers:
Vision over visibility. Bono, U2.

Offline port perran

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Re: Layout a la Smiff
« Reply #5 on: August 31, 2016, 07:34:13 am »
Welcome aboard.
Looking forward to seeing your project develop.
It's you railway so build it as you want and run whatever you like. The only rule is - ENJOY :
My Layouts -
Port Perran:- Trepol Bay:-

Offline Caz

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Re: Layout a la Smiff
« Reply #6 on: August 31, 2016, 07:26:27 pm »
Welcome to our Forum Dave and to the world of N gauge.  You've already seen how helpful our members are so just ask away if you are not  sure of anything as there isn't such a thing as a silly question on here. just one you don't have the answer for.

 :welcomesign:

Offline scottishlocos

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Re: Layout a la Smiff
« Reply #7 on: September 01, 2016, 03:34:54 pm »
Hi

Dave

Looks like a good  project there look forward to seeing this one in progress

from another Dave

Offline daversmth

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Re: Layout a la Smiff
« Reply #8 on: September 30, 2016, 05:29:25 pm »
So making some progress now.

I changed my mind on the layout which now looks like this:




Baseboard is built:








And built two MERG kits.
The DCC controller (shown as the kit and after assembly ):





And the USB Interface:




I have two DCC ready locos and the decoders for them

I have also installed the JMRI software on my computer.

Next step is to learn a little more about the JMRI end then set up a programming track and set up the decoders in the locos.
Then I plan to build a simple test track to get a feel for driving a layout through the computer before starting to lay down the permanent track on the baseboard and building the other MERG boards needed. I suspect the lessons learnt from the test track may again revise my ideas for my layout.







Offline keerout

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Re: Layout a la Smiff
« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2016, 06:42:06 pm »
Hi Dave
If you are going DCC, my advice is lose the set track and insul frog turnouts and go electrofrog; saves problems in the future...
I like the plan though...  8)
Gerard  :wave:

Offline daversmth

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Re: Layout a la Smiff
« Reply #10 on: January 01, 2017, 12:01:31 pm »
So, just a quick update of progress with my layout build.

The pictures show where I am at - all going well so far, with everything working, but more to do to develop it further.

If anyone is contemplating build of a computer controlled layout I am happy to share my experiences so far- just get in touch.
I had zero knowledge of how to go about it before I started.
I am by no means an expert, but happy to share what I have learnt this far.

Likewise, if anyone has any advice I am happy to listen.

Otherwise I will post a further update in due course as I develop the layout further.















Offline Steve.T

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Re: Layout a la Smiff
« Reply #11 on: January 01, 2017, 12:25:26 pm »
Looking good and you are making fast progress.
I too have gone for Merg DCC controller and CBUS modules.
I have used their Flim configuration software to get it all set up and programmed and plan to then integrate JMRI later.
I also have some 8ch DCC only Current Transformer Block Detectors to fit but have not done so yet. I thought I would get the layout running first then add the block detectors.
So I am very interested in how you progress with this and any advice you can pass on.

Steve
I don't suffer from insanity. I enjoy every minute of it.

Steve

Offline daversmth

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Re: Layout a la Smiff
« Reply #12 on: January 01, 2017, 01:55:07 pm »
Looking good and you are making fast progress.
I too have gone for Merg DCC controller and CBUS modules.
I have used their Flim configuration software to get it all set up and programmed and plan to then integrate JMRI later.
I also have some 8ch DCC only Current Transformer Block Detectors to fit but have not done so yet. I thought I would get the layout running first then add the block detectors.
So I am very interested in how you progress with this and any advice you can pass on.

Steve

No specific advice for adding the detector blocks.
I decided to add mine from the first go rather than add them later to avoid doing the wiring twice. I programmed each one first, then wired it in, just to take things one step at a time. I have read false triggering through pick up can be an issue if you have long wire runs between the detector and the track.

Setting up jmri , for as far as i go at the moment, was one of the easier parts of the construction. You simply add the names of your cbus events in tables, either for turnouts or block detectors, then associate those names with the objects you lay down in the Panel Editor.
This links the layout panel on the screen to the hardware on the layout.

I want to take this further and set up fully automated running with collision prevention etc but that is still on the to do list. I plan to add led signals to the layout too using the merg canled board.

The main problems I had with the build oveall were:

Using very old points inherited from a relatives abandoned project from years back. Some are a bit too far gone. Should have bought new, or newer ones.

Only adding one feed to the bank of four points in the sidings resulting in no feed at all to two of the points when the others switched, isolating them. Everywhere else I have a pair of droppers on each section, even if that section is part of the same detector block so i do not rely on joiners. Should have done it there too.

Sorting out the power supplies for the merg modules. In the end I did the DC feed mod to each board and have three separate suplies for 15, 12 and 5v.

I had one dead merg module due to a dead cbus chip. I have to say, the quality of the kits is very good, and the support on the merg forum superb. Questions I have posted have been answered within an hour, better than most commercial organisations manage. I have been impressed with merg.

I wired one tantalum capacitor the wrong way round. It is truely amazing how much of a flash and how much smoke such a tiny device can make. What burning smell?, I said to my wife ...

I misjudged the height of the cobalt point motors and had to add feet to the board so it could go on a table top. Although rubber feet are useful anyway.

Other than severely testing my reserve of patience, the build went relatively well.

Still to do:

Adding signals

Automated running

Scenic modeling

I have found that running the jmri panel and throttles from a tablet is cool.
You can start a Web Server in jmri, then use a web browser on any device to access the jmri controls. There is a jmri app for android but i have yet to get that working.

Good luck ...




Offline Steve.T

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Re: Layout a la Smiff
« Reply #13 on: January 01, 2017, 02:02:19 pm »
Cheers,

Funnily the only major issue with the Merg modules I have had is also soldering an electrolytic capacitor in wrong polarity, and they go with an almighty bang  :bounce:

Steve
I don't suffer from insanity. I enjoy every minute of it.

Steve

Steamie+

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Re: Layout a la Smiff
« Reply #14 on: January 02, 2017, 08:43:31 am »
So, just a quick update of progress with my layout build.

The pictures show where I am at - all going well so far, with everything working, but more to do to develop it further.

If anyone is contemplating build of a computer controlled layout I am happy to share my experiences so far- just get in touch.
I had zero knowledge of how to go about it before I started.
I am by no means an expert, but happy to share what I have learnt this far.

Likewise, if anyone has any advice I am happy to listen.

Otherwise I will post a further update in due course as I develop the layout further.















If you are not an expert then i am in awe of your work, no way is my wiring any where near has good and neat, but my knowledge of electrics is very very limited.
And has for programming decoders i havenít got a clue, my controller is a Roco Z21 Black and has for getting the CVís what is all that about. I thought you just put your train ( if it is DCC Fitted ) on the track and off you go, i do realise that you have to change the loco address, but has for all the other stuff, CV is this and CV is that, i am completely lost.

I have just bought some Gaugemaster DCC23 decoders, but they came with no paperwork to tell me what CV values are for what. Not put them in anything yet to try, i have mainly Dapol locoís.

 :ngauge:

 

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