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Your Layout and Models => Layout Construction => Topic started by: zwilnik on December 03, 2010, 12:53:45 AM

Title: My Desktop layout. Ives Yard
Post by: zwilnik on December 03, 2010, 12:53:45 AM
Currently undergoing renovation after a long distance move. I designed Ives Yard as a post war GWR hump shunting yard somewhere in the south where the GWR main line is shared with the odd SR and LMS service (that's my excuse). At the moment it needs a complete re-wire, some track repair and quite a bit of re-balasting before another fix up of the scenery.

As it's designed to be integrated onto my work desk, the blank bit you can see under the bridge is actually a slot for my iMac, with the bridge being able to be removed and slotted back into place. When in use, the layout is extended into a dog bone format by Kato unitrack loops at each end so a train can be run around the main line loop while shunting operations take place in the yard. It makes a great creative distraction from work ;)

The village of Ives End that overlooks the line can be removed as a single board for access to the storage sidings and loop underneath. (I'm toying with making this modular and having alternate scenic modules so I can re-position the whole scenario in country/time to run different rolling stock.

(http://web.mac.com/zwilnik/iweb/ngaugepics/IvesYard1.jpg)

(http://web.mac.com/zwilnik/iweb/ngaugepics/IvesYard2.jpg)

(http://web.mac.com/zwilnik/iweb/ngaugepics/IvesYard3.jpg)

(http://web.mac.com/zwilnik/iweb/ngaugepics/IvesYard4.jpg)

(http://web.mac.com/zwilnik/iweb/ngaugepics/IvesYard5.jpg)
Title: Re: My Desktop layout. Ives Yard
Post by: Tank on December 03, 2010, 04:15:08 AM
A great idea and use of space.  Sorry to hear that your move damaged it.  Can you repair all of it?  Clever idea with the space for the iMac!   :computersmile:
Title: Re: My Desktop layout. Ives Yard
Post by: Lawrence on December 03, 2010, 09:08:04 AM
Very accomplished scenic work mate. looks like a nice wee layout
Title: Re: My Desktop layout. Ives Yard
Post by: zwilnik on December 03, 2010, 11:05:26 AM
Fortunately the damage from the move wasn't too bad. The 2 main boards bolt together to form a box with the Ives End board suspended between them so that kept it mostly safe. Most of the wiring issues came from when I actually separated it all ready for the move and decided I didn't like the way I'd wired it up :)

One bit I'm changing is how the bridges for the yard are connected. Previously the short bridge connecting the two boards was just sticking out from one board and screwed into the next one. The big bridge plugs in on either side with balsa blocks and has long wires running into the board allowing it to be removed, but I didn't like how tricky it was to get the track lined up each time and hide the wires. The new plan is to put a couple of neodymium magnets on each end of each bridge, with jumper wires soldered from them to the rails and put steel locating plates (probably the tops of screws so I can adjust height of each) where the bridges will drop in. Those would be wired to the rails either side or direct to the power supply. That way I can simply drop the bridges on without any extension wires attached to them and hopefully with a more accurate positioning of the rails.
Title: Re: My Desktop layout. Ives Yard
Post by: zwilnik on February 26, 2011, 05:42:07 PM
Bit of rebuilding today. Took the boards apart and put in a new centre brace that will hold them together properly and keep them aligned (considered dowels, but there's a lack of solid opposing faces). Re-doing some of the wiring and trying the new system for the bridges.
Title: Re: My Desktop layout. Ives Yard
Post by: zwilnik on March 06, 2011, 02:19:31 PM
Finally got around to sorting out my points control. Because the layout is sat on my office desk and has to be flat (as my iMac's integrated into the bridge section and is standing on the base), I can't use the traditional method of putting point motors underneath the board. For the initial yard I used the Peco surface mount point motors, but I managed to pick up a cheap job lot of standard point motors and decided to use those for the rest of the points.

Most of the other points on the layout are out of sight for the storage sidings and long passing loop, so for those I used 0.8mm piano wire to make control rods, which link them to the back of the baseboard, where I'm surface mounting the motors sideways on. The piano wire is the right thickness to replace the pin you normally get in the Peco point motors, so I'm simply bending it into a shape to go straight into the shaft of the relay. I've also cut 1cm strips of card to stick as guides under the control wire in front of the motor in case there's any wobble.

Two of the points are visible in the scenic part of the layout. One's far enough back that I can run another control rod to the back again, so that gets one of the back mounted motors, but the other is both visible and would require digging channels through scenery, hardboard, mdf and pine to get a control rod to the back, so I've done a short control rod to a suitable blank spot on the scenery, fixed a point motor there (again the control rod hooks in replacing the original motor pin) done some bracketing and card guides to keep the pin from wobbling and built up a spare Kestrel water tower I had handy to drop over the whole thing to hide it. The wires go straight down through the baseboard as I do have a very small amount of clearance to run the cabling.

The motor in place, with the water tower built to hide it. (this is the 2nd water tower in the yard, the shunting engine is a thirsty one!).

(http://web.mac.com/zwilnik/iweb/ngaugepics/PointsMotor1.jpg)

close up of the control rod, motor and very bodged cardboard pin guides.

(http://web.mac.com/zwilnik/iweb/ngaugepics/PointsMotor2.jpg)

Title: Re: My Desktop layout. Ives Yard
Post by: zwilnik on March 20, 2011, 11:04:15 PM
****Scary Wiring Warning**** (that would be good as a smiley graphic btw given the nature of the hobby)

Finally got all 8 point motors, 2 track power connections and a minitrix uncoupler set up on the boards and wired up. One board has 3 point motors and the yard power hooked up to a 9 pin D connector to couple up with the other board's wiring and the whole thing is loomed up and sent to a 25 pin D connector with only 2 pins unused!

When I sort out my controller box, it'll have a matching 25 pin connector and I can just plug it in (also means I can do an alternate box with an arduino board inside to do automatic/remote control of the board from my Mac/iPhone/iPad at some point when I want to justify buying all my N gauge stuff on the research budget ;) )

Here's a couple of pics of the main wiring loom ('tidily' bundled up) on the right hand board with the water tower covered point motor from the previous post. Most of the right hand side of this board isn't visible when in normal use as it's hidden behind screens.

(http://web.mac.com/zwilnik/iweb/ngaugepics/ScaryWiring1.jpg)

(http://web.mac.com/zwilnik/iweb/ngaugepics/ScaryWiring2.jpg)
Title: Re: My Desktop layout. Ives Yard
Post by: zwilnik on March 25, 2011, 05:51:14 PM
Now the wiring's mostly out of the way, I've been building my control box for the point switches (I'm using my H&M Duette controller for track power and to supply the control box). Basic pine and MDF box with a hole for the 25pin D connector (I'm using an old SCSI cable to hook it up to the layout) and the point switches are simple push button ones, screwed into an MDF board. The wiring will all be done under this to a Capacitor Discharge Unit in the box and fed from input lines from the H&M and this board will sit just under the top level of the box. I can then put another MDF board on top with just the holes for the buttons and my 'proper' printed panel. Also has the added advantage that I can do different cover boards if I feel a need to go BR for a bit ;)

Should hopefully have it all hooked up properly this weekend, between Grand Prix watching :)

(http://web.mac.com/zwilnik/iweb/ngaugepics/IvesYardController1.jpg)
The button board with 'ghost' control plan

(http://web.mac.com/zwilnik/iweb/ngaugepics/IvesYardController2.jpg)
The fancier top cover board. No holes punched out yet

(http://web.mac.com/zwilnik/iweb/ngaugepics/IvesYardController3.jpg)
The (almost) finished box. Just missing the wiring and a button for the uncoupler.

(http://web.mac.com/zwilnik/iweb/ngaugepics/IvesYardController4.jpg)
I covered the top panel with clear Fablon to make it a bit durable. The stuff I got was a 'snow' effect for windows though, so it gives it a rougher texture and unfortunately tends to scatter the flash when you try and take photos. Looks ok off camera although I might make another board with untextured vinyl covering.

Needs a bit of sanding and I'll probably paint the buttons to tie them in a bit more.
Title: Re: My Desktop layout. Ives Yard
Post by: elmo on March 25, 2011, 07:13:27 PM
Now I have used the very same water tower for the very same job. Spooky!!
Title: Re: My Desktop layout. Ives Yard
Post by: longbridge on March 25, 2011, 08:26:13 PM
What a terrific idea every office should have one, looks great and good luck with the repair job.
Title: Re: My Desktop layout. Ives Yard
Post by: barkfast on March 28, 2011, 08:32:30 AM
Love your idea of your layout...

ever thought about making it DCC and hooking up ur mac to your layout? put accessory decoders on the point motors and control everything from your mac  :)
Title: Re: My Desktop layout. Ives Yard
Post by: zwilnik on March 28, 2011, 09:05:44 AM
Love your idea of your layout...

ever thought about making it DCC and hooking up ur mac to your layout? put accessory decoders on the point motors and control everything from your mac  :)

That's one reason for doing the control box on a D connector. When we get more time, my brother and I are going to wire up an alternate control box that's basically an Arduino board with a USB connection to the Mac. That way we can program it for full automatic running, or direct control from the Mac itself. All without having to modify our engines ;)

I'm not personally convinced by DCC yet. A lack of Mac interfaces for the different systems is just one of the issues that makes me think it's a bit of a bodge that stands a good chance of being leapfrogged by current technology at some point.
Title: Re: My Desktop layout. Ives Yard
Post by: barkfast on March 29, 2011, 07:44:39 AM
interesting concept - so the Mac would control the Arduino board, which would control DC power to the tracks? Im assuming this would only be for train control and not point motors?

A guy at work is right into robotics and always raves about arduinos - interesting to see how they could be incorporated into model railroading...

DCC is a very interesting topic. Not sure its something that is going away tho... especially with *some* form of international standards from NMRA. The issue for most of us is the size limitations - esp small tank steamers.

Cant JMRI could be used on a Mac?
Title: Re: My Desktop layout. Ives Yard
Post by: zwilnik on March 29, 2011, 08:49:26 AM
The Arduino would also control the point motors. The Arduino has a set of digital and a set of analogue in/outs that you can use for all sorts of stuff. It would need some extra basic electronics to control the number of switches involved, but nothing too nasty. You can also get a number of 'shields' that plug into the boards for specialist functions. One of the motor control ones would be ideal for dc track control for instance.

My brother's our electronics and Arduino specialist, he mentioned there being quite a lot of model railway projects out there with them.

I'll check up on JMRI, so far all the commercial DCC systems I've seen have been Windows only. I've heard of some Linux projects too. I don't think DCC is going to go away, so much as get bypassed once someone uses current technology to come up with a better system.
Title: Re: My Desktop layout. Ives Yard
Post by: zwilnik on March 29, 2011, 08:59:35 AM
Just read up on JMRI and it could be used, although it looks like it would involve an adaptor to an antique serial interface to hook up to a controller (although I saw the gauge master one had a USB option, so surely there are modern DCC controllers with USB?). I'd also need to chip all my engines too, so in this case a lot easier to go the Arduino route.

Title: Re: My Desktop layout. Ives Yard
Post by: zwilnik on March 29, 2011, 12:41:05 PM
While my brother is putting the finishing touches to my controller box (I just don't have the dexterity or patience to solder 25pin D connectors ;) ) I've got the boards repaired and stuck down the fiddle yard sidings that had broken loose in the move. Plus I've sorted my bridges out with shims, new rails in places and other bits of bodge to get them to line up reliably.

Here's an overview pic with Ives End to one side (the wrong way around ;) ) and the central road bridge to the yard removed (that one covers the centre board join normally) waiting for the glue to all set.
(http://web.mac.com/zwilnik/iweb/ngaugepics/IvesYardRepaired.jpg)
Title: Re: My Desktop layout. Ives Yard
Post by: zwilnik on April 07, 2011, 05:44:47 PM
After a bit of repair to the scenery and a complete rethink of the boards' physical connections (replaced all the random bits of metal with a simple plate of MDF with countersunk bolts through to each baseboard) I've got Ives Yard back up on the desk. It's about 8mm higher up than previously (which means my iMac screen is now 8mm higher up), but it's easier to align the two boards together properly.

The good news is, I powered up the yard line for the first time in a year and it looks like the wiring works all the way across. It also looks like I need to do some industrial strength track cleaning as the engine that runs oh so smoothly on my Kato test track gets stuck and stutters on various parts of this line. Not too surprising after a year of non running and scenicing/painting going on around it.

The main line's more tricky as I now have to work out a way to raise the Unittrack on my end desks to match the layout's new height before I can get it all looping around. That'll be fun :)
Title: Re: My Desktop layout. Ives Yard
Post by: fisherman on April 07, 2011, 07:43:34 PM
looks VERY impressive!!!
Title: Re: My Desktop layout. Ives Yard
Post by: Tank on April 07, 2011, 08:10:30 PM
I missed the last update.  The layout looks great. :thumbsup:
Title: Re: My Desktop layout. Ives Yard
Post by: zwilnik on April 08, 2011, 11:48:41 PM
One of the end desks now rejigged to the right height (replaced the feet with castors so now it's even more useful as an office table too ;) ) and was able to test run half of the main line with some of my new acquisitions (a couple of you may recognise some of them).

Here's a quick video clip of Class 47 Hadrian pulling a mixed rake of BR Mk1 stock (various Farish and Lima).

http://gallery.me.com/zwilnik/100226 (http://gallery.me.com/zwilnik/100226)

Realised I need a backscene now :)
Title: Re: My Desktop layout. Ives Yard
Post by: Mustermark on April 09, 2011, 12:31:35 AM
That's very nice... very cool 8) to have that running while you're on the forum!  A backscene will bring it to life for sure. :thumbsup:
Title: Re: My Desktop layout. Ives Yard
Post by: Mustermark on April 09, 2011, 12:32:56 AM
Will you make a river out of the Mac stand/base so it becomes part of the layout under the bridge?
Title: Re: My Desktop layout. Ives Yard
Post by: zwilnik on April 09, 2011, 12:48:03 AM
Will you make a river out of the Mac stand/base so it becomes part of the layout under the bridge?

Plan is to have a small overlay sheet that can be dropped on when it's in full scenic mode (have to be careful with all the scenery under the iMac as it draws in air from underneath for cooling, so don't want it drawing in fine scenic particles too ;) ). I'm also planning to put a low valence 'wall' around the front to tidy up the edge.
Title: Re: My Desktop layout. Ives Yard
Post by: Mustermark on April 09, 2011, 12:49:48 AM
 8) :thumbsup:
Title: Re: My Desktop layout. Ives Yard
Post by: zwilnik on April 09, 2011, 04:33:31 PM
Got the other end desk up to height and spliced wires to both ends of the loop (they're isolated in the centre where the boards join) and now the video's updated with a full lap :)

http://gallery.me.com/zwilnik#100226 (http://gallery.me.com/zwilnik#100226)
Title: Re: My Desktop layout. Ives Yard
Post by: zwilnik on April 21, 2011, 06:26:17 PM
Seeing the various 'on train' videos people are doing got me hacking :) took the casing off a keyfob mini camera so it would cope with my restrictive loading gauge and hey presto..


http://gallery.me.com/zwilnik/100235
Title: Re: My Desktop layout. Ives Yard
Post by: Vulcan on April 21, 2011, 07:23:08 PM
do you have any info about the camera you used? it sounds interesting.
Title: Re: My Desktop layout. Ives Yard
Post by: zwilnik on April 21, 2011, 07:39:43 PM
It's one of these (not sure which seller, but there are plenty of them) our ones were about 15 and came with the micro SD card and a normal size SD card adaptor. Some of them are cheaper but don't include the card.

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/4GB-Spy-Cam-Car-Key-Keyring-Fob-DVR-Camera-Recorder-/220771422277?pt=UK_Gadgets&hash=item3367009045#ht_1633wt_1141

It's a bit wide for n-gauge really (removing the casing improves things, but watch out for the battery wires snapping off and needing to be re-soldered). It does video and stills to the SD card, or just connect it over mini USB, which it charges over (works nicely on the Mac too, which is good for a cheap camera).
Title: Re: My Desktop layout. Ives Yard
Post by: michael on April 21, 2011, 07:50:59 PM
that vids great, ive been wondering about doing something similar for a while but hadnt seen anything suitable.
Title: Re: My Desktop layout. Ives Yard
Post by: zwilnik on April 21, 2011, 08:40:36 PM
we're looking to see if there's anything smaller, or possibly re-jig this one to rotate the CCD round 90 degrees so it can be mounted sideways in a custom well car or something. The circuit board is most of the width, so I don't think that will be able to be slimmed, but if it's in a well car side on, it wouldn't be shockingly high.
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