Essence of Dee (SDJRT in N)

Track Planning

Postby wusko » Tue Mar 03, 2009 1:25 pm

I've been re-doing the Templot track plan for the Station. This is with no compression. The orange outlines are the 2' by 4' boards.
station_templot.png
Modified Templot design for Station
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I plan to move the platforms to the right, so the ends are at the baseboard join (and make them the same length, as per the prototype). The Signal Box will then be on the right hand board, so most of the point rodding will not be interupted. I may make the Goods Shed removable, so it sits over the baseboard join and helps disguise it. Alternativley, I may move it to the right hand board so it is in the correct position with respect to the signal box.

The overbridge to the right will move so it is also over the baseboard joint. This will be closer to the crossover, again as per the prototype. I'm undecided exactly how to tackle the underpass on the left.

The net effect is that I can model the Station with very little compression.

As for the points, most are B7 straight points. This is one of the Easitrac options, and chosen as being reasonably long, bearing in mind that passenger stock would not use it, only goods traffic. The alternatives would be a B8 or a C10 (nice but very long). The one giving access to the Goods yard is on a slight curve - I'll build a straight one first to check if this is feasible in N. At that stage I will also decide if I will build the 3-way or cheat. I must admit a 3-way would look good. Oh, and I also have to build the catch point.

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Re: Essence of Dee (SDJRT in N)

Postby Barcaneatpete » Tue Mar 03, 2009 4:10 pm

Looks good Howard and all your proposed tweaks make a lot of sense - the plans seem to work well with the chosen baseboard size whilst retaining enough breathing space to give the 'train in the landscape' context. Assume the viewing side will be the Signal Box side?
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Re: Essence of Dee (SDJRT in N)

Postby wusko » Tue Mar 03, 2009 7:43 pm

Barcaneatpete wrote:Assume the viewing side will be the Signal Box side?

The ground rises to the back, so - yes - this is the obvious viewing side.

The main features of the station which I will retain are the open goods yard, the track widening for the double bridge to the South (left on the plan), and the road under the railway to the North.

I tried to also put the Hotel in, but it would have compromised the goods yard (I do not have the space to double the baseboards for greater width). I also experimented with the track at an angle since a dead straight running line is not so interesting. Again it meant compromising on the goods yard.

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Re: Essence of Dee (SDJRT in N)

Postby Kris » Tue Mar 03, 2009 9:23 pm

I like the idea of using Cole. It seemed like a small station with a lot of potential. I considered modelling it about 3 years ago, even popping down to see what was left (very very little) no real hardship in visiting as I was spending lots of time in Bruton (just down the road).
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Ghost Goods Shed

Postby wusko » Wed Mar 04, 2009 9:28 am

wusko wrote: I may make the Goods Shed removable...

...Or not bother with one!

Having nearly completed my scrapbook of Cole I looked to find the design of the Goods Shed. It is not shown in any photograph - even though it is clearly marked on the plan in the book by Judge & Potts. Another discrepancy in their plan.
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RFID

Postby wusko » Thu Mar 12, 2009 3:54 pm

I've been doing a trial build of the Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Starter Kit for MERG. The RFID kits are due to be announced any day soon, and I will be demonstrating this at the forthcoming Alexander Palace Model railway Show (28 and 29 March).

You have to be a MERG member to buy the kits, but everyone is free to watch the demo!

The picture shows the Starter Kit with power supply, reader module and RS232 output. The N gauge wagon and coach have RFID tags attached, and each tag is uniquely identified as it passes the reader.
RFID_demo.jpg
MERG RFID Starter Kit with N gauge vehicles
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The picture was posed for photography and normally the reader would be closer to the track. Much to my surprise it still worked for the tag in the coach (placed at right angles to the track). Placing the reader closer, it works for the wagon as well. A bigger reader with greater range is also available, and might be needed if placed under the baseboard.

This code is sent to a computer via the serial cable. I'm using an application written by MERG member Mark Riddoch that displays a page from a PowerPoint presentation - the relevant page being dependent on the tag ID. Mark uses this to display information about a train as it leaves the fiddle yard and enters the viewing section of his club's layout.

I plan to make a hand-held reader module and "waft" it over the locomotives when stored on the cassettes. The program can then show what DCC ID to use. (Reading the loco number on N gauge steam locos is difficult even when close up).

I think this is an exciting development but, as MERG Secretary, I suppose I am a bit biased.

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Re: Essence of Dee (SDJRT in N)

Postby GWMark » Thu Mar 12, 2009 8:33 pm

Howard,

it is good to see the RFID stuff being shown off more professionally than I did. The kits are looking good and a lot better than my strip board efforts.

I am working on some improvements to the PowerPoint code and have also worked on the Excel fiddle yard application, it now speaks out the roads that incoming trains are destined for! If anybody had ideas of what they would like to see from this sort of technology I would be very interested to hear.

Hope the demo goes well at Alexander Palace and I shall probably see you there on at least one of the days

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Re: Essence of Dee (SDJRT in N)

Postby Nigelcliffe » Fri Mar 20, 2009 8:44 am

Howard,

Looking at your picture and text, the "missing" bit is now the computer code? Getting a serial stream into the computer is one thing, but converting that into something useful in the various computer railway management programs is the next step (RocRail, JMRI, Railroad&Co, etc..). Do you know if anyone has worked on this ?

There might be other ways to get signals into railway management software.

The self-contained "hand-held" scanner might be very useful. (And I can think of theoretical ways it could send the loco address to the throttle).
Could a high-power version be made which could scan an entire stockbox and confirm that all items in a stock-list were present ? It might need a hookup to a small PDA or Netbook computer.
That's essentially similar to a commercial container scanner I had a small connection with a few years ago.


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Re: Essence of Dee (SDJRT in N)

Postby wusko » Fri Mar 20, 2009 11:06 am

Nigelcliffe wrote:Looking at your picture and text, the "missing" bit is now the computer code? Getting a serial stream into the computer is one thing, but converting that into something useful in the various computer railway management programs is the next step (RocRail, JMRI, Railroad&Co, etc..). Do you know if anyone has worked on this ?

The only code I am aware of is the PowerPoint presentation, and Excel spreadsheet written by Mark Riddoch. Hopefully once people start playing with the starter kit more applications will arise.

Nigelcliffe wrote:The self-contained "hand-held" scanner might be very useful. ...Could a high-power version be made which could scan an entire stockbox and confirm that all items in a stock-list were present ?

My only experience so far is with the Core-ID12 reader as shown in the picture. The Core_ID20 reader has a greater range (so presumably is higher power), and has been used by the MERG kitmaster for under baseboard mounting where his baseboards were too thick for the ID12 to have an effect. The MERG Reader PCB has been made so either the ID12 or ID20 can be used - the pins are in the same location, and the bigger ID20 overlaps the PCB.

I will be picking up some more RFID kit at the show so I can do more experiments. I'll post results here.

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more on RFID

Postby wusko » Sun Mar 22, 2009 9:38 am

I had completely forgotten that Howard Amos' TCC program has support for reading RFID tags. As the author of the tutorial TB (Technical Bulletin) on TCC I should have known this, but I've not kept up-to-date with TCC developments.

He wrote up his experiences in the May 2008 MERG Journal and more details can be found on his website
http://www.qtutrains.com/index.php

He found range to be a problem too, but by mounting the Reader PCB directly below the track ('inside' the baseboard as it were), it worked well.

Both single readers (as in the MERG RFID Starter Kit), and the Concentrator are supported. TCC supports a database, and received tag data is looked up in this and the rolling stock ID is passed to the script which can then fetch any other data from the database for the wagon that just went past.

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RFID kits now available

Postby wusko » Sun Mar 22, 2009 5:37 pm

Two RFID kits are now available (to MERG members) - the Starter kit is ??26, and a pack of 5 tags is ??10.
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Re: Essence of Dee (SDJRT in N)

Postby Crosland » Sun Mar 22, 2009 7:13 pm

Nigelcliffe wrote:Howard,
Looking at your picture and text, the "missing" bit is now the computer code? Getting a serial stream into the computer is one thing, but converting that into something useful in the various computer railway management programs is the next step (RocRail, JMRI, Railroad&Co, etc..). Do you know if anyone has worked on this ?

I'm looking at JMRI.

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Coach Lighting

Postby wusko » Sun Apr 05, 2009 7:39 pm

I've been playing around with coach lighting and adding tail lights to brake vans. Nothing much to show yet, but I've found some new products which might help.

Firstly at Alexander Palace I bought packs of Bachmann N gauge wheels. They now have

379-410, 3 hole wagon wheels
379-411, spoked wagon wheels (8 spokes)
379-412, coach wheels.

On the wagon wheels, the axles are insulated from the wheels - so no good for Peco Brake Vans where I want a tail light. However the coach wheels have the axle live to one wheel. Although classed as coach wheels, they are the same 6.2mm diameter as the wagon wheels (coaches should have 7 mm wheels). They can therefore be used in Peco Brake vans.

I also asked Colin Albright how to remove the roof from the new Bachmann Brake Vans and he told me it was a one piece moulding! So, I'll have to attack it from below.

In order to make elctrical connection to the inside of the vehicle, I tried an N gauge coupling spring on an axle (remove one wheel with a gear puller, add spring, replace wheel). The spring rotates, but nevertheless introduces too much friction. However Richard Johnson of DCCConcepts has introduced some specially made springs custom made to fit the axle and provide little or no resistance.

Bromsgrove models are now stocking these for N gauge (with OO coming), see
http://www.bromsgrovemodels.co.uk/pi-99 ... egoryId=29

I'll have to order some & see how I get on.

I've also been looking for a reasonably priced and small function decoder to use for coach lighting. I found the Digitrax TL1 ideal. Its only a one function decoder (so only has 4 wires) and Bromsgrove are selling them at ??10 a go.
http://www.bromsgrovemodels.co.uk/pd194 ... egoryId=59
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Re: Essence of Dee (SDJRT in N)

Postby buffalo » Sun Apr 05, 2009 8:42 pm

I've looked at this thread before because of my S&D interests, but have only just seen the posts on RFID tags. I've been working with several RFID applications for several years and have only recently started using them on model railways. I say 'using' but so far nothing more than a few tests on a couple of feet of track. Coincidentally, the setup I used looks almost identical to the MERG setup shown by Howard. I assume this is the low frequency (125kHz) CORE kit and 12 or 13mm glass tags? If so, I can confirm Howard's observations about range of repetion.

Nigelcliffe wrote:The self-contained "hand-held" scanner might be very useful. (And I can think of theoretical ways it could send the loco address to the throttle).
Could a high-power version be made which could scan an entire stockbox and confirm that all items in a stock-list were present ? It might need a hookup to a small PDA or Netbook computer.
That's essentially similar to a commercial container scanner I had a small connection with a few years ago.


To scan an entire stock box you would almost certainly need to go to high frequency (13MHz) tags as with many of these it is possible to do multiple reads simultaneously. The low frequency systems are usually only single read; that is, you need to pass the scanner over each tag one-by-one. The high and low frequency systems are, of course, not compatible and that is without getting into the numerous incompatible standards for encoding in each frequency band. Some tags are writable so are able to store data so this might be used to hold loco addresses. Again writable tags are more common in the high frequency types. However, it's just as easy to use the tag ID to look up the loco id in a database. Commercial hand-held scanners for any frequency/encoding tend to be expensive, typically ??300-600. SD card scanners that will plug into some PDAs can be found for under ??100, but typically these only have a read range of around 5cm so wouldn't be a lot of use.

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RFID

Postby wusko » Mon Apr 06, 2009 8:42 am

buffalo wrote:... the setup I used looks almost identical to the MERG setup shown by Howard. I assume this is the low frequency (125kHz) CORE kit and 12 or 13mm glass tags?...The low frequency systems are usually only single read; that is, you need to pass the scanner over each tag one-by-one.


That's correct, I'm using the low grequency Core-12 readers and 13mm glass tags. Not only is it single read, but once a tag has been read there is a small delay (about 2 seconds from memory) before it can be read again.

MERG also have an RFID concentrator in the pipeline, due for release soon. This will allow up to 8 readers to be connected to one PCB with a single RS232 connector.
RFID_concentrator.jpg
MERG 8 channel RFID concentrator
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We've had an expression of interest in the concentrator from a research lab in Switzerland that wishes to track mice in a maze!
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Re: Essence of Dee (SDJRT in N)

Postby buffalo » Mon Apr 06, 2009 9:50 am

wusko wrote:...
MERG also have an RFID concentrator in the pipeline, due for release soon. This will allow up to 8 readers to be connected to one PCB with a single RS232 connector.
...
We've had an expression of interest in the concentrator from a research lab in Switzerland that wishes to track mice in a maze!


I'm not suprised, that looks like a simple but very useful piece of kit.

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Re: RFID

Postby Nigelcliffe » Mon Apr 06, 2009 10:22 am

wusko wrote:We've had an expression of interest in the concentrator from a research lab in Switzerland that wishes to track mice in a maze!


I'd have thought the tags were a bit big to glue to a boson (oops, wrong Swiss lab :-) ).

I can see how the MERG system would work in such a situation, and could be a very cheap solution for their lab work. Could they train some mice to clean track in tunnels or similar in return ?


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Progress

Postby wusko » Thu May 07, 2009 3:37 pm

Not much happening on the layout at present, but various other peripheral things are taking place-

I attended a workshop on etching PCBs at the recent Electronics for Railway Modellers weekend at Missenden Abbey. I etched a small PCB (my first etch) for the serial socket on the RFID demo board so the lead comes out sideways instead of upwards. The ability to make small PCBs opens up lots of interesting projects. More work!

I've also modified the demo board to allow a different reader to be attached (via a pluggable terminal block). This allows my "magic wand" to be wafted over locos on the cassette fiddle yard to read the DCC ID.

Work still progresses on the MERG stand for Exhibition use. Its taking so long my girl friend says its my "NHS IT project". Still, at least she painted the inside for me (I'm not allowed near a paint brush). However its been well received - so much so that another one is requested. More work!

One problem I have found is that the top is bowing slightly, even though the heaviest thing it supports is a laptop. Its 12mm Birch plywood, but is unsupported over its full 3' length. I've bought some steel angle to try and fix this - aluminium angle is simply not strong enough.

I've started refining the jigs for making cassettes. Having decided to use various lengths up to 3' I then realised I needed somewhere to store them! I found a 1 metre pan drawer unit at B&Q so bought this. I was told it would be delivered on 30/3/09, so did a quick Internet serach for some suitable sliding drawer runners. I chose the BLUM standard 430E full extension drawer runners from Isaac Lord because they only need 12.5mm either side of the drawer. Unlike the sketch I plan to use a substantial base - probably 12mm Birch plywood - and aluminium sides. This should just give me enough room to store 3' cassettes.
drawer_runners.gif
Details of drawer runners for cassette storage
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When I bought them I asked for 550mm length ones in white. The guy came back and said they only had 500. I assumed he meant the quantity, not the length so said "I don't want that many"! That caused a bit of amusement. I bought 550mm ones in brown.

I waited in all day on 30/3/09 for the pan drawer unit, but no delivery. When I telephoned they said it would be 30/4/09! Anyway the unit has now arrived (flat packed). In the shop I was careful to measure the internal width to ensure I could use it. I never thought to measure the internal depth. The unit is designed with a false back mearly 10cm in. I don't want to sacrifice depth, so I'll have to machine the sides before assembly. More work!
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Easitrac Points ...

Postby wusko » Thu May 07, 2009 3:45 pm

... are now available from the 2mm Association.

The long points (B8 & C10) are not yet available but fortunately I've decided to use B7 and so I'm sending in an order.
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Re: Easitrac Points ...

Postby Barcaneatpete » Thu May 07, 2009 4:08 pm

wusko wrote:... are now available from the 2mm Association.


Yes I saw that - and very striking they look in the early photos - guess I shall be placing an order very soon too... :)
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Re: Easitrac Points ...

Postby PaulCheffus » Fri May 08, 2009 3:26 pm

Barcaneatpete wrote:
wusko wrote:... are now available from the 2mm Association.


Yes I saw that - and very striking they look in the early photos - guess I shall be placing an order very soon too... :)


Hi

Sent my order yesterday. I've decided the GJLC layout I was building is now going to be all Easitrac (except the fiddle yard as its already built) after seeing the photos.

Cheers

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under baseboard storage

Postby wusko » Thu May 14, 2009 2:29 pm

I've been tidying the attic, and making storage on wheels for under the baseboards. The first step was to buy some small plastic cabinets on wheels (from the Office supplier Staples).
storage1.jpg
plastic cabinets from Staples
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They are not terribly strong (you need to check for breakages and cracks before buying), but with care should last OK. At 70 cm tall they will easily fit under even my low baseboards.

Next I've used up some oddments of chipboard and MDF to make some trolleys for various plastic boxes. I've used a pair of fixed casters at one end, and a pair of swivelling, lockable, casters at the other end.
storage2.jpg
Underside of trolleys
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In use it is easy to manoeuvre them by pulling on the side with the swivelling casters. Once locked they stay put. I got the casters from Axminster.
storage3.jpg
trolley in use
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BTW the carpet tiles are simply stuck down with double sided tape, and make the attic a lot more comfortable than bare chipboard flooring. They were removed from the girlfriend's flat when I fitted wood block flooring, so cost nothing.
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Easitrac Points

Postby wusko » Fri May 15, 2009 1:35 pm

My order from the 2mm Association arrived this morning. I didn't get everything I ordered - I'm still waiting on the pack of 12 sprues for the chairs, and the jig for bending the flangeways. Never mind, I've got lots of other things to do (including making more "skateboards for my washing basket" as my son puts it)

The picture shows the bits I got together with a B7 template from Templot. The same number of sleepers are present on the Easitrac milled turnout base as on the Templot plan, but the former uses equally spaced timbering. If I hadn't put the two together I would never have realised the difference. I can certainly live with this.

The space between the sleepers on the turnout base are milled to a lower depth, so can be hidden during ballasting.
EasitracPoint.jpg
B7 point and components
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At the top of the picture is a set of cast brass sleeper bases (for track feeds), and next to this a jig for filing the 1 in 7 crossing angle. It probably cannot be seen in the photo, but there are slots for holding the rail at the right angle so it can be filed, and also a V for assembling the rail. The crossing Vs used to be silver soldered, and I might do the same.

At the bottom of the picture is the tiebar operating mechanism, with its "instructions" to the right. I would really have liked more comprehensive instructions, but I guess these will follow in due course.

The rectangular bar with the two small square pips is, presumably, the jig for accurate location of dropper wires. How this is to be used I'm not sure.

I'm going to wait for more detailed instructions (maybe in the next 2mm Journal) especially as I will be making this to N gauge NMRA standards and not 2mm.
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Re: Essence of Dee (SDJRT in N)

Postby nick_bastable » Sat May 16, 2009 3:01 pm

At the bottom of the picture is the tiebar operating mechanism, with its "instructions" to the right. I would really have liked more comprehensive instructions, but I guess these will follow in due course.


thread on 2mm list today should solve this problem
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Re: Essence of Dee (SDJRT in N)

Postby wusko » Sat May 16, 2009 3:09 pm

nick_bastable wrote:thread on 2mm list today should solve this problem

Yes, thanks, I saw that and had another look at my bits. The clever thing is that the rectangular piece (for attachment to the underside of the baseboard) is already threaded. It looks an ideal mechanism to tie in with the Servo motors I plan to use.

Did you have any problems soldering the small disk & pins?
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