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About this blog

There are numerous reasons for starting a "blog" on any given subject, but in the environment we find ourselves in at the moment it feels like a positive activity towards maintaining sanity. So here goes.

Lyghtondown, as I'm calling the railway  (you have to have a name, don't you) is the result of a series of events and actions spanning a few years now that has resulted in a layout that is 8 feet wide and 7 feet deep.  Within these confines we have tried to strike a balance between a Train Set and a Model Railway in a Sussex countryside branch line scenario.  Only time will tell if we achieve our goals.

Entries in this blog

Servo Software

So, given that I've been playing with servos it seems that producing something simple to drive them would be a good idea.  If you are of a mind, and fancy  a modest challenge, then over HERE (in Github) is the source for the Arduino firmware.  This, after relatively limited testing, should work on a Nano, Uno or Mega2560 and control as many servos and the board has PWM outputs (with some reasonable exceptions).   Here (and arguably meaninglessly) is a picture of an Uno operating a sing

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jeff_p in Point matters

For those interested ..

Just a quick one.   "Can I arrange to put the switches on the actuator" was, I think, the last question.   Yes:     and     So there are "T Slots" in the chassis into which rather small M1.6 bolts fit and M2.0 might fit (I haven't any to try).  I would hardly say that it is simple, but it is achievable.   Attached are the STL files for the chassis, the rod and two wheels (one with 10mm throw and the other with 4mm throw).

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jeff_p in Point matters

Point motors, re-invented

Well, I guess I ought to have known that I would end up doing this, so, yes, wheel re-invention was the order of the day.   Putting that to one side I think I have come up with something a little different, perhaps more flexible while being simpler to print and deploy (though that last point really will have to wait until I have actually installed one and got it working).   I have chosen to divide the whole "model railway point motor" thing into two distinct parts:  The compo

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jeff_p in Point matters

I've come up for air

So here we are, again, in more than one way.  It's been an interesting summer with the easing of lock down and some fine weather, but changes are afoot (on both fronts).  So things have slowed a little on the layout, but mostly because the work on the Arduino concept has been trundelling (?) on with progress on both the hardware and software fronts.   The hardware is migrating off the bread boards onto something that can be attached to a layout and the software is becoming more flexibl

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That worked out well .. not!

I believe my last words were "I need to focus", and in a sense I have, just not on what I thought I should be.   The trouble with "playing with DCC control" is that once I had a proof of concept working with trains and points moving smoothly under my control I realised what was missing.  The result has been (and encouraged by the management) that I've re-written virtually everything but "properly" this time.   But that's not all, oh no.  Looking forwards towards a more automa

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Definitely need to focus..

..on the modelling.  But, to be honest, this really grabbed my interest as a bit of a technical "can I actually get that to work?" way.  The answer is "Yes", but what is it?   I decided to see if I could make a simple hand held railway controller that be used to operate a DCC layout.  When I say "a" DCC layout, I really ought to be clear and say that I meant "our" DCC layout:  JMRI with a DCC++ interface.   I wanted it to be as simple as possible to operate, and as simple as

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Movement on the I3

Now that the (apparent) rush with the blog is over a more sedate and relaxed pace will be the order of the day, but I mustn't allow lethargy to take control.  So, in the spirit of showing that the lock down protocol hasn't resulted in me wandering about the house all day dressed in my slippers and dressing gown (what a terrible image, sorry , and I don't even own any slippers), there's been some progress on the SE Finecast I3 kit.   I've rebuilt the chassis now with some new parts sour

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Just do it.

I once worked in a company where the phrase "JFDI" was occasionally fired at you.  Essentially it means "stop procrastinating and Just Do It", I'll let you workout what the 'F' stood for .   Happily, for me (and possibly them too), I no longer work for them so having this expression thrust at me has become a rather rare experience, but the other day I found myself thinking, "You can't avoid it, you're going to have to JUST DO IT", so what was I thinking about?   A bit of an

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Actual modelling, though perhaps not on topic

Hands up, I know, it's a Great Western Railways 6 Ton hand operated crane ... but, well, it was calling to me so I fell for it and picked it up from eBay.  At the time I was having trouble finding Cambrian as a vendor which was why I was scanning through the many, many things eBay suggested I couldn't do without   I have subsequently "found" Cambrian and now have a small set of SR bolster wagons to put together at some stage in the future.   Anyway, a corner of the layout is

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Time to build something.

And fill up the gaps in the layout (and that's everywhere at the moment ).   But, specifically this time, I mean the bridge across the left hand entrance to (exit from) the station.  This, with primer just applied, looked like this:     Shiny new paint, though fuzzy as this image was cropped from a larger picture.  The arch over the track is the access through the back board of the hills.  I had thought to cut it open "to the sky", but a few things stopped me:

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Getting over the hump

On the last entry I had started filling in the gaps where the hills were going with pieces of Celotex cut (or broken) out of a full size board.  We must have drawn some strange looks at the builders merchants when we bought it as we stood by a rather tiny car (only marginally bigger than a Smart for 2) with a 8'x4' sheet of this stuff leaning against it.  The solution for us was simple: use a Stanley knife to score the board into 2'x2' sections and snap it into manageable pieces.  Still filled t

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Getting the hump

To this point in the process, Lyghtondown has been rather two dimensional. Flat, even.   "Hardly a surprise", would be fair response.  At the end of the last blog entry the Management and I had got as far as playing trains on a flat rectangular area of plywood with a rectangular hole in the middle. I don't wish to minimise the mile stone that represented, we had a great evening unwrapping the toys at last.  But in real terms this much less than half way, there's a lot still to do.

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Power!

One of the least appreciated aspects of our hobby (by those outside it) is the opportunity to expand your knowledge and experience into areas that simply hadn't crossed your mind.   For us controlling trains on your "Model Train Set Railway" soundly fell into that category.  With both of us having a rudimentary understanding of electricity (management more so than me; she's the smart one), the wiring and potential issues with signal data and power being pushed through hap-hazzardly fa

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Making connections

Our intention with Lyghtondown has always been to operate it as a DCC layout, and the consequences of this choice were largely explored prior to the track being laid.  As a result much of this Blog entry really overlaps the previous entry as track laying and train control happen hand in hand. But to continue ...   In hindsight some inevitable inexperience crept into the decision making progress, though largely nothing which cannot be carefully re-examined if necessary.  Our thinking br

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Design and Goals

Now would seem like a good time to outline what the goals of Lyghtondown are, and how we might hope to achieve them.   It would be fair to say that my wife and I are approaching the hobby from opposite ends of the spectrum.  I'm very much of the "as realistic as possible" frame of mind, working to the best of our abilities within the limitations we either had to, or choose to, accept.  We've called this the "model railway" approach.  On the other hand, and a perfectly valid alternative

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In the beginning ...

... long, long ago, in a far off shed, in a garden many miles away a railway started taking shape.   I suppose it's a little too much to expect yellow lines of text rolling up the screen getting smaller as they go backed by some triumphant rip roaring sound track, and in reality that would be substantially over the top   So, about eight years ago (I had to check the date on the pictures) when I lived elsewhere I had a dream about restarting that childhood hobby I looked abou

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