When someone asks me about hobbies, I always say I am a railway modeller, but actually, in casting around for anything to put in my blog I begin to wonder what I have done in the past few weeks that could be counted as "modelling railways". Apart from layout operating at Wycrail and Warley the closest I have got to anything that might be seen as a modelling task is painting some figures and turning a piece of plasticard into an uncoupling ramp, scoring planks and rivets and painting it. The rest of the time has involved soldering irons, wire and electronic components, is this really railway modelling? Worse still, given I am a software engineer by trade, I have even spent time writing and updating software related to layout operations - the proverbial "busmans holiday".
So what have I been doing and why?
Well, I made some optical sensors for a club layout to replace some reflective infra-red ones with ones that use ambient light instead. The reflective ones didn't work on all the stock and were unreliable, so the new ones measure the light level between the track and the light level beside the track. If the between the track level is lower then it decides the track is occupied and prevent the signal to enter the block, in this case the fiddle yard, from being pulled off.
I've been trying to build an indexing turntable controller that uses magnetic field alignment to detect rotational angle - this is sill an ongoing project and very much work in progress - a long winded way of saying "It's not working.... yet!"
I been looking at ways to solve a problem with the RFID readers I designed to allow them to work in close proximity to each other - this has also involved some software development - hence the busmans holiday comment.
And finally I built an uncoupling ramp for tension lock couplers that rises slowly and silently using memory wire as opposed to the harsh, and loud, mechanism based on a solenoid that is commercially available. At least this task allowed me to decorate a slice of plastercard and get my paint brush out!
So, can I say I am a railway modeller, or an electronics hobbyist?
I know one thing, I can't wait to get back to a loco kit or building my challenge layout - ah, but maybe then I'll have to become a carpenter! Maybe this is just a multi-skilled hobby?
Enough of my musing, it's back to work time for me, after a cup of coffee maybe.....