Sunday, May 24, 2020

Too Cold to Model

Well this weekend I crawled out of bed on a cold Saturday morning and made my way over to Ray’s to pick up some strip styrene.  I availed myself to 9 packets and was still missing three others that I wanted.  So I happened to then visit George and he was missing the same three packets.  It is likely that I had previously cleaned out these sizes at both shops.  I could have visited Raymond, but did not want to disturb him and I will probably only have to wait one week, as I will try again next weekend.  There are some other packets I need to pick up to replenish my supplies and George is also getting a shipment in early this week.

When I got home, I could not get motivated to continue on with modelling the QR HO wagons I started last weekend.  So that activity will be put on the back burner until next weekend.

I did however, do a bit of work on a future article on Railway Operations for AMRM.  Today I continued along this theme and I also did some ground work today on what could be another 12 follow up subjects, if there is any interest following the first two articles.  Some of these subjects are quite simple and would likely be pretty small, but some of the others will be quite involved.

Last Tuesday a few of the Tuesday Nighters got together online and were joined by Marty.  He was on my back for another future presentation for the NMRA-X live streams in the future.  I had a think and I could actually do another presentation.  I’m not sure that the presentation will run for an hour, but may well do for 30 minutes and have some question and answers afterwards.  I have started putting together an initial PowerPoint presentation.  Actually the reason I tried to pick up some of the styrene packets on Saturday morning (4 packets actually) was because I was going to make something in and for my presentation and wanted to record a photo diary of construction in my presentation.  So that activity will also not be until next weekend at the earliest.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

QR HO HOn3½ Wagons

This week I did do some more work on my QR HO wagon.  The side bracing was added to the second wagons and bogies added.

I also got my spy camera out (I’ve had it for 3 weeks tomorrow) and got around to charging it and gave it a very quick test run.  The instructions that came with it were undecipherable and luckily I then found a YouTube video on its operation and an English version of the camera’s manual online.  The camera was OK.  It can even be used as a webcam.  Not bad for something worth $13 + change.  I am thinking that I might need to buy another one so I can just keep one down the shed and one with my laptop for when I want a second view on something when I do an online meeting.

On Friday I visited what was my local hobby shop.  It was Simon’s last day of trading from the store.  I went in and there was practically nothing left.  He had sold it all off.  No styrene, no paint.  That was what I went down to buy.  But what I left with was a styrene stand.  I really have no room in the shed to house it, but I know someone with a larger styrene collection than me who has a shed just as big and could use it.  If he didn’t want it, I was going to pull the stand apart and put all my styrene on one of the sides and attach it to a wall in the shed.  I think I’d go close to filling up one side in the number of packets I have.  However, Raymond and Lefty accepted the stand, and they now have it in their shed.  They can put magazines in the end slots used for various types of styrene sheets.  The other side they could use for bogies, detail items, and other nick-knacks that they have to allow them to put things on display.
Raymond's styrene stand.  One side completely full.  I did send him an email and told him that the packets start at the top and are fed behind the next row, so you can see all the packet numbers.  Photo by "& Son".

Magazines stored in the end of the display.  Photo by "& Son".

More styrene on the other side.  Photo by "& Son".

Saturday afternoon I participated in a Zoom meeting of 15 guys from the local NMRA division, and one from across the ditch.  That was a great meeting and the first of many if the local superintendent gets his way.  That will be great.  Later that night I attended the NMRA 12 hour session which was started off by two Australian presenters.  I particularly wanted to see the first session on signalling.  It was very disappointing that the video footage was very stuttery and lots of vision was missed when it caught up. 

Today I have spent some more time on my QR HO wagons.  The second wagon was completed but didn’t get sent over to the paint shop as planned.  KD coupling have been added, as well as end wagon detail.  On this version I also added the door detail which I did not put on the first wagon.  I may eventually go back and add that, but I’m in no rush.  I then started cutting out the next three QR HO wagons.  Well 3 turned out into 4 more.  Two will have the doors removed and two will have the doors still on.  With the components cut out, I thought I might then assemble the top of those wagons.  So that has now been completed.  I think all of the wagons need a small amount of weight added to the centre sill to help them stay on the track better. 
My first QR HO wagon.  The light does not do it justice.
The second one completed and ready for the paint shop next Sunday.

The next 4 QR HO wagons still requiring external detail and under floor detail.  That is next Saturday's job.

Next week, on Saturday I will be added the centre sill and the bolster for the bogies.  I then add the end detail and the side detail, along with the doors on two wagons.  I feel Sunday will be paint shop day.  I will then add some lead to the centre sill and then have another 6 completed 12mm wagons for my narrow gauge collection.

Quite a quick and easy process that has worked out costing not much money at all for 6 new wagons in the roster.
Last week I also put together a small test track for 12mm wagons.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Tying Up Some Loose Ends

On Monday this week, with it being a public holiday,  I got stuck into doing some work on some more 12mm scratch built QR HO wagons – that being the wagon code as well as the scale.  The second QR HO wagon is almost completed.  Today I added some finishing touches to the first wagon, including couplers.  I then gave it a good spray of a base grey colour to start with, followed by a weathering coat of brown, black and yellowish grime over the top.  I am quite happy with the results.  I hope to complete the second wagon later this week, and potentially start on three more as well.

Yesterday evening I decided to spend some time in the Shed improving the Control Panel for Acacia Ridge Yard.  This control panel has been usable for years, but has had some pencil lines drawn on it to represent the various tracks.  This has now been upgraded to lettering tape to represent the various tracks, colour coded black, blue and red, to represent the mainline, loop line and sidings.  The DCC accessory addresses for each of the electrified points controlled from the panel have been added to the point locations so someone can manually enter those addresses is required.

Just after lunch today I decided to make a small portable 12mm test track with a coupler gauge on one end.  That used a couple of pieces of 12mm offcuts I had lying around was quickly completed.

The other things I have been doing since Friday evening is working on completing some modelling articles for AMRM.  I had a number of articles in various stages of completeness for quite some time.  I was very lazy in not completing these sooner.  I sent one off already today and maybe by early next week another two will also be sent off.  Hopefully they will be of use to them.

Bit by bit, as has been occurring this weekend, I hope to start crossing some more of the tasks off of my to do list.  After these next few narrow gauge QR wagons are completed, I will resume work on the Kyogle station building.  I also keep looking at a number of items that were being made in a large group, with only a few being complete.  I must return back to completing these items.  There are plenty more in the same boat.

I also have remembered my YouTube password, but have been too busy with other tasks to put any video up.  I will advise when I post some video to that site.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

More on Yesterday's WifiTrax WFD-30 Installation

Yesterday afternoon I took my WifiTrax WFD-30 NCE Cab Bus Wi-Fi Interface installation to the next level.  So I found an old Telstra cable modem in my office that has no use as we are on NBN.  I plugged it in and it came to life.  I found the manual online and had to work out how to reset it as I had changed the admin password quite a number of years back and I had no idea what I had changed it to.  Everyone does that right?  So I reset the modem, logged on and set about changing a few things.  I renamed the SSID (the wifi network address that the modem advertises to the world) to something related to my layout.  I then set a password so only invited guests will have access.  Don’t want those pesky neighbours trying to break into my shed wifi to run my trains when I’m not in the shed.  I tested logging in with my phone and laptop and everything worked well.  I then tried to change the WFD-30 WiFi Interface to log into ‘Home Net’ mode.  So I set the SSID and password and clicked Install in the WFD-30 web panels.  You do know it does help when you RTFM (otherwise it would not be called the fancy manual in the first place).  I rebooted the NCE system, and the now train shed’s wifi modem and then I had my phone log back into the shed wifi.  I selected a loco and bugger me, the horn worked on a couple of locos.   I might be able to get a job as plumber after all.  It seems now that the WFD-30 NCE Cab Bus Wi-Fi Interface is now in ‘Home Net’ mode.  I just need a Tuesday Nighter’s meeting at my place so everyone present with a smart phone can log in and we can determine how many we can load up on wifi in the shed.

Anyway today PK wanted some pictures.  So I thought I had better get some and do some more tests.  If I only power the WFD-30 on and not the modem, it seems that my phone connected to the WFD-30 network and I could still control a train via that network.  If I then powered the modem on and disconnected from the WFD-30 network, I could connect to the shed’s new wifi modem network, but Engine driver would not connect to the WFD-30 via the shed network.  If the modem comes up before the WFD-30, then the engine driver app will automatically connect to the shed wifi and I can run a train via the ‘Home Net’ mode.
This is the WifiTrax WFD-30 NCE Cab Bus Wi-Fi Interface straight out of the packaging.

Attach it to the cab bus, and it starts to light up.  Red says that the device has power.  Blue says that the command station is polling the address of the device.

I get my trusty $29 phone out and check for networks in the shed.  The top one is what the WFD-30 advertises.  I connect to it via Engine Driver and I can run a train.

As soon as I connect to the device via wifi, the green LED lights.  This LED has two modes.  When a device is connected to the WFD-30 directly, the Green LED will flash when information is sent via the wifi network.  When a device is connected via the Home Net mode, the green LED is continually lit.

This photo shows that the shed Wifi network has been enabled and phone has connected to the Home-net.

While in the shed yesterday I noticed that two of the new 12mm sidings in Clapham Yard did not have wiring to the track bus, so I could not use them.  I must have forgotten to do that when I installed them.  I was also having a short in the Cougal Spiral to Acacia Ridge Section.  I scanned the track and wondered if it was a particular narrow gauge point, that I might have bumped yesterday.  I changed the direction of the set of points and the short disappeared.  Being a 12mm Peco point, it is an Electrofrog point.  It has the wire connected to the point frog for powering.  I never bother to connect these wires up.  What I normally do is feed the wire back under the point and then it is out of the way.  I had another look at this point and the wire connected to the frog.  I pulled the wire back out and just let it hang there and then I changed the point again.  This time there was no short.  It appears that the wire to the frog, had worked its way out and was touching one of the stock rails, so when the point was changed to the other direction, it was connecting both stock rails to the frog.  Well at least I found and solved the issue.  It is all good now.  I also added the droppers to the two Clapham Yard sidings and the new siding I added to Acacia Ridge Yard and then ran a 1720 back and forth in all the areas to confirm it is all workable.  All Good.

Tomorrow I hope to eventually get to what I was planning to do over the last 2 weeks and I have still yet to start.  However, given that I also picked up a 10 pack of 12mm bogies at the hobby shop yesterday, I might resume my task of scratch building some steel 12mm wagons.  I have one almost complete and I should be able to complete the second tomorrow as well.  I also have another task to add to the 'To Do' list.  It is to build a 12mm wagon to place my new camera on so I can get some footage of the 12 mm track. This will be a driver's eye view of the layout.  I also have to try and remember my YouTube password, so I can upload some footage so I can then share the links.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

WifiTrax WFD-30 NCE Cab Bus Wi-Fi Interface

I came home from the local hobby shop this morning after purchasing a WifiTrax WFD-30 NCE Cab Bus Wi-Fi Interface.  I unpacked the device and plugged the WifiTrax into my cab bus, turned on my NCE 5 Amp system system and the WifiTrax device lit up.  I grabbed my dedicated engine driver $29 phone.  Found the network that the WifiTrax was advertising on and connected to it.  I started engine driver application on my android phone, selected a loco sitting on a siding and OMG the loco ran, the head light went on/off, the brakes function worked, the horned sounded.  It horn continually sounded like someone was having some sort fit.  I was.  It could not have been any simpler.  Give the creator of this device a medal.  It is magic.  It is fantastic.  Every NCE owner should get one.  George was selling them for $150.  I took his last one.

This initial setup means that I am now limited to 4 wifi throttles using this product on the layout, without having to use my Raspberry Pi.  So I will read the full manual for the WifiTrax later today/tomorrow and look at setting it up on a wifi network in the shed and then I can have a lot more throttles apparently.  

So it now looks like I can cart this device along to any of my mate’s layouts and connect it to their cab bus and they will have a wifi enabled setup.  So when the current Covid-19 lockdown is over, I could visit Darren, Anthony, Lefty, Cliff, Geoff, Jeff or anyone else also with an NCE system and a vacant valid address available and then they can also have a wifi equipped layout.

How good is that?  Pretty Damn good if you ask me.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Stress Followed by Relief

Any spare time this week has been taken up concentrating on and preparing for what was to occur yesterday evening.  This was the first livestream of 24 sessions in hourly timeslots from around the world in the NMRA-X live stream to the masses via the NMRA USA Facebook page.
Agenda for Saturday/Sunday's NMRA Live stream event.

I think I was asked just over a week ago to participate.  That started the brain ticking over.  What was I to present?  How was I do to it?  Where was I to do it from?  So last Saturday I got a wifi extender from Jaycar and set it up in the shed.  So my laptop could then get internet access when it was located in the shed.  I had a previously created a PowerPoint presentation that I had given to my team at work about what secret business actually gets transacted in the shed.  This was 20 slides, with 20 seconds to talk about each slide.  The team loved it and feedback spread around the organisation.  This was the basis of my presentation on Saturday evening.  So the number of slides were doubled and a few items changed.  Photos in the presentation featuring locations were updated as the trackage in some locations has evolved over the last 2 years when the original presentation was first created. 

I got out my “spy camera” that is suitable to be positioned on a flat car – container flat – and pushed around the layout.  But that camera would not charge and then issued an error after a minute or two of charging.  I asked around my close mates and they advised that they either did not have a “spy camera” or theirs was in the same boat and was consigned to the bin.  Mine had not been used for almost 8 years.  I found the next evolution of these cameras on eBay with the help of PK.  So I ordered one on Monday night.  Would it get here by Friday so I could use it and have some more current footage of the layout for Saturday evening’s presentation?  It was only coming from Sydney.  Surely it would!  You all knew the answer.  No chance like a snowflakes chance in hell.  But on Friday night another mate posted to our private Facebook modelling group some shots of his layout from his version of a spy camera on a flat wagon pushed in front of his loco.  This bloke had a “spy camera”!  So I made arrangements to scoot (don’t say anything PK) over to Jeff’s place and borrow his camera early on Saturday morning.  What a mate!

So I came home, put the camera on a flat car and then started running the car around the layout.  The first trial trip was from Grafton Yard to Cassino.  I checked the footage.  It was good, except there was no sound.  Damn!  Anyway I then proceeded to run the train all the way to South Brisbane Interstate Platform.  The only issue was running through the Running Creek area after Border Loop and before The Risk.  The train just stopped in a hidden section of track.  The loco derailed.  The camera fell off the wagon.  I think it hit the tunnel portal upon exit of the hidden section.  The wagon derailed many time in a very extreme reach area.  The wagon and loco derailed again and the camera fell off just before reaching the Risk.  So I restarted videoing after the troublesome section, and I just left that section of footage out.  I will eventually go back and investigate that section of track when I’m in the mood.  However, today I did look at my "Inspection Car" that houses the camera.  There is no bogie movement.  The screw was too tight.  So I loosened that up a bit so next time I expect to get better results.

Now to make matters worse, when I checked the Internet access in the morning sitting in the shed, I could not connect to the Internet.  My wifi extender would not work.  I could not get the internet.  I did everything I could think of.  I set it up again about 5 times.  Nothing worked.  That is when I need access to a good "plumber".  That is a work joke!  I am not a plumber.  I work with some of brightest network and security guys in Australia and I’d like to have one of them on tap when things go bad at home.  I can’t say what they actually do, but together, we can do practically anything.  Actually I sort of do have a plumber on tap.  Just up the road in the next suburb, “And Son” or “Raymondo the Magnificent” as we call him is almost in this tier of category.  He is in our local modelling group – the Tuesday Nighters.  He is also a go to man at work for network issues.  But I persisted alone.  I could just get my house wifi in the shed, but at 1 bar of signal, I thought the streaming of a slide show and any videos would be very bad in quality for the viewers around the world, and the network could possibly give up the ghost at anytime.  Anyway, I moved the location of the wifi extender in the shed, and everything came good.  Damn technology.

On Friday night the Australian contingent for the presentations (4 from Queensland and one from NSW) and some of the people assisting with the preparations and the event were online together discussing, showing and testing bits of their presentations.  So this week’s worth of stress seemed to be for no reason at all, as everything was in readiness.  At this stage my shed wifi was fantastic.

On Saturday afternoon, I logged on, saw a few mates online, and watched the Australian content.  As my presentation time came around, I logged onto the chat room and began my presentation.  About 15 minutes into the preso, the PC that streamed to Facebook downstream from my place got a norton’s violation.  So normal services were interrupted while that was fixed, and then we resumed the PowerPoint presentation and then showed the 6 video’s that ran for about 20 minutes and showed the train trip running from Grafton Yard to South Brisbane Interstate.  I watched the next session and then resumed watching this morning and after 26 hours of broadcasting the stream finally ended around 11:00am this morning.  Eventually the presentations will be cut down with the downtime where the change over of presenters is cut out and this will be available on YouTube in a few weeks.

It was a great show.  You could see the friendly banter of the team from the UK, USA and Australia that put this together.  I was in stitches at times.  Great work by everyone.  So now I feel relief.  Well when you have just over 7 days to plan and prepare a presentation to the world, out of the blue, it will create a bit of stress.  So my original plan for this weekend to have a box assembled for the station building at Kyogle by this today has not progressed at all.  I’m sort of feeling exhausted right now.  So maybe that is now next week’s goal.

I did however do some tinkering in the shed this arvo.  I had a 12mm curve point sitting around unused.  Today I finally found a locations for it.  At the far end of Acacia Ridge Narrow Gauge Yard, I can put this into a headshunt and create another short 600mm siding.  That is a location for my growing fleet of narrow gauge wagons.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

The Great Plans Come to Nothing

This weekend I had planed to try and build the Kyogle Station building.  I read somewhere in an article on Kyogle that the station building was an A3 model.  I can tell you it certainly was not.  If only I studied the plans a bit more as I have them in a NSW book of all the A Series stations in a bit more detail.  I thought that the A3 Skillion roofed building might have been different to the A3 Standard Design version, as my A3 standard plan was not what Kyogle looked like.  But upon closer investigation the A4 version is a closer starting point.  The station building at Kyogle looks like it has had additions made to a standard A4 Skillion Roofed Station building at each end of the building.  These additions are quite evident in the close up photos I have which show a larger board size on the additions compared to the original building's construction.  It is obvious on both the front and back photos of the building.

I went through my styrene collection and found some 1.5mm spaced styrene grooves to represent the weatherboard sizes for the original building.  Unfortunately I could not get a version that had 1.8mm spaced grooves.  The next size up is 2mm.  I think I can fudge the different board spacing via other methods.

Anyway, my weekend building activities started when I was able to obtain a copy of the A4 plan off my mate Cliff.  I already had original A1, A2 and A8 station building Data Sheet plans, but no A3 and A4 station buildings.

My intention was to complete the building by today.  However, the best laid plans always get thrown to the wind.  I instead had to do some other planning for my son doing home schooling from this week, with the dining room table being mostly cleared of my modelling junk.  I had being leaving boxes of modelling projects on the table over the last few years.  I’m sure the boss is now pleased the table is now clear, except that my son will now take up residence from tomorrow for at least 5 weeks.  I also set up a wifi extender out into the shed.  So I can now run a Skype session from the shed if I so choose to.  I might try to run this week's team meeting for work from that location.

Anyway, today, I at least cut out the sides of the station building and marked up where the doors and window opening are to go.  I still have to cut the openings out.  As the plans do not show the extensions at either end, I have to scale off the photos that I have in my possession for this unknown bits.  Hopefully by next weekend I will have a basic box assembled.

My future plans are to also get around to actually painting the various other scratch built station buildings I have laying around the layout when I am ready to paint this building.  Maybe the week after.