Sunday, January 2, 2011

A Week Off Work and Relaxing

This week's update starts with a report on the Running Session on Monday Night. We had regulars Darren, PK, and Peter attend, and a newbie Rob and for some reason Geoff couldn't make it. Well the trains ran reasonably well. A few low couplers caused some issues but they have since been fixed. The batteries in my Radio CAB-04 cut out, so they had to be replaced mid session, they have lasted maybe over a year, so I can't complain. Darren had his radio system down at MRRC for check up so he had to run tethered - a very tedious way to run trains on my layout.  A few wagons have been identified as being too light, and as they caused a few derailments, they were removed from the trains. This was the first running session where we used the staff machines at every crossing loop. We had a few drivers leave without taking a staff, but by the end of the night, it was working like clockwork.

I have one issue with the track through the Running Creek tunnel that I tried to fix a few weeks back via the quick and easy method. Well I knew the track was not centred through the tunnel opening but I thought that it would be OK and the trains would fit through. Well obviously not as a couple of container wagons actually hit the tunnel sides. So I will have to fix that issue this week.

Bang!  Running Creek tunnel with one of two container wagons that hit the side of the tunnel mouth

Tuesday Afternoon I visited Shelton for just over an hour to discuss his layout design developments.

Wednesday morning was an early start, with me packing up 5 trays of trains that I was to take to the Club. I was going to run trains on the Club layout for a change. However, on the way to the Club I detoured via Jaycar to pick up a USB to Serial Cable so I can install JMRI on the kid's netbook for configuring a few locos on my NCE DCC system. I arrived at the Club at 10:00am, and after putting a few trains on the track, a few of us went to visit Horizon Hobbies and empty our pockets of some excess cash. I picked up a pack of SDS Models Victorian 20' Cattle Containers as a belated Christmas present for myself. Anyway after running at the Club, I have now identified two 48 class locos that have couplers slightly too high. I will try and add that to my list for Monday's things to do.

On Thursday this week, I added some lead to the centre sills of 9 wagons so they should now be back on the running roster.
The wagons showing the lead weight in the centre sill

Friday afternoon I went to Bunnings and picked up two planks of timber to make some shelving around the workbench in the shed. The first shelf was added on Friday arvo and since them I have added a few more above and below the original shelf. I was inspired by the work done by one of the American Bloggers that I follow.  I still have to clean up a few things before this space is anywhere near usable.  I will setup some test tracks here in the future.
The Workbench - I have added a sub shelf on the right hand side (behind the reference card) after this photo was taken

I also got around to finally adding the light inside Ron and Marg's B&B and in particular to the room where PK is busy celebrating New Year's Eve - or at least he can dream. This LED is powered from the track via one of my power circuits. I will eventually add curtains to all the windows, but PK's room's curtains will be left open.  I will also add a door into the room and some other furniture inside the room.
The Light Off!

The light on!

On Saturday I was able to convince the financial controller to pick up two el cheapo headphones with an attached microphone at Big W for under $9.00 each. I will be trying to wire these up to a 3 volt battery supply and see if I can get these working for use by the train drivers during a running session when communicating with the Train Control. Each driver will be allocated oneset of headphones and will have to plug in at each crossing loop - just as a prototype crew will ring train control to get instructions. I will trial a test setup and see how well they work. This morning I visited Jaycar again to pick up some 3.5mm stereo sockets for the headphone and microphone jacks to plug into. If I can get two working I will then try three. I will then gradually add more headphones and see how many I can get working.  At the moment I cannot get them to work.  Does anybody have a simple circuit to make a party line that will work with stereo headphones with a microphone?  I know I can get a number of old phones to work on a party line circuit, but I thought the headphones would be easier to carry around.

Happy New Year everyone.

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