Sunday, June 26, 2011

More Phone Panel work and Control Panel work as well

Saturday Afternoon I got down to the shed and made two brackets for the shared phone panel for Grafton and Acacia Ridge Yards. I attached them to the facia and attached the panel. I also spliced some cat-5 cable to where the existing cat-5 cable came out from the wall. This was fed through the facia and soldered to the new panel. I then tried the call switches from North Coast Control to Acacia Ridge Yard and Grafton Yard. The LED's both worked. Amazing. I then tried calling from Acacia Ridge Yard and Grafton yard to North Coast Control - the LED's lit again. Brilliant.

The shared Acacia Ridge and Grafton Yard phone panel.  Here Acacia Ridge Yard is receiving a call from North Coast Control. But there is no phone to answer the call yet.

North Coast Control receiving a call back from Acacia Ridge Panel.

Now if only I could find two new (old) phones.  Both Saturday I spent some times trawling through second hand shops and Sunday I went to one of the local Sunday markets.  I found quite a few modern phones, but being unsure if the speakers would be compatible I decided to leave them alone.  Although today I found an old clunker phone at the Sunday Markets, but the guy wanted $55.  Tell him he's dreaming.

On Saturday I also checked out Barry's loco. It worked. But on DCC it must have had its momentum turned up real high. So this was set back to 0 and it ran a lot more responsively.
Today I got out to the shed and fixed two of my new control panels to the layout facias.  I installed the panel at Murwillumbah and the panel at Kyogle.  Both with be set up with a duplicates in another location.  One of the panels for Murwillumbah is fully wired and one of the panels for Kyogle has the wires for 4 of the 6 push buttons run, but not yet soldered on.  I think I better install the five point motors soon, or the panel at Kyogle will be a bit of a waste of time.
The main panel at Kyogle on the front facia

 The second of my NCE mini panels with the push button wires connected.

This Tuesday is Tuesday Nighters at my place.  I hope it is not cold and rainy as there may be a few in attendance.  We may have to split up to fit everyone in the shed.
I plan to work on installing the point motors at Kyogle over teh next few weekends, followed by the drivers headphone communication system back to North Coast Control.  I wonder when my sound decoder will arrive?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Inter Cabin Phone System

This week we had a large turn out at Lefty and Son's for Tuesday Nighters. There were 10 of us if I remember correctly. There were a few give aways going on as well. I got an old phone plug. Mike got a pair of NSW standard gauge bogies for his narrow gauge wagon scratch building efforts. I think Barry got some KD #5's. I'm sure there was other stuff (technical term for modelling bits for the spares box) changing hands as well.  I think Lefty was trying to corrupt some of the Tuesday Nighters trying to turn them to the dark side - or should I say - Narrow Gauge - Nnnnoooooo!  Don't do it guys.  Stay with NSWGR.  Boy and hasn't the refreshment situation changed at a Tuesday Nighters?  Lefty had about a 8 bottles of alcohol sitting right behind his coffee urn and biscuits.  I did not want to say who may or may not have turned their coffee into an Irish Coffee.

On display on the table in the Lefty and Son's Shed was an issue of the latest AJRM #11. Upon perusal I was very glad to see that Darren had an article in that issue on his staff machine setup that he is using on Nimmitabel Extension. Well done Darren.

Thursday afternoon I picked up a cheap 44 Class loco on ebay from Tom's that I will swap the shell with one of my dummy locos to make another powered unit. I also ordered a Tsunami sound chip (Alco 251 - 12 cylinder donk) for the loco. I expect the loco in a few days and the sound chip in about 2 weeks.

Saturday started off with me finishing off the last two decoder installs in locos for Barry. I also replaced the headlights with LEDs. As mentioned last week, I started the installs last weekend. I had completed 3 locos by last Tuesday night and was able to hand them back to Barry and give them a test run on Lefty and Son's layout. The other two were returned to Barry this afternoon. Barry has given me another loco to look at as it is not running. I'll check that out during the week.

After yesterday's installs were complete, I went down to the shed to investigate how I'd rig up my phone panels for the North Coast Control and the Yard Master locations. So I found a piece of 2mm styrene and cut some holes for a DPDT centre off switch and for two LED's. I then attached an old telephone plug. On the back I then attached a 7 way solder lug to connect the cat-5 cabling to.  The cat-5 runs between the phone locations.  Today I made up brackets to attach the panel to the shed wall. I also soldered everything to the panel. So now we have the North Coast Control Panel complete and ready to interface with the other panel to control Grafton Yard and Acacia Ridge Yards.
Picture of Panel and Phone at North Coast Control

On the top of the panel are indicator LED's that will light to indicate if Grafton Yard or Acacia Ridge Yard are calling North Coast Control. The toggle switch below these LED's is for me to call either Acacia Ridge Yard or Grafton Yard. When they answer I return the toggle switch back to the centre off position. Setting it up or down, lights an LED on the panel at the other end, just like on this panel. Below this is the phone plug. Mounted below this again on my workbench is the phone holder recepticle for the phone. The phone is a standard old phone with 32 Ohm speaker and mic's which I have added a push-to-talk button into the handset. However, upon testing this afternoon, I could not get the microphone to work (tested with a meter), so it may have gone to meet its maker. I will have to scrounge another one now! I do have a couple of people looking for me for old phones. A number of people have said, 'Oh - I just threw a whole lot out!' That's just my luck.

Next week I need to extend the cat-5 cable under the layout at the other end so it reaches the layout facia and also make two new brackets for the other phone panel. I also need another hanger for the second phone. Then I can solder up the other end of the phone system and hopefully - Bob's Your Uncle - it will work!

The next Tuesday Nighters is in my shed in two weeks. With a bit of luck I might get a plan back from Brendan for how to wire up the driver's headsets. This will give me time to install these before the next running session which is likely to be scheduled in August sometime. With some more luck, I might have this weeks new 44 Class available, along with 2 x new Auscision 73's to work a concrete or wooden sleeper train or even a ballast or a stock train, and a sound CPH from Eureka for one of the mountain goat runs to be shared with a 620/720 set. When I get the sound equipped CPH I will need to work on more changes to the timetable. As the 620/720 and the CPH will have to come from the loco area before they leave from the dock platform at Cassino, and then make their way back to loco on arrival back. Alternatively, I may even just take turns of one session with the CPH and one session with the 620/720. This is a descision I will make if and when the sound CPH turns up.
This week I also added a 'pageview counter' to my blog page, but it does not seem to be working all that well for me.  I will monitor this and maybe change it if it continues to give me grief.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

A Good Time to Travel to Melbourne

Well I spent 4 1/2 days in Melbourne this week at a conference with 2 other people from work, and 2 ex-workmates. I think I did actually learn something and I have some things to do over the next few weeks because of attendance at the conference. The trip down started by being dropped off at Coopers Plains Railway Station for the Airtrain to Domestic Airport Station. That takes about 1 hour. Thinking it was going to cost me $21.10, I tagged on and off and it was not until I got back to work on the Friday to check my Go-Card online and I saw that I was charged $9.42. That had me complexed. But because I used a go-card - I get the 10% discount and should only pay $18.99. Now given that this is my 11th trip during the week I, get a 50% discount. So I only got charged $9.42. Absolute bargain for going to the airport! Lucky I did not have any days off during the week, as I would have been charged the full fare of $18.99. Considering it was about $100 by taxi with tolls for the trip home, as the last train had already left for the evening. Luckily I did not have the conference this week as I may not have left Brisbane as flights into and out of Melbourne have been suspended due to volcanic dust from South America.

Although it was cold, windy, rainy and there was even hail in Melbourne, I spent the whole time inside at the conference (except at night when we hit the restaurents etc.) in a short sleeve shirt.  The conference finished on Thursday afternoon, so I hightailed it over to the city from the Crown Paladium to check out the hobby shops in the city before making my way back to the airport. First stop was The Railfan Shop. They certainly have a large collection of magazines and books, but nothing that interested me. I can certainly get all my magazines from subscriptions and my local hobby shops. Next stop was the Victorian Hobby Centre in Swanston Street. This is a hobby shop. It has quite a collection of train stuff, like styrene, scenic material, trees, glues and Noch type people. I almost bought a few more packets of the Noch naughty figures for scenes for my layout, but I will leave that for another time. They certainly had a collection of Victorian locos available. Next stop was around the corner and across the road at Hearns Hobbies. Again, a large collection, lots of the foreign stuff from the UK and US and mostly Victorian outline. So back over to the hotel, picked up a travel buddy (someone had to pay for the taxi and buy the beers back at the airport while we waited for our flights) and eventually back to Brisbane.

Saturday was Club Day. I went over to the Club and after the meeting we started to mark out a grid on the floor in the HO shed extension so we can start to show where the layout will go. We have our resident retired architects working on ways to support the bottom and top decks of the layout. No sense in wasting all this talent in the club. I hope to get around to drawing a larger scale drawing of the various parts of the layout before the next meeting. I may even draw in the layout bearers and beams as I did on my layout so we can have discussions on how to support the layout.

Today I got down to the shed for about an hour. I was finally tracing Cat-5 cable from the new North Coast Control location to the area for the Grafton and Acacia Ridge Yard Controller's location. The cable goes through a central patch area next to my shed switch box. So I finally installed my switch box and soldered the two cables together. I now have end to end connectivity. I just need to extend the cable at the Yard end and build a panel, and similarly at the NCC end.

I have been enlisted by one the the Tuesday Nighters to install some decoders into 5 of his locos and at the same time put in some LED headlights. That should not be a problem, except that they are Athearn Locos and I just hate that these old locos don't have an isolated motor. I hope to get a fewdone before next Tuesday night as that is Tuesday Nighters. The next meeting is at the Mewes Residence where we will get to see if Lefty and Son have progressed since we were last there. It was great that my conference was scheduled in the week between Tuesday Night sessions. What a great piece of luck.

So I attacked the first loco this afternoon after coming up from the shed. As I removed the motor, its retaining lugs disintergrated. As I was soldering a wire to the clip at the bottom of the motor, the clip spray loose and so did the spring in the motor. Luckily that was found under my chair and everything was re-assembled and the loco tested on DC. It seems to run OK. I need to attach the decoder and headlight with Blutak and test it on DCC tomorrow. I then started on a second loco. This was pretty easy as well. It too works well on DC and I will also attach the decoder and the front and rear headlights with Blutak and test it on DCC tomorrow. While I was testing the motor, it was separated from the drive trucks. As I applied power to the wheels the motor started spinning - that was a good sign. However, the universal went 'Twang' that was not a good sign. That was a Johnny Josephson Moment.  Those outside our Club will not know about Johnny Josephson.  Johnny is small man in stature, deaf as a post from industrial deafness, the brunt of many of our jokes, but a great  happy guy and a fantastic modeller.  He has the driest sense of humour and he used to write modelling articles for our Club Magazine.  I used to read his articles when I was publishing the mag and I would just sit there, proff read his article and absolutely wet myself and just cry tears of joy and hyperventalate.  I would have to walk away and have a drink of water in case I suffered dehidration from loosing all that water, besides I could not focus on his articles as my eyes were flooded with tears.  His stories where top shelf stuff.  We were there modelling with him.  We always read his articles slowly just how Johnny would describe stories to us - slowly.  He had us mesmorised.  Johnny would be cutting off airhorns from an N scale loco shell and twang - they were destined never to be scene again.  Johnny used to scratchbuild grills outside motors in N scale.  They were just brilliant.  One of his better stories was when Johnny was making either 10 or 20 RU wagons in N scale.  He had cut out some 200 pieces of guitar strings for steps and hand rails for his string of wagons.  When he set about fitting them to the first wagon, he found out, they were all short by about 2mm.  But in his dry wit style, he said 'Well they were only short one end'.  The worst thing he did was tell us about it.  In the next issue of the magazine, he had an ad selling the short 'at one end' steps and handrails.  That cracked us up even more.  Anyway back to my story - about 1 hour later I found that missing part of the universal on the kitchen bench about 7 or 8 feet from the kitchen table. So it was reattached and all is now well.  I should be able to do at least another loco tomorrow afternoon.

We might be able to give them a run on Lefty and Son's layout on Tuesday night.  See you next week.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Heading to Melbourne

This week I have not done much model railway related. Of course it started off on Tuesday Night with a get together at Barry's Place. Barry almost backs onto the Interstate railway line at Algester and we heard a south bound freight early on in the evening. I continued to get some suggestions for my next running session that I intend to investigate further.

Brendan brought along his Eureka CPH and showed it off. It was run on Barry's layout later on in the night. Brendan has done some surgery on the inside and hard wired a 6 function decoder. The vehicle has springs to connect the base to the top of the model for power distribution - pretty clever. When you take the top off, there are no wires linking the two pieces. The springs sit in little mounting plates and its is pretty groovey. This must be like what the FS and BS from Austrains are using. The decoder is fitted to the roof of the model. The 6 functions give and headlight and rearlight, and separately operated front and rear white and red marker lights.

Thursday this week, I headed over to Jaycar and purchased some wire. The plan was to install a control panel for Murwillumbah today - but I didn't. However, I had a visit from a guy from work and his 12 year old son. They both ran a train or two around the layout and back again. I think they were suitably impressed. I did however successfully install a new cable to my second Mini Panel. This has its address now set to 62.

Tomorrow I fly off at Melbourne. My travel arrangements were finally completed on Friday morning and I now have 4 nights accommodation booked instead of the one they originally booked me in for to attend a 4 day conference - Sometimes it is hard to get good help. The weather is not looking all that crash hot for next week - but I assume that is standard Melbourne weather. I have my list of hobby shops in the city CBD ready and I will attempt to visit them during the week. I can't remember when the last time I was in Melbourne. Maybe 5 years ago - I'm just not sure.

This weekend also marks the first outing of Splitters Swamp Creek on the exhibition circuit. It is attending the Toowoomba Show. I bet Geoff, Darren and Brendan are freezing their nads off up in the big shed up the top o fteh range. I also know that Ian from Coffs Harbour is also there. I also expect Tess will make a show tomorrow as well. That is 5 bloggers in the same place. Not a bad number. Lets hope that Geoff's layout is running well and not causing Geoff to loose any more hair - he can't afford to. Good Luck guys.

See you next week.