Sunday, August 7, 2011

"This is North Coast Control ... " the phones are working

On Friday night this week, after doing some reading homework for the youngest and putting him to bed, I started modifying two of my phone handsets so they can be used in my phone system. I tested these, and my already existing one with three jumper wires with alligator clips on each end and a 9 volt battery. Success!   All three worked.

On Saturday afternoon, I took the phones down to the shed and enlisted the help of Kyle to test them. Nothing - Bugger. I then tried to trace the wiring on my circuit. I knew that 6 of the wires on the 8 core Cat-5 cable were working correctly as my calling system from each end of the phone link was working. So upon investigation, it was revealed that there was no power connected to the phone circuit. That might make it just a tad difficult to send a few sound waves encoded on the wires from one end to the other. This lack of power might also mean wgy when I previously tested one phone in the shed it did not work - funny that.  So I studied my circuit schematic and worked out what I needed to jumper together and tested it again.  There was one slight crackle and that was it. I then assumed that the 3V power source was not enough to power the system. I did not want to replace my 3V voltage source with a higher voltage because that would cause havoc with my LED's on the calling circuits, as I'd have to install some resistors - that was far too difficult. So I decided to just add a 9V battery to run the phone circuit. Keep them seperate.  So I added that and tested again. This time, I enlisted my daughter's help and to our amazement - the phones worked in the Shed.

So we have phones now between North Coast Control and Grafton Yard / Acacia Ridge Yard.

With that major milestone out of the way work then turned to the wagon card boxes I need for the layout. Where ever a goods train will leave wagons unattended in a siding, I will install a box to allow the driver to drop off wagon cards for the wagons being dropped off in the various sidings. The cards will be picked back up again when a train picks up those wagons. My wagons cards are printed on one side and contain up to four movements to be undertaken. Most only have two movements, but they can contain four movements. The cards are rotated anti-clockwise after a successful movement. I used Microsoft Visio as this is the only product that I knew allowed me to rotate the text in a box in the four directions that I needed. Others might know of other products that can accomplish this like MS Publisher but I don't have a copy of this product.

Sample card for wagon number25742 - an MRC wagon.  It travels on 4 different trains - #11, #39, #40 and #12.  It says where to drop the wagon at each location.

Another card for a different MRC, this time #22945.  It travels on the same train, but goes to Old Cassino.

This card is for an MBC #25757.  It travels all the way to Murwillumbah and back.

I do 6 cards to an A4 page. They get printed out and then cut up.

The cards for a train are kept together by a paper clip. They are collected after the driver picks up his train timetable from the timetable box.
A Sample Train Timetable.  This one is for #10, that runs from Murwillumbah, and picks up NLBX's at Murwillumbah, Lismore and Old Cassino before reaching Grafton Yard.  The indented loops are not passing loops but sidings. There is no safeworking to perform when passing a siding on the main.  However a train can be locked away in a siding as there is an intermediate staff instrument at each siding.   This train is quite a slow runner with NL4 overtaking it at Old Cassino.

What information am I missing off the cards? What inform don't I need on the cards? I'm happy to hear from others using wagon cards. For my block trains that run from Grafton to Acacia Ridge and back, they don't have wagons cards.

Last weekend I started cutting up the wood required for 6 wagon card boxes. Today I sanded this, and then assembled the boxes which will fit on the layout facia. These were attached and then upon doing a quick audit, worked out that I needed some more. So I quickly put another 4 together, cutting out, cleaning them up and then gluing and fixing to the facia. Then I realised that I still needed at least another two. I wish I could count properly sometimes. So I cut another two out and assembled and installed then today.

The cards are held on his train board by a bulldog clip. The train board comes with a pen, blank paper on the rear to write notes or suggestions for improvements, etc.  These are collated at the end of each running session, along with the notes made by North Coast Control about where trains actually crossed or where issues were encountered.  

The Train Board with a timetable, the wagon cards and a pen.  On the rear is a blank piece of paper to make notes.  Notes and annotations can be made on the timetable to assist the driver with his duties as well.

I still need to make up quite a few more wagon cards for quite a lot of the trains. But that is a task for another time.
Tuesday Nighters this week - Whoo Hoo!

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