Sunday, September 25, 2011

Headset Progress - Almost Complete

Last week after Brendan came over and fixed my wiring problem of a loose wire causing a short circuit in my system, besides my test set, I had 4 plug-in-points working and I had run my distribution bus to another two plug-in-points but it was not soldered to the panels on the facia.  Saturday this week I got stuck into wiring up more plug-in-points for the headset system.  I wired up the first two plugs that were ready and did a test. They were good.  So I decided to press on.
My bus between each plug-in-point consists of 5 wires.  This is a 4-wire alarm cable that I had previously purchased for my staff system and a separate single wire. Well on Saturday I started running the wire bus from the end of where I was up to, to the panel quite some distance away at Cassino Station. From here the bus started to branch out in various directions.  This point then linked to the run over to Old Cassino, as well as continuing around the bottom level to Bonalbo Ballast siding, Grafton yard, Rappville Loop, Rocla Siding and then Acacia Ridge yard.  This of course is not in crossing loop order, but the order in which to connect the plug-in-points up using the least amount of wire. 
The connect from Old Cassino also splits up into two directions.  The first link from Old Cassino goes from one side of the peninsula to the other in this case to Kyogle. From Kyogle the bus runs to Lismore, then to Kyogle Stock Siding and then to Lismore Oil Siding. While I had enough 4-core alarm cable for this section, I ran out of the single core wire for the 5th wire in the bus.
The second link from Old Cassino goes up to the top deck to Border Loop.  This will be linked around the top deck to The Risk.  But I actually started wiring from the far end of this run from Glenapp back to The Risk, It was then that I also ran our of 4-core alarm cable to go from The Risk around to Border Loop.  So this means that I am about 6 or 7 metres of cable short.  So after a quick trip to Jaycar with my little apprentice who was very interested in the remote control helicopters on display.  I picked up two new rolls of 25m cable for the 5th wire in the bus and I resumed soldering up this single cable upon return home.  This wire started from Glenapp to the Risk and ran back to Border Loop.
I then switched back to the other side of the peninsula and laid the single wire from Old Cassino, across to Kyogle, Lismore, Kyogle Stock Siding, and then to Lismore Oil Siding.  Upon completion of all this wiring for the day, I tested this bus run and they all worked perfectly.  I then moved around to Border Loop, Old Cassino, and Cassino and they all worked as well.
I did have two small sections of 4-core alarm cable left and that enabled me to go from Acacia Ridge to Rocla Sleeper Siding, and from Rappville Loop to Grafton Yard.  Today I wired these in as well as ran the single wire of the bus all the way from Acacia Ridge to Rocla Sleeper Siding, to Rappville Loop, onto Grafton Yard, to Bonalbo Ballast Siding and around to Cassino. 
I think I need about 17m of 4-core alarm cable for this run back around to Cassino.  With my other missing link, I will need around 24m this wire, 25m maximum incase I miscalculated. It does come in a 100m role. I'm sure someone else will want some in the future, or I will be able to use it for some other hair brained use in the shed.  So now I need to track some down.  The last roll I picked up was from Lawrence and Hanson.  Their website is abysmal and I can't tell if they have any or not.  I will ring them up tomorrow and then work out how I can pick some up, or possibly, send the boss on an errand.  I did see that there is some at an e-bay store that allows pickup, so if L&H don't have any, the e-bay store could be an option. 

Today I took the kids to see Johnny English. That was quite good.  We all got a few good laughs.  On return I went to Shelton's place after lunch to check out his new layout design.  It is quite impressive.  I did one of his shunts.  It will be even better when he received his order for more NCE UTP's so he can then end up walking around his layout.  We discussed some scenery options so it will be great at the next Tuesday Nighters when everyone wants to try out his shunts.
I was thinking about quite a few tasks I have to complete before the next running session - whick looks like being 23th of October in the arvo.  I need to install 6 point motors at Kyogle, and then wire up two control panels for Kyogle and a second control panel for Murwillumbah.  The shed then will need a vacuum as well.  Work, work, work!  It never ends.  I must also get around to installing a decoder from a guy in the Club.  Maybe later this week or even next weekend.  Still plenty to keep me entertained.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

National Take a Train to Work Day is Nov. 18th

A while back a young lady at work whose father is into model trains had advised that the 18th of September (tomorrow) was "National Take a Train to Work Day", however, upon doing a Google search, it turns out that Classic Toy Trains magazine has earmarked Nov. 18th 2011 as that day.  I had planned on taking a circle of track (18" radius) to work along with my NCE Powercab and a Tsunami equipped 44 Trainorama Class and setting it up on a round table in my cell block at work, just big enough to suit 18" radius curves.  I was then going to turn up the horn and annoy the proverbial out of everyone within earshot.  I was told the right day, just the wrong month.

Now after packing my bag for tomorrow, it looks like I'm 2 months too early.  So let's all pencil 18th November into our collective diaries.  That's good as I will be flat strap at work tomorrow and for the rest of the week so I really will not have time to show off my hobby tomorrow at work.

Friday 18th November.

1....Tick 2.... Tick 3.... ???

I didn't get into the shed on Saturday this week until after lunchtime, and time was short as we had to go to a 3 year old's Birthday Party at 3:00pm.  When I got there I found the DCC system left on from last weekend.  Oops!  The first job was to look at the Cassino to Fairy Hill Loop staff machine circuit.  I tested the power supply for this staff machine and it was putting out 12V.  I tested another power supply circuit where the LED's were working and it was putting out 2V.  I thought I would make a new one up and connected it up and it too was producing 12V.  Hmmm!  I decided to put an LED across this power supply and the bi-colour LED lit.  I turned the bi-colour LED around and it lit the other colour.  Double Hmmm!  So I now decided to start at one end of the section and individually check each panel's wiring.  There were eight panels.  On the third I discovered a loose wire.  I attached it and then applied power to the layout and luckily these panels now all successfully lit.  So an open circuit was producing the 12V reading.  When under load, it produces 2V.  Job 1 Complete. Tick.

After returning from the first birthday party of the day, we had a few minutes while the kids had a shower before we went off to the wife's oldest sister's Surprise 50th Birthday Party.  So I glued down the track across the Upper Richmond River Bridge just north of Kyogle and let it set overnight.  I did this while I was supposed to be getting ice out of fridge in the shed, for the esky so we could take all the yummy sweets the missus had made for the party.  Job 2 Complete. Tick.

Sunday just before midday Brendan came over to hopefully rescue me from my incompetence.  He also came armed with 2 x 38's and 6 x FS, BS and BSR coaches for a test run.  After chewing his ear off for a while about layout stuff, we set about to attack Job number 3.  Measuring, Testing, Thinking, Thinking, Testing, Measuring, Testing and more Thinking.  We discussed a suggestion that another electronics mate from the Gosford Club who visited our Club Exhibition a few weeks back had made and this was discounted due to some sound logic from Brendan.  This suggestion was to install the resistor before the push-to-make button on the microphone circuit instead of after it.

After not much progress at debugging me predicament, Brendan started at one end of my plug-in-point panels and checked them out.  They all looked good.  However, my panels were wired in two radiating runs.  When Brendan attached him Ohmmeter to the circuit, when we plugged into the panels and pushed the push-to-talk button on one run as opposed to the other run, we got different results.  But with what looked like the same wiring on both runs, and different result, we were scratching our collective heads.  Brendan decided to check my tag strip where I joined my two run together.  You guessed it!  He had hit the nail, or in this case the loose wire on the head.  One of my wires had come loose on one of the runs and was shorting the microphone circuit.  Brendan soldered that up and and we gave it another test.


Later on we did another test with the DCC system on and there was a slight hum in the background.  We will keep an eye on that as I add additional plug-in-points.  I now have a task for next weekend.  Wire up the next 18 or so plug in points and test every one as we go.  Job 3 COMPLETE!!!!!  Yeah! A great big Tick.

So with the jobs finished for the weekend we set about having a bit of a run with Brendan's 38's and coaches and my CPH and a couple of 44's.  I stowed the CPH and its trailer in a siding at Kyogle.  I then ran one of the 38's past it and as it did, a strange thing happened.  The CPH tooted its horn!  I ran back the other way and the CPH said "MAX. MAX".  I ran back again and it tooted again.  Back again and it repeated its words.  Now that was strange.  Later on we ended up with two 38's hauling the coaches past the CPH and when it did, Brendan recorded the event on his phone.  I expect him to put this footage up on YouTube possibly tonight and you can see it yourself.  One 38 made the CPH toot while the other made it talk.  They did the opposite in the other direction.  We assume that it had something to do with the magnetic fields generated by the 38's motors on the reed switch ciruit on the CPH.

Tuesday night this week is at Mike's place so it will be good relaxation event.  And the next runnign session is now getting closer.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Another 44 Class joins the Stable

Tuesday this week was our Tuesday Nighters get together and we ventured over to Gentlemen Jim's place. Brendan drove from woop woop to my place and then I gave him a lift and we then picked up Barry and Shelton. This was Brendan and Shelton's first trip to Jim's place. I picked up a new second hand 44 Class from Darren that he picked up at our Exhibition a few weeks back. It was the CFCLA version. On Wednesday at work I received my latest Tsunami D251 V12 decoder from my local importer. Thursday night I removed the shell and circuit board ready for installing the decoder. On Friday I came home at 4:00pm and went down to the shed and found an old 44 Class shell that I had on a dummy 44 class that I picked up many years ago. This one was reverse 4423. I also have a red terror shell that I could have used. I also found my tweezers and heat shring required for the instalaltion operation.  Later that night after I had done my nightly tooth cleaning and reading activity with Kyle I installed the new Tsunami.

Saturday morning I did a quick test on DC on the test track down in the shed and the sound came on but the loco didn't move. Maybe I didn't give it enough time to start moving.  So I switched to DCC and could read the decoder settings, so it looked like it was wired correctly. I then checked the headlights in both forward and reverse and they operated OK and the sound came on. I then hit the throttle and she moved off brilliantly. Good! In a couple of hours I was over at the Club for our Monthly Meeting day (actually the AGM). I put 4423 on the test track attached via a SPROG programmer to the PC in the Committee Room. My plan was to tune the setting on one of my other 44's - 4425 and suck the configuration down onto 4423. I was experimenting with CV20 and CV21. Previously in all my locos I have never set these CV's, so they were 0. These are for what Functions can activate while in consists. But as I have started to use the brake function on the Tsunami 44's, I needed to make some function work when in a consist, for example, if I had one of these locos as a non lead unit in a consist. So by turning these functions on in a consist, I get all locos braking, not just the lead loco.

So after setting up 4425, I then copied this configuration to 4423. I then took both to the layout and they worked together just like a bought one. So I returned to the SPROG track and then made the same changes to my other Tsunami loco. I'd be interested in hearing what other bloggers or lurkers are using on their Tsunami for their CV20 and CV21?

Today I spent the whole day at the School fete, so no Shed activity today. I'm absolutely stuffed.

This week and next I will be installing a decoder for a Club member into a powerline 81 class. This locos was from a wooden Powerline collectors train box set that our Club gave out as first prize in our raffle at our first Club Exhibition 10 years ago. A Club member has just purchased it from a friend I believe, and the box was still in its plastic shrink wrapping along with the first prize sticker. I will put a D13SRJ decoder in this locos and replace the headlights with LED's. If this goes to plan, I will potentially replace the red marker lights with LED's as well. We will see if this will work. This loco has a psuedo 8 pin plug on a circuit board that the bogies are attached to. This is really different to other 81's (5) I have decodered up.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Further Working on the Headset System

This weekend I spent some time on both Saturday and Sunday working on my new Headset System.  I worked on wiring in 4 plug in points to the testbed system.  I have also laid more connections to another three points, but these are not soldered in yet.  Initially I wired up the headphone wires and undertook a test.  I could hear on these 4 wired in points what someone plugged into the testbed was saying.  So tick number one.  The headsets seemed to be working. 

So I bit the bullet and wired up the three wires for the microphones on the wired in network including the push to talk buttons.  Well I could not hear anything on any of the connections.  Damn!  Bugger!  And lots of other words...  No matter what I did I could not get the system to work.  I've checked my wiring again and again. 

I think I might have to call in the cavalry in a couple of weeks time and see where I have stuffed up.  Not being an electronics guru I might be as plain as day but my logic must be flawed. 

While I was pontificating about headset system, I turned on the layout's DCC system to see if there was any feedback or ringing caused by the proximity of wires around the layout.  I noticed that one complete set of staff instruments were not illuminated.  This was the Cassino to Fairy Hill Section.  This section has quite a number of intermediate staff machines and as some sections are accessible from both sides of a peninsular, there are staff machines on both sides.  There is actually 8 in total.  I had a quick check and it looked like one of my bridge rectifiers may have bitten the dust, but it may not have as upon checking the voltage, it showed that the system, the system was producing 13 volts.  This is way more than it was supposed to, however, I may have measured it in the wrong spot and it may be correct.  After the resistors in the circuit it should measure about 3 volts, but upon reflection, I may have just measured it in the wrong place.  Either something has gone wrong and it has blown all 8 LED's in the circuit due to over voltage, or at the end of the circuit there is a wire off and we have an open circuit.  I am thinking that I might have to manufacture an additional power supply or two and have them as spares in my kit box, so in the future I can quickly swap out items when I have issues, or in situations like this.

Those that follow tmy blog may come to the conclusion that there is a lot of gadetry on my layout.  Well this is true, but I think all these items collectively help to put the guys that come to my operating sessions in the drivers seat so to speak.  It makes them think that they are really operating a train (in miniature) going from A to B and for a purpose.  They are actually doing safeworking, and talking to control.

A while back I was thinking of having a running session next weekend, but I was then thinking of delaying it until the end of the month until I had the new headset system operational and suitably tested.  Now with the additional complication of my staff system down in one section, I also need to get this back up.  Alternatively I could also work out what the railways did when the staff system for a section went down and run my section the same way.  I assume it is talking back to control or having some sort of pilot system in place.

I will be flat strap at work over the next 4 weeks working on something "railways" related, so I may not have much spare time over the next few weeks to rectify things, so the running session may well be put back to early to mid October.