Northern Tablelands Express approaching Ardglen Tunnel

Northern Tablelands Express approaching Ardglen Tunnel
Click on the above photo to see the Main North Album at Flickr

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Audible Warning for NCE EB1 Circuit Breakers.

Previously I have fitted an audible warning to some of my NCE EB1 Circuit Breakers to let Operators know that when a loco stops running, they have short circuit instead of loss of power, using a Piezo Transducer Module from Jaycar Part No XC-4424, connected to the the EB1, shown below.


With Operators running in both Broadmeadow (lower deck) and Werris Creek (upper deck), where lots of shunting/marshalling trains can be done at the same time, a buzz from either of the EB1's that are located in the same area, it's hard to determine which District is shorted without looking at which EB1 has a flashing LED. This ia a bit hard for a visiting Operator to know where to look. Yes the trains stop when there's a short but with Stay Alive they don't stop straight away. See below.


During a recent Operating Session, Operators asked what's the buzz noise in the Trainroom when running trains and another Operator, while setting up his trains in Gosford, felt he caused a few shorts as others were having trouble with running trains through Gosford. The Gosford EB1 did not have "noise" (Transducer). The easy fix would be to isolate the track used for setting up trains - I'll do that one day.

I wondered about another solution by having an "announcement" when a power district was shorted. I'm into recycling my train stuff even if it's 30 years old. Many years ago a I made a Digital Voice Recorder from the December 1989 Silicon Chip magazine, used with my son's Lego trains.
I found the Board along with a lot of other junk under the layout, I spent an afternoon mucking around with it to see it would work for the "announcement" solution. While it provided 4 announcements, each triggered separately, I was not happy with it.

Since seeing Dave Lowe's Arduino Presention at the 2018 Modelling the Railways of NSW Convention, I bought an Arduino Uno and a Stepper Motor from Jaycar to "try" and motorize  a Turntable from an article I saw in AMRM. Nothing done yet with that project.

Browsing around at Jaycar when I'm there for electronic components, I saw a 10 second Record and Playback Module for the Arduino. I checked the details on-line and thought I'd try one instead of using the kit above, but I did not want to use the Arduino Uno to make my announcements work. I needed one of these Modules to play around with.

Jaycar Record Playback Module XC4605

Shown below attached to an NCE EB1.


The Record Playback Module needs 5.0 Volts D.C. (not 12 V) and I needed to trigger it from the EBI instead of the Arduino so I need to use a Relay but a conventional "coil" type one would create more "circuitry" in my simple logic, so I thought I'd use a Solid State Relay from Jaycar, see:

Jaycar PCB mount Solid State Relay SY4090

Construction.

The Record and Playback Module comes with a Microphone installed.
Connect an 8 Ohm Speaker.
Provide 5.0 Volts DC and a "triggering mechanism" where both are normally supplied by the Arduino.

I soldered a 5.0 Volt 3 Terminal Regulator to the Capacitor on the EB1. I have since found that the EB1 has a 5.0 Volt Regulator already installed. I'll connect to that in the next EB1 upgrade.
I connected DCC to the EB1.
Press the REC Button while yelling your "announcement", to get the highest volume, numerous times until the "REC" LED extinguished (10 secs).

Pressing the "PLAYE" or "PLAYL" Buttons provided the "Short Circuit in Werris Creek" message.

Triggering the Module.

EB1 (default) Operation:
EB1's LED ON= Power to track. LED Extinguished = Short.
When there is a short. the EB1 disconnects the power to the track for 2 seconds. If the EB1 still senses a short after 16 milliseconds then power is removed again for 2 seconds. This cycle keeps repeating until the short is rectified. Note the EB1 "settings" can be adjusted, see the Manual.
The Module has to be triggered each time the LED extinguishes.

Connections for the Solid State Relay are:
Pin 1 to the EB1's Terminal Block position 3.
Pin 2 to the EB1's Earth at Pin 8 of the 12F683, the IC adjacent to the Terminal Block.
Pin 5 and 6 to the "PLAYL" Switch. Note: Pins 5 and 6 connection are polarity conscious.

Now we know the the Operator in Werris Creek (upper deck), has to correct his "action" etc.




The Record Playback Module, Solid State Switch and the 5.0 Volt Regulator for the modification cost about $17.00 at Jaycar plus the EB1.

If using sound decoders, don't forget to to program the EB1's CV 135 to 4. For more details see the EB1 Manual or Mark Gurries's page on the EB1 at: Mark Gurries EB1 page.

The completed "announcement" EB1 fitted behind the Fascia at Gosford. The Record and Playback Module is held to the EB1 with a Cable Tie and connected an 8 ohm speaker. The volume is more than loud enough with an old Traino 44 speaker with an easily made enclosure from some 27 mm (o.d.) conduit, 50 mm long.



The 6 Pin Solid State Relay "located" between the two boards, held with two links:
Solid State Relay Pin 1 to the EB1 Circuit Board Terminal Block's Pin 3 and
Solid State Relay Pin 2 to Pin 8 of the the adjacent PIC12F683 chip.
Solid State Relay Pins 5 and 6 (Blue and Yellow wires) are connected "across" the "PAYL" Switch of the Rec Play Module.
The 5.0 Volt 3 Terminal Regulator can be seen on the R/H side, soldered to the EB1's 470 uF Electrolytic Capacitor. Simple and it works.



The announcement of a "short" as a slack Operator runs against an incorrectly set Point in Gosford, see below.



If you want to make some of these "Annoucement EB1s" phone me on 02 9402 8929 for more details. I will take further photos as I make more of these "Annoucement EB1s".
I have made 5 of these Annoucement EB1s, all now using 5 Volts from the EB1 5 Volt Regulator, saving using a separate 5 Volt Regulator.


Monday, March 25, 2019

West Tamworth on my Main North.

Previously I wrote a Blog entry about Passenger Trains on my Main North and described that I swapped around the way Werris Creek worked, with the track from the rear Platform entering a 3 track North West Staging and the Front Platform track went onto West Tamworth instead of going to Gunnedah. This allowed a longer run of three of my "signature" Passenger trains, the DEB Set Northern Tablelands Express, the Brisbane Express via Wallangarra and the Glen Innes Mail.

For the Glen Innes Mail, I have included the 3 Coaches for the Barraba Mail that are removed from the Mail, at Tamworth. Secondly a 30T (3009) needs to be "light engined" from Werris Creek to Tamworth for the Barraba Mail.

I needed to upgrade my Tamworth particularly for the Barraba Mail "part" of the Glen Innes Mail.

Thirdly, the Mail with the ACS, CR and MHO, make the train heavier than the C36's load limit of 268 tons for the 1 in 40 grade. The 3616 hauled Glen Innes Mail will need to be double headed up the 1 in 40 climb from Murrurundi to Ardglen but on my layout, to Werris Creek.

Operating the DOWN Glen Innes Mail from Sydney now terminates "turned" in the Tamworth Sidings, has 5 engine "movements/changes" on it's run north. with a lot of "operation" centred around Tamworth and can take over 60 minutes to "run". See my latest Glen Innes Mail YouTube, below.

I needed to change the West Tamworth trackage (shown at right), to include easier operation/storage of the Barraba Mail etc.

Using a 1945 Track and Signal Diagram, courtesy of the ARHS DVD  shown below, there are many industries to model in West Tamworth.


The above 1945 show the following industries. A little research to find which ones were there in 1965. For starters I needed to model some of the following:
  • 250 foot long Platform with a Dock at each end.
  • Station Building that was from the diagram, about 150 feet long.
  • Goods Shed
  • 2 large Mills: West Tamworth Mills and Fielders Mill. 
  • Silo.
  • Stock Yard and Loading Banks. .
  • 2 Road Engine Shed
  • Small Coal Stage.
  • 60 Foot Turntable 
This section of the Main North Upper Deck is 15 feet/5 metres long and 3 feet wide. The photo shows my very compressed West Tamworth on the left and Werris Creek Cattle Pens/Loading Ramp and Mine (in the distant), on the right.

Good thing the 250 foot platform equals 3 feet in HO.

On the layout, the Station is on the "down" line closest to the aisle. Passing the Goods Shed, the line goes to the right for Armidale Staging and left to the Upper Deck Return Loop.
The Return Loop exits from behind the Mill connecting to the 3rd Loop, then "back onto" the mainline at the doorway.

Trains running from Werris Creek, Occupancy Detection on the Lift Up Bridge section, "sets" the Points so all trains go past the Station. With the Points selected for the Return Loop (not Armidale Staging), trains "turn" and appear on the 3rd Loop, passing the Silo, where a second Occupancy Detector operates the Points (opposite to that above), to bring the train back onto the single mainline. This provides automatic end of the layout, "turning" of trains so long as 3 "fixed" Points are set for their normal positions. Not prototypical but it provides the procedure I want. One day I'll add switches to these 3 Points for some form of warning. I could have used a Tony's AR PS One but I wanted to make something and I already had the Auto Reverser. 


I located the 6 Tamworth Sidings including a Fuel Depot and a Mill
at the northern end of Tamworth.

The Glen Innes Mail and the NTE are stabled in these Sidings, ready for their runs to Sydney.

The Tamworth Loco with a 60 foot Turntable and a single line Engine Shed is located between the fascia and the Sidings as shown,  Access can be gained from any of the 3 Loops.

The Centre Loop opposite the Station provides the "storage" of the the Barraba Mail's 3 Coaches and 3009 when the Glen Innes Mail is at Tamworth Sidings, ready to be connected to a UP Glen Innes Mail to Sydney.

I am still thinking of how to add track and a Return loop for the Barraba Line but this has to wait, so the Middle Road and shunting will have to do for running the Barraba Mail.

While remodelling Tamworth, I added the track crossing the mainline from Ardglen to Werris Creek, using a 90 degree Crossing, to the existing but not connected, Armidale Staging (6 tracks above Newcastle).

I wanted Armidale Staging to be as low as possible and I did not want a Bridge over the mainline.
I have changed how this Staging was to work, initially thinking I could add a further Return Loop (over Murrurundi) but it hasn't happened.


This "crossing" is "signalled and interlocked" (May 2019), using the Bracket Semaphore (shown at left) and a colour light Signal controlling the exit from Armidale Staging, so you cannot run out of Armidale Staging without first selecting the Point (shown at left) to Armidale and the Ardglen to Werris Creek "block" is NOT occupied. I used a colour light signal instead of a Semaphore as it does not need Servos or part of a Octopus III, making this a simple "signal" control of Staging.

I added scenery using my foam packaging method and added plenty of home grown Autumn Joy Sedums to hide the "90 degree crossing".

The Upper Deck of the Main North here at the aisle way from the Trainroom is 1570 mm from the floor. For Operators and especially the vertically challenged Marcus, I added a platform 300 mm above the floor to 3/4s of the Aisle way, making the height now a very comfortable, 1270 mm.

There are never enough Staging Tracks on a layout and with 30+ trains trains "staged" for an Operating Session, this new Armidale Staging shown below, helps a lot and is the new location for holding the Down Glen Innes Main and the Northern Tablelands Express, ready for their run to Sydney.






The March 2019 10 minute Glen Innes Mail video using the first 2 minutes of the old video, is at YouTube at:
https://youtu.be/g3uW0fE-bSU















Wednesday, May 9, 2018

My Revised Signalling Theory & the SCMRA Epping Seminar.

At this year's SCMRA Epping Seminar, I did a Clinic describing the way I've signalled a 40 metre single line section on my Main North layout to provide bi-directional running by rehashing my Jan 2017 Semaphore Signalling Blog entry, where all the Operator has to do, is set his road (Points) and closely observe the Signals. The rest is automatic.
Instead of using text and photos of the spaghetti jungle under the layout, I made a schematic of the "electrics".

How it works
Operating the Control Panel Toggle Switches if appropriate, provides a "ground" for a Red and an "open circuit" for a Green, "input" to the Octopus III to operate the Semaphore's Servo.  With occupancy of the Block "ahead", the appropriate two GREEN Signals are positioned to RED, shown below.




BOTH Operators have a Green. Who goes FIRST?



Either one but as soon ONE moves into Block 2 the OTHER has a RED.
Make sure "your" Signal is green before passing it.
I could add some sort of  time delayed removal of track power, in this above scenario, to Blocks 1 and 3, to correct a slack Operator not paying attention to his Signals - lots of time and effort. It is much easier to banish a serial offender to make the Coffee.

The above circuitry is repeated 4 times for Blocks 1, 3, 5 and 7, see below, to only provide one train in the Block. Trains are allowed to pass in Blocks Broadmeadow, Blocks 1, 3, 5 and Werris Creek. Home and some more Distant Signals will be added later.


While this above basic signalling method is not "exactly" prototypical of what happened on this section of the Main North in 1965 where hundreds of staff  controlled the trains, it provided me what I wanted, bi-directional running, keeping Operators apart on 40 meters of single line and it's automatic. See the below layout video:


If you want to make it more difficult to understand, see my original Blog entry at:  http://mainnorth.blogspot.com.au/2017/01/

SCMRA (Southern Cross Model Railway Association) Epping Seminars 
These are held in April at the Epping Creative Center here in Sydney, focusing on the railways of NSW with lots of prototype and modelling ideas etc. Each year there is a "theme". Keep an eye out for details in AMRM etc. 

This year it was "The Railways of Southern NSW", with the schedule of the Day copied below. In each Seminar, numerous Clinicians talk/demonstrate about a topic, in this case, about the Main South. While my talk was not exactly about the Main South, I showed how to implement Semaphore Signalling in the "South", similar to what I've done on my Main North. 



These Days are excellent for NSW modellers of any era. I hope to see you next April.
The Whiteboard had a list of suitable themes for 2019, with the "Main North" having the highest interest (and I only voted once). Fantastic-  right up my alley. I will do a Clinic and offer a visit to my Main North layout.




Thursday, December 14, 2017

Sceniced Murrurundi

With a large portion of the Main North now having some scenery but ballast is still to be added to the track, I'd like to make the locations/stations more accurate to the 1965 era I model. Painting my heritage coloured “photo station” of Murrurundi my mate Brian made for me (shown below), was out of the question. With regret I needed to replace Brian’s Station that has worked for years – thanks Brian. 


Scenicing Murrurundi was the ideal time to making a new Station. I spoke to Matt Sawtell at Models N More about making a Murrurundi Station. I sent him the photos I had taken in 2006 and the 1962 Black and White photo below. Matt made up a Laser cut Kit with a footprint 560 x 140 mm, shown below partially assembled and undercoated.


Now to paint the Station with 1965 colours, pretty hard using a black and white photo courtesy of the NSW Heritage site (below), so I needed some help here.


I have done a few Presentations for the Epping Seminars, MRNSW etc and enjoy researching a project/model using all of the AMRM, Roundhouse and Books I have collected, done much easier using Mag Index.
Oct 81 Roundhouse has a Byways of Steam article - Murrurundi, detailing the Main North from Murrurundi to Werris Creek but no photos of the Murrurundi Station.
Byways of Steam 3, has an article about Murrurundi Loco but no Station photos.
I contacted the Murrurundi District Historical Society and Des Duggan sent me a 1980s photo of the Station but I was still not sure what the colours were in 1965.
I asked numerous modellers including James McInerney for some help about the colours of the Station in 1965. James contacted numerous modellers with Ray Love and Chris Sim sending some colour photos.
Lucky for me, Ray Love sent some “end on” 1965 photos that provided the overall colour of the Station but no “front on” photos to help me with the door door/window trim Awning Bracket colours. Chris Sim sent me two 1985 photos.
The "Northern Exposures" book has a Murrurundi photo with the train blocking out the Station with just one Chimney in view but showing the Elevated Water Tank and Shed, helpful for modelling the Yard.

Matt’s kit had a wire grille in front of a wall with Station Sign, from my 2006 photos, across the the front of the Signal Box at the Newcastle end of the Station. I needed to have a "1965" Signal Box.

Des from the Murrurundi Historical Society explained that he was told the Shed at the Newcastle end of the Station was open because it was the Signal and Points Shed but he needed to check.
Lucky for me the Oct 1981 Roundhouse Article had a photo showing the Lever Frame of the Signal Box and the photo caption said “The Interlocking Machine at Murrurundi was housed in an “open-fronted Enclosure” – Thank You both Des and P. C. Booth.

With the above description and Graeme Skeet’s 1983 photo on Rolfe Bozier’s NSWrail.net web site, (copied at the left), I made my “open fronted enclosure” Signal Box, complete with a 12 Lever Machine made from Styrene Strips and added a Murrurundi Track Diagram to the back wall.







I also lengthened the building to fit my Signal Box and modified the Roofs. My completed Signal Box as viewed from across the tracks.


James suggested some Tamiya Paint colours including the XF Numbers for the two Roofs/Awnings, Doors, and Trims Door/Window Trims. This made my life a lot easier - thanks James. 

Using the photos and discussing the paint colour with Ray, I found a slightly pink (flesh) colour, LifeColor Diorama Series UA 707 at Microhobbies in Hornsby. Thinned it with water and sprayed the Station with 4 coats. 
The completed Murrurundi Station, shown below, with my mate Brian next to his Council Station Wagon, picking up a parcel, that he did many times in the early 70s.
I need to add some Down-pipes and a few other detail parts. 


My Murrurundi is located on one side of a 4.5 metre Peninsular with the Station and Loco on a 410 mm wide shelf, 1440 mm from the floor. 
I decided to remove Muswellbrook that was located above the Hawkesbury River Bridge but what to do with the the OAK Dairy, that I'd spent hours making. I wasn't going to store it under the layout so I placed it on the Peninsula Blob (Sydney end of Murrurundi) .
I needed to “isolate” the OAK from Murrurundi Station a little. I made a small hill and planted some trees (below).


Along the length of the Station/Yard, I added a higher than track level Fascia, with lots of shrubs and trees. Halls Creek (added previously), is between the Yard and Loco. In the Yard I added a 5,000 gallon covered Elevated Water Tank and a Shed. A Goods Shed is located between the Yard and Halls Creek with a track going back to the Dock at the Station. 


For Loco, Brian had previously made me a dilapidated Loco Shed, that existed in 1965. I added the Workshops etc on the backside of the Loco Shed., one covered Elevated Water Tank (will be two one day), and a few other buildings as shown in the Byways of Steam 3 article about Murrurundi Loco Depot.
A Structurama Kit substituting as a Barracks until I build a more suitable one. 
On the track to the Turntable, I added a loco de-ashing Pit and a Depressed Road with an S wagon.


Thanks to my mate Brian McWilliam who lived in Murrurundi in the early 70s, for his models: the previous Station, the dilapidated Engine Shed and the steam powered Coal Grab for Murrurundi Loco, Matt at Models N More, Ray Love, Chris Sim, James McInerney, Ray Pilgrim and Des Duggan (Murrurundi Historical Society), Byways/Roundhouse, I was able to make a 1965 Murrurundi.

I've added the newly sceniced Murrurundi to the Main North Video, at the 5 min 50 sec mark, see:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=biFOG0e6IHo&t=427s
or see the 2018 Blog video below.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Main North Layout Video

The recent progress on the layout's scenery, as shown in my previous Blog entry, has even shocked me. The major job left in completing the layout, is ballasting the track, but...

When building the layout, I was always in a hurry to get track down and run trains to test the track "plan", with the idea that it will change after running some trains. Yes it has, hundreds of times but now the scenery encompasses the track, there won't be many track changes. Rail Joiners and minimum droppers that until now have provided for so much fun, more so now that the scenery is there, will not provide the fun I need, after I add the ballast with the glue creeping into the solder less joints rendering current flow at best, intermittent. I am surprised that my electrics (really a lack of), have provided for mostly trouble free running, for so long. My attitude was that when there was an electrical problem, I'd attend to it - then. So now there is a BIG electrical problem and I have to attend to it now.

I'll take the rest of my life "bullet proofing" the electrics and then adding the ballast but I can still play trains with my Mates on a sceniced layout with operational Semaphores on most of the single main line, keeping the Operators, apart. It can't get much better, Hey!

I'm now scared I might finish the layout, so I'm gunner slow down a bit, so that doesn't happen. I don't want to rip up the Main North to build another layout. I want to leave that to the Kids to do, they've got to earn their inheritance, hopefully not too soon though.

To celebrate, to what I thought was the biggest obstacle in building the layout, adding the scenery, I thought I'd take a video. I've edited this video to add my newly sceniced Murrurundi (Dec 2017), click below:



PS. I've just remembered the box of Bracket Semaphores, under the layout and building numerous Control Panels etc to make them work, is another "scenery length" job, on the layout. So much more to do.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Official Opening of the Main North's Hawkesbury River Bridge and more Scenery.

It's taken 9 months to get some more scenery done on the Main North, culminating in the "Official Opening" of the second Hawkesbury River Bridge.

About a month ago I sceniced South Gosford, opposite the Electric Car Sidings with the bridge for the Pacific Hwy crossing the 6 tracks, ballasting to be done soon.




I made a more permanent crossing of the "Broadwater" and installed a 2 metre Gosford Racecourse Track, albeit on the wrong side of the Main, but this is the only place to fit it.

Adding this Siding completes the "running" of the Gosford Race train. As Sydney Staging is "full", the Gosford Race Train comprising of 3 FOs, 3 HKGs and Van, will be "staged" in the Racecourse Siding.

Operate 1028 (til I renumber it to 3528) and the Race Train to Gosford Platform 3. Disconnect 1028 and run to Loco. Attach a 46, run the train to Sydney then back to Gosford, arriving on Platform 3. Replace the 46 with 1028 and shunt/propel the Racecourse train into the Racecourse Siding. Wait 5 minutes for all passengers and horses to disembark. Then pull the train back to Gosford Platform 3 and marshal the consist for operating to Sydney (swapping Coaches and Van "around"). Push the train back to the Racecourse Siding and leave, ready for the next Operating Session, shown below with Van behind the loco.



18 moths ago, Allan G completed my three Central Valley Model Works Double Track Bridge kits that I'm using for my Hawkesbury River Bridge. It was suggested that we'd need to have an "Official Opening" when they're installed but I have been too slack to complete the "scene" with the appropriate scenery.  Well I've finally completed the scenery around the Bridge's Tunnel Portals.

The Bridge's southern Portal and Long Island complete with the "right angle" Tunnel, underneath Newcastle Station. The grade for the 2.5 m of track from the Station (elevation 13') to the Bridge (elevation 35'), is about a 1 in 30. Not a problem as it's hidden and ALL trains are hauled by the "heavy" 46 Class Electrics or 44s (North Coast trains), due to my 1965 operation.



The Long Island (southern) Portal with the six C38s for "load testing" at the Official Opening of the Bridge.



The Bridge's Northern Portal into Mullet Creek Tunnel with the rest of the "the Bridge scene", where the tracks on the Upper Deck, diverge left up the hill to Murrurundi and to the right, down what can be seen in the photo, on a steep grade, with just enough clearance (60mm) from the Murrurundi benchwork for the 3 track North Coast Staging .




After installing and shaping the polystyrene "landform" for the track to Murrurundi/North Coast Staging, there was "something" wrong with the way the Tunnel entrance to North Coast Staging, looked.




Overnight I agonized how to improve it. I'll add a Road Bridge over the track to Murrurundi. This needed an addition to the Fascia to make it higher and now the land needed re-modelling - more polystyrene and lots of  "scraping" the land. Now the whole scene looks much better.




When I decided to fit a Hawkesbury River Bridge on the layout, I initially thought I'd locate it opposite Gosford. The delay in making up the kits, I decided I wanted to "have" Mullet Creek with Wondabyne, so the Bridge had to be located on the other side of the Peninsular, under Muswellbrook. Muswellbrook's Deck was 450 mm wide and 230 mm above the track of the future Bridge. This would have "hidden" the Bridge.
The Bridge s 2.3 metres long and is a "feature" of the Main North - it needed it's own "space".




Muswellbrook had to go. In one way this was another plus as I was having a "grade" issue, getting my 35/36 hauled trains to Murrurundi. Without Muswellbrook, I could reduce the grade a  little. BUT what to do with my Muswellbrook Oak Dairy that I spent hours kitbashing a Walters REA Kit for an Epping Seminar. It wasn't going to be packed away out of view "under" the layout, so it'll be on the "top" and at Murrurundi. Compromises have to made when building a layout.




I was now ready for my re-enactment of the 24th June 1946 "Official Opening" of the Hawkesbury River Bridge. This monumental occasion needed recording where six C38s "load tested" the bridge.



With the Main North requiring lots of scenery, I decided to keep the "scenery ball", rolling.  Below is shown the exit from Mullet Creek Tunnel as the track hugs Mullet Creek on it's way to Woy Woy Tunnel.




Looking through the cutting towards Wondabyne.




My Mullet Creek is 3.5 metres long and 200 mm below Murrurundi's Fascia but the 3 North Coast Staging tracks are jammed in between the two. With just 130 mm of height to play with I've have a very compressed Wondabyne Sandstone Quarry with the Sandstone Siding. The North Coast Staging tracks can only be seen when crouching down. Woy Woy Tunnel is in the distance.



A 46 hauled Down Pick Up is shunting the Sandstone Quarry Siding. Note the Siding does not have overhead wiring (nor does the Main at this time), so the 46 needs to keep under the wires by having consist of at least 6 Bogie Wagons.



A close up of the Wondabyne Station Down Platform with the Down Pick Up and Geoff S fishing off the Jetty in the "raw", with just a Cap. Not very pretty but you'll look good with that tan.
Note: Wondabyne is the only Station in NSW that does NOT have motor vehicle access - only boat or walking.



Some years ago I bought an Ozito 12 litre Drum Vacuum Cleaner for $35 from Bunings. It has been getting a workout the last month. It was the best $35 I ever spent. I'm surprised how many hills etc it has vacuumed up, that the motor is still going.
Remove the Top (2 Clips), empty the millions of polystyrene balls into a Garbage Bag, clean the Filter and back to sucking up "land". I added an extra Hose (never throw anything out here), making the hose about 3 metres long.
The unit is no longer available from Bunnings, buy something similar, you won't be disappointed if you're adding polystyrene scenery to your layout, see:
https://ozito.com.au/products/vwd-1212/



 
























Sunday, July 9, 2017

DCC Ammeter for the Layout

Over the years, I've read/heard modellers asking many times, "When do I need to add a second Booster". Recently some modellers reported on one of the Yahoo/Facebook Groups, that a loco or lighted Passenger Coaches Set, drew too much current, causing the DCC system to cut out.

Determining how much current a Booster is supplying to the layout, is not about how big a layout is, how many locos you have, what scale you model etc, it's about what current is "actually" flowing. Yes quantity and size are factors.

Determining the Booster Output Current without an Ammeter, is just a GUESS.

I built a DCC Ammeter (discussed below), from Allan Gartner's Wiring for DCC pages, many years ago, see: http://www.wiringfordcc.com/track.htm#a4
and found that locos (decoders) sitting on "powered" track (not moving), draw approximately 30 mAs and running modern HO loco (last 20 years or so), draw between 100 - 400 mAs.

Install a $2.50 Bridge Rectifier from Jaycar (Part No ZR1314), connected to a 10 Amp Multimeter (similar to the $10 Jaycar QM1500) or Panel Meter, as shown below, you'll then know what your layout is drawing and what each loco uses and it only takes 10 minutes to make/install.

Seems crazy if you don't make a DCC Ammeter.


The Bypass Switch: The Bridge Rectifier is necessary to measure the Amps but it reduces the Track Voltage by 1.5 Volts.
If your DCC system has a Voltage Adjustment you can compensate for this 1.5 Volt drop and you can leave out the Bypass Switch.
If your DCC system does NOT have the "adjustment" and you want to operate at the "set" voltage, install the Bypass Switch and operate it in the OPEN position for Current measurements and in the CLOSED position if you don't want to operate with the slightly reduced (1.5 Volt) track Voltage.

Add the Bridge Rectifier to one of the Track "Power Bus" Feeders as shown below by "hard wiring" the Bridge Rectifier into the Booster Track Terminals or an appropriate location and run 2 wires to the Meter and Switch (if you are using it). Shown below is the " Ammeter Adapter"for my DCC Tool Box, 10 Amp Multimeter, necessary for troubleshooting other layouts or demos etc.     



Shown above is the Bridge Rectifier with the "D.C." leads soldered into two Banana Plugs for easy removal/install of the Adapter. The two Back leads connect to the "A.C." leads and connect "into" one Track Feeder at the Booster as per the above diagram. You choose the easiest way to make it.



The above Bridge Rectifier Ammeter compared to my Fascia Ammeter, made from a Circuit from Rob Paisley's Model Railroad Circuits at: http://www.circuitous.ca/DCCammeter10.html 




A 5 Amp Bridge Rectifier soldered to the rear of a 5 Amp Panel Meter and the Meter/Bridge Rectifier assembly connected in SERIES with one of the Track Feeder wires, via the two black wires.


The Digital Multimeter Ammeter compared to a 5.0 Amp D.C. Panel Meter, both indicating the track current - no locos running and all quiet (no sound). The reading indicates the standby current for 35 stationary locos and a few Bus Accessories (power to my Signal Power Supplies etc), to my layout.

During an Operating Session with 6 to 8 Operators running trains, the Ammeter rarely goes above 2.5 Amps on my 600 Sq Ft Double Deck layout and there is just the one Booster. 

Caution: The 6 Amp Bridge Rectifier used above gets quite warm at 2.0 Amps. Operating at higher currents over an extended period of time, I'd suggest mounting the Bridge Rectifier on a Heat sink. 




 A 5 Amp Panel Meter fitted to one of my mate's DCC System Cabinet, showing 4 High Speed Diodes and the small Bypass Switch. The larger one (Upper R/H side), is the Layout ON/OFF Switch. The layout is divided into 6 Power Districts using NCE EB1 Circuit Breakers. The District ON/OFF Switches are installed to help troubleshooting the layout when there are the inevitable wiring issues. This is a large layout and still only using one Booster with the Meter showing less than 2.5 Amps during the running of trains. If and when it gets to 3.5 to 4.0 Amps, we'll add a second Booster.

Measuring DCC Track Voltage is as easy as using your Multimeter and selecting A.C. Volts. While this may not be as accurate as a specialist DCC Voltmeter like Tony's RRampmeter (see below), it is good enough for troubleshooting voltage drops. With your Mutimeter, measure the voltage at the Booster Track Output Terminals then measure at the appropriate location. Compare the two readings. The "difference" in the readings is the voltage drop between the two locations. 
NOTE:  When making a voltage drop measurement, always have a load like a 12 Volt 21 Watt Automotive Lamp (1.5 Amps), across the track at the "Track" location. 


Specialist DCC Volmeter/Ammeter
For those of you that don't want to "make" the above DCC Ammeter or would like a very professional looking Meter Set, easily mounted into your layout's fascia, the A$130 RRampMeter  from DCC Specialties may be more suitable, see:
https://tinyurl.com/yanhhenr
and can be purchased here in Sydney Australia from Models n More at:
https://tinyurl.com/ybzvsk5z

For more details on Meters for DCC see my web page at: