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My wall mounted, fold down test oval

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It's not layout, rather a "test-bed" for different technologies I am evaluating before I some day start my proper layout.

The oval is a simple sheet of framed chipboard, attached at a hinge point to the wall and also attached with two chains that bear the load when the oval is folded down.

I don't really need this space saving design here but this oval was put together almost ten years ago now and we lived in a smaller place back then. I've recently remounted it here in the basement room where the future layout will go and fitted or refitted the following to the underside:

-Raspberry pi model A running Rocrail server (bottom right)

-openDCC kit built DCC controller.

-openDCC kit built DCC booster (directly under controller)

-two cheapo point motors at the extreme left and right ends

-openDCC based point motor controller (basically homemade using openDCC processor from their solenoid motor controller project). Bottom centre.

-s88 bus block occupancy detector. 8 inputs available. Current based detection. Centre left. 

-s88 bus board for reading optical sensors in and reporting back to controller. 16 inputs available (12 in use). Centre right.

The yellow patch cables carry the s88 bus (it's just a long bit shift register) signals back to the controller. The controller simply routes those back to Rocrail so it can keep a track of loco progress.

The current sensing is used to alert Rocrail that a loco has entered a block. Rocrail then starts to decelerate the loco if the loco needs to stop in that block. The loco will then trigger the optical sensor near the end of the block (I have no signals but the signal post would basically be just after the optical sensor) and Rocrail commands the loco to stop.

I had much of the hardware lying around and wanted to try Rocrail. I will not be using any of this hardware except the raspberry pi (and that may be a bit weak too as it's single core) in my big layout. It has too many limitations for what I want to achieve but it was useful as a learning experience.

https://youtu.be/crxxs8xIPOk

 

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Short video of current configuration...

Rocrail test layout demonstrating end to end running, simulating a shuttle with two track station at either end of the run.

Also featuring learned braking distance/curve (BBT) so trains learn with each iteration when to begin braking to reach the stop (in) sensor smoothly.

The long straight between the stations consists of two physical blocks, grouped together into a logical block group and designated as a critical section, forcing Rocrail to reserve all the blocks in the group, thus preventing a head on stalemate condition at the 12 o'clock position.

Edited by murphaph
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Hi murphaph & very well done sir, you’ve got a lot going on there, plenty of action, & if I’m correct it looks like you’re operating foreign locos, so this guy might be of interest to you, he’s the guy in Spain I got some Craven coaches from a month ago, & it was free postage...! 
BTB

https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/FMfcgxwJZJdCJfXwTSpNqjWqgWLQwRhV

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Cheers btb. I'm actually located near Berlin so getting h0 scale stuff isn't a problem but I'm only using these relatively cheap locos for test purposes. The real collection and layout will most definitely be Irish! 

Collection is in the attic in storage until I have cleared enough space in the hobby room to actually build the real layout in a couple of years. For now I'm making do with this sort of "research" stuff so I'm ready to just go when the time is right. 

I've already learned some valuable lessons from this little test setup that I will take advantage of during the big build.

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Anything RTR from the 1990s Rob. Missing a few baby GMs but otherwise have all the MM locos from the period and of course the IRM stuff too. My long term plan is a 90s themed Limerick-LJ layout in a 30' x 10' space in the basement. The test oval is in that room now but as I have no garage yet the room also doubles as my workshop for now. Gotta build a garage to free up the space that I need.

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My very first common crossing vee. A 1:7 made of Code 75 bullhead rail. Vee filing jigs from the P4 society. DCC concepts flux and 145 degree detailing solder.

I'm still waiting for my PCB sleepers to arrive.

I'm not sure if I'm filing the nose blunt enough as described by Rice in his pragmatic PCB book. Probably some trial and error required.

The plan is to start "mass producing" points to a standard pattern to be used in the off scene areas of my planned layout. The basement room it's destined to go into is currently my workshop and will remain so until the garage is built.

Building points in the meantime allows me to make use of that time. I will require a lot of points for my staging areas.

Although bullhead soldered directly to PCB looks a bit wrong, here it doesn't matter as it won't be seen in operation and bullhead appears a little easier to make points out of than FB (no need to file the foot of the switch blades off at the taper).

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Murph,

This site may be of use - http://www.norgrove.me.uk/points.html for building points.

I know it's rivet & ply, but the track work would be similar.   I found this very useful and a good tutorial.  

The area that took me some time to finalise was the stretcher holding the blades & tension necessary to keep the blade against the rail.

I ended up using this technique which is simple to do and works quite well.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uXGEjuDhwhY&t=1s

 

Hope this helps.

Ken

 

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Murph, pobably a silly question. I can understand why you would build your own turnouts for the scenic areas, but why not use propriatory turnouts for the 'off scene areas' on your layout? Surely that would make life a lot easier and progress a lot quicker.

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Thanks a lot for the tips folks.

Much appreciated.

Josefstadt, I'm going to be building it all in 21mm so no off the shelf trackwork available unfortunately.

The track in the off scene areas will be minimalist however, with very wide sleeper spacing. 

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2 hours ago, murphaph said:

Thanks a lot for the tips folks.

Much appreciated.

Josefstadt, I'm going to be building it all in 21mm so no off the shelf trackwork available unfortunately.

The track in the off scene areas will be minimalist however, with very wide sleeper spacing. 

Have you sold you soul to the devil then! That is some amount of Work involved!

Sounds Fab though but you are gonna just be stuck to running Irish stuff. nice to have a bit of Variety too?

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So I'm intentionally leaving the centre of the room free for a possible n gauge (probably US themed) switching layout, should I ever bore of the Irish Midlands or want to allow guests, but I'm not expecting to any time soon and I get a lot of enjoyment out of the computer automation stuff, which gives a lot of room to try new things out, even though the rolling stock stays Irish. I am aiming to build the layout so that I can, without too much lack of realism run it with older stock some day.

I understand the gauge is not a problem for most but it really makes a difference to me. It has to be 21mm.

It can be done. Quite a few of those American basement empires on YouTube are all handbuilt track. Many of those guys chose that path because they simply couldn't afford to buy ready made stuff when they started.

To my mind a 3 shelf layout say a foot and a half deep is something I'll still be able to operate well into old age. I've seen (sadly) a few YouTube layouts where the guy can't crawl under things anymore and the layouts are to be taken apart. I like long runs of open countryside as well where prototypical length trains can stretch their legs.

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