My Layout - Brynderwyn part 1

Chris Hall Feb 13, 2021

  1. Chris Hall

    Chris Hall TrainBoard Member

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    Well, its been a week of both frustration and success.

    Firstly discovered that my computer power supply wasn't pumping out the required voltage. I had been waiting for a couple of 10W resistors to turn up to help "load" the supply so hadn't really tested it so far (up to just confirming it turned on). Well, turns out it didn't need the resistors. After plugging one in the power supply promptly dropped 3volts and then shut down. Did a bit of playing around and eventually decided to open it up and have a look inside. Found a suspicious looking pot so gave it a tweak and low and behold, 5v and 12v on the rail. Happy dance.

    As the power supply can provide up to 18amp on the 12v rail I thought it prudent to add some form of protection in. I will eventually build a fuse box with mini fuses, but whilst I wait for them to turn up I used a simple glass 2A fuse and holder. Feel like I spend a lot of time waiting for stuff to turn up in the post - between lockdown's and the lack of decent swiss electrical shops I usually end up purchasing stuff from overseas.

    Took said power supply downstairs, along with newly build DCC++ system and Raspberry Pi with a fresh install of JMRI. Plugged everything and poof, smoke. After a bit of swearing, I took the Pi back upstairs for some damage assessment. Thankfully all I did was fry the SD card, and after installing a new card everything was working again. Another happy dance.
    IMG_4476.jpg
    Did a bit of soul searching to figure out what had gone wrong and came to the conclusion I had overloaded the Pi, it was trying to supply 5v for the onboard fan, power the DCC++ arduino and its onboard fan, plus power the 485 bus. So wired up a dedicated 5v supply to the DCC and used the 5v ring supply to power the 485 bus. With crossed fingers I plugged the Pi in and it booted up. Once I was happy and connected wireless on the iPad I fired up the power supply to the layout and everything burst into life! Big happy dance - I'm sure the neighbours thought I was having a disco.

    IMG_4475.jpg

    So for the first time in over a month the layout was placed back on the legs and I was able to start running trains again! All up I had three loco's running around with sound on and was pulling about .5A so well within the limits of the motorshield.

     

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  2. Chris Hall

    Chris Hall TrainBoard Member

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    IMG_4477.jpg Well, my joy of last night was short lived.

    Headed down to the train room this morning whilst the wife was out shopping to have a look at the next phase, sorting out the turnouts and signals.
    Plugged in the 12v supply to the relay block, fired up the system and soon had trains running around the layout. Pretty soon I could sense that smell that all electrical engineers hate, something cooking. Fearing second Pi meltdown I shut the system down, checked the Pi, Arduino's, DCC, power supply - nothing. Back to the top of the layout and noticed a rather sorry looking turnout motor. Quick finger check and yip - thats hot, along with 3 other motors. Bugger.

    Its been a while since I powered up the turnouts and I'm guessing several had not quite thrown correctly. Fleishmann say that they have automatic protection and you can leave them powered, which was handy as I could link them directly with my signals, but looking back now this was a bad idea.

    So its back to the drawing board, replacing the burnt out motors and wiring it up so they are not permanently live. Good job I brought an excessive amount of relays and optocouplers!
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2021
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  3. Chris Hall

    Chris Hall TrainBoard Member

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    It was a three steps forward, 6 steps back weekend for the layout. Getting the DCC up and running was a massive victory but it was overshadowed by the "turnout" episode. Decided to give the room a clean (so much wire on the floor!) whilst I thought about what caused the issue and it was then I found a loafing 16v AC power supply under the bench. I remembered purchasing it late last year to provide the power for the layout but with only .6amps for the 5 and 12v supplies I realised it wouldn't work - hence the PC supply. Problem is, Fleishmann points need 16v AC to work correctly. So in my haste to get things running I just plugged in 12v DC and the motors stalled. After the skirmish had finished it was time to count the cost, and overall 6 motors were seized. Thankfully I had a spare motor (for a turnout yet to be power up) but it still requires 5 more motors to replace the dead. So I removed the relay banks, disconnected all the wiring and removed the suspect motors from the layout for closer inspection, and maybe I could salvage a couple.

    Short answer was no.

    IMG_4481.jpg

    It was now time to go shopping to replace the motors and this was when I had a minor heart attack. My little mistake had turned into a 150chf (170usd) massive error. Wife was not going to be happy.

    Later on, whilst wallowing in my self pity, I had a eureka moment - Change to Micro servos! This would solve multiple problems I was facing,
    1. I could replace all 14 motors with servos for less than the price of one Fleishmann motor.
    2. No more requirement to have 16v AC for just the turnouts
    3. Already have PCA9685's in position to power the servo's
    4. Solves the "how do I ballast on top of the motor without it getting inside" issue.

    Another plus is I can sell the motors that work and purchase (as the wife puts it) "more train s@#t"

    So I purchased 20 servo's from a certain Chinese website, along with Piano wire. just have to wait 18-25 days for them to arrive. In the mean time I can still run trains and get to work on all the little jobs like getting the track running right, installing all the reed switches and building a small information panel.
     
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  4. MK

    MK TrainBoard Member

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    I'm surprised that you burned out the solenoids/motors by supplying it with less voltage than what they were rated for. I would think they just won't work rather than burn up.

    For example, take our locos (DC) which is typically rated for 12V. If we run them at 6V they just run slower. If we run them at 1V they probably won't move and just sit there. Granted they may start to generate some heat but you shouldn't feed them voltage for a long time when they aren't moving. (Unless you left the 12V on the solenoids and walked away, which may generate enough hear to burn them out.)

    Anywho, looks like you found a better and cheaper solution. I think I know what kind of servos you ordered. I use them in the radio control planes I fly. Very reliable despite their cheap price.

    EDIT: looks like I have a reading comprehension problem! :rolleyes: I missed the AC vs. DC part. Yep, that would do it.
     
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  5. Chris Hall

    Chris Hall TrainBoard Member

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    I had a good look inside to see what caused such a massive problem and it was all down to plastic. The solenoid itself survived, along with the metal rod inside, but the slide mechanism that changes the points is just plastic and in some cases melted enough to separate from the metal rod and in other cases melted so much inside the solenoid it literally froze the lot. I guess I could cobble something together, use the 3d printer to make new parts, but I would rather get rid of the requirement to use 16v AC at all.

    Yeah, I just went with 9g micro servo's that you would use in small radio control planes, ordered more than I need cause you never know which the cheaper Chinese stuff if it will work.
     
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  6. MK

    MK TrainBoard Member

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    I wouldn't bother fixing those switch machine. You can bet they will give you problems AFTER you've glued them down, ballasted and scenicked your layout! :)

    Those 9 gram servos work surprisingly well. If I can trust my $200 airplane with them, they should be good for MRR. :ROFLMAO: Now you might find some DOA or with infant mortality but MRR is not a gravity affected hobby like RC airplanes though it could be self inflicted if you accidently drop something to the floor. :D:LOL::ROFLMAO::eek:
     
  7. Chris Hall

    Chris Hall TrainBoard Member

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    I had a brief love affair with RC helicopters, I thought if I can fly the real thing then a model should be easy. How very wrong was I. Very quickly created a spinning mass of broken parts. I might start looking into RC again in the future, once I've satisfied the MRR itch.:sneaky:
     
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  8. MK

    MK TrainBoard Member

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    I used to fly 500 size RC helis. Collective pitch, flybarless, 6S lipo. Modern day flight controllers are the bomb! They even have a bail out self leveling mode when you get into trouble. Look into MSH Brain. Like MRR, it aint cheap! :)
     
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  9. Chris Hall

    Chris Hall TrainBoard Member

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    Its been a head scratching week so far. Been planning and building the basic control panel for the layout. Idea is to have several dual volt/amp gauges for power supply info, an LCD screen hooked up to JMRI for basic DCC info and the programming track. Whilst mooching about in the basement I came across some bits and bobs that I purchased as part of a bulk buy (wanted the Mega but it came with stacks of stuff) and in the box was an Adafruit trellis. This little gadget is a 4x4 matrix of LED's and buttons. My brain saw this and the result was two days of internet research to see if it would work.
    IMG_4489.jpg
    My idea was to hook it up directly to the R-pi and use it to control the turnouts. As I'm running a headless setup, sometimes I just want to move the turnouts without having to fire up the iPad or computer to access things and this would do just nicely. I can place it discretely somewhere on the panel. The LED's will show which direction the turnout is set (red or green) and you just press the LED to change. Awesome.

    Turns out this was not as simple as I thought. After trolling the internet, asking numerous question on different forums (JMRI, R-pi groups, Arduino groups) I realised it is not feasible at this time. I can connect it to the pi and make the LEDs and buttons work but interfacing it with JMRI has proved somewhat difficult. So I've gone back to what I know and will use another CMRI node to control this, which will be separate from the main layout node.

    The first of the replacement turnout motors arrived yesterday, a 9g Micro servo. So the 3D printer was in action again making a prototype bracket and some testing will be done over the next few days to work out how best to mount everything. Will take a little modification to get the position of the bracket right to enable the servo to throw the turnout properly. Whoever said "maths at school was a waste of time" is wrong, I've had to drag out Pythagoras theorem and some algebra to work this out! IMG_4488.jpg

    Downside to all this is my work bench looks like a snakes wedding, cables everywhere and plenty of paper with crazy scribbles all over the place.
     

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  10. Chris Hall

    Chris Hall TrainBoard Member

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    This weeks progress has been much better than last weeks affair. I assembled the small information panel, wiring up all the volt/amp gauges, connecting the LCD (50/50 chance and I installed it upside down - :mad:) and finishing the turnout control panel.

    IMG_4502.jpg

    I made sure it was easily removeable from the layout by building a quick release board with JST connectors. I also decided to add the different voltage plugs so I could tap into the power supply for testing buildings/lights or using my homemade static grass applicator. The LCD will be connected to the DCC system to get info from there and the keypad on the left is running through an Arduino Nano into the raspberry pi to control the turnouts. If the layout automation (or when changed using the panel on the iPad) the lights change corresponding to the turnout position. This took a lot more tweaking in JMRI than I though it would, and JMRI would either use the panel to change the turnout - or the buttons, but not both. End result was using a few internal turnouts that are linked to the physical ones. The keypad switches the internal and the JMRI panel the physical ones.

    The Programming track came out a little wonky, despite using a straight line and drilling the holes for the track screws, but hopefully it will work better than trying to program on the main line.
     
  11. MK

    MK TrainBoard Member

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    Chris, a suggestion. For the programming track, since it's just screwed on, I would remove it and GLUE back on straight but more importantly, add a track bumper on each end. This will prevent the loco from flying off the track should there be a decoder installation faux pas or multiple CV reads/writes and the loco advances a little each time.
     
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  12. Chris Hall

    Chris Hall TrainBoard Member

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    That's a great idea, didn't think about that happening. Time to start printing bumpers.
     
  13. MK

    MK TrainBoard Member

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    You print them? I would like to see how they look like!

    Yeah, one time I had a defective decoder and when I put it on the programming track on my Zephyr it was off to the races at full throttle. Luckily I was quick enough to grab it! After some magnifying examination I found a bridged solder joint (I think it was on a MOSFET chip but that's a guess on my part). Once I fixed that, everything was back to normal. That got me thinking about the bumpers.
     
  14. Chris Hall

    Chris Hall TrainBoard Member

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    I haven't printed one yet - but will definitely post up here what comes out!

    Anything that does that here will have a short ride onto a concrete floor, unless it heads left in which case the keypad will get it..
     
  15. MK

    MK TrainBoard Member

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    Oh, didn't see the height of the keypad. Yeah, so you only need one bumper, on the right.
     
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  16. Chris Hall

    Chris Hall TrainBoard Member

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    Bit more work on the control panel today. Followed MK's advice and printed out some bumpers. Tried two different types to see how they came out and decided both looked pretty good so might just stick them both on.

    IMG_4506.jpg IMG_4507.jpg

    The printer got a good work out today. The LCD looked a bit odd so built a surround for it that matched the Volt gauges. I also decided to add a small control panel for the R-pi. I printed out a panel that will hold three LED's and two buttons. One button will safely shut the pi down remotely and the other will activate the automation scripts (once I've finished them) The LED's will show when the Pi is powered up, If JMRI is running and when the scripts are running. Did some playing around with SVG images, rather than using labels to show what each item does. IMG_4504.jpg IMG_4505.jpg

    Gotta admit it came out really good. Once the paint cures I plan to fill in the images with some enamel paint to make them stand out a bit better.
     
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  17. mtntrainman

    mtntrainman TrainBoard Supporter

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    Thats all coming out really nice Chris ! (y)(y)
     
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  18. MK

    MK TrainBoard Member

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    Bumpers are niiiiice! :D Don't forget to mention changing out the programming track. Looks much straighter now. :) Post an overall picture.
     
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  19. Chris Hall

    Chris Hall TrainBoard Member

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    Thought that the spray paint should be good and dry so started to fill in the details on R-pi panel. Was having trouble getting the paint to wick into the recesses thanks to good old surface tension so came up with the bright idea of using a bit of IPA to remove that, bad idea. The IPA did indeed help remove the tension and the paint flowed beautifully into each image, problem was it also reacted with the black paint and each time I gave it a little wipe to remove some rogue brush marks it also removed some of the black. Bugger. Overall wasn't happy with the result, it looks patchy in places and just meh.
    IMG_4509.jpg
    Decided to just print out a new one (only takes 20 minutes to print) but this time I slightly increased each image in size to make it easier to apply the paint, I also changed out the loco image with a new one as it did look quite right once the paint was on. I'll be applying a clear coat as well to help protect the black paint. This time I will make sure everything is good and dry before moving onto the next step.
     
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  20. Massey

    Massey TrainBoard Member

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    I got to watch the maiden flight of a turbine F16. Not sure the scale but the plane was about 4' long. Sounded good once the engine got spooled up and that roar was awesome as the plane left the ground, and got up to about 20 feet. If flew for about 100 yards slowly losing altitude until it stuffed itself into the ground. Airframe destroyed, engine digested a mess of dirt and grass, and owner was pissed. $15K on the bird for about 20 seconds of flight. The outcome was a faulty solder joint in the receiver caused a power loss to the unit which as you know prevented any activity to the plane. The engine cost $5000 of the total $8000 to repair, and the airframe was a total loss. The company that made the receiver (a rather large radio manufacturer) actually paid for some of the repairs to the engine and a bit more to the owner for the loss of the airframe. I was totally surprised by this as they were only really responsible to replace the receiver. I am guessing by making that gesture they didn't want the guy moving over to another brand of radio. I can respect them for that. I moved away from VA Beach before he finished the new model, but from what I heard from my contacts that are there, the new plane flew a few years later and is still flying as of last time I heard. So yea I love aviation and all that but I don't have that kind of scratch laying around for gravity to prove to me that it's boss. I will stick with my ground based RC (boats and cars/crawlers) and my trains! Although gravity has occasionally reminded me that it's still keeping an eye on me with my trains falling off the table... :(
     
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