1. GSax

    GSax TrainBoard Member

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    My plans are still evolving. I want to get to a point, using tape, bungie cords or similar stuff, where I can have a unified "box" or two that I can drop in the trunk of a Lyft car and get to the Great Midwest Train Shows once it starts up again.

    You optimized every cubic inch of your Honda Odyssey for Z Bend modules. Loading it was like assembling a 3D wood puzzle. I have the same aim but on a much smaller portable scale.
     
  2. rray

    rray Staff Member

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    Where I live, we only have 1 show a year in January, so I ordered a 7' x 14' toy hauler to carry my modules to further reaching shows. It is a brand new trailer design, offroad capable with offroad tires and a 2" lift, and is due here late October. As an added bonus, I can stop at RV parks along the way and get some camping and fishing in both to and from train shows. I can put all my T-Trak-Z modules water tight under the hard tonneu cover in the back of the truck while camping: 0.jpg

    And I can load up all my Z-Bend Track modules water tight in my toy hauler:
    1.jpg

    And if I need to pick up a buddy and his modules along the way, and we wanted to save a few bucks on hotel rooms, just stay at an RV park. This will get me to more NMRA National train shows than I have been able to attend before, with my modules, and also give me a chance to see the countryside:
    2.jpg
     
  3. John Bartolotto

    John Bartolotto TrainBoard Supporter

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    That's sweet Rob!!

    John
     
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  4. Joe Lovett

    Joe Lovett TrainBoard Member

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    WOW, your trailer is great and it looks like you could get a good night's sleep. Go forth and explore our great nation.

    My mom, dad and I spent three weeks camping in a custom built Ford van. We went through 23 states and was the best vacation.

    Joe
     
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  5. GSax

    GSax TrainBoard Member

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    Nice ride!
     
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  6. GSax

    GSax TrainBoard Member

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    Anybody have any comments on the Atlas switches for use at home, not T-trak?
     
  7. mdvholland

    mdvholland TrainBoard Member

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  8. GrantC

    GrantC New Member

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    Damn, that was a long read, in a good way...
    I got hooked and read the whole thread start to finish!
    I'm really impressed with the discussions and sharing of ideas/tools.
    I've been looking at taking a modular approach to Z and was pretty keen on T-Trak-Z, this thread has convinced me... thanks.
     
    Kurt Moose likes this.
  9. Calzephyr

    Calzephyr TrainBoard Supporter

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    Where do I get those T-Trak Z standards and suggested track plans???
     
  10. rray

    rray Staff Member

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  11. Garth-H

    Garth-H TrainBoard Supporter

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    I like the plan and can see doing over two modules in length. and I can see putting 3 more roundhouse stalls on the far side of pit. I'm in an area where I have to field the whole layout as no one around me is into Z to this level and for me I already have a layout with 195/220 ends so for my passenger stock 245/270 would so look much better.
     
  12. Pig Gap

    Pig Gap TrainBoard Member

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    Question for Gary (GSax) - How much T-Trak-Z activity is there in the Midwest? I'm over in Kewanee IL (one of the stops on the Amtrak Illinois Zephyr mile marker 131) and wondering how many others there may be a Midwestern hop-skip-jump (150 miles) there are?
     
  13. GSax

    GSax TrainBoard Member

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    It has been silence so far.

    When covid subsides a little more I intend to set up at the Midwest Train Show (DuPage county fairgrounds) and see what happens.

    There is a small group in the St. Louis area but that is further from you than Chicago.
     
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  14. rray

    rray Staff Member

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    So yesterday I got fed up stringing wires across the garage from the multi voltage wall-wart to 5521 connector, then 5521 to Anderson adapter cable, then adjusting the voltage to 12V on the my wall-wart, and pluging into the accessory port of the module I am working on.

    I went off on a tangent looking for a 12V battery that was small to use as an accessory power battery, and not wanting to spend more than $30 there were few choices. I kept looking at this stack of Black & Decker power tool batteries I have in the garage, and thought, wait a minute. Those batteries are 20V, so I can get a DC-DC converter, and a locking cradle for the B+D batteries, and make a 12V source.

    So I ordered this 2 Pack Cradle Adapter for Black Decker 20V Lithium-ion Batteres:
    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B099DN9D1X

    And this DROK 9V-36V to 12V Boost Buck Converter 5A 60W:
    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B081RG8XP5

    And made this adapter. You just slide in the battery pack, it converts it from 20V to 12V, and on the Drok output wires I applied white and black powerpole connectors for the T-Trak-Z accessory port on the back of my modules.:
    top.jpg

    I slid in a battery, and measured the output voltage good at 12.29V:
    Meas.jpg

    So I have about 5 of the 1.5Ah batteries, 1 of the 3Ah batteries, and 4 of the 5Ah batteries in my power tool collection that can be used. The 1.5Ah batteries are 1.5A x 20V = 30 Watt Hours of power if fully charged:
    Side.jpg

    I could get into over engineering this into something useful for train shows if I wanted to. If I put 2 of these battery holders in parallel with a solar panel protection diode on the output of each battery, so one won't charge the other, and connect 2 of the 5Ah Black & Decker batteries, that would be 200 Watts for an hour. I could run a 5 amp DCC layout for a minimum of 3 hours, and be able to hot swap batteries! But for now, I just have a convenient way of powering up the accessory buss for testing purposes. :D
     
  15. rvn2001

    rvn2001 TrainBoard Member

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    Great idea, Rob. I've used 9.6-volt, 3800mAh R/C car batteries to power small layouts.
     
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  16. Pig Gap

    Pig Gap TrainBoard Member

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    I am working on something like this for small shows where AC is not available. I had two concerns with the buck converter: 1) they stop working once the input volt get to 1V difference of the output (i.e. 12V in and 11V out) 2) they have a PWM output that would feed a PWM controller, and I worry how having 2 PWM would work in tandem. Anyone doing this yet?

    I'd be using a 15 AH LiPo battery (13.5V) that I already have setup in a ham radio to go box.

    I am thinking about using a 10Ka Pot with an LED voltmeter so I can maintain a steady voltage as battery voltages drop.
     
  17. rray

    rray Staff Member

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    I have a buck boost converter taking 20V to 12V, then a 12V to 5V buck converter downstream, and it works OK. So yes, it's easy to think that there will be problems when you look at the scope signals, but for some reason, these things work OK. They are designed for electronics that want a clean pure DC voltage power supply, and so far have been working fine for me. I plug in my Lester module to the converter I built above, and it powers the 3.3V RGB skyboard lighting controller, the 12V Rokuhan turntable, the 5V Arduino that runs the Roundhouse show, and everything is working fine.

    The only thing that happened to me was I left my battery connected for a week, and came back and found the turntable module was powered off. The battery voltage had dropped below the Buck Boost Converters minimum input voltage of 9V and shut off. My Black and Decker battery was measuring 8.25V, so I swapped with a charged battery, and everything started up fine. When I put the B+D battery on the quick charger, the red LED flashed saying my battery was bad, but I plugged that battery into one of the cheap slow B+D chargers, and it charged just fine. Once it got to 10V the quick charger accepted the battery as good, and finished charging it to 20V.

    So I think I need a cutoff circuit to stop feeding the 12V Buck Boost converter before the 20V B+D battery gets down to 10V. If I just add three 6A diodes in series with the power into the buck boost converter, that will drop the voltage seen into the buck boost converter by 2.1V, and then shutdown will occur when there is still 10.35V or more in the B+D battery, so the quick charger will be satisfied the battery is still good.
     
  18. SJ Z-man

    SJ Z-man TrainBoard Member

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    Most all buck converters are well into the hundred KHz to MHz so that would look like pure DC to one of these generic LED lamp dimmer that are 50 to 250 Hz.

    A Buck converter for your project, using 12 V and requiring just one or 2 V less than that, is the wrong product do use. You need to use a Buck-Boost design so that I can effectively “autorange“ itself, irregardless of input volts. Since most of the Z scale items require 10 V or less, a Buck converter is still incorrect used for only a 12 V inlet. Using a Buck-Boost converter allows you to run down to those much lower volts. These can be found easily in the 1 to 20A ranges for less than $20.

    And, you cannot use a simple 10Kohm pot to adjust 12 V to a lower voltage, unless it’s only o.1A. Just use an adjustable buck converter for $2-$10. (MPJA, All Electronics, Jameco, eBay, etc.)
     
  19. CSX Robert

    CSX Robert TrainBoard Member

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    Although a buck convertor uses PWM to control the output voltage, it is filtered so you don't see a PWM signal on the output. What you get is a DC voltage with a low level high frequency ripple.
     
  20. ztrack

    ztrack TrainBoard Supporter Advertiser

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    I have really embraced the T-Trak-Z concept and am loving it. I have shared these photos on our Facebook page, but I thought I would post them here as well for those who don't follow us. The scene is based on the crossing in Dunkirk, OH. We modeled it with little compression and a few compromises. We plan to construct modules like this to showcase products we offer as well as other Z companies. In this case, it has products from Rokuhan, Archistories, Raildig and Showcase miniatures. The backdrop was derived from actual photos from the crossing that I spliced and Photoshopped for the scene. The dime in in there for scale. We will have a full write-up on building this scene in an upcoming issue of Ztrack Magazine.
     

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