Erik’s son’s layout

“Al,

This is n-gauge built on a hollow core door. It represents a part of Cleveland, Ohio, where the railroads cross the river. The river isn’t cut out yet. He writes:

Today was the day that a train ran on my new layout under computer control.

I have 14 servos controlling turnouts (I have 16 channels available and can inexpensively get even more expansion capability).

I have 4 separate DC motor controllers to operate up to 4 locomotives simultaneously.

The servos and motors/locos are controlled using pulse width modulation.

Servos can be turned to any of 4096 positions. They are limited to +-90 deg meaning that I have ~0.04 degree precision. My motor controllers feed up to 12v and 2 amps each with 255 speed settings in both forward and reverse. My test loco doesn’t start moving until about 25% power (pulse duty cycle) but has acceptable speed control with the remaining range.

It’s a golden time to be an electronics tinkerer. I built all this for under 200 dollars. I can even remotely log into the controller computer over wifi.

For comparison, a cheapish two channel Digital Command Control power system costs $200 or more and won’t even operate the turnouts. I have a better system, and I can leave programs running to provide hands off exhibition of complex operation on the layout.

It is cork roadbed. It’s glued and then sanded.

The bridges were fun to build. I still need to paint and weather them.

I don’t mind you passing on my message, but I can’t imagine who would be interested.

I’m in the process of arranging industrial buildings and multiple spurs to add visual interest and operational complexity. I am also planning road underpasses and overpasses as well as a kit-bashed factory building that spans over the main line as informal “scene edges”.

There is a river that runs across the layout and is not shown (was not cut yet) in the photographs.

train layout 2

train layout 3

train layout 4

train layouy 1


“Al,

Once again I see a train which appears to be a runaway, possibly without an engineer. If modellers had an easy way to determine a train’s speed, that might help. Well, here is a tip which should help.

I came upon this table a while back. To use it, you need to measure out three feet (or one meter) of track. You also need a timepiece with a second hand. If you run N scale, HO/OO scale or O scale, this table will work for you. Place a marker alongside your track, then a second marker three feet away. Run your train past the first marker and time how long it takes to reach the second marker. Use the table below to determine your train’s speed.

TIME TO TRAVEL 3 FEET AT SCALE SPEED
Prototype Speed N HO O
5 mph 65 sec 36 sec 19 sec
15 mph 22 sec 12 sec 6 1/2 sec
25 mph 13 sec 7 sec 3 1/2 sec
60 mph 5 1/2 sec 3 sec 1 1/2 sec
90 mph 3 1/2 sec 2 sec 1 sec

If you double the distance, then double the time. This will give you a more accurate speed. 1 1/2 seconds goes by pretty fast.

I hope this helps modellers to adjust their scale speeds.

Carl in Kansas”


And lastly Stephen has been in touch again (his last post is here). He’s finished!

engine shed 3

fiddling yard 4

railroad engine shed 2

railroad layout yard

Thanks to everyone for today’s post. It’s wonderful to see your layouts, warts and all, transform in to the finished article. And who cares how long it takes? Pottering on your layout is half the fun.

Don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide if you want to get off the arm chair and get involved. Who knows, you may end in the Hall of Fame one day.

Please doo keep ’em coming.

Best

Al

PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

29 Responses to Erik’s son’s layout

  1. Vic Heffren says:

    Nice job—- Good luck Vic

  2. Mike says:

    Using code 80 atlas on my smoky hollow junction layout I am having trouble with derailments , dead spots ,ect even on the switch tracks . What am I doing wrong? I check all joints but still have trouble . Is there a snap track that would work on this layout? It is designed for atlas code 80track .thank you I am a beginner . Mike

  3. NJ Mark says:

    Beautiful work! Just beautiful. Cheers! NJ Mark

  4. David Murray says:

    Thank you for publishing the scale speed info. This is far simpler than one I have come across before.

  5. Larry O'Connor - Ontario , Canada says:

    Sounds like Erik is using a Raspberry Pi or similar small SBC ( single board computer). I recently bought a Pi and servo control board and have been fidding around with turnot control. Adds another dimension to the facinating hobby of model railroading. Great work Erik

  6. Bruce Young says:

    I have a used hollo core door I’ve wanted to do something with but never came up with any good ideas, until now. Very nice in a small space. Send more pictures keep us posted on progress

    Bruce

  7. Thomas Monaghan says:

    I am also an electronic “fiddler” I use Arduino components (very cheap from China but you have to wait a while for them to get to you) and salvaged parts from old VCRs and the like. Lots of fun.
    Good job on Erik’s sons layout.

  8. Mark Johnson says:

    Erik’s Son’s Layout – I heard about pulse width modulation the other day and how it improves low-speed running. I’d be really interested in exactly how you achieve that if you wouldn’t mind giving us more info.
    Carl – useful information, thank you very much.
    Stephen – Looking really busy (and lots of fun) there. Time to sit back and play methinks!
    Al – thank you as always for bringing us these golden nuggets.

    Mark J

  9. john kondrach says:

    hello just to let you know i have just started a ho lay out as a kid i started one but it did not last long i had to retire earlier then i planed because of a blood disorder so i am now taking my time to build a off the top of ur head fly by night ho scale track lay out system so far everything i have installed works fine , if u send me a fax number i can send u a plan of whats being built anyway just wanted to share info with you guys to let everyone know that sometimes without rhymes or reasons and even with a life ending major illness u can do anything u set your mind to have fun do not give up.

  10. Andrew Bradley says:

    The ‘electronic tinkering’ control system sounds intriguing. It would be wonderful to have more details unless they are copyright and patent protected!

  11. Ron Montgomery says:

    carl:

    actually i am very interest in your alternative to dcc. is it possible to get a detailef description of what and how you implemented your locomotive and track lay out?

  12. Ken Stramel says:

    Very nice. I like it a lot. Thanks for sharing with us.

  13. john seale says:

    i am from Cleveland, Ohio…go Cavs! and your layout certainly captures the aura of The Flats…nice work…

  14. James Kreamer says:

    You modelers are awesome!!

  15. Eppi Santiago says:

    Nice layout. Thank for sharing.

  16. Barry Read says:

    Carl, What a great piece of information for scale speeds. I am going to use it. Thanks.

  17. Randall Smith says:

    Love Carl’s computerized pcm control system. If possible could he provide more details? I have a postwar era Lionel layout o gauge but would like to see if O could adapt pcm control to it

  18. Guy Godios says:

    I would also like to peruse the alternative to DCC. I. Used to program some PLC machines and am more familiar with manufacturing controls and controllers. If you share it you should probably try to share it but with some type of provision on the public use. Thanks for the update.

  19. Lee Barry, CEO LZPMRR says:

    Is it actually finished? I didn’t think anyone ever finishes a model railroad layout! It looks pretty good. Keep up the work!!!

  20. Lee Barry, CEO LZPMRR says:

    to the one from Cleveland,Oh.. Ya’ll oughta get the man that owns the “mistake on the lake”, Lebron James to do the same as Rod Stewart, build a model railroad layout, kinda use it as a place to draw kids and others into the hobby. Maybe you can get Mr. Haslam to donate his time and money, but better hurry his sentencing by the court is coming soon, kinda shame the both of them into making it work.

  21. Ian Mc Donald says:

    great pictures and tips they all help in this great hobby I find it hard to believe to hear a layout is finished.

  22. Rod Mackay says:

    Easier way to judge the speed of your trains – watch a particular rail joint as the train passes and, as each wheel passes over it, just say “tonk” to yourself. If you are going “tonk-tonk, tonk-tonk” and it sounds like the trains you know and love, smashing. If on the other hand, you can hardly keep up and it sounds like demented stammering, you’re going WAY too fast. Simples!
    Rod

  23. Jerry says:

    This is alot like atlas bershire layout from king size layouts for HO it’s a great layout nice job.

  24. R. Olivarez says:

    For Mike:
    First off, “Welcome to the world of model railroading.”
    The major cause for trains derailing in both Prototype and in models is because of uneven tracks.

    1.) Take your track and lay it on a flat table and slide your finger tip along the track length. If you feel your finger tip dip or snag as it is moved over a joint where one track meets the next track, it generally means the you have two different track codes. Or you may have one rail not seated properly in the rail joiner, (a.k.a. fish-plate). At turnouts where the movable rails make contacts to divert the train to another section of the layout, make sure that the inside side/edge of the movable track allows for a smooth transition from one rail to the diverted section. If there is a blunt end contacting the rail, it may cause a derailment You may need to take a small jeweler’s file to make a smooth
    transition point.

    2.) Another thing to check for is the spacing between the rails. What you want is to make sure that the space is equal from one end of the track section to the other end. A properly stocked hobby shop that deals in model railroad parts and supplies should have a track gauge that you can buy, that allows you to check for the proper spacing between the track rails.

    3.) The next thing that I would check for is to see if the tops of the tracks are at equal height. Best way to check is to have the track laid out as you want it, then place a small carpenter’s level across the track, from one rail to the other. If the bubble centers in the middle of the level, you are okay at that track location. If the bubble is off to one side then you need to raise the other rail. by putting a thin shim(s) under the low track side to bring it up to the level of the higher rail. A good shim could be made from narrow strips of a 3″ by 5″ index card. The only time that it is desirable to have one rail slightly higher than the other rail is in curves. It is here that the outside rail would need to be slightly higher than the inside track rail and you are running the train at a high speed thru the curve.

    I hope this is helpful information.
    R. Olivarez

  25. Ray Lutz says:

    Details and displays look great

  26. is it finished?? of course not haha !! yes this is never finished rather that it is workable and realistic enough to operate. There are loads of smaller details such as more machinery grime,dirt and people to add yet to name a few. I am now moving on to the station entrance previously shown as platforms only with buildings One of the many things I am learning is very regular cleaning of track and point
    blades is very important for smooth realistic operations – tedious but vital!. Many times when I think an engine is not running as it should it is usually this reason. I can recommend proper track cleaning chemicals which are easily applied and very effective rather than just using a rubber, hope this helps. Great work everyone Regards Steve

  27. What kind of control system? PC based? Any specific system and recommendations?

  28. jim Sulkosky says:

    Looks great

  29. for the record the layout is old fashioned analogue! I have nearly 100 locomotives split up into 3 eras so I can change every so often the whole look of the layout.
    This is the first time I have built a layout from a train set on boards and buildings. I thought as I started 10 years ago that DCC which was in its infancy then was too risky and too expensive for me. One day in future I might decide to change over but it will be expensive converting all the engines. I am trying my best with limited ability to make it as realistic as possible with analogue point motors are mostly hidden and isolating section are mostly hidden giving an acceptable realistic operation in sheds and stations. I think DCC with sound is amazing but it will be a future project for me. I use 2 amp controllers as the layout is quite large with two power points at opposite ends of the layout per track which works very smoothly I find providing you keep the track clean which is the same for any system!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *