Thought I would give a quick update to my layout.
Still very much work in progress but thanks to the suggestions from your readers I am trying to attempt my version of Noch’s Baden-Baden layout (below).
I still need to purchase some extra ramps and finish building the mountains, but as you can see there will be a dual figure 8 track crossing the three mountains, with 3 double bridges (the 2 you can see plus 1 at the back of the layout).
Here’s Noch’s version below:
A big thanks to Pete – I’m always banging on about making a start, and Pete looks like he’s jumped in with both feet. Can’t wait to see an update.
And now on to Ray, who has sent in the latest video of his layout:
Just a follow up from my last email.
I’ve created a new video which shows a majority of my layout. Running three CSX locomotives.
Thanks for all you do.
Now we have a question, from Peter.
It’s also the very reason I started the forum.
Although Steve’s question is quite technical, in the forum, anything goes – from complete beginner questions, to very specific questions like Steve’s.
If you want to make that start, you really can ask about anything you like on the forum.
What’s more, as you’ve seen from the comments on the blog, we’re a friendly bunch, so please don’t be shy about asking.
Ask and get started!
Anyhow, back to Steve. Who can help?
I wonder whether anyone out there is able to answer a couple of questions I have about using an Arduino?
It’s a microcontroller that you can program to work servos, motors, LEDs and so on. I am quite new to them myself (I first heard about them from a post on your site). I’m fine with the programming, it’s wiring the components that I’m having problems with.
I am building a working level crossing, the older type used in the UK with gates rather than barriers. Each of the four gates is moved through 90 degrees by a servo. So far, so good, I have wired the servos up to the Arduino and written the code to make the gates open or close when I click a button on a remote control.
Each servo is connected to one of the Arduino’s output signal pins. At present that uses 4 of the pins, but as two of the servos move clockwise and two move counter-clockwise I think I can just use 2 pins instead of 4, with each of those pins sending the control signal to 2 servos. My first question is have I got that right?
I have three semaphore signals (Up, Down and a single line branch joining the Down line) guarding the level crossing, which I want to control from the same Arduino board using stepper motors rather than servos, so that I can program in a nice subtle “bounce” when the signal arm falls to danger. Each stepper motor needs to be attached to FOUR signal pins, plus the separate power supply, and I want to be able to work the signals one at a time rather than simultaneously.
Now, here’s my second question. Can I wire the four signal leads from all of the stepper motors together and use something like a relay wired into the power or ground wires of the motors to select the appropriate signal stepper motor for operation? Otherwise I will be running out of Arduino signal pins (2 or 4 for the gate servos, 1 more for the branch point servo, 1 for the infra-red sensor for the remote control and 12 for the three stepper motors).
Thanks in advance
Steve, Lincs, UK”
If anyone can help Steve, please do leave a comment below, or even better, post a question on the forum and then answer it!
The thing about the forum is it has a search function (top right), so over time, it should become a really useful resource.
Also, one or two of you, have asked how to get to the forum – if you look on the right hand side of the site, you’ll see the button for it, so you can always get to it:
Now on to something completely different.
It’s an email I get sent often. It’s old, but gold. It did make me chuckle the first time I saw it.
Here you go:
The U.S. Standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches.
That’s an exceedingly odd number.
Why was that gauge used?
Because that’s the way they built them in England, and English expatriates designed the U.S. Railroads.
Why did the English build them like that?
Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that’s the gauge they used.
Why did ‘they’ use that gauge then?
Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they had used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing.
Why did the wagons have that peculiar wheel spacing?
Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break on some of the old, long distance roads in England, because that’s the spacing of the wheel ruts.
So, who built those old rutted roads?
Imperial Rome built the first long distance roads in Europe (including England) for their legions. Those roads have been used ever since.
And the ruts in the roads?
Roman war chariots formed the initial ruts,which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels.
Since the chariots were made for Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing.
Therefore, the United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches is derived from the original specifications for an Imperial Roman war chariot.
In other words, bureaucracies live forever .
So the next time you are handed a specification, procedure, or process, and wonder, “What horse’s ass came up with this?”, you may be exactly right.
Imperial Roman army chariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the rear ends of two war horses.
Now, the twist to the story:
When you see a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, you will notice that there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank.
These are solid rocket boosters, or SRBs. The SRBs are made by Thiokol at their factory in Utah.
The engineers who designed the SRBs would have preferred to make them a bit larger, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site.
The railroad line from the factory happens to run through a tunnel in the mountains and the SRBs had to fit through that tunnel.
The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track, as you now know, is about as wide as two horses’ behinds.
So, a major Space Shuttle design feature of what was arguably the world’s most advanced transportation system was determined over two thousand years ago by the width of a horse’s ass.”
That’s all for today folks. Please do keep ’em coming.
And don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide is here if you want to get going on your own layout.