Saturday, June 14, 2014

Making Tracks

My blog posts have had a common theme over the past few months. The sound bug has bitten hard. I have copped a little flack (thanks Rod ha ha) for concentrating on locomotives too much lately and not getting on with important things like track work. If only trains could run on my paper templates! With a well deserved kick up the backside, I made a start on the first crossover for Picton. I am sooooo slow at building points. It doesn't help that I decided to add sleeper plates to all main line track work. These little etched plates are a real nightmare. I think I have more of these plates stuck to my clothes and scattered on the floor than actually soldered to rail.
I am using OO-SF standards for my track work. I received a set of very nice gauges from DCC concepts and they have been a pleasure to use. I am not too sure how many people in Australia are using this standard but so far it seems to work. The OO-SF standard uses a 16.2mm track gauge, a 15.2mm check gauge and 1mm flange ways. The idea behind it is that you can use wheel sets with a NMRA compliant 14.5mm back to back with no problem. The 1 mm flange ways help the appearance of the track work and aid in smooth running of 88 thou wide wheels. This all sounds good in theory and I hope the theory works in reality, so far so good.
Initially I was going to use proto 87 store etched frogs, the code 88 friendly versions. After some persuasion, I have ended up building my own frogs out of rail. The proto 87 store frogs while easy to use do not have tight enough flange ways for the OO-SF standard and for me I like the look of formed rail frogs better. That's just me though.
I have included a few pictures of my half built crossover. Still a lot to do along with a lot of cleaning. The high quality track gauges have made the task easier. I am still very slow though. It seems like a never ending mission. Hopefully in the next video I will have a locomotive running through it, hopefully.

When I say tracks, that did not just apply to railway line tracks but also to audio tracks. I have wanted to re-do my 38 class project for a while, so I sat down for a few hours the other day and modified the original project. The sound files are still taken from a 38 class recording but this time I have specific files for all three drive sound levels and differing files for acceleration files. I have not been able to give it a good run to hear it properly but initial short runs seem to sound ok. I like it better than the old file anyway. I don't think any of these files will ever be 100% finished. My life story ha ha. More video.
I was able to make it to Epping for the long weekend exhibition and had a great day. I actually spent the whole Saturday there. Bolivia is a very, very nice layout. There has been some discussion on its height. I loved its viewing height, similar in height to Bowen Creek (maybe not quite as high). I like the fact that trains were running through the scenery very much like how we humans view them in 1/1 scale. Picton is on the higher side and a lot of its track will be hidden by a cutting, station building and viaduct sides (not sure why I am building my own track to be honest). For me though, this is how many of the English layouts featured in the Railway Journal appear to be. I have always loved those English layouts and because of this, Picton was the perfect choice for me. At the end of the day the person that builds the layout has the ultimate say in how they want to make it. We should feel lucky that these people bring their layouts out into the public arena.
There were many other great layouts on display also. Gary from the Model Railroad Craftsman sure knows how to knock gum trees up! The lighting and electronic wizardry behind the layout was very interesting.
Well that's about it. I wont be going to the MRNSW convention next weekend but hope to make it the Early Days convention later on in the year.
Thanks for having a look,

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Big and the Small

Its raining here today and a good opportunity to update the blog. I know I have been flogging the 57 class stuff to death lately, but I thought I would share some installation pictures, a tweaked sound file and the latest sound file installed in my Trax 13 class.

This particular 57 class model, as you all probably know by now is my Uncles. For this install, one of the requirements I set for myself was to make it easy for him to connect the wiring between locomotive and tender. I like to keep brass locomotives in their original boxes, so being able to separate the locomotive and tender is important. Other requirements included having the speaker in the smoke box (where the sound is suppose to come from) and the fitment of an ESU power pack.

The first version of the install included a Loksound V4 decoder, adaptor board and Power pack in the tender. A six wire loom transferred sound output to the Zimo sugar cube, power to the motor and track power to the decoder. This meant the need for a six pin connector between loco and tender. Not the best way to keep the loco tender connection easy to handle.

Heading back to the drawing board, I happened to remember a comment made by Colin Hussey in regards to placing the decoder in the boiler. After once again pulling the loco down, I discovered that there is a fair amount of usable room in the boiler/smoke box area. I pulled the lead weight out of the boiler and weighed it. After weighing up my options (yes I know), I decided to make a brass weight which would house all the components for the install. This meant that there would be no wiring between loco and tender. Measurements were taken and my trusty lathe was put into action. What resulted was a cylindrical brass block, exciting stuff!

Slot for ESU Power Pack

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From the picture you may be able to see the milled recess where the ESU Power Pack will reside. The capacitor was removed from the Power Pack and then remote mounted in front of the speaker. On top of the Power Pack is where the Loksound V4 sits. With the speaker mounted the whole assembly fits nicely into the boiler and is held in place with two tapped 10Ba screws, utilising the original lead weight mounting points. Once assembled it weighs four grams more than the original lead weight.

I was not completely happy with the sound file shown in my last blog post. I have been slowly trying to develop a more full chuff sound throughout versions, however the last attempt lacked some of the rhythm that the prototype portrays. As the decoder sound files are directly taken from a 57 class recording, I was unsure as to why the rhythm was not quite right. When the 57 class prototype sound file is imported into the audio editing software, you can graphically see all six chuff sounds. This makes it easier to work out the timing and amplitude levels of the individual chuff beats. When splitting each chuff sound up, I happened to shorten the distance between the sixth and first beat. It is sometimes hard to pick the point exactly. I went back into the first chuff sound file and adjusted the beginning by 0.1 seconds decreasing the time to 0.07 for the high speed chuff files. I feel that it has regained the correct rhythm, but that's just how I hear it. This sound stuff is very subjective. The rhythm varies subtly due to speed and sometimes acceleration changes. It can be a hard to pick the first beat sometimes which then throws you off the rhythm also.

I have also included another video of my Trax 13 class. Since its first appearance on this blog it has received a new motor and has had progressive sound file updates. It is a beaut little loco and runs around the club layout very nicely. For this video I placed a plastic glove across the track to demonstrate the ability of the installed TCS Keep Alive. Sorry about all the bird and rain noise! I don't even remember hearing the bird, I think its an owl?

That's it for now. I am heading to the Epping exhibition on Saturday. Its going to be an expensive weekend. New RTR stuff released includes SDS NPRX/Y/F cement wagons, OTM TRCs and the Austrains ultimate S truck. I might have to slowly withdraw money out throughout the week so the missus doesn't notice the huge spending spree on Saturday ha ha.

Hope to catch up with all those going,