houseA
houseC

Here is my ‘shotgun house’. So called because you could shoot a shotgun through the front door and out the back without hitting anything. These were very common in the early 20th century, easy to build, standard lumber sizes, reasonably cheap. Often used in ‘company towns’.

Anyhow, this is my take on one. The sides are cast resin, I made two masters using (many) strips of .060 styrene to get the siding effect. Those were used to make two rubber molds, one with the brick base and one without.

For the house, I poured three of the brick base and one without, then cut them out on my band saw. The windows and door openings were cut on my X90 3D router, (cured resin cuts very much like styrene it seems, sweet). The floor and roof are just straight cut styrene sheet ‘score and snap’. The window and door inserts are also cast from resin. Everything is painted with rustoleum flats- brown, white and for the roof, black. I have it wired with white LEDs inside and on the porch but don’t have 12v out in the garden yet. Soon.

combine

Latest Project. I picked up this passenger/baggage car along with the caboose at the ECSLTS train show last month. This one was $30. Good deal. Finally got to work on it some. I’ve disassembled and painted all the parts, pulled out the bulbs and put in white LEDs. A few 3D peoples will populate the seats. I also got the nice shiny truck from ECLSTS. Scale is good. Looks like it has a load of zombies…

depotA

depotB

Some pics of the final buildout of my train depot. Cut from .060 styrene on my Probitix X90. Finished up with Rustoleum flat cammo colors from rattle cans. This should fare much better out in the elements than my wooden structures, plus styrene is way way easier to work with than wood.

I use Inkscape to draw the plans, then the free version of CamBam to make the G code cutting paths. The X90 uses a Dewalt dwp611 palm router driven by a super PID speed controller. All cuts are made with preciseBits 1/32 inch 2 flute endmills.

protophoneB
protophoneA

Latest incarnation of the Phone Throttle Contraption. The phone communicates with the Xbee Controller via bluetooth, a custom app runs on the phone. This is based on previous experiments with an android tablet, you can read about that here- Android, Bluetooth and Xbee

I’m trying to emulate a generic sort of DCC throttle ‘feel’ with this. I have all of the base code written and tested, it’s just a matter of pulling all the parts together. Slowly I’m getting everything working.

u25B-MainModel

I picked up a cheap Aristocraft U25B in Chessie paint the other day and have been taking it apart so I can rebuild it. The idea is to get from the toy like unit I have into at least a semi-scaled sort of model. The photo above is the closest prototype image I’ve found to what is depicted with this Aristocraft rendition. So I’m stripping it down to the base parts with the idea to install my control system, batteries and sound. And of course, a bit of paint and detail work- it is a bit cheezy with the cast color parts. Yuck. So anyhow, I’m getting there. Below is an image of the original model. More in a later post.

chessie

phonethrottle

Yes, I know this is a little weird but I want a knob AND a nice user interface (ala smartphone) to run my trains so I am working on this design. The Knob and underlying circuitry communicate directly with the 802.15.4 network. The phone is just there for the user interface and graphics. Bluetooth is used to communicate between knob/wireless controller and the phone. A custom app runs on the phone. I have the infrastructure working for this, its just a matter of smushing all the components into this small space and refactoring the software a bit. Both the case and the face plate for this were cut on my Probotix X90 3D router.

xmaspcbSMAnnotate

Today I got my order of printed circuit boards from Bay Area Circuits. I promptly populated them with components and powered them all up to see how they would do. Everything works! Very nice! Next step is to install these into one of my locomotives and replace all the breadboards with something clean and production quality.

Pictured, in order, is the 8Amp DPDT relay module, it’s used to reverse the direction of the locomotive. It can be triggered either with a logic one or zero, say from an Ardunio, or from an R/C signal via your generic radio control system. (The logic version is shown, the R/C version has an additional chip on the board, you can see the outline).

Second is the DCC output module. It is designed to be driven with a logic signal from a micro-controller such as the Ardunio. Logic input in, attach your choice of battery (or other) power to the input terminals and it provides up to 3Amps of DCC encoded power on the outputs.

Below that is the DCC input module, connect this to any DCC device like the MRC Prodigy or NCE DCC units and it converts the high voltage DCC signal down to what a micro-controller or Ardunio needs.

The last one is my Control Widget Node. This device is a micro controller wired to an industrial strength Xbee Series 1 802.15.4 Wireless Network Module. I use this for both my Control and Slave nodes. It allows high speed data delivered in an organized network infrastructure with a range of about 300 ft. I send both proprietary packets and DCC messages over this in real time. This is the latest PCB design.

depot1

depot2

Still have a ways to go on this but it’s coming out pretty good considering I don’t know what I’m doing 🙂 This is all cut out of .060 styrene sheet using my X90 3D router, Inkscape and Freebie CamBam.

I’m finding I much prefer to cut styrene as opposed to sheet plywood or blocks of pine. Styrene is an ideal material, it cuts easily, produces WAY less ‘chip dust’ and can be assembled with Testors sorts of plastic model glues and paints. This particular design is based on a photo from the VA Tech archive, a picture is in one of the posts below. I actually wasted only a little sheet on this one once I got the correct spindle rpm and feed rates figured out.

micro

I’ve been doing quite a bit of PCB design these days, here is a version of my controller board, the ‘microwidget’. It’s quite compact. I have not had any made yet but I thought it came out really sort of, well, neat. Like art kinda.

All total I have about five or six small circuits for doing control networks- specifically for large scale model trains. DCC input and output, servo control, DC brushed motor control, reversing relays- all via Industrial strength Xbee Network wireless.

I’m also thinking of making an apt-get debian package to install JMRI on a RPi 2 and gitlab for my code. Hmm.

I think I need a Kickstarter 🙂