Laying Track

It’s about time!

That’s my Mikado under power crossing the 200 foot truss bridge (sans truss) with the pink bones of a waterfall in the background. I am into my second box of Peco code 83 track so there is over 75 feet of track now in place plus 3 turnouts. Trackwork for my “not” helix leading between the two levels is nearly complete. I’m considering getting out some of my rolling stock and putting together a train to impress the grandkids.

I have been laying track and wiring (and wiring, and wiring) this week. There are 22 gauge feeders dropped for almost every length of flex track. The track is broken up into blocks, there are seven in this area including the passing siding, each of which uses an 18 gauge wire as a buss back to a local panel where they tie into the main 12 gauge buss. Each block will be detected at the local panel using coils and a RR-Cirkits BOD-8 block detector. Lots of wire involved!

I have figured out I can re-use the Arduino controllers from my previous layout to operate the servos used to throw the turnouts. I am using the aluminum channel idea I’ve seen others using to mount the servo. I have modified the controller circuit to eliminate the servo jerk I have always experienced at power up by adding a switching transistor to the servo power connection. It’s scabbed in just to the right of the RJ-45 jack using one of the Arduino pins to activate it only when there is need to move the servo. Not the greatest look, but it does the job.

This unit receives loconet switch commands through two wires (red & black) connected to the rails. It also has a relay to change polarity of the switch points (yellow wire) on the Peco Electro-frog turnouts. It is powered using 5V from an old computer power supply. The Cat-5 cable is used to carry power to LED panel lights. I also plan to have a switch at the panel to send a signal to a TC Mark II input to in turn output a switch message on the loconet bus to activate the turnout controller and at the same time, let JMRI know that the switch has been thrown. This way, I can use my throttle, the facia switch, or JMRI to operate the switch and my JMRI panel will be updated.

That’s the plan as of now. I have been experimenting with the TC Mark II to do this without success. Hopefully Dick over at RR-Cirkits can help me out, I just sent an email tonight.

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