A hard weekends work on the Railroad

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I’ve been working on the model railway this weekend, getting the system computerised, thereby combining my two hobbies of IT and the model railway. WP_20130707_001

The stand for the computer looks a bit rough and ready, but it is sturdy enough to take the weight of the IBM Anyplace Kiosk that I happen to have as a test machine. The touch interface is perfect for the Hornby Rail Master control software.

WP_20130707_002The biggest job is the wiring; whilst not a big layout compared to some, if you look at the last photo you will see there are 20 points; each has a motor which has to be wired to its controller and to the power bus underneath the base board. That means  I am sitting on the floor reaching up above my head trying to tighten fiddly little screws. I still have about half the wiring to do but that is for next weekend.

I had one expensive mishap which is the lesson for the day: If you look at the track layout in the last photo, over on the left is a siding; this has a duel purpose in that it is also a programming track for any changes I want to make to a Loco controller. In order to do that the straight is an isolated section; the idea being you drive the train on, isolate the section from the main track so any trains there can keep running, then switch to the programming mode.

Having wired in the programing wires and the isolation switch I connected them up to the Hornby Elite controller to test them. Trouble is I wasn’t paying attention to where I put the wires and I put them in the wrong place; when I switched the isolation switch there was a rather strong smell of burning from the controller and everything went off with a bit of a sparkle. Fortunately the trains are OK but I need to replace the Elite.  Note to self: Watch where you put the wires and double check before switching.

Hornby have just released the eLink which takes the place of the controller and allows direct control of the system from the computer. The new bit should arrive by Wednesday ready for my next weekends play.

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