New layout in the works.

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by nolatron, Feb 22, 2007.

  1. berraf

    berraf Member

    Shaun, thanks for the pics of your progress. Your project seems to come out great.
    The idea of coil as background is great :thumb:
    It's good to see that you have some locos and wagons waiting for there first mission.
  2. nolatron

    nolatron Member

    I’ve decided to use CTI components for turnout and signal logic. I used this system before and loved it. It takes a lot of time to program everything (EVERYTHING), but it’s worth it.

    I know for the layout I wanted the Signal and Turnout systems to be connected together computer software so turnout throws would affect the signal aspects accordingly. The problem with that is I didn’t want have to go to the computer everytime I wanted to throw a switch.

    So then I thought of doing both local and Computer panels. That though involved lots of little switches, wires, cabling back to the PC hardware, having to mount panels all nice and neat, etc… Basically stuff I’d rather avoid doingto save on clutter.

    Then I got an idea. Touchscreen. I think what I’m going to do it build me a small mini-ITX pc to be a dedicated layout PC. This PC will just reside someplace in the corner under the layout with extended VGA and USB cabling connected to a touchscreen LCD panel. The screen would sit on my table desk that’s actually in a decent location because you can see both yards and Georgetown. (btw, I made more changes to the plan. will upload tonight).

    I have three options for the monitor. I can either by a cheap 17″ LCD panel and get a NavIsis EX-Canvas overlay. This is the cheapest method about ($250), but uses a little stylus pen. Might be handy though because you specify a “right” or “left” click using buttons on the bpen. I would also build a angled box to mount the screen in for easy viewing.

    Second would be use a mini Touchscreen like I did in my car. A lilliput 8″ widescreen Touchscreen LCD can be found for $260, works great, but may be a little small depending on how complex the onscreen panel might be. They also have a 10″ square version for about $320.

    Last option would be to simply buy something like this.

    A nice little all-in-one Point-of-sale type 12″ touchscreen. A little more pricey (~600), but it’s freaking cool looking.

    Either way I go I think I found my solution to get my high-tech layout control. :)
  3. nolatron

    nolatron Member

    And a for a little status report, I'm hoping my first 46" fluorescent arrives today.

    I ordered a single Daylight (6500K) T4 fluorescent to test out and see how it looks and all. If it looks good I'll probably go ahead and order the rest.

    The North Island Refinery kit is coming along slowly, but it's making it. It's my first kit I've built, well, ever. So it's got it's flaws. But it still looks good, heh.

    Need to start constructing the Helix as well soon.
  4. nolatron

    nolatron Member

    Let there be light!

    Today my order for lights for the upper level arrived. I am various sized T4 fluorescents with 6400K "daylight" bulbs. Man, what a difference they daylight bulbs make over "cool white".

    Here's some before/after pics (no light/light). Pics really don't show how well they really look but I'm pretty impressed.

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    And the total watts/Amps draw by the lights for one level:

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
  5. nolatron

    nolatron Member

    So it seems it's been about, well, forever since my last update on the layout hamr

    Progress has been slow, but it's moving along. I recently finished up the construction of the helix for the layout. I bought a precut made helix from an ebay seller, Ashlin Designs, to save me some wood work headaches, except I ended up not paying attention while gluing one of the columns on and it ended up gluing in place on an angle. This ended up throwing some of the levels at a sharp angle ie: ^ between pieces. I should be fix this though.

    Otherwise, I've started laying out buildings and planning where roads and buildings are going to go.

    I've removed the yard from the lower level and will be adding a "return loop" around the bottom of the room to send train back up the helix (if space allows for the curve, I think it should), and/or create a "roundy-round" lower level.

    Work on the refinery continues, and I've ordered the Taco Bell and Dominoes kit from Summit USA, along with the ADM Grain Elevator from Walthers.

    My order of track should hopefully arrive in a week or so, containing mostly the bulk of the mainline switches. Once I get these, I'll be able to get a better idea on space needed for mainline trackage for the city and what not.

    I'm also still bouncing around names for the subdivision and towns. Georgetown has been scrapped and the layout's current name is the Elmwood Subdivision. I'm sure it'll change a few more times, heh.

    Phew...I think that's about it, so here's some pics. Oh yeah, and I installed all the lights for the lower level. :wave:

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
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    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  6. nolatron

    nolatron Member


    A panoramic of the layout in its current state. The lighting btw on the backdrop looks much better in person, there's no dark spots or anything. Just something the camera is seeing.
  7. TrainNut

    TrainNut Ditat Deus

    Neat. I've often wondered how feasible it is for those of you with helix's to get inside there and clean the track every so often.
    I blew that picture up trying to find the lightning you were referring to and could not find any. I must assume you meant lighting? If so, it looks pretty good. My layout is illuminated by the one hanging fixture in the middle of our dining room.
  8. wickman

    wickman Member

    Way to go Shaun , this is really getting interesting:wave:
  9. nolatron

    nolatron Member

    me too, hehe. I'm planning on just using a track cleaning car and will run it the length of the layout every now and then when UP does there track maintenance ;)

    Oops. Typo there. Yeah, Lighting, not Lightning. hamr *BZZZTT*
  10. nolatron

    nolatron Member

    Pro-Tech Signals

    I ordered a Pro-Tech single head signal last week and it arrived today in the mail. I was thinking about using these "Static" signals for the crossover tracks and branch line on the top level.

    I must say I'm pretty impressed with the quality. It's my first signal on the layout (on any of my layouts actually), and it just adds a whole other level of realism even without the rest of the scenery.

    I even started considering ditching the whole expensive signals/lots-o-wires/expensive logic boards/programming headaches "signal system" for these low cost nice looking signals. :eek:

    Here's some pics:

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  11. berraf

    berraf Member

    It's amazing what a difference a single signal do :thumb:
    I understand that you feel lucky about your investment.
  12. nolatron

    nolatron Member

    Wabbit Vs. CTI

    Just doing more research about turnout controls. Here’s a breakdown between using CTI’s hardware vs. Wabbits for controlling 16 turnouts.

    1 Starter Set - $84.95
    1 Yardmaster - $67.95
    2 Switch Power Supplies - $30
    1 Tortoise 12 pack - $159.95
    4 Tortoise - $63.80
    Total - $406.65

    1 - 12 Pack Combo (6 Wabbit-FB, 12 Tort Conn, 12 Tortoise) - $348.88
    2 2-pack Combos (1 Wabbit-FB, 2 Tort Conn, 2 Tortoise) - $132.00
    Total - $475.88

    And then some pros and cons. The Wabbit it obviously easier to setup, requiring only two wires from th DCC bus for the basic operation and address programing. Addition features include easy push button/toggle intergration, Panel LED indicators, ability to report feedback back to Digitrax, and auto throw.

    The CTI setup, while almost $70 cheaper, requires a lot of hardware, a lot of wire running, a dedicated PC, and a lot of source code programming. Push button toggles aren’t easy to intergrate. It requires a to act as a “sensor” and programmed into the software. Panel LED’s could probably be run from the tortoise too. No feedback to DCC and no auto-throw.

    So yeah, I know I was all gung-ho again for using CTI for it’s extensive programming control (ie: tying Signals to turnouts), but the same can be accomplished with JMRI if I stick with using live signals. But the other day, after working on the layout a little bit, I started second guessing myself on the whole PC control aspect of the layout. I think I really want to have some sort of local control right there at the layout side for controlling turnouts, and going the way of the Wabbit will give me that *AND* digital control from my handheld DCC throttle and/or a PC interface (with signal logic). And not having to fire up a pc and software in order to throw a turnout would be nice too.

    So call me Mr. Can’t-Make-Up-His-Mind, but I think I’m back on using DCC for controlling turnouts via Wabbits. In the end, it’ll cost more, but I think I’ll be happier with the features.

    And if you wanna make wiring even easier, there’s the hare too!

    It’ll cost more, but you’re paying for simplier install, and fewer wires to deal with.

    for 16 turnouts.

    1 - 12 Pack Combo (6 Wabbit-FB, 12 Tort Conn, 12 Tortoise) - $348.88
    2 2-pack Combos (1 Wabbit-FB, 2 Tort Conn, 2 Tortoise) - $132.00
    Total - $475.88

    1 12 Pack Combo - $489.95
    4 1 pack combos - $179.80
    Total - 669.75

    So a difference of $179.80 for an easier install.
    Worth it to you? I’m still deciding!sign1

    (prices from Tony's)
  13. bigsteel

    bigsteel Call me Mr.Tinkertrain

    thats too much math for me but lookin at thos prices :eek:.ill stick with manual throw rods :mrgreen:.keep this great layout goin nolatron :thumb:--josh
  14. nolatron

    nolatron Member

    I know. Evvvvery now and then I think, "Maybe I should just go manual and use some Humpyard turnouts" because I can probably do the whole layout for under $250 and use some static Pro-Tech signals.

    But then I think, this layout is my "dream" layout, and having automation and working signals and what not I've always wanted.

    So this why I'm constantly bouncing between the too.

    I've basically decided if I go Digital it'll be the above manner, or I go manual with humpyards.

    I'm thinking of ordering a set of humpyards and trying them out. Who knows, I may like 'em like I do the non-working signals.
  15. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Wow Shaun, I just now found this thread and I am impressed with your ideas and progress. And, I see you are located in Katy. I'm down here near Alvin. Keep up the good work and show us more photos.
  16. bigsteel

    bigsteel Call me Mr.Tinkertrain

    i see what your gettin at,if you want a dream layout it should have ALL your dreams in compromising here! :mrgreen:.--josh
  17. nolatron

    nolatron Member

    Well, maybe a little compromising with the wife. sign1
  18. nolatron

    nolatron Member

    Just got an update email that my order for the Taco Bell and Dominoes Pizza kit from Summit was shipped yesterday via Priority mail. W00t.

    My sunrise feed mill should be arriving today too.

    I already received a Medusa Cement Company kit from ebay, already built. I have three more buildings enroute. Found a seller getting rid of a lot of pre-built structures so I though I'd jump on a few. I'll post a pic of the Concrete building tonight.

    Other recent acquirements were the Yard building, portable toilets, large electrical box, rubber and cement crossings, and a radio tower from BLMA. Mostly to see how all these things look in person.

    Now I just wish would give me an update on my order from over three weeks ago.
  19. nolatron

    nolatron Member

    The new Cement Company industry

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Walther's built-up Sunrise Feed

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    And BLMA's Port-a-Potty next to the gas station :)

    Working is still moving along on the North Island Refinery kit. Today I also got my Walther's Double Truss bridge kit I'll start work on soon.
  20. bigsteel

    bigsteel Call me Mr.Tinkertrain

    oh no,looks like your never gettin that order.there was a thread a while ago burning them for never returning calls,never updating and never shipping.some people said they waited up to 6 months and just canceled the order.i really hope it comes through soon if at all.

    oh,and those are some pretty good grabs from E-bay.the sunrise feed mill looks great and the port-a-potty is a nice touch :D--josh

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