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Messages - Jim Banner

No problem in Firefox.

Just one more source of LED lamp posts that won't break the bank:

I have not dealt personally with this fellow but he has an excellent rating on eBay and has excellent prices on Led street lights, both in 12 volt and 6 volt versions.  At less than a dollar each, you would be hard put to build your own for the same price.  He also has some upscale lamp posts near the top of the same page.  Out of my price range, but these feature screw in LED's and the whole lamp post plugs into a socket hidden in the table top.

I don't know what Doneldon's problem is but your initials remind me of one of my favourite actors, Mike Farrell, and the character he played in M*A*S*H - B.J. Hunnicut.  I don't think we ever found out what B.J. stood for, but someone once suggested 'Beau Jest.'

General Discussion / Re: Issues with quichtrack
July 04, 2012, 08:45:10 PM
The closest I could find to Quick Track was Fast Track, the system for making your own turnouts, etc.  But from the wording of your question, I am pretty sure that is not what you are talking about as Fast Track does not sell finished, ready to install turnouts.  Could you check the name again please?

General Discussion / Re: EZ-Track Usage
June 23, 2012, 10:43:04 PM
A few suggestions, based on my experience with both hinged sections and slide apart sections:

If one section hinges upward compared to the other, the center lines of the hinge pins must be higher than the highest point on both sections.  If you have no permanent hills, bridges, buildings or trees, this is mostly likely the tops of the rails.

If one section hinges downward compared to the other, the center lines of the hinge pins must be below the bottoms of the tales.

For sections that fold upward, butt hinges are a better choice than piano hinge but they will require some stiff framing under your table top to have something to securely screw them to.  Best size is 3-1/2" to 4", just like those used on doors in houses.

For sections that fold downward, a piano hinge (a.k.a. continuous hinge) is a good choice, particularly if the table top is at all flimsy.

Sections that slide together can be bolted or clamped together but aligning the ends of the tracks is difficult and time consuming.  It is a bit easier to use removable sections with sliding rail joiners to allow less precise alignment of the sections but sliding the rail joiners on a 4 foot wide table will be difficult.

Sliding sections can also be aligned with pin and socket hardware similar to that used on dining room tables.  I prefer metal pins and sockets over the plastic ones as they do not wear with repeated insertions.  Wooden dowels in drilled holes are not a good choice.  With a pin and socket arrangement, you just slide the tables together, plug in the electrical, and you are in business.  No tricky alignment, no sliding rail joiners, perfect alignment every time.

As far as crossing from one section to the other with tracks at an angle, this just requires careful alignment and filing the top inside corners of the rails to make sure the wheels are properly guided from section to sections.  This is the system I use on my 0n30 layout.  I started out with Bachmann H0 E-Z Track because it is quick and easy to install and have been slowly replacing it with hand spiked rails on cedar ties.  The trains do not derail on either track type.

I have added a photo of a liftout section that uses 3-1/2" butt hinges.  The four hinges are marked by red arrows.  There are two of these liftouts on a layout a group of us have in our local museum.  Each time a train runs over these liftouts, it must cross a total of four joints (one at each end of each liftout.)  This layout has run over half a million trains in the last 20 years (yes, we counted them with an automatic counter.)  That is over 2,000,000 times a train has crossed a joint.  What is remarkable is that we have never had a derailment at any of these joints.  Also note that the pins of these butt hinges have had rings added to make it easy to pull the pins when we need to lift out a liftout.

HO / Re: Momentum Oddity
June 12, 2012, 10:19:10 AM
The decoder inside your locomotives is designed to send a signal back to your DCC command station when it has successfully received and installed a program change.  This signal is in the form of a momentary increase in the current drawn by the locomotive.  The only way that a decoder can momentarily increase its current draw is by sending that current somewhere, and that somewhere, as you have noticed, is to the motor.  That momentary burst of current to the motor is what makes the locomotive jump a bit.  All decoders do this, not just Bachmann ones.

How big the jump is depends on the quality of the locomotive and the motor inside it as well as the state of lubrication of the locomotive and how well broken in it is.  The higher the quality, the better the lubrication, and being properly broken in all make the locomotive jump farther for a given pulse of power.  If your locomotive had an inefficient motor, loose gears, and/or desperately needed lubrication, the pulse of current probably could not move it at all.

Your observation that one of your locomotives did not originally jump and now does sounds quite accurate.  When new, the motor and running gear can be a bit stiff and the pulse of current may not move them or may move them only slightly.  But once the locomotive has run a few hours, the motor and running gear run freely and now the pulse can move the motor, running gear, and the locomotive along with them.  It may be annoying but it is a sign that you have a quality locomotive in fine running shape.

Surprisingly, this jump happened occasionally in the real world in the days of steam.  This very dangerous occurrence was normally limited to old, worn out locomotives which were a bit out of time.  Because of the timing problem, the locomotive could high centre, that is, you could apply steam pressure to the cylinders but the locomotive would either not start at all or would suddenly start which a jump and wheel spin.  If the locomotive also had a leaky main valve, it could jump unexpectedly, throwing people around in the cab or hitting them if they were too close to the locomotive.


General Discussion / Re: Street lamps and lighting
June 09, 2012, 12:02:45 AM
Like Dessertdweller, I paint the insides of plastic buildings with black paint to reduce light leakage.  Unlike Dessertdweller, I then paint them white over the black to bounce the light around and reduce the size of the bulbs I need.

I like lighted buildings and my favourite time on my layout is dusk, enough light to see the buildings but not so bright as to over power their inside lighting.

General Discussion / Re: Firebox Flicker Effects
June 07, 2012, 01:40:59 AM
Has anyone tried making a firebox flicker with a flicker LED (as found in electronic tea lights?)

HO / Re: Bachmann 2-8-0 Drive System
June 03, 2012, 05:39:18 PM
Quote from: trainat114 on June 01, 2012, 09:44:41 AM
When there is any resistance at all on the system the gear on the motor drive shaft ... just freewheels ... the motor turns fast but nothing else happens.
Thanks Ed

Looks to me like you nailed it right in your first posting.  Before ordering a repair kit, you might try a drop of Crazy Glue to see if it will hold the sprocket ("gear") in place.  Put the drop of glue between the sprocket and the flywheel so there is no possibility of getting any in the bushing at the end of the motor.  Let the glue set over night before you reinstall the belt.

I did not understand the nonsense about the system being designed to fail.  If a single failure in a single unit indicated that a product was designed to fail, then every product ever created by mankind was designed to fail.  Two of the most highly engineered products every made - space craft and nuclear power stations - have had failures but you will never convince me that someone stayed up nights making sure that parts he was designing would fail.

HO / Re: more DCC questions
June 02, 2012, 11:30:25 PM
Caution - long, boring technical comment follows.  READ AT YOUR OWN RISK of falling asleep.

Some of the better decoders implement CV 9 which is used to set the total pulse width modulation period, that is, the on time plus the off time.  This is the inverse of the pulse repetition rate, a.k.a. frequency.  With these decoders, you can set the frequency for the best compromise between low speed performance and noise.

The reason that decoders use pulse width modulation rather than pulse rate modulation is that pulse width modulation will work with all motors while pulse rate modulation, using fixed width pulses, must to tuned to the motor for best operation.  This is particularly true of older or cheaper motors with a lot of cogging.  It the pulses are too narrow, a slow repetition rate will not be able to kick the motor through a cog and it will just vibrate until the pulses are frequent enough to cause jack rabbit starts and poor or nonexistent low speed performance.  With pulses wider than necessary, the motor will advance the locomotive in large steps, or at least, steps larger than really necessary.  With pulse width modulation, you can turn up the speed control until the pulses are wide enough to kick the motor through a cog.  An ideal solution that was, to my knowledge, never implement commercially but was used by some home builders had both a repetition rate control. which served as a speed control, and a pulse width control.  The idea was to set the repetition rate to some low value, then advance the pulse width control until each pulse was just wide enough to advance the locomotive a tiny amount.  Thereafter, the pulse repetition rate control was used as the throttle.

With cheap motors, the sort used in the seventies to power train set locomotives, pulses in the 5 to 10 millisecond range were required.  For better motors with the armatures more tightly coupled to the fields and five instead of three poles, pulses of around a millisecond were long enough.  Really good can motors with five poles and skewed windings that appeared in the eighties needed as little as 100 microseconds pulses.  Having to tune the controller to each locomotive separately was a bit of a pain but it meant that cheap, train set locomotives that normally started at about 10 smph could be reliably run at one tie per second, or less than 1 smph.  This meant that just about any locomotive, including the brass clunkers of the day, could be used for realistic switching.

Nowadays, just about any decent locomotive can do the same, even on pure dc.  The use of pulse width modulation in DCC decoders is simply a way of reducing decoder heating.   With ideal transistors driving a motor,  the heating in those transistors is E (voltage across the transistor) times I (current through the transistor.  When the pulse is turned on, there is no voltage across the transistors so E * I is zero.  When the pulse is turned off, there is no current through the transistors so E * I is again zero.  If E * I is always, zero, then there is no heating in the transistors.  Of course, the transistors are NOT ideal and so there is some voltage across the transistors when they are on and there is both voltage across the transistors and current through them during the finite time it takes the transistors to switch from on to off and vise versa.  This means the transistors do have to dissipate some power, but only a very small fraction of what they would have to dissipate if used to control pure dc.

HO / Re: Locking the articulated rear engines
May 21, 2012, 11:16:29 PM
Quote from: Atlantic Central on May 21, 2012, 01:15:03 PM

One more important point, having designed and been involved with the construction of a number of layouts with a helix, I would caution you about building a helix with such a small radius.

What will your grade be? Over 3% - plus the resistance of the curve - two of the best pulling steam locos a out there will likely only pull 20 cars up it.


Sheldon, I am not sure how you are doing your calculation but according to mine, a 30" radius helix built 3-3/4" rail head to rail head can have full NMRA clearance and a grade of less than 2%.  With 4" rail head to rail head, the grade is still only about 2.1%.  If you really want to push the envelope and your woodworking skills are up to it, the limit is about a 1.7% grade with 30" curves and 3" clearance over the rail heads.  Not all of us have that extra foot to build our helices with 36" and larger curves.

Figure 17 on page 6 of your E-Z Command manual shows how to do this.  A black power cord with a miniature stereo plug on each end should have come with your E-Z Command.  One end of this cord plugs into the output (track) jack of a #44212 analog controller and the other end plugs into the power input jack of the E-Z Command. It does NOT plug into the I/O jack.  The wall plug power supply plugs into the #44212 controller.  The E-Z Command draws its power from that wall plug power supply via the black cord coming from the analogue controller.

HO / Re: Remaining headlight problem
May 16, 2012, 05:17:19 PM
I assume your mystery device is mounted on a printed circuit board and suspect it is a zero ohm resistor.  A zero ohm resistor is essentially a piece of wire wrapped in a shell to make it the same size and shape as a regular resistor.  Zero ohm resistors are used where one printed circuit trace must cross another but the manufacturer does not want to go to the expense of using a double sided board.  If you were adding components to such a board by hand, you would probably just use a piece of bare wire on the top of the board (the side opposite the copper traces.)  But automatic insertion machines are designed to handle resistors, among other things, so a zero ohm resistor is often used place of a piece of wire.

So what would keep such a simple device from working?  Here are some things you can check for:
- cold soldered joint at one of both ends of the device.  Use iron to resolder.
- cold soldered joint where wires connect to board.  Use iron to resolder.
- broken printed circuit trace.  Check with strong magnifying glass or trace with solder from end to end.
- still no joy?  Bypass the whole mess with a piece of wire.

If your mystery device is NOT on a printed circuit board, then it could be a micro fuse.  The 0.1 ohm resistance could be believable for a micro fuse, but not when it is measured on a 20,000 ohm scale.  Try measuring it on a 10 ohm or even a 100 ohm scale.


P.S. I hope you will take the time to post your findings when you finally get this problem solved.  Learning the solution to these odd ball problems is good learning experience for all of us.

Sorry I cannot tell you about the locomotive sounds but I can tell you about your English.  It is better than the English used by a larger percentage of the people posting on this forum.  If anyone hassles your about your English, just ask them how well they speak Dutch.  I would not be surprised to learn that you also speak some German and French too.

If it is pulling power you want, stick to diesels.  A four axle diesel is guaranteed to have at least four wheels on the rails, even if climbing a twisting track on a helix.  A steamer, on the other hand, is only guaranteed to have two wheels touching the rails on the same track.  To compound the problem, a diesel has all its weight on the driving wheels while  some of the weight of a steamer is lost to the leading and trailing trucks, assuming it has them.

Things are a little different in the real world.  The drive axles of a real world steamer are not rigidly attach to a rigid frame.  Rather, they are equalized with a complex system of springs, levers and linkages so that all drivers carry about the same weight, even on twisting curves.  This has been done on some 0-scale models and possibly on some H0 models although usually springing each end of each axle is as good as it gets.  In N-scale?  Not that I have ever heard of.

General Discussion / Re: Lights go out
May 06, 2012, 11:05:34 PM
Hey Jeff - nice to hear somebody noticed.  I haven't been on as much as I like lately as I have been working on a trade show model for a fellow.  A bit of a shock to the system, working 6-1/2 days a week after being retired from regular work, but it's work I love and it helps pay for my railroad modeling addiction.