Before I could really get any work done-- or really preliminary work-- on Rainbow Ridge, I had to get the turnout motors installed. (By the way, the photo at left has no relation to the topic of turnouts; I just thought it looked nice). Originally I was going to have ground-throws, but I thought it would be easier and more fun to actually have them move automatically without fingers interfering with the scene. The most popular turnout motors out there for model railroads are the Tortoise switch machines; I was planning on using two of these to control the turnouts that would diverge the trains onto the main line or the spur line. The problem with the Tortoise machines was finding a way to adapt them to my layout (since I can't mount them underneath as they are intended). After reading an article of Model Railroader, I found a much easier and cheaper alternative: servo motors. Intrigued by how they were used, I ordered two Hitect HS-311 servos for about $7 a pop (which is a great deal considering Tortoise Machines go for about $20 each directly from Circuitron).
Because of their small size, I was able to mount each servo next to their respective turnout. Considering the strength the servos have under power, I included a pair of micro-switches that will cut power to the motor when the switch points make a full movement. This way, when the switch points complete their move, the motor isn't still on and stalling itself out. To make life simpler, both servos are connected to a single DPDT switch which will align both turnouts to either the Main or spur.
Here's the servos mounted next to the turnouts. Each one got it's own unique set-up, due to the position of
the actuating rod for the switch points. The servo on the left next to the Rainbow Caverns
tunnel will be hidden by Mineral Hall and the servo on the right will be hidden by the Opera House.
Here's a quick video showing the servos in operation. The great thing about the servos is that they're very efficient; I can run both of them off a single AA battery. (To create a slower motion, I could even drop the voltage further).
Back to the Battling Elk
After wasting my time making the first figures the wrong size, I finally got myself to at least start the revised elk figures. These ones are going to match the same general scale/size as the Woodland Scenics deer so they won't look out of place next to them in the finished scene. While I would have liked to get the both done installed by the end of this month, it's a start. As you can see, the new more in scale sculpts are about a 1/3 smaller than the originals.
|If I go any smaller, I think I'll go blind.|
I hit another snag in my block system; I need to separate the relays that control the signals and the relays that control the block cut segments. Since I want to be able to disable the block relays and still have the signals work if I was testing a train or just running one train (which results in having two relays for each block, one for the cut segment and one for the signals) I was originally going to have the power cut from the block relays to disable that feature while the signal relays still worked. Well as it turns out, from testing it didn't matter if power was cut (aka the common wire); the relay with no power still worked! It was getting power from the other relay it was connected to. So as a result, I need to add 3PDT switches between the two relays for each block. This was power for the block cut segments will be completely turned off without anything weird going on. (Did that make any sense?).