Once upon a time, Dave built some T-Trak modules. He spread a pair of passing sidings across several of them, and called them “the yard modules.” Those modules proved incredibly useful, and were included in every show layout. When Dave took a break from the hobby, Dana got the yard modules, and they went to so many shows that their foam-over-flakeboard carcases got all beat up. I built new carcases from oak-veneer plywood, and Dana and I installed the old track on them. They continued to go to every show. When Dana stepped back from his train-show activities, I got the yard modules, and here our story begins. (more…)
I could, I suppose, claim that the tsunami of workplace overtime hours since late March left me with no time for hobby activities, but that’s not quite true. My evenings did become shorter, and so did my Saturdays. I had a choice: spend my remaining, precious free time working with trains, or writing blog entries.
Well, which would you have chosen?
Did you know that you don’t actually need a Digital Command Control station to run your decoder-equipped locomotives? Use the power pack you already have. Just turn the speed knob up all the way, and encode the commands manually by flipping the direction switch back and forth, at about 8,000 times per second. If you do the timings precisely enough, your decoder-equipped locomotives will respond appropriately. What could be simpler?
For me, it’s back to electronics this week. If you’ve seen my past layout projects, you’ll know that I like built-in throttles. I did it with the GVC ten years ago, and again with Lynn’s railroad. That’s simple enough to do with a homebuilt DC circuit, but will the rise of Digital Command Control change all that?
I pop the shell off one of Dana’s Atlas SD-60Ms, remove the decoder, and clean the brush contacts, but the motor still doesn’t respond. “They ran great the last time I had ’em out,” he had told me, “but I can’t get ’em to move now. Can you take a look?”
If you’ve been into DCC for a while, you can probably guess where this is headed, but don’t shout out your answer just yet. Instead, let’s take this opportunity to explore JMRI—Java Model Railroad Interface. (more…)