Sunday, April 15, 2018

Solar Panels

Do your remote lineside buildings and signals need a power source? Make your own solar panels! Here we see a panel installation on a section maintenance shed.

These are made by layering the following materials:
1. thin styrene base 
2. vinyl electrical tape (for black color)
3. clear packing tape (for a shiny surface)
4. fiberglass mesh drywall tape (for individual panels)

Stick the layers onto the styrene then cut around the desired size panels. That's all there is to it. Light 'em up!

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Lineside relay enclosures

New HDMI cables come with protective plastic dust caps over the ends. These make handy HO scale lineside relay enclosures. These are painted off-white or aluminum, and the doors are drawn on with a fine-point Sharpie pen. They rest on a couple of small nails poked into the layout, so they stand up a bit off the ground, like the prototype. 

Passenger car before and after

I primarily use rebuilt Tyco passenger cars. They are rugged, and shorter than prototype so they fit and look better on the layout. Here is the before and after the rebuild: Stock Tyco car on the right. A rebuild is on the left. Rebuild includes removal of the man-with-pipe-reading-newspaper silhouettes, replacing old light bulbs with constant intensity LED lighting, new diffusers, new paint, and decals. Note the advantage of the new lighting: this train is standing still. The bulbs on right car are off. The LEDs on the left car are at full brilliance. This is a DC layout, no decoders needed. Pickups are wired through a bridge rectifier so the LEDs see consistent polarity independent of direction of travel, and a keep-alive capacitor keeps them immune to dropouts. 

Sunday, April 1, 2018

A Hole for Mr. Dremel

Who knew a 1.5" hole could improve life so much? Anyone who ever uses a Dremel tool knows there is no easy way to just set it on the workbench, it wants to roll away, fall on the floor, and bust up the cutting wheel. Today I got a bit fed up with it and cut a 1.5" hole in the edge of the bench. Now I can just plug that baby down in the hole, attachment and all.