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Nornicle

Starting a micro layout some technical questions (dodgy pictures added)

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Nornicle

Hi everyone, I would like to get into N Scale, but I don't believe I would be pleased to just have a 'loop' starter as my first system, as I am a modeller/ diorama builder by nature. 

 

There are some really inspirational layouts like Nick Yee's  and GTBoyLin (Youtube link) that have got my interested in what is possible at a smaller scale.

 

I have decided to go with TOMIX rail due to their mini-rail and 'DCC-like' automation options. I would like to setup a layout that can support passenger (outside loop 'b shorty' style rolling stock), tram (inside) and bus (figure 8). I have no intention of running very long trains, as I don't have the space to make these look 'to scale.'

 

I have some technical questions so that I can build my shopping list, as I would like to buy everything in one order (shipping is expensive to Australia) that I hope this forum can help with.

 

1. How do i work out exactly what track and road 'pieces' I need to order based on my measurements and plan? For example I know I want a figure 8 bus loop that goes up a hill, but the TOMIX bus road pieces come in different curves, so I am unsure how I buy the right pieces so I end up with a loop, rather than pieces that don't match up.

 

This question applies to track also (I assume I will use finetrack 'wide tram' for the tram components, and standard fine track for rail).

 

2. As above, where the tram, bus or rail inevitably collide, how do I make sure they intersect in a visually appealing, and possibly automated way (so they don't crash into each other!).

 

3. I would like some automation on my track, being able set a speed, realistically stop my train and trams at all stops (including slowing down to stops if possible), and stop at the end of a track and reverse the other direction (and thus also stop at stations in the reverse route).

 

I have seen the miniatronics and tomix TCS system, but I am unsure as to the exact products I need to buy and how to install these to make my automation plan a reality (and can I run the tram and train off the same controller, or do I need two?).

 

4. Where can I draw a layout to share with yourselves to help me iron out any basic mistakes?

 

5. What is the most user friendly products to install lighting in rolling stock, buildings and street lighting? I would eventually want to 'light' the layout, and would want to design it so it can be retrofitted easily. If it cannot be retrofitted easily, then I would need to know now and do lighting 'up front.'

 

I understand these questions probably seem quite simple, but for a beginner the multitude of sets and track codes is... mind boggling. The amount of choice has left me doing a lot of research but with significant analysis and purchasing paralysis!

Edited by Nornicle
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katoftw

draw a dodgy picture on paper and show us what you are attempting to do.  we can probably answer you questions better once we know what the goal is.

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kvp

Yes, a hand drawn layout plan would be a good starting point. However if you look closely at the various layout videos, you will see that on most of them the vehicles are moving on separate loops and don't interact with each other. This is the safe and easy way. While it's possible to automate a layout, but if you want to make a train, a tram and a bus interact, you will need some heavier automation that is currently available off the shelf, like using an arduino. That brings us to the area of electric engineering and industrial automation. So unless you are a good software/hardware engineer (or hobbist), you will have quite a few things to learn before your layout would work smoothly. It's possible and we'll help you, but you can't just buy everything off the shelf. For example there is no commercially available electronically controllable automation system for the Tomix moving bus system at the moment. Tomix currently sells manual (hand operated) control devices only. (there was a crossing demo with remote controllable units, but they are not yet available)

 

What you can achive with off the shelf parts:

-train and tram stop and go operation on a loop with stops or shuttle operation between a number of stations, with one train moving at a time

-bus operation on a loop with automatic stop and go at bus stops

-automatic crossing gate operation

 

What you will have to build yourself:

-synchronisation between multiple trains

-synchronisation between a train (or tram) and bus

-electronic stopping for the buses, required for train/bus synchronisation and safe railroad crossings

 

The electronics you use will largely determine the type of sensors you will need and in case of buses you still mostly have to roll your own. So i suggest you to draw a plan first and then probably we can help you building it.

 

ps: On the bright side, lighting up your layout is easy as there are lots of various commercial kits available fo doing just that. You just have to get them and install them before scenery building. (the order is usually tracks and electronics, buildings with lights, street lights and signals and then scenery) For lighted trains, some of them support internal light kits from various maufacturers, some of them come with lights preinstalled at the factory, while some cheaper ones won't have any lights unless you develop your own solution from sratch.

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Nornicle

Ok thanks for that, we can keep automation independent of each other (i.e only to trams and trains)

 

Here is a basic sketch, so loop around the outside with one station, tram on the inside with multiple stops, and a bus with two stops.

 

Basiclayout_zps6032576e.jpg

 

Here is an example of the tram layout (although this one seems.. complicated!)

 

I like the layout here http://www.trainweb.org/tomix/layouts/3-Blocks.jpg

 

Here is an example of the bus.

 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=-etp0mKOrt8

 

So I have discovered 'Anyrails' and that appears to be idiot proof in designing the exact track pieces I need, although it does not have the Tomytec bus road sections, and also I'm not sure how to build the exact features I want (e.g. tunnels and differing elevations)

 

It seems like if I am going to be using tomix tracks only, then I can opt for the TCS Automation system and sensors, and that will give me the stopping at stations that I want.

Edited by Nornicle

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kvp

The TCS automation can only control the trams and the trains, so the bus can't cross any tracks unless you make some home made circuits that stop the bus at the crossings when a train (tram) is moving towards the crossing. (i can help with that, at least by designing it) Also, you have to make the bus/tram and bus/bus crossings yourself using a piece of Tomix tram track and some fine steel wire. (some tram track pieces already contain the grooves for the wire)

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katoftw

If you are going to use the TCS program box thingo.  Find out which program (7 or 9 different ones from memory) and plan your track around it.  There are videos on youtube showing the difference.  And the was a thread recently discussing the programs.

 

If you are are new to the model railroading game, I'd shy away from the bus crossing the tram scenerio.  You'd still get a pretty good bus run from going around the outside of the tram tracks but hugging the widetrack edges.

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katoftw

Here is something I'm currently copying (with a few mods) and working on.  It is from the Tomix Mini Curves Booklet II.  Great if doing trams as it has every available option/idea for trams.  Since the layout is a promo tool for Tomix.

 

From LRT style running, grass covered centred road tracks, concrete covered points etc.  Although the buses are not automated in this layout.  If wouldn't be diffcult to use C177 bus pieces on the outside of the tram C140 pieces.

 

post-1782-0-73968900-1421476167_thumb.jpgpost-1782-0-28673200-1421476218_thumb.jpgpost-1782-0-71959200-1421476269_thumb.jpgpost-1782-0-67954300-1421476124_thumb.jpg

Edited by katoftw
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Takahama Trainwatcher

Hey Katoftw

I don't know if it is just me, but I can't see the attachments in your last post (just names of photos only).

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HantuBlauLOL

The outside line siding looks unpractical to me.. How about moving the turnout to the left and right side (from "plan" perspective) and use double track curves? You can add a longer island platform there, also you can run longer cars, too.

 

 

Katoftw, your attachment seems to be broken..

 

 

 

Edit: This is what I mean. This plan I copied from Kvp's post from another thread

 

post-1969-0-16283200-1420846703.png

 

PS: The one on the right side

Edited by HantuBlauLOL

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Nornicle

Hi Hantublau that is a great idea on the double track. Will give me options, that is a very big layout though, 2 metres?

 

Is there an online way to get the tomix booklets?

 

Katoftw - your attachments aren't showing up, but I do agree I probably won't build any bus crossings

Edited by Nornicle

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katoftw

links/attachments fixed.

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Nornicle

Thanks katoftw that layout is really great I might borrow it too as I like the water scene.

 

How did you get the booklet to use?

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Lawrence

Nornicle - download SCARM, it is a free track planning software and whilst it takes a little time to get used to it has become a very powerful tool for track planning - http://www.scarm.info/index.php

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HantuBlauLOL

Perhaps? I don't know lol, at least it gave us an idea about the cornered siding..

 

That layout is brilliant, Katoftw! Thanks for sharing it

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Nornicle

On the tram front, the first layout in this video looks also superb for variety (and ability to store and use multiple trams)

 

 

I had a 'beginner' moment today, when I realised using sidings (whether connected on either end or not) allows you to operate one train at a time, but keep multiple trains on the layout (as many trains as you have sidings?)...

 

Another quick dumb beginner question, does double tracking mean you can run two trains at once (using two controllers/ power sources?)

Edited by Nornicle
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kvp

Yes, if you have two electrically independent (isolated) tracks, you can use two controllers and run two trains. Japanese made turnouts are power routing, so if you don't select the siding it won't get any power so you can park a train on it. Double tracking actually means runnings two tracks on the same route, so for example instead of having two separate loops running on different routes, you can have two loops running side by side most of the time. These side by side running parts are called double tracked. (the lines around Shinbashi, Tokyo are actually not double but octuple tracked meaning 8 independent tracks are running next to each other).

 

For a model layout, the common way is to have a loop with single or double tracks, have a storage yard connected on one end (and out of service trains have to back into) and have at least one station with bypass tracks, that allow stopping and switching trains that are 'in service'. For your layout you can select from these features as many as you like and have space for. Even a loop is not required, you can make point to point layouts where the trains run back and forth between the two end stations. For real trains this is more common than the endless looping on the yamanote line.

 

ps: Japan is good in this way, since they have a real life prototype for almost anything, even loop layouts with passenger traffic.

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katoftw

Yes sidings help you store unsued trains on your layout.  When dealing with 3 car trains, trams etc, this isn't a real problem.  But when dealing with large 6-8 or more car unit, then removing and replacing can be an annoying by-product.  I would recommend having at least a single siding.  But the more the merrier, and what space you have can allow.

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katoftw

Thanks katoftw that layout is really great I might borrow it too as I like the water scene.

 

How did you get the booklet to use?

I brought in from Tam Tam in Akihabara, Tokyo last October.  But Hobby Search has them for 300 yen each.  They are really just promo material for Tomix Mini/Tram Track products.

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Nornicle

Thanks everyone that was really helpful, if two tracks are on separate circuits but connect at the storage yard or bypass at stations, how do i ensure I don't break anything? I.e. Couldn't I theoretically accidentally turn on a switch while two trains are running and turn my double track into a giant single track?

 

That double track idea also sounds really interesting. Two running trains are better than one? I guess it's a factor of space, complexity and funds!

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kvp

 

if two tracks are on separate circuits but connect at the storage yard or bypass at stations, how do i ensure I don't break anything? I.e. Couldn't I theoretically accidentally turn on a switch while two trains are running and turn my double track into a giant single track?

If you have turnouts between the two loops, then you have to isolate them at the crossing point. (both rails) You can be careful to always turn both controllers to the same direction when you are moving trains between the two controllers (to avoid a short circuit) or you can use switches to change both loops to a single controller when the turnouts are set up for crossing. For example Tomix offers connecting bars, that can connect a turnout controller lever with a controller selector lever, so when you change the crossover to crossing, you also switch both loops onto the same controller. This avoids shorts, but it means that when you move a train from one loop to the other, you can only run that train on both. Some tricky layouts even use this to make a two loop, two train layout into a single loop, single train, twice around layout when you change two turnouts. The possibilities are almost endless.

 

ps: Usually the setup is to have a storage yard coming off from the inner loop and have a crossover that allows trains from the outer loop to access the yard. When doing this, all trains on the inner loop must be stopped somewhere. (either in the yard or at the station) This is true for 1:1 operation too, since the crossing train is blocking both tracks. Switching to a single controller in this situation (by powering both loops from one of them) makes it impossible to cause a short and damage anything.

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katoftw

Thanks everyone that was really helpful, if two tracks are on separate circuits but connect at the storage yard or bypass at stations, how do i ensure I don't break anything? I.e. Couldn't I theoretically accidentally turn on a switch while two trains are running and turn my double track into a giant single track?

 

That double track idea also sounds really interesting. Two running trains are better than one? I guess it's a factor of space, complexity and funds!

Isolators - some of the joiners than click/link the track pieces together are made from non conductive material.  See attachment.

 

You put an isolator between the points that link the inner and outer loop.  This prevent 2 power sources touching.

 

The inner sidings will only be power when the points is switched on the inner loop, and is powered by the power source that controls the inner loop.

 

post-1782-0-96043100-1421535740_thumb.jpg

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Nornicle

Thanks everyone i will buy a anyrails license, as it seems the most user friendly, and will appear to save me unwanted track etc.

 

Given how complicated all this is, I will begin by just designing and building the outer double rail loop, and as I get more comfortable with 'on the floor' running of this, understanding switches etc, and the layout, then I will consider how to fit in trams etc. In any case, if I really want to I can run a tram on the loop.

 

It would appear trams are even more demanding on smart turnout and intersection design than a larger set.

 

Quick question - going up gradients, are the tracks flexible enough to just go 'up hills,' I noticed there are no 'hill tracks' only sets that have sequentially taller 'piers' that the tracks sit on.

Edited by Nornicle

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cteno4

Nornicle,

 

Yep that's a good way to start with a loop or two of track, a few points and a bit of extra track and just start playing. This will help you figure out how things work and what you want and can do in the space you have.

 

There are no incline kato transition tracks except for the older double track plate that did have one that started the rise. With regular unitrak you do need to watch where that transition happens as if at a rail joint it can make an angled kink that trains will have trouble with. You can create your own unitr trasition pieces by carefully bending a straight piece of track vertically. I've done this once and was able to make a decent slow transition to 2.5 degree incline on a piece of 248. But you don't need to do this folks have done it without bending tracks like this, just takes fiddling with the tracks.

 

Cheers

 

Jeff

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Nornicle

2x40014.gif

 

this looks interesting - from a learning to use switches point of view. just realised its not a double tracked loop but that can be fixed.

 

 

From this website: http://www.cke1st.com/m_train2.htm

Edited by Nornicle

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