Milan Branch of the Iowa Interstate RR

Month: June 2018

Random flange squeal system

Over three years ago my friends, Michael Petersen and Nathan Holmes, designed a system that would allow random flange squeal on my layout’s three curves. The system has sat, waiting for me to get far enough along with construction to install and test. Even though I only have one of my three curves built, I can no longer wait. I have to install the system and see if it will perform as originally designed.

Below are the components of the system: an Arduino Red Board along with the programming and LCD keypad shields attached; several IR sensors; and a Squealer sound module. I plan to install all the IR sensors even though additional trackwork needs to be laid. I can still test the system on my single curve.

The system is designed to play random sounds via four channels on each Squealer sound module (there will be one Squealer per curve). I plan to copy a variety of flange squeal sounds from online railroad videos and isolate each sound to upload to the Squealer’s microSD card. IR sensors will be positioned at each end of the curves and wired in series. Once tripped, the sounds will play randomly through speakers installed on the layout fascia.

The beauty of the system is not only that it will play the flange squeals randomly, but it will also sense the locomotive’s speed and will not play any sound after a specified reduction in speed. The only limitation is that only one locomotive can be active on the layout. This is ok because I only run one loco at a time.

Below is a schematic of the wiring diagram as well as a layout plan showing the positions of each IR sensor. The plan shows all the IR sensor positions which include sensors to be used for eventual grade crossings and a reversing module for automatic back-and-forth train operation.

Once I have the flange squeal system operating, I’ll post a video to demonstrate how it works.

Lattice girder development

Work is progressing with the lattice  truss bridges. My friend, Clark C., who’s helping me with the bridge design and fabrication is doing a fantastic job. I really appreciate his talent.

We decided the best approach would be to design and laser the girder structures for the two spans first so that I can put them in place to get the track operating. Clark has designed the bridge so that the side trusses can be fabricated separately and then attached to the girders at a later time.

Of course, once one of the trusses is complete to our satisfaction, the other three will be easy to create.

I’m very excited about these bridges because they will be my signature scene on the layout. Lattice truss bridges are not modeled very often, so they will be a truly unique feature.

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