Milan Branch of the Iowa Interstate RR

Category: Operations (page 1 of 2)

ISE fast clock

I spent an enjoyable evening installing my Iowa Scaled Engineering fast clock which includes two wireless slaves. 

The beauty of the ISE setup is its simplicity, ease of installation, and minimalistic look which fits my personal aesthetic perfectly. 

I started by measuring the printed circuit board footprints so that I could make accurate cuts in the layout fascia. This was critical because the faceplate screw holes are fairly close to the circuit board and I needed to make sure not to cut too much fascia away. I made paper templates from the measurements and taped them into position; scribed the outlines onto the fascia; and carefully removed the wood with my DeWALT oscillating multi-tool. 

The DeWALT oscillating tool makes quick work cutting through the fascia.

I have a separate 12 volt power supply that feeds several of my auxiliary features around the layout, so I ran the feeders to the main clock and I was up and running. 

I like the clean format that ISE has built into their system.

The two slaves are also powered by the 12 volt supply. They tie into the main clock via XBee receivers which work very well. Again, the slaves are clean and minimalistic which is a great look.  

I plan to run the time ratio where an eight hour work day is condensed into roughly two hours of operating time. 

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.

First switch stand installed

I finally installed my first G-scale switch stand on one of the Milan runaround turnouts.

I painted the targets red and green along with adding some rust on the four bolts that hold the stand in place. The points are thrown with a very simple throw arm designed and fabricated by my friend, John Klocker. As you can see in the photo below, the throw arm has several different entry points for the guide wire. In addition, I reinforced both the guide wire and vertical throw wire with aluminum tubing to help stiffen both wires.

The switch stands will add a nice, realistic touch when switching.



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