Saturday, 13 October 2012

Big Brother & Branchline Progress...


Hmmm 2 posts in one day...I need a hobby!!!

With the fleet now thinned out & all pressing commitments under control... I finally got the opportunity to spend some time on the layout.  Two issues have been niggling for some time & i have now been able to address both.

The first is the destination of the branch line which begins at Fish River.  It leaves the up end of the yard, crosses Fish River adjacent to the main line & then enters a tunnel which takes the track through to the second area of the train room.

This branch will now exit the tunnel into this area & travel around 3 walls of this 3.8m x 3.8m room servicing some industries & will terminate at a branch line station area with minimal infrastructure.... There will be a false backdrop around this room 200 / 250mm out from the walls to allow the main line to traverse this room unseen on the outer wall.

At some time in the future another 3m x 3.8m area of the shed adjacent to this area will be lined & utilised as a modelling & maintenance area & there is a possibility that the branch line will continue through into this room. As both main & branch are not grade separated this would necessitate the branch crossing the hidden main on the level & while feasible i am not entirely sold on this idea.

As already touched on. The main line which will now be a single line will basically dissappear into the tunnel at the up end of the yard & will run parallel & hidden from the branch line through this area & then  re appear near the train room access doorway... a liftout section will need to be installed at the doorway & with the revised layout design the liftout will only need to be single line.

In an earlier post i had written about a diorama i had created featuring the DON smallgoods factory & siding & had almost given up on utilising this unit on the layout.  While working out how the branchline would eventuate & the need for a blocking backdrop to hide the main line in the area explained above.... it dawned on me that this diorama could be incorporated in to this area. It would require some modification to one end of the landscaping & a change in trackwork...but at least it would provide an industry & a use for the diorama.  The photos should explain how it has been placed....

How the area looked... showing the main line portal ( furthest from camera ) & the branchline access to this area.
For clarity... the location of Fish River & the bridges & yard are beyond these portals in the main 9m x 3.8m portion of the trainroom

The baseboard has been cut out to accept the diorama & if you enlarge the photo you will be able to see where the branchline needs to appear
While not readily obvious in this shot... the diorama is sitting around 200mm from the rear wall leaving room for the hidden main line.

The scenery has been cut out & the branchline tunnel portal now visible.
The branchline will utilise the second siding of the one time diorama & some pointwork will need to be modified.
Also another siding will be laid off the branch to service the area to the right of the photo.  At this stage this area will probably
host a petroleum depot. 

Another issue that i have envisaged in the early stages of the layout is the relative isolation of the room housing the branchline as discussed earlier. I would imagine that the bulk of the action will take place in the main train room area. Main line trains will only traverse through this area... leaving the branch workings & shunting as the only reason for being there.  Even at this early stage... knowing exactly where trains are in this area is handy & while i have no plans to look at track occupancy systems to locate trains, another system needed to be looked at.  I have been studying the viability of a cheap system of remote cameras & this week i purchased a couple of units to try out. 

These units with all hardware & leads cost about $100 for the pair & have the ability to be networked ( wirelessly ) back to a computer & monitor allowing up to around 64 units to be incorporated if required.  The picture quality is not of the "digital handicam" level....but for what i am looking for they appear to be adequate.  I have utilised an old wireless network modem & have one unit working under test.  They can be remotely panned... to around 300 degrees & tilted through around the same, but do not allow remote zoom.  I have an old workstation & monitor setup in the main trainroom & this is presently used for running Decoder Pro & other rail related DCC software...linked to the NCE system.
This system is now hosting the cameras as well & i can already see a need for a couple more cameras monitoring those hard to see & obscure portions of the layout.

I will post more info when i have become more familiar with the units & have selected final installation positions.

Pic of the workstation... this area has been dedicated to housing all things "computer" in the trainroom...& a backdrop will eventually seperate this area from the layout ( left of photo )
At present DecoderPro is utilised & connected to the NCE system & now will also house the camera monitor software & display
Also of interest in this photo is the branchline tunnel portal ( looking FROM Fish River )  just visble on the far left & the access doorway & benchwork located in the branchline area visible to the right

Close up of the camera under test... it can be mounted this way or inverted & comes with all mounting brackets & hardware...


  1. Good to see u back in the layout room Rod !
    Looks like it got a bit frosty down your way as well, good excuse to stay indoors !?
    Hope the rest of the projects a coming along well.
    Look forward to updates.

  2. Gary,

    Good to hear from you too. The snow was a bit of a pleasant surprise. Was watching the Ray Hadley show on Prisons @ around 11pm from memory & got up to put the jug on & glimpsed outside. Vanessa just looked at me when i mentioned snow. I woke Sophie at around 5am & we had a bit of Dad/Daughter time running around like idiots outside. As for the rest of life...The workload has tapered a bit which is normal at this time of the year & as well as allowing some guilt free modelling I should make some headway on the other projects as well.