Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Programming the Staging Yards:

Staging Yards.  ( BTW the German alphabet has no "Y")

This is the "north bound" section of the yards, with an almost reciprocal image for the "south bound" lanes.  One passing lane and 4 "holding" lanes on each side of the staging area.

Conceptually, the plan follows thus: 
1) The passing lane ( entry / exit lane ) will not be automated.
2) The staging yards will be partially automated.

Stop Blocks:
Prepare a stop block at the end of each lane with M84, K84 or VM 5213.  Make certain that when the train halts it will not impinge on any other adjacent lanes.

Contact Tracks:
Much has been written about Contact Tracks. Best reference: Curtis' article in the Marklin Digital Newsletter: Vol 27, No. 2 pages 6 & 7.

Be careful! Contact Tracks are a trap for frustration. Some pointers:
1) Use a Dremel to cut the "ground" joints under "C" track--cleaner method.
2) Solder a single wire to the CT section. I chose "blue" wire for simplicity...to connect to the L88. NO solder on these connections to the L88!!!!
3) Keep meticulous notes! Keep meticulous notes!!!
4) In the layout mode place the CT icon on each lane and ID the contact point.
5) Frustration:  Even tho the CT's were properly soldered, and insulated on all lanes, ( I thought!) the icon on the layout panel of the CS 2 --on only ONE lane indicated occupancy when there was none! Now what?  After replacing track, and essentially rebuilding the CT area, the same occupancy indicator appeared!  Aarrrgh!  Then the "light" went on....the insulator points were on the same "ground" side of the track, but not on the proper side....switched the insulators to the other side. and hooray ...it worked.

I have not seen this mentioned in some of the other blogs I have read....just a word of caution! ;-)

Now onto programming the yards..........

Friday, 1 September 2017

Fisher Bahn II : Connecting the L88

Connecting the L88

For the most part connecting the L88, the first device between the CS and the S88 feedback module
network is easy following the instruction manual.

Ref:  Digital Newsletters: Vol 27: #2,   Vol 28: #1-2

Connect the L88 to the CS at the 60174 booster slot. All S88's then connect to the L88.  THEN connect the power module. 

Do not make the same mistake I made with my dual Central Stations! 

The red wire rising from the Left CS is a temporary programming wire connection to a section of track to register locos and reprogram signals. 

Problem: I mixed the connections between the "slave" and the "master" CS units and my L88 would not properly register on the master CS. ( thought I had really scoped out the correct connections!!) 

Further the checked boxes for the slave to acquire information from the master are actually located on the slave CS under the set up panel. 

In sum: The cable connecting the two CS's: the 6 pin connection is the master; the 9 pin connection is the slave.  Once properly connected, no problem with registering the L88.  

Whew...now onto the fascinating challenge of installing signals ( stop blocks), contact tracks for each staging lane, and programming the CS's so that when a train enters an empty staging lane, it released a train in an adjacent lane....should be fun when it all works out!!!! ;-) 

Fisher Bahn II Step 1: Automation of Staging Yards : Stop Blocks.

Programming Signals with the Central Station 2. 

Automation of the staging yards: Step 1:  Installation of "stop blocks"

1) The best Marlin references on the planet are the Digital Newsletters from the Marklin Digital Club!  Take a bow, Curtis Jeung, you are a hero to so many of us! 

2) Reference: Digital Newsletters, Vol #27:  No. 1-3 , and Vol # 28: No. 1-3

Because I retained 8 Marklin yard signals, 74371 / 76371, from my old layout, and because they really look cool when watching a train stop in the staging yards, I decided to wire them into the layout as an easy way to secure a stop block for each of the staging lanes. 

I happen to be one of those folks who needs specific instructions on how to wire or connect devices. 

To reprogram these signals I read the signal instructions, reviewed the newsletters, and decided to give it a shot. I had never used the CS to program signals before. (  CS = 60214- with current software: 4.2.1 ) 

Below is a concise summary: 

  • CS powered but turned OFF. 
  • Program Track: ( connected to Program Track slot of CS) 
    • Connect feeder wire paddles to track end  R / B 
    • Connect Yellow from signal to Red ( Brawa Plug set)
    • Connect Brn  from signal to Brn ( Brawa plug set) 
  • Connect "programming base" from original packaging to bottom of signal circuit board ( the cardboard panel that clips onto both sides of the circuit board) 
  • CS "ON"
  • Keyboard Mode: Select the Keyboard panel you wish to use. 
    • Choose the slot for the signal 
    • "Wrench" ->highlight the keyboard icon
      • Set address: e.g S 5
      • Select Icon: e.g. Sh0, Sh1 ( stop, go) 
      • red / white lights on signal should flash alternately. 
      • Close out programming mode. 
  • Remove programming base. 
  • Check signal. 
  • Your signal is now reprogrammed! 
Now, install them!  ;-) 

Addendum:  19 Sept:  Decided to save the signals for the most visible part of the layout, and not use them for the staging yards. Choices for control devices:  VM 5213,  M84, K84. All work quite well and are easy to install and program on the keyboard.  Enter the information onto the "layout" portion of the CS.  ( Marklin Digital Newsletter resource is invaluable!!!! )

Wiring for the Stop Blocks: 
1) Used "green" wire from the middle of the stop block to connect to the control module--fitting because the wire inserts into the "green" port!
2) Red wire to the outside of the stop block.
3) The group of staging lanes were insulated from the main line as expected.  Had to install another feeder wire to the "down" side of the stop block grouping for power.

Fisher Bahn II--Wiring Staging Yards,

Wiring Staging Yards. 

Keep thy wiring neat!

 I've read many posts about wiring, some are absolutely ingenious! I chose to follow the older system, using a larger caliber wire from the Transformer / Booster  combo to the distribution panels. Then connecting the feeder wires after soldering the tips, of course. 

FWIW I have been using a butane soldering iron which works well. Why, you ask?  

Two reasons:
1) While moving around under my last layout, and using a traditionally plug-in soldering iron,  I happened to accidentally place the palm of my hand on the soldering iron!!! Big ouch! Now when I am done with the short soldering chores, such as wire tips, I turn off the iron and place it in an old teflon coated pie pan and push it away!
2) While using the same traditional wire fed soldering iron, the dumb thing fell off its cradle and burned the rug! Ugly! My bad! 


This time, I am meticulous to make certain that my red / brown wire junction plugs are not adjacent to each other but safely offset.   On my old layout,  two plugs contacted each other and shorted out the entire layout....what a mess to diagnose and finally resolve the issue!  Zip tags are an easy method to identify ( and record!!!) your wiring harness.  

Remember: Experience-> knowledge-> wisdom-> success.  By sharing blunders and faux pas perhaps we will spare others !  ;-)  

Previously, my wiring was almost all "overhead" secured to the underside of the lowest level of the layout.  A few scalp scars attest why this current layout's bottom level is higher than the last one! Further, I will never secure servers, etc overhead....especially with soldering...too much danger of solder accidents.

Now, I secure wiring harnessed to a vertical plane. This particular panel is screwed to a support leg of the layout.  Note that each bus is labeled with the Zip tags. 
Bus #1: Through lanes
Bus # 2: "South bound lanes
Bus #3 North bound lanes. 

<- N,  S->

Red dots: insulating points
Black dots: Feeder wires 
Yellow lane: Main through route. 

Keep meticulous notes !!!!

Fisher Bahn II --Staging Yards.

Staging Yards: 


1) Staging yard  will be intentionally visible by visitors.
2) Access to all lanes of traffic in case of derailments ( on my last layout this was eventually an unsolvable problem causing me to abandon the two lanes adjacent to a wall which were not accessible! )
3) Ability to monitor the staging lanes visibly: lighting and cameras.
4) Length of lanes: to accommodate consists of at least 7 passenger cars.
5) Automation of staging lanes.

                                              Top deck ( main level) removed to access the
                                              Staging yards. Main level 42" above ground.
                                              Staging yards 34" above ground.
Note the holes in the cross beams for 
wiring harnesses.  Bench work replete with these 
Note also a 12" spaces between each side of the 
Storage lanes, allowing access from beneath the
middle of the layout if necessary. Total width: 48"
Easy reach to all lanes from each side. 
Base of staging area painted gray. 
Laying track! Yippee! 
Lanes to and from the helix, also painted 
Cameras from previous layout to spy on entry 
of trains into each side of the storage lanes. 

Camera View from small TV  
Woodland Scenics Foam track bed under C track. 
Easy to install and works perfectly to eliminate 
noise transmission to the base bench work! 
WS foam held up perfectly for me for over 14 years 
with previous layout ! 
Lighting!!!  LED rope lighting will illuminate 
the staging yards. In line Rheostat works perfectly
to adjust light intensity. 

BR 44 under the LED lights. 

Fisher Bahn II -- Benchwork.

Bench Work. 

As mentioned previously, limited time and expected longevity ( some of you know exactly what I mean!  ;-)  ) seem to dictate some degree of expediency in establishing a bench work platform.

After all, the grandkids and the neighborhood kids are anxious to see Papa's layout up and running soon!  My last layout required about 1.5 years to build...albeit whilst I was still working..additionally, my carpentry knowledge and possession of necessary equipment seemed too limiting.

Thus I reached out OnDrew Hartigan at Model BenchWork:Modelrailroadbenchwork.com. I emailed my layout as designed on Railmodeller Pro ( there are lots of great programs, I just happened to choose this one, having used it before).

Within a few short weeks my layout was completed and shipped directly to my home.

                                            Bench work on pallet in driveway! Yippeee!!!!

Well anchored pallet....

Moving the modules into the garage. Zigi, the wonder
dachshund remains unperturbed! 

Assembling the modules. The distant module is the 
"vertical" module on the track plan, with the 
main level and the storage yards beneath. 


Moving the helix into position.. Helix is a master
piece of carpentry! Note the rounded base. 

Moving last module into place. This module will
be home the Monastery, Church and the 'nur ein berg". 

Modules bolted together and leveled. Friends are 
priceless!  ;-)

Final assembly. Storage cabinets holdover from
last layout. Beautiful carpentry by a friend.  
Transformers and boosters to be located on the 
deck of the storage cabinets. 

Another view of the assembled layout. 
Assembly time: approx: 4.5 HOURS !!!! 

Fisher Bahn II Staging Yards.

Staging Yards: 

1) Single main line ..through route
2) Storage lanes = 8. 
3) Plan to automate storage lanes
4) Lanes long enough to easily accommodate consists of 7 passenger cars.