Thursday, April 30, 2015

Speed & Direction Pt 2

I sure hope I do not have a loose wire or a short anywhere in this mess.  The lesson to learn if you are reading this blog and building a locomotive, give yourself plenty of space for the electrical system.  Also make it simple, easy to access, and use standard components without any modification.

Tonight's activity was to hook all 16 wires up to the throttle selector switch.  My plan was to use push on connectors, but the tabs on the back could not take the stress of being shoved on.  The first bent, the second retreated into the body of the switch.  I gave up, cut off all my connectors and soldered the wires onto the switch.  I hope it works.  The challenge will be gently folding them so that the white styrene cover fits in place.

I also hooked up wires for B+ and B- to the for accessories like the horn and radio control.  Those wires are orange and brown.   So, horn, meters, and a bunch of other things to go before I can test.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Speed and direction

 Things are getting tight in the electronics bay.  I don't have the four connections for the motors and onboard batteries, nor the horn piezo, the speed and ammeter connection, and of course the radio control box.  
Today I started work on hooking up the direction and speed to the 4 pole 3 position switch for the speed and direction sources.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Ah thap thap thap thap

Today I had some difficulty with the drill press.   If you have seen any pictures in the past of me with the drill press you will notice I use a vice, but the vice is not bolted to the table.  Yep, part grabbed the bit and vice started spinning.  I turned off the machine and stepped back waiting for the spinning to stop.   About ten turns in the handle of the vice grabbed the power cord of the drill press and of course ripped it up.

It took a while to fix, but I rewired the drill press, no damage inside.   I then found some bolts to hold down my vice and got back to work drilling a large hole in a very dense plastic.   The end result is a mounting point for the tether.   Like before I have continuity on color to color, no shorts no cross contamination.
I need to also install a mounting point for speed, amp, and volt meter box.

Five 40 minute episodes of Dave Ramsey Show later I am ready for bed.

Sunday, April 26, 2015


For now I am running the headlight off from a 9V battery.  Since I have extra connections on the enable relay I am using it as the on-off switch.  The advantage is the headlight will double as my proof of enable.

That was this morning before church.  While I have the control board out of the way I made and will install a plastic plate to protect the back side of the switches and this afternoon, including a run to lowes to pick up a plastic trellis thing so I could scavenge six inches of it as a brace.  Nancy painted the tank cars.  I also spent over an hour putting together the tether 8 pin connector, I used an 8 wire ham radio wire and an 8 pin aviation connector.  Very tight fit on those two.  I ended up stretching / squishing the rubber housing to get the wires to show, soldering each wire in place and then stretching the housing again to pull the conductors back inside the fitting.

For the record... and this took three times to measure because the numbers of each part are close to but not exactly at the pins.  I connected to the far end of the wire and touched each pin to insure no shorts.  There are no shorts.  In parentheses are the function of that color for the onboard control & the wires to the board.  The open three are for the horn and some unknown use.
1 black  (PH)
2 white  (DIR)
3 red       (PW)
4 yellow  (DIR)
5 blue
6 green   (PL)
7 orange
8 brown

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Electrical Day 2

 Today I mounted the enable and stop switches to the SBT body, then started with the wiring.   I have the enable side complete.

Whats left?
Speed control
Install a mounting point for the speed sensor, amp meter, and tethered control.
Tethered control
Fix my mistake of not providing a power source for the horn, radio control, headlight, etc...

This is taking a bit of time because I am trying to not mess up and wiring is not my strong suit.  I also want the wiring to look good when I am done.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Starting Electrical

Tonight I started wiring up the SBT.  I am taking my time to try to do an organized good job with it.  First step was the onboard controls.  I took a 4 conductor wire with ground, wrapped the ground with shrink tape, and soldered to the switches.  Three wires for the speed pot and two for the direction.

Done for the night I will now spend some time thinking about which order the components have to be placed in the center tray to end up with the most organized mess.  My next loco is going to have a lot more room and a lot less features.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

bridges 2 and 3

Today I finished making the second two loading bridges.  This means I am done with Jeff's and Robb's.  For my own I will drill some hole to line up with pins on my lift table in the garage so the bridge will not disconnect.   Since I do not know what the other two have for loading tables they will have to design and build their own connection.

Then because I had a headache I watched old This Old House episodes with the family.  And I still got to bed early.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


Today I took a break from working on the SBT to put together half of the transfer bridges I am making.  My left thumb was starting to ache again so I stopped early.

One and a half to go.

In my down time I decided to go simple with the headlight, use an extra relay spot to be my on / off.  It will just be set at a dim setting only.  If I need more power at night I will use a flashlight or the tugger.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


 This is not electrical but it is a picture of a 140 year old building that used rail as part of the construction.  I am not sure why, but in other places it can be seen the rail extends all the way through.  I heard this started out as a grainery but it is located in the middle of a very large railroad facility with steam engine rebuilding, passenger car rebuilding etc etc... not somewhere I would think they would have a grainery.  This building had narrow gauge tracks in the floor.  Those were removed last year as a project of flattening the floor.  It is now a warehouse... for railcar parts.
 Here is a test circuit for my enable.  It works.  Looking at the drawing below the test switch is front center with a black / green connection.  The stop button is towards the back with white leads, behind it is the start button.  then the relay has yellow, black, red, and green.
The stop switch is temporary, ordered the correct one on ebay yesterday, same with connectors for the relay.  The one part that is not in the test that I wanted is the master power.  I was going to use the 16a 250v switch on the lower left... but Robb let me know that switches don't scale the way I thought the did.  I really need a switch capable of the 50A service provided.  This one will work... but may not fit the space I have available.   Robb says I could try out the switch I have, or I could skip it and use the battery connector as master switch.

If with the small batteries that would mean pulling wood top, pulling toggle, replacing wood top.   For large it would be remove crate, disconnect, replace crate.  Because of extra wires that run through the big crate it is not quite that simple, unless I reroute the speed & amp box.

As I plan to have a second loco I think that one will have more features, and this one will be simpler.  I can run the headlight on off via one of the extra relay contacts and that will tell me when enable is live.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Drive Systems

A while back I picked up a Pace Setter control board.  This is the same control board as in the SBT.   I keep thinking I should get some axles, a motor and some batteries to make a small box car to go behind the tugger.  Or should I buy even more stuff and make a long loco...

Nancy and I spent some time talking and making an advantages / disadvantages matrix for a small or large loco.  The only advantage of a large loco is it can pull more... but so can two small locomotives.  And two small ones can "divide and concur."  The small loco will work for our family, easier to manage by Nancy and the kids.

So the options if I go with kit or RTR form:$locos  $3,250  Running Chassis $1,650
downside - motor below chassis   Kit $1,495
upside - motor above chassis, equalized frame.  Chassis Kit $1,395
Downside - motor below chassis
Upside - motors designed to work with my controller

All of these options include the controller, which I do not need.  Kit $970  $550
Upside - price,  motor above chassis, no controller,  Motors are $50 to $150 dollars.  A gear for $5.30

Talking with Nancy it appears that the cost of a RTR setup may be cost effective to my designing, getting the parts, and building my own frame.  Granted the more I do myself the lower the cost.  But where is the break even point?  Since it is doubtful I could get this done by the White Creek event in May I am going to take my time and do some design and confirm that buying is the best option.  It will be very difficult to beat that $550 price of the ride trains chassis.

Monday, April 13, 2015


This week I am not in my own shop.  
 Nancy found me some fun things to do to make up for it.
 I am not showing what I made... that is a surprise.
 But I am showing some of the other work.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

ready for paint

 Today I made another set of blocks for holding the tanks.  Same process as the last ones, except these are taller so they in the gap better.

 I also made the wobble axle for the second car.  It works.  But the second car sits lower than the first, I had to make a path for the flanges in the underside of the top.  I used a 1/2 inch drill in the drill press to gang drill, then i smoothed it out with a grinder bit in the hammer drill (hammer turned off)
Nancy picked up some stain, she plans to color the cars and tanks while I am away for work this week.  Then, once I get replacement wheels for the ones lost in the mail I can glue them on.  Not exactly happy that we had to pay for the second set and file the complaint with the post office and get the refund.

Friday, April 10, 2015


tonight i made wedges to hold the tanks onto the flats.  My first two were cut flat on the band saw.  Nancy did not like them.   I then made a fixture to cut them on the table saw with a 10 inch curve to match the 10 inch curve of the tank.  They match the contour of the tank but do not sit flat on the deck of the car.   Tomorrow I will try again.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

second flat

Tonight I glued up the second flat with wood glue.  I also watched a movie with the kids.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

wibble wobble one done

 Today I took a trip to the big box stores to pick up bolts for the pivot point.  I drilled one cross hole and assembled the car.  It sits level, and works well, all 4 flanges stay on the rail with a 1/4 inch difference.

Nancy pointed out the new car is smaller than Jonathan's wagon.
I will inspect everything again but I think this one is almost ready to paint.  The last decision is how is the tank attached to the flat.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Enable Relay

Today I glued up the top of one of the tanks.  Then while the glue set I worked on designing the relay wiring for the SBT enable.

 I found the paperwork for it, a Square D 8501 RSD4 P14  the D means DC   RS is Relay Switch  P14 is the indicator LED and the 4... I guess because it has 4 contacts?
 After studying the paperwork, the emails from Robb, and this website  I drew up the power wiring diagram.  The thick red lines are the high amp power wiring.  The thin black lines are lower amp enable wiring.  In the first case the machine is completely off, the master power is open.
 First we close the master power, but nothing will happen, the enable needs to see 24V also.
 Because the board is funny and 0 voltage is full throttle (not shown) we need a push button test of enable to make sure the machine will not run away.  If it does run the finger will fall off the push button and it will open and machine will stop, then we can fix the problem, usually the radio control did not sync, and try again.
 After a successful test enable we can push the button for full enable, this energizes the relay coil and switches the 4 switches.  Only two of the switches are used here, free parts...
 Then we let go of the start push button and because the 9-5 contact of the relay is now feeding the coil the 12-8 switch stays closed and enable is activated.
At least until the fuse goes, the master power is cut, or I press the stop button.

And there we have it.  Physically the 4 switches and the fuse is tucked under the side of the SBT.  Easiest to reach is the master power, then next is the test, and tucked behind the test is the start.  The stop button is an emergency button on top of the machine.