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Growing into my basement

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We recently moved, and as part of that, we got an enormous basement space. Some of which, I have been able to finagle into usable train space. I'm starting out with a 4x8 layout which can the be added to a larger layout in the same space, allowing me to learn and grow as I go. This layout will be a small double reverse layout with about 2 inches of elevation change. I have a single tunnel, and plan to run a highway bridge out over the back above the parallel main tracks.

My goals for this build are to prove out my DCC skills, learn better how to lay track and scenery, and figure out the tricks an intricacies related to making a layout both run and look good. As I finish this, we hope to finish the basement a bit more, as I have close to 18x18 to work with. You can see the space in the pictures a bit, and we will be removing that closet (doors you see in the back) plus the stairs on the right in the future as we finish the basement. Unfortunately, right after we moved in, we learned the previous owners lied about the state of basement water and had to tear the entire basement apart to fix it. Now, we have a great big open space without a design to fill in, which is kind of exciting.

Early work can be seen in the 4x8 layout gallery in my profile, along with my AnyRail track plan. I'm pleased with how close to the actual plan I am so far, and how far I have come with track laying and early elevation work. It's only been a few weeks since I started (and more than a year since I abandoned my last layout which ended when we put our house on the market) and progress has been good. I do plan to flip the table on it's side as I built way too tall. I am going to cut 2-3 inches off the legs to make it easier to work with, and more likely to be easy to add to an extended layout when that time comes. The table is a 4x8 sheet of 1/4" plywood and I am using 1" styrene sheets and WS 2% and 3% incline to provide relief.

Testing the track has been successful using a variety of different rolling stock, and I'm waiting for some wire to be delivered today to start putting in feeders and my Digitrax equipment. I want to start testing with an actual loco + rolling stock connected by early next week to prove the design and track work before I start to add rock contours and walls. It'll be a bit before the tunnel and bridge are completed, as I'm waiting for some things to ship from what I assume is China. I'm trying to only buy what I need when I need it, so I have been forced to wait on a few things. The most recent is some turnouts that still have not shown up. I do plan to hit my LHS this weekend for a few items as well and if I get what I need there (he's been hardup on some items I really want) I may just accept a few extra turnouts in my kit so I don't have to wait forever.

This design is going to be fully DCC from the start, using Digitrax for the most part. I am using Cobalt IP Digital motors so I can address each turnout directly and not need extra turnout control equipment. I plan to use a DT602 throttle, a DCS240 for layout control, and will use a PM42 for reversing and power sections. I also have a BXP88, but haven't settled on using that yet, though probably will at some point as I integrate JMRI and a touchscreen panel I am starting to create (I'm a SW engineer) using a RPi which will integrate with JMRI and the 240.

I'm also starting to build a light control system that can handle the Just Plug light system but be remote controlled. I'll publish other posts on that soon, but am working too hard on layout to work on remote control lighting just yet. But at a minimum, it will be 900mhz radio linked to a controller based on ESP or The Just Plug light system is pretty easy to do, and I've got a small easy to implement design that can control up to 8 lights from a single micro. Still working on the RF side though. More to come there later.

Next up, dropping feeders, and building a pull out or swing down shelf I can put the DCS240 and PM42 on so I can get at the electronics, but keep them out of sight when not needed. Hopefully that finishes this weekend as well as I need space to put all of the electronics.


  1. Albey25's Avatar
    Great to see another blogger on here! Good luck with your layout. Keep us posted.
  2. techhobbies's Avatar
    Yeah, I needed to get back into it, and I realized I forgot I started this. Hoping to get back into the blogging side to keep track of the when and why.