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Lots of changes

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So, before the holidays, I took a lot of time to reconsider the layout. I was having a lot of trouble running trains and for the space, it felt very complicated. It's 4x8, but there were lots of ways for trains to go. I found it was hard to enjoy. So, I stepped back, redesigned it a bit, and ended up ripping up a lot of track and scenery. I'm still doing a LOT of work on scenery, and haven't gotten the reversing loops tested yet. But the outer loop works great now. I felt so good about it, I staged it and uploaded the video linked below.

The biggest changes are the reduction in the complexity of the inner loop. Fewer exits, switching from powered frog curved turnouts to dead frog. I had a lot of issues with AR and the powered frogs. This seemed like a good compromise. I straightened some sections out, and because of the moves, I was able to make the outer loop about a foot longer. It doesn't seem it in the video, but it does feel like it runs a bit longer now. Finally, with this round of changes, I have a small and functional yard to do some work in, plus the passing siding actually works pretty well, even if it's not really big enough to run two trains on the outer loop. I can stage a small commuter there and just let it sit. It looks cool too.

Also, I did work to automate the AR loops so I don't have to manually switch them. I have Cobalt IP Digital turnout motors, and DCCConcepts makes a current detector designed to trigger their turnouts without any extra work. And I installed some signaling in the yard to indicate position of turnout. I'll be adding more signals on the inner and outer loops later too, probably all based on turnout position honestly, but we'll see. I even built a simple 555 circuit while I was on my Caribbean cruise which works pretty well, even if the caps they used were way off tolerances. The blinking markers on the stops are a neat touch. Having them all out of phase, mostly, makes it look even better I think, though 3 of them are blinking too fast.

I'm super happy about how this turned out now, and am looking forward to wiping down the inner loop tomorrow or Friday and getting that to work. My dream is to turn two trains at the same time and just let it go and enjoy train spotting.

This is staged, but it feels good to get some rolling stock down so I can see it.