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Thread: Compact Portable Folding Box Layout Build

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    Default Compact Portable Folding Box Layout Build

    Hello all!

    As some might have noticed, my layout threads have been largely dormant. This is mostly because I've been busy with college and haven't been home much since I usually have 12+ hour days before coming home and crashing.

    While that's all well and good...I miss trains. So, inspired by M.C.Fujiwara's Alameda-in-a-Box layout, I've decided to build a minimal box layout that I can fit in my bag (yes, I have a rather large book/laptop bag ). This will allow me to take my layout with me to work on in my spare time between classes.


    • Size:
      • 8"x16"x~2" folded up (I may have to raise the hinges to allow room for track, etc)
      • 4"x48" unfolded (16" of which is 8" deep)

    • Power
      • Arduino DCC++ system

    • Theme
      • Car or Locomotive Shop for switching cars or displaying locos

    • Track
      • Handlaid turnouts
      • ME flex track (or handlaid, not sure yet)

    • Trackplan

    • 3D Renderings


    The passing siding holds up to an 86' car with clearance to get around it, and the double-slip is already built and tested, it's just been sitting around forever, so I thought I'd put it to good use.

    If all goes well, I'll be starting this within the next week.

    Andrew

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    OK, so I may be having a bit too much fun with SketchUp....

    Portable 2 photo.jpgPortable 2 photo2.jpgPortable 2 photo3.jpgPortable 2 photo4.jpg

    But enough CAD, I'm off to buy parts!

    Andrew

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    Great idea. Is it going to be DC or DCC?
    "It's not whats best......It's whats best for you"

    Gary

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    Quote Originally Posted by ike8120 View Post
    Great idea. Is it going to be DC or DCC?
    DCC, using the open source Arduino based DCC++ system. I'm way too spoiled by having used DCC for 6 years to go back to DC, even though that would be sufficient for this layout.

    The DCC++ system is quite compact, using much less space than the usual DCC system, which is why I've decided to use it.

    Andrew

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    Quote Originally Posted by conrailandrew View Post
    DCC, using the open source Arduino based DCC++ system. I'm way too spoiled by having used DCC for 6 years to go back to DC, even though that would be sufficient for this layout.

    The DCC++ system is quite compact, using much less space than the usual DCC system, which is why I've decided to use it.

    Andrew
    can't wait to see it, and now you've got me interested in DCC++

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    I ran out of time before the semester started to get this started, but I've finally got the box built now. Certainly not a work of art, but woodworking is not one of my strong points.

    P1040296 (Medium).jpgP1040287 (Medium).jpgP1040288 (Medium).jpgP1040295 (Medium).jpg

    Raised hinges to allow it to close around the track.
    P1040283 (Medium).JPG

    Now I need to find time to build turnouts. :woot:

    Andrew

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    Looking good, Andrew!

    I, too, am looking forward to seeing how you implement the DCC++ ... are you going to integrate the boards into your box somehow?
    Never mistake a guy who talks a lot for a guy who has something to say...

    CH&FR Site and Blog: http://www.chfrrailroad.net and http://blog.chfrrailroad.net
    Appalachian Railroad Technology: http://www.apprailtech.com


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    Quote Originally Posted by TwinDad View Post
    I, too, am looking forward to seeing how you implement the DCC++ ... are you going to integrate the boards into your box somehow?
    Thanks!

    I'm not sure yet. The whole box is only about 1.5" thick when closed, so I don't think it'll work in DCC++'s current form factor. I'm thinking I'll build the DCC++ into a compartment of a small tackle box with a power supply, rolling stock storage and maybe some tools and supplies.

    That being said, having it all in one compact unit would be very handy, so maybe I'll have to look at the possibilities of building a small form DCC++ unit to fit in the box, although the power supply might still not be small enough to fit in it.

    Andrew

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    If you want really portable, look into using a UPS intended for computer power backup. The little current that a model railroad consumes could let you run for several hours on a single charge of a power supply the size of a tackle box or less.

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    Had a snow day yesterday, so got a good start on laying the turnouts.

    IMG_20160211_205550.jpg

    Andrew

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    Has anyone here wired up the frogs on a double slip switch? I'm thinking this will require a different set up than a normal turnout with a slide switch. Maybe DPDT slide switches that feed through each other somehow?

    Andrew

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    Do not go gentle into that good night - Thomas
    Dana
    US ARMY Ret
    Oil Mill Creek RR - NY, NH & H

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    Awesome, so it is easy then, just gotta wire them up to the opposite sides. :yes:

    Thanks Dana!
    Andrew

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    Quick progress update.

    All the turnouts are built, just waiting on slide switches from SparkFun now before gluing the track down.

    Andrew
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    That is some Good track work!!!

    ___________Just do it in Vinyl!__________


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    Alright, got a bit of time to work on the layout tonight.
    All the turnouts on the middle section are glued down, and the Sparkfun switches installed for the double slip turnout. So far everything is looking good, next step after finishing the slide switch installations is the wiring, then on to the two end panels, which only have one turnout each, thankfully!

    IMG_20160226_211534.jpgIMG_20160226_211606.jpg

    Andrew

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    Both the "benchwork"& the trackwork looks first-rate!
    Multi-turnout fixtures are always a challenge, from keeping the through route relatively straight to finding a short among all those rails & ties.
    Yours looks primo.

    Are those slide switches temp installed? or why wires on top instead of tucked below?
    And why switches so far away from throwbar, necessitating the rod?
    No value judgement, just curious.

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    Quote Originally Posted by M.C. Fujiwara View Post
    Both the "benchwork"& the trackwork looks first-rate!
    Multi-turnout fixtures are always a challenge, from keeping the through route relatively straight to finding a short among all those rails & ties.
    Yours looks primo.

    Are those slide switches temp installed? or why wires on top instead of tucked below?
    Thanks for the kind words!
    The slide switches are intended to be more of less permanent. The frog wires are still floating loose at the moment, I haven't connected them yet. There will be channels carved in the top of the plywood for the wires to sink into, instead of running the wires to the back, and wrecking the finish on the outside of the box. When covered with ballast, they should be invisible. (I hope!)

    And why switches so far away from throwbar, necessitating the rod?
    No value judgement, just curious.
    The reason for the longer throw rods is to get under the track coming from the crossing to keep the controls on the outer sides of the track, as when the tracks are occupied, there is only a 1/4 to 1/2" between the cars; certainly not enough room for fingers that aren't to scale ( :grrr: ) to reach in and throw a turnout.

    Thanks for the thoughts, keep 'em coming!

    Andrew

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    Sorry--perhaps I'm not communicating clearly.
    Why are the slide switch wires coming up out of the baseboard next to the switches instead of being tucked neatly underneath?
    & why is "carving channels" in the top of the baseboard a better solution than running them underneath?
    Especially if you need to replace a wire (which you will 5 min. - 5 weeks after burying them).
    Especially as you have a hinged portable layout with access underneath?
    Maybe I missed something.

    Also, why are fingers the determining factor in slide switch placement between tracks?
    Think bamboo skewer.
    A small switching layout has little room, plus you're going to constantly need a tool to uncouple cars.
    So plan the layout knowing you'll have the throttle in one hand and a bamboo skewer in the other, both as a tool to uncoupler as well as throw the slide switch toggles.

    Or grow your pinkie fingernail really really long

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    Quote Originally Posted by M.C. Fujiwara View Post
    Why are the slide switch wires coming up out of the baseboard next to the switches instead of being tucked neatly underneath?
    & why is "carving channels" in the top of the baseboard a better solution than running them underneath?
    While it would be much easier from a wiring standpoint to run the wires to the underside of the board, it would also stand a much greater chance of getting the wires broken. I built this with the idea of being able to carry it in my laptop/book bag, and wires on the outside of the folded box would be getting caught and torn out on the books that are constantly being added and removed. (Does that make sense?) It would certainly be nice to wire it differently, but I can't think of anything else that doesn't involve running the wires to the outside... Any ideas?

    I plan on waiting a few weeks after finishing the track and wiring to test the layout thoroughly before ballasting to make sure everything is working properly and is going to hold up well.
    Good point on using the skewer, I could do that, although putting the slide switches on the outside of the track still seems like a better place to me. If this trackwork wasn't so tight, I'd definitely want them right next to the turnout, but it just doesn't seem practical here. Is there a compelling reason to have them directly next to the turnout? They seem to be working fine as is, but this is the first time I've used the Sparkfun switches, so maybe there's something I don't know about?
    Also, I'm lazy, so not having to lean over the layout to peer over a car to see a mini slide switch half under the car is a plus.

    It's always good to see other viewpoints, keep 'em coming!
    Thanks!
    Andrew

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