June 16, 2017

3D Printing "Fun"

So, first set of tests with the Utilimaker 3 reminded me I have a lot to learn. My first attempt was printed with a raft, which pretty much obscured all the detail of the side rails.  The result reminded me of a melted mess:

I also noticed that the upper "ledge" of the detail was also lost.  I tried printing without the rafts & supports (I removed the risers), but didn't have much more luck.

Unfortunately, while the top print looks correct, it is HO not N. The feature size of the N version were too small to be replicated on the Z axis of the printer. You can probably see the remnants of a smeared layer on the top edge of the N Scale print.

At lunch today, my friend with a Form1 SLA printer said to send him the STL file for him to try. We'll see how that comes out.

As a backup, I took a side trip the Train Shop on the way back home to pick up Evergreen styrene, Tamiya Thin Cement, and an NWSL Chopper III.

June 15, 2017


Well, a small update on the pier.  I wasn't happy with available N Scale railings, so a friend suggested I try doing some 3D CAD. Will try to see how this works on his snazzy printer.

June 14, 2017

Shelf Layout Progress

I managed to acquire some Atlas Code 55 turnouts, which enabled a quick check of fit issues over the weekend.  On the good news front, the extra lead before the points on the Atlas #5s elongated some leads by an extra half car-length. Failing to account for the switch stand and head blocks, I had to tweak the location of the Santa Fe lead. I can almost smell the plywood.

June 4, 2017

Street Running Switching Layout

While work on the Pier 52 Ferry Slip continues, I'm finding that getting enough unbroken time to finish such an ambitious project is proving really challenging.  With my day job becoming even more busy, "spare" time no longer really exists.

Reading MRH from my model railroading armchair, The One Module Approach reminded me that starting small, and working through ALL of the steps might help me get revved back up and past my mental blocks.

Back in 2004, Byron Henderson devised neat switching layout which combined satisfying operation possibilities with and achievable plan. Inspired by San Jose, CA, the layout features a can company, an oil dealer, packing plants, and an interchange:

Similar industries also existed in my current San Francisco prototype, so I spent a bit of time adapting the track to represent Illinois Street. I decided to compress the layout depth to 12", but I kept the 72" length:

As of this weekend, I've gone ahead an printed out a full size version of the plan, and started "play testing" with rolling stock and a locomotive. It was a bit reminiscent of playing "Thomas the Tank Engine" with my son a few years back, but it was an excellent way to clear the cobwebs in my head.

In my case, each job starts with the switcher and three cars on the Santa Fe lead— in real life this represents the connection to the China Basin yard. The length runaround track and capacity of the Southern Pacific interchange provide the constraints on the switching puzzle.  After completing any switching work, the consist returns to the Santa Fe track.

March 3, 2017

Minimal MQTT

It is no secret that I think MQTT has great applications in Model Railroading.  With the release of inexpensive ESP8266 (and soon ESP32) WiFi MCUs and now the Raspberry Pi Zero W, I think we're close to reaching a tipping point which enables the wide deployment of affordable hardware.

Hackaday ran a nice series of articles on MQTT last summer.  Excellent stuff.


A video tutorial for creating a door-bell with push notifications is another neat tutorial video:


The real challenge here will be making this accessible to "normal" hobbyists.

December 25, 2016

Awesome drone footage…

One of my coworkers lives up in SF and has a nifty new drone.  Tonight I got a cool Christmas present as he took a some HD video above the former ATSF ferry slip in China Basin.  The video has already shown me things I've been unable to see from Google Earth, Apple Maps, or other web photography. Here are a few awesome screen captures:

October 9, 2016

October 1, 2016

Happy with the water

Test fitting the pier atop the newly painted module frame.  I'm happy with the water— time to finish on the pier, which will involve a LOT more painting.

More water painting

Another few coats of translucent green makes things look a lot better.  Had to extend the bay a bit, as my first pass had missed a spot.