Haythornthwaite and Westby Tea Railway - automation
Dear Bill and friends,
I am developing a model railway and would love some of your oversight on a project to control a train lift (vertical mechanism for moving trains between my lower and higher track levels), my transfer table (horizontal mechanism for aligning seven train storage sections to the upper track level) and two turntables (one on each level).
My railway is ‘009’ (narrow gauge track at 00 (similar to HO) scale) and will represent an imaginary Indian mountain railway. It will be called the ‘Haythornthwaite and Westby Tea Railway’.
Commands will be received by ‘LocoNet’ and interpreted by GCA185 Arduino shields that I have not yet got to work.
Actuation will be by stepper motors controlled by Arduino CNC shields.
Positioning sensors are IR speed controllers.
Track blocks will be powered on and off for ‘fail-safe’ operation by Arduino-controlled 16-channel relay boards. (This is to prevent me driving trains on or off the train lift, transfer table, or turntables when they are not correctly aligned.)
I am using Digital Command Control (DCC) and Java Model Railroad Interface (JMRI) for general control but that has no direct bearing on the above except for the LocoNet interface.
I have more planning I can show but I would first like to know if anybody is interested in following along and advising.
It seems we have similar ambitions with our model layouts. My train elevator project also involves relays to kill power to the tracks while the elevator is in motion. In addition, my project uses a keypad for selecting the desired staging track alignment, a LCD for status display, and a 16-channel servo driver for aligning the servo-actuated turnouts -er- points? (Are you English or Australian?) And there are LED outputs to power trackside signals. And I will be using IR detectors to show the positions of trains on the staging tracks and to accurately stop them. (The staging yards are in a separate room, out of sight) And if/when I get all this built and operating, maybe I'll add Bluetooth capability with smartphone app control - or train automation in/out of the staging tracks via JMRI!
I'm also in the beginning stages of a project to operate a turntable via an Arduino-controlled stepper motor.
And I have completed another layout project, an 'NX machine'. 'NX' means 'entrance/exit'. It is like a prototype interlocking machine. It is an Arduino that can control and align numerous turnouts to set up routes through complex trackage, like at a yard throat or a multi-track junction. The operator only has to select the entrance point and the desired exit point, and the machine aligns the route.
So, yes, I'd be interested in collaborating with our similar interests.
Although I'm English I grew up in Ottawa so I should be saying 'turnouts' or 'swtiches', but as I am the Social Media Officer for the rather British 009 Society (narrow gauge modelling) I tend to say 'points'.
In due course I'll be moaning about my difficulties with control. I'm committing to DCC control (using switch/point/turnout commands) without any local keyboard or other interface. But so far, my LocoNet interface doesn't work...
Meanwhile this is the design of my transfer table (horizontal motion) mechanism which uses a rack and pinion instead of a winding spindle and cable. The table itself is not shown but pink is the rack, mounted below the transfer table; grey is the fixed mounting for the stepper motor (not shown); orange is the pinion, and green is mounts for the blue rail that supports the transfer motor wheels. (A representation of my twin IR sensors is red.)
The maths is similar to that of the train lift: one motor step should move the transfer table about 0.14 mm.