Category Archives: Garden Railway

Inspired my Mark Found’s tv series “The Garden Railway”, I started building my own garden railway in my backyard. It is build right from the scretch.

I created this blog in order to share my experiances to interrested people, who also want to start with building up their own garden railway in their own backyard. So every comment and feedback it apreciated.

A garden railway is a great possibility to combine nature and technic in a home environment. It is also a great hobby to free up the mind from daily business. And it is completely different to smaller inhouse scales, because everyone starting with this hobby has also think about weather and stability, security and many other impacts. Working with garden railways needs rockery work, concrete mixing, gardening, and way more.

Please enjoy my little blog. I hope, that I am able to share some good inspirations.

COMPARISION OF SWITCHPOINT LIGHTS

I have three switch points lately in my garden railway – two PIKO R5 switches and one R7 switch. As I want to switch them remote controlled, I also bought the electrical actuator from PIKO, I am very satisfied with, because it is powerful and has rubber deals in order to get it water proof. To get it all complete, I also bought the switch point lights from PIKO. The lights from PIKO look great and convince by a solid plastic construction and LED lights, supporting the load of the power supply.

I installed the complete combination of switch, actuator and light to the final destination, but I realized real quick, that it is not working as expected. So I investigated a bunch of ours to understand, why it is not working. I mechanically disconnected the lights again and it was working again. I strictly observed, that no gravel or dust may block the mechanism and gook everything with oil. The issue seems to be, that the force is transferred over a plastic elbow angle, that seems to cant the mechanism.

After several disappointments I decided to order a light from LGB and tested it. There are several differences between both products. First difference is, that the LGB device it screwed to the actuator by two screws instead of just one, which is increasing the stability. Second difference is, that LGB is using a light bulb instead of a LED. I see this as a disadvantage, because this is putting additional load on the power supply. Third difference is the light cap. PIKO just glued it on top, which is not really a protection – especially if the tracks are outdoors. The light cap of LGB is mechanically pushed and locked. So snow, wind and heavy rain doesn’t have any impact. The forth and most important difference is the mechanical composition. It doesn’t have an angle and is straight forward. So there is no possibility to cant. In some first experiments, the light was blocked as well, but the reason was clarified pretty soon. The pin, that got clipped to the actuator, is moving very close to the lamp socket. I took a sharp cutter knife and smoothen down the edges of the pin. Now it moving in perfection without any issues.

My recommendation is to use switch point lights from LGB in future. They are more expensive and need a higher current, but from a mechanical perspective LGB work way better.

SIGNAL PROTOTYPE DONE

Today I painted and finalized the signal, Thebox, the signal is mounted on, contains the ESP8266 and the power supply unit, coming from the tracks. So it getting very compact and easy to connect.

Would I do something better next time? Of cause! There is always room for improvements. I would take 5mm LED’s instead of 3mm in diameter. I also would take brighter LED’s, because its hard to see the LED’s during daytime. I also would take finished U-profiles made of brass and would not try it on my own.

On the other hand side: its a prototype and I just wanted to see, if it is possible to make this idea become true.

FIRST SIGNAL PROTOTYPE

Today Imade some soldering. I found some cupper plates in my basement and started devoloping the signal by cutting, bending and drilling the parts. As soonas all parts got prepared I started soldering together.

The prototype is not the quality of a mass production, but for the very time it is possible to see, what the idea is.

It will get some painting within the next days. Then the electronics will get included.

SIGNAL CONTROL

Software developed and flashed to the ESP8266-01. I usedto take some CSS elements to display the signal on the website. By clicking on the red circle, the red LED turns red and turns off the green LED. By clicking the green circle – well – guess what happens

I supply the board with 18VAC as I have it at my tracks. The LED’s have a common ground. So just three wired are required to control the LED’s.

OK – result: It took a while, but finally this works.
I “just” need to build the signal out of cupper profiles and mount it on top of the black box with the electronics inside.

ESP8266-01

I ordered 5 ESP8266-01 microcontrollers and a programmer kit for controlling my signals. This version of the WIFI controller has 2 GPIO’s, which perfectly fits to control 2 LED’s – a green and a red one.

After digging thru Google, I finally got the Arduino IDE plus ESP8266 plugin. Yesterday I tried some experiments and – tah dah – It is working as webserver…..

Now I’m on to implement a web interface to control the signal. More to come

RUNNING THE NIGHT TRAIN

The days are getting long and warm. Perfect to stay outside longer the day.

Pefect to run trains late night. My Christmas train has some interia lights – so a great time to run the train outside in the sunset.

I took my camera and made a little photo session. Please enjoy the ride

BUSY SATURDAY

Another saturday, but this time I havetime left and the weather is dry and not too hot. So a perfect day to proceed working on the garden railway.

Anonther 4 meter (12 feet) of track laying are done and the bridge is getting connected. First task was filling the gravel and laying doen the concrete bricks as base for the tracks. Then installing the tracks by drilling holes into the concrete bricks and screwing the tracking to it. Finally filling the tracks with gravel.

I also did some wiring. As you may remember from previous posts, I install power supplies every 2-3 meters (6 to 9 feet). I also finally connected the tracks to the transformator, which delivers permanently the tracks with 18 volts AC. This transformator can get turn on and off by a Raspberry Pi, which is installed in the garage. But this is a different story.

The last days I developed another board to control the rail joints. The old board uses just diods to the a positive or negative voltage to switch the joints. So it is delivering only every second half wave at its output. The new board is having a bridge rectifier. So it produces both halfwaves to switch the joint – the power is doubled with this new board. I connected it to my WIFI relay board and tested it. The difference is pretty awesome! The joints are now switched without any issues.

Finally I have some hours left to enjoy todays work. So I made some pictures with steam loco Stainz and the christmas train 😉

BRIDGE WALLS DONE

While building the bridge, it wasn’t possible to create it in one piece. So I had build three parts and assemble them as soon as I am able to fill them with concrete at there final position. But there were two rows of jigstones missing to make it complete.
 
Today I finalized these two rows in order to create a frame for the concrete, that will fill up the building as soon as it got dry. Well – there was a certain risk, building it today. We have pretty warm weather today, but the meteorolists told us this morning, that lightings are high potential possible.
 
So finally I got it done and stabilized the bricks with some rapid cement. So just in case it will get some rain later the day, everything should be prepared and rock solid.

BRIDGE & PLATFORM

The meteorolists were right: it was getting a warm and sunshiny springday! Hurray!

Today some concrete work again. The bridge got on it’s final place and filled up with concrete. As soon as it dryed out, it is getting rock solid. You may wonder, why the wall before the bridge is lower than the bridge itself… That’s because I have to add two additional rows of jigstones afterwards. Otherwise I wound not being able to install the bridge and fill it up with concreate. So some additional work to do for the next few days.

I had some concrete left. So I build the platform of the station for my little town. Now it is getting way easier for people to enter the trains.