Track for battery/radio control?

Discuss the prototype and how to model it.
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Martin Wynne
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Track for battery/radio control?

Postby Martin Wynne » Sat Jan 25, 2020 6:23 pm

Some discussion of Battery/Radio Control systems on page 3 of the latest S4 News (216) today.

Such discussions usually mention the elimination of electrical wiring and loco pickup problems, but rarely mention the obvious follow-on -- the rails don't need to be metallic.

I'm currently working on creating 3D printing files direct from Templot, to allow complex track formations to be 3D printed ready-to-lay -- timbers, chairs and rails all 3D printed. No trackbuilding skills needed, no filing vees and switch blades, no soldering, no threading chairs, no gauging issues, low cost. Just design it in Templot, 3D print it, lay it.

But of course the rails will be plastic, so battery/radio control is the only way to go. There are still some issues to sort out, mostly around moving switch blades, and of course not everyone has access to a 3D filament printer. It has to be filament, I think rails in resin would be too fragile -- and expensive. (Filament printing in toughened PLA polymer is remarkably robust -- I have just today been making some baseboard brackets.)

More about some of this here: http://85a.co.uk/forum/view_topic.php?i ... forum_id=1

What I would like is some expressions of interest, so that I know I'm not wasting my time. There is still a long way to go -- it's barely yet even a work-in-progress, more of a work-in-dabble. Image

cheers,

Martin.
Last edited by Martin Wynne on Sat Jan 25, 2020 6:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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grovenor-2685
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Re: Track for battery/radio control?

Postby grovenor-2685 » Sat Jan 25, 2020 6:46 pm

Trials will be interesting. I suspect that the friction between wheel and rail will be excessive leading to flange climbing problems, especially with flanges anywhere near scale size. So maybe some curved plain track trials needed before you worry overmuch about the switches.
Rgds.

PS. It happens in 1:1 scale.
Regards
Keith
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Martin Wynne
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Re: Track for battery/radio control?

Postby Martin Wynne » Sat Jan 25, 2020 6:55 pm

grovenor-2685 wrote:Trials will be interesting. I suspect that the friction between wheel and rail will be excessive leading to flange climbing problems, especially with flanges anywhere near scale size.

Thanks Keith. I was expecting the opposite -- problems with slipping and adhesion? Image

There is a lot of trial and error still to do.

cheers,

Martin.
40 years developing Templot. And counting ...

jasp
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Re: Track for battery/radio control?

Postby jasp » Sat Jan 25, 2020 8:55 pm

Martin
My interest in Radio Control was prompted by Don Rowland who, in his late 80s decided to change to RC - an inspiration indeed. Sadly, I have not, as yet, done much about it.
Your thoughts re printed track are also inspirational - why am I surprised at the suggestion from the originator of Templot!
Much food for thought
Jim P

Julian Roberts
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Re: Track for battery/radio control?

Postby Julian Roberts » Sun Jan 26, 2020 9:52 am

This sounds a brilliant idea Martin. I'd have thought the potential is limited only by our imagination. I won't be going down the route myself being committed to traditional control methods. Not meaning to be dismissive in any way, maybe the possibilities in the kids or junior side of the trade or hobby could be big too...?

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Noel
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Re: Track for battery/radio control?

Postby Noel » Sun Jan 26, 2020 10:36 am

Is the technology capable of printing rails with 1:20 inclination, or would it be restricted to vertical?
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Noel

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grovenor-2685
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Re: Track for battery/radio control?

Postby grovenor-2685 » Sun Jan 26, 2020 12:23 pm

Cosmetics may be an issue also, how will you get a nice shiny metallic looking top surface? Print the whole thing in metal maybe?
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Keith
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Martin Wynne
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Re: Track for battery/radio control?

Postby Martin Wynne » Sun Jan 26, 2020 12:35 pm

Noel wrote:Is the technology capable of printing rails with 1:20 inclination, or would it be restricted to vertical?

Hi Noel,

Yes, it's possible. In fact Templot can already print templates with inclined rail, showing the foot of the rail offset a fraction from the head.

Whether it is worth doing is a separate issue. Bearing in mind that at 4mm/ft scale, no-one can actually see whether rail is inclined or not, and users of soldered track construction methods have been building track with vertical rail for decades. In the larger scales it becomes more noticeable.

I'm minded to leave it vertical for now for simplicity -- it is complicated enough as it is. All the chair design work I have done so far is for vertical rail:

Image

Image

But the Templot code is now open-source, so if someone wants to modify it for inclined rail (you?) they will be entirely free to do so (subject to the terms of the open-source licence).

cheers,

Martin.
40 years developing Templot. And counting ...

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Martin Wynne
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Re: Track for battery/radio control?

Postby Martin Wynne » Sun Jan 26, 2020 1:13 pm

grovenor-2685 wrote:Cosmetics may be an issue also, how will you get a nice shiny metallic looking top surface?

Hi Keith,

The toughened PLA polymer is available in steel grey and silver colours (and rust brown for sidings). It has a natural sheen to it. I have already developed a technique to add a skin to provide a smooth top surface instead of the usual 3D-printed ridge effect on top surfaces.

But as I said it is currently a work-in-dabble -- lots of ideas to try. Image

p.s. I have just now joined MERG so that I can get up to speed on the latest radio control. What is the best way to get quickly a radio controlled 00 loco for testing? I want to concentrate on the track for now and leave proper finescale radio control for later.

cheers,

Martin.
40 years developing Templot. And counting ...

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grovenor-2685
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Re: Track for battery/radio control?

Postby grovenor-2685 » Sun Jan 26, 2020 2:26 pm

p.s. I have just now joined MERG so that I can get up to speed on the latest radio control. What is the best way to get quickly a radio controlled 00 loco for testing? I want to concentrate on the track for now and leave proper finescale radio control for later.

I think Ted Scannel can best answer that for you, he has been doing a lot of experimentation. I haven't.
Regards
Keith
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Martin Wynne
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Re: Track for battery/radio control?

Postby Martin Wynne » Sun Jan 26, 2020 2:41 pm

grovenor-2685 wrote:I think Ted Scannel can best answer that for you, he has been doing a lot of experimentation.

Thanks Keith. Does that mean you can't (yet) buy a radio control RTR loco off the shelf?

cheers,

Martin.
40 years developing Templot. And counting ...

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grovenor-2685
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Re: Track for battery/radio control?

Postby grovenor-2685 » Sun Jan 26, 2020 5:04 pm

I think Bachmann (US) sell RTR radio control with Bluerail chips but I think they still get power from the rails rather than batteries.
There may well be some in Garden scales but I take it you are thinking H0/00.
Regards
Keith
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David Catton
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Re: Track for battery/radio control?

Postby David Catton » Sun Jan 26, 2020 5:06 pm

I hereby register my interest in Martin's 3D printed track which I hope he will note from this post.

In answer to the question on availability of RTR RC locos the answer is not yet. It's worth reading the various posts under the sub-heading "Radio Control" on this forum to see current developments by Ted Scannell and Nick Allport, both of whom have posted details of their work.

It is clear that others have also made progress and hopefully if Martin's work yields positive results there will be many more.

David C

jasp
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Re: Track for battery/radio control?

Postby jasp » Sun Jan 26, 2020 9:45 pm

I believe the Protocab are selling to order, RTR RC locos, obviously using their system.
Jim P

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Martin Wynne
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Re: Track for battery/radio control?

Postby Martin Wynne » Sun Jan 26, 2020 11:16 pm

Thanks all for the comments.

Yes I meant 00 RTR, for track testing. I've looked at the Protocab site, but they do only 0 gauge, and everything on there seems to be marked out of stock. I will improvise something in a permanently-attached wagon for testing purposes.

cheers,

Martin.
40 years developing Templot. And counting ...

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JackBlack
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Re: Track for battery/radio control?

Postby JackBlack » Mon Jan 27, 2020 8:50 am

I actually enjoy building track. And building it without having to worry about anything electrical makes it more fun. It's also relatively cheap if you file all the parts yourself.

However being able to print small sections of more complicated areas would be good, but then there's the issue of having access to a decent printer.

Maybe someone like Modelu could provide a standard range of pre-printed sections?

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Le Corbusier
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Re: Track for battery/radio control?

Postby Le Corbusier » Mon Jan 27, 2020 10:42 am

I have found the process of laying sleepers, creating sub assemblies of complicated sections of point work, then laying sections of track utilising chairs which are 'fixed' down to the sleepers an enjoyable and therapeutic activity. I enjoy the link to the process on the actual railway as illustrated in archive footage. There is also an intense satisfaction on completion.

3d printed track work seems to me to be a fascinating and exciting innovation ... but whether I will ever make use of it despite having gone down the protocab route I am uncertain. Interestingly, before I had a go at track building I suspect I would have leapt at the chance :?
Tim Lee

Andrew GW
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Re: Track for battery/radio control?

Postby Andrew GW » Sat Feb 01, 2020 3:20 pm

Martin - thanks very much for starting this thread. I would certainly be interested. I'm in the early stages of building a 1920's GWR layout (so all old-type, loose-heeled switches) and will be using radio control. Having hand-laid track on one board, I've been seriously considering 3D-printed trackwork for the rest; in fact I'm currently trying to get to grips with FreeCAD 3D CAD software (my previous background is very much in 2D) with exactly this in mind. Whilst I can't argue with the previous comments here about hand-building trackwork, I don't find it a quick process and with limited spare time, my modelling progress is slow enough already!

Up to now I had discounted the idea of 3D-printing the rails themselves, on the basis of strength/wear resistance, but I wasn't previously aware that filament printing material should be OK in this respect. My own thoughts had centred on printed sleeper/chair bases to accept conventional rail, although I was concerned about how to accommodate variations in rail section and to make the chairs strong enough for the rails to be threaded through them. I had toyed with the idea of separate, interlocking sections for the "four-foot" and "six-foot", split down the centre of each row of chairs, which would secure the running rails between them and avoid the need to thread the rail through chairs at all. The interlocking "comb joint" sections would need to be printed thinner than the sleepers, to end up hidden beneath the ballast.

Is any of the available filament-printing plastics a good enough visual match for steel to allow a mixture of 3D-printed pointwork and metal-railed plain track? I ask because some of my locos are/will be very small (the first one, in build now, is a High Level Neilson 0-4-0T) and won't have space for a charging socket, meaning I'll need to charge them via the wheels and so will need some sections of live track.

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LesGros
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Re: Track for battery/radio control?

Postby LesGros » Sat Feb 01, 2020 4:40 pm

Andrew,
Prusa and Colorfabb both produce a range of filament colours; there are also metallic filaments which may be suitable off -the-shelf.

See also:
https://colorfabb.com/color-on-demand

Cheery,
Les G
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Guy Rixon
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Re: Track for battery/radio control?

Postby Guy Rixon » Sat Feb 01, 2020 6:35 pm

JackBlack wrote:... being able to print small sections of more complicated areas would be good, but then there's the issue of having access to a decent printer.

Maybe someone like Modelu could provide a standard range of pre-printed sections?


Rather than stocking pre-printed parts, I suggest having a library of standard designs that can be printed on demand.

If a suitable material and process at Shapeways can be identified (which is by no means certain, since their filament-printing to date has not been very fine), then I make two offers.

First, if a library of standard bits can be identified, then I'll host those parts in my Shapeways shop at cost - i.e. I take no commission and buyers just pay SW their printing fee. Just send me the STL files and descriptions of the bits and I'll make up the shop pages.

Second, if anybody has a custom design that they would like printed at Shapeways, then I'm happy to get that printed privately for them. "Privately" means that it doesn't appear in the shop; instead, I buy the prints from SW as if they were my own test-shots, and the designer pays me back SW printing and shipping fees on receipt of the goods. In this case, the turn-around time would depend on when I'm ordering prints of other stuff for my own purposes; i.e. I order the track prints along with my own prints and my "fee" is free shipping of my stuff.

That said, it's easy to work directly with Shapeways to get things printed, and even to open one's own shop there.

philip-griffiths
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Re: Track for battery/radio control?

Postby philip-griffiths » Sun Feb 02, 2020 9:12 am

Sorry if someone else has mentioned this...

would this mean that wheels would no longer need to be metal?

decauville1126
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Re: Track for battery/radio control?

Postby decauville1126 » Sun Feb 02, 2020 11:22 am

Re: the question about wheels not being metal. Correct. Those of us using rc in 16mm narrow gauge can happily use plastic wheels, which has the advantage of not causing problems when used on conventional 2-rail track.

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zebedeesknees
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Re: Track for battery/radio control?

Postby zebedeesknees » Sun Feb 02, 2020 11:42 am

It is also true that wheels and axles can be all-metal without the need for insulation. This is true whatever the rail material happens to be. Radio control and battery power opens up lots of possibilities, some of which probably haven't been thought about yet. It's a bigger step than it first appeared to be!
Ted.

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David Thorpe
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Re: Track for battery/radio control?

Postby David Thorpe » Sun Feb 02, 2020 2:01 pm

Well, what a step forward - let's abandon steel rails and wheels and use plastic ones instead! Smacks to me just a bit of "getting it all wrong"!

DT

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zebedeesknees
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Re: Track for battery/radio control?

Postby zebedeesknees » Sun Feb 02, 2020 3:22 pm

Though I welcome choice, I would personally not be interested in non-metal rails or wheels. Plastic track in sidings, possibly, but all-plastic rail and wheels on running lines would be a step too far for me. The rail or at least the railhead needs to be conductive in order for track circuits and current return for proper 3rd rail or OLE. Those little white diamonds on your signal posts could actually have a function associated!
Imagine - no more phaffing about with rolling pickups, split axles, insulated frames, miles of under-board wiring, relays or microswitching of crossings in pointwork. No more wobbly plastic wheels or tyres falling off. No more hesitations or worse through dirty track or build-up of crud on the wheels. No complicated electronics needed in a simple return loop. There is probably much more.
'Course there will always be remoaners who resist change because of their previous investments...
Ted.


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