May 2011 Status, Trams and Signmaking

Kawate Sign 3138

After a relatively quiet winter and spring, work on the layout is picking up (most people do this in the winter, but I don’t seem to work that way). As mentioned in the last musing, I spent most of May working on the subway station of the Riverside Station scene. And I’m still basking in the glow of completing that. I go down to the basement every few days and turn the station LEDs on just to grin at it for a few minutes and think: it’s done, I actually finished something!

A big part of that was making signs using found photographs and graphics images. I’d described that briefly earlier in the month, but hadn’t gone into much detail. This method worked out very well, and I used it to produce the station platforms signs (using images from Tōkyō Metro’s website plus my own text), the subway maps (using an online map, vastly reduced in size), the advertising billboards (from photos found online), and even the vending machines on the platform (from photographs of real ones found on Flickr).

I’ve now created a page describing my technique for this, which I expect to use for many more street signs, advertisements, and small details similar to the vending machines.

Not everything goes so smoothly. Another activity in May, which I haven’t written up, was a return to working on the car lighting flicker-avoidance circuitry I’d been working on last fall. I’d attempted to re-start this several times since January, and always been side-tracked. I finally spent some time trying to make an easily-assembled board I could install in a car. Not a circuit board, just a sheet of styrene or perhaps prototyping board, with a couple of components and wires attached to it (by glue, and perhaps some soldering). Two attempts at this failed miserably, and I’m still working on it. When I get something useful accomplished I’ll write it up in detail, but for now the basic status is unchanged: I know the circuit works, assembling something that will fit in the car with minimal obtrusiveness is proving to be the real challenge. I’m ultimately going to need to make a couple-hundred of these for my trains, so I want something I can make assembly-line style with minimal effort. I did add a graphic of the planned circuit to the diagrams page, and started a page describing it, although that’s of necessity incomplete at present.

The other project for the month was my Tram layout, which I’d also described previously. This has a tentatively-defined track plan, which I’m letting sit before I decide if I’m happy with it. I’ve found it’s always a good way to put something like that aside for a few weeks, then look at it with fresh eyes, before committing to it. Besides, I can’t complete it until I get more bus roadway, and that’s not due until August.

The JNS Forum folks are kicking off another summer project party, which I expect to participate in, although I haven’t yet decided on my project. This year it’s not being done to a specific theme, and any project can be done that’s related to Japanese model trains. It runs for July and August (for construction, planning can be done beforehand). I may work on the Tram layout, but I’m also thinking about finally making a finished upper deck for the expressway. I’ve started my page for that, hopefully it will be less of a non-event than last year’s, when I really failed to actually start, much less complete, my planned project.

I’ve also updated my Reservations and Recent Arrivals pages to note the things that came in last month, which have mostly been mentioned in musings. My pace of train-buying, both reservations and simple orders, has slowed considerably. That’s partly because I have most of the models I really want (not all), and partly as I’ve been spending the budget on other things, like the bus system and electronics for the DCC systems (more circuit breakers and occupancy detectors).

Work for June needs to focus on getting the electronics update (circuit breakers and occupancy detectors) done so I can run trains again. I may try to just get the Express loop running first, to cut things down to a manageable size. I have lots of other things on the layout demanding time, so it’s unclear if I’ll manage that or not, but I really should.