Jul 2013

More Hilltop Work

Work has progressed. I finally finished getting the backdrop photo attached to the backdrop, and the latter attached to the layout table. This was not without a lot of awkward contortionism to get the darn thing bolted in place. Perhaps I would have been better off disconnecting the whole return loop end from the rest of the layout, so I could turn it and work somewhere other than in a two-inch slot up against a concrete wall. But while that’s possible by design, it’s REALLY hard in practice, and I decided I didn’t need to do it. And in the end I didn’t, although I’m not sure I actually saved any real time.

The backdrop looks pretty good, even in person. It has just the right level of detail, and the sizes are acceptable (perhaps a bit too large, but I don’t think they’ll be too obtrusive). The faded/hazy color and low-resolution of detail looks just right.

Mocking Up the Hilltop

It’s very pink, but with a bit of imagination you can see the forested hill rising behind the houses, which will have a small Shinto shrine tucked in amongst the trees, with a stairway down to street level, a very typically Japanese scene. This mock-up was part of my final refinement of the design for the Hilltop Scene. I’m not quite done, but I’m beginning to accept that I have a sound idea for what I want to do.

A Small Parking Garage

Many people who live in cities, even cities with much poorer public transportation than Tōkyō, can get by without an automobile, and do. Access to work, shopping, and social activities is often possible on foot or via what public transportation exists. Or other methods of transport, like bicycles, may be sufficient. But while that is true, many people who live in cities, particularly large, sprawling cities, do choose to own cars, and Tōkyō is no exception.

People can live a long distance from work, or may simply want a car for weekend use or to visit distant friends or relatives, particularly if they need to travel to rural areas where public transportation is less prevalent. Whatever the reason, many people have cars. And in Tōkyō, you can’t own a car unless you can prove you have a place to park it. Street parking is relatively uncommon.

Much of the city is comprised of small apartment buildings, and even houses. Houses may have a small space inside the property line to park a car, not so much a driveway as a paved front yard. But apartment dwellers need something else, and small parking lots or garages are fairly common. Read More...

Village Construction

The title might be a bit overdone, but I’ve moved from the “thinking about it” stage to the “building mockups” stage. It’s still planing of a sort, but it feels more like construction. I was ready to start cutting styrene a couple of days ago, but now I think I need a little more contemplation and review before I do that.

I’ve also started taking apart the buildings to prep them for painting, although I’ve realized that I need to adjust my positions slightly, which has diverted my attention from that work. I’ve also started working on my detailed design for the roads and intersection, which is partly what’s caused that re-think about posiitoning.

After more research on road sizes, summarized on the Roads and Highways prototype page, and a good deal of thought about the actual size of my roads, summarized on my Cars and Roads modeling page, I started drawing a 1:1 scale graphic of the road in my layered drawing program (Omnigraffle). My hope is to replace some of the layers with photographs of concrete, asphalt, and similar, as well as adding in details like manhole covers, and then print the final version as either a decal or photo that would be layered onto styrene. Using styrene as a backing has one benefit for use of a decal: printers can’t print white, so decals leave that color clear. A decal applied to white-painted styrene will look correct even if it contains white lines. I may use a similar technique to create the sidewalk as a separate item, although I’m also considering just using painted “tile” sheet styrene and applying separate delays for things like manholes and “braille” safety strips at crosswalks. Read More...

June 2013 Monthly Status

Another month gone by, but I do have something to show for this one.

The backdrop for the hilltop scene has been painted in primer and let cure. I’m going to work on the mounting structure this week. The photo for it has also been printed (US$72 at my local print shop) and is laid out letting the ink dry fully. I expect I’m a week or so away from gluing it to the backdrop, and by next week should have it installed.

Along the way my plans changed to make a 18” tall (46 cm) backdrop instead of the larger one I’d planned, and the image was adjusted slightly to match, but it’s still basically the same. There was no single reason for the change, just a feeling that 18” fit the area better, and would maintain the “low key” backing I was looking for better, whereas a taller one might tend to overshadow the real scenery. I can always re-do it in the future if I change my mind, total cost with wood is under US$100 and I’ll gladly write that off on a failed experiment, after enough time goes by that I’m sure it is a failed one. Right now, I think I made the right choice.

I’ve also been working on the Village area, and actually done some painting on the Tomix apartment. And I’ve started tearing down the other models to begin painting and lighting/detailing them. I’ll work on several in parallel along with the Tomix apartment. Some notes on the buildings I’m working with are on the Village Buildings page.

And I’ve been doing some work on how I want to build the roads and sidewalks of the village area. I mentioned the planning in general last time. More on the details in some future post when my ideas have settled more.

A bunch of stuff arrived from Japan this month. Among it some track I needed to build a test-track on my bench for continued work on the Tram Controller project, and some Tomix viaduct I want to experiment with for the future Helix (although that may sit on the shelf for a long time; I need it now to measure and check clearances for the hilltop construction, rather than for work on the helix itself).

So, a fairly busy month for the layout, all things considered.