Greetings fellow train modelers! I am happy to report that FUNTRAK members Mark Bean, Brian King, and Canadian friend David King have finally been able to culminate their efforts on the automatic
reverse loop project that has been in progress for over a year.
After much consternation and brain racking, all the pieces came together when Mark arrived at Brian’s and was able to actually handle the hardware. There is a lot to be said for presence. Long distance communication is nice, but nowhere as nearly effective as actually being present. After Mark arrived it was only a matter of hours
overall until the software, hardware, and operation all came together to make the reverse loop automation a
success. Of course, this leads to more projects in the future. However, these may be a little easier to accomplish now that the experience of developing the original reverse loop has been successfully completed. We are considering building and automating a new one-trak interface tee sized module. This will take some time, so in the meantime, FUNTRAK will utilize the current mechanically operated interface module.
This module works but has some limitations. The curves are really small, thus limiting the trains that can be sent to the reverse loop. It is also rather difficult to understand how to operate electrically when using it. The goal of the newer replacement module will be not only to automate things as much as possible, but to simplify the operation to make it much less difficult to use. FUNTRAK will report on the progress of this project as we move along.
Speaking of moving along, FUNTRAKset up a small layout at Dave’s Diner in the beginning of June at Dave’s weekly Cruise In. The small layout incorporated FUNTRAK’s “eyeglasses” loop to make it interesting. This loop limits the length of the trains possible to run without running into itself and keeps the public’s attention on the trains. Everyone expects the train to collide with itself, but careful prior planning prevents this from happening. The layout provided the first opportunity for FUNTRAK to use the small generator purchased for just this reason. The generator ran perfectly and amazingly quiet for the entire time FUNTRAK was there. This makes it easy for FUNTRAK to take a layout nearly anywhere since we can now provide our own source of power to operate the trains. The next test will be next month when FUNTRAK anticipates running a small HO layout, provided by club member Greg Brockway, at Dave’s again. Meanwhile, other club activities for July include the Whirlwind III tour. This will be a day trip to the Boston area to visit some of the renowned layouts in that area. FUNTRAK will report on this in the next issue.
Keep on training!