Trains and Sawdust

In the past year, besides working on the truck and my rose gardens, I’ve been writing a program, cncDraw, to create G-code to drive my CNC milling machine.

I call it a 2 1/2 D machine. The working dimensions are approximately 12″x15″x2.5″ (X,Y,Z). It’s considered to be an engraving machine and I’ve made some nice name tags for my roses.

Screen shot of my program.

The first thing I designed was an outhouse, because the 4 walls can be cut in one piece.  The black lines are V-grooves. Red lines are cut through and the green areas are slots cut with an end mill.

Currently I’m working on a model of my house.  Originally I used a scale factor of 24:1, but that turned out to be huge.  The trains are nominally 22.5:1.  The final version uses a scale of 32:1.  This may be a bit small, but it will fit inside some of the loops in my garden railroad.

The structures I had were built from plastic kits.  When I took them in for a hurricane, they mostly fell apart.  Florida sun and humidity are not kind to the glues that come with kits.

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More about trains

I’ve been working with JMRI which has really nice graphics, but so far I haven’t been able to figure out how to set up a schedule and let the trains run automatically.

So I thought I’d look at Rocrail, which is supposed to be good at that.  The graphics are not quite as nice as JMRI’s and the GUI interface can be awkward.  For one thing, the fonts are too big to fit into the boxes on the screen.  Another thing that I find annoying is that clicking on OK after updating the info on a locomotive takes you right out of the locomotive section.  One thing that I do like is having pictures of the locomotives in the GUI.  Being able to pick “that one” instead of having to remember whether it’s the Rugen or Waldenburg locomotive is great.

Here are the pictures that I took for Rocrail.

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Using JMRI for my trains

I’ve been trying to control my garden railroad by computer for years. I have a test layout in my living room. I’ve installed the Java Model Railroad Interface (JMRI) and now have it running 4 trains.  Each train can be run independent of the others.  Yes you can cause a train wreck (Uncle Fester would be proud.)

My passenger train is drawn by a Rügen steam loco from LGB.  The decoder was installed when it was built around 2000. I haven’t been able to modify the control variables, so it has 3 running speeds: creep, fast and fly off the track.

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