Sunday, February 23, 2020

Mission Control


Welcome to the L&WMRS clubrooms on a typical Thursday night.

Hold on. Sorry, that's a photo of Mission Control during the moon landings. This is the photo from Thursday.


Loads more computing power! The laptop, smartphone, Arduino and Rasberry Pi in the photo all have more computational grunt than NASA could muster to send a man to the moon.

Looking at this, it struck me just what a hi-tech hobby we are. In the clubrooms were two more laptops, two old desktop PCs. mountains of DCC controllers and at least 30 smartphones. OK, the latter aren't used for model trains, except as controllers in the photos, but they are used for research.

Seeing a laptop plugged into a layout isn't that uncommon now. We've several layouts that make use of the MERG CBus system and this needs tuning before you run the model.

Even a Luddite like me has a grasp of some of this technology, but it amazes me just how modellers have kept up with the times.

I watch Star Trek and wonder how the captain manages to diagnose problems with what I'd assume to be very complex parts of the space ship, but then is this so different from working out why your DCC controller is making that screeching sound? You need to understand the basic principles of the system and work on from there.

If you'd shown a 14-year-old me the sort of things we'd be doing now I'd be wide-eyed in amazement. I remember a story in Railway Modeller where they drove locos from replica cabs with cameras in the models. At the time it looked far-fetched but now is commonplace. Except for the cab bit.


Saturday, February 22, 2020

Saturday Film Club: Carboard train



It's a train made of cardboard, made by someone called Creative Phil who makes great use of the stuff for some amazing creations!

Friday, February 21, 2020

E-R Models Monorail


Bargain of Doncaster show for me was this E-R Models HO scale monorail.

The 39cm long train comes with an oval of track plus the supports, clips to hold the rails together really strongly and some other bits I can't identify - probably because there are no instructions in the box.

Never mind, a quick track and pickup clean and a dose of 9V from a battery sees the model trundle along the straight lengths of track.

According to the web, this is a model of the Sydney monorail and it certainly looks like it. I missed riding on this by a couple of years, much to my annoyance but at least I can enjoy it in miniature.


Looking underneath, the wheels look just like normal HO ones, but with the flanges on the outside. The powered wheels both have traction tyres, pickup being from long metal strips rubbing on the rails.


My first impressions were that this is a bit of a toy, but it's pretty accurate, at least in looks. As the basis for a more detailed model, I can see it has loads of potential. Maybe I'll build that futuristic model railway I've often wondered about after all. Making my own track shouldn't be too hard, and watching the second-hand market might produce more sensibly priced trains.

And now the obligatory clip from the Simpsons:


Thursday, February 20, 2020

The Splat


When I'm taking photos and people are watching, the question I'm asked the most is "What's that blue tripod thing?"

An invaluable part of my kit, the Miggo Splat is a flexible set of legs that can be bent to shape to suit the job in hand. I bought it to replace a Gorillapod as I was wearing these out in 6 months. I hadn't intended to go Splat, but the camera shop I visited had one, I like it and have never changed my opinion.

The device has enjoyed at least 3 years use now and is still as good as new. Its flexibility is incredibly handy as you can see from this shot by John Gray of me photographing his layout Byway MPD last weekend.


Each rubber-coated metal leg is 16cm long, measured from the centre and the thing can be flattened for transporting a bag or tucked into your back pocket when working. I suspect that while you could hang a DSLR on the top (I have) the centre of gravity would demand a little more thinking than with a compact. Not much though.

Recommended. 

You can buy a Splat from Amazon.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Waterborne Wednesday: Woolwich Ferry

Woolwich Ferry - Ernest Bevin

In London, we used to find the Ernest Bevin, one of the Woolwich ferries. Pensioned off last year, I managed to take a trip towards the end of their working lives.