Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Another solution looking for a problem

 This is a joystick intended for use in an arcade game - something like one of those claw games where you might (but probably won't) hook a cuddly toy and transfer it to a hopper so you can get your hands on it. 

Underneath, the stick is connected to 4 microswitches. 

A friend pointed me at this, a colleague had used one in a project to make a tablet computer accessible to anyone with vision problems who need feedback when operating a screen. The resulting device made this and some buttons move an on-screen pointer much like a mouse.

Anyway, he suggested that there must be a model railway use for this and I agree - it's robust, easy to wire and stupidly cheap at a smidge over 4 quid.

But what is this use? I'm sure there is one, but apart from operating a gantry crane like device, I'm foxed. Maybe an idea to keep in the back of my mind for another day.

You can find the joystick on Amazon, there's also the matching heavy duty buttons too.


Huw Griffiths said...

I could imagine somebody using it to operate a novelty shunting plank - perhaps a depot scene that features a short traverser instead of points.

The "up" and "down" microswitches could be used to operate a motor on a traverser - while the "left" and "right" switches could operate a loco.

OK - you'd need to keep the voltages and currents low - and you'd also need to be careful with the power and switch wiring - but I suspect that something like this could be made to work.

Phil Parker said...

Not sure about the loco operation but for working a traverser you are spot on!

I knew someone would come up with an idea if I asked. Thanks.

Pete said...


How about operation of a coaling or ash plant. Up down for the wagon to unload coal into the plant and the left right could control the jiggers feeding cola into locos/tenders
Similar for ash plant - up down would be the skip and left right opening closing the two bottom hoppers for dropping the ash into wagons.

All you need to do is find the appropriate Bachmann Scenecraft or Hornby Skaledale models. If you were really adventurous how about motorising one of the card kits!



Phil Parker said...

Another excllent idea. It might be a while beofre I need a big coaling plant, but the idea appeals I must admit.