Author Topic: Tehachapi, BC  (Read 215570 times)

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ednadolski

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Re: Tehachapi, BC
« Reply #1770 on: August 19, 2019, 09:49:54 PM »
0
@DKS -- how about something with the real loop?

Cajonpassfan

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Re: Tehachapi, BC
« Reply #1771 on: August 20, 2019, 10:11:50 AM »
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Gary, so nice to see your railroad coming to life, what a great way to test drive and evolve the layout and ops scheme (and friendships?) I’ve got to start doing that again, if I can ever get past my wiring  challenges...
Out of curiosity, how long was the 13-train op session?
Keep the updates coming pls.,
Otto

GaryHinshaw

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Re: Tehachapi, BC
« Reply #1772 on: August 20, 2019, 08:14:40 PM »
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Good question Otto.  We started around 7:30 and ran until around 11:00, so about three and a half hours, with a bit of ramp up and ramp down.  Afterwards we gathered on the patio to chat until almost midnight (it was a very pleasant summer evening here in BC).

I have to say, it still surprises me how long it takes to get through that relatively modest schedule.  It's a good example of the kind of thing you can only learn by running your layout, early and (relatively) often.   When I designed the layout, I had a vague idea of how it would operate, but now I have a pretty keen sense of what its capacity really is (number of trains and number of people), how to control the railroad (both on the d/s side and the crew side), how to set up train schedules, and what kinds of jobs people enjoy doing. 

But challenges remain.  The most obvious (aside from keeping things clean) is hidden or obscure track, specifically the Vortex.  In addition to serving as Mojave staging, the Vortex also has two mainline loops around it which always confuses new operators.  Even worse, there are a few control points in those loops which are hard to see from the main aisle, so operators have to look at the tablet panels to see their signals, and kind of guess where their locos are relative to the signals.  I have a buddy who is working on a video feed system that will port live stream video to the fascia tablets, so that should help.

Another challenge is the serial staging in the Mojave helix: arriving trains stack up in the helix until they are flushed into the storage yard.  That is turning out to be tricky to manage during a busy session, and it has led to a few rear-end collisions.  Now that I am getting jmri Operations up and running, I am seeing a way that I could automate that process with the push of a button.   8)

What kind of wiring challenges are you facing?

GaryHinshaw

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Re: Tehachapi, BC
« Reply #1773 on: August 21, 2019, 01:16:24 AM »
+2
Geeking out on OperationsPro

I have been experimenting with jmri's OperationsPro and I like what I see.  In earlier sessions, I was setting up train lists by hand in CATS and I was entering things like loco #, train length, etc. manually for each train, then printing train cards specific to those trains for the yardmaster to distribute to the road crews.  The process was turning out to be tedious and error prone.  I've now spent a few days giving myself a crash course in OperationsPro and I have the seeds of a better way set up now.   The program lets you define a train list which could consist of all possible trains you might ever run on the layout, then for a given session, you select the ones you wish to actually run and Operations will find the consists and cars that are available for each train based on the available locos and cars in a given location and make up specific manifests for each train.

This interfaces with CATS in a seamless way.  You can maintain the same generic (static) list of possible trains in CATS, and the two programs will exchange dynamic information about train status and report them to all interested parties.  In the following example, I built three trains in Operations for a (simulated) session and the information about lead loco #, length, etc. was reported to CATS for reporting in TrainStat.  In this screen shot of the CTC panel, two of the trains are on the line (identified by lead loco #) and TrainStat is reporting their location (Edison, Monolith), length, etc.  If the trains have online work, these stats are updated automatically as the train leaves a given location (assuming the operator did his/her work correctly).  This is what the dispatcher would see:



Meanwhile, the train's location is reported to Operations by CATS and Operations makes this available on the jmri-driven web site  which can be displayed on any web-enabled device (fascia tablet, withrottle phone, etc.).  Here is the corresponding web view (the Edison Turn has yet to leave Bakersfield):



The pull-down menus to the left of each train link to that train's manifest and conductor report.  In the case of the Edison Turn, it gives you this switch list (cut off the bottom in this screen shot):



Operators can use tablets to click off items on the list, or just take a paper copy and get to work.

This is starting to feel like 21st century railroading.   8)

mark dance

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Re: Tehachapi, BC
« Reply #1774 on: August 21, 2019, 09:00:02 AM »
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Very very cool indeed!

Are there any simple audit/QC tools to help assure work was done correctly so cars dont get "lost"?

With TBC's relatively few switching spots would RFID sensors a la Seth Neuman be feasible to deploy at each spot and does JMRI support the integration of this sensor data in order to update car location in Ops dynamically?

Md
Youtube Videos of the N Scale Columbia & Western at: markdance63
Photos and track plan of of the N Scale Columbia & Western at:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/27907618@N02/sets/72157624106602402/

GaryHinshaw

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Re: Tehachapi, BC
« Reply #1775 on: August 21, 2019, 12:45:09 PM »
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Yes!  You can enable IDTags with RFID info.  I'm hazy on how the hardware reports info to jmri, but once enabled, you can sort the car database by reported location, as returned by the RFID system:



In this example, the columns are blank because I have no such data, but the hooks are all there.  The granularity of the reporting is by location (a specific concept in OperationsPro).  For example, it would tell me the car is in Edison, but not which spur, unless I make each spur its own location.  Not really an issue for Edison, but more of an issue for the staging yards.  Nonetheless, it would be useful to know which of the 3 staging yards a lost car is in.

I'm not sure what the range of an RFID reader is.  For example, do you need to have a reader on every track into and out of a location to catch all cars?  If the range is farther, do nearby readers cross-talk?

Cajonpassfan

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Re: Tehachapi, BC
« Reply #1776 on: August 21, 2019, 02:00:14 PM »
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Good question Otto.  We started around 7:30 and ran until around 11:00, so about three and a half hours, with a bit of ramp up and ramp down.  Afterwards we gathered on the patio to chat until almost midnight (it was a very pleasant summer evening here in BC).

I have to say, it still surprises me how long it takes to get through that relatively modest schedule.  It's a good example of the kind of thing you can only learn by running your layout, early and (relatively) often.   When I designed the layout, I had a vague idea of how it would operate, but now I have a pretty keen sense of what its capacity really is (number of trains and number of people), how to control the railroad (both on the d/s side and the crew side), how to set up train schedules, and what kinds of jobs people enjoy doing. 

But challenges remain.  The most obvious (aside from keeping things clean) is hidden or obscure track, specifically the Vortex.  In addition to serving as Mojave staging, the Vortex also has two mainline loops around it which always confuses new operators.  Even worse, there are a few control points in those loops which are hard to see from the main aisle, so operators have to look at the tablet panels to see their signals, and kind of guess where their locos are relative to the signals.  I have a buddy who is working on a video feed system that will port live stream video to the fascia tablets, so that should help.

Another challenge is the serial staging in the Mojave helix: arriving trains stack up in the helix until they are flushed into the storage yard.  That is turning out to be tricky to manage during a busy session, and it has led to a few rear-end collisions.  Now that I am getting jmri Operations up and running, I am seeing a way that I could automate that process with the push of a button.   8)

What kind of wiring challenges are you facing?

Gary, the wiring challenges are nothing particularly difficult individually, but cumulatively, it’s just a LOT of tedious work in places I can’t easily get to, like under the low  lower deck, and under the upper deck over the lower deck. My aging and aching body is rebelling and I guess I’m just burned out on it😜

But back to TBC: automating the behind-the-scenes vortex/helix stuff would absolutely be the way to go if you can figure out how. Even without operator error issues, behind the scenes setup work is not much fun; let automation do the dirty work...
Otto

GaryHinshaw

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Re: Tehachapi, BC
« Reply #1777 on: August 27, 2019, 08:19:32 PM »
+1
One nice thing about a blog is that you get a detailed record of how long it takes you to complete a given task.  :facepalm:

Case in point: about 18 months ago I decided I would never open my garage door with the layout in place, so I decided to permanently install the top sections of the sky backdrop behind the Loop shelf.  As of Mar 2018 I had screwed the panels in place:



About 6 months ago I taped the seams and applied the first two coats of mud, but it wasn't until this weekend that I applied the final coat of mud and repainted the board:



Not sure why it took so long, except for the fact that I wasn't relishing running a paint roller back there.  It turned out ok though.  (One curiosity: the colour balance on the sky board changes quite a bit from right to left.  It doesn't look like that in person, so it seems like the camera sensor is changing the colour balance across the frame depending on whether the foreground foam is blue or tan.)

I tried taking some photos from a different angle (more typical of the view you see at the prototype Loop): this shot required leaning over the lower deck and hoping for the best with my camera aim:



If this stack train were about 4 feet longer (~16'  total), its tail would be still crossing Tehachapi Creek below the Loop.  We have run trains that long, but they require a pusher for best results.  :)

The number of tasks remaining to finish this scene is finally starting to seem countable: finish terra-forming, new backdrop photos, paint the fascia, and then real scenery.

Scottl

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Re: Tehachapi, BC
« Reply #1778 on: August 27, 2019, 09:01:31 PM »
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It has been awhile since I checked in here.  You have made excellent progress, Gary!   The scene and layout are really starting to come together scenically.  Are the open areas at Woodford and Walong going to be open for access or filled in with removable panels?  I can see why you might want access.

GaryHinshaw

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Re: Tehachapi, BC
« Reply #1779 on: August 27, 2019, 09:30:12 PM »
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Hey, thanks for checking in.  I was just thinking about you the other day, wondering what you're up to.

I will definitely leave the two access holes open during sessions.  I've thought about making removable scenery for them during photo shoots, but it's way down the priority list.  I don't really have a good place to store them anyway...


GaryHinshaw

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Re: Tehachapi, BC
« Reply #1780 on: September 15, 2019, 11:20:28 PM »
+4
Now that VanRail 2019 is in the books, and the first two weeks of fall term are behind me, I can get back to a bit of layout work.  This weekend's accomplishment was to get the 4 turnout beast at Kern Jct ready for installation:



(Guard rails and touch-up work will be done during installation.)  Alas, the list of tasks to fully complete the Junction is still long: fabricate and install two more crossovers (we've been running with temporary Atlas TOs for a while now), install and wire 8 Tortoises, 9 detection blocks, 6 signal masts with 11 heads, 2 power relays (to manage a reversing section), ballast and scenery.  It will be nice to have it fully operational though!

In other infrastructure news, I have revamped the jmri panels I was using to display signal aspects.  Earlier this summer, I tried making a separate mini-panel for each control point, but that was proving a bit cumbersome for operators to navigate.  I have now made the signal aspect panel one long linear schematic that operators can just swipe left or right to see their next signal.  Here's a screen grab of a portion of it:



Something like this will survive even when we have all the signals in place, since not all heads will be easily visible from the aisle.

jagged ben

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Re: Tehachapi, BC
« Reply #1781 on: September 16, 2019, 06:19:22 PM »
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Looking awesome Gary, although that upper right turnout seems somewhat pointless.

GaryHinshaw

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Re: Tehachapi, BC
« Reply #1782 on: September 16, 2019, 08:46:53 PM »
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Eagle eye!  I was rushing to get the pic while the outdoor light was still glinting off the railheads.  The last T/O is now fully "appointed" - and guard rails are in place. :)

BTW, I have a question about the signal layout at Kern.  I posted it in the signalling thread.  Thanks to anyone who can shed some light on my questions.

mark dance

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Re: Tehachapi, BC
« Reply #1783 on: September 18, 2019, 01:41:44 PM »
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In other infrastructure news, I have revamped the jmri panels I was using to display signal aspects.  Earlier this summer, I tried making a separate mini-panel for each control point, but that was proving a bit cumbersome for operators to navigate.  I have now made the signal aspect panel one long linear schematic that operators can just swipe left or right to see their next signal.  Here's a screen grab of a portion of it:




It seems to me that this will be a *HUGE* improvement!

md
Youtube Videos of the N Scale Columbia & Western at: markdance63
Photos and track plan of of the N Scale Columbia & Western at:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/27907618@N02/sets/72157624106602402/

GaryHinshaw

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Re: Tehachapi, BC
« Reply #1784 on: September 18, 2019, 10:05:52 PM »
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I hope so!  I'm curious to see if the upper deck confuses people though, because it will appear mostly inverted relative to the layout itself:



Of course Walong (a.k.a. Tehachapi Loop) twists every which way, so that's always a challenge.  We'll have to take it for a test drive when I get Kern Jct back in service.  The long term solution is a separate repeater panel at each control point location.