Several people asked about the control panels we had on our demos at the St. Louis RPM meet. They are easy to make, so I figured I’d share the process. Continue reading
Spring switches are used by some prototype railroads to save the crew from having to re-align the switch points after passing through the switch. The switch is sprung in one direction (typically the mainline), allowing any train to pass through the switch from the frog end without manually aligning the points. When entering the mainline from a siding, this allows the train to continue on its way without having to realign the points to the main – the spring action takes care of this automatically. Modeling this unique feature can be easily accomplished with an IR sensor and switch machine. Continue reading
The CKT-IRSENSE is an inexpensive reflective infrared proximity sensor, designed primarily for model railroad use, utilizing the latest in proximity sensor technology. It can be used to trigger a variety of sound and visual effects as well as provide track occupancy status. The sensor’s small size (0.25″ x 2.25″) makes installation simple with only a single 3/8″ hole required. The technology used in the CKT-IRSENSE makes it highly tolerant of background lighting conditions, thus requiring no user adjustments.
We will be at the St. Louis RPM Meet later in the week with several new products to demonstrate. If you are there, please stop by and introduce yourself. During that time, online orders may be delayed, but don’t worry – we will get to them as soon as we get back home. As a preview, here is a video of the Interlocking In A Box prototype. Continue reading
MRServo is a simple, cost-effective solution for adding remote turnout control to your layout. While MRServo works in a wide range of turnout control applications, each layout presents its own unique set of circumstances. Below are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we have received from modelers using the product. If you have a question not answered here, please contact us and we would be happy to help.
Michael and I have this concept called INYAP. Between our day jobs, personal lives, ISE, and our hobbies, we both have very busy existences and often finding room to mature a project idea into a product is difficult. It stands for “I Need Yet Another Project,” said with every bit of sarcasm that you’d expect. It’s the stock response whenever one of us comes up with some interesting project that we want to tackle, but don’t quite know where to fit it in. It can be roughly translated as “that’s a cool idea, but I’d need to be an insomniac with 27 hour days to actually get it built.”
However, every now and then, something is just compelling enough to make it through the INYAP stage and become a prototype. If the prototype tests out and seems like something other people might use and can be manufactured at a price point we think they might pay, it might mature into a product. I wanted to take a moment to share a couple of the new products we have in the pipeline here at ISE. These are things that have escaped INYAP but you won’t find in the web store just yet.
Ever wondered how electronic products are manufactured? In this post, we give you a glimpse into the process we use to manufacture the MRServo slow motion turnout controller. While the techniques are vastly simplified from that used by high-volume electronics manufacturers, the same basic steps still apply.
We always like to see what sort of tips, tricks, and clever uses our customers have come up with for our products. I thought I’d take a minute to pass along a couple recent uses for MRServo that customers have shared with us.
Using lightweight extruded foam as a layout base has become pretty popular in the last few years. It’s lighter and significantly cheaper than the traditional 3/4″ plywood, and much easier to sculpt into terrain. Unfortunately it presents some challenges in mounting switch machines and the like. Dennis from the UK has worked a clever method of installing the servos through the foam. It also has the side benefit of being not significantly wider than N scale track, making very tight installations (such as in yard throats) possible. Take a look at his mounting method on his website.
Moving up to the larger end of the traditional scales, our next clever use is in 3-rail O scale. Bob Walker started with a Lionel FasTrack manual switch, and connected a a MRServo-2 with a 49MHz RC car radio to make a radio-control version. The MRServo was customized to have full throw of the servo, rather than our typical throw suitable for the suggested mounting. It’s connected to the radio’s outputs via another small relay, which provides the input signal for the MRServo board. Bob sent along a few pictures of the system in action, which I’ve posted as a PDF. Eventually he’s intending to upgrade the system to Zigbee radios, which should provide the ability to radio-address virtually an infinite number of switches.
If you’ve got something to show off, send us some pictures and a quick write-up at firstname.lastname@example.org. We always enjoy hearing from our customers, and if you’ve got a good tip, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll be featured in a future blog posting.
Most Iowa Scaled Engineering products are designed using surface mount components to keep costs low (smaller boards) and allow the use of a wider range of components. One of the primary tools in the assembly process is an oven to reflow the solder paste that attaches the components to the PCB. Originally, we developed our reflow recipe using a thermocouple, a multimeter with temperature capability, and a stopwatch. This has worked quite well. Now, as a practical application of the ARD-LTC2499 Arduino shield, we take a closer look at the reflow process.
This is an update to this year’s compost monitor post showing the full temperature cycle of the pile. At first, the temperature was cold and flat. As shown in the original post, it was then saturated with water and the bacterial action took off. The temperature eventually peaked around 140F and then fell off again. Continue reading