fighting procrastination fifteen minutes at a time

Tag: 2mm Association

Two Brains

#125 Mini DIY DCC

The 2FS mag came through the letterbox the other day. In it is an interesting article on amongst other things DIY DCC. I have rather been out of the loop with DCC as I have not had a layout to run it on and also I’ve not been in a club environment for a long time where they have been using it on a group layout. It struck me about this particular article was the simplicity of the set up, and the flexibility of it. One forgets that often we are bound in to proprietary systems to keep u buying additions or because they offer something that other manufacturers don’t.

Yes I know I can hear the people saying that it’s not that easy and that you can’t just plug a play. But let’s face it, if you have the bent to be interested in the electronic to that point you maybe able to fathom the depths of the diy digital. The fact that there is so much open source out there is testament to the back room hackers want to do something differently.

I for one fully support this and will be mashing up my Arduino and Raspberry Pi and teaching myself some programming stuff to control my little world, and with technology being so cheap, there’s never been a better time to do it!

There’s also information available at the DCCwiki

Until next time..

Distractions greatly accepted.

What does on say? What does one do? Well apart from the obvious; stay safe and don’t go out, it is hard to comprehend the current state of the world. As I said to a neighbour the other day who’d of thought that in 2020 we would be experiencing the types of restriction that leads us to remain tethered to our homes. Thankfully for us band of railway modellers we have a almost limitless supply of distraction to aid us in these uncharted times. There’s so many things we can be getting on with. It’s not just the layout, for those that have them, but anything from finishing off that kit to even sorting out the tool draw/store. I think this is the first time in probably in more than a decade that I now know exactly what I have in my collection of plastic boxes spread around the estate..

But as the days seem to merge into one and the nights get shorter, I find myself wanting to do more, which is probably the inverse of every one else. But there is some constriction in that thinking ahead to the project I’m on at the moment I may run down of supply chain issues, namely getting hold of paints. Some of the model stores are still open via mail order, but I really want to support my local ones as who knows what the model shop landscape will be like once this has all receded. I truly hope that it isn’t the Armageddon that the media is portraying but I suspect that there will be casualties, let’s hope just not too many.

So now that I have more time what will I do with it? Well I am desperately trying not to go off piste and start a bunch of projects that I have thinking about for a long time but I do want to keep the snowball running downhill. One such project is a track build for a friend that was meant to be used in a layout that was going to come to fruition this June and now that all modelling and real events are cancelled until further notice, it seemed that my drive to get completed in time for my friend to move his project to its conclusion evaporated almost over night. However now with this extended period of solitude that it would be the best time to start this off and get it over to him so he has his own distraction from current events

Both the Digital and the Analogue

It’s an interesting process of noodling together the constraints of building hand laid track with a very non standard crossing. No I know that this is completely non prototypical and I can hear the sharpening of the pitch forks over the purists encampment, but hey I have never thought it mattered. But the process goes through the base to build on the non standard crossings and the need to manipulate these sharp angles. The blessing is that nothing bigger than four coupled loco (yes there will only ever be one Peckett tank loco running on this micro layout, but its still a bit of a challenge.

So I am trying to ease myself into it by setting myself a chunk of time a day to work on it, whether that be the planning part or the building part. I have only come round to the progress by small bites in the relatively recent past, as someone who has always be a leave it to the last minute kinda guy but I am finding this is helping with my attention.

This is going to be something that rumbles along and provides that distraction, or maybe a pallet cleanser that one needs when the days stretch into the distance and there is no longer a deadline or even reason to need to finish it. But I did promise to do it and so I will. I will probably record progress for prosperity over on the Youtube channel but I will pull together the efforts into one video that will appear once my friend has it and is happy with it.

Until then hope you are enjoying any modelling time you have and stay safe.

A fork in the road

Whilst walking in my local park on a beautiful sunny morning, with the glimmerings of spring seemingly around the corner my mind turned to which notty road to follow. Since returning back to my YouTube channel with renewed enthusiasm I have kind of left myself a bit of a quandary. Once the infrastructure, i.e. the shelves are finished and I have space to start building my first layout, I am faced with this choice. In the blue corner, is the current intended project. This is the lightweight foam board layout I started last year. In the red corner, is the new upstart. The project I committed to maybe last year or the year before, I can’t remember now, with my friend Richard. However not happy just to commit to a project that had a deadline I decided to pile on the pressure and come up with, in a blinding flash of inspiration, the plan to sign myself up to the same challenge. Now granted I am only making “some” track for my friend, but the fact that he is/will be waiting on me before he can really get on and to the scenic side has added a layer of pressure.

Now to my own folly. Around the same time as a visit to this part of the world, we happened to realise that well know Steam Loco Tornado was working the local heritage railway. This then triggered a conversation about the line, history, and my thoughts and ideas about it. Some of the plans I daydreamed about as a youngster were still in the back of my mind. For whatever reason this small rural tiny backwater line had me gripped from a young age. I have talked about this obsession in previous posts before but all talking and noodling just re-awoke it. Having brought every book on and tried to accumulate any pictures I could all with the end goal of one day producing a layout of it. Its not an original idea and there’s been a number of layouts in the model railway press over the years but its an itch that just needs scratching.

Bringing that back to the current day I am faced with the option of abandoning my “mini” idea or hurl myself headlong into this. What is this idea we are talking about? Well, it is the Diamond Jubilee Layout Challenge of the 2mm Association. The deadline is late June 2020 and by my calculation, that is about 4 months. Now as I have previously said I have a number of tasks in my room that I need to finish, like some coving to put up and some paint touch up to be able to get to the point where I can start anything. Realistically that is probably going to be into March by my current rate of progress at which point I have to decide which path to take for the YouTubes. There is, of course, a plan C option, which is to run the project alongside but to document the DJLC for later, after the event, as a kind of retrospective. I’m guessing that this is the sensible thing to do, but then when have I ever been sensible! Also, the thing that has been flickering through my mind recently is that I could also do an idea I have also had in my head for a long time, portraying a seaside station on the south coast of England. This was hatched in a moment of madness when I brought a 2 car DMU and that I got wheels turned down for 2FS. That has also been gnawing away at me to build.

I’m not sure whether one or the other of my ideas would harder to complete than the other so I guess it boils down to what makes the most sense. Given that I have the rolling stock for the latter it would seem more feasible to move that project forward. I seem to be talking myself into this, but like all the cliches about “no pain, no gain”, “cracking eggs to make omelettes” blah blah blah… It might be a fools’ errand, but there’s nothing like being under pressure to produce some results.

So now some doodles of the ideas I have and maybe some ideas will flow from them.

First Idea

2FS Rural Halt
A rural halt in the North of England in 2FS

Second Idea

A modern seaside town in 2FS

So with all this in mind, I have to sit myself down and work out how, when and if I need to do this. So in the coming weeks, I will follow up on this as this is more of a sounding board to myself which I enjoy being able to do as in other formats it is harder to formulate these ideas without having to project rather than reflecting on. My not sure an hour of babbling on about a concept, track plan and execution would be that interesting to many people. I also like that here on the blog I can have these ideas and they can percolate through time without having to have a definite end. Quite often ideas can last for decades.

However, as the years’ tick by it is becoming more apparent that these ideas need turning into reality. In some ways having a restricted space is limiting, but in conversation with a friend yesterday I said that it actually fits my character much better. When I look at my modelling inspirations, Rice, Gravett and Nevard, to mention a few, on the whole, their layout output is on the more compact size. But the level of captured reality is inspiring. Thus proving one doesn’t need huge amounts of space.

In the time I have and the space constraints (around two feet in length) I think I can achieve something in 10-11 weeks. Anyway, we’ll see how that pans out. As my grandfather said, “Never sit at the front and never volunteer for anything!” From a man who volunteered for Bomber Command during WW2.