LocoNet on Intellibox I

For some time I have had some concern about my digital controller failing. The hardware dates from around 1996. It is the first version of the Intellibox from Uhlenbrock. My concern is that if it fails, the new devices no longer support the command protocol that my software uses, so I would either have to source another Intellibox, or rewrite all the interface code.

Uhlenbrock devices now support LocoNet (from DigiTrax). Indeed even the Intellibox I supports a LocoNet interface from version 1.55 onwards. The Intellibox II uses Loconet exclusively.

So I decided to take a look at Loconet to see how much work it would be to redo the interface.


Ultrasonic humidifier as factory smoke generator

I was in a doctor's office when I noticed a small desktop humidifier that is typically used for burning scented oils. I realized that it would make a perfect smoke generator for a smoke stack on a train layout. I found that these units are not very expensive and one need not place any scented oils in them. They produce a small amount of water vapor that is visible but is insufficient to wet anything nearby.

I set about converting one so that I could switch it on and off from the layout software and also install it in such a way that I could easily add (distilled) water as needed. I am pleased with the result:


Repairing a signal

Correct Vr1 display
I have a main signal combined with a distance signal at  the entrance to my main station. I noticed one day that one of the LEDs of the distance signal was not working. When the distance signal is set to Vr1, it should display two green lights:

Faulty Vr1 aspect

But I was only getting one green light, like this:


Faller Weir kit 180390

The water from my lake flows out through a weir before going on down the valley over some waterfalls. This is a description of the steps I took in building the weir using the Faller 180390 kit.


Locomotive function handling

In my layout control software, I keep track of what functions each locomotive has, and naturally what number they are. This enables the software to activate any function that is present as needed, without the user having to remember function numbers or trying to make all similar functions map to the same numbers. Thus, for example, if I wish to have trains blow their whistle at a certain place, I simply define that as a requirement for the track in question, and then all trains running through that track will be made to blow their whistle, if that function is present. That may mean F3 for one loco and F5 on another.


Kaiserschlucht valley

I have a large valley running through my train layout, using up a lot of space in the middle of a rural area and forming the valley which demands a large bridge to carry the mainline across the valley.

I have now finished making the valley and the rivers and streams that flow through it.


Märklin SNCF 241 A

A friend, Boyd Mistear, brought over his new Märklin 39241 loco, a model of the SNCF 241 A

It is a fabulous piece of technology, excellent sounds, detail and running characteristics!

Together with Hein Hopmans, we filmed it running on my layout.