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April '01
This page describes work accomplished on the new TMRC layout during the month of April 2001, as taken from the descriptions posted to the club mailing list.
April 4

Most of tonight's activities were System3-related. Alvar Saenz-Otero arrived with some electronic goodies from DigiKey that included parts for building the next eight block controllers. John Purbrick blasted some EPROMs and completed the wiring of another switch control card. James Knight made computer-generated labels for the electronic parts drawers. In non-System3 work, Malcolm Laughlin installed supports for the two-track helix that will take mainline trains down to Berkmanville. John McNamara did some more work on the desk in the roundhouse office. Sefano Curtarolo brought in an interesting book on model railroad photography and repaired the slightly malfunctioning Coke machine changer. Ken Terrell painted a "Mother Hubbard" locomotive of his and tested a Shinkansen train set.


April 7 [pictures]

New Feature!Starting today, and hopefully very often, the progress reports will be accompanied by a a page of pictures that show the current progress. Of course, the frequency will depend on how much time we have.

Tonight Alvar continued some work on the green building, including some sanding and fillup up some gaps. It is now ready for the main painting. JP and Bill continued to work on the color for the Berkmanville ballast, and actually placed some ballast to try it out. John Shriver continued the paving of Main Street (I think that's the street name?). Jeff cleaned up the new mirrors (which were a little dirty from the construction), and also cleaned the main window. Ed visited us for a short time, with a nice delivery of Coke Products.

Alvar, with JP's supervision, began to work on the System 3 2nd blockcard. About 1/4 of the job is done :-) JP demonstrated his progress with the S-Yard switch chards, which are now in operation.


April 11

John Purbrick connected the Cab 4 "walk-around throttle" (based on a Radio Shack cordless phone) to a new PIC-processor-based controller that is System3 compatible. Malcolm Laughlin added nine more feet of track to one of the routes in the two-track helix that will take mainline trains down to Berkmanville. John McNamara painted the desk and chair for the roundhouse office. Ed Drozd brought in lots and lots of Coca-cola products from a sale at Star Market. He also did some more work on his NdeM locomotive, which now looks even more prototypically grubby. Andy Miller put a more accurate style of pantograph on some of his MP54s.


April 14 [pictures]

Today work continued throughout the layout with 13 people being in the clubroom at some point! During the week Andy prepared some images of plans for the large viewblock buildings along Main St in Gifford City. Ed and Bill entered the discussion on whoe the big the buildings should be. Andy also worked on the Police Station mockup, so that the first floor is taller and the second shorter, improving the proportion of the three stories.

Bill and Malcolm continued to work on the Berkmanville area. Malcolm installed almost all the track needed to finish the first turn up from BK to S-Yard. Bill placed some ties on the cutoff line down from S-Yard to BK. Ed also helped in that area by working on the wood-puddy for the slants along the roadbed. Ed also worked on Car & Loco by replacing the plastic wheels of all the Anniversary Train cars with nice new metal wheels.

Alvar installed the fronts of the Green Building, and primed the whole body, prior to painting it to the yellowish-concrete color. Alvar also reported that the Dewalt hammer drill is now in full shape after going to the doctor. John McNamara was in to continue work on the Roundhouse office: he installed a shelf full of parts-drawers on one of the walls. John Shriver brought in more plaster for the streets, and worked on the ramp up to the 105th Street bridge. Dick Lord came to visit the club, and brought in a friend from the Netherlands, who is also interested in model railroading.

James worked on System 3 code, which is now ready enough to be waiting for the hardware! He then continued to work with the internal telephone system so that we can have it operational for the Open House. John P. tested the now fully operational Cab 4 remote throttle and the operation of S-Yard. Further, after some discussion of using S-Yard during the Open House, he re-wired block 27 so that the ladders can in fact be used! He then began work to power the two other switchards, which must be operational to be able to use the ladders he re-wired.

Today was Meeting Day, you can find the minutes in the new meetings page.


April 18 [pictures]

A group from the Norshore RR Club visited tonight to talk about the TMRC System. JP received them and kept them quite entretained.

Andy continued to work on the plans for the backdrops of Gifford City... these building are going to be big! Ken added some pictures as 'posters' to the subway station.

Alvar worked a little bit more on the System 3 Blockcard #2, which will hopefully be ready before the end of the term, so that we can start debugging System 3 in the summer. Mike Newmand and JP stayed late at the club talking about how to make the new telephone system interface to Sys3 so that we can switch switches and do other fun stuff over the telephone! JP then also worked on the switchards for S-Yard. Switch cards #8 and #9, installed a couple of weeks ago, are now powered and connected to the data network. All 12 relays in use have been observed to operate. Switches 86-88 have been wired and are usable. This means that 4 tracks of staging (the 4 closest to the layout edge) are usable from both ends for either storage or through routes. The 3 tracks at the opposite side are normally accessible from the tower end only but are functional at both ends if switches 95 and 96 are correctly set electrically and mechanically. The 8th track is not usable yet. All ladder tracks are fed from the tower end. The entire yard functions as Block 27.

Staging has no control system as yet. The track diagram on the computers has been modified to include some "pseudo blocks" which exist simply to contain switches. To throw switches, ignore the blocks and click on the switches as shown on the diagram, or use the cordless cab.

Alvar has ordered another inexpensive laptop computer which we plan to install as a control panel for staging, in a similar manner to the P-yard control computer. A serial port for this purpose is available on the display interface card under the tower.


April 21 [pictures]

Today everybody did a little work on projects and lots of preparation for the Open House. Steve brought the exchange train from the Norshore RR Club, which will run during our Open House. During this time he helped (with lots of patience) test both the system and the track. Justin also ran trains, testing almost every root out of P-Yard; we'll finish testing all routes this Wednesday. JP and Alvar helped to figure out a few Sys2 bugs. JP and John Barrington helped fix some track problems, discovered with the exchange train. Others started cleaning the room: Bill & James swept almost the whole place. Alvar cleaned the work table and the computer tables. Ed cleaned several sections of the layout. Alvar tried to sort out buildings around the Pettingale Circle area so that they look reasonable... a little more help will be needed.

On the project sides of things, Ed brought in the almost finshed NdeM, which are definetely ready for Open House showing. He also worked on the yet-to-be-named-building next to Coca Blubblie, adding some roof details. JP, Bill, and John Shriver continued to work on the BK cutoff handlaid track section, adding ballast, ties, and working with the roadbed (respectively). Alvar finished painting the Green Building, wich looked too yellow the last time, and now it should be ready to go. He also worked on the System3 block card, adding all the 'power' wires to it. James continued to code System 3 software, while the block card is ready.


April 25

Tonight was "clean-up night" in preparation for tomorrow night's floor-waxing, which is in turn preparation for Open House this Saturday. Malcolm Laughlin and John McNamara concentrated their efforts on cleaning the floor.

Ed Drozd and Andy Miller checked out various trains and, in the process, checked out system operation. Bugs were quickly fixed by Jeff Birkner, who also assisted in the cleaning efforts. John Purbrick continued his work on making the staging yard operational for the Open House. He has revised the layout diagram shown on the various computers around the clubroom, and spent this evening adding a computer for controlling the staging area. The staging area computer is a small Compaq laptop that Alvar purchased on Ebay for $65. It is very similar to the computer used to control P-yard. Alvar made a sliding shelf for the computer, and placed the computer in its permanent location in the S-Yard.

James Knight supplemented his cleaning efforts with further work on System3, while Alvar made a handset-back instruction sheet for the portable throttle, labels for the telephones, and a telephone directory for the phone system that Mike Newman donated some time ago. Examination of the TMRC mailbox, which we do every so often, revealed an envelope from Model Railroad News. Enclosed was a copy of an announcement publicizing out 50th Anniversary Car, complete with color photo.


April 28 [pictures]

Today was Open House day, with about 100 people comming to visit us!



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Tech Model Railroad Club of MIT
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