Freight Trains, Electronics and October 2010 Status

Japanese Container Car 2460

Not much got done on the layout itself in October, mostly I’ve been running trains (as documented in an earlier post with a video) and doing a bit of electrical work (mostly the previously noted update to the power panel). I’ve spent a good bit of time on a couple of other things though.

First, I’d received some tank cars back in September, allowing me to create a 12-car petroleum tank train, and in October an additional set of eight container flat cars (and more containers) joined my existing set of eight, allowing me to create a very long sixteen car train (typical Japanese freight trans don’t tend to exceed 25 cars, so this is pretty long). I’ve created a separate Freight Cars page in the Roster section to illustrate these, and retitled the old Freight Trains page to be a Freight Locomotives page. The photo above shows a KOKI 104 container flat car, with a refrigerated 30-foot container, flanked by two domestic 12-foot containers (a UV19A ventilated container on the left, and a 20C on the right). Note that the two domestic containers make provision for a conventional fork lift, with cut-outs in the base. The flat car is a typical Tomix model, which has small plastic tabs to hold open-base containers in place. The containers themselves are available from Tomix, Kato, Tomytec and other suppliers (Hogarakadou in particular makes a number of private-owner containers; at about $20 for three these aren’t cheap, but they are very well done).

I also spent some more time examining the output of my three DC power packs with my oscilloscope, in the course of which I discovered that the pack I thought produced straight DC (an MRC Control Master II from c. 1990) actually produced pulsed power, and the Kato wasn’t really producing pulsed power, but simply a “rippled” DC current (likely intentional to gain some of the benefits of pulsed power, but with less of a pulse effect and no reduction of it at higher voltages the way pulsed power is typically reduced). I’ve added a bunch of pictures (and some text) to the DC Power Pack page to illustrate what I found.

Another thing I’ve been doing is playing around with the Fast Clock built into the Digitrax DCC system. This isn’t behaving quite the way I’d expect, and more research is needed. I’ll have a more complete review of this in the future, although I have assembled my current results on a Fast Clock page.

Note: if you’ve ever used a credit card directly with Hobby Search, they had a security breach that compromised a large number of customer’s credit card info. They sent out letters to the affected individuals, and changed their systems. I’ve been using Paypal since they started taking it, but they apparently had kept the info from orders prior to July on file, and so I had to change my card number just to be safe (no evidence it was used, but why take chances?). Kudos to them for a prompt and open response, but really it’s the sort of mistake that shouldn’t have happened in the first place.

Other website updates:
- Updated the Reservations page.
- Added a page listing the Japanese abbreviations for freight cars (e.g., TAKI for tank car); this is still rather raw, and is a work in progress.
- Added some photos to the Electronics photo album.