24 March 2010

Installing Backdrop, part 1

Last weekend I started installing the backdrop. Before that I totally removed brackets and girders that were supposed to support the upper level since I decided to have just one level. Thinking about what to use for the backdrop the first idea was sheets of masonite. However, I thought a lighter material would be much better since it very important to keep the overall weight of each section as low as possible.

Then, few days ago, I read an article from Ryan Anderson in the last issue of Model Railroad Hobbyist Magazine about tips and link on how to improve the quality of photos and model railroad photography in particular. On one of the site Ryan mentioned I found a very interesting post on at least two ways to build a light tent to shoot better photos. One used sheets of coroplast for that purpose.
So, I thought coroplast could be a very interesting and much lighter alternative to masonite. I bought few 59" by 19" 1/2 sheets of coroplast and attached two of them to the legs of the left-side benchwork section. I used small pieces of double-sided tape that's strong more than enough for that.

Finally I painted a first layer of blue for the sky. It needs more paint to have a uniform color and I have to find some way to keep the backdrop more straight and aligned. However. I'm quite happy with the result and for sure it's very light.

See you soon...

My First Light Tent

On the last installment of Model Railroad Hobbyist Magazine Ryan Anderson wrote a very interesting article on how to improve one's photographic skills and referenced very interesting photo-related websites.

One in particular was very useful to me DIY Photography. All photos I took so far of my work-in-progress and of my locomotives and rolling stock didn't satisfied my very much.
From the very first shots done holding my DSLR in my hands I moved to using a tripod, then excluded the camera flash, increased the aperture values in order to get greater depth of fields and finally I came to the point everybody reach when trying to shoot better pictures: use a tripod with a lot of bright and diffused lights.

Then, I read the blog post on paper and binders light tent on DIY Photography and decided to give it a try. I also bought a pair of CFL and "recycled" two very old desk lamps to be used as light sources.

So, I put everything together following directions and shoot few photos for testing purposes. I think the result is much better and tweaking a little bit more I can get even better pictures.

Here is a sample photo of one of my favorite boxcars and how I took the picture.

See you soon...

15 March 2010

Testing QuadP Servo Decoder

Last week I received drill bits to make small holes in throwbars of turnouts I built.

So, I decided to do a real test of the turnout servo decoders I bought few months ago from Tam Valley Depot. I taped down one of the #6 turnout on a scrap piece of 3/8" plywood after I made a hole in it for the actuating rod. Then, I took a small piece of a solid wire, stripped of the isolating plastic and used it as the actuating rod. I know, I'd better use spring wire to do that but I haven't got any so I thought to try in this way.

I bent the wire as shown in the decoder instructions -you can also look at a very detailed article in the second issue of the Model Railroad Hobbyist Magazine from D. McRee- and attached the servo on the bottom side of the plywood using a piece of double-sided tape.

That's it. I hooked up the servo connector and the fascia panel to the QuadP servo decoder, connected the DCC bus and I was done. I plugged in my PowerCab and the servo powered up. Few adjustments to the rotation angle for both the straight and diverging position of the throwbar and all worked fine.

Actually it's a very very simple setup. I think the only critical step is to bend the actuating rod correctly and place the servo in the right orientation with respect to the turnout in order to have the servo rotating towards the right position when the straight/diverging route is selected.

I also tested the servo using the PowerCab to throw the turnout. It's very simple, just select the accessory decoder address -default is address #1 for the first servo- and press the number 1 or 2 to select the straight or diverging route, respectively.

Here a short video I took with my iPhone when testing the servo decoder.

See you soon...