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Portable Digital Routed Track

26325 Views 113 Replies 29 Participants Last post by  Graham Lane
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I've been thinking about experimenting with a portable digital routed (PDR) track. The easiest approach, I think, would be to rout the track, and then drop in the plastic digital pieces. Given my constraints, it would have to be portable. I'm thinking that two 5'x3' sections combining to make 10'x3' (that is about 3.5m x 1m) would make a significant size for fun racing, but small enough to put in the back of my van or store under my current table. I'm thinking (of course) of a rally type track with some small elevation changes. Here are two preliminary plans that I drafted. I'm leaning toward plan #2 because it's simpler to make as my first go at this. I'd love to have any comments or suggestions.

PLAN #1


PLAN #2
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Be afraid, be very afraid...nine thousand people are watching you!

Excellent start Bill. I shall be watching very closely because my next project is a routed rally section for my track. Please posting your experiences and tips. I'm interested to know how tight you can get the Luf strip before it breaks. When you are routing esses left-handers are tight radius than the curve to be cut and right-handers are looser radius, right? Does anyone know a company that supplies Luf strips to Italy? Or, does anyone have one I could borrow?
QUOTE (Graham Lane @ 29 Mar 2008, 23:20) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I'm interested to know how tight you can get the Luf strip before it breaks. When you are routing esses left-handers are tight radius than the curve to be cut and right-handers are looser radius, right?The guy I was working with had broken his "Luf Strip" twice. Mine didn't break doing this, but we didn't push it either. I suspect it might have broken if we'd pushed it tighter. Still, we got pretty tight in a couple places as you can see. It was a bit time-consuming because we did these "switchback-esses" in smaller sections so that the "Luf Strip" would be used with a gentler bend.
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Okay, some lessons learned today. #1 -- if you undercut MDF, it's pretty easy to break MDF. #2 -- 1/2" MDF doesn't like to bend a lot (should have used 3/8", but couldn't find any at local stores). #3 -- I don't like working with "Bondo" very much, but it fixes everything...

So, here's the catastrophe ... it cracked in one place and broke in another place.



But nothing that can't be fixed with a lot of bondo. I blocked it on both sides of the break, screwed down the MDF, and patched it with bondo filler. Here's what it looked like after the repair. So, in the end, it just took some extra time, but no permanent damage done.


And, with both sides routed, a quick spray coat of gray primer, and here's what it's starting to look like. Now I've got to do the "swapout section" and then route the connections between the two sides.
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These things are sent to try us Bill. I hope mine doesn't break, I can't get Bondo here! Nice to see the 3D shape coming together.
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I connected the two tables today, so now I'm ready to finish the routing this weekend. I also have the legs all set up, but I'm wondering how high to make this. I was thinking "coffee table height" so that would be about .4-.5m (~15"). How does that sound? I should be able to start the scenery and even lay the copper tape this weekend. I have a question about wiring, however. I saw the following suggestion about an easy way to do wiring on the SCI site. Has anyone tried this?
QUOTE The simplest way to wire a routed track is to get a Ninco terminal track section, the green one that has 2 jacks for separate power, unscrew the terminal part and throw away the plastic track section. Connect the 2 pairs of wires to two lanes of your track and you're done. You now have separate power to each lane, plug-ins for your controllers, working brakes and a switch to reverse the direction of your track. The Ninco terminals are nice because they use a 1/4" jack for the controllers, have a reversing switch built in, and are wired for brakes.As it happens, I picked up a used Ninco terminal track, power pack, and controllers for $1. Couldn't beat the price, so I thought this might be worth a try. I'd love to know whether anyone has tried this, and any suggestions?
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Bill,
Another one which I'm following, it is progressing nicely. That bend to the left is going to be a major challenge.

I have not used the NINCO terminal track but that is exactly how I did mine using a Scalextric terminal section.

Like so many others I am holding my breath waiting for the landscaping to appear.
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QUOTE (bleep @ 5 Apr 2008, 01:41) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I have not used the NINCO terminal track but that is exactly how I did mine using a Scalextric terminal section.Thanks Ian.

I'm done with the routing now, and I've put in all the hardware to attach the two sections of the track nice and snug. I'm still thinking about how high to make it. I'm thinking 1/2 meter. I've starting with a bit of painting, which gives some feeling for the main road and the off road. I'm still thinking about exactly what I'm doing for scenery, but I'm leaning toward a desert oasis type landscape. You can begin to get a feel for the main "paved" straight and the off road now that painting has begun.



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Looking great so far - can we see some detail on how you are joing the track please
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QUOTE (bleep @ 5 Apr 2008, 01:41) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>That bend to the left is going to be a major challenge.You're right!
I looked at it more carefully, and I tested some cars through it, and it's way too tight. So, I filled it in with bondo today, and I'll re-route an easier bend. When you look at it, you see that somehow I put an almost 90º kink in it. I've got to have something smoother.


In the meantime, I started doing some scenery on the right side. First, some mesh that I'll cover with plaster. On the bottom, I've got plans for a little oasis that I've framed out with foamboard.


Next, I cover the mesh screen with Sculptamold and then put up section by section some "sandstone" using Hydrocal and a mold from Bragedon Enterprises.


Now, the trick is to try to match typical sandstone/desert colors for the rock formations. I used a base of raw umber, then some raw sienna, tan and white. I think I need more raw sienna. I don't quite think I have the colors right...


Rob, you asked...
QUOTE (RobBG @ 5 Apr 2008, 22:58) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Looking great so far - can we see some detail on how you are joing the track pleaseIf you look at the left edge of this photo, you can see that I've put in two dowels to line up the two tables perfectly, and you can see a bolt that holds the two tables together nicely.
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Wonderful start to the scenery Bill! I used the same method for the sections of my track. However, fishing around underneath to find the hole for the bolt or trying to do it up proved too difficult and time-comsuming so I opted for sprung loaded clamps. They are so much quicker it's untrue. The pressure is high and they don't have to be positioned accurately. I still use the dowels though. I'll post a picture later. I hope that helps.
QUOTE (Graham Lane @ 6 Apr 2008, 20:51) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>.. fishing around underneath to find the hole for the bolt or trying to do it up proved too difficult and time-comsuming so I opted for sprung loaded clamps. They are so much quicker it's untrue. The pressure is high and they don't have to be positioned accurately.Nice idea. That would be quicker and easier. Anyone know where I'd buy such things in the States? On the internet?
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Working on the colors some more. I decided the last photos were not useful because they were taken outside in full sunlight. I need to take the photos inside (where the track would be located) under typical lighting. I added more raw sienna and white drybrushing. Still not quite right, but better (IMHO).


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Fantastic work Bill: this latest project is turning out great, as we all new it would. The concept of building a portable routed track is just waht has been needed to prove the point that a large space is not a requirement for a well thought out and soon to be beatifully scenic'd layout. I'm watching your progress with great interst as my soon to be nine year old son has requested a track of his own for his July birthday. Thanks once again for being such a great source of inspiration for all of us.

Brad
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Bill,

That's Just not Fair! How easy did you make that look


One moment is wood and plaster the next it's perfect rock-face!
It looks great, as for the corner, I knew you would sort it


As ever dumbstruck by your results well not quite.............Brilliant
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I'm pretty happy with a new "popsicle stick" bridge that I made. I tried to give it a worn look using a dremel.



And, I worked a bit with a new "sandstone" rock mold. I'm still experimenting with colors. This was painted with tan, raw umber, and raw sienna. I used raw umber as the base color and then highlighted and lightened it with the raw sienna and tan. Still not happy with the way the colors look, but I'll keep experimenting on it.
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QUOTE (RobBG @ 13 Apr 2008, 00:33) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Can you tell us more about the mould ?I've been using moulds from Bragedon Enterprises or another company called "Rocky Mountain Molds". You can often pick these really good molds "used" on Ebay for fairly cheap.
QUOTE (jmswms @ 13 Apr 2008, 08:26) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>And, I worked a bit with a new "sandstone" rock mold. I'm still experimenting with colors. This was painted with tan, raw umber, and raw sienna. I used raw umber as the base color and then highlighted and lightened it with the raw sienna and tan. Still not happy with the way the colors look, but I'll keep experimenting on it.

The man's not happy!!!! I guess that's what it takes to be a perfectionist!
Great track Bill!
It's a really neat concept and I really like the layout you've designed. The rock faces look perfect (of course) and the popsicle bridge is brilliant. I think I'm going to enjoy watching this one come together.

cheers,

Rob
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Great stuff... putting us all to shame.
Thanks ...

Rock molds look realistic enough for my liking.
Colors are spot on!
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