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The Randall Museum in San Francisco hosts a large HO-scale model model railroad. Created by the Golden Gate Model Railroad Club starting in 1961, the layout was donated to the Museum in 2015. Since then I have started automatizing trains running on the layout. I am also the model railroad maintainer. This blog describes various updates on the Randall project and I maintain a separate blog for all my electronics not directly related to Randall.

2020-02-29 - Pending Work on the Layout

Category Randall

Trying to strive for a balance between work I want to do on the layout versus things I believe need to be done, coupled with their direct impact (either for operators or automation) and work complexity.

Here’s a current list:

Task

Impact

Work Load

Stockton Station dedicated Circuit Breaker

Need

Medium

Low

Mainline turnouts for Napa approach

Need

High

Medium

Fixing dead spot at Sultan

Need

Medium

Medium

Layout “cab ride” Cameras & Display for Public

Want

High

High

Computer monitoring of all Circuit Breakers

Want

Medium

High

Finish DCC control Mountain Turnout Panel

Need

Low

High

DCC control Stockton Turnout panel

Need

Low

High

DCC block detection on Valley panels 1 & 2

Need

Low

High

DCC block detection on Mountain panel 1

Need

Low

High

Automation of Fairfield area

Want

High

Very High

Automation software “Conductor” v2

Want

High

Very High

There are more tasks on my list; these are all I’d consider important for now.

The “need” vs “want” is highly subjective. Saturday Operators would likely have the narrow view that their needs are more important than future automation work, and I have to fight the sempiternal syndrome that “things are working, please don’t touch anything anymore”.

“Impact” is from the perspective of the Saturday Operators or the Automation from a public point of view, e.g. would people notice this work has been done. Low impact does not mean the task is not important -- it’s the “behind the scene” stuff that enables more to be done later.

I’ve had some plans for the automation from the very beginning, I focused on what was most critical at first, and have slowed down a lot in the implementation since then. It does not make the long term plan any less important, and having year to year incremental improvements is a good thing. A lot of these “low impact” tasks would enable future automation work by detecting trains in blocks currently not monitored or enabling turnouts to be controlled.

For some of these tasks, I have already done a significant amount of preliminary research and I have the hardware for it.


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