Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Update on the Hakko FX 888 Soldering Station.

Update on the Hakko FX 888 Soldering Station.

Got this unit about 3 months ago. Needed a better unit than my Weller station to solder 0603 & 0402 SMD's. My initial impression was very positive.

Unit as seen on Amazon where I got mine. About 80-81 dollars and free shipping if you have Amazon Prime.

After using the unit to build dozens of turn-outs, solder SMD's and various other work I can say it was an excellent purchase.

- Excellent temperature control - You can watch light heating tip, when first turn on solid, then with 30sec when temp reached, it pulses to keep same temp. Accurate to about 1 degree.
- Ergonomics - small hand unit make soldering easy. Solder holder separate from power supply/transformer, makes desk space easy to manage.
- Heavy duty transformer, the heat of the system, this one is robust.
- Temp range - 400 - 900 Fahrenheit (200-500 C) makes smd's to stripping magnet wire a breeze
- Fast temp change and warm-up, about 30 seconds from cold to full temp even at 900 degrees.
- Easy Temp calibration - Hakko makes adjusting calibration simple and recommends calibrating when tips changed. Calibrator pictured below. When using regular tip it was spot-on. Changes to SMD tip and temperature was close (5-10%). Use recalibration tool and can dial-in in exactly.
- Built in abrasive pad make keeping tip clean easy, this unit does not corrode near as bad as mu Weller.
- Accessories - listed a few below, over 30 tips, Temp gauges, etc. And many parts to maintain unit and widely available.
- Would prefer to have a unit built in the States but major competitor was the Weller and it did not seem as versatile as this one. Have a simple Weller station from Micro-Mark cost about $60 and is not near as good a unit. Now use it in layout room from doing track and power drops.

Two images above is just a sample of the widely available types of tips you can get.

Temp calibration tool. Costs about $100 but if you look on Ebay you can get from Hong Kong for about $20. You use a 3 prong wire on the probes and then place tip covered in solder to measure temperature. Fast readings.

Usual disclaimer, I do not work for or have any financial interest in Amazon or Hakko. Just a good product. Very pleased.

Thanks Cameron

Monday, July 30, 2012

Sunday Update July 29th 2012

Sunday Update July 29th 2012

Sunday went well, got 7 hours work in. First concentrated on getting Middle Peninsula Deck 2 turn-outs completed. Had to re-solder 2 turn-out throws and do a little more wiring. That went well and 3 of 4 turn-outs now work well.

The c-19 now makes it from Forks Creek to Beaver Brook.

With the turn-outs working switched to working on the Middle Peninsula deck 1. Lots of progress here. Still need to put in 2 turn-outs. All roadbed and track installed almost to Golden. Put in 4 power drops, need another 3-4.

Trains can now move from almost Golden to Beaver Brook transitioning 2 decks.

K27 navigates tough cuss pass.

Upgrade from tough cuss pass, this is the passing siding (needs 2 turn-outs to be re-installed.

Backing downgrade on deck 1, at far end is turn to deck 2.

Emerging on deck 2 from deck 1.

Net result: Deck 1 and Deck 2 of the Middle Peninsula will be operational with the re-install of 3 turn-outs and 3-4 more power drops.

Thanks Cameron

Friday, July 27, 2012

Tavern Progress

Little people arrived so wanted to get a feel for what it would look like. Kit above had about twice the items I needed so am set to do another Bar somewhere. The piano, bar and bar shelves too large for what I needed so using just 2 tables, some of the bottles, and 10 or so figures.

Here are some pictures giving a feel for what it looks like. Built the back shelves to frame the picture of "Madam Lash" of HON3Chat fame.

Shows trial placement of figures, new shelves in back. Figures are 18mm so a little shorted than HO but inside a building work well.

Full front view with front windows in-place. Figures really make a huge difference, very satisfied.

Front door view. Once painted, with light in-place I think this will work very well. Front is only temporary, the seems should not show in final.

All-in-all happy with results. Hopefully will begin painting next week. Next step is to find small speaker and wire it for the honky-tonk sound effects. Then can assemble rest of the building. Hope this turns out well enough to use as one of my super detailed builds for AP.

Any suggestions for Colorado circa 1916-18 music?

Thanks Cameron

Monday, July 23, 2012

Iggy the Iguana

Many of you know we "adopted" a Iguana.  The story is an abandoned Iguana found her way into our yard.  She was hurt and could barely walk.  When we found her we thought she was dead.

Our family has a soft spot for animals (some would say too soft).  We took her in and she would not eat, and her back legs did not work.  She also would not go to the bathroom.  Long story short, 3 trips to the vet (yes there are lizard vets) and more $ than I wished, she is on the mend.

She now eats on her own, we have to give her calcium shots and that was what was causing her to not go to the bathroom and making her legs not work.  Her legs now work better and she is getting her colors back.  She does not trust people very well (being abandoned does that) but is a neat lizard and she is getting more comfortable.  My wife has become quite attached.

Here is a close-up of Iggy, she is over 2' long and weighs about 2 lbs or so.  Hard to see here but her colors are starting to come back.

This is her outside home, the sun helps her get needed UV light.  Built on the cheap, only hardware cloth was bought, used old screen doors for top and bottom and used 2x4 for sides.  Front opens across entire length to make getting her in and out easier.

So that is, as Paul Harvey used to say "the rest of the story".

Thanks Cameron

Weekend Update 22-Jul-2012

Weekend Update 22-Jul-2012

Got in about 5-6 hours this weekend. Spent too much time Beta testing some software so not much progress on the old work bench.

Turn-outs till are taking forever to work the kinks out. Wiring, redoing turn-out controls, and replacing throw-bars. Taking my time here as I trashed old layout and started fresh on this one specifically to have reliable running. One of the turn-outs turned out nicely with both c19 and k27 navigating reliably. Still have an issue with k-27 pilot derailing on a turn, think track is banked a little, so shimming work to do there. Track transitions are getting better, having to trim and shim some.

This is my best turn-out to-date. SPST switch on turn-out control (bullfrog) working. C19 still stutters sound here.

Did get to temp mount the partially complete Forks Creek bridge. Cuts done and abutment in place. Roughed in first part of Forks Creek scenery and laid out builds to get a feel for final product.

Roughed in Creek with partial bridge.

Forks Creek laid out. Section house to be scratch built and water tank in-progress.

Used zip texturing as described by Joe Fugate at MRH e-zine. Having places where tempura paint is in small blobs that leave color concentrated in dots. Shifted colors and plaster and still having some problems. need to figure out how to eliminate that issue.

Here is the C19 to show a more finished look.

To minimize burn-out in any one area, plan to work on Forks Creek more while fiddling with turn-outs. Jack from the HON3Chat forum provided some nice plans I can use for Beaver Brook water tank, he built one and it looks excellent.

This is the Beaver Brook Water Tank as built by Jack. His website is http://www.canonicalblue.org/BlackhawkCentralCity/. Jack has done some excellent work on his layout, he builds everything from scratch and does some really good work.

Finding this Forum and a couple others provide excellent advise that is helping over come issues as I encounter them.

Thanks Cameron

Monday, July 16, 2012

Barkeeps Tavern Update

Slow progress. Ordered some figures for the Bar from Blue Moon. The guys over in HON3chat suggested them. They are 18mm which makes then 5' 8" tall, which should be about right for 1900. Plus in building will be look pretty good.

Here is the set:

Will probably only use about 1/2 of the figures due to space. Bar mirror will cover the portrait over the bar so may just make the back shelves to fit around the picture.

Got some good ideas for bottles and glasses, will try them out as Prieser has their stuff on back-order.

Thanks Cameron

Sunday 15 July Update

Sunday Update.

Not a lot to show for 5-6 hours work.  Spent time fixing LED's for Deck 1 of the middle peninsula and wiring turn-outs.

Was a real struggle getting frogs working as desired.  2 are completed with 1 in progress and another one to go.

The K-27 runs well through turn-outs, the c-19 struggles a little.  It is much picker about electrical pick-up.  On some of the turn-outs the sound stutters annoyingly.  I think I need to clean the tender contacts some.  CRC'd the track so that helped.

Figure 1 more session on the turn-outs and I will be able to move on to the mounting the bridge at Forks Creek.

Also spent some time with small castings to use on the creek as rapids.  Will use either water effects or clear chalk to model the rushing water.

Sorry no pictures yet worth sharing.

Thanks Cameron

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Got a deal

Got a deal

Picked up a copy of C & S ng: Colorado & Southern narrow gauge by Mallory Hope Ferrell for 3 bucks on amazon used. Said average condition. It arrived and was in really good shape. No dust jacket but that is no big deal.

C & S ng: Colorado & Southern narrow gauge

Some really good C&S info along with a ton of pictures.

Woot - my lucky day.


Forks Creek Bridge

Forks Creek Bridge.

Stuck inside so mainly doing kits builds and re-motoring a brass HON3 loco.

Made some headway on the Forks Bridge I thought I might share. It is a kit bash of the Central Vally Pratt Truss Bridge. Made 2 bridges from the kit, one for Elks Creek and the second for Forks Creek. Modifying for Narrow Gauge and adding walk ways as on the original.

I expect this will be a placeholder until I get good enough to scratch build one. While it is a reasonable likeness, it does not quite have the right look.

Also managed to fix my shorted out strand of LED lighting on the layout.

Thanks Cameron

Monday, July 9, 2012

K-27 all healed!

K-27 all healed!

One of the low points to Sunday was my Blackstone K-27 would not run. At full throttle it would move about 1/4" stop then move again. C-19 ran fine so was not the track.

Went on HON3Chat Forum and Earle suggested I put the DCC K-27 on a DC power pack to the locomotive pins 1&8. Run at 12v and see if blue smoke came out. Apparently Blackstone had some first release K-27's that had too much oil.

To say I was nervous was a major understatement. Did just as Earle (Forum name) recommended. At first ran very poor then it started picking up speed, and just as described out came blue smoke. Ran til smoke cleared.

Took out to the layout and it ran like a top!

Way to go Earle. Saved me sending back to Blackstone with a possible large bill for motor replacement. Here are some pictures:

K-27 running past siding.

K-27 coming up to Beaver Brook.

K-27 on Elks Creek Bridge 1

Very happy to get her running again. All-in-all not a bad beginning of the week!

Thanks Cameron

Sunday Progress - It's alive!

Sunday Progress - It's alive!

Spent 6 hours Sunday concentrating on laying track, wiring drops and installing turn-outs (3). Bridge at Elk's Creek in in-place (removable) as is the Bridge 2 at Elks Creek. Pulled out my c-19 (leased from DRGW due to increased traffic) to test. My K-27 refused to run, looking into what the issue is now.

Here are some pictures:

Elks Creek Bridge with C-19 heading across. Need to add pick-ups to bridge after I figure out what connectors to use. Forgive the picture quality using iphone. One set of LED's was acting up so 1 section too yellow.


Passing siding heading up grade to Forks Creek.

I like this picture as is shows forward movement of loco.

Bridge 2

C-19 heading upgrade to Beaver Brook.

New hand-laid turn-out at Beaver Brook.

All in all a satisfying day. Wired 1/2 a dozen power drops and the turn-outs worked well.

Thanks Cameron

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Wednesday July 4th Update

Wednesday July 4th Update

Only had about 4 hours to work on layout so tried to pick specific items to wrap up. Focused on creek color, finishing sculpt-a-mold on mountains, painting rough terrain coat, and completing some roadbed and test fitting turn-outs.

This is downgrade from Beaver Brook looking towards my fictional tunnel (C&S had no tunnels in this district). The sculpt-a-mold work is done. All base coat now painted on. Will continue to add rock castings.

Second bridge at Elks Creek. Added rock and painted in prep for a test pour. Need to add some water effects or chalk to act as both rapids and a dam between sections.

Looking towards Forks Creek. New creek color added and blended in with shallows. shallow areas for rapids created.

Creek bed at main Elks Creek bridge. Recolored creek and added more rock. Once I get abutments painted will add debris and do a test pour.

Rest of time spent testing turn-outs and completing roadbed. Hopefully this Sunday will see the turn-outs installed. Once Beaver Brook bridge and wooden flume cover completed I can complete track for this section (Middle Peninsula deck 2). This is a try at my first try on AP for scenery.

Thanks Cameron

Brass Loco overhaul.

Taking a little side trip here - Reworking a 2-6-0 mogul I picked up on e-bay.

The unit runs very poorly, has old open-frame motor and the electric pick=ups are like most brass, limited and relying on the tender bolsters to conduct the juice.

Will upgrade in stages, first get running well in DC, then add decoder for DCC. Can't find small enough sound decoder yet, may look at zimo.

Here is the unit with the boiler and tender shells removed. In upper corner you can see can motor from LocoDoc I will be installing.

Close up of tender, here you can see 2 points of electric current, front pin and wire for positive and tender trucks on bolsters for negative. Want to rewire so I have wire connections for both positive and negative from both loco and tender.

Here is tender taken apart to begin adding pick-ups from wheels. New wire for positive added to connect from tender to loco.

Tender trucks are now wired, small gauge flexible wire runs from Phosphor bronze wires to PCB, then to wire where they allow free movement of trucks.

Can motor test fitted to begin install planning. You can see where I had to cut out floor to clear the fly-wheel.

After install having 2 issues, one not getting power to motor and motor mount not holding unit properly.

More to follow.

Thanks Cameron