DCC Programmer

Sometimes a tool that does a single job but does it very well is a tool worth having.
Broadway Limited

A handheld DCC programmer

A handheld DCC programmer

in the USA have come up with a device that is self powered, hand held and simple, that just programmes DCC chips with their address. Connect it to a programming track, place a loco on the track and turn on the device.

The display then shows you the current address of the loco. Change the address and press save and the loco is updated. And that is it. Well it does a couple of other tricks, including resetting the chip to factory default by cycling through all the known methods used by different manufacturers.

Now you can do this with your DCC controller of choice but not so easily. Broadway are asking $80 for this box of tricks. And that is my biggest problem. If it was £20 I would buy it now, but not at that price. Hopefully Broadway will do well and with economies of scale the price will come down.

Posted in DCC | 1 Comment

New Year New Layout

It has been a long time since my last post. I was all fired up to produce a diorama for my club’s exhibition in November but then my spinal disc popped for the forth time. This caused me great pain and severely reduced my mobility, so progress was halted and didn’t restart.

I have now purchased a small shunting layout on eBay which should be arriving soon. I have also purchased an 08 shunter with DCC sound, a DCC controller (I have one buried somewhere in storage) and some 50’s wagons preferably weathered.

I was impressed when shunting the yard on the club’s Hinton Parva layout how much Kadee couplings enhanced the enjoyment. When building wagons 30 years ago in my teens only 3 link couplings would do, but my eyesight is not what it was. The Kadees, although representing US practice, are quite popular on UK layouts. I would be interested on any thoughts on the subject.

There has been a series of articles in Hornby Magazine Oct/Nov/Dec/Jan about fitting Kadees to UK outline RTR stock.

It seems many modern UK RTR rolling stock have the supplied couplings in NEM sockets which can be replaced with Kadees. They are, however, very sensitive to their height above the rails, for which a height gauge is available. In my research it seems that the NEM socket in British RTR stock varies in height.

I will post a few pictures of the layout when it arrives.

Posted in DCC, HWMRC, Kadee, Shunting Layout | Tagged | 1 Comment


Tiverton2I visited ExpoEM at Bracknell Leisure Centre on Saturday even though I model OO. The advantage of shows arranged by organisations who promote the finer standards in our hobby is that they have so many high quality layouts on view and attract very good traders.


And sure enough there were some excellent models to be seen, although too many in the early stages of construction for my liking.

I really don’t like models with long straight lines, although it is very tempting when building on square boards. So you can imagine my delight with Tiverton from the Devon Area Group. Not only were the tracks formed into beautiful curves, but the baseboards on which they sat were curved as well. The fact it was a GWR prototype added to my enjoyment.


IronStreet2Also there was a small industrial layout called Iron Street Mills which achieved in a larger space what I am trying to do with my diorama. It uses Metcalf buildings and looked ‘right’. The trick is perfect execution with all the little ‘unseen’ details that make the scene convincing. I hope I can achieve such a convincing look.

Posted in diorama, MRX | Leave a comment

Google celebrates Frank Hornby’s birthday

Today, 15th May 2013, anyone visiting Google will be presented with a graphic representing the works of Frank Hornby.

Google2Thank you Google. Find out more of Frank Hornby here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Raspberry Pie

The Raspberry Pie (Raspi) is a credit card sized $30 computer. It has an ARM processor, digital screen output, USB interface for keyboard and mouse and other peripherals, an Ethernet port, and it runs Linux from an SD card. raspi

It also has an I/O port that can be directly connected to switches and LEDs, although if you get a connection wrong you can blow your Raspi. There are add on boards that can isolate the the connections and drive higher currents.

So why am I mentioning this in a model railway blog? I have a couple of Raspi’s but have not done much with them yet. I am always thinking of ways of using them in model railways. I notice that there are several signal levers available now with in built switches and with my interest in signalling may come up with an interlocking program, but that may take some time.

It has occurred to me that I could just use one to drive multiple LEDs on my diorama. At first it may seem OTT to use a computer more powerful than a BBC micro to drive a few LEDs, but with lights in multiple rooms a very realistic pattern of switching on and off could be achieved. Also, software could be used to create fire or arc welding effects. Connecting a light sensor to detect darkness would be easy.

The Raspi is so cheap that it can be used in distributed applications where several talk to one another to achieve an objective. They can also be run off a battery, but the Ethernet port consumes a great deal of current, so if you don’t need networking and want to run off a battery, use the model A which lacks this port.

Posted in Raspi | Leave a comment

Pendon Talk

I recently attended an evening talk at Pendon Museum about photographing models given by Andy York, RMWeb.

I wasn’t expecting to learn so much about photography in general and my camera in particular. In these days of digital compacts it is too easy to point and click, check the result, and if it’s not good enough, try again. No need to take care with shutter and exposure, and then wait a week for the results. I did a commission once for a friend with two camera bodies only to find when the prints came back I had a light leak in one of the bodies and the results were ruined.

When I decided I needed an auto focus SLR I went for Canon EOS. It is an indication of the hobby that my first body was 35mm, which I later replaced with an APS body, and again replaced that with a digital one. I only ever used any of them in automatic mode.

During his talk Andy York emphasised using a tripod and setting up your camera manually. Reaching for my compact I was astonished to find so many manual adjustments. I need to read the manual.

Pendon laid on some food, allowed a wonder around the museum before an entertaining, informative, and thought provoking talk for £10. If you live within striking distance of Pendon I thoroughly recommend future talks.

Posted in Pendon | Leave a comment


On Sunday 5th May I went to Thornbury MRX north of Bristol. Although it is 100 miles from home it is one of the best shows in the calendar.

The previous evening Liza Tarbuck on Radio 2 asked what listeners were doing this weekend and I emailed in. She read my email within five minutes but I have no idea if this free publicity swelled the numbers attending the show.

There was a large number of exhibits including an N gauge GWR branch in a glass top table.


There was a stand demonstrating T Gauge-the T representing the 3mm track gauge. It seems to be powered by fairy dust, because a working motor that size is barely credible. As I get older my eyesight needs a migration up the scales, not down.

I managed to have a chat with my friend Nigel Bird and purchase a few items for my diorama including the main factory, a length of C&L OO track, and a ballast laying device with some ballast in two shades.

It was worth the round trip, and if you haven’t been before, make a date in your diary for next year.

Posted in diorama, MRX | Tagged | Leave a comment

A Diorama Challange

My model railway club in High Wycombe (www.hwdmrs.org.uk) has set a challenge to be judged at the annual exhibition WycRail in November. There are a few options, but I will be entering a diorama. To quote the newsletter

The maximum size is 35 cm (W) x 30 cm (D) x 35 cm (H) – to fit on a shelf in the cabinet.

I haven’t done any modelling for years, so this gives me an opportunity to do something constructive. As I have stated before I have a number of kit built wagons, so I will build a small industrial scene with a few of my wagons.

I identified a suitable card kit for the buildings which is exactly the right length. My mother was an art teacher and has promised to paint a small backscene. The hard part will be to make it look busy, but not too busy. If I can get the base and building built in the next couple of months, it gives me a few months to search out and install all those bits that make it look real, such a lamps, huts, crates, sacks, and people. That will be fun.


Posted in diorama, HWMRC, WycRail | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

So long ago

Long ago when my school homework was all I had to worry about, I found the time to build wagon kits and I got very good at it. That was thirty years ago, and now I have the space but not the time.
The wagons are in a cabinet at the office and I don’t think I have the skills any more. Shame.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Here Goes

This is my first post.

I want to use this blog to document my railway modelling. I hope it finds an audience somewhere.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment