"SprocketBahN" N-scale Model Train Layout

This is a picture of me in my office at home with two train sets. On the right you may see Newbury, built into the bookcase. Behind me, hung above the window, is not my usual painting, but SprocketBahN, a layout built into a picture frame. The layout is battery powered, and is programmed to take the small train up and down between the base station and the mountain station, with one trip every 25 minutes or so.

Take a look at it running:

The layout started in 2008 as a simple wood chassis. I had---and continue to have---difficulty making Wall MountaiN operate reliably. I thought a light-weight, hangable, less-steep version might fly, and would be a good technology exploration.

There is a great deal of analysis of the Fleischmann rack rail system and the problems making it work in my web page describing progress on Wall MountaiN.

The track was carefully laid; I wanted it to sweep inward in the middle for a tunnel, and out at either end to make way for relief scenery. It also has to be joined very carefully, so as not to cause problems with the rack-rail. This is what a good join looks like:

Here is the computer controller and the battery holder. It uses a crystal-controlled PIC micro, and runs on 8 AA batteries.

Here is the layout pictured front-on. There are three people in it, the monk, the station master and the rock climber. The frame is made of redheart timber, treated with Danish oil. It is 48" long, 11" high, and on average, 2" deep. The frame is 2.4" deep. The electronics uses current-sensing block detection, and DCC control is achieved with a PIC16F684 microcontroller driving a MOSFET bridge. The buildings are made by sawing through standard items from the Lyddle End range to leave thin facades. The peak gradient is about 25%, so I am not pushing the technology so hard as I do in Wall MountaiN!