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St Albans South, 2011 work and events

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St Albans South, 2011 work and events

Unread postby John Webb » Mon Jan 17, 2011 10:45 am

The new season got underway this weekend with extended public opening in parallel with a major model railway show in St Albans - the show organisers for the third year running kindly mentioned us in the show guide and stuck up posters we supplied around the exhibition. Result was 105 people on Saturday and 77 yesterday and some serious money added to the funds in sales and refreshment profits and donations, so worth doing.

I managed to grab a quiet period just after lunch yesterday (and before the rain started) to complete a piping run from the electrical intake loc to the start of our cable troughing running round the garden - we can now start to alter the wiring to our path lights to run them from a time switch allowing safer access to and from the box at night and to get our second Midland lamp post working. Also we can separate off the supply to signal lamps from the path lighting (combined at present) so we can work the signal lamps direct from the box as and when needed.

All the components have been obtained to construct the controller for the colour light signal demo, just a case of putting them together and sorting out the wiring - sounds simple, doesn't it! :D

Another session this coming weekend with the new computer simulator and interface - we hope the problems experienced on our last run after Christmas have been resolved and we'll be a lot closer to getting the new system commissioned.

Extended opening (10am - 4pm) again in two weeks over the weekend of 29th/30th January for the 'St Albans Residents First' weekend - designed to encourage the locals to find out what's on their doorstep and bring their visiting family and friends along during the year - but we'll gave an equally warm welcome to any from outside the district as well!

Looking back at pictures of the box a year ago with a nearly-empty block shelf makes me realise just what a lot we got done in 2010 - here's to an equally productive 2011!
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Re: St Albans South, 2011 work and events

Unread postby Keith » Mon Jan 17, 2011 10:30 pm

John Webb wrote:here's to an equally productive 2011!
Absolutely! And I shall have to come and visit you one of these weekends.
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Re: St Albans South, 2011 work and events

Unread postby John Webb » Thu Jan 20, 2011 12:01 pm

Yesterday in dry and sunny weather we completed work on setting up the pipe to take cable from a transformer to run round the garden. Cables were drawn in and the pipe (in the ground) was covered up. By the end of the afternoon as the sun set our second Midland lamp post was lit up and very nice it looked.

An area at the North end of the site was cleared ready for the resiting of our stack of three ground signals and the move of a Midland ground frame there. The intention is to build a typical Midland ground frame hut round the resited frame to help protect it from the weather.

A section of small wood trunking once used for a cable run somewhere in the box was found to be ideal for conversion into a ticket dispenser for the Edmundson card tickets we give as a souvenir to visitors. (And which through the numbers thereon we count how many visitors we've had!) By the way, if anyone has a ticket dating machine or knows of one available we can purchase we'd be very interested - send me a PM.
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Re: St Albans South, 2011 work and events

Unread postby Keith » Sat Jan 22, 2011 9:36 am

Are you open tomorrow? It's just possible I might be able to call in then.

edit: Oops - I just checked the other thread here and it shows that you are not.
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Re: St Albans South, 2011 work and events

Unread postby John Webb » Sun Jan 23, 2011 6:32 pm

Two of us spent much of the weekend working on the new simulator. More levers and indicators were connected up to the new interface and computer, and by late this afternoon we were able to run trains on the fast lines for the first time.

Still various glitches and timings to be sorted out, but a productive weekend overall.
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Re: St Albans South, 2011 work and events

Unread postby John Webb » Mon Jan 31, 2011 8:40 pm

The "St Albans Residents First weekend" was a resounding success with 538 recorded visitors over the two days.

Interestingly we stopped only a few tickets off the 5000th visitor - so someone during our February open day on the 13th will get a bit of a surprise as we are planning to mark the occasion.
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Re: St Albans South, 2011 work and events

Unread postby Keith » Mon Jan 31, 2011 10:05 pm

John Webb wrote:...someone during our February open day on the 13th will get a bit of a surprise as we are planning to mark the occasion.
Not if it's someone who reads this forum! :wink:
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Re: St Albans South, 2011 work and events

Unread postby Peter Jordan » Tue Feb 1, 2011 6:59 pm

If someone is going along to a St. Alban's open day, is there any chance they might take some video and post it onto 'YouTube' for those of us who are not able to get along?

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Re: St Albans South, 2011 work and events

Unread postby John Webb » Tue Feb 1, 2011 9:11 pm

Peter - one of the items for the Trustees to discuss next week at a quarterly meeting is the production of a training video - we might be able to put some of that on YouTube - or even our revised website when that goes live a little later this year.
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Re: St Albans South, 2011 work and events

Unread postby John Webb » Wed Feb 16, 2011 12:58 pm

Peter Jordan wrote:If someone is going along to a St. Alban's open day, is there any chance they might take some video and post it onto 'YouTube' for those of us who are not able to get along?

Peter Jordan

At the Trustees' meeting last week I learnt that Transport Video Publications (TVP), who are based a few miles away in Wheathampstead, are producing a video on railway signalling this year. A significant section of the video is a recording of our equipment in use, filmed last year, and should be quite interesting. As a result we've decided not make our own training video.

I forgot to mention above that Keith and Pete2320 of this Forum were among the visitors during the extended opening days 29th/30th Jan - very nice to meet you both!

And on Sunday last our 5000th recorded visitor was a local 10-year old lad who was visiting the box with his dad for the first time and who was somewhat surprised to be given a few free goodies and certificate to commemorate the event.

Also of interest was the one-page article in the February 2011 edition (No. 164) of the IRSE News - which was taken from our December Press Release and includes all three pictures we sent out with it.

We're now planning the production of new posters both for inside the box and for display at exhibitions now we have a set of portable display boards for use away from the box.
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Re: St Albans South, 2011 work and events

Unread postby John Webb » Tue Feb 22, 2011 10:56 am

Revision of Website:
One of our Trustees runs an IT firm and agreed late last year to have a go at updating and enlarging the website.

The revised website - still at http://www.sigbox.co.uk - is now up and running, so please take a look. If you have any comments, please send them in using the facility on the website.

I'm responsible now for keeping the current News page up to date as part of my Publicity Officer role. You can see my latest efforts in News 2010 and News 2011, to be found under the 'Our Story' heading on the home page.
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Re: St Albans South, 2011 work and events

Unread postby John Webb » Sun Mar 13, 2011 7:45 pm

At last - something new we can show you in pictures! We lit up the first stage of our colour-light signal demonstration today:
Image
shows the Banner Repeater and the first signal connected up and at danger.

Image
shows the CLS at double yellow and the banner at clear.

How we've done it will be revealed shortly!
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Re: St Albans South, 2011 work and events

Unread postby John Webb » Sun Mar 13, 2011 8:04 pm

Some technical information on how we're running the CLS demo.

Banner Signal:
Image
The incoming 12V AC for powering the lamp (changed to a 10W car bulb from the 24W signal bulb) is tapped off and taken to the small circuit board on the left, rectified and fed via a relay to the operating coils of the banner. The relay is worked from our sequencer inside the signal box - I'll post a picture of that on another occasion.

Colour Light Signal, general view:
Image
A six-core cable brings in the AC power for the lamps, a relay common and the three signals from the sequencer to operate the relays. The large hole in the base of the signal has been filled in with plywood to keep out the insects but I forgot to take up the sealant to hold it in place!

Image
A close-up of the relay board and the single yellow aspect.
We've replaced the standard 24W lamps with 5W car tail-lamps with their holders mounted on 20SWG wire in the same way we converted the 3-aspect ground signal a couple of years ago. This has been done for two reasons - when we did try out a signal running the 24W bulbs we found them rather bright for close-up viewing; secondly the heavy current would have needed heavy-duty cables to avoid excessive voltage drop. (We have a policy of having SELV - separated extra-low voltage - only in the box grounds to minimise the shock hazard.)

(EDIT: Once the demo is complete we'll video it and post to YouTube for people to see.)
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Re: St Albans South, 2011 work and events

Unread postby Keith » Sun Mar 13, 2011 9:45 pm

Excellent work! Just one question: if the sequencer is inside the box and anyone describing what's happening to the people watching is outside, will he/she have a remote control to move the sequencer on, or will it be a matter of trying to match the timing of the sequencer and the verbal description?
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Re: St Albans South, 2011 work and events

Unread postby John Webb » Mon Mar 14, 2011 9:38 am

Keith - for the moment the sequencer - a PIC driving transistors to operate the relays - will run and run and run. So the speaker will have to match their description to the sequence. We have exaggerated and altered timings in what we hope keeps the demo moving but makes certain points clear - for instance overlaps.
The first part of the sequence is a straight run through with the signals going to red as the 'train' passes and clearing as the train moves away; it starts and concludes with all signals at green. The second part of the sequence starts with the fourth (JI-fitted) signal going to red and the others altering accordingly. As the train passes the third signal there is a short pause and then the junction signal clears and the JI comes on. Signal goes to red as the train passes. After a short interval the signals all clear to green as the 'junction' is 'reset' for a straight run and the first part of the sequence starts again.

We had considered putting a switch by each signal that could be pressed by the demonstrator or a visitor as they walked past which would have triggered the sequence, or even IR detectors, but decided that was too complex to start with. I am thinking about a large-scale model railway track (Gauge 1 or 3.5inch or similar) we could actually 'track circuit' to extend the demo, but that would be some time ahead!
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