• The Plug Track functions are experimental and still being developed. Some of the earlier pages of this topic are now out-of-date.

    For an updated overview of this project see this post.   For some practical modelling aspects of using Plug Track see The Book of Plug Track.

    Some pages of this and other topics include contributions from members who are creating and posting their own CAD designs for 3D printing and laser-cutting. Do not confuse them with Templot's own exported CAD files.

Experimental Plug Track: 3D-printed, CNC-milled, laser-cut

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Martin Wynne

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pps, so my conclusion is that both parts of a 2-part switch chair are "owned" by the stock rail rather than the crossing rail.
@Steve_Cornford

That's correct Steve.

I detect someone keen to get started. :)

I need to write at length about all this, and make some videos. Maybe later today.

I've been reluctant to spend too much time on docs yet, because it's quite possible that everything will change in 236c, or 236d, or 250z ... :)

Here below is the BOX file for the switch block chairs used to create the sample EM C-switch which I posted earlier. You will see that it contains 4 partial templates and 40 chairs. Enough to make up 2 switches. I cloned 3 of these on the Mars build plate. The spacing of the chair rows was too wide for convenient with the Xuron snips and wasteful of resin. It was just a test print, I will do them differently in future.

exp_c_sw_chairing.png


exp_c_sw_chairing1.png


These are all the 2-part chairs (easily identified by having screws/bolts on one end only).

Note that the stock-rail part chairs are all identical (apart from the randomising of the keys and screw heads).

n.b. 40 chairs is probably too much for the Formware online STL fixer, which will probably time out. As I posted earlier I'm happy to do the STL fixing for folks on my local copy of the fixer. Or you could split it into fewer chairs at a time, of course.

So much to write about. More later.

cheers,

Martin.
 

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Not so much keen to get started, more keen to learn more about using Templot so that I have the skills necessary to get started in earnest and join in the experiments when practical. It is great to be learning new skills at out age!

I thought it sensible to subtract 5mm all round from the build plate size to calculate a maximum raft size, is that about right?

You have 4 rows of chairs, what would you recommend as the optimum distance between rows?
Oh and for that matter between columns?

By waste of resin I assume you mean the resin used in the "raft"?

So your boxfile contains a raft segment containing 2 sets of the 2-part chairs, interlaced for efficient use of the raft space, and then having output the .STL file and "fixed" it, you clone the segment 3 times to make up a bigger raft containing 4 segments for printing.

It would be convenient if there was a way of adding some text to the raft to indicate the spec. eg EM-B-LH.

But dont let me distract you from chair design with questions that I ought to be able to find the answers out for myself.

I have noticed the way you are representing the outline of the soleplate in trackpad, and as you have stated before not often modelled.
 
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Martin Wynne

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I thought it sensible to subtract 5mm all round from the build plate size to calculate a maximum raft size, is that about right?
@Steve_Cornford

Hi Steve,

I don't think you can have a full-size skate/raft like that. It will create too much suction against the FEP film as the build plate lifts, possibly damaging the film, and not fill with resin below it properly as it drops back down for the next layer.

I have found the maximum skate size for consistent results is about 1500 sq.mm for each skate. More than that and you get some ominous suction noises from the printer. Advice from other 3D printing users welcome.

Then for ease of use in removing the chairs from the skate with the Xuron snips, it's best to have only two rows of chairs on each skate.

I have also found that on the Mars 2 Pro the print quality drops off at the ends of the plate, presumably due to uneven illumination levels. If this results in half-formed bits of chair left in the bottom of the tank it is bad news -- it means you will have to empty and clean the tank and filter the resin (or discard it) before you can do more printing, which is a lot of faff. Much easier to keep back from the ends of the plate, accept a lower yield from each print and be ready to go again without any fuss. No doubt the print quality is fine for bigger chunkier models.

The result looks something like this, with several skates cloned in the Chitubox slicer program, each separated by a gap. This produces a 100% chair yield:

index.php


Those skates were 15mm wide for ordinary S1 chairs, but you would need wider for longer P slide chairs, etc., say 20mm wide. It might have been possible to get one more on the plate, but that might be getting a bit close to the ends. Also they could be longer, or split into two shorter ones width-wise on the plate, with a gap between them. There is so much experimenting (and writing) still to do.

For example -- do we really need a solid skate? Narrow ribs between each chair support pyramid would save a bit of resin and might allow larger skates? Or would the printing be worse because of "cupping" effects? Would it break up when being removed from the plate? The current skate design has a 0.5mm lip all round to assist in getting a scraper under it (hence the term skate or skate-raft).

Time for a boiled egg. :)

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Here you go, you certainly deserve one!

I will plan on having about 30mm border on the build plate (for Mars 2 Pro) and keep skates as narrow as possible and separate them, rather than consolidate into one large skate per print.
Looks like a library of skates would be a good starting point.
Thanks for the feedback,
Steve
 
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Martin Wynne

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It would be convenient if there was a way of adding some text to the raft to indicate the spec. eg EM-B-LH.
@Steve_Cornford

Hi Steve,

You can do that now, sort of, although it needs some work on the sizes:

skate_label.png


That's using the 7-seg labels intended for the FDM timbering bricks.

It's limited to 0-9 and a few letter characters, so it would need to be an ID code number. You just need a notebook by the printer for the codes (and write the full description in felt-tip on the back of the skate as soon as it's dry).

I will look at adding it properly for resin printing.

Or you could edit the STL in CAD to add proper text / font labels to the model.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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I did try using Fusion360 to add some text, managed to add some text and extrude it, but not succeeded in adding it to the correct face/plane, but I will persevere.
Would be useful for those owners of resin printers that plan on producing chairs to swop for timbers withose owners of laser-cutters or FDM printers.
In the meantime will use your suggestion of writing on the back, or have pre-labelled plastic storage boxes.
As it is i managed to label my boxfile as LH when it contained LH. Doh.

Just hope you dont run out of boiled eggs before cracking the remaining chairs :) ,or you cease getting enjoyment out of your development hobby.
 
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Martin Wynne

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Just hope you dont run out of boiled eggs before cracking the remaining chairs :) ,or you cease getting enjoyment out of your development hobby.
@Steve_Cornford

Hi Steve,

The development mojo comes and goes occasionally, but I've been messing with Templot one way or another for over 40 years, so I doubt I will lose interest now. :)

The real sweat is in writing the docs and explanations, which I do find tiresome and exhausting at times, because it is so important not to make mistakes. I don't want folks to end up wasting time or materials because I got it wrong, or being disappointed with their results after building and laying track. Everything I write has to be tested and double-checked -- I can no longer rely on my memory for the details as I used to do.

Here's some stuff from the archives which you may not have seen:

WEST MERCIAN EM GROUP NEWSLETTER, SEP 1980

" Our last meeting, held at Broadwas Village Hall on 7th Sep 1980, was
one of the liveliest we have had. Ten members were present and
among matters discussed were
.....
[snipped]
....
....A most interesting development was then described by Martin Wynne.
Neville Fairbairn had asked Martin for help in setting out a turnout from
a curved road. From this request Martin had gone on to devise a system
for enabling any turnout to be drawn out on 1mm graph paper by even
the most inexperienced.

Given the radius of the main line, the crossing angle and switch type,
Martin can supply the X and Y co-ordinates of the rail running face at
every chair position. From this data it is easy to construct a turnout
template, indeed Martin did it in about twenty minutes, explaining as he
went. Thus the days of track plans being juggled to suit the templates
available from commercial sources are over - pointwork can now be
made to suit the site as was done in full-size practice.

Needless to say the figures for the various offsets are produced by
a micro-computer, using a program written by Martin. This service
will be available soon from 85A Models. This must be one of the most
interesting developments in modelling in recent years."

Kind words there from the late Roy Miller. What would Roy have made of Templot and 3D printing today? But 20 minutes poring over 1mm graph paper! With my eyes now 42 years older I can understand why there were so few takers at the time. :)

p.s. Roy was the originator of the 00-SF track standard, which he called "EM minus 2".

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Martin Wynne

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Martin Wynne

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oops...

The brick colour panel has lost its click!

Sorry about that, will be fixed in 236c.

In the meantime, brick colours can be set via the menus.

Martin.
 
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Hi Martin,
Since upgrading to 236b (i think thats when it started) when performing a 3D export chairs only that includes the slide chairs that are located on the soleplate (timber S1) I am getting some extra 3d shapes exported. Would they be fragments of a soleplate?

Or is this something I am doing wrong. I have attached a basic example.
 

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  • lh_b_slide-chairs.stl
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  • lh_b_slide_chairs.bgs3
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  • lh_b_slide_chairs.box
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I then amended the template using shove timbers, then omitted timber S1, performed the export to .STL and the extra blocks have disappeared, so i think they are linked to timber S1.
.STL as exported and fixed version.

As a workaround i will just create a skate containing S2 to S6 slide chairs for now for my skate library.


Regards Steve
 

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  • lh_b_slide_chairs_omit-s1.stl
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  • lh_b_slide_chairs_omit-s1_fixed.stl
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Martin Wynne

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@Steve_Cornford

Hi Steve,

Yes, I noticed the soleplate bug earlier. Too many bugs are getting through lately! :(

Just omit the S1 timber.

That will lose you two P slide chairs.

But all the P slide chairs on all templates are identical*. You can make yourself a batch of them by overlapping a couple of F switches (without the S1 timber for now):

raft_p_slide_chairs.png


In 4mm scale, reduce the track gauge to say 8mm so that they are close together on the timber, to save space. The above will give you a raft about 90mm x 16mm (1440 sq.mm).

n.b. But note that EM slide chairs are not the same as P4 slide chairs, including the plugs and socket sizes, so they are not interchangeable.

p.s. after a bit of thinking I have changed the term "skate" to "raft" throughout. Nothing is ever fixed for two minutes when it is experimental. :)

236c will be on the server soon because there are several other glitches to sort out, including the soleplate bug. I have also added the 7-seg labelling for the rafts, although deciding where to put it might be tricky. It may be necessary to extend the size of the raft just for the label.

*apart from the randomised heads on the chair screws, and the randomised nut rotations on the stock rail bolts.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Martin Wynne

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.
ID label now on a chair raft:

raft_label.png

It's done using the same functions as the timbering brick labels. Same restrictions apply:

Must begin with a # character -- which becomes a leading dash, so you know which way up to read it. 7-seg characters, so 0-9 and a limited range of letters only.

Text can now be made smaller to fit somewhere on the raft:

raft_label_text_size.png


If no space for it, an extra raft rectangle could be attached to contain it.

in 236c soon. :)

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Martin Wynne

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What software are you using to display that image?
@Steve_Cornford

Hi Steve,

TurboCAD Deluxe 2015

Can probably still be found with a bit of Googling.

I did recently try a trial download of the current TurboCAD Deluxe, but it's quite expensive now. The 3D rendering has changed to a more photo-realistic style which requires higher spec graphics hardware. Without it, the results are worse than in the old 2015 version, so I'm sticking with that for now. It's running fine on Windows11.

In truth I do very little CAD work. It's mostly used as a DXF viewer, as above.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Martin Wynne

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.
236c is now on the server. Close and restart Templot to update.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Hi Martin, many thanks for the update.
My Windows 11 Updated ok, then managed to add a label to raft and here is the fixed result:-
1665650224890.png

Still experimenting at this stage, think I will make raft a bit smaller.
Then just need to decide on a labelling strategy.
Probably need a spreadsheet and a boiled egg.
~4-E-001-LH might mean 4mm, EM, number = row in spreadsheet, LH left hand, but for Right Hnad might have to use FH.
F for Facing , is that the same as Right Hand (in Uk at least)?
Row 1 in spreadsheet would have description column as "EM Left Hand B switch 2-part chairs, 2 sets"

I am assuming the following.
In 4mm scale, S1, S1J, L1 chairs are common to OO-SF, EM, P4

Chairs common to OO-SF and EM are P slide chairs, 2-part switch chairs LH, 2-part switch chairs RH

P4 needs its own P slide chairs and its own 2-part switch chairs LH and 2-part chairs RH

All good experience with Templot.
Steve
 
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Martin Wynne

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@Steve_Cornford

Hi Steve,

Wow, that was quick. You must have had a boiled egg for breakfast. :)

I shall try adding a few more 7-seg characters, for example RH could be lower-case as r h.

Don't assume too much commonality of chairs. S1, S1J and L1 should be common everywhere (for the same rail section and scale). I want to add an M1 to that list, and also the bolted half-chairs. Possibly the jaw-less saddle chairs. (M1 is a narrower bridge chair which fits on 10" sleepers.)

P slide is common for 00-SF and EM, but 00-BF, EM-SF and P4 will each differ.

Stock-rail part of 2-part chairs will also be mostly common everywhere but not always. For example the stock rail part of check rail chairs will be the same as the switch chairs in all except EM-SF and P4. In fact the 2-part check rail chairs are going to be a challenge in P4.

The switch-rail part of the switch block chairs should be common for all 4mm for the same hand and size of REA switch. But not necessarily for non-REA switches, where 00-SF might differ from EM for example. I want to add the straight switches to the available options.

And it will be all change for GWR switches and chairs -- but that's still for the future.

In 7mm scale so many modellers are using code 125 rail (which represents the lighter 85lb/yd rail) that to look right I should do the S2, L2 and M2 chair variants for it. For now I hope they would use the C&L code 131 rail with the existing chairs.

p.s. if you don't have an STL viewer, the Chitubox software (included with the Elegoo printer) is quite good:

chitubox_viewer.png


cheers,

Martin.
 
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