• 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 Some of the earlier pages of this topic are now out-of-date.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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@Steve_Cornford

Hi Steve,

Yes, for EM and 00-SF.

(And any other 4mm/ft scale using a 1.0mm flangeway, such as EM-18, 00-D0GAF)

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Hi Martin,
Some feedback
I have successfully sliced and printed your sample files.
I have successfully managed to insert both types of loose jaw in their respective chair slots, and despite my intial trepidation having seen their minute size in the flesh, managed to do this albeit with the aid of magnification.
As far as the S1 chairs go (which are a test bed for check chairs say) it might be useful, as you have already suggested, to have the option of some thicker keys as you can "rock" the rail slightly compared with the fixed jaw S1 chairs

I share your belief that this is another step forward towards solving your multi-rail chair dilemma.
Regards Steve
ps at this rate you will have us printing chairs without screws and separate screws :)
 
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Martin Wynne

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@Steve_Cornford

Hi Steve,

Many thanks for the feedback. You have set my mind at rest -- other folks can successfully print the loose jaws, see them, and use them without going mad or changing to Gauge 1. :)

Having detached a pile of loose jaws, In practice in takes me about 15 seconds per jaw to pick up a jaw in a pair of cermic nosed tweezers (the type sold for vape users, not that I do) and insert into the slot and then press home. This with the aid of a cheap illuminated magnifying glass on a stand.

I think you might get a bit faster with practice. The thing to bear in mind is that you save the time spent threading the chairs on the rail. Then noticing that you have got one in the middle the wrong way round, and removing them again. Then the next time you notice that you have got them in the wrong order and do them a third time. Finally they have to be carefully spaced out along the rail on the paper template so that they will drop into the sockets. The loose jaws option avoids all that. I have a hunch that with a bit of practice it might actually be a bit faster.

As far as the S1 chairs go (which are a test bed for check chairs say) it might be useful, as you have already suggested, to have the option of some thicker keys as you can "rock" the rail slightly compared with the fixed jaw S1 chairs

I hear you. We already have this adjustment:

web_adjust.png


Which modifies the effective key thickness without needing to add a custom rail setting -- originally included to allow for slight variations in batches of rail. But it's a good idea to have some additional separate rail-fit settings for loose-jaws. I have now modified the slot clearance setting for the loose pins, which should push the loose jaws more firmly against the rail. In addition to that I have now added this:

loose_jaw_fit.png


Setting that positive will tighten the keys against the rail. Negative to loosen them. Only small amounts of the order of say 0.03mm (1 thou) should be entered at a time. The loose-jawed chairs do not have to be threaded onto or slide along the rail, so can reasonably be made a tighter fit on the rail. But not too tight -- they might stress-fracture over time.

This setting can be used to create batches of tighter keys, for example for use on the check rails if needed. But don't overdo it, it won't work: :)
loose_jaw_key_thicken.png



The tweezers arrived. They are these: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08MLB869C

4 for £8 was about 2 more than I needed, but I thought they might come in handy for other jobs.

Also available with stronger solder-proof ceramic tips: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08LG6B82W

I didn't go for those because the tips looked less fine, and being ceramic they wouldn't be so easy to reshape. That may have been the wrong decision -- how fine are tips on your ceramic tweezers?

The reviews of the plastic-tipped tweezers were distinctly iffy, and I can see why -- the finish isn't going to win any awards, and the plastic tips are so weak that they simply bend under load. And no good anywhere near a soldering iron -- my guess is they are ordinary polypropylene.

I went for them for two reasons -- the cross-over reverse locking action makes them so much easier to use, and the screw fixing means I can make all sorts of other clamps and holders to fit them.

The first thing I did was to insert a packing washer under the forward screws to improve the clamping force on the plastic tip. Which was a bit better but not much. But for this application the loose jaw pins are so tiny that we wouldn't want to clamp them with excessive force. I also used the flush-cutters to trim off just the radiused very end of the tips, leaving a square end which is more convenient to use.

With the result that they are working fine for this task, but it would still be worth looking at 3D printing some tips specifically for holding the loose pins.

If you haven't used reverse locking tweezers they take a bit of getting used to, but are a great work aid. Squeeze them to open them, and release them to grab the part. You can then put them down with the part held, leaving both hands free and much less tiring on the fingers:

locking_tweezers.jpg


For magnification I use a pair of cheap close-up reading glasses for modelling, 3.5 dioptre, which are enough for my eyes, and more convenient than having to get the work under a fixed magnifying glass or lamp. Available up to 4.0 dioptres from supermarkets and pharmacies (where you can try them), and also from Amazon (where you can't): https://www.amazon.co.uk/Suertree-Reading-Computer-Presbyopic-Eyelasses/dp/B08R57DZ6D (not sure why they think you need 3 pairs*). Everyone's eyes are different of course.

*You could put 2 on at once, giving you 8 dioptres, or even all 3... :)

Back to making the separate chair screws strong enough to self-tap into the timbers...

cheers,

Martin.
 
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how fine are tips on your ceramic tweezers?
just over 0.35mm. ie can just insert the tip into micrometer screw gauge if set > 0.35mm.
They are too tough to file, but they seem to be just right for the loose jaws.
Each tip is held on by two nuts and bolts so are replaceable, similar to your plastic tipped reverse tweezers.
I have also got a pair of metal jawed reverse tweezers and these proved too large and too strong. the loose jaws tended to snap/shatter.
Steve
 
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Hi Martin,

Another of my mad ideas!
As far as sliding ordinary S1 chairs onto rail for plain track, I have find it easier to slide them on whilst still on the raft, as I can place a flat piece of metal against side of chair to hold chair still.
Also by offsetting the second template on the raft so the two sets are staggered, the chairs are pretty well in the right place. For example:
20221106_163222.jpg
Then snip the supports, and repeat as necessary.

5 rafts of 20 chairs costed as 32p.

Having the two sets of interlaced chairs aligned does reduce the size of the raft, but 32p fo 100 chairs aligned to make life easy is worth the extra pennies.

Steve
 
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Martin Wynne

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The trouble with using experimental stuff is that it can bite you. :(

I have had to change the plug and socket sizes on the L1 bridge chairs. This means that bridge chairs printed from the next program update won't fit in timbering bases from the current update. If you have made some timbering bricks, you need to make a stock of L1 chairs for them from the current version. Likewise if you have made a stock of L1 chairs, you need to make the corresponding timbering bricks from the current version. You can make lots of L1 chairs using this option:

all_l1_chairs.png


You don't need to make them physically of course, you can export and save the relevant files for later (and don't get them muddled up with the new ones!).

The reason for the change is that I have been working on the loose jaws for the L1, which I knew would be tricky. We do need them for some positions within the crossings:

loose_l1_jaw.png


As you can see, the slot comes very close to the end of the plug, which I have needed to extend to accommodate it:

loose_l1_slot.png


That means a change of socket size too. The changes are not actually needed for the solid chairs of course, but we must keep the solid and loose-jawed chairs interchangeable otherwise we are doomed. :)

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Martin Wynne

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Hi Martin,

Another of my mad ideas!
As far as sliding ordinary S1 chairs onto rail for plain track, I have find it easier to slide them on whilst still on the raft, as I can place a flat piece of metal against side of chair to hold chair still.
Also by offsetting the second template on the raft so the two sets are staggered, the chairs are pretty well in the right place. For example:
View attachment 4500
Then snip the supports, and repeat as necessary.

5 rafts of 20 chairs costed as 32p.

Having the two sets of interlaced chairs aligned does reduce the size of the raft, but 32p fo 100 chairs aligned to make life easy is worth the extra pennies.

Steve
@Steve_Cornford

Hi Steve,

Here's a mad way to get 24 chairs on a raft only 57mm x 11mm, and still be able to thread them at roughly the right spacing:

dual_level_raft1.png


dual_level_raft.png


Do the tall ones first, trim their supports from the raft, do the short ones. :)

I haven't sliced it to see if the extra pyramid cost outweighs the saving in raft area. The tall ones could maybe go a bit lower. But even if there is no saving, you could get several more rafts on the build plate.

Unfortunately at present you need to export 2 files and merge them in a CAD program.

It's easy to change the pyramid height (I used 3mm and 6mm). For the tall ones I switched off the raft and set a Z-shift of 3mm.

In the next update I will add an option to set a pyramid height and Z-shift per template, so it can be exported in a single file.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Martin Wynne

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message ref: 5252
Hi Martin, I guess your script replaced "T h r e a d" with "topic" :)

Pyramid height and z-shift per template! As long as you feel its not getting too complex?

If you can supply a copy of your merged file I could give it a try first to see how practical that format is.

I found it best to only part cure the rafts so that they verge towards rubbery rather than brittle to aid the clipping from the pyramid supports.

ABS-Like Resin
my first bottle arrived in white box with colour printing and had P08/02/2021 and E08/03/2023 printed on the bottle label, which I assume means P for Produced and E for Expiry.
Second bottle just arrive was in a smaller brown box with black printing and just had P04BB511 printed on the bottle label.

Both labels had the text "Production and expiration date are printed on the product label" printed in red at bottom of label!

Have you received your second bottle yet?

Steve
 
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Martin Wynne

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As long as you feel its not getting too complex?
@Steve_Cornford

Hi Steve,

Perish the thought! :)

I found it best to only part cure the rafts so that they verge towards rubbery rather than brittle to aid the clipping from the pyramid supports.

How many seconds for that? Do you final cure with them on the rail? I would think they need to be fully cured to allow for bash-fitting without damage?

My bottles of resin exactly the same as yours -- except mine had only 12 months of shelf life. Yours had 24 months! (American date format.) Which interestingly is where mine has got to now -- Prod Oct 2020, Exp Oct 2021.

And now we must decipher the expiry date from the label code. Anyone? Mine is P04BB033.

p.s. did you notice on the coloured resin box that they mixed up maroon and red? I wonder what's in the actual bottles. :) And whether shelf life varies with different colours.

It was interesting in the video that the guy was happy to mix resins from different suppliers. It makes you wonder if there is a secret recipe out there somewhere which would be perfect for plug track?

cheers,

Martin.
 
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I suspect that Wayne has perfected that secret recipe already!

Perhaps the BB stands for Best Before?

I have sliced 7 of your 24 chair rafts to give a total resin cost of 39p

Printing (i hope) as I type.

Intermittent showers in Brighton :( Means more experimental time :)
 
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Martin Wynne

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@Steve_Cornford

Hi Steve,

A thought. If we painted the support pyramids before curing they would remain soft? A quick scoosh with car primer after washing and drying, with a mask over the chairs?

Best Before 033? :confused:

Intermittent showers in Brighton :( Means more experimental time :)

Same here. There will be some Templot users doing a rain dance.

Martin.
 
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Martin Wynne

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So how come your first label had 2 years?

And if it's one year, we have only got 5 months left.

I'm going to use up my old stuff on other jobs -- first off being some loose-jaw pin holders for the tweezers.

Perhaps I need a second tank so I can swap old and new easily? I already have a second build plate, and a second wash tub for the Mercury. At this rate I shall have a complete second machine soon. :)

cheers,

Martin.
 
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More feedback,
Cured for 4 seconds, sliding rail into the taller chairs is about 25% harder than the lower chairs as the tall chairs flex sideways more as the rail slides through,. If cured for 3 secsonds or less the flex is more and this increases friction and then the jaws tend to ping off!
20221107_142800.jpg
4 second cure rafts tall chairs used.

I think I will try making a cardboard square toothed comb that slides in and sits on top of lower chairs but bears against sides of tall chairs to deter sideways flex.

20221107_143017.jpg
Side view showing sufficient gap between top of lower chairs a d underside of tall chairs.

Steve
 
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