• 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 Some of the earlier pages of this topic are now out-of-date.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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Sorry I wasted your time by not trying it myself first.
Not a problem Martin, the more people try this the more feedback you get. It has made me realise how dated my printer has become and the fact I need to stop using the Anycubic slicer.

Been trying to print a rodding stool and it keeps failing, I was thinking it was the drawing but now I am going to try with a different slicer before giving up. Here is the full size one on its underground support which I borrowed from the E Lancs Railway to get a drawing done, nice when you can bring it home and work with it!

Ralph

20221122_092753.jpg
 
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Trevor

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Location
Morecambe
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I think I have fixed the Z-axis problems on the Neptune 2S.

It was bugging me that I was getting better Z accuracy from the little child's toy MINIBO (Easythreed X1) printer than from the Neptune:

View attachment 4639

In fact the actual results from it are excellent after some tweaking of the gcode files. At around £80 it is a bargain if you want an FDM printer for small components in PLA:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B08K3GC818

(The link is for the Easythreed X2, with a screen on the control box -- not needed if you run the X1 over USB from your computer.)

The problem, as with resin printing, is the small size of the build plate. And being unheated, it needs a brim around the component to prevent warping:

View attachment 4645

But the result is spot-on for dimensions.

Notice that it has a one-sided Z lift, just like the Neptune, but no right-hand column. It means the cantilevered X-bars sag a bit, but that's of no practical consequence if you adjust the bed levelling to match.

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. I slackened off the Neptune V-rollers on the right-hand slider so that they are running free and serving no purpose. The X-bar is now effectively cantilevered from the left-hand column only. I checked that the (somewhat inadequate) fixing screws attaching it to the left-hand slider were extra tight, and re-levelled the bed.

And it worked! Z-accuracy from the Neptune is now matching the design sizes, and the same all over the build area. I'm now very pleased with the results from it -- easily matching the BIBO printer which was a lot more expensive. Which I didn't really expect, given that is has a bowden-tube extruder against the direct-drive extruder on the BIBO.

Here it is, drawing out the first layer outline for a timbering brick (on the replacement glass bed):

View attachment 4640

It seems to me that the original printer design is flawed with a one-sided Z-lift. For it to work well without crabbing, those columns need to be jig-bored and dowelled, rather than relying on screws alone to set them exactly parallel. Some of the more expensive printers have synchronised dual Z-lifts to overcome these problems.

But I'm now very happy with the Neptune 2S, so back to the chairs... :)

cheers,

Martin.
Hello Martin,

"Notice that it has a one-sided Z lift, just like the Neptune, but no right-hand column. It means the cantilevered X-bars sag a bit, but that's of no practical consequence if you adjust the bed levelling to match."

Could you possibly print a leg that could be fastened to the right hand plastic fitting to help with support?

Regards
Trevor:)
 
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Martin Wynne

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@Trevor

Hi Trevor,

er...

The whole assembly moves up and down on those vertical bars, so such a leg can't be a fixed length.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Martin Wynne

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@Steve_Cornford @ralphrobertson

Hi Steve, Ralph,

Did you measure the overall thickness of the resin-printed sleepers? Something seems wrong. :confused:

Here is the Chitubox slicer showing the uppermost layer for the webs and flanges:

resin_slice1.png


Each layer is 0.05mm thick. It is showing layer 18 at 0.925mm. Add 0.025mm for showing mid-way through a layer = 0.95mm printed. The design size is 0.96mm, so that's as close as we can expect it to get.

And the printed result = 0.94 - 0.97mm. Spot-on and as good or better than we might expect.

And here is the Chitubox slicer showing the uppermost layer for the sleepers:

resin_slice2.png


It is showing layer 64 at 3.225mm. Add 0.025mm for showing mid-way through a layer = 3.25mm printed. The design size is 3.24mm, so again that's as close as we can expect it to get.

But the printed result = 2.76 - 2.78mm. That's a massive 0.47mm gone missing between the top of the flanges and the top of the sleepers. More than 9 layers worth? Where did it go? The printer continued printing the chairs normally above that, so it's a mystery. I have double-checked these dimensions several times.

Is it shrinkage? It seems a massive amount if so.

Is my Mars printer faulty?

Is the .ctb file corrupted?

So the next question is -- how thick are your resin-printed sleepers?

Thanks.

Martin.
 
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Location
Manchester
@Steve_Cornford @ralphrobertson

Hi Steve, Ralph,

Did you measure the overall thickness of the resin-printed sleepers? Something seems wrong. :confused:

Here is the Chitubox slicer showing the uppermost layer for the webs and flanges:

View attachment 4659

Each layer is 0.05mm thick. It is showing layer 18 at 0.925mm. Add 0.025mm for showing mid-way through a layer = 0.95mm printed. The design size is 0.96mm, so that's as close as we can expect it to get.

And the printed result = 0.94 - 0.97mm. Spot-on and as good or better than we might expect.

And here is the Chitubox slicer showing the uppermost layer for the sleepers:

View attachment 4658

It is showing layer 64 at 3.225mm. Add 0.025mm for showing mid-way through a layer = 3.25mm printed. The design size is 3.24mm, so again that's as close as we can expect it to get.

But the printed result = 2.76 - 2.78mm. That's a massive 0.47mm gone missing between the top of the flanges and the top of the sleepers. More than 9 layers worth? Where did it go? The printer continued printing the chairs normally above that, so it's a mystery. I have double-checked these dimensions several times.

Is it shrinkage? It seems a massive amount if so.

Is my Mars printer faulty?

Is the .ctb file corrupted?

So the next question is -- how thick are your resin-printed sleepers?

Thanks.

Martin.
Measured mine on a vernier and the thickness of the sleepers are 2.78mm too.

Ralph
 
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Martin Wynne

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Measured mine on a vernier and the thickness of the sleepers are 2.78mm too.

Ralph

Thanks Ralph.

That's with a different slicer, a different printer, and a different resin.

What are we missing? :confused:

Just to check again, I downloaded the STL file which I posted and opened it in TurboCAD:

resin_slice3.png


It's definitely showing Z = 3.24mm to the sleeper top (bottom right).

Martin.
 
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I have never used chitubox but why is the little white arrow pointing in different directions in the two images above? Is it measuring from the same reference point/direction in both?
 
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Martin Wynne

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I have never used chitubox but why is the little white arrow pointing in different directions in the two images above? Is it measuring from the same reference point/direction in both?
@murphaph

Hi Phil,

It's just the way I cropped the image to save screen space -- zero in the slicer is the printer build plate.

Clicking those white arrows animates the slider to move up or down the full range by itself, instead of dragging it.

The right-hand image shows the image that the printer will project onto the bottom surface of the resin at that layer. This also shows on the printer's screen while it is printing that layer. The left-hand image shows which layer that is within the model part. Here it has reached the base of the chairs:

resin_slice4.png


The Chitubox program windows are a bit unpredictable in Windows 11 and are never in the same place on the screen twice. But the data is always the same.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Hi Martin,
Sorry I have not printed your chaired sleeper base yet as I have temporarily boxed up the printer. I am using a spare bedroom as my modelling room and unfortunately it is required as a bedroom this coming weekend so I have abandoned operations in time to give the room a thorough airing.

However I have opened your file with Chitubox, and my layer 18 does not correspond to yours.
Layer 19 goes from 0.909 to 0.950 as far as I can tell.
Layer 18 goes from 0.894 to 0.895 as far as i can tell.
That is using a mousepad.
If I use the up down arrows i get lyer 18 as 0.900 and layer 19 as 0.950.

Again using up arrow I get to layer 64 at 3.200, and layer 65 at 3.250 (which on my system is the top of the timber.
Layer 66 shows the start of the chairs at 3.500
I am using Chitubox v 1.8.1

The highest layer is 101 at 5.040

By the way this is the second time I have put my printer away, and after the first re-assembly, although I re-levelled the actual printer, I did not re-calibrate either of the two build plates I have.

Printed during second session (that is after first packing away & re-assembly)
Plain track track templates
With shrinkage set at 0.00% and web thickness reduced from 0.96 to 0.50mm
P4 socketed bases (my templates) with one coat halfords primer + one coat halfords camoflage brown currently measures 3.15 - 3.16mm
OO-SF chaired bases (my templates) unprimed currently measure 3.10 - 3.11mm (.stl file exported by templot, then fixed via templot linked website, then sliced in chitubox.

Printed during first session (one of the first base prints I did)
OO-SF LH B7 switch base
Shrinkage default 1.5% and web thickness default 0.96mm
unprimed currently measures 3.20-3.21

Another strange thing with chitubox.
If I take my OO-SF joint brick fixed, and view it in chitubox. if I am going from the bottom up, using up arrow, then it starts at 0.00, then goes up in 0.050 increments until i get to layer 64 which displayes as 3.200, but the next cursor up gives layer 64 at 3.240.
If I then use down cursor it goes down in 0.050 increments but gives layer 64 3.190, 63 at 3.140 etc.

I cannot easily measure depth of the OO-SF bases I have already stuck down, but length of sleepers is stable at 32mm and length of joint section also stable


Do you re-calibrate your Mars buiild plates?
I have only calibrated each of the two build plates once.

Steve
 
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Hi Martin,
It looks to me as though you still have sockets in the bottom layers.
When I produced my chaired timber bases, I ticked blind sockets, but then set socket depth to zero, hopefully meaning no sockets.
Would this have affected anything?
Steve
 
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Martin Wynne

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@Steve_Cornford

Hi Steve,

It's complicated. :)

If you set zero sockets, the timbers will be solid, and the pin slots won't go through them.

To get the pin slots in that file, I set the plugs to the exact same size as the sockets, so filling the sockets solid, but still having the pin slots through them.

It was all a bit of a kludge just to see what happens. This is the first time I have given any proper thought to resin-printed timber bases, thinking up till now that the small build plate made it totally impractical.

In order to proceed we need to do 5 things:

1. find out if it is sensible with solid chairs as bash-fit?

2. find out if it is sensible with integral solid chairs?

3. find out if it is sensible with slotted loose jaws, bash-fit?

4. find out if it is sensible with integral chairs with slotted loose jaws?

5. when we know the answers to all that, I can create a whole new lot of tickboxes and settings to make it work properly. But before I spend much time on such things, as always I need to know -- does it actually work?

For example the length of long timbers under a crossover is 19ft-6in. In 4mm/ft scale, a crossover brick will fit on the Mars 2Pro only if it is straight and at 6ft way. If it is on a curve and/or at increased way, it won't fit. It might fit if rotated 90 degrees and split into a lot of short sections of just a few timbers each.

Is that sensible to think of, or are we going off the scale of common sense? Would anyone really want to do all that work designing a dozen clip together bricks, printing, washing and curing them, just for one crossover? Or save up for an FDM printer? Which will do the whole thing while you are watching the football. (Other sports and pastimes are available. :) )

So much to think about my head is hurting. Time for a boiled egg.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Hi Martin,
I think you have hit the nail on the head. For the reasons you outlined above this is going off the scale of common sense.
Although socketed resin printed timber bricks are possible, I agree that they are not really practical, especially with long timbers.
I am sorry if I have led us up the garden path.

But I believe you are on the right track with both FDM bash fit bases, and the concept of loose jaw chairs for multi-rail chairs.

Time for sleep for me, but a boiled egg would be great for breakfast.

Steve
 
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Martin Wynne

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.
Some thoughts about the brick connector clips.

It's very easy to get into the mindset of placing the brick boundaries (and hence the clips) on the rail joints and/or template boundaries (1 and 3 here):

clip_positioning1.png


But if you do that you are making yourself unnecessary difficulties. At rail joints the adjacent timbers are spaced at 24" centres. And those timbers will most likely be 12" wide (including some joint sleepers in plain track, as at 1 above). Which means there is only 12" space between them in which to fit a clip. That's only 4mm in 4mm/ft scale. Then if you have a 1mm flange on each timber, you have only 2mm space for the clip. It's impossible.

To make space it is necessary to switch off the relevant timber flanges, which you can do on the shove timber dialog after selecting the timber:

clip_positioning3.png


Untick the box for the relevant Near or Far flange (from CTRL-0 datum -- on plain track it will always be the Far flange on timber A1).

The problem then is that you have weakened the very timber you are using to make a connection to the brick, where it has thin-walled sockets each side of the clip. To overcome that you can add diagonal splints as stiffeners, as at 1 and 3 above.

All these issues can be avoided by putting the clip somewhere else, as at 2 above. It may seem counter-intuitive to put a brick boundary through the middle of a switch, but there is no reason not to. The bricks have no prototypical relevance, the only objective will usually be to get as much of your track plan on the printer build plate as possible.

The important details to check are:

clip_positioning2.png

The leading edge of the claws part 1 must not conflict with the edge of the opposite timber flange 2.​
The leading edge of the tommy bar part 3 must not conflict with the edge of the opposite timber flange 4.​

You can see that if you choose a location away from a rail joint, you have some freedom in positioning a clip to satisfy these conditions.*

For more about extracting timbering bricks from your track plan and setting the brick boundaries, see this topic:

https://85a.uk/templot/club/index.php?threads/extracting-a-3d-timbering-brick-from-a-track-plan.295/

and ignore all the experimental stuff on the first few pages which no longer applies. :)

*For FDM printing, if conditions are tight, preferably reduce the 1-2 clearance rather than the 3-4 clearance, so that Templot can fit an elephant's-foot protection recess around the underside of the claws without conflicting with the timber flange 4.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Martin Wynne

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.
Just to follow up on that.

The brick connector clips are very versatile -- you can put one anywhere you like, at any angle, and attach it to splints, slabs or brick walls linked to the track.

For example sometimes there will be situations where the timber shoving and the position of a brick boundary makes it impossible to fit a clip between the timbers:

clip_positioning5.png


Then you could add a couple of slab shapes at the side of the track, and put the clip between them. You might want to do that at both sides of the track for accurate alignment.

If there is insufficient space for that, either on the track plan or on the printer build plate, you might do this:

clip_positioning4.png


Using a separately printed link piece. That could be left in place under the ballast along with everything else. Or if space is tight you might want to remove it after the two bricks have been fixed in place on the baseboard. That would leave space for another brick to be laid alongside -- possibly linking into the existing clips.

Even if there would be space between the timbers for a clip, the above strategy might get you an extra timber within the available space on your printer build plate.

Remember too that there is a 1mm pin hole in the tommy bar on the clip centre. You may want to add a tommy bar simply to use the pin hole -- which might align with a target mark on the paper templates and/or a 1mm veneer pin inserted in the baseboard as a locator. The pin hole could be drilled out a bit larger if necessary.

And of course the Templot design doesn't have to perfect -- if details are conflicting they can always be cut away on the printed brick when laying the track.

There's plenty of room for ingenuity. :)

All this stuff will eventually be in the Companion, but I thought I would start writing it down a bit at a time.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Martin Wynne

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Not sure if this helps anyone or not (apologies Martin if its posted in the wrong place) and I dont want to confuse anything .. but this appeared on en email today, the new Elegoo Neptune 3 Pro FDM is released on 29th December 2022.
Rich

Thanks Rich.

Well there you go -- what was I saying about the single-sided Z-lift?

"The Z-axis with dual synchronized lead screws and dual-motor drive for more stable movement of the print head and higher printing accuracy, avoiding the printing deviation driven by a single Z-axis lead screw motor. The 4-wheel V-guide rail pulley is made of POM with more stable movement, low noise, wear resistance, and longer service life."

And a direct-drive extruder.

UK delivery from Austria claimed for 16th December: https://www.3djake.uk/elegoo/neptune-3-pro

Probably it will appear on Amazon UK at about the same time.




cheers,

Martin.
 
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Hi Martin,
Just watched the Neptune 3 Pro unbox & setup video.
Seems to be fairly straightforward to assemble.
Having handled the sample FDM printed bases you sent me I am sorely tempted to go the FDM route rather than outsourced laser cut ply & cork bed.
I must resist!
Steve
 
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