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 Some of the earlier pages of this topic are now out-of-date.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

    The assumption is that you have your own machines on which to experiment, or helpful friends with machines. Please do not send Templot files to commercial laser cutting or 3D printing firms while this project is still experimental, because the results are unpredictable and possibly wasteful.

    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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I'm intending to release 236d later today. I know several folks are waiting to play with the loose jaws.

I'm in two minds about this, because I know just how many unfinished loose ends there are, and functions not yet fully working. Plus all the half-finished stuff that I have forgotten about.

On the other hand if I wait until everything is done and dusted, it will be weeks or months before I get anything released. And I do value the feedback and encouragement I get from everyone -- so I know I'm not wasting my time. :)

But just a reminder -- it's all experimental. Experimental.

If you try any of the 3D export stuff you are helping me to conduct an experiment. I'm grateful and interested to read your reported results of the experiment. But please don't use words such as "error" or "bug" as if this is a finished piece of working software, because it makes me bad-tempered. :)

If you get unexpected results, just say you have found a problem, or discrepancy, or quirk, or dead-end, or something failed or looks wrong or needs more work. Thanks.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Martin Wynne

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Elegoo now showing as Neptune 3 Pro sold out for UK!
@Steve_Cornford

Hi Steve,

I'm sure this wasn't on Amazon the last time I looked:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Odin-5-F3-Foldable-Integrated-Carborundum/dp/B08NDM71Q6

Dual Z-lift. Direct-drive extruder. Glass bed. Manual levelling.

But what really stands out for me is the video! The guy is in a workshop, making something sensible, instead of those ugly fantasy characters which appear in every other 3D printer video:



But strangely, the maker's web site says it is "unavailable" (which means rather more than "out of stock"):

https://www.fokoostech.com/products/fokoos-odin-5-f3-3d-printer

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Martin Wynne

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Program update 236d is now on the server. Restart Templot to update.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Martin Wynne

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A few quick notes about 236d.

The chairs with loose jaws which I have done so far are all interchangeable -- i.e. any S1 chair is interchangeable with any other S1 chair, whether loose jawed or solid. Except that the P slide chairs are not interchangeable for different flangeways. So P4 slide chairs are not interchangeable with EM/00-SF slide chairs (although their loose jaws are). The switch block chairs which are specific to their position on a template have not yet been done with loose jaws.

So far with loose jaws: S1 - S1J - P - L1 - SC

(SC are the stock-rail part of the 2-part switch block chairs.)

Note also that L1 bridge chairs from 236d, solid or loose jawed, will only fit timbering bricks from 236d. L1 chairs from previous versions of Templot won't fit, and L1 chairs from 236d won't fit timbering bricks from previous versions.

An STL file for chairs must be all loose jawed or all solid, you can't yet mix them up in the same STL. That will come later.

The switch block chairs which have not yet been done with loose jaws will be exported solid regardless, but might have jaws missing. It's best not to include them when making loose-jawed chairs.

If using loose jaws, the STL must be all slotted chairs, or all the loose jaws for them. If using loose jaws therefore, you will need to create two STL files, one containing the slotted chairs, and one containing the loose jaws. You can't mix them up in the same STL.

For chairs, before doing anything else click this to omit all the timbering:

dxf_chairs_only_236dpng.png


Don't click that later after making other settings, it might undo your changes.

If you want solid slide-on chairs you don't need to do anything else, the default settings should work as before.

If you want to export slotted chairs which can receive loose jaws, now untick and tick these boxes. This will apply to all the chairs in the file:

dxf_slotted chairs_only_236d.png



If you want to export the loose jaws to go in them, untick and tick these boxes instead, and clear the 2 combo boxes (right-click on them). This will apply to all the chairs in the file:

dxf_loose_jaws_only_236d.png


Add the rafts as before, using rectangles in the background shapes. You can now twist them to an angle if it helps.

Create batches of chairs by reducing the track gauge to save space on the raft, and overlaying multiple templates. But don't reduce the gauge if creating block chairs for a switch.

Have fun. :)

I will write more about all this later.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Martin Wynne

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Martin,
Well done with 236d, my printing den available again so will unbox the Mars and perform some more experiments :)

With regard to the Fokoos, I read one review that listed as a "con" the manual bed levelling, but which for our intended use is actually a "pro".
They also reported that the product cooling fan was very noisy and would be a candidate for upgrading to a decent quiet fan.
There was a "sold out" sticker just above the top left cornner of the illustration when I looked.
Neptune 3 Pro versus PLus and Max
very interesting, especially for a group of modellers, eg a club.

Steve
 
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Martin Wynne

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A chilly grey sunday afternoon, so I stayed put in the computer den and made a start on the CC 4-screw check rail chairs:

check_rail_chairs1.png


Unlike the switch block chairs, these will be 1-part chairs only. The stock-rail jaws will be optional solid slide-on, or loose-jaw. The ones on the check rail side will be loose-jaw only.

Like the P slide chairs, these CC chairs will be interchangeable only with the same flangeway gap. i.e. EM interchangeable with 00-SF but not with P4.

(But unlike the slide chairs, S4/P4 will not be interchangeable with S4-X)

Lots still to do, and the angled check end chairs, but I thought I would post some evidence of progress. :)

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Alan Turner

Member
Location
Dudley
@Steve_Cornford

Hi Steve,

I'm sure this wasn't on Amazon the last time I looked:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Odin-5-F3-Foldable-Integrated-Carborundum/dp/B08NDM71Q6

Dual Z-lift. Direct-drive extruder. Glass bed. Manual levelling.

But what really stands out for me is the video! The guy is in a workshop, making something sensible, instead of those ugly fantasy characters which appear in every other 3D printer video:



But strangely, the maker's web site says it is "unavailable" (which means rather more than "out of stock"):

https://www.fokoostech.com/products/fokoos-odin-5-f3-3d-printer

cheers,

Martin.
You need to go to the UK site here: https://uk.fokoostech.com/products/fokoos-odin-5-f3-3d-printer

regards

Alan
 
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Martin Wynne

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I am a bit worried about the reported noise of the "product cooling fan" whatever that is.
@Steve_Cornford

Hi Steve,

It's the fan which blows across the model around the nozzle to cool the model after fresh polymer has been extruded onto it. Otherwise it would get hotter and hotter as it builds up, to create a squidgy mess. The fan normally switches on after the first few layers have been laid down on the hotbed. The fan speed can be controlled from the slicer settings. The model needs to be warm enough for fresh polymer to fuse into it, but cool enough to retain its shape. Typically 50 degsC is about right.

As it's a direct-drive extruder, there is likely to be another fan blowing across the filament tube between the extruder gears and the heated nozzle. This is to stop heat from the nozzle softening the filament in the gears, which would prevent accurate feeding of filament.

I wouldn't worry about the noise of the fans. All fans are noisy. You could put a cardboard box over the printer if it's a problem.

It seems clear that this is clearance price of a printer which is no longer in production. The spec is very good for the price, but there is likely to be no support or spare parts, and we don't know the construction quality. So it would be a bit of a gamble.

But it's the perfect spec for timbering bricks -- glass bed, manual levelling, dual Z-screws for accurate layer thicknesses.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Martin Wynne

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Another day, another setting. :)

dxf_fw_tweak.png


This allows a correction* to the check gauge if everything else is working ok except that.

n.b. Writing this now in case I forget later. On the templates the flangeway gap is template-specific. i.e. every template can have its own flangeway setting. That won't be possible on the 3D exports -- the flangeway gap will be taken from the current setting on the control template and applied to all templates in the export. Otherwise the check rail chairs wouldn't be interchangeable on different templates. That would introduce a whole new layer of complexity and I have to draw a line in the sand somewhere. :)

You can of course create plug track with different flangeway settings, but it needs a separate STL for each setting. For gauge-widened plug track for example.

* This adjusts the chairs but not the position of the check rail if it is included in the export for 3D rendering -- there will be a discrepancy in the STL. Normally rails are included in the export for rendering display purposes only, so there would be no reason to make a flangeway adjustment in it. The same applies to the other adjustments in that box -- rendered 3D rails won't change position. If rendering rails, leave all these on zero.

If you are actually intending to 3D-print the rails (battery, clockwork, pull-along string), make the gauge and flangeway settings on the templates in the usual way, and leave the corrections on zero.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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I will be on the demo stand at the Manchester show on the 9th and 10th of December. If anyone is interested in seeing what I have been up to with my card laser cut sleepers and 3D printed chairs I can bring some along to show. I can also have some of Martin's individual key and jaw samples which you can look at too.

If you are planning on coming please let me know and I will make sure I put this in my bag for bringing otherwise I am demonstrating model buildings made with a laser cutter.

More details of where and when here Manchester Exhibition

Ralph

Edited for typo!

Hi Ralph,

I just discovered this new approach yesterday and I'm so struck that I didn't consider printing the track components sooner!

I'll be at the Manchester show on Sunday, primarily to see the P4 layout Ryburn, so if you could bring along some stuff to have a look at that would be greatly appreciated. Cheers!
 
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Location
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if you could bring along some stuff to have a look at that would be greatly appreciated.
Certainly James. I had planned to bring it along anyway together with Martin's method of which I have got a couple of examples. The quality from Martin's printer is better than from mine but you will be able to get the idea of how it all works.

Ralph
 
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Martin Wynne

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Manchester show on the 9th and 10th of December.

I think that should be 10th and 11th.

I remember when the Manchester show opened on the Friday evening -- it was the best time to visit. :)

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Certainly James. I had planned to bring it along anyway together with Martin's method of which I have got a couple of examples. The quality from Martin's printer is better than from mine but you will be able to get the idea of how it all works.

Ralph
Excellent, thanks a lot.

I don't have an FDM printer on hand and don't reaallly fancy learning the other side of the coin if I can avoid it. I can feel there is probably one in my future though.

I have an Elegoo Saturn which is a bit of a veteran at this point. I'd quite like to give printing whole resin timber sets for turnouts a go. My layout plan requires all the track work be bespoke so any way to make things easy and accurate is very much a win for me. Looking forward to taking a close peek at what you've achieved so far.
 
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Martin Wynne

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Another day, another setting. :)

index.php


This allows a correction* to the check gauge if everything else is working ok except that.

n.b. Writing this now in case I forget later. On the templates the flangeway gap is template-specific. i.e. every template can have its own flangeway setting. That won't be possible on the 3D exports -- the flangeway gap will be taken from the current setting on the control template and applied to all templates in the export. Otherwise the check rail chairs wouldn't be interchangeable on different templates. That would introduce a whole new layer of complexity and I have to draw a line in the sand somewhere. :)

You can of course create plug track with different flangeway settings, but it needs a separate STL for each setting. For gauge-widened plug track for example.

* This adjusts the chairs but not the position of the check rail if it is included in the export for 3D rendering -- there will be a discrepancy in the STL. Normally rails are included in the export for rendering display purposes only, so there would be no reason to make a flangeway adjustment in it. The same applies to the other adjustments in that box -- rendered 3D rails won't change position. If rendering rails, leave all these on zero.

If you are actually intending to 3D-print the rails (battery, clockwork, pull-along string), make the gauge and flangeway settings on the templates in the usual way, and leave the corrections on zero.

cheers,

Martin.

Well yes and no. This has turned into a can of worms. :(

If you look way back in this topic you may remember that fine adjustment of the track gauge was going to be done by moving the chair jaws on the chair base, leaving the chair base and plug unchanged. Likewise for any tweaks to the flangeway gap. Which was working fine for small adjustments.

Until some fool had an idea for separate loose jaws. :)

Obviously if you move a loose jaw, either the slot through the chair base and the plug has to move too, or the loose jaw part has to move relative to its pin. I've been working on both these options, and both have produced a minefield of non-interchangeable chairs, or non-interchangeable and/or unprintable loose jaws.

I've come to the conclusion that it is not tenable. The complexity of this project would be getting out of hand. I can probably get the program code working, but there is no way I would ever be able to write the user instructions. It's a stage in the process which I'm already dreading as I add more and more settings and options.

So the options are:

1. Abandon any means of adjusting the track gauge. If it is coming out wrong the only option would be to adjust the printer scaling or shrinkage settings (which would upset a match to the paper templates), or

2. Make any adjustment needed on the timber sockets. i.e. If the gauge is coming out wrong it would be necessary to print a fresh timbering brick. But the chairs and jaws don't change and remain interchangeable with all others.

3. Likewise for adjustments to the flangeway gap. It would need a new timbering brick, but also some customised non-interchangeable check-rail chairs to go with it. But the loose jaws for them remain unchanged and interchangeable.

Changes to the track gauge obviously affect all chair positions. Changes to the flangeway gap affect only the check rail chairs, so being non-interchangeable can probably be lived with.

I'm still pondering what to do. Probably for 00, EM, 0-MF the non-adjustable output would be fine. I'm already finding that track gauges drop on the rails easily without any problems. But for P4 and S7 I just know that folks are going to want to make fine adjustments to suit their 3D printers and laser cutters.

Decisions, decisions ... :)

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Martin Wynne

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@Steve_Cornford

Hi Steve,

In addition to the standard 1.3/4" flangeway, check rail chairs are made increasing in 1/4" steps -- 2", 2.1/4", 2.1/2".

However those are for intentional changes in the flangeway gap for gauge-widening on sharp curves. In Templot terms you would do that by increasing the gauge and flangeway on the template, and then 3D printing the template normally.

If the flangeway on a standard check rail chair turned out not to be 1.3/4", it would be a scrap casting.

But after 100 years of making REA bullhead track parts almost unchanged, the foundry has probably got the knack of making accurate chair castings. :)

A shrinkage allowance is built into the wooden patterns:




cheers,

Martin.
 
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