Experimental Plug Track - file exports for 3D printing

Dear Martin,
Please don't regret releasing 228a into the wild.
I for one have loved tinkering with it, and in doing so proved to myself that it is practical to laser cut sockets in 1.6mm ply with a width of 1.7mm, and the process has encouraged me to learn more and more about using Templot (without experimental chairing switched on).

Also more about resin printing and laser cutting, and dare I say it, even CNC milling.

I know you are just at the start of a long journey, and that maybe there will be the odd diversion up a "disused" branch line on the way, but it has really been stimulating to spectate on your journey, so thank you for sharing your progress with us.

Steve
 
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Martin Wynne

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I have now added some brick clip-connectors, which at present look like this, buried in the ballast:

brick_clip.png


It's called a T-clip or Tommy-clip. The clearance between the tommy-bar and housing is adjustable. It will need some trial and error to allow for polymer shrinkage, etc., and make a close fit without any play. Also some careful Z-adjustment on the printer to avoid an "elephant-foot" against the build plate. Some manual fettling of the clips is likely to be needed.

The clips are quite small, sometimes needing to fit between the timbers as above. But where possible it would be better to have them in the six-foot, attached to the timber webs using short splints. As with the splints, the clip positions are set manually, in this case by adding target mark shapes in the background shapes:

target_marks.png


You can add up to 20 clips per brick, but will usually need only a few. Clips on the left and/or bottom of a brick will be the left-facing housing part. Clips on the right and/or top of a brick will be the right-facing tommy-bar part.

Sometimes the clip will need to be at angle, to fit between the timbers -- how to set the angle is not yet decided. Sliding the template fixing peg might be one way to set a clip for both position and angle.

Hopefully it will work. If not, an alternative idea is to print some separate connector plates to link the sockets -- a plate with some plugs on it. To be removed after gluing the bricks to the trackbed.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Martin Wynne

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Paul Boyd

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Loughborough, UK
Hi Martin

This is really quiet an exciting development, and although it's highly unlikely that I'll ever have the facilities to do 3D printing myself (my justification for getting a setup at work failed :cool: ), there are plenty of places to get that done. My perspective is that my preferred method of track-building is plastic chairs on ply timbers but that makes for quite fragile track until it's firmly laid, and I've tended to drift towards more robust methods, on the basis that anyone who starts peering too closely will get a smack in the chops! The bricks seem to me like an excellent idea to keep everything securely in place - no more ply timbers, no more cutting gaps in copper-clad.

Anyway, the reason I posted is to ask whether you've considered spinning off the 3D printing aspect into either a separate program or an optional plug-in? The reason for the suggestion is that this is clearly going to have a lot of ongoing development, possibly at the expense of fixing bugs in the core function of Templot. I can see the situation occurring where you want to release a bug fix for something that's relatively straightforward, but can't do that until a big chunk of 3D printing code is releasable - in fact, I'm sure that's happened already!

Anyway, just a thought!

Cheers,
Paul
 
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Martin Wynne

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The reason for the suggestion is that this is clearly going to have a lot of ongoing development, possibly at the expense of fixing bugs in the core function of Templot. I can see the situation occurring where you want to release a bug fix for something that's relatively straightforward, but can't do that until a big chunk of 3D printing code is releasable - in fact, I'm sure that's happened already!
@Paul Boyd

Hi Paul,

Yes, that's the situation at present. There's a bug-fix in 228b for the silly straight-over-straight diamond-crossing mistake I made in 227a (and forgot to fix in 228a), but I dare not release 228b while it's such a battle of wits to get folks to understand what "experimental" means. :(

Yes, all options for how to release this are in my mind. A separate program is a possibility (and also for the sketchboard). I also have to think about the impact of all this on the open-source T3 project.

But I can't think about any of that until I have made it actually work. :)

I'm still a long way from that, and there is still the possibility that the whole thing will end up in the bin. It wouldn't be the first time. My main worry is the potential support load -- I not only have to release it, but then explain it. Sometimes explaining the same stuff over and over again until I'm just exhausted with the whole of Templot. I'm posting stuff here as I go along, because I may never get round, or remember, to explain it ever again.

Thanks for your thoughts.

p.s. I understand the difficulty in finding facilities for a resin printer, but I imagine most folks could fit an FDM printer in somewhere. If you stick to PLA polymer it's entirely home-friendly. The Templot chair files can be sent to a resin printing service, but for the FDM timbering bases there will be a lot of fiddle factors and most modellers would want to be in total control:

* https://www.amazon.co.uk/ANYCUBIC-Auxiliary-Leveling-Magnetic-220x220x250mm/dp/B08JCB2T4V/

* random pick from Amazon, not a recommendation!


cheers,

Martin.
 
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HI Martin,
Your T clips are looking good.
Somewhere during my 3D printing learning curve I saw a recomendation to add small round holes (ie 3/4 of a circle segemnt) to the inside right angle corners of female sockets to prevent stress fractures.
Sorry I can't remember where now (I take my eggs scrambled!)
Probably irrelevant to your T clips as they only have to survive until the glue sets.
My dad would have preferred dovetail joints!
Steve
 
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Paul Boyd

Member
Location
Loughborough, UK
Somewhere during my 3D printing learning curve I saw a recomendation to add small round holes (ie 3/4 of a circle segemnt) to the inside right angle corners of female sockets to prevent stress fractures.
That's standard engineering practise, and also used where a square object has to fit into a milled cut-out with rounded corners. The snippet of drawing shows something similar, in this case half a circle to accommodate a 4mm cutter but I've also used the 3/4 circle. The square LCD panel then fits snugly into the hole without the corners needing to be filed square!

Cheers,
Paul
 

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Martin Wynne

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Somewhere during my 3D printing learning curve I saw a recomendation to add small round holes (ie 3/4 of a circle segemnt) to the inside right angle corners of female sockets to prevent stress fractures.
Hi Steve,

I suspect that was referring to resin printing? For FDM printing the corners of the tommy bar will be slightly radiused from the nozzle, so unlikely to fracture the housings. But if there is a problem I will put a chamfer across the corners, as on the chair plugs. There is still a lot of trial and error to do on the printer.

Scrambled eggs are very nice, but tricky to put in your pocket on a walk. :)

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Paul Boyd

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@Paul Boyd

Hi Paul,

Yes, that's the situation at present. There's a bug-fix in 228b for the silly straight-over-straight diamond-crossing mistake I made in 227a (and forgot to fix in 228a), but I dare not release 228b while it's such a battle of wits to get folks to understand what "experimental" means. :(

Yes, all options for how to release this are in my mind. A separate program is a possibility (and also for the sketchboard). I also have to think about the impact of all this on the open-source T3 project.

But I can't think about any of that until I have made it actually work. :)

I'm still a long way from that, and there is still the possibility that the whole thing will end up in the bin. It wouldn't be the first time. My main worry is the potential support load -- I not only have to release it, but then explain it. Sometimes explaining the same stuff over and over again until I'm just exhausted with the whole of Templot. I'm posting stuff here as I go along, because I may never get round, or remember, to explain it ever again.

Thanks for your thoughts.

p.s. I understand the difficulty in finding facilities for a resin printer, but I imagine most folks could fit in an FDM printer. If you stick to PLA polymer it's entirely home-friendly. The chair files could be sent to a resin printing service, but for the FDM timbering bases there will be a lot of fiddle factors and most modellers would want to be in total control:

* https://www.amazon.co.uk/ANYCUBIC-Auxiliary-Leveling-Magnetic-220x220x250mm/dp/B08JCB2T4V/

* random pick from Amazon, not a recommendation!


cheers,

Martin.
Hi Martin

At work we make extensive use of SLS printing, outsourcing to a company in Berkshire, albeit that process is rather on the pricey side. Having seen the results from that process, and FDM, I just know that I would never be happy with filament printing for detail!
Mind you, at that price I might be tempted (and I did note that it was a random selection!). For instance, MERG and RMEUK do rather nice servo mounts, board mounts etc, and FDM is perfectly adequate for that sort of thing. Carriage roofs with domed ends, or even just the domed ends - easier to smooth off a 3D print than carve from layers of plasticard. Hang on, am I talking myself into this? :LOL:

Cheers,
Paul
 
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Martin Wynne

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I just know that I would never be happy with filament printing for detail!
Hi Paul,

No, FDM is not for detail (unless you are building Gauge 3 in the garden). I proved that with my efforts to make FDM chairs.

But how much detail is there in a railway sleeper? Or a signal post? Or a working lever frame? All the detail bits can be added as resin prints, but home resin is just too fragile for anything which needs a bit of strength.

And don't forget the rail filing jigs (see: https://85a.uk/templot/club/index.php?threads/rail-filing-jigs-3d-printed.226/ ):

index.php


Plus all the useful layout construction parts, servo brackets, stretcher bar sliders -- for example I made these multi-way connector brackets for a friend.

conn_bracket_cad.jpg

Martin.
 
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Martin Wynne

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I experienced strange behaviour with 228a today.

Template set to experimental chairing. Whilst shoving timbers I need to see the blunt nose and timber centre line so I set genenerator setting->chair&baseplates all options unticked. Some timbers dissappeared. Even stranger As I change the length of the template which timbers are visible changes. Very weird.
@timbersgalore

Hi Timbers,

I have now greyed out the generator settings in the next few program updates until there is something meaningful for them to refer to:

exp_chairing_genset.png


Thanks for reminding me that I accidentally left them enabled.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Paul Boyd

Member
Location
Loughborough, UK
Hi Paul,

No, FDM is not for detail (unless you are building Gauge 3 in the garden). I proved that with my efforts to make FDM chairs.

But how much detail is there in a railway sleeper? Or a signal post? Or a working lever frame? All the detail bits can be added as resin prints, but home resin is just too fragile for anything which needs a bit of strength.

And don't forget the rail filing jigs (see: https://85a.uk/templot/club/index.p...ck-file-exports-for-3d-printing.229/post-2275 ):

index.php


Plus all the useful layout construction parts, servo brackets, stretcher bar sliders -- for example I made these multi-way connector brackets for a friend.

View attachment 2223
Martin.
I seem to be finding myself researching FDM printers... I also need to have a look into CAD software. Although I have access to Creo Parametric at work, and at home via a VPN, continued access relies on continued employment!
 
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Martin Wynne

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I also need to have a look into CAD software.
@Paul Boyd

Hi Paul,

For 3D most modellers go for Fusion 360 from Autodesk. It's free for personal use, but a bit of faff to get installed. It's cloud-based, so you need a good internet connection. I'm using TurboCad Deluxe which I got on a special offer for £10 a few years ago, but now seems to cost nearer £200. I didn't realise at the time what a bargain that offer was, and I'm trying to remember where it came from. :) It's now several years old (the copyright on the CD is 2013), but it runs fine on Windows 10. You might find an older version at a good price somewhere.

For others reading this, you don't need any CAD software to make Plug Track from Templot. The files from Templot are ready to use on a 3D printer or send to a 3D printing service. The same will apply to the files for the rail filing and bending jigs. Only the 1:5 filing jig is yet done, but for anyone new to FDM printing it would make a good test piece (although it's intended for the toughened PLA Plus polymer rather than the standard PLA supplied with the machines, but that might work ok). More info and download STL files here:

https://85a.uk/templot/club/index.php?threads/rail-filing-jigs-3d-printed.226/

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Martin Wynne

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It kind of ties in with my thoughts about separating the 3D stuff out in some way.
@Paul Boyd

Hi Paul,

I've been looking at that. It's very difficult. It might not have been if I had thought ahead 5 years ago -- hindsight is a wonderful thing. :)

But it's now closely woven into the template generator. A separate add-on program seems out of the question. The only option would seem to be two complete versions of Templot, with all the ifs and buts and keeping them in step that would cause. We already have the headache of the open-source version now being years behind Templot2. A third version doesn't bear thinking about. At every stage nowadays my main consideration is to minimize the support load, and I get the shakes just thinking about it.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Location
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Hi Martin

I have been sat on the sidelines watching how this thread has progressed. To me it seems that the work you are doing on offering the 3D printing option is only likely to affect a small proportion of those using Templot and for you it is a huge amount of effort for which you will get little in return (I have spent most of my career writing software too so I know what is involved). On a personal note I have to thank you for opening up the opportunity for this small minority to get to play around with this option. Having to modify your code to add in things for 3D printing turnouts has to involve you in a considerable amount of work since there are so many options and variations as we have already seen (and don't even mention slips) and is it all really worth it?

For me the introduction of the ability to 3D print S1 chairs is a big opening and since most people have lots of plain track this offers some of us the ability to produce our own track quite easily. Again, for me, the ability to print turnout timbering and chairs is not something I find particularly necessary as you can buy the turnout chairs and timbering from other sources if you specifically want them. I make my own turnouts from ply and rivet anyway, experience has shown me that the ability to get the soldering iron out to change things far outweighs the time taken to apply cosmetic chairs to the few turnouts anyone is likely to build in their lifetime.

As I have already posted earlier in this thread I have been able to test out the ability to 3D print S1 chairs and laser cut some timbering to match them and it is something that I can use on my layout. Currently it is dismantled but once I have it erected again I will try this all out for real on a set of sidings and I will report back.

Thanks again for producing a great product.

Ralph
 
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Martin Wynne

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To me it seems that the work you are doing on offering the 3D printing option is only likely to affect a small proportion of those using Templot and for you it is a huge amount of effort for which you will get little in return ... ... Thanks again for producing a great product.
@ralphrobertson

Hi Ralph,

A big misunderstanding there. Templot is my hobby. I'm doing the 3D stuff for me, like everything else in Templot. The "return" as you put it is the enjoyment I get out of it, and I've just added the fun of a CNC miller to that. :)

I make Templot available on a take it or leave it free basis for anyone else who wants to use it. It's now 10 years since it was a paid-for "product".

The work element is not the programming or the tinkering, it's what I'm doing right now at the keyboard -- the user support load, forum and website maintenance. It got out of hand once before and made me ill, and I'm terrified the same will happen again with the 3D stuff.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Trevor

Member
Location
Morecambe
Hello Martin,
Maybe it would be an idea to draw a line with Templot development and concentrate on doing what you like at your own pace.
I and I am sure many others find Templot does what we need and much more besides.
If you turned most of your efforts onto developing the 3D printing side of things like you wish to I am sure Templot would continue to
meet peoples requirements. People asking questions could be assisted by other club members much like those on other forums.
RMweb, MERG, EMGS, or the Scalefour society. Doing so would enable you to leave things for a while if you required a break.
Perhaps you could make the 3D side of things a separate project that "bolts" onto Templot somehow when you decide to do so.
Many of us are interested in this 3D branch (pun intended) for Templot that you have introduced and would continue to follow your work with interest whilst accepting it is "Experimental" to be possibly release for general use under your terms.
Sorry to go on so much but making oneself ill due to stress or workload is definitely something you need to avoid.
Regards
Trevor. :)
 
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Martin Wynne

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.
I have had second thoughts about this:

exp1.png


I'm desperate to protect myself from the support load I can see coming with all the explanations needed about the new 3D stuff. It's bad enough that so much of existing Templot is still waiting for proper docs -- the sketchboard, the background maps, all the new functions introduced in 227. And dozens of other places in Templot where clicking the help buttons does nothing at all. I don't want to spend hours and hours at this keyboard for the rest of my life, when I could be tinkering with my 3D printers, or out in the fresh air with my camera, or building that boat kit. :)

But I don't want Templot to look stroppy and bad-tempered. If folks choose to make use of my program I want it to be a pleasant and enjoyable experience.

So I have removed the silly nonsense in the above screenshot. Instead on startup users will see this, or something like this:

experimental_mode.png


After which if you you choose the experimental option you are in uncharted waters. I'm likely to get a bit grumpy if you write in to tell me that X isn't working or Y contains a bug -- I'm only too aware of all the loose ends. But I do very much value positive feedback, ideas and suggestions -- there is a long way to go and I don't yet know the way forward, any more than I did when I started Templot in the last century. :)

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Paul Boyd

Member
Location
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I have had second thoughts about this.

I'm desperate to protect myself from the support load I can see coming with all the explanations needed about the new 3D stuff. It's bad enough that so much of existing Templot is still waiting for proper docs -- the sketchboard, the background maps, all the new functions introduced in 227. And dozens of other places in Templot where clicking the help buttons does nothing at all. I don't want to spend hours and hours at this keyboard for the rest of my life, when I could be tinkering with my 3D printers, or out in the fresh air with my camera, or building that boat kit. :)

But I don't want Templot to look stroppy and bad-tempered. If folks choose to make use of my program I want it to be a pleasant and enjoyable experience.

So I have removed the silly nonsense in the above screenshot. Instead on startup users will see this, or something like this:

View attachment 2249

After which if you you choose the experimental option you are in uncharted waters. I'm likely to get a bit grumpy if you write in to tell me that X isn't working or Y contains a bug -- I'm only too aware of all the loose ends. But I do very much value positive feedback, ideas and suggestions -- there is a long way to go and I don't yet know the way forward, any more than I did when I started Templot in the last century. :)

cheers,

Martin.
That seems like a very sensible solution. I wonder if it could be supplemented by some sort of header at the top of the Templot window as a constant reminder that a user has chosen experimental mode? I notice there isn’t a “don’t show this message again” option which is probably for the best!

My 3D printer is supposed to be here today, at work, before 10pm. Hmm.. As I type this, it’s apparently not on the van yet…

Cheers,
Paul
 
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