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TEMPLOT 3D PLUG TRACK - To get up to speed with this experimental project click here.   To watch an introductory video click here.   See the User Guide at Bexhill West.

  • 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 Some of the earlier pages of this topic are now out-of-date.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 topic.   For some practical modelling aspects of using Plug Track see Building 3D 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. All files derived from Templot are © Martin Wynne.
  • The Plug Track functions are experimental and still being developed.

    For an updated overview of this project see this topic.   For some practical modelling aspects of using Plug Track see Building 3D 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. All files derived from Templot are © Martin Wynne.

Extracting a 3D timbering brick from a track plan

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Martin Wynne

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Enjoy using Templot?
Thanks.

Please do not send requests for help direct to me via email.

Post your questions on the forum where everyone can see them and add
helpful replies.
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edit June 2023: This topic is now 18-months-old. Many of the earlier posts are now out of date, but you will need to read all through it to make sense of the later posts.



Please be aware that Plug Track is still extremely experimental and in continuing development. There are various options you can now tinker about with, but very little which is as yet actually usable on your layout.



A timbering "brick" is a section of timbering base from a track plan, of a size which can be accommodated within the work area of a machine.

That might be a 3D printer, a CNC milling machine, a laser cutter, or something else.

For the usual home versions of such machines the work area is smaller than a typical track template in 4mm/ft scale and above. It's likely that parts of several templates will be contained within the brick, but not the whole of any one template. It's necessary therefore to have some connector clips attached to the brick, so that several bricks can be assembled accurately to create a larger timbering base for track construction. Here are two such bricks which can be clipped together:
index.php

This topic is about how to export the files from Templot to create such timbering bricks.

To get started click this option for the control template, and then store it:

brick_example9.png


Attached below are the files for an example timbering brick.

In order to see the background shapes as shown, you need to tick show modified for 3-D exports on the general options tab:

brick_example1.png


Note that creating a timbering brick containing anything other than plain track is currently purely for trial export purposes only, because there are as yet no special switch and crossing plug chairs to match. For now you could if you wished construct a hybrid stop-gap arrangement, using the plug-in S1 ordinary chairs, and C&L/Exactoscale moulded special chairs. They would cover the socket holes, which could be filled with suitable adhesive.



edit: If it is desired to mix plug-in chairs with flat-base glued chairs, individual plug-in chairs and sockets can now be omitted via the shove timbers dialog, to allow flat-base chairs to be glued in place:

shove_chairs.png


Select the timber in the usual way, by clicking on its number. Untick the boxes on the right to omit a chair and the corresponding socket from the exported files. The chairs count across from the MS (main side) of the template.

n.b. Templot Plug Track uses vertical rail. C&L/Exactoscale chairs are designed for inclined rail. Some fudging will be needed if Templot chairs and C&L chairs are mixed together.



Here are the files below, more notes to follow.

cheers,

Martin.
 

Attachments

  • brick_example.box
    55.4 KB · Views: 247
  • brick_example.bgs3
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setting a brick boundary rectangle New
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If you have loaded the files, and are following this topic as a tutorial, delete the two coloured templates from the storage box, and clear all the background shapes. So that they can be created again. You might also want to change the trackpad grid settings to your preference.

The first thing to do is to create a rectangle to represent the work area on your machine. Click the set... button top left:

brick_example2.png


This is purely a visual aid on the screen, Templot makes no use of this information. If you know the exact dimensions for your machine's work area you can enter them, or just a rough guide.

Now click the move button and position the rectangle as a guide to what will fit in the timbering brick:

brick_example3.png


Now tick this box, and click the colour patch to choose a colour for the timbering brick:

brick_example4.png


With that box ticked, background templates will automatically have the marker coloured applied to them as they are stored.

It's best to stick to the available colours, rather than create one of your own, so that you can easily select it again later if needed. If you are creating multiple bricks, each one must have its own colour.

All the above are existing functions in Templot, they are not new. I simply added extra buttons to make them easier to find.

More shortly.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Now click on one of the turnout templates and copy to the control or press C:

brick_example5.png



With the peg on CTRL-0 adjust the overall length until the timbering fits within the brick rectangle, with some space for a connector clip. The rails can be ignored:

brick_example6.png


And then do the same with the blanking length:

brick_example7.png


index.php


And then click the store button or press the INSERT key:

brick_example8.png


With that box ticked, its marker colour will be set to match the colour patch.

We have now done the very thing we normally try hard to avoid -- created a duplicate partial template. When the brick export has been done, this duplicate template can be deleted from the storage box. Alternatively the original template could be deleted, so that the final track plan is comprised of the timbering bricks only and can be printed as such. Your choice, but if you do that, future changes to the track plan would be a lot more difficult to do.

So far we have been using existing Templot functions. But from this point on I want to emphasize that everything is still very experimental. Do not commit any of it to permanent brain memory because it could easily change in the next program update. So far the user interface is very clunky. At this stage my only interest has been to get stuff to work. Until it does that, there is no point in finessing a smooth user experience (like the rest of Templot! :) ) because it could all be time wasted. On the other hand if I wait until it is all super-smooth and finalised, we could all be dead before it gets released.

Next task is to repeat the process for the plain track template, for which I needed to make some changes.

More shortly,

Martin.
 
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The process is then repeated with all other templates which cross into the brick area. In this case there is only one, some plain track:

brick_example11.png


For plain track the working is different:

brick_example10.png


For plain track templates it is necessary to have the fixing peg on the CTRL-1 end, and adjustment to the overall length takes place at the opposite end. Likewise blanking takes place at the CTRL-1 end, and applies to the timbering only, the rails are not blanked, as you can see below. This is of no consequence here, because the rails are ignored in exporting a timbering brick:

brick_example12.png


This way of blanking plain track is changed in 229a. It was necessary to prevent any changes to the sleeper positions from the underlying template. It's not ideal to have these differences in working between plain track and turnout templates, I hope to sort this out in future.

That completes the process of selecting which parts of the trackplan will be included in the timbering brick -- the DXF brick function exports only those templates which match the marker colour.

Now we can export a 2-D file, or add the connector clips and splints to make a usable 3-D brick for export.

More to follow.

Martin.
 
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At this point there is a parting of the ways.



If you want a 2-D file for CNC milling or laser cutting, nothing else is needed, you are ready to export the brick:

brick_example14.png


Click the timbering brick only option, and click the colour patch to set the colour of the required brick to be exported.

Then make your layer settings. It is probably easiest to switch them all off with the omit all button, and then set the DXF colours for the layers which you do want. For laser cutting the kerf setting can be set by clicking the 2-D cutter kerf... button.

(For 2-D files an alternative way of working would be use groups. Click the group > create smaller group > group by marker colour... menu item on the trackpad. Then click the group templates only option on the DXF dialog instead of the timbering brick only option. Note that this method won't work with 3-D files for 3D printing, you wouldn't get the connector clips and splints.)



For 3-D files for 3D printing the next task is to add the connector clips and splints to this brick. More to follow.

Martin.
 
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For 3D printed timbering bricks, some more work is needed. First the terminology:

brick_example15.png


Surrounding the timbers are several additional elements. They are all thinner than the timbers and intended to be lost in the ballast. They are all optional -- but if you switch them all off you won't have a brick, just a pile of loose timbers. :)

Around each timber are flanges -- side flanges and end flanges. Their purpose is to strengthen the timbers alongside the socket holes and create a more robust brick, with a larger underside area for glueing to the trackbed. If you opt for blind sockets, i.e. the hole doesn't go all the way through, you might feel that the flanges are not needed.

The flanges also permit the creation of a timbering fret (see below).

Linking each timber to the next one are webs. They are at the ends of the timbers so that it is easy to attach splints.

Splints are the links between templates which create a one-piece brick, with the templates held in the correct relative positions. Splints are added to the brick by drawing lines in the background shapes. You can have as many as you like, wherever you like.

All these elements can be adjusted for width and thickness if desired. Where they overlap, the online mesh repair tool resolves any conflicts in the STL file.

Connector clips are placed at strategic locations to enable one brick to be attached to the next one, in the correct relative positions. They consist of a tommy bar part and a claws part. The above diagram shows both parts, but of course only one part or the other is printed for each clip. The tommy bar part has a hole which can be aligned with target marks on a paper template.

Connector clips are added to the brick by adding target marks to the background shapes. You can have as many as you like, placed wherever you like. Normally they would be placed between the timbers, or attached to splints as required. Clips can be adjusted for overall size, but the tommy bar and claws remain a constant size so that they are interchangeable with any other clip.

If the brick is printed without the timbers, you can create a timbering fret (3D construction template). Timbers from any source, such as laser-cut plywood, or copper-clad strip, can then be inserted in the fret for construction. The fret can be removed from below afterwards, as with a paper template.

Sprues are an alternative to the webs for linking timbers together, where it is desired to remove them after track construction or after track laying. They are attached at the end of the timbers to make removal easier:

brick_example16.png


Sprues work well for individual plain track and turnout templates, but are difficult to arrange for more complex pointwork formations and timbering brick assemblies.

More to follow.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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In 229b I have added 4 more tickboxes on the shove timbers dialog:

brick_example19.png


They are used to switch off some or all of the flanges and webs on the selected timber.

N-flange = side flange nearer to CTRL-0
F-flange = side flange further from CTRL-0
MS-flange = end flange and webs on MS side of template
TS-flange = end flange and webs on TS side of template

Nothing to do with shoving timbers about, this dialog is just a convenient way to select individual timbers. The normal shove-timber functions are not affected.

These tickboxes are intended for situations where timbers are interlaced:

brick_example17.png


which as you can see causes the flanges and webs to break into the sockets on adjacent timbers.

After unticking the end flange and webs on the relevant timbers, the result is:

brick_example18.png


with all sockets clear.

Another use of these tickboxes is where a connector clip needs to be between the closed-up timbers at a rail joint. In that case there isn't room between the flanges for the clip. By switching off the side flanges on the adjacent timbers, the clip can be fitted in:

brick_example20.png


When a clip is used between timbers on adjacent bricks, it will usually be necessary to trim back the protruding webs on the end timbers, as above.

More soon.

Martin.
 
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Hi Martin just wondering. Is it possible to export a dxf/stl of a timber bank with solid sleepers.

Keith
@KHC1

Hi Keith,

Welcome to Templot Club. :)

Sure, you can do that -- except that in the current release version you can't, because I made a silly mistake in the code. I have now fixed it, and it will be working again in the next release in a day or two. Sorry about that.

To omit a layer from the file, set its colour to blank, which you can do easily by right-clicking on it. In this case you want to omit the chair sockets:

no_sockets_dxf.png


Without the sockets, you probably don't need the side flange stiffeners, so you can omit them too.

If you click the timbers only button (to omit all the chairs from the file), do that first before making any other changes, otherwise it will undo your changes.

The result is:
no_sockets.png


Note that if you intend to FDM-print this for use with injection-moulded chairs, you need to use ABS, ASA, or HIPS polymer. The butanone solvent doesn't work on the usual PLA polymer. Or use cyano superglue.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Hi Martin

I've been following this thread and it seems to have stopped short before explaining how to actually add the clips! I have successfully created a clipless brick though. At the moment, I'm just trying to get timber frets that can be clipped together for 3mm Society chairs to be glued onto. I've got back into my 3D FDM printer and whilst it'll be fine for timber bricks, there's no way it'll do the chairs!

Target marks seem to be a key thing, and I'm guessing that's to line up the bricks within Templot!

(I can add clips and splints to the shapes file, but they're a different colour to those in your example file and in any case I can't get any of the clips to come out in the STL file. I hope I'm not jumping the gun, apologies if I am!)

Cheers,
Paul
 
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I hope I'm not jumping the gun, apologies if I am!
@Paul Boyd

Hi Paul,

It's me who should be apologising! I do seem to have stopped dead in the middle of the explanation. I was sure I had written some more, but I can't find it anywhere. I can't even find any screenshots. Yet another brain malfunction. :(

The splints and clips are a bit clunky, I kludged them into the background shapes just to save a bit of work. I will get the topic finished soonest, by tomorrow at least. I can't believe it is more than 3 months old. Sorry.

I also have to devise some connector system for the CNC-milled bases.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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There is an edited update to the first post in this topic -- individual chairs+sockets can now be switched on and off, if it is desired to mix plug-in chairs with flat-base glued chairs:

https://85a.uk/templot/club/index.p...mbering-brick-from-a-track-plan.295/post-2822

This method is also used to control chairs being captured from an adjacent template in creating timbering bricks for complex pointwork.

More to follow.

Martin.
 
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There is an edited update to the first post in this topic -- individual chairs+sockets can now be switched on and off, if it is desired to mix plug-in chairs with flat-base glued chairs:

https://85a.uk/templot/club/index.p...mbering-brick-from-a-track-plan.295/post-2822

This method is also used to control chairs being captured from an adjacent template in creating timbering bricks for complex pointwork.

More to follow.

Martin.
Thanks! I was looking for an option to turn chairs off, then realised that there would then be no position guide for the rails. What I actually did was to reduce the length of the socket to something very low - when sliced, there would then be a visible indication from the filament path.

I thought the splint and clip positioning worked quite well, clunky or not! I just haven’t worked out how to use the clips/target marks to line up bricks, or to get them to export.

Talking of slicing, I loaded a Templot STL into Cura and it just wasn’t having it (can’t remember the exact problem now). PrusaSlicer was pretty close but the webs were scrappy. I ran the STL through an online fixer, Cura was still unhappy but PrusaSlicer took it quite happily! I’m sure I’ve seem elsewhere that some people use different slicers for different projects, so maybe that’s a normal thing.

Cheers,
Paul
 
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I was looking for an option to turn chairs off, then realised that there would then be mo position guide for the rails. What I actually did was to reduce the length of the socket to something very low - when sliced, there would then be a visible indication from the filament path.
@Paul Boyd

Hi Paul,

Can you explain a bit more what you mean there?

To create plain timbers you can exclude all sockets from the export by setting the relevant combo to blank in the DXF dialog. I assumed that if you do that, the timbering brick would be stuck down to a printed paper template in the usual way for construction.

I could add some sort of groove or narrow slot on the timber surface to mark the rail gauge-face, but it would be obscured by the chairs or baseplates or other fixings, so not very helpful unless I'm missing something?

Setting the socket to a very short length is a clever way to get a mark on the timber surface, but it won't necessarily be in line with either of the rail edges or the rail centre -- the chairs are not symmetrically dimensioned under the rail.

Yes, a fix/repair process for the exported STL files is an essential part of the workflow at present. I'm hoping that one day the "fixing" can be done in Templot when exporting, but we are a long way from that yet. The best online fix/repair function I have found is this one:

https://www.formware.co/onlinestlrepair

for which I have provided direct links in the program:

stl_repair1.png


program menu:

stl_repair2.png


Once "repaired" I have found that the Cura slicer gives good results on both my FDM printers, but all printers vary of course. I can post my Cura settings if wanted -- I believe your extruder uses a bowden tube rather than direct drive, so the retraction settings would likely need increasing.

More to follow.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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The geometrical background shapes are normally used to show the position of baseboard outlines, control panels, etc.

They are included in the 2-D exports to serve that purpose.

For the 3-D exports of chairs and timbering such detail plays no meaningful part. So for 3-D exports some of the background shapes are re-purposed to provide needed additional functions:
  • line shapes are used to define the position of timbering splints.
  • target mark shapes are used to create timbering brick connector clips.
  • rectangle shapes are used to define the support rafts under resin-printed chairs.
This means these features can be created in the same way as normal background shapes, and saved in a BGS3 file. If your track plan includes normal background shapes, it would be best to save them in a BGS3 shapes file, and then remove them from the trackpad. The additions for 3D printing can then be created and saved in their own BGS3 file.

Here are some lines and target mark shapes. To see the 3D changes to the shapes, use this tickbox on the general options tab:

clips_splints1.png


clips_splints2.png


While that box is ticked, the background shapes are shown as they would be 3D printed.

Untick the box to return to the normal view.

More to follow.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Hi Martin

I hadn't really thought very far ahead with this, if I'm honest! The mark on the surface was intended to be just a quick visual guide, although I hadn't really thought about the socket position relative to the rail - I just assumed based on nothing! I'll have another play this evening, switching chair sockets off completely. I think a groove across the timber in line with the gauge face would actually be useful (another tick box!). Thinking about plain track, for gluing a chair in place (and obscuring any mark on that timber), the marks on adjacent timbers would still be visible. I don't glue chairs sequentially, but do maybe every 5th chair, then fill in the gaps. P&C work might be a different matter though.

I knew about the online repair links within Templot but by the time I was playing with slicing (just as a curious afterthought before going to bed) Templot was closed so I just used the first online tool I found. The learning point for me there is that STL files can be read differently by different slicers, something I hadn't appreciated before. I will use the one you recommend next time!

I'm still not sure why the splints and clips from your example files weren't coming out in the STL file but I have a niggling feeling I'm missing something very obvious!

This whole thing is getting quite exciting! It's a shame I simply don't have the facilities for a resin printer so I can do chairs as well, even my FDM printer is still sitting on a board across the arms of a dining chair!

Cheers,
Paul
 
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I'm still not sure why the splints and clips from your example files weren't coming out in the STL file but I have a niggling feeling I'm missing something very obvious!
@Paul Boyd

Hi Paul,

For the clips to appear several settings have to be made.

Unfortunately Templot isn't very bright and needs to be told which half of the clip to export:

clips_splints4.png



Only one half of the clip gets exported -- the dot shows which one:

clips_splints5.png


The result of the latter would be:

clips_splints6.png


which the STL repair tool will likely delete as disconnected from the model.

For the same reason the body of the clip needs to overlap part of the model.

When exporting the adjacent brick, it is necessary to:

1. change the colour of the clip to match the brick.
2. swap the dot to the other half.

But don't change the size or position of the clip, otherwise the bricks won't align correctly. I will write some more about these adjustments shortly.

To be included in a brick, the clips must be set to the same colour as the brick, and the combo box colours for the layers must not be blank:

clips_splints3.png


If none of that explains it, I'm a bit puzzled. :confused:

This whole thing is getting quite exciting! It's a shame I simply don't have the facilities for a resin printer so I can do chairs as well, even my FDM printer is still sitting on a board across the arms of a dining chair!
The small Elegoo printers need a lot less space than an FDM printer. After using mine I'm wondering if the health/fume warnings may have been a bit overdone. I seem to have got used to the smell of the resin, and the few splashes of resin on my hands have washed off with no lasting effects. I think washing parts could be done in a tub of IPA in a kitchen sink, and with sunnier weather UV curing can be done on a window cill or outdoors. Lots of modellers on other forums are now routinely making 3D parts without any reports of problems that I have seen.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Hi Martin

Thanks for that info - just had a bit of a play and I have success! Colours are obviously the key to this. I don't intend to actually print this one but it was just an exercise to get to a sliced model. I clicked your online repair tool link and in fact that was the same one I found last night, and I had to wait in a queue just now as well! As you can see, the fixed file dropped into Cura and sliced with no problems.

success.PNG


I'm really pleased with that! Once I've got back from shopping shortly, I'll see if I can get two adjacent bricks sorted out. I'll also have a play with getting rid of the sockets, not to mention deciding exactly how I'm going to use these.

Maybe I'll have another look at resin printing as I am a bit envious with the results I've seen. The FDM printer has its place - it's been at work for the last fortnight churning out various size PCB mounts for both MERG and my own boards!

Incidentally, for my own (and work!) 3D modelling I use Creo Parametric, definitely not a home user jobby. When I've uploaded STL files from that to Shapeways, it also goes through a fixing process so you're not alone in needing that!

Cheers,
Paul
 
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Hi Martin

Good this, innit?? It's clicked now, so I've just exported a second brick and tomorrow I'm going to print the two, really just as a test and to see how well the clips work - I'm sure there'll need to be some printer adjustments. The test prints will be PLA, but I'll probably use ABS for the real thing although that's apparently smelly and fussy!

I've found the rotate and shift function for the clips - I knew it had to be there somewhere! I got caught out by a rogue background template that happened to be the same colour I'd chosen for my second brick, but that was immediately obvious when checking the STL file.

I haven't forgotten this is very much work in progress, but is there somewhere on your long to-do list an option to save all the settings on the export window? The 'save custom data' XML file looks like it has a lot of scope for expansion!

Cheers,
Paul
 
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I'm going to print the two, really just as a test and to see how well the clips work - I'm sure there'll need to be some printer adjustments.
@Paul Boyd

Hi Paul,

It's possible to get a good fit of the clips, but it will take a bit of trial and error -- several of the Cura settings affect it, plus these:

clip_sizing.png


Yes, in due course it will be possible to save everything in the SK4 custom data file, including hopefully the slicer setup. But we are not there yet -- I'm not even sure yet what settings will be needed, for example we now need a new option to have a rail gauge-face mark on the timbers if there is no socket. :)

This option is new today:

clip_at_notch.png


It will make it easier to get the clip angled to match the end timbers.

I'm struggling today to do much computer work with a nose-bleed dripping on the keyboard. They've come later this year, I usually get them in February. Global warming?

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Hi Martin

I've actually printed a couple of bricks! As expected, the claws/bars without any adjustments in either Templot or the slicer didn't quite join well - they weren't far off though which was pleasing. This photo is as printed, just cooling off.
2022-04-09_18-17-39_PJM0406.jpg


This one shows roughly how it'll merge with some track already built.

2022-04-09_18-35-09_PJM0407.jpg


These bricks were also the first time I'd printed anything that had been sliced by PrusaSlicer. Estimated time was 3h55m, actual time 3h45m. (3mm thick to match the existing track on its base) What surprised me was how much quieter the printing was compared to being sliced with Cura, not only that but one of the stepper motors went up and down musical scales as it was sweeping across the bed, especially on a diagonal - that's a new one on me, and I have no idea what's actually happening there! I changed virtually no settings in the Slicer from the default, and also kept the Templot settings as they were in your previous post, but I have a good basis to start adjusting things. I much prefer the PrusaSlicer Interface to Cura.

I did find a couple of issues over which I should have taken more care, and might be worth mentioning in any user guide, both highlighted in the screenshot below.

pslicer.PNG


The first one in the blue ring was where I'd simply not noticed that the splint wasn't fully overlapping the web. More care needed on my part!
missed.PNG


The other in the red ring I feel that perhaps Templot could have made it clearer that the claws weren't joined to any web properly - maybe by colouring the web in the same way that sleepers are coloured? (I'm still bearing in mind the nature of this whole project!) In this case a short splice was probably needed as the target won't reach across the two webs. Something to spell out in any instructions? (I missed it despite one of your earlier screenshots showing a dislocated tommy bar!) In Templot, it looked like this (the STL file was rotated 180-ish degrees for printing) :-

claws.PNG


Now I know, I can see on the screen that the claws don't really join, but it didn't jump out at me. Again, something to draw attention to.

The add clip at notch function looks really useful - I'll definitely use that going forwards to save the manual rotation!

Overall, I'm really pleased with this. I'm going to print a brick with a very short bit of track so that I can play with the settings so the claw/bar mesh nicely. I'll have a bit of a double whammy as I'll also be experimenting with PrusaSlicer settings so I'd better get that out of the way first!

Cheers,
Paul
 
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@Paul Boyd

Hi Paul,

That's looking good!

Generally I found the best approach to the sizing is to concentrate first on getting the sizes and spacings of the timbers spot-on in the slicer settings. Don't forget also to adjust the printer shrinkage settings:

printer_shrinkage.png


Once you know your printer is producing parts to exact size (within the resolution limits of the printer), you can then adjust the clip clearance settings to get a good fit. It's best to work with trial pieces only 2 or 3 timbers long to save on polymer and wasted time.

To prevent disconnected clips, the idea is to use the clip size mouse action (clip then shows red) until you can see it attached under the hatched infill for the timbering* (automatic switch to hatched infill):

clip_sizing1.png


It is best to be attached to the timber itself rather than the side flanges for full strength (the default clip is thicker than the flange, but still thinner than the timber, so that it is still under the ballast).

At the same time it is important to ensure that the tommy bar area is not over any other part of the brick, otherwise that would break into the claw space on the print.

In addition you probably noticed the elephant's-foot protection recess around the underside of the clip -- it's important that is clear of other parts too.

Also of course the clip must not conflict with any of the sockets, otherwise the clip would break into the socket on the print.

p.s. you can also use the clip size mouse action to swap the clip direction -- make it very small and watch.

If you use a brim or skirt in the slicer, don't forget to add the brim protection fences around the clips:

brim_fence.png


index.php


So much still to write about and explain to get a working user interface -- but will anyone ever read it all and take it in? :)

cheers,

Martin.

*p.s. Sorry I messed up the screenshot by having the same colour for both bricks -- I don't have the energy to make another.
 
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We have now done the very thing we normally try hard to avoid -- created a duplicate partial template.

Which needs some further thought, otherwise saved BOX files are going to get very confusing. Duplicated stored templates often cause problems -- partially duplicated templates can only make matters worse.

For 234a I'm minded to add a new bricklaying mode:

bricklaying_mode.png


With that box ticked, storing a template would mark it as a brick template, i.e. a member of a timbering brick.

Brick templates can then be grouped, saved in their own BOX files, shown overlaid on the underlying track plan templates, or not, etc.:

show_brick_templates.png


But I'm worried this is getting out of hand and Templot is just becoming far too complex -- if you were a newcomer to track planning software, what would you make of a tickbox labelled "bricklaying"?

I can hide it all away somewhere in the menus. But then vast swathes of users (do such things exist? :) ) will never find it -- and I spend the rest of my life explaining where it is.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Hi Martin

Generally I found the best approach to the sizing is to concentrate first on getting the sizes and spacings of the timbers spot-on in the slicer settings.

Good point! I've just checked against a print (printer calibrated, of course) and the two bricks are spot on, so that's one less thing to have to fiddle with.

To prevent disconnected clips, the idea is to use the clip size mouse action (clip then shows red) until you can see it attached under the hatched infill for the timbering* (automatic switch to hatched infill):

Somehow, that action passed me by, despite having already used the shift and rotate clip functions either side of it. No excuses there, and from your screenshot it's completely clear - just watch the hatches!

In addition you probably noticed the elephant's-foot protection recess around the underside of the clip

I had to laugh when I read that! I had noticed it and couldn't work out why on earth the first layer of the clips was undersized, when the rest of the brick wasn't. I spent a good few minutes looking at settings and stepping through the slicer preview to try to work out what was happening, then your post arrived. Of course!! I seem to have resolved the elephant's foot issue (bed too close to the nozzle, I think) but I might have known you would already have thought of that and come up with a solution! That's one area where elephant's foot would definitely not be good.

With that box ticked, storing a template would mark it as a brick template, i.e. a member of a timbering brick.

I've been starting to wonder about that. My current solution is to change the project title to add a '3d' suffix and save them in a separate folder, but of course if I make any changes to the main layout (unlikely at this stage), I have to repeat them in the 3d versions. Personally, I think tagging a template as a brick template would work well, especially if it can follow any changes to the underlying template (!!!). Would it be possible to have a global "3D planning" flag that turns on or off everything to do with 2D/3D exports at a stroke? Paper/PDF only unless the user specifically turns on all the extra bits? I get the point about bombarding beginners with too many options. It does feel like we're heading towards needing a Templot Lite - a project for the open source guys? :)

Later I'll be making a 2-timber brick and start playing with settings to get the clips spot on. And then, of course, with a change of material I'll have to fiddle with the settings again. Having said that, it appears that despite all the information out there, butanone does act as a solvent for PLA, at least for the Anycubic brand I'm using. That means I may be able to stick with my current filament, but I need to do some more trials first.

Cheers,
Paul
 
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I had to laugh when I read that! I had noticed it and couldn't work out why on earth the first layer of the clips was undersized, when the rest of the brick wasn't. I spent a good few minutes looking at settings and stepping through the slicer preview to try to work out what was happening, then your post arrived.
@Paul Boyd

Hi Paul,

If you have eliminated any elephant's foot issue, you might want to reduce or zero the settings:

elephants_foot.png


One thing which is fixed at present is the actual size of the clip parts (tommy bar). Do you think it's about right? It's on the small side (in 4mm scale), but for clips between timbers anything bigger doesn't really fit. Perhaps we need two sizes of clip -- a larger one for fresh air clips on splints?

especially if it can follow any changes to the underlying template (!!!)
Help! -- you just made me 5 years work! :) What happens if the underlying changes make it longer, and it no longer fits the brick? Or shoving the timbers disrupts the clip position? Or...

Would it be possible to have a global "3D planning" flag that turns on or off everything to do with 2D/3D exports at a stroke?
Ideally yes. But it gets complex, there are dozens of places in the code where you would need to know which mode you are in, and take different actions accordingly. For example we had a 2-D DXF export for roll-paper CAD printing for years before 3D printers were invented, and I don't want to lose it. It was probably a mistake to link the 3D stuff into it, rather than starting again.

A major task still not yet resolved is bunching all the chairs from a brick to fit a small resin printer, allowing for the fact that they are all at odd angles, and printing a paper map showing which is which, cross referenced to the brick templates. For now, bunching will have to be done manually via the auto-arrange functions in the slicer (and pencil and paper to remember which is which).

Not much left to do, really! :)

cheers,

Martin.
 
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message ref: 4045
Hi Martin

Just been playing, and for my printer settings I've found setting the end and side clearances to 0.1mm gives a perfect click fit, and setting both to 0.15mm gives a little wiggle room - I'd probably go for the latter, or more likely somewhere in between. I haven't adjusted the corner relief. I'm inclined to leave the bottom offset settings alone, now I understand what they're for, as they don't do any harm. My little test piece, all of two sleepers long, had the clips correctly sized and placed overlapping the sleepers slightly!

One thing which is fixed at present is the actual size of the clip parts (tommy bar). Do you think it's about right?

I do think they're about right. I did some tests with 2mm scale and 7mm scale track and I'm guessing the clip size is based on the scale rather than track gauge. For my 4mm scale, 7.83mm gauge track they're maybe a little big but certainly nothing to worry about.

I'm now happy enough with timber bricks to start printing them for real. I've looked into resin printers a bit more and still can't see myself getting one, not yet anyway. That means that if I do want Templot chairs, it'll be a Shapeways job

Cheers,
Paul
 
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message ref: 4046
I was looking for an option to turn chairs off, then realised that there would then be no position guide for the rails. What I actually did was to reduce the length of the socket to something very low - when sliced, there would then be a visible indication from the filament path.
@Paul Boyd

Hi Paul,

In addition to S1, L1, etc. chairs, we now have RG chairs: :)

rg_chairs.png


RG chairs are nominal fictional chairs intended to produce your rail grooves.

The RG chair dimensions are such that the socket for them is a slot matching the rail head width aligned with the rail edges. Small enough to be covered over by whatever rail fixings you are using.

Then you set the blind sockets option, and whatever socket depth you want for the groove.

g_chairs.png


It would be possible to do FG chairs also, to produce a rail-foot sized groove, for flat-bottom templates. Another tickbox.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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message ref: 4048
@Paul Boyd

Hi Paul,

In addition to S1, L1, etc. chairs, we now have RG chairs: :)

View attachment 3475

RG chairs are nominal fictional chairs intended to produce your rail grooves.

The RG chair dimensions are such that the socket for them is a slot matching the rail head width aligned with the rail edges. Small enough to be covered over by whatever rail fixings you are using.

Then you set the blind sockets option, and whatever socket depth you want for the groove.

View attachment 3474

It would be possible to do FG chairs also, to produce a rail-foot sized groove, for flat-bottom templates. Another tickbox.

cheers,

Martin.

That sounds brilliant, thank you! I've just been writing some notes where I've written that as I'm not printing chairs then I don't need to worry about setting a custom rail size - I'd better amend those notes on the next Templot update!

Cheers,
Paul
 
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message ref: 4049
Hi Martin,

Have you considered "capping" Templot as 2-D only and creating a different prog to create the 3-D models? Of course 2-D Templot would have a convenient and likely proprietary method of exporting templates to the 3-D prog.

Cheers,
Andy
 
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message ref: 4050
Hi Martin,

Have you considered "capping" Templot as 2-D only and creating a different prog to create the 3-D models? Of course 2-D Templot would have a convenient and likely proprietary method of exporting templates to the 3-D prog.
@AndyB

Hi Andy,

Thanks for that.

Yes, I've often wondered about the ways forward. If we could rewind to 15 years ago when Templot was a commercial product, such a split would be an obvious course of action and similar to many other software products.

But I don't think my ageing brain is up to it now. Nowadays I make so many silly mistakes just keeping one show on the road. The extra logistics of releasing two different programs, keeping them in step, two different downloads, two different setup scripts, but most of all, writing all the ifs and buts into two versions of the docs would be just too much for me.

For the future, now that Templot has been free for over 10 years, I think I shall just plod along doing what I can with Templot as my hobby project, and hope that users can accept it for what it is. I enjoy tinkering with the code, trying new ideas, but converting it into a slick modern software app is beyond what I can manage or have time for -- too much computer time is proving bad for my health, and with sunnier days coming and Covid restrictions behind us, I want to get back into the hills with my camera.

Although the 3D stuff has significantly increased the complexity of Templot, most of it is still hidden from newcomers to Templot at present. Currently, most new users are unlikely to find the menu switch for the experimental chairing, or be interested in exporting CAD files. But I'm hoping that it won't always be experimental, and if Plug Track becomes a successful concept within the hobby, future newcomers might arrive here looking for it. Then what -- "make the control", "shove some timbers", and now do some bricklaying. :)

But it is free.

And it's all open-source -- if others want to dive in and develop the code in adventurous new directions that would be wonderful. I'm sure Graeme and Alistair would be delighted to have new kids on the T3 block. Or fork your own and take Templot wherever you want it to go: https://github.com/openTemplot/templot3 or https://sourceforge.net/projects/opentemplot/
or see: https://85a.uk/templot/club/index.php?forums/templotmec-nuts-and-bolts.5/

cheers,

Martin.
 
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message ref: 4051
@AndyB

Hi Andy,

Thanks for that.

Yes, I've often wondered about the ways forward. If we could rewind to 15 years ago when Templot was a commercial product, such a split would be an obvious course of action and similar to many other software products.

But I don't think my ageing brain is up to it now. Nowadays I make so many silly mistakes just keeping one show on the road. The extra logistics of releasing two different programs, keeping them in step, two different downloads, two different setup scripts, but most of all, writing all the ifs and buts into two versions of the docs would be just too much for me.

For the future, now that Templot has been free for over 10 years, I think I shall just plod along doing what I can with Templot as my hobby project, and hope that users can accept it for what it is. I enjoy tinkering with the code, trying new ideas, but converting it into a slick modern software app is beyond what I can manage or have time for -- too much computer time is proving bad for my health, and with sunnier days coming and Covid restrictions behind us, I want to get back into the hills with my camera.

Although the 3D stuff has significantly increased the complexity of Templot, most of it is still hidden from newcomers to Templot at present. Currently, most new users are unlikely to find the menu switch for the experimental chairing, or be interested in exporting CAD files. But I'm hoping that it won't always be experimental, and if Plug Track becomes a successful concept within the hobby, future newcomers might arrive here looking for it. Then what -- "make the control", "shove some timbers", and now do some bricklaying. :)

But it is free.

And it's all open-source -- if others want to dive in and develop the code in adventurous new directions that would be wonderful. I'm sure Graeme and Alistair would be delighted to have new kids on the T3 block. Or fork your own and take Templot wherever you want it to go: https://github.com/openTemplot/templot3 or https://sourceforge.net/projects/opentemplot/
or see: https://85a.uk/templot/club/index.php?forums/templotmec-nuts-and-bolts.5/

cheers,

Martin.

I was hoping it might mean less work for you. The 2D part of Templot is extremely stable and you could do a lot of experimental stuff in a 3D prog without fear of messing up Templot, but then I have no idea how it's all structured and I'm far too old now to try to find out :D
 
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message ref: 4052
I was hoping it might mean less work for you. The 2D part of Templot is extremely stable and you could do a lot of experimental stuff in a 3D prog without fear of messing up Templot, but then I have no idea how it's all structured and I'm far too old now to try to find out :D
@AndyB

Hi Andy,

I'm not too worried about messing up Templot -- it's an increasing possibility, but we could always jump back to a previous release.

My fear is that the whole thing is beginning to look impossibly complex to newcomers, and turn them away. Which would be a shame, because as you say the core of Templot is very stable, and has been working fine for years.

Paul suggested a global switch to enable the 3D stuff and chairing. It's too much work to put such switches within the actual code, but what I could do is simply hide all access to it. That would hide the old 2-D DXF exports at the same time, but that might be acceptable -- it wouldn't affect the large-format PDF exports for roll-printing.

Thanks again,

Martin.
 
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message ref: 4053
RG chairs are nominal fictional chairs intended to produce your rail grooves.

The RG chair dimensions are such that the socket for them is a slot matching the rail head width aligned with the rail edges. Small enough to be covered over by whatever rail fixings you are using.

Then you set the blind sockets option, and whatever socket depth you want for the groove.
@Paul Boyd

Hi Paul,

Blind sockets for dummy RG chairs, making rail groove marks:

rg_groove_sockets.png


These are 0.2mm deep (EM gauge), can be set to any depth.

Will be in 234a soon.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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message ref: 4054
.
These are for dummy FG chairs (groove matches FB rail foot width):

fg_groove_sockets.png


These are 0.1mm deep.

Baseplates should cover them, or a spot of glue in the groove for direct rail fixing.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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message ref: 4055
That’s great, thanks! I’m holding off generating the STLs for now - no pressure 😀. I’ve still got some work to do adding all the clips and splints so that’s keeping me busy for a bit. I will remember to check and change the colour and gender of each clip for each brick before exporting!

I’ve also changed the process slightly in that rather than using the boundary rectangle as a visual guide to the bed size, I’m drawing rectangular shapes (actually square for my printer) to the correct size, and naming these brick 1, brick 2 etc. They can be shifted just as easily and the names will correspond to the saved STL file name. I just find it easier to have a built-in record of which brick is which.

The trackpad is starting to look quite colourful!

Cheers,
Paul
 
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I just find it easier to have a built-in record of which brick is which.
@Paul Boyd

Hi Paul,

I'm intending to have some means of printing a part number on each brick. Probably on a splint. I haven't yet written any code to draw text, but we could have a system of dots -- 2 dots = brick #2, etc.

Can you see any advantage in having those rail grooves deeper or going all through the timber? I'm thinking of some sort of brass insert or pin which could be soldered to. PLA melts around 175 degs, ABS higher, so it should be possible to use low-temp solder with an RSU? It's easily doable, just don't tick the blind sockets option.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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message ref: 4057
@Paul Boyd

Hi Paul,

I'm intending to have some means of printing a part number on each brick. Probably on a splint. I haven't yet written any code to draw text, but we could have a system of dots -- 2 dots = brick #2, etc.

Can you see any advantage in having those rail grooves deeper or going all through the timber? I'm thinking of some sort of brass insert or pin which could be soldered to. PLA melts around 175 degs, ABS higher, so it should be possible to use low-temp solder with an RSU? It's easily doable, just don't tick the blind sockets option.

cheers,

Martin.

Hi Martin

I'm not sure about dots (brick 37!) so if you can, I think '37' would be better. I'm only up to brick 5 at the moment though, and I think I'm only going to get to brick 10 or so - this is just for the bullhead sections of the layout. For the time being I was just going to use a marker pen on a splint as I take each brick off the bed, more so for plain track where there'll be a few very similar bricks being printed at once.

For me, the rail grooves at 0.2mm would be fine, and should show up clearly - I'm printing these at 0.2mm layer height which seems adequate. I'm not sure about using brass pins etc because that's not my preferred method of construction, so I don't really feel qualified to answer that!

Cheers,
Paul
 
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message ref: 4058
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