Extracting a timbering brick from a track plan

Martin Wynne

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This is the first topic in a new forum section, so if you want to receive emails from this new Plug Track section, you will need to update your Watch settings accordingly. For how to do that, go to:

https://85a.uk/templot/archive/topics/topic_3839.php#p31676



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.

Here are the files below, more notes to follow.

cheers,

Martin.
 

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Martin Wynne

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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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Martin Wynne

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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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Martin Wynne

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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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Martin Wynne

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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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Martin Wynne

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

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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 track laying. They are 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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Martin Wynne

Admin
Location
West of the Severn UK
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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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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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