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Layout Automation

Douglas has HO and asks readers:

“Does anyone have experience with layout animation, such as cranes or loaders including loading or unloading things like boxes, coal, cargo, logs, or livestock into or out of model railroad cars. Are there kits for this or are they more home built?”

One Response to Layout Automation

  • Nigel says:

    I notice that this question had no replies in a month so despite having only limited experience in this field, I hope this is of some help.

    As luck would have it, as I was typing this reply, immediately to the right of this box was an advert for an ebook called ‘Getting Started with Model Railroad Micro Controls’ – see this link which includes a short video covering some of what I think you want to do:


    To answer your specific question, I’m not aware of any kits that will give you the solution you’re looking for (but that doesn’t necessarily mean that there aren’t any or course) so it’s probably going to be a case of home building, perhaps using a static kit as a basis.

    Personally, if I was going to animate something, my shopping list would include Arduino micro controllers, relays,small motors or servos & the relevant controller boards for them and infrared/ultrasonic sensors. As I said at the outset, I don’t have much experience but have managed to create, using an Arduino, a funicular that goes up, pauses at the top station, goes down, pauses at the bottom station on an endless loop and a reverse loop controller that changes the points when the train breaks an infrared beam.

    Arduinos do need to be programmed for specific tasks but there’s a wealth of information and sample programs online to help. I have little in the way of programming experience but many programs in the public domain are clearly annotated to help with the understanding of what each step of the program is actually doing and it’s pretty easy to get the hang of how to amend them to what you need them to do even if starting from scratch is much more challenging.

    In the end, there’s a lot of fun to be had by looking at a problem and figuring out innovative ways of solving it.

    I hope this helps and good luck!

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