Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2008/03/18

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Subject: [Leica] Rail fans gather 'round...
From: r.s.taylor at (Richard Taylor)
Date: Tue Mar 18 18:10:02 2008
References: <> <> <>

Adam, Brian - I wonder if the Tech RR Club is still in existence.   
When I worked at M.I.T., it was a big deal.  They really pushed the  
state of the art in automated control.

Well, I just answered my own question.  Look here:

As busy as ever, it looks like.

Tom's layout is only semi-automated.  All the current engines seem to  
have a controller that give them different behaviors depending on  
different voltages and voltage sequences out of the transformers.

I had quite a set of Lionels when I was a kid but I sold them all when  
I was 13 or so. At that point in my life I just HAD to have Heathkit  
OM-1 oscilloscope kit and that was the only way to get it.  In  
retrospect it just seems wrong to have sold them but I don't really  
regret it.  My railroading days were over.  The trains would be worth  
a whole lot more now than that 'scope even if had survived.  My memory  
of its departure from my life is pretty dim but I think it involved  
smoke and that distinctive smell of 2W carbon resistors burning.

I noticed the scale errors in the trains, too, but they were only a  
minor annoyance.  I had bigger problems with scale errors in my model  
airplanes and boats.  That drove me crazy for some reason and I would  
sometimes rework models over and over to get it right.

Watching Tom work on his is a nice exercise in nostalgia, though.

My brother was into LGB's for quite a while and tried to entice me  
back into the hobby by giving me train sets and rolling stock for  
Christmas.  Except for an occasional run around the Christmas tree,  
they sit in boxes in the basement waiting for someone to love them.



On Mar 18, 2008, at 6:09 PM, Adam Bridge wrote:

> I remember Heathkit made a 'realistic' locomotive controller that
> helped mimic the behavior of real locomotives as they started and
> stopped. Of course the switching systems for big layouts were quite
> intricate. I have a recollection of a huge one at the Museum of
> Science & Industry in Chicago that somehow used telephone equipment to
> operate the myriad of switches and equipment.
> As an aside I remember having my own train set - O gage like this one
> - but I didn't like it. I was offended, and that's the best word,
> because nothing was really to scale. The crossing arms were bigger
> than locomotives while the figures on the auto-loader for barrels were
> the right size. I couldn't get over it.
> In the Navy I had a friend who built wonder S gage rolling stock. He
> couldn't take glue to sea with him because it was an atmosphere
> contaminant but he carefully hand-fitted everything and then when we
> returned home he'd do all the final construction in his apartment.
> He's still doing it after all these years: a wall of cars, engines,
> houses and other pieces which he trades and builds. I gather he even
> made a study of graffiti to get that right for more "modern" looks.
> Adam
> On Tue, Mar 18, 2008 at 2:37 PM, Brian Reid < 
> > wrote:
>> The Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at MIT got its start in the  
>> Tech Model
>> Railroad Club. The designs of the model railroad controllers were so
>> intricate and complex that they evolved into artificial intelligence
>> computers.
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>> Leica Users Group.
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In reply to: Message from r.s.taylor at (Richard Taylor) ([Leica] Rail fans gather 'round...)
Message from reid at (Brian Reid) ([Leica] Rail fans gather 'round...)
Message from abridge at (Adam Bridge) ([Leica] Rail fans gather 'round...)