Sharing Experience and Enthusiasm for the World’s Greatest Hobby!
The North Central Florida Model Railroad Club, Inc. is a not-for-profit corporation functioning as a professional educational hobby Club. It operates exclusively as a tax-exempt corporation within the meaning of Section 501(c)(3) of the US Internal Revenue Code. We’ve organized to:
Construct and operate scale model railroad equipment, layouts, modules and exhibits;
Train and educate Club members and the public in the skills involved in scale model railroading;
Promote general fellowship and personal contact among and between all scale model railroaders and members of the Club;
Provide a forum and/or sponsor technical clinics for the further education of the Club members, the public, and organized youth groups;
Exchange ideas and techniques in connection with the hobby of scale model railroading as well as the preservation of Florida’s railroading heritage;
Participate in public venues, train shows, swap-meets and joint modeling meets with other Clubs by displaying and operating Club modules separately and in conjunction with other Clubs; and,
Assist Club members and other railroad modelers to build, maintain, operate, upgrade and modify their home layouts and/or model railroad equipment.
The Hobby: a Quarterly topic
How Has Model Railroad Control Changed?
Multiple Scales, Direct Digital Control, and Computerized Train Automation Offer Limitless Possibilities
Analog AC and DC Control
For many of us, the hobby began with a train set on a Christmas morning, beneath a tree. For some, that then grew to a basic layout. Maybe one or two trains ran on separate loops with one or more transformers. The most complex layouts might include insulated track “blocks” that could be separately energized for even more complex operations. Track wiring, switch and block control were complex and often limited realism. Many “startup” sets and individual pieces like this are still being offered, and a great many fans of vintage trains still appreciate this approach, though it is limiting when layouts grow.
Digital Command Control (DCC)
The advent of microcontrollers enabled the design of what was to eventually become the NMRA standard known as DCC. DCC enables multiple trains to share the same track, yet be separately controlled through individual addresses using a control console and digital “decoders” in the locomotives, switches, signals, etc. Lights, smoke, sound effects, & locomotive inertial characteristics are all programmable. Layouts can now be designed using a single pair of power wires and a single power supply, without a degree in Engineering. Better “startup” sets include a DCC controller and a DCC locomotive.
Automated Train Control
Even using DCC, on most layouts, an experienced operator can control one or two trains on their routes at a time, but running real-life operations, including routing (setting switches, speed, and timing to avoid conflict) on a larger scale can prove difficult. Automated Train Control provides the solution. Touch screen computers and software tethered over USB to DCC systems can now provide enthusiasts with super-realistic operations on large and small layouts alike. Above a screen from Freiwald Software Railroad & Co. ‘Traincontroller’ software on Windows.
Featured Layout: Arizona Timber Company
A fully automated model railroad featuring logging operations in the mountain regions of Flagstaff Arizona in HO scale (1:87)
Size & Levels: 9 ft. x 12 ft. overall, with four levels, one hidden, connected by a helix.
Design Method: Computer Aided Design (CAD) software of all framework and curved track bed. Track bed CAD templates were made, transferred onto plywood, and cut out in ‘cookie-cutter’ fashion. Sections tolerances within +/- 1/16” when assembled.
Track Elevations & Radius Specifications:
Lower level #1 = 24”; Level #2 = 49”; Level #3 = 55”; Level #4 = 62”;
Max. Grade = 3.5%, Min. Radius = 18”; Max. Radius = 30”
Construction Method: 2″ x 2″ pine structure, ½ “ plywood covering on mid & lower levels and track supports. 1” and 2” rigid foam insulation board used for upper levels and all track bed. All wooden members are fastened with screws. Threaded rod supports are adjusted to provide track grades and banking.
Track & Turnouts, (switches): There is over 350 total feet of track spanning all 4 levels. Track is code 100 (.100” high) manufactured by Peco in the UK. Rail material is nickel-silver and is ‘flexible’ for use on curves. Track turnouts by DCC Concepts are motorized and controlled by computer to set train routes automatically. All tracks rest on soft foam, and are glued in place with adhesive caulk. No nails were used.
Electrical Power: Main layout has multiple power supplies: 17 VAC for tracks, 12 VDC for track signals, 5VDC for infra-red sensors, 120 VAC for interior lighting.
Train Control System: The layout uses Digital Command Control (DCC) by Digitrax. All locomotives have digital decoders that receive digital signals ‘through the rails for control of speed, direction, sound, lighting, and many other functions. The ‘Loconet’ network protocol handles all communication to trains and other electronic devices.
Train Automation System: Welcome to “The Next Level” of model railroading. A Touch-Screen Windows 10 computer connected via USB to the DCC system enables fully automated train operations! ‘Traincontroller’ software by Railroad & Co. in Germany provides ‘collision avoidance’ and
‘traffic control’, along with speed, sound, and braking. Schedules (routes) are created using ‘Traincontroller’ software to direct trains about the layout. Daily logistics movements – as with a real, modern railroad – can be programmed and run with many trains operating in parallel, sharing the same tracks. Both learning to program and observing the interaction of consists running on the available track resources provides ongoing interest and challenges beyond the insight into real railroad operations.
Scenery: The base of all scenery is 1” or 2” rigid foam insulation board. Landscape contours and mountains are carved foam board and window screening, covered with finishing plaster. AII terrain is covered with ground foam in a variety of colors from Scenic Express. AII ground cover is glued in place.
Trees: There are over 80 trees displayed. Tall pines were hand-made from wooden dowels, scribed to simulate bark, spray painted brown, and accented with acrylic paints. Yellow aspen trees were made using small twigs, spray painted, textured with ground foam, and hand accented.
There’s much more to the layout. Come visit us and learn all about it!
The model railroading hobby has been experiencing a renaissance over the past few years, and for good reason. Unlike the virtual worlds of video gaming, model railroading is a “hands on” hobby that teaches a variety of disciplines to enthusiasts. From geometry to carpentry, basic electrical and electronics skills, to model building and crafting, painting and airbrushing, and now even programming skills, there’s so MUCH to be learned and enjoyed by most everyone in the family.
While many of us continue to enjoy the nostalgia and appreciate the challenges of model railroading’s early days, it’s now possible to model a real railroad – in a real town – with incredible realism… or just let your imagination run wild and create your own vision!
Don’t think you have room for your own layout? Come learn how much can be done on an 18″ x 96″ shelf layout. Or, learn about modular layouts you can easily disassemble and store. Love trains but don’t want to build a layout? No problem. You can bring your (HO) trains and run them on our many layouts during our weekly Operating Sessions. Don’t have trains but love them, or just want to learn more before you commit to a purchase? Come run our trains!
Conditions permitting, our business meetings are scheduled for the first Thursday of each month at 10:00 am. Come join us and see how we can help you start in – and get the most out of – The World’s Greatest Hobby!
Click below to find the membership form. Please complete and email to [email protected].
The NCFMRC in the community
Educating the Community and Enriching Members’ Experience
Tower Rd. Library Event 2019
Our annual library events bring working layouts to the community to entertain and educate attendees about The World’s Greatest Hobby!
Gainesville Library Event 2018
Kids of all ages enjoy learning about model railroading at the Gainesville Holiday Main Library event in December, 2018.
Cordell, GA Excursion 2017
NCFMRC members and their families enjoy a railfan trip on vintage railway cars in Cordell, GA.
Upcoming Events in Our Area
North Central Florida and the surrounding areas are a great place to be for model railroading. Check back often to see where you can travel to meet model railroad enthusiasts and learn more about …. “The World’s Greatest Hobby!”