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Tokyo Station DCC layout


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Hey guys,

So, after a few months of planning and thinking, it's finally time to start building this baby!

Tomorrow I'll go buy all the material needed for the wooden base and in the weekend I'll start building it.


This is the final layout:




Since it will go into my living room, and it will be 2.40m long, it will be divided in two parts, almost in the middle, so it will be easier to handle.

The base will be of plywood, 1.5cm thick, reinforced with 3x2cm frames.

Since the forniture has a Wenge-like color, I'll paint the whole base of a dark color.


From below, it should be something like this:




The two 45 degrees corners in the front are due to the fact that the 70cm deep base will go against a 60cm deep cabinet, so I'll to cut it in order to avoid hitting my leg every time I walk by.


It will go here, below the TV, on an IKEA Besta bench :




The TV will limit the space above, I'll have around 30cm to play with, but it should be enough.


I'll make videos detailing all the process, which will involve a lot of trials and errors I'm sure, as this is my first build, but that's the fun part!

Here's the introduction video:



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Of course I have no intention of replicating the full layout of Tokyo station, I don't have the skills nor the space to do it.

I used it as a starting point. My layout will have track for the Tokaido Shinkansen, one for the other Shinkansen lines, one track for the Yamanote line, going in a loop, and one elevated track for the Chuo lines. All these you can find in Tokyo Station.

Plus I plan on 3D-printing the platforms roofs, to resamble as closely as possible the real ones.

I've also recorded a lot of sounds on sight, so I hope I'll be able to incorporate this is the layout.

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Yestareday I went to buy the wooden base. The guy at the shop said plywood was not a good choice, because it would warp over time.

He suggested MDF, so I followed his advice.

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Ply is fine if you have a good frame support. You may want to put the frames vertical, so the long side is vertical as it will give you better support. 3cm may be a tad small for that size. What’s usually better is to have a frame with more cross pieces and then you can use thinner ply. If your cross pieces are like every 25cm then you can use even 5-8cm ply on top. 


Mdf works but its heavy and aso can sag a bit w,o good support. I would do cross pieces like every 20cm for an mdf top unless beefy mdf. More cross pieces also allow the weight to be spread more evenly on the support cabinets. Also predrill nail holes if you use nails as mdf does not like nails w.o pilot holes. Screws work well but predrill and countersink and be careful at not too much pressure with the last bit of screw tightening as it can also crack easily with too much pressure.


Also best to drill a few holes like every 20cm (like 1cm or so in dia) at the same place on all the cross pieces (except for the outer end pieces) before you assemble to allow easy place to pass wires. Lots easier to do before built (and yes I did the doh move once of forgetting to drill them in a module!) and mush harder and messier afterward. 


Great the layout has begun!





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Thank you for the advices!

I got two 1cm thick MDF board, one is 110cm long, the other 130cm. I also got 2x3 frames, that I plan on putting all around the board and two or three cross.

I'll be using polyvinyl acetate glue to secure the frames and then put the screw in, pre-drilling the holes as you suggested.


I will drill the holes in the cross pieces, yes! I keep reminding myself to do that, cause I know I will forget...

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Mdf screws well, but best to use a tapered drill counter sink bit so it sort of matches the screw profile. Thisnlets the screw really old well but not crack or strip as easily with the mdf.








mdf is a weird beastie. It is good at being very flat, but is not as forgiving on any pressure points to crack or strip out.





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Hi everyone,

here's an update on my layout.


After I last posted last time, I've finished building the two halves of the base and painted them the same color as the cabinet it will go on.




Then I laid down the KATO Unitracks, just to check all the dimensions were ok.




As I was playing with the tracks, I realized I could fit a few more branches, to make it a little bit more crowded.

So the final layout is this one:




And the elevated Chuo line:




I've added one branch in the Shinkansen station and one branch in the Chuo one.

I can always add some other Shinkansen sets, but I'm not sure about the Chuo line.

When I visited Tokyo station, all I saw on the two elevated tracks of the Chuo lines was the same E233 over and over, like this one:




I already have the KATO 10-1473 E233 Chuo line set. I know they will release a Chuo line 201 series in June, so that might be a nice addition, even though I guess it's been a while since it was used.

Any idea of what else I could put there? KATO would be preferable, cause it's easy to put the DCC decoder.


Then I started drilling all the holes for the cables: feedback, common and turnout control.




I put a layer of foam where I'll put the internal tracks.


Then I ordered from Digikeijs all the DCC equipment:

  • DR5000 command station
  • DR4018 to control the turnouts, plus one DR4101 interface for each turnout
  • 4x DR4088LN-CS feedback modules



I've ordered everything from Amazon.it, as it was cheaper than the Digikeijs website.

Unfortunately, they keep messing with the DR4088LN's. There are three models, CS (the one I need), GND and OPTO. Twice already they've sent me some GND and I had to return them.

Now I'm still missing one, which I've ordered from Digikeijs cause I was tired of Amazon mistakes. It should arrive tomorrow.




So I haven't been able to test the full layout, but all the pieces seem to be working.

I can control the turnouts from the DR5000 control panel and also I can see the feedback being activated, so everything looks good for now.


I've also set everything up on iTrain, the software I'll use to control the layout.

At the beginning it was a bit overwhelming, cause there are a lot of things to set up. But with the help of the manual and a friend, I managed (I think) to set everything.




I've set up all the feedback's, turnouts, trains, routes,... It's really a great tool, I'm looking forward to play with it with all the trains running.


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2 hours ago, paolo said:

I already have the KATO 10-1473 E233 Chuo line set. I know they will release a Chuo line 201 series in June, so that might be a nice addition, even though I guess it's been a while since it was used.

Any idea of what else I could put there? KATO would be preferable, cause it's easy to put the DCC decoder.


A few of the Chuo Main Line limited express services start from Tokyo Station instead of Shinjuku. Kato are developing a model of the E353 and previously made the E257s now being relocated to other routes.

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2 hours ago, Space Beaver said:


A few of the Chuo Main Line limited express services start from Tokyo Station instead of Shinjuku. Kato are developing a model of the E353 and previously made the E257s now being relocated to other routes.


Thanks for the info!

So that would be the Azusa limited service I guess. I see that the KATO 10-1522 Series E353 `Azusa/Kaiji` will come out in March, that's good!

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Hey guys,

here's another update on the construction of my first layout.


Since last time, I finally was able to get the last DR5088 feedback module, so I hooked it up and connected everything together.

It's messy, but I've labeled all the cables, so it should be fairly easy to troubleshot in case of issues





After connecting all the DCC stuff, I put the two halves on the TV bench and connected all the tracks together.

I've also put a foam board, 2 cm thick, underneath the inner loop, so the trains running there won't disappear behind the Shinkansen ones, especially after I'll put the platforms.

I still have to give them a nice shape:







Then for the past week I've been playing with iTrain, trying to get all the routes set up for the trains.

It took me a while to get all the trains working together. Unfortunately a couple of times a train decided to commit suicide, didn't stop at the end of the tracks and jumped off the bench. But fortunately no harm came to it. I realized that when placing the decoder in the 'locomotive', one of the metal strips got tucked underneath a plastic piece, so sometimes the DCC feedbacks didn't see the train on the tracks and so it just went too long. But now it's fixed.


The next step will be to fix the tracks to the base, measure the exact dimensions of the platforms and start designing the roofs, which are a peculiar aspect of Tokyo station.


Here's a video of the construction of the base:



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Its coming together nicely!  I love the idea of automatic operations, it should be a really cool effect once its all up and running.

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The full automation was one of the most important thing about this whole layout, I wanted to do this from the start, so you just push a couple of buttons and then all the trains will run by themselves. I've already tested it, I'll upload a video soon, it's really cool, and with iTrain it's quite easy to set up.

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I liked the idea of changing the heights to allow better perspectives. The real Tokyo station has about 3 different levels of elevated tracks. The difference isn't as much as your foam board represents. But that is modelling.

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Yeah, if I had to do it in scale, it would have probably be like half of that.

Like this, it's about 3m in real life, which is a lot, but this way I also have the trains in the background not totally hidden behind the platforms in front.

Plus I'll have the elevated Chuo line, so three different levels, which should be nice.

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Hey guys,

finally I was able to put everything together and get some trains going:



Of course the sounds don't come from the trains but I added them in post. I recorded them in Tokyo station and Shin-Osaka.


The automation as I said it's done via iTrain, I've very happy with it.


Now I'm working on 3D printing.

I bought a 3D printer (Anycubic i3 Mega) a year ago, just out of curiosity. But now I can finally use it, and it's perfect for the job.

I've started printing one of the platforms, trying to translate into such a small scale what I saw in real life.

I think that once they're all glued together and painted up, they should look quite nice.










What do you guys think?


Next, the roof. That will be more of a challenge...


Edited by paolo
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On 2/5/2019 at 3:05 PM, paolo said:

Then I ordered from Digikeijs all the DCC equipment:

  • DR5000 command station
  • DR4018 to control the turnouts, plus one DR4101 interface for each turnout
  • 4x DR4088LN-CS feedback modules

Hi Paolo,
I am impressed with the work you are doing here!  

My lay-out is currently only analogue but I am planning to convert it to digital DCC control. I use Kato trains and tracks. The Kato trains are DCC friendly and ready to accept the Kato decoders. Do you use these as well? 

My question to you really is: The Kato decoders are made for the Digitrax control system and these put 13-14V on the tracks. The Digikeijs system you use apply 15 - 24V on the tracks. Did you experience any issue with the higher voltage?  And what about carriage interior lighting? 

Many thanks for enlightening me!


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Hi Jan,


thank you for your nice words!


I haven't done much work on my layout in the past few months unfortunately, but in January I plan on going back at it.

I've finished 3D-printing all the platforms, now I need to figure out how to paint them and put them in place.

I also need to replace a few traditional ballasted unitracks with the concrete slab ones, and as it just so happens, I'll be in Tokyo next week, so I can do some shopping.


To answer your questions.

All my trains are KATO and I put in all of them the KATO decoders (EM13 and FL12). They are all plug and play, as all my trains are DCC friendly. I haven't had any problem with them.

I still haven't burned any decoders, for now 😉


I haven't used any interior lightning. The problem with KATO ones is that to use them in DCC you'd need to put a single decoder (FR11) in each car if you want to control the light, but would cost way too much for me, and those decoders are not easy to find. I think you could do without the decoders, but then you'd have the lights on all the time and at full power. And that might burn the LED's.


If you have any other questions, don't hesitate to ask!



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Here's an update after a quite a long time.

Of course this long period at home has been a blessing, as I did a lot of work on my layout.

I did a lot of 3D printing: all the platforms, the roofs, the eleveted Chuo line viducts are all 3D printed using SketchUp to design the pieces and Cura to slice them.




It's been a fairly smooth process, only a couple of misprints due to a faulty SD card. I tried to copy the kind of roofs there are in the actual station. Here's a picture I took from the Marunouchi hotel:




And here's my version:






For the Chuo platform, I used four modules of the KATO DX suburban station, as the dimensions fitted perfectly. All the others are 3D printed.

I need to add a lot of details to them, so the gap between the modules will be covered and I need to print some structures to hide the LED wires.


The next steps now will be to start adding some dirt and grass in the corners and then I want to start working on the right end side, where there's that empty space.

I was thinking of recreating the square in front on the station on the Marunouchi side. I could print the facade of the station (I found a 3D model of the whole building) and put it against the backdrop. It would cheating as in reality that square would be facing the back wall, but I think it would look cool.

What do you guys think?



Here's also the latest video of the current status:



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It's been a while since I've worked on my layout, but during the holidays I went back to it.

This time I worked on the city part, creating the streets and putting some LED light inside the buildings.

They're all Tomix buildings, except the KATO corner one.

It's not perfect in any way, but at least I got the layout like 95% complete, and since it sits in my living room, I have a kinda finished product, after three years since I started.

I'm still missing a few details, like people and cars in the streets, but I don't have any at the moment, and that'll have to wait until we're allowed back to travel to Japan.

Here are some pics and the video.











And the video:



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