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How about just paint little blocks of stryene and then put a custom decal on the top for lettering and detail indents, may show up as closer from 6” or more away. 



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Jeff, that is a great idea, it would be a lot easier than trying to paint the details. I have some waterslide transfer paper. I will give it a go!

I am happy with the etch apart from the cross in the middle, it seemed like a good idea to etch that detail at the time (hindsight is a wonderful thing) however in such a small scale it is completely out of scale. 

I will cut some styrene once I have drawn up the details on the top.



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I have finally finished the trunking on the first board.

There is a simple row along the front that sits against the catwalk and a slightly more interesting row between the Keihin Tohoku and Tokaido Main lines.

That latter has to wiggle a little to miss the catenary supports.



I am now working out the road along the front of the layout. For this I am mainly relying on Streetview to get the details correct. I cut lots of different width styrene strips to practice getting the proportions correct. This is the version I settled on working from back to front: The pavement is made of 3 layers of 10 thou styrene, sanded to be 2 layers at the front edge. The curb is made from 30 thou square rod. The gutter is 1 layer 10 thou, this still needs to be sanded flush to the baseboard on the back edge. The road is 1 layer 10 thou styrene. 



I have also marked the positions of all the drains and and manhole covers on the baseboard ( just visible in the picture above either side of the styrene ).


These are etched details that I will paint separately and add later. I included a couple of holes on the road surface test to make sure these etches fit flush. 



Here is a sample of the artwork for some of the etches I will be using. I still have a few more to draw up. I did take some reference pictures while I was there for others I am using Streetview to work out the dimensions and details.



Now that I am happy with the proportions of the road I will be working of getting pavement and curb in first. I will start by making sure I get the bases for the catenary in the right place as these will pass through a hole in the middle of the catwalk.




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nice work, thought of doing this with the printer.


if you want I can get you some scans of interesting Japanese manhole covers, I have a book of them!



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I did consider using a printer, I think it would give a very good level of detail. I decided against it in the end because the depth of a printed version would need to be somewhere close to 1mm with an etch I was able to get the same detail on 0.25mm thick metal. As is often the case I had to make a compromise because I didn't leave myself any wiggle room when designing the baseboards.

As for scans, thank you, that is very kind and I have to say I am really very tempted! I have most of the designs I need for phase 1 however I quite enjoy drawing them up. I may have to run a little side project of local designs for each city or prefecture maybe. They would look really good in HO, though I imagine someone already makes them.



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Work on the pavement has started. I am using the Silhouette cutter to cut out all the styrene parts. Then it is just a case of building up the layers to get the right heights. 


I started with the base for the catenary mast in the middle of the board. This is actually made up of 8 little pieces interlocking at the corners. 

I am marking the pattern of any cracks or damaged sections of concrete in pencil than using a knife to score chip away the styrene.



I am using a small hand drill with a 1.2mm drill bit to locate the drainpipes. I will paint these separately before gluing them in place.

1967460778_Screenshot2021-01-15at22_50_19.thumb.png.11055567805138b8786c174b9ab73197.png     556482057_Screenshot2021-01-15at22_49_45.thumb.png.4bd9a65f9791853615f0d0021a44abec.png



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On 1/16/2021 at 6:54 AM, Kamome442 said:

I am using the Silhouette cutter to cut out all the styrene parts.

What’s the maximum thickness of styrene that the Silhouette can cut?

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Good question Madsing, I am not 100% sure. I have only ever used 10 thou, on the highest setting for the blade it only just cuts through. They are mainly used for card craft but they apparently cut fabric too so I guess you could at least score thicker sheets of styrene. 

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The neon lights are bright on Broadway Yurakucho.


One of the things that was really clear in my mind when I started this project was that there would be no working street lights. It would add extra wiring and as this is intended purely for shows would be pointless in a brightly lit exhibition hall. Well the best laid plans and all, the idea of seeing the arches lit at night got the better of me!



The only problem, I have already built the board and there is no access from underneath. So any changes now would add complexity for what is really just an unconventional night light! Still we do like a challenge.


I ordered some lights around two weeks ago, they arrived on Tuesday. They’re not a perfect match to the prototype but they are pretty close.

As luck would have it I already have some aluminium tubing that is a perfect fit. I cut the tube into 5mm lengths and carefully crimped one end to stop the light going all the way through. Rubber hose acts as channel for the wires. I drilled two holes fed the tube through and used UV resin to bond base in place. Once set I filed the resin flush to the baseboard.



The finished street light with pavement and road glued in place. The wires run under the arches to the back of the layout. Once fences are placed over the front of the arches the wires will be completely hidden.



The lights are not glued in place as they press fit really well. It also means I can swap them out if they get damaged. I am going to change them to a warm white LED at some point but it is not a priority for now.





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How about a pop up tent over a section of the layout with curtains and folks get to go in two at a time for a night view! That would make you a must see at the exhibition!



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Thanks Jeff, it would be awesome to run a night time version. It could get some interesting shadows when more streets are lit, especially through the gaps between the bridges.  Maybe I should add a tent to the shopping list!

When I get to the station I have some 0.9mm EL wire to suspend from the canopy on fine wire for the florescent lights. From the test section I made it has a rather pleasing Bladerunner vibe. 


I remember some exhibitions used a smaller hall with the lights off for night time layouts. I haven't seen it done for a while but then I have't been to that many shows in the last few years.

I would have to fit lights in all the trains too, which would probably not be cheap! 


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Ohh 0.9mm el wire! The last time I looked most were 2 and 3mm! One place had some 0.6mm. Yes it seems it might give that cool florescent feel. It really is great for neon.

I fiddled for a bit with frosting some clear acrylic to try to defuse SMD leds more to be like larger blocks of florescent lamps, but that didn’t work well. I finally decided the best was a run of U channel with a string of smd leds like a cm or two apart in parallel, just soldered between two thin floral wires and use a current limiting chip. This was a technique a German club used to make cheap car lighting with low voltage needs and consistent and well spread lighting. Bouncing them up at the roof and just closely spaced leds running very dim makes for an even spread. Pretty simple to solder up and you can use slightly larger 1210 for easier soldering. Even these at low amps facing down look like half meter square light fixtures.


the holy grail would be a diffuser block that was the shape of the usual like 4’x1’ florescent boxes that you could nestle a led into, but the diffusion just didn’t work well with leds. I think it’s they are just too much of a point source. But the up bounce lighting gives very even lighting and even the low amp with multiple 1210 facing down gives pretty even feeling. The flower wire leads can also be bent up to make hangers for the lighting units as well. Little wire jig could bend up a wire to have like 6 lighting strips/boxes per platform with some open space in between and 1 or 2 leds in each box of U Chanel with leds pointed up.


one issue I hesitate with using el is many of the transformer/inverters can have a very high pitch whine! Somehow I got into my second half century with my high frequency hearing intact and can hear these, fly transformers (happy tune TVs are gone for the most part), and kids high cell phone tones from a very long distance. I bought a pile of party el lights with a couple of meters of el and battery power supply for like a buck each on ebay a few years back and took them to a friends birthday dance party for fun. Mistake! While the music was blasting no problem but once music was off, a number of them were whining! It was like every 5th person was running their fingers down a chalk board for me! I tested one when I got them and no whine so figured solid state no whine, but something can whine in some of them. A friends superb layout has like 3 of the nice el signs that flash and alternate and even more annoying sound to my ears. I remember the first time he turned it on for me and I did this huge wince and he couldn’t figure out what was wrong!





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Interesting information Jeff and if I am completely honest I don't fully understand all the technical details. It sounds like the results of using SMD leds gave some pretty interesting results. If you have any images I would be really interested in seeing them.


The mock up platform I made, wasn't actually Yurakucho. I spent a lot of time making minatures and mockups of various stations I liked before whittling the list down. I made a small section of Uguisudani Station to test the EL wire. I believe I still have it, I will try and take a picture at the weekend so you can see the effect. 


I know what you mean about the high pitch whine, I noticed the same thing on one of the 2 battery packs that came with the wire. Maybe I need to consider some branded earplugs to give away at shows😕.

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here’s the excellent video of the constant current chip using parallel SMD leds. I’ll look for the strip I made to play with.




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On 10/3/2020 at 6:57 AM, Kamome442 said:

I have finished drawing my legs. It took a little longer than planned, as well as being tapered they are on a slight incline.



I am going to etch them in two parts (white) and 3D print (orange) the decorative cast metal accents.

Hopefully that will act as a jig to get the taper symmetrical (at least that is the plan!)


Joe, did you mention what program you use to make those drawings? Are they already in a format that your etching service can use?

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On 11/6/2020 at 6:15 PM, Kamome442 said:


Thank you Keith, I am with you on soildworks, the same goes for blender, maya, fusion and all those types of software. I just get completely overwhelmed with all the different functions. I currently use 123Design, it was Autodesk's software for beginners and a real shame that they stopped supporting it. All you have are the very basic functions. 

Below is an image from drawing up the arch above. The buttons along the top are all you get.



As for the guy, he is safely back in his box, I may get him out for next years Halloween!


You're doing all this on a CAD program for beginners? With just the basic functions? Really, I can't imagine what need anyone would have with the bells and whistles, if this is what you can do with basic software. Really, I'm confused.  🤔

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Thank you for the link Jeff, that was a really informative video, I have also enjoyed reading through the thread. I have to learn a lot about electronics as this project progresses, luckily there is a ton of info on this site.


Hi gavino, I am not sure I mentioned the software I use to draw things up for etching. For all the parts I am getting etched, laser cut or cutting on the Silhouette cutter I use Illustrator. You can export in lots of formats which makes it really convienent for what I am doing. The company I use for etching accept .ai and like a .pdf copy to make sure design matches when they open it at their end. The laser cutter uses a .dwg format. I picked up a plug-in for illustrator to convert to a format that the Silhouette cutter can read. 


Illustrator is fantastic for 2D artwork and actually doesn't take that long to learn. For 3D models I am printing, 123Design is superb piece of software for people who don't have much experience. It was created as tool for hobbyists to make 3D printable models, along with several others such as 123D Catch (which converted photos into 3D a mesh for printing).

Sadly Autodesk stopped supporting it a few years back and moved all the functions into their Fusion 360 software. 


What makes it simple are the basic functions. You can choose from a handful of 3D shapes:



When you place them you set their dimensions. To build up a model you can overlap them with other shapes and combine them, or use extrude and chamfer tools to alter their shape.


You can also work in 2D with basic shapes arcs and line tools (it can also import .svg files so I can convert drawings from illustrator directly into 123D):



Then you can make the 2D drawings 3D by selecting them and extruding them.


What it doesn't have is any animation, rendering, lighting functions that you would find in something like Blender or Rhino. It also wouldn't be able to create something with multiple compound curves or a fur texture. As I am only using it for buildings that are for the most part formed from basic shapes it has everything I need.


It is also lacking any functions for adding bump maps or texture mapping to a model. When I create a brick wall for instance I have to make it by hand, placing a cuboid for a brick, copying and pasting it until I have a wall. This really isn't as bad as it sounds as you can keep coping bigger and bigger sections each time you paste more bricks. I also save a section each time I make a wall, that I can just drop into a new model. 


I hope this makes sense. 


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Thanks for the information, Joe. I'm really enjoying watching your project unfold. Do you have a website cataloguing previous creations of yours? I'd love to see more of your work.

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Thank you for the kind words gavino, I am really enjoying sharing what I am doing and getting inspiration from everyone else's projects. To be honest, this is a bit of a return to modelling after a long absence. I operated others Japanese layouts with my dad in the 90's and we did build a short lived layout with Roger Comber. Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of that, I will check if my dad has any. I have always enjoyed planning potential layouts so I have some sketches and mock ups for never build layouts that I messed about with over the years.


Speaking of which, I did say I would show the section of Uguisudani station I made to test EL lighting.



It is about ten years old and the styrene has degraded a little in that that time.



I tried to hang the wire properly but the roof started to fall apart so I have just taped it to styrene and balanced it in place above one platform. 



These pictures are only lit by the wire, I really like atmosphere it creates (the E233 was close to hand, I am aware its a little lost🙃).



When I do get around to building Yurakucho station I think this is the way I will light it. I will probably glue the wire into some metal U channel and use fine wire to hang it from the roof. That will not happen for quite a while as I have to get phase 1 built first.


I have finally received the etches I need to make all the bridges on P1 and the timing is perfect with it being half term for me this week. I have spent the afternoon carefully cutting and cleaning the parts I need. First up will be the smallest Shinkansen bridge at the Shimbashi end of the layout. I post a step by step guide of how I am building them over the coming weeks.


I also just realised I never shared pictures of the 1:4 scale model I made of this layout. I will take some pictures in the week.



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Shinkansen Bridge No. 1


Construction is underway, there was a delay of two days when I realised my epoxy resin had dried up. Oops, mental note always check your tools before you begin 😁

It did give me time to carry on trimming and filing more of the pieces needed for this project.


Below, test fitting the parts before the start of construction.



Fresh tubes of epoxy arrived yesterday so I got the first section bonded and drying overnight.


Part 1: The main structure

This bridge span is 140mm long, the prototype is mainly welded so the main structure is relatively simple to make.

There are however plenty of little detailing parts to add later so worry not rivet fans.


I will show a picture of the parts I am adding to the model, from the artwork I sent to get etched. Hopefully that will make it easy to follow what I am doing.

Here are the parts used in the first step:



These parts are full a full thickness etch using 0.25mm nickel silver. The slots are 0.3mm, I have found from previous experience to make these gaps slightly wider that then thickness of the metal to get a good fit.

Below is an illustration of how these first parts fit together.



Here is the finished step.



The next step is to add is the bracing strips that help to support the track bed. There are 18 in total (9 for each track).



An illustration of where they are fitted.



The completed step.



I have spent the evening carefully cleaning away excess glue ready to attach the track bed, later tonight.

I hope this has been useful, if I have skipped over anything or if it is too much detail, please let me know.



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45 minutes ago, Kamome442 said:


I hope this has been useful, if I have skipped over anything or if it is too much detail, please let me know.




Very useful. Thank you so much!

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Thank you gavino, good to know 👍

I have plenty more bridges to make up so when I design the Phase 2 bridges I can do something similar to show how I draw them up.

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Shinkansen Bridge No.1 Continued


A couple of days have past so it must be time to catch up on the progress.


Part 2: Trackbed

For this bridge the track bed is a trough design with ballasted track running over it. I decide to make this in three sections, a floor and separate walls on each side. I have used a half etch (shown below in white) to allow the pieces to locate acturately onto the main structure. This is where the acid is only applied to one side of the metal so it does not eat all the way through the sheet.



Here is a picture front and back of the side walls to show the finish you get with a half etch.



The floor fits over the existing structure. I actually used the floor as a jig when gluing the main structure to make sure everything was lined up correctly.




The side walls have vertical grooves that fit over the ribs of the main structure. The horrizontal grove acts a guide to bend the top of the wall outward matching the prototype.



The as it looks in real life. The walls are just held in place to check they fit, I decided not to glue them until I have painted the bridge otherwise I would struggle to get an airbrush into all the little spaces. I have added a few sleepers to check clearances. The track will actually be a little higher once fixed in position of the layout.



Part 3: Drainage

So you may have been wondering why there are four small holes on the ribs. This where the gutters live. For this I again used the half etch to add a little channel down the middle of the strip (this is utterly pointless as you will never see it, yet strangely satisfying to know it is there!).



These are carefully fed through the holes from one end.



Here they are visible either side of the trackbed, once the side walls are added they will never be seen again.



Part 4: Detailing

I am now on the home straight and the fun part of adding all the little cosmetic details that will hopefully make the bridge look as close to the prototype as I possibly can.

The first step is to replicate the points where the bridge was joined together. For this they used bolted plates. Here is the etch design I used.



This is where they are located on both sides of the ribs.



Here is the underside of the bridge with all the plates added.



The next update with be finishing up this build. I guess I should include a picture of the real bridge for a harsh comparison! There is a second Shinkansen bridge with an almost identical design at the other end of the layout so I will just take a picture of the finished model for that one.



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Shinkansen Bridge No.1 Finishing Up


Firstly apologies for the absence, I got caught up making World Book Day costumes for my fellow teachers. It is my first year at this school so it never hurts the reputation to volunteer for a few extra activities.


The bridge is now complete. This is what I added to finish things off.


First up are the strips that attach to the underside of each of the ribs to provide additional support. The recess down the middle of the etch allows it to locate over the rib.



This where they are placed.



A close up of the model with all the strips attached.



Next up it wouldn’t be complete without another smattering of bolted plates. The rectangular plates sit directly below (or above when the working on it upside down) the ones I added in the last post. The tapered plates support where the ribs attach to the main spine of the bridge.



Here is how they are positioned.



Another close up with the plates in place. (Unfortunately I was getting some funky reflections with the camera so some of the details are a little washed out.)



The last step is to cap off the spines top and bottom to give them an I beam profile. The half etched pattern for the bottom allows the etch to fit over the plates added in the step above.



How they are positioned.



A close up of the finished underside. 



All that remains is to add some paint. With spring just around the corner hopefully it should be warm enough to set up the air brush in the garage in the next few weeks. 


I did say I would add a picture of the actual bridge.


Source: Google Streetview


Sadly I don't have any pictures of my own because I had already drawn this particular bridge up before my visit. Overall I am really pleased with the results and I feel I made a pretty faithful copy. I have already started work on its neighbour a two track bridge for the Tokaido Main Line.



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The Finished Bridge


The top view. (I know it needs a bit of a clean🤭)



The underside



Just 8 more bridges to go!

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