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Asukayama Monorail - Modelling the Snail


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Discovering the Wobbly Pod


For a little background on this, I subscribed to a number of YouTube channels while planning and designing Yurakucho. These are mostly those that regularly post on board cab rides or ASMR walk arounds that I can pause and double check details and measurements. One channel, 電車の動画 -Train Movies-, recently posted a cab ride of the Asuka Park Rail or Asukayama Monorail. I have to confess this was something I was not aware of. After watching the video, all 3 minutes 53 seconds of it, taking you on a journey both up and back down the side of Asuka Park! I had to look up some details.


Link to the YouTube video:


One of the first results of my search was a JNS topic created by our very own @gmat with some lovely photos and details: 



After a little more hunting I found a fabulous .pdf on the www.city.kita.tokyo.jp website (link below), among the pages are detailed drawings of both the car and its rails including elevations and measurements. 



Now, I am a sucker for scale drawings and do like to draw things up. So to cut a long story short I went and did a thing!



It still needs a little sanding to remove the print lines but I am rather pleased with the results.


A view of the back:



Looking into the interior:



It is missing a couple of AC units on the roof, windows and a door. I am not sure what I will do with the finished model and I have my hands full working on Yurakucho to think about making another layout. For now it lives on a bamboo skewer on my shelf and likes eating lettuce. I am happy to post details of how I drew up and printed this little beast, if you are interested just let me know. 



Screenshot 2022-04-04 at 19.28.42.png

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@cteno4 funny you should say that. I did consider using a thin brass rod hidden the rail attached to the car to push and pull it along. 

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Should work if flexible. trick will be some cross piece and track for it to keep the rod in the track. Maybe thicker monofilament line in a circular track inside the track (to keep it in the track) and smaller slit on top for a small vertical pin to attach to the car.

I’ve seen rollercoaster models that run a string thru the rail with small neodymium magnet on it to drag the car along the rail. May be too big for this rail.



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On 4/5/2022 at 3:29 AM, Kamome442 said:

I am happy to post details of how I drew up and printed this little beast, if you are interested just let me know.

Hi Joe, I am interested 😀. In addition to the photo-etched tower crane (which is now on its way from Scotland), I have started modeling in Autodesk Fusion 360 many other small parts (mostly electrical cabinets and air conditioning units) that I need to 3D print. I am pondering whether I should purchase a 3D printer or subcontract the printing (as I did in the past). As I live in an apartment, I consider that 3D printers that use liquid resins are not an option. Unfortunately, they seem to produce the most detailed prints. What kind of printer did you use here?


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@cteno4 good idea to use pin through the top of the track. I quickly drew up a section of the track, it is actually a lot finer than I expected. The top and bottom rail are only 0.6mm. It would be pretty tricky to get any mechanism in the track. It might be easier to a thin slot down the side of the track with a pin or even clear acrylic tube connecting into on of the little wings on the side.



@Madsing cool, I will add a post showing how I created the model. It was a combination of Illustrator and 123D Design, not the best way to do but it worked! I am really excited to see the tower crane, your etch looked fantastic. Resin printers certainly give better detail, I am using a Photon S by Anycubic. 

The resin does have a funky smell for sure but I haven't found to be any worse than something like enamel thinners.

I actually tested a different type of resin for this print. It is a water washable resin so no need for using isopropyl alcohol to clean the prints, it can just be rinsed with water under a tap or in an ultrasonic bath. 



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Yeah I was thinking you would need to cheat on the track to get any sort of string running Thru it and still have a channel to attach the line to the carriage.



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What a fantastic project. I love it 😍 I'm a massive fan of mono rails and have modeled a few in the distent past.


How about this as a drive mechanism ? https://www.magnorail.com/en/  Ignoring the magnet, it could be used to drive the vertical pin in a slot beside the rail as it can take curves nicely. My attempts with string and pullies were not a great success due to friction. 


I'm sitting on the edge of my seat so keep us posted 👍

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@Madsing I love the idea of hiding the mechanism in the walkway, I never would have thought of that! The walkway that is there is probably too thin and it is cantilevered from the side of track. However as it would be behind the car to viewer it it is certainly worth thinking about redesigning the legs to make it work.


Track with added walkway:



Close up of attachment point:



@katoftw Thank you for the information, those are really interesting examples. I had made the assumption the mechanics were designed for a fixed pitch, I was quite shocked to see the Tsunami Museums system clearly shows the track level out. I suppose this means the traction equipment is more complex and can pivot somehow to keep the car level.


@Tom C you cannot beat the odd monorail, they are strangely compelling. If you have any pictures of your previous endeavours I would certainly be interesting in seeing them. I had seen a similar system to this in the past that was hand made. I remember thinking at the time it was very clever, glad to see it has become an off the shelf system.

This is very much a side project to tinker with when I get a mental block working on the layout. Updates will be few and far between but I will certainly post them here.

I have been looking at it on its stand for the last few days. The same thought keeps popping into my head, the cabin should light up. I think you could hide a + and - contact on the back edge of the top and bottom rail.


I will post details of how I made print tomorrow and share the drawings.


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Still thinking a c channel under the stairs with a string in it along with pulleys at top and bottom would work. Just a small rod embedded in the string perpendicular to the string and protruding out the slot in the c channel could move the car. Move the string loop with either a loop over cam or rubber compression wheels on either side of the string. If you could 3D print the c channel pit of a more flexible plastic it could just snap into holders under the gang way (like little c clips for the channel to clip into).



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Creating a scale 2D drawing in Illustrator.


I want to start by making that this not really a how to guide, this is really just how I did it. I taught myself to use Illustrator and I have no doubt picked up the odd bad habit along the way. I have also likely missed a short cut here and there that would make the job easier. I don't want to patronise those who know all I will talk about but for those who have never used Illustrator I will note useful info in blue. With that caveat out of the way, let's get started.


I began by using this screen shot:



It was taken from page 14 of the .pdf mentioned in the first post, also linked is here: https://www.city.kita.tokyo.jp/d-douro/bunka/koenichiran/documents/attachment_2.pdf


The first step was to scale the image. I could have carefully cropped an image of front and side separately then scaled them by adjusting the height and length values that show up in the top bar. I find it easier just create a rectangle (shown in black) the length of the car, then I copy and paste this and place two end to end (blue and red). What is important here is that the two boxes are longer than the image, if not I would keep joining rectangles until it is.  



I then group the image and the rectangles. As the car is 4 metres I know the two boxes will be 8 metres. I divide 8m (8000mm) by the scale I am using, in this case 1:150. I select the group and take the value (53.33mm) to adjust the width of the group in the top bar. The little icon that looks like two interlocking chains (left of the selected box) will automatically scale the hight when checked. I now have the image scaled, I can ungroup the items and delete the rectangles.



I always try to scale an image first, that way I can continually check the measurements of each of the parts by scaling them up to full size and checking that they make sense. This particularly useful for low resolution images where details such as windows becomes heavily pixelated. 


From here it is a simple case of layering shapes [selected from the tool bar on the left of the screen] to build up the outline of the car. I started with two circles to form the front (orange) and rear (yellow).



As the yellow circle expands outside the dimensions of the car I placed rectangles (blue and red) over the parts I wanted to remove and subtracted them out. [window/pathfinder/minus front]



After selected sections are removed:



The addition of one more rectangle gives the basic shape of the car:



Then I select all the shapes and and combine them. [window/pathfinder/unite]



To get the chamfer edge I selected the shape and offset it by 1mm. [object/path/offset path]



From here I used the same process of blocking out shapes for each of the separate parts to complete the drawing.

The completed drawings:



A .pdf of my drawing: Slope Car.pdf


Next time I will look at turing this into a 3D model ready for printing.


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On 4/9/2022 at 11:53 PM, Kamome442 said:

If you have any pictures of your previous endeavours I would certainly be interesting in seeing them

When I was a youth I never thought to take photos of my creations. It was way before the internet and I didn't know any other modelers and it would have involved borrowing a camara from someone !


The models are long gone but I had made two working Lartigue locomotives in HO scale and one of the Patiala state monorail.  All my pre first marrage models 'bar a couple that I squirreled away' were throwen away by the Ex who diaproved of adults playing with 'toys'. It was the same storry with Ex number two ! No guessing why I'm not married any more 😂


I love the meticulous design you are applying to this project, though by now I have come to expect nothing less from you 😉

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Making a 3D model in 123D Design


Firstly thank you for the kind words Tom.

Well as I said before I am self taught with Illustrator and the same goes for 123D Design, the software I have been using to make 3D models. I was a great piece of software for its simplicity and ease of use, sadly no longer supported by Autodesk. Essentially it is a heavily simplified CAD program with just the basic tools needed to create 3D shapes and as such is very easy to understand. I am currently trying to learn Rhino, to try and transition to a more in-depth software.


The reason for creating the 2D drawing in separate software is simply because 123D does not support importing images. With other programs where this is possible it makes more sense to both steps in the one place. 123D does support line drawings saved as an svg. file, once I have done this in Illustrator I can transfer it to 123D. 

I have found it quite difficult to work on small scale models with lots of details close together because 123D has a fairly limited zoom to get around this I make several copies of drawing and space them apart equally. I delete certain details from each drawing using the trim tool:



For this model I made three copies. The first creates the basic body, the second adds the windows and frames and the last adds the panel lines. After each step I slide the model over to the next step by clicking on it and selecting 'move' from the options that appear. 



From here I will only use four tools, extrude, chamfer ,mirror and combine to create the 3D model ready for printing. The extrude tool allows you to select a face on a shape or an enclosed shape on a 2D drawing. Once selected you can pull outward or push it inward.



I start by extruding the bodies outer wall and floor out, as the car is symmetrical I only create one half to save having repeat details like the lights while drawing. I then select the walls and extrude them up. The little bar that looks like a hat above the car is a cover for the sliding door. I keep this separate as it only appears on one side, I add that at the end once I have copied and mirrored the original half to make a complete car.



The box at on the right gives me the shape of the cut out for the track to run through the middle. Using the extrude tool I can select the profile I want and by pulling it through an existing model it will automatically delete that shape from the main model. I will use the same tool at the other stations to remove walls for the windows, add indents for panel lines and lights.



To make the distinctive beveled edge on this car I used the chamfer tool.



I click on the edges I want to chamfer then either use the mouse increase/decrease the size or type the amount (1mm) I want it to be beveled.



Once all the details have been added the mirror tool will create the other half:



This is done by selecting the model and then selecting the face that you want the model to be mirrored from.



Finally the mirrored half and the original are two separate parts. The combine tool will join all the parts ready for printing.



Once the option is selected it is just a case of clicking on each part that you want to be joined.



From here it can be exported as an .stl file that can be read by the printers software.



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