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My Japanese N Scale Diorama - NEW Dinning Table Layout

JR 500系

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No. I did mean a Olympus Pen. It's a really good camera and a good compromise for who wants a camera as manageable and powerful as DSLR but without sacrificing the size/portability.

And I meant that I don't know understand which model of the Olympus Pen you mean.

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I'm pretty sure I'm meaning a Olympus Pen E-PL3. It's not mine so I can't be 100% but my girlfriend's. I have used it and I see the picture she has taken with it. Lots of potential, good digital sensors and I really liked its format.

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:grin The price is about equivalent as the cheapest DSLRs over here but lenses seem very expensive. The Sony NEX5N may be interesting for you too if you're looking at compact compares with exchangeable lenses. And don't forget this:


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Hey thanks alot Densha! That would definately be in my 'to-buy' list! Luckily for me, electronics are cheap here in Sillypore due to the various brands competition and we have almost an electronic fair every other weekend... Might keep a look out for this one ~


Back to the layout, going to try to design on Anyrail my rural line, running across the city and up the mountain to see if it will work out fine on my layout ~ 

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@ disturbman : Now thats truely a very good question.. The mind is strong but the wallet is weak...

Well, here are a little more updates since it's the festive season and some time on my hands:




Decided to let's first take care of these unsightly wires...



Making a groove in the styrofoam... That's an advantage of using the foam as a base, but i had to on the vacuum on standby before it snows inside my house while i'm excavating this...



I suddenly feel like a cable layer!


IMG_1777_zpsd5df6dd2.jpg ALmost there! I really really do not have space for one more controller for my rural line... Or.... Do i ??



Nice and Sweet! The grass cloth covered them all! Nice ~



Here's how the wires look like coming out from the foam...



And here is the un-covered segment which should be the entrance to the bus/ taxi station beneath the shinkansen station..



And finally, a 'hill' that is yet to be shaped and painted for the Mayors house (your truely) so that he can view the shinkansens running in and out everyday in his house windows..


Thanks for viewing and comments very much welcomed! Happy New Year and all the best wishes for everyone! Cheers! 

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Thanks for the linky Densha! The shinkansen station is fantastic! Really well done!


Well, nothing much was developing (unfortuantely) in Takahashi town... i was kinda busy with this though:


The multiple Storey carpark set from Aoshima. I was waiting for my generic China cars to come in (took a REALLY long time) so that they can be placed 'permanently' inside the carpark. I'm also installing some LED light strips while i'm construting it... Here are some photos for sharing ~



REally hope to finish it soon!   






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And yes finally it's done! (with battered fingers)...


The MSCP is a great looking structure! This will serve as a carpark for both my houding area, and for the offices nearby ~ Sweet structure, but i had some problem trying to glue the facade in hence the gap at the sides... The lighting is LED strips, hiden inside the 'Lift shaft' area of the carpark hence no wires can be seen ~


Speaking of which, how do you guess actually plan you layout? I mean, i know about the softwares to plan the tracks, but the roads and buildings and such, how do you go about planning which goes where? Thanks in advance for advices!









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That's a really large building isn't it?

For planning roads and such I usually use the Anyrail software I use for track planning: if you use multiple layers you can make layers with buildings, roads and such. You can draw any shape you want with the tools in the program. But considering you already have a lot of buildings wouldn't it be better to just look at what you have and what you can do with it?

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Thanks Densha!


Time to put on the thinking cap and work with Anyrail for a while... Alternatively, physically playing with the buildings might be a great idea to work with too.. Just wanna get teh buildings at the correct places BEFORE doing cable laying works since all my buildings are going to be lighted.


Wont wanna dig out the roads i have lay just to swift some cables underground to shift the buildings...

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Since you have track down I would play directly on the layout and not on the computer. Workinh in 2d for your scenery can be really misleading unless you have a really good 2d to 3d ability in your head.


Take the buildings you have and start plunking them down. Get some construction paper and cut out road bits to visualize that. If you are thinking of using a particular structure you don't have yet, just chop up some cardboard boxes to make a box at about the same size and shape. Doesn't have to be beautiful, just needs to fill the space. Just tape it all together. spend a lot of time jsut mixing things around and let them sit for a while now and then and run trains thru the scene.


Grab little blocks of wood, plastic, etc and drop them around to represent smaller scenery elements.


Structures can block the view of the trains quite a bit. This is good and bad, so you need to play with where you want the view blocked and open from your usual viewing angles. You will find you can make some interesting visual effects and change the feel of your track design to make it feel bigger than it is with the trains disappearing at just the right times and places.


Do the same for any scenery elements like a hillside. Just crumple up paper and tape it down with tape. You will be amazed how fast you can find the right hill shape. Same goes for a mountain over your tracks. Hack up some cardboard to make a tunnel over tracks and then cover it with he crumpled paper and tape and run trains thru it. Tear up and redo till you find out what looks good with the trains running thru the scene.


We do this with exhibit elements all the time. Its amazing how fast the refinement will happen. 3d cad is crap for this as you spend a large amount of time crating the model and its hard to get the same perspective looking at the screen that you get with your eye on a physical model. Using the eye directly really triggers totally different pathways in the brain and involves the minds eye sooo much more than on the screen. It's similar to using a pencil vs a mouse. The motor use and feedback from a pencil on paper is dramatically different than a mouse... I've seen so many special errors from using only cad as things can look too good and something in the brain turns off and things are overlooked and also I believe the midsession eye gets turned off looking at it on the screen, which again is soooo dangerous


So go back to childhood and play with your blocks. Go back and grab that creativity and playfullness that you will never get from the computer. You will find great and interesting results and its quite fun to boot!





Edited by cteno4
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Thank you Jeff for the wonderful suggestions! The wood and paper idea to subsitute structures that are planned for but not here yet is a great way to visualise! I was just wondering if i had to get in ALL the structures that i would like before planting them in... Never thought of that ~


Jeff gave me a great idea to visualise on my layout this Saturday ~ Till then, i have some time to fix up my Shinto shrine and install lights in my other buildings.. Now, i tried installing lights into my paper buildings but... You know.. It made them look like paper walls (which is exactly what they are) but that dont look good, do they?


Jeff thanks again for the input! Sure is helpful! 

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Martijn Meerts

Lighting is always a problem. Pretty much all the LEDs sold these days are WAY too bright to be realistic. The worst thing is that there's this movement towards ever brighter LEDs ;)


I haven't tried lighting my Sankei kits yet. I bought 2 test kits a while ago, and 1 of them I built without lights. The other one is still under construction and I do want to try lighting that one. I have no idea what it's going to be like, but the Sankei kits are on fairly heavy card stock, and on the HS blog there's a page about the Spirited Away bath house which has lighting installed, and which looks good. There's no lights bleeding through the walls and such.

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You're most welcome, try it, it's fun!


Like martijn said most LEDs are like little suns at scale, way way too bright for most uses. Lighting does not scale well and is one of those things you have to play with to get the desired effect. Really something you want to yes the viewer's minds eye to fill in the detail rather than try to do it all yourself as since it can be so variable. Even in 1:1 scale doing lighting is a real art. Always marvel at the good lighting folks we have worked with on exhibits and videos.


Another trick for making your lighting more realistic is to put a variable resistor (pot) instead of your drop down resistor. This will allow you to dim your led quite a bit. You can get little pc board pots for 5-10 cents each on ebay that will dim a couple of LEDs. If you want I can show you how to make a super simple little lighting panel you can use to "set" your lights.


Also an urban scene has a lot of light flooding the scene from street lights, so many times the light coming from buildings is not that bright as you think. It's one of those things we never really look at in real life much or give much thought to. Even during the day lights inside buildings effect how they look outside! Again at scale it may take some exaggeration to get the day effects.





Edited by cteno4
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Beautiful garage, and a textbook case for the benefits of LED strip lights.


BTW, you can dim LEDs by using less voltage.  If the strips are spec'd for 12V, try a 9V supply (it needs enough power for all the LEDs, so a 9V battery may not work with the amount of lights you have).  You could also reduce power with a resistor, but it would be handling a lot of power.


A 2" (5cm) "strip" takes about 25mA on the strips I use.  That means five of them is 125mA.  To drop power from 12 to 9V into a set of five strips, you'd need a 24 ohm resistor rated for 1W (a 1/2W resistor might world, but if any of the numbers are off it might be too small). This could get fairly hot, and you might want to put a bit of foil between it and any plastic it was adjacent to (or even test the idea with some scrap plastic to see if it will deform the plastic with extended use).


On the other hand, if you had eight of the above sets and wanted to put a single resistor on the supply to the building, rather than a resistor on each set of strips, you'd need a 1.5 ohm resistor rated for 6W (which means a 10W resistor in practice).  Those are huge, and dump heat like crazy, and need to be kept away from plastic or they'll melt it.


There are calculators for this online. Just pretend the strip is a 9V, 5x25=125mA LED (or whatever voltage and number of strips you want to work with).


But using a smaller power supply is simpler.  Note that there are limits to this, and at some point the LEDs will just stop working effectively.  But you can't hurt them by supplying *less* voltage than they're rated for, only more.

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My approach would be to use a pot for each led or a few LEDs so you could really play with the lighting effects. In real life your light sources vary (although not as much as buildings), and I think would really allow you to play with the lighting of the structure in its scene (different than sitting alone on the table.)


Of course this means a mess of wires with a larger structure! I've been noodling on how to go about this in larger structures. Also how to simply have a day and night setting for lighting effects. I have come up with a simple little plug system that costs about 4 cents for a set of male and female 2conductor plugs to make something like this as plug and play as possible. I'm intregued to see what can be done playing with scale lighting effects.



Edited by cteno4
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You could also test different resistances with a pot on the layout, then include the appropriate-size resistor(s) in the model by measuring the resistance the pot ended up set to.  Power feed to all could be a common 12v source with no extra wires per building. I'm planning to use adhesive copper strips under my building bases as a "lighting bus" with a pickup on the bottom, so I don't want separate wires.  But the idea of per-building adjustments is a good one.


BTW, I tested the copper-strip idea (which I think someone else suggested) for the lighting on my expressway, and it works well.

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Very interesting! Thanks guys for all the infomation! Are you guys all electrical trained? How come everyone is so good in this? I'm a soob at this...


My gut feeling tells me the paper structures i have cannot be lit... And worse still, the tallest structure which i have (about 40cm tall), is a paper structure... I wanted a really nice high rise building, much like what quintopia did in his blog (it's a great blog by the way!)... but didnt have the skill to do it and canot bear spending a hand and a leg to ship in one that is already made, hence made the option to try a high rise paper structure. They're cheap though, but lighting them will be a real challenge without the walls bleeding though, unless i either make the LEDs less bright or blacken the walls and create plastic flim windows on them for the light to shine through...

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Nope, no training at all.  In High School I taught myself some basic electronics from books I bought at Radio Shack, and built a few kits. Then I forgot it all for years, until I started installing DCC decoders a while back.  That pushed me to relearn the basics (and you don't need more than basics for LEDs).


I learned to use an oscilloscope by watching a friend in college (who did have real training) work on his masters project, which involved designing a computer memory system.  I couldn't understand half of what he was doing, but I could turn the knobs and understand what the screen said.  It's another simple skill that isn't hard to pick up. And which I never used until I wanted to look at what was coming out of my command station or my decoders.


There is more complex stuff (like actually designing a circuit board that does something more complex than lights). I don't really know electronics at that level though, as I had no reason to learn it. I get the theory of digital electronics, which I actually had one class on, but knowing it well enough to design something requires more in-depth knowledge than I ever took the time to learn.  The easy stuff really is pretty easy though, assuming you have a an aptitude for technical things (and some people don't). All it takes is time and effort (and the right books) to learn it.


I was trained as a programmer, but that really has nothing to do with knowing how electronics work. And in any case, that was after high school.

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The weekends, and some little model building works... Just completed my Shinto Shrine ~


As i wanted lights in all my buildings, i had to puncture some holes on the base plates so that i could fit in the LEDS...


It looks GREAT!


now i have a dilema.. Shown in the last picture, i'm wondering whether or not to place the 'stall shops' in the shinto shrine as shown by Tomytec's instructions.. They look good in there, but didnt i dont want the shrine to be holding a festival as that would mean i would need quite a far bit lot of people and lights, and that would be difficult for me...


Shall i place in the stalls?


I had the intention of using those stalls to create a sort of 'Outdoor' stalls market place...








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Hi guys! Well, i have been building, but not as much as i should be doing...


Here are some updates to Takahashi town as pictures below:


Basically, there are the housing area on the right, the main city core in the middle and the truck terminal/ rural area on the left.


The housing area should comprise of 3 blocks of flats (2 from GM pre-made apartment and 1 from Aoshima), with a Kato Park next to it. The Multi-storey carpark will also be there to serve the residents, and the neighbouring Hotel and shops.


The main City core area will comprise of the taller buildings, such as the Tomix and the Kato buildings, and the new paper high-rise kits. Starting to love these paper structures as they look quite nice, are cheap and fit in nicerly. Disadvantages will be that i cant place lights in them which will not shine out in the dark, unlike all the rest of my structures. The shops will be lied in linear formation, but i'm thinking that's quite boring so might add in some curves and diagonal streets. Do note the Moving Bus system will be moving in-between the streets, but there will not be a 'tram' line unfortuantely... Which leaves me wondering where to park the new Modemo Nt-87 Yuko-Go tram...


Next on the left will be the 'Mayor's house' on a hill, the truck terminal, power station and perhaps a mountain, if i can make one. We should see more green and land there so that it can make the scenry change from pure high-rise to slightly rural... The Shinto Shrine will be in-between the main city core and the truck terminal. Also, i'll be adding in the future a Kato V3 yard set, as i think since there will not be a tram line, why not have a yard whereby at least my trains can be displayed!


Basic concept for the layout, now i just need more inputs, suggestions and determination to get my hands busy and start actually building in the burying all those wires for the lights.. Guys welcome your valuable comments and input please! Thanks in Advance!


*Last 2 pictures are taken as i suddenly have a flare for a group shot of my stable ~ * 















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That's starting to look pretty good! Using the paper buildings is a good idea, where did you get that department store from? Personally I would like to have them replaced, but now you have something to fill the landscape with you can always replace at a later time. I think the Tomix viaduct station structure looks a bit more prototypical than Kato's like this.

Everytime I see the 300 series I'm being sad... I never was able to see it for myself and now the 200 series will be retired this month too. ಥ‿ಥ

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great progress. keep playing with your buildings as long as you can to help you find what does it perfect for you! paper building are great! from a distance they can be really hard to tell they are papercraft. using them behind other buildings helps a lot as then you just get bits and pieces from different angles and you can hide any parts that may show the papercraft aspects as well. 


roads you can also cut out of construction paper to get a feel for how they may look and play with them.


looks like you have having a lot of fun!





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good looking layout!  love the mayors house idea, im doing the same thing in my layout except im callin it the "yakuza leaders" house lol..gonna overlook the yard and have a big driveway full of black cars and vans.


also i gotta get that parking garage, looks so cool!    i really need to get the hang of LEDs because i also want my layout lit up, which means laying cables all over the place.


where did you get the LED strips?  i think those would be better for lighting the train stations and stuff instead of the led light kits.


also, i like how you added people into your cars/buses. one thing i noticed the professional model builders do, is add little LED lights to every single car, so each car has yellow front lights and red brake lights. labor intensive but looks so sweet if done right.

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