Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Playing with focus stacking software

I've been playing with two 'focus stacking' software programs to try to get better depth of field in the photos that I post here.

Here's a composite image I've made of Pauls Valley from 14 jpeg photos, using a free product called CombineZP:
This image was made using the same 14 photos, and a commercial product called Zerene Stacker, which sells for USD $89.00 (personal license):
Note that the CombineZP image was cropped slightly, compared to the Zerene image.(I did that - not the products themselves.)

Having compared the original output files, I have no doubt that Zerene does a better job. But if you're going to compress the images and upload them to the internet, is it worth the $89.00? 

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Ops session 9th December 2011

I called the crew together for an operating session on Friday, 9th December to launch the rebuilt town of Pauls Valley. Here are some photos that Greg took.

John C is the yard operator at Pauls Valley. In the background, Barry is waiting for his train to emerge from the hidden north-end staging yards.

John F is running the yard at Ardmore, and here he is switching some cars at the Bluebonnet feed mill:

Rod was switching some cars for the Kerr McGee refinery at Wynnewood, when some of them decided to lie down on their side.  Ooops!!

Noel is running the Ardmore local freight, and here he is switching some cars at Gene Autry:

Barry is monitoring the progress of his train as it enters the north-end staging yard:

Group shot - Noel, Rod, me, John F and Charlie:

John switching at Ardmore, while Rod is switching at Wynnewood:

Here's Charlie having a rest in the aisle between Davis and Dougherty:

Pauls Valley rebuild

As a temporary measure, Pauls Valley was originally laid out with old Peco code 80 track that I had salvaged from my previous GC&SF. Over the past few months I have completely rebuilt the town using Atlas code 55 track, and then installed push-rods to operate the turnouts.

Here's how the town looks:

At the same time, I also relocated the control panel and video monitor for the north-end staging yard's return loop, from the centre of the fascia, to the end.

The GC goes DCC

With a lot of help from Greg and Brendan, I converted the layout to Digitrax DCC in late 2010. Instead of installing UP5 panels for the LocoNet, I used 6P6C telephone sockets and faceplates, and short-circuit protection is provided by car stop lights wired into the track power.

This is how the faceplates and sockets look. Track power indication is provided by a diode mounted in the face place, above the Loconet socket.

This is a view of the rear of a faceplate:
The two pin socket fitted to the diode (and resistor) is connected to the track power.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Summer of 2008/09

Rod has become quite skilled at painting backdrops. He was very proud of one cluster of trees that he painted at Davis. I think I broke his heart when I told him that they'd be hidden behind one of my buildings. "Oh yeah", he said. "I had to move that building to paint the trees!" LOL

Here's Rod painting trees at Dougherty:

Rod also took away my half-built kit for the Big Canyon quarry, and then finished and weathered it. Here it is, back in place at Big Canyon:

I believe that the kit (the Walthers Glacier Gravel kit) was based on the actual Dolese Bros. structure that stood at Big Canyon. It certainly looks like a selectively compressed version of the real structure.

2008 - Ardmore reconstruction

In mid-2008 I modified the tracks at Ardmore, adding a new track to handle passenger trains, a small yard for the SL-SF to interchange with the GC&SF, and industry trackage to support Bluebonnet.

Rod built the brick depot from a Walthers kit.

On the fascia you can see the card trays used with the CC&WB system, and the control panel for Ardmore. You can also where the mainline and Lindsay District tracks curve around behind Bluebonnet, and then drop down to the hidden north-end staging yard.

2007 - Big Canyon

During July and August 2007, Rod and John C came over and we started roughing in Big Canyon, the site of the Dolese Bros. quarry sitting on the edge of the Washita River.

2006 - the Wynnewood / Davis peninsula

In 2006 I finally got around to building the peninsula that holds Wynnewood and Davis. I used the same construction method as I had used for the other peninsula, and this time Greg and Rod came over to help me install the backdrop:

Greg (L) and Rod, working on the Wynnewood side of the peninsula.

The following photo shows how the two peninsulas looked in February 2007:

2004 - the Dougherty / Big Canyon peninsula

 In late 2004 I started work on the peninsula that would hold Big Canyon and Dougherty. Rod, Vic and John C came over to give me a hand to install the back drop, which I had constructed as a separate unit.

L-R that's Vic, John C and Rod. Dougherty will go on the left in front of Vic, and Big Canyon will go on the right. I should add that Rod is standing on a box - he's not really that tall.

Here's how the peninsula looked in April 2005, after I'd painted the back drop and installed the track:


One of the major structures in Ardmore, Oklahoma is the Bluebonnet feeds complex. In 2004, Rod offered to build a model of the complex for me, if I could provide some photos for him to work from. Within 48 hours, thanks to Doug in Oklahoma, I had more than enough photos for Rod. This wonderful structure is what Rod provided me with:

Thanks Rod and Doug.

2003 - A New Start

The GC&SF was originally built in a spare bedroom in my house, but in the mid 1990's Brett the Builder built a train room for me. With help from Greg the GC&SF was moved from the bedroom to the new train room, and we added some extra track sections to increase the running distance. This version of the layout was never pretty though as it was always planned to be replaced.

The last parts of the old layout were demolished in 2003, and work started on the new layout.  Here's Rodney installing some of the framework:

Actually, I exagerate somewhat, as construction of the current GC&SF started before the old layout was demolished, with the building of the south-end staging yard (representing points in Texas), and the towns of Ardmore and Gene Autry. Unfortunately I didn't get any good pics of those locations at that time.

The first section built following removal of the old layout was the north-end staging yard, which represents points in Kansas and Illinois, and is hidden below the town of Pauls Valley. Another hidden track allows continuous running between the visible 'ends' of the layout.

People sometimes ask me about the hidden north-end staging, and these are the best pics I have to show how it was constructed. First, here is where the continuous run track (which hosts two hidden staging sidings of its own) separates from the mainline to staging, and continues on to rejoin the mainline "south" of Ardmore:

The control panel set in the fascia in the distance is used to reverse trains in the south-end staging.

This photo shows the approach end of the north-end staging yard, which connects to the track at the bottom of the photo above.

This is the reversing loop end, which is used to turn trains so they can leave staging. The module is my old N-trak module. 

This last photo from 2003 shows the original track arrangement at Ardmore, on the left, and the benchwork being constructed above the north-end staging in the distance.

In early 2004 I installed plywood over the north-end staging and continuous running tracks, and then used old code 80 track recovered from the old layout to temporarilly connect up the north-end staging yards to the towns of Ardmore and Gene Autry. I also added a rudimentary Pauls Valley, to add some switching capability.