Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Step one of troubleshooting

On the weekend I spent some time volunteering at our local miniature railway club. One of the things I have worked on is the signalling system. It has been built and patched over the years and didn't have any kind of diagram in place. So before anything broke we figured it would be best to build a diagram so that when something does break down we have something to look at.

Where the power starts. 12V DC goes down that PVC pipe into the ground and appears somewhere outside, then feeds the signals.

Here we have one set of points, under one of the plates is a pneumatic motor and a switch that triggers the signals at the station.

Hmmm, I don't remember ever reading about using leaves as insulation. Perhaps we need to start cleaning this out more often.

This is where all the magic happens. The circuit under here is what ensures that all of the signals light when they should.

It looks a little less of a rats nest now that it's been pulled out of the box but still pretty confusing to begin with. The trick here is to pick a point to start from, draw a rough sketch that is only for your notes and re-draw later if you need to make anything neater. Being Methodical will help a lot here.

A little offputting, This is the door of the box and bside it is a piece of scale that came off the inside. It certainly pays to clean things up a little before trying to make sense of things. Trying to work out what wire went where would have been much more difficult. It certainly pays to spend a little more time making sure everything is in order before doing what you are in there for.

Notes mk1. These were only done for me, jotted down roughly for me to translate into something that can be understood later.

And here's the super duper accurate neat and legible drawing. No it may not look like much, but you don't need something that has been drawn by engineers with a dozen letters after their names on multi-thousand dollar computers. All that is needed is some time and care to the job being done and anyone can learn to do this sort of thing.

Remember, just because you don't have a piece of paper saying you can do something, doesn't mean that you can't do them. Conversely, having that paper doesn't mean you can do something better than anyone else.