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layout animation possibilities

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  • Member since
    July 2009
  • From: lavale, md
  • 4,600 posts
layout animation possibilities
Posted by gregc on Sunday, November 27, 2022 10:05 AM

Arduinos (Explainer) were targeted toward physical computing (e.g. traffic signal) including art.

so i'm wondering about layout animations that such processors might make possible and enhance the experience, particularly on a club layout open to the public.

i believe these are conventional

  •     signals
  •     crossing bucks
  •     structure lighting
  •     passenger car
  •     caboose
  •     crossing gates
  •     coal loader
  •     coal unloader
  •     plane

other possibilities/imaginations?

greg - Philadelphia & Reading / Reading

  • Member since
    August 2003
  • From: Collinwood, Ohio, USA
  • 16,163 posts
Posted by gmpullman on Sunday, November 27, 2022 1:49 PM

I believe the extent of my layout animation is limited to a turntable, a few semaphore signals and crossing gates and, perhaps, some Miller Engineering signs.

This would be interesting to see, though.

Don't forget the favorite crowd pleaser. The kid in a field with the model airplane spinning around while he holds the tether. Oh, and I recall another N scale module that had a construction scene where a sewer line was being set and a back hoe was animated to look like it was digging a ditch.

Some animation looks OK yet others begin to get a little toy-like. Giraffes poking their heads out of the roof of cattle cars and milk cans vibrating out of express cars come to mind.

Good Luck, Ed

  • Member since
    March 2002
  • From: Milwaukee WI (Fox Point)
  • 11,414 posts
Posted by dknelson on Monday, November 28, 2022 11:10 AM

You mean, you mean .... the giraffe car has no prototype?  Gosh.

When I think of general railfanning, what moves beyond the train itself of course?  Crossing gates.  Cars and trucks on the streets, although some layouts stuff their streets with more cars than I see in "real life."  Now and then a pedestrian or bicycle rider, or a door opening and closing, but again I see "too many" pedestrians on many layouts.  

But what I REALLY see move -- trees and shrubs from the wind,  flags in the wind, shadows from moving clouds, contrails from airplanes high in the sky.  Those would be big challeges from an animation perspective although i have seen some moving flags on layouts


Dave Nelson 

  • Member since
    January 2019
  • 2,560 posts
Posted by John-NYBW on Monday, November 28, 2022 2:00 PM

Lighting effects can be really well done. I never thought of a turntable as being a form of animation but I guess it is. Crossing gates can be a good form of animation as well if they don't lower and raise too quickly. For the most part, however, anything that moves on a layout other than the trains is toylike. I try to avoid it. In most cases, it is a distraction.  

  • Member since
    December 2004
  • From: Bedford, MA, USA
  • 21,257 posts
Posted by MisterBeasley on Monday, November 28, 2022 3:25 PM

I like the Miller Engineering signs, and have several.  The are small and don't interfere with anything else.  I wire them to my 12 volt lighting buses with a resistor so I don't need to change batteries.

Crossing gates and flashing crossbucks should be on any layout that has an appropriate crossing.  I do have a flood loader and a dumping track for coal hoppers.  These use the ancient Mantua/Tyco clamshell hoppers, which I still have a collection of from my teenage years.

But yes, I'm glad I got all the Lionel automation out of my system a long, long time ago.  My layout has no need for rocket launchers and exploding boxcars.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

  • Member since
    November 2002
  • From: Colorado
  • 4,073 posts
Posted by fwright on Monday, November 28, 2022 6:23 PM

Different strokes for different folks.  I was always fascinated by the Lionel accessories far more than the trains themselves.  How can you not be excited by barrels being vibrated UP a ramp?  Or cows exiting the stock car and parading around the corral before re-entering the stock car?  Or the postman tossing the mail out of a box car?  Or seeing how much coal you can spill while loading coal cars with one of the coal loaders?  Or my favorite - the gantry crane with a magnet you can turn on and off, and use to lift a load out of a gondola and transfer it to your choice of spots near the crane?

For realistic animation, an Australian named Laurie posts ways he has animated people in HOn3 on the other magazine forums.

Fred W (who has a Christmas Marx real tinplate train running under the tree)

....modeling foggy coastal Oregon in HO and HOn3, where it's always 1900....


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