Saturday, January 17, 2015

Keeping the goal in mind

Now that I actually have half the track down and can do a little switching, many potential side tracks (pun definitely intended) are beckoning.

  • Updating the software and tinkering with the motor control CVs once more in the one loco I have a Zimo MX620 decoder in.
  • Replacing less exotic decoders with Zimo decoders in the two locos I will probably actually use on the layout.
  • Body mounting all couplers
  • Figuring out a way to cram a big enough capacitor into a loco to keep decoder and loco running for just long enough to get past a dirt spot or a contact problem on the loco itself.
  • Finding/writing software to automatically generate the PICL list I'd like to operate from.  (Robert Bowdidge's Switchlist comes tantalizingly close, but so far I haven't got it to generate the traffic I want quite the way I want it)

In the past I've succumbed to temptation and spent, for example, several months of my limited hobby time doing nothing but trying different decoders and configurations.  It was fun in it's own way, but what was the end result?  I had a spectacularly smoothly running O scale switcher I could amaze my friends with, and my layout was no further along.

This time I'm trying to avoid those distractions.  Lance Mindheim has written quite a bit about model railroading (good blog, good books), and one of his recurring points is basically pick your battles - don't waste time on stuff that doesn't get you closer to what you're ultimately trying to achieve.

Time to remind myself what my goal for the N scale Palmer Industrial Park is.

Goal: Reasonably realistic appearance and enjoyable operation.

It's all a matter of compromise.  I think spending time on the trackwork, on things like the point jumpers is definitely on the path to the goal - those are things that are pretty hard to fix after the fact.  Putting the best decoders in the locos now isn't really on the path to the goal - it's trivial to swap out decoders later, it doesn't need to happen now and what I've got is good enough.  Metal wheels are more of a tossup - I've decided to go ahead with putting metal wheels on everything now on the grounds that the guys in the operating groups I'm in all seem to agree that plastic wheels contribute to dirty track problems.  Dirty track problems get in the way of enjoyable operation.  Etc.

So, today I stopped myself from downloading Zimo decoder updates and asked myself what can I do this weekend to make the most progress toward my goal?  Thinking about it like that, it's obvious - order the wheels, and work on the rest of the track.

Wheels ordered, track work in progress.

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