JopieK

BrickTracks: different curves, PF/9V compatible

165 posts in this topic

I'd favour the 9V system as well, as you can run the older 9V and the newer PF trains on it. Anyhow, I'm still struggling to find a way to back you, as I don't have a credit card and no one in my family does either :sceptic:

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On 10/25/2016 at 1:25 PM, coaster said:

Quick straw poll: Which would you prefer to see in the initial launch?

-curves and straights in both PF and 9V;
-PF only, but include the switches.

 

I would only back something that included 9V.  I'm pretty heavy into the ME models and have received nothing yet.  That stings so it's difficult for me to go too much into this one.  Even with that, I have backed it with the 9V circle and straight kit level, although it looks like it doesn't matter now.

 

It looks like price is key so you can't really add something that will double the cost.  I'm not even sure how ME models made it.  They were way behind their goal just a few days before the end and they almost doubled their pledged amount in the last few days.

 

I'm not sure if it makes sense, but have you thought about getting partners or investors that both want to make the track happen but also want to make back a bit of the startup cost if it succeeds?

 

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Maybe the real question isn't what we want per se, but what the larger audience wants. Kickstarters tend to get funded by early adopters, but early adopters don't have to be rabid fans and EB members who build lego trains, it can also be people who just buy their regular lego sets and want something less silly to run their trains on, or even a possibility to lay double track. If you are looking at that target audience, then I would go 100% PF, with 9V as a strechtgoal. Also, seeing the latest update of ME Models and knowing your design skills, I think you should go all-in with those switches. Heck, you could even try just the regular Lego switches but make them stubby and integrate that nifty switch-system into them. I think that would give a far wider appeal, and would also make it possible to get the news out there, outside of the direct Lego Trains community. Cause keep in mind, us crazy Lego Trains fans are a very small minority within the hobby...

Btw personally I'd go for just PF. I just love the way how you can individually control trains. My favorite product ever (albeit with crappy usability) is a plastic track piece; the crossover switch. And yes, the IR receiver is crappy, but this can be fixed with aftermarket stuff. Yes, you need batteries, but I like the challenge to include them. and yes you need to integrate motors, but I like it when stuff gets a little bit technical. For the two 1 day shows a year and the one 7 day show, the upkeep in 9V just isn't worth it. Also, most importantly: PF gives you the ability to design your own trucks. And building in 1:45, my trucks are almost never the same size as the official ones. 

Oh and seeing that I already have the ME Models plastic track and glueing them together seems to work perfectly fine (it's not heresy because the tracks themselves are already aftermarket, so I don't feel bad a single inch when I'm glueing those non-lego parts together), I'd personally also opt a kickstarter with just switches involved, this also being one of the main reasons why I haven't backed the project yet. 

Edited by raised

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I would vote for PF with switches. The switches are in demand, and everything else is catching up to ME. I understand the frustration with the delays and communication issues with ME, but if they are able to come to market with with 9V models by the end of the year it's hard to see where this kickstarter will fit in. I know there are 9V diehards out there but the system as a whole will only grow less viable, not more, as time moves on.  

 

Just my 2 cents.

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My vote goes to PF and switches as well. The only way this will get off the ground is if it offers something in high demand from the start. Offering virtually the same products as ME Models isn't going to interest enough people to get this project funded, especially since the ME Model track is back in stock now and their 9V tracks are on the horizon. 

If you were to initially market your company as one that focuses on switch track, and add the other products as a stretch goal, it would be a more viable business model since it taps into a market with high demand where there currently exists no competition.

Relying on 9V to get this project funded is a business mistake for several reasons. Anything that 9V can do, Power Functions can do, and then some. The demand for 9V track isn't nearly as high as the demand for bigger and better switches, and the latter currently cannot be obtained. Your switches are beautifully designed, and to not market them from the start would be a missed opportunity. The only purpose for 9V track now is aesthetics, and nothing else. Anyone who  is willing to drop a couple hundred dollars on 9V track can't make the excuse that it would be too expensive to upgrade to Power Functions.

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Thanks for the input everyone.  By all means, please keep it coming.

So it seems regardless of 9V, the switches need to be on the table.  Got it.  Switches would require a few things though at a minimum beyond just the switches and their components.  What if I modify the initial offering to be:

  • R88 standard curves (this allows for parallel tracks with the R104s, could be R120 instead to expand beyond ME)
  • R104 standard curves
  • R104 Left Switch
  • R104 Right Switch
  • R104 turn-out curve
  • R104 siding curve (This and the turn-out curve are necessary evils of sticking to the stud-grid)
  • 1/2 Length straight
  • 1/4 Length straight

Switches would be kitted to be 1x Left, 1x Right, 2x turn-out and 2x siding curves.  Straights would also be kitted together in packs of 8x each.

If building a switch ladder with the R104s, there's a weird length straight you need.  Should one of those be included in the switch kit as well or just skip it?

Whether 9V is then included comes down to the financials.  9V is viable if we can make a lot of track. The design is sound, and it's cheap and easy to execute per piece.  However, the minimum run on the rails is 1000lbs.  Since it's such a small cross-sectional area, that's enough to put together about 3 miles of track.  Between that and the modified tooling for the bases, 9V would require an additional $45k.  As into 9V as I am personally, are there that many of us left to support it?

EDIT: To clarify, that additional $45k would be what's required to do the switches offering in 9V in quantity, not the portion dedicated to 9V in the current Kickstarter.

Edited by coaster
Clarification

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I would think that if the switches are to be sold in packs they should include everything. 

So a Switch pack would be:

  • 1x Left Switch
  • 1x Right Switch
  • 2x Turnout curve
  • 2x Siding curve
  • 2x Yard ladder straight

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Hi there! I backed ME Models for a hefty sum and switches is the thing that would make me open up my wallet again, 9V is definitively nice but I have decided to abandon ship when it comes to that and go for PF.

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PF track I can modify myself including switches, the 9V switch is the way to go (If You want my dollars).

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8 hours ago, coaster said:

So it seems regardless of 9V, the switches need to be on the table.  Got it.  Switches would require a few things though at a minimum beyond just the switches and their components.  What if I modify the initial offering to be:

  • R88 standard curves (this allows for parallel tracks with the R104s, could be R120 instead to expand beyond ME)
  • R104 standard curves
  • R104 Left Switch
  • R104 Right Switch
  • R104 turn-out curve
  • R104 siding curve (This and the turn-out curve are necessary evils of sticking to the stud-grid)
  • 1/2 Length straight
  • 1/4 Length straight

Switches would be kitted to be 1x Left, 1x Right, 2x turn-out and 2x siding curves.  Straights would also be kitted together in packs of 8x each.

If building a switch ladder with the R104s, there's a weird length straight you need.  Should one of those be included in the switch kit as well or just skip it?

*[shortened since my thoughts focus on PF]*

I'd say this is a great list of offerings. My thought would be to do the r120 curves to further differentiate from ME Models (and because my long cars want bigger curves). And yes, I would definitely say include the weird length straight with the switches, otherwise there may be groaning about not being able to make switch ladders.

8 hours ago, cameronmiller1988 said:

I would think that if the switches are to be sold in packs they should include everything. 

So a Switch pack would be:

  • 1x Left Switch
  • 1x Right Switch
  • 2x Turnout curve
  • 2x Siding curve
  • 2x Yard ladder straight

I would also agree that the "switch pack" mentioned should be offered in addition to the others, particularly because Kickstarter only lets you chose one reward. This kit would provide multiple options for track configurations, including a passing siding or a three-track yard ladder. 

 

My last comment would be that I will want to buy more switches after the Kickstarter :grin:

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I am only interested in 9V track and switches. On 9V track I also can use PF but I can't use 9V on PF track.

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I'm already a 9v backer.
If this were PF only, I would still back, but I'm really only interested in 9v.

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And so it goes, we came up short. 

Not giving up on this, to be sure.  I'll keep working and posting updates, both here and on Facebook.  I'll work on getting better pricing and do a better job hyping it before launch.  As I said before, we'll relaunch the Kickstarter to coincide with Brickworld Chicago.  So stay tuned, sit tight, and if you have any ideas, by all means, post here or shoot me a message.

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I think maybe the problem was trying to do too much at once. What if you tried to cover the market that ME Models and Lego currently doesn't, with crossovers? A 90-degree crossover would be fantastic, as well as one that isn't 90 degrees - I'm not sure what it would have to be to work with the Lego track geometry...

What about double-length straights? If they're cheaper than two standard straight tracks, that could be a good seller. Half-length track would be useful too - nobody likes flex track.

Maybe stick to only the next size up radius from the R40 track - that way you can still sell to the people who want larger radii, but don't have to go through the task of making molds and manufacturing five different radii. Offer more as demand grows (maybe set up something similar to a group buy, where once a certain number of people sign up for the product you can make and sell a batch as needed).

As for switches, keep the nice mechanism, and stick to the next-size-up radii only - don't try to compete with Lego on standard switches. I bet you'd do well with some double crossover switches - but for those, do both the standard and next-size-up radii. That way you can fill the market demand for the double crossovers, at a much lower price than they're currently going for.

I think the biggest problem is that the market demand for all this is pretty low already - you're having to compete with ME Models (and the current attitude towards third-party track manufacturers). Not only that, but track doesn't wear out; once somebody has enough, they won't buy more unless they expand their layout. It's not a constant demand like batteries or basic brick for filling out buildings and such. Definitely work as hard as possible towards keeping the costs as low as possible, so that the price of your final product is low enough to become an impulse purchase (relatively speaking), and you can make decent margins.

For what it's worth, I'm against selling 9V alongside the PF track to begin with; the market for that is only going to shrink or stay constant, whereas PF is going to keep growing, since it's the current system and it's what newcomers to the hobby will be getting. If anything, a killer product there would be new, Lego-compatible 9V motors and accessories for trains.

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Too bad you didn't get it through. I'm on the boat next time, I promise. Even if that means I have to order "remotely" through a friend.

Are the 9V ME-tracks feasible anyway? I thought they broke compatibility with the Lego 9V tracks, or am I wrong on this?

Edited by Capparezza

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Very good project, ME has been waiting for 2 years still not ship, it is difficult to determine whether we can expect the ME metal track, we need more products to replace Lego. In any case, thanks to those who make good products. 

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coaster-- I'd say PF switches for the win!

PF track in general is easier to modify than 9v, and with a bit of copper tape, anyone can electrify their PF tracks!

I also agree with Phoxtane that you should probably focus on more... exotic track elements.

I've had an idea swirling about in my head consisting of a "flexible" cross track piece that could transition from a 90 degree position to a 45 degree position, and any other angles between.

Sounds crazy, but kinda cool right?

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6 hours ago, M_slug357 said:

I've had an idea swirling about in my head consisting of a "flexible" cross track piece that could transition from a 90 degree position to a 45 degree position, and any other angles between.

Sounds crazy, but kinda cool right?

About the only thing that kept me from suggesting such a thing was how it'd interact with the somewhat limited track geometry. Having it adjustable would help with adapting to various radii of track, but you'd probably need special length straight pieces to connect up to it properly... which increases the number of parts that have to have molds made and so on. It's more expensive, of course!

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On 27.10.2016 at 10:13 PM, coaster said:

What if I modify the initial offering to be:

  • R88 standard curves (this allows for parallel tracks with the R104s, could be R120 instead to expand beyond ME)
  • R104 standard curves
  • R104 Left Switch
  • R104 Right Switch
  • R104 turn-out curve
  • R104 siding curve (This and the turn-out curve are necessary evils of sticking to the stud-grid)
  • 1/2 Length straight
  • 1/4 Length straight

Do we really need 1/2 Length straight right from the start if we could just use 2x 1/4 Length straight?

 

Also, you really need to build up hype before starting the new campaign. People need to be aware of the project so that they can set a few bucks aside.

You may also want to consider paying for at least one of the smaller moulds upfront just to be able to show that you have the connections and that know what you're getting yourself into.

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I've been out of touch for almost a month... I did manage to back but am disappointed it fell through. I agree with others in that offering PF switches first is the best way to go to get started. I also agree that restarting the campaign the same time as Brick World Chicago is a great idea! Have you thought about having a booth to gain more exposure?

Or what if you were able to provide some demo pieces that some of the club's could integrate in their layouts with info along side to help attendees see the value of backing? I saw Penn LUG playing with a white switch at BW this past June... Can you make more to loan to other layouts for that show? Speaking of that, and NOT speaking for NILTC, would they be friendly to you having some info at their big show in December that the general public can get their hands on ( collect email addresses )to update with your progress so maybe they will back with the relaunch?

I am so excited for this to happen I'm sure you have already thought about a lot of these things already.

Coaster, going to send you a PM.

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On 11/1/2016 at 4:33 AM, 3797 said:

Do we really need 1/2 Length straight right from the start if we could just use 2x 1/4 Length straight?

 

Also, you really need to build up hype before starting the new campaign. People need to be aware of the project so that they can set a few bucks aside.

You may also want to consider paying for at least one of the smaller moulds upfront just to be able to show that you have the connections and that know what you're getting yourself into.

The relative costs of those small straights is almost negligible compared to the overall project.  Sure, we could trim it down and every little bit helps, but if I'm doing the 1/4 lengths, I may as well do the 1/2s too.

I have been having the same thought that I'm going to need to bite the bullet and buy one of the tools out of my own pocket first.  Guess I'll start saving my pennies for it.

16 hours ago, ALCO said:

I've been out of touch for almost a month... I did manage to back but am disappointed it fell through. I agree with others in that offering PF switches first is the best way to go to get started. I also agree that restarting the campaign the same time as Brick World Chicago is a great idea! Have you thought about having a booth to gain more exposure?

Or what if you were able to provide some demo pieces that some of the club's could integrate in their layouts with info along side to help attendees see the value of backing? I saw Penn LUG playing with a white switch at BW this past June... Can you make more to loan to other layouts for that show? Speaking of that, and NOT speaking for NILTC, would they be friendly to you having some info at their big show in December that the general public can get their hands on ( collect email addresses )to update with your progress so maybe they will back with the relaunch?

I am so excited for this to happen I'm sure you have already thought about a lot of these things already.

Coaster, going to send you a PM.

PM'd back.  Any and all help is welcome!

I should have something new to post fairly soon.

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Need some paint, but these are fully functional.  I can safely add them to the next kickstarter.

Finalized R104 switch design.  Fully functional, and will be included in the next kickstarter.

 

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