coaster

Eurobricks Citizen
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  1. Hi @Rail Co, you haven't really missed much. I have the models available on Shapeways, but they're not cheap. Sadly, there's little I can do about that because Shapeways sets their price. Molded versions will be way cheaper. I do have R104 and R120 injection molded curves coming out soon, and once I can get those out in the field and get activity going, I'll relaunch the kickstarter for the switches. Tracks will only be PF for now, but I'm building flexibility into the tooling to allow me to expand to 9V in the future. Most of our conversation lately has been centered around switch design details and testing. I'm in a bit of holding pattern until the tooling for the curves is complete, but once it is, we'll rock and roll.
  2. Seems like the consensus is to go with the angled guards. I'll fix up the switches and double crossover to reflect the change. As for strength, I'm not worried about it. Only the one side of the turn-out guards are cantilevered, and they're really just for show. The wheel flanges should never actually come in contact at that point. Also, the LEGO 9V ones, as Ludo pointed out above, didn't even bother with the support ribs, though they were added to the PF mold. I think breaking off a connecting end is more likely (I've got a few of those that haven't fully survived). And don't worry, there are no plans to use any hollow studs.
  3. 1) Depends on your printer. If you have something like a Makerbot, it'll be ok, but not stellar. It will hold up pretty well. If you have access to a high end printer ($50k+), it'll be awesome. 2) Depends on the model. I've downloaded a few of those, but some have been way off dimensionally. Probably a result of someone tweaking the model for their own printer. Overall, the 3D printed track works, but the connections do wear out after a little bit of play.
  4. Before and after on the guard rails: Yay or nay on the change? @Ludo Here's a closer view of the switch stand: Note the axle hole goes all the way through: The switch turntable goes 180°, and actuates the throw bar close-far-close. This way, you can set it on either side and set it to point the direction of travel.
  5. Hi Ludo, I understand. I don't mind deviating from the LEGO design. There's a number of aspects where I question why they did it the way they did, or I recognize they cut corners on the tooling. My objective though is to have my tracks blend seamlessly with the LEGO ones. The focus should be on the layout as a whole, so there needs to be some level of cohesiveness. It could be because I focus on tracks that I notice, but I dislike the overall appearance of the ME rails because they don't blend well with the LEGO ones. I find the differences distracting. Something like angling the guard rails though is innocent enough. HERETIC! :) If you're not opposed to cutting tiles, it may be better to simply break off the posts on the underside. This will allow you to slide the tile off center from the studs, and in a couple places fit the entire tile between the guard.
  6. When I started the project, there was no way I could compete with the standard LEGO straight. You could get them for $.50 or less. Now they go for about $2.50, but there's knock-off versions from China that can be had for $1. That said, I will have to make a tool that has some small straights to pair with the switches, and I've been asked about 2x and 4x straights before. I'll see what can be added to the tooling, there may be something there. A 2x straight though would probably be $3.50-4.00; about the same as what ME is asking.
  7. I'll play with the guard rails tonight, see what it would take to add the 15°. As long as we don't have to lose any studs, I'm fine with making the change. @davidzq I've toyed with that exact idea regarding the studs. There's no clean way to get the studs in there, even going halvsies. Here's some tile area sketched over the studs: Note that I can get an additional half towards the frog, but there's nothing really to the left towards the outer guard because of the support ribs. I can certainly hollow the studs, that's easy to do, but unless you've got super-secret 1x2.5 tiles, there's no point to it. In places where a half-stud does because an option though, I will hollow those to make it clear they're shifted off the other studs. @TCRR Constitution Well, I'll have the larger curves soon. Even though the project didn't reach it's funding, I ponied up and bought some of the tooling, because I'm confidant I can recoup it. And, I will relaunch the kickstarter soon for the switches. I was shooting to have it ready to go mid-June, but I may delay it a bit to give the new curves time to get out into the market. But even if I never get a funded kickstarter project, I'm determined to bring these tracks to bear. Money that I make from the R104 and R120 curves will be directly reinvested in additional tooling.
  8. @Ludo I understand. Here's a closer view of the guards: We've had some discussion on the guard rails before. The problem is balancing a realistic design while keeping a cohesive look with the existing LEGO product. The LEGO check rails have a rounded lead-in, as opposed to the 15° one that is typical of actual guard rails. On that straight guard and the exit side of the turnout guard we can keep the LEGO-like rounding, as it provides adequate lead-in for the wheel flanges. On the other side, I swung it out at the 15° because some of the longer bogies would jam without any additional relief. It doesn't really matter to me, it's just aesthetics though. One thing I have gone back and forth on is the guards on the frog. They add to the realism, but they aren't strictly necessary, and the LEGO switches neglect them as well.
  9. Agreed on the above. Unfortunately, I feel I'm a bit limited in ad campaigning before I have product, and I was hoping to have it available well before running the switch Kickstarter. I do have a number of things in place, but in a sort of holding pattern until I at least get the production samples. bricktracks.com is all set to go, there is a BrickTracks facebook page wanting content, and a BrickTracks Twitter account (I've never actually used Twitter before, so this will be a new one for me). I am working with a firm on some videos, but again, animations and printed parts only get you so far. Once I have product though, I'm going to be hitting it hard. Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, YouTube, EB, Bricklink, Amazon, ebay; we'll be getting word out. NILTC and PennLUG have both been awesome and agreed to help in whatever way they can. I think we can get plenty of action shots and set scenes for photography. I'm not opposed to stalling the Kickstarter for a bit. I was hoping to coincide with Brickworld Chicago next month, but if I don't have product early enough, there's not much time to show off beforehand. This Kickstarter will run for the full 2 months though, so even if someone is late to the party they'll still have time to get on board. If nothing else, I can have the "proof" page up for the Kickstarter, so even though it hasn't launched people can sign up for notifications. Hopefully I'm not causing anyone concern with regards to production. This is par for the course for product development; I'm just making it a lot more visible than normal. It's like sausage making: the end product is nice, but you really don't want to know how it gets done. @M_slug357 The changes to the switches were very minor. I've added a stud just above the frog and a few between each of the side guard rails. There was also a minor detail on the underside where I didn't properly relieve a cutoff for one of the studs. Finally, there was a mismatch between the coverplates on the switches and the double cross-over, so that's been corrected as well. Other than the added studs, you probably wouldn't have noticed the changes. Yes, the switches will be sold pre-assembled. Pull it out of the box and start playing.
  10. Thanks Nick and Cale! Those look way better than just on my living room floor! Just a quick update for everyone. Curve tooling is still in process, but it's going to be late. Don't think in my career I've ever had anyone deliver tooling on time. Disappointing, but not totally unexpected either. At least I don't owe anyone any parts. Soon as I have the production samples, I'll be sure to post some pictures. In other news, I've taken some feedback I've gotten on the switches - so thank you all who have bought some off Shapeways and tried them out - and have remodeled them all. No significant changes, just tweaked a few details I'd overlooked and added some additional studs where possible. Give me a day and I'll get the new versions up on Shapeways. Barring any other changes, these will be the versions for the Kickstarter next month.
  11. Hi Ludo, You're missing Trixbrix too! ME Models has established tooling already, but the consensus is we'd rather see single piece designs that don't come apart on you while running. Before starting BrickTracks, I considered proposing a joint effort with them to make the single piece tracks, but other than some name recognition, they really didn't have anything to bring to the table. They didn't have any engineering experience, their customer service is questionable at best, and it certainly doesn't appear they have any working capital. I still floated the idea to them, but never got a response. Lowa can correct me if I'm wrong, but as far as I'm aware, 4DBrix and Trixbrix are only 3D printing their tracks, not molding them. However, I'm not opposed to unifying - or at least coordinating - with one or both of them. It is a rather niche market to compete in, and it does appear we are on a collision course for the switches. I will say, if we do all end up competing with each other, additional molded tracks are unlikely to happen, and molded parts will always be cheaper, smoother, and more durable than printed ones. Tom, shoot me a message if you want to discuss off-line.
  12. In between working on tracks, I've been working on a power pick-up wheelset to build a hybrid 9V/PF system. If the PF tracks do well this year, next year I hope to release all the tracks in 9V along with these wheelsets.
  13. @Ludo I'm starting with just all plastic tracks for now. I definitely want to do 9V in the future, but I need to start somewhere, and since I'm funding this on my own, I can only afford to do so much. I have a design for the 9V track that uses a special profile to fit into the rails. It'll be a more heavy-duty design than the 0.2mm stamped rails LEGO used, but still match the outward appearance. But even if all goes well, we're at least a year off from 9V. I'd venture to guess ME's decision regarding the design is both tooling and engineering cost. Tooling is expensive no matter what it looks like, but the fewer tools the better off you are. I think the bigger issue for ME was the engineering. Designing the tracks has been extremely time consuming, and if they contracted an engineering firm to do the one piece versions it'd be well over $100k in work. They probably still spent more they the should have, but their piece-part design could be done in just a few days. However, they didn't get the dimensions right.
  14. @Ludo The website will be bricktracks.com. I've been working on it, but website design isn't my forte, so it's taking me a bit to get going. It'll be up and running by release though, which I'm targetting June 1st. Here's some good renders of the tracks: R104: R120: We'll match to the dark bley as close as possible.
  15. Thanks! I figure once I start getting product in the field, they'll come around. :)