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MOC: Animated XMAS Train


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#1 mattman

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Posted 22 October 2011 - 12:17 PM

Hello,
This is one of my first posts over here, but have been messing about with lego trains for a little while now. This one is my first serious project and is at a point where it's very nearly complete.

It started out as a plan just to build the #4534 Lego Express engine & tender from parts I had handy - which I was able to do with a good result and few subbed parts. From then my wife egged me on to MOC it, so it got some xmas lights sprinkled around it... and I build my first motorised train car! The motor also pulled power from the 9V train engine which was fine on a small track, but on the longer runs that I do with BLTG it had some issues and the motor stalled a fair bit - just couldn't draw enough power on certain parts of the track. I tried a few things with a newer PF motor as well and it was better than previous, but still no dice.

Just in the last couple of weeks I started another car, plus the plan to incorporate a battery box into the build so that neither motor was reliant on the 9v tracks. Again the 2nd car was a challenge (trying to fit it all inside a 6-wide car was the big issue) but after about the 3rd rebuild I got it working to a point i'm 95% happy! Due to the gearing being quite exposed and hard to cover I decided to turn it into an attraction and threw in windows in one side so show off the main gear and the technic axle that drives the santa sled. Figured it's a good point as it's a show train - but usually shown at model train shows rather than lego ones so people are always curious about how stuff works.

Last to the party was the power supply, it's not pretty but it works :) Inside is a 6xAA battery box loaded with eneloops and this powers both motors happily. I did try the 9V monorail battery boxes but I don't have any decent 9V batteries handy and the cheap one died very quickly - though I can change this later if it does turn out to work. At this point I also added a second train motor to the engine, as the battery box is heavy!! Now pulling 2 full size cars and a couple of smaller cars too it's a reasonably long train.

The train is strictly 6-wide, though that's about the only rule I kept :) Height wise it should run the usual BLTG display (just needs to clear the overpass on the #7937 Train Station) but you won't find any technical train stuff here :P this one is purely for fun :D

Anyway, enough with the boring stuff... some piccies!

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And the fun part :) (though sorry about the quality of video - I know it's BAD - I will replace when I can)



My future plans are to test with better 9V batteries and if possible sub in a couple of these, which should reduce the overall size of the power car. Also, going to evaluate if I can change the base of the last car to red instead of black to match the rest of the train better. Limitation at the moment being that LEGO never made a red base in that style - so it'd look a little weird.

Let me know what you think!

Matt

Edited by mattman, 22 October 2011 - 12:42 PM.


#2 lightningtiger

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Posted 22 October 2011 - 12:50 PM

Fantastic designing there 'mattman', pity it wasn't running on a track at the time...still the movement of the characters is wonderful and so Christmas like indeed. :sweet:
Brick On ! :classic:

#3 mattman

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Posted 22 October 2011 - 12:54 PM

Cheers :)

When I get a chance to set up a track I'll do so and get some better video of the whole thing too - at this point I haven't even tested the new setup on track! But no reason it shouldn't work.

Matt

#4 LEGO Train 12 Volts

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Posted 22 October 2011 - 01:43 PM

Fantastic idea and beautiful realization!   :thumbup:
Hurry up Santa Claus christmas is coming soon!  :laugh:
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#5 Hrw-Amen

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Posted 22 October 2011 - 02:37 PM

It is nice to see all the little things moving about on it. Good job, but would also like to see it on track. Please post this when you have done it.

#6 mattman

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Posted 22 October 2011 - 03:00 PM

View PostHrw-Amen, on 22 October 2011 - 02:37 PM, said:

It is nice to see all the little things moving about on it. Good job, but would also like to see it on track. Please post this when you have done it.

If I get time ill set up a track tomorrow and get some better video too. I'll update the post when its done. Problem is finding clear space that hasn't already been taken over as Lego building area :D

#7 HighFlyer

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Posted 22 October 2011 - 04:41 PM

Fantastic train, love the animations on this, and the design of the trains isn't bad too  :thumbup:
Too much Lego, so little moneh!

#8 BrickHat

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Posted 22 October 2011 - 06:27 PM

Oh this is so cool! :grin:  I had never seen a train incorporate animation. I think that your project is very original and well done. Kudos!

#9 Lord Insanity

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Posted 22 October 2011 - 06:30 PM

That is awesome. The animated cars really make this.  I could picture this running down the line as part of a Christmas parade.

#10 cimddwc

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Posted 22 October 2011 - 07:30 PM

Great train with great animations!  :thumbup:

For the last car: I don't think it would look bad if you keep the black baseplate and just turn the black parts above it into red...

#11 Sir E Fullner

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Posted 22 October 2011 - 10:49 PM

That sure looks cute. I wish I had one to display around Decembertide.

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#12 mattman

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Posted 23 October 2011 - 12:16 AM

Set up a track for a test run - what a disaster!!!

Whole setup is basically too heavy, even with 2 9V motors. Perhaps if I could move one towards the back of the train it might do better but I don't have anywhere that would be just a clean swapout - will work on this. Power supply is currently 6xAA battery box full of eneloops which is pretty heavy, I swapped this for 6xAAA battery box from the RC trains which is lighter and allowed the train to move (though still struggled) but i don't have good batteries for this so I had issues with the motors running.

I figured I'd just throw in the AA box again and get some shots of the animation running with no train movement, and then the AA's basically go flat!! (to be fair, they had run a PF motor for a full weekend and hadn't been recharged yet).

So anyway, here's a couple of clips, one of the train on the loop but the 1st carriage stall and you can hear the engines struggling lol.



The second and third is the animations running alone.



Link for the last one because I break the rules :P

Plans: move one of the train motors further back in the train, see if I can re-work the gearing in the 1st animated carriage because it seems to be prone to stalling still, do further testing on how it runs with AAA batts (for weight reasons).

#13 mattman

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Posted 23 October 2011 - 07:44 AM

Just did some basic testing. If I want to run both cars off one power supply I can do it with the 6xAA only.

To run two power supplies it's only really possible with the 9V monorail style battery boxes - I tested these and one battery will run one motor, though the bobbing santa still seems to pull a bit much and it eventually stalls - obviously need to work on this. Sled ride runs a dream... and I can fit 2 of these battery boxes inside my existing power car, so no external changes needed :D Now, if only I could actually find my 2nd PF extension lead! Weighed things up and this setup comes in ~50g lighter than 6xAA with eneloops, though it does cost me $10 for a pair of batteries to run it  :hmpf_bad:

Will have a play around with putting the train motors in different spots and see what happens.

Matt

Update

Friction points found in the bobbing Santa car and all fixed. Tested power supplies again and now happy on AAA battery box. Also rebuilt power car for the smaller box so its a lot less ungainly too. Haven't got track up at the moment but should be getting closer to running well.

#14 TheBrickster

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Posted 23 October 2011 - 02:28 PM

Welcome to Train Tech Mattman. The movement of your cars adds an entirely new facet to LEGO Trains. I'm really glad you included the video to see what they do.  I really like the sled car.  This is really clever - thanks for sharing.  You can always share some of your train interest in the Train Tech registry as well. :thumbup:

#15 Hrw-Amen

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Posted 23 October 2011 - 08:24 PM

It still looks good to see it running around the track. Thanks.

#16 medib

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Posted 23 October 2011 - 09:37 PM

These cars are really sweet.  Really holiday appropriate.  Can't wait to see an updated video.

Great job.
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#17 mattman

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Posted 24 October 2011 - 11:22 AM

It lives.... IT LIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIVVVVEESSS!!!

At long last, we have a running train. I think a little of it was getting the weight of the power car down (batteries are about half the weight, plus i shrunk the car) and alot to do with having the train motors better spaced out. The 2nd motor is now at the rear of the bobbing santa cart. The difference is quite dramatic, with 2 engines up front and AA batts in the back it was really struggling to get off the mark and more often than not the engine broke away from the magnet coupling - with the new one it's obvious that it's a heavy train, but it's not struggling or spinning the wheels either. It takes off nicely and still hits a decent top speed.

So, new videos... one longer clip on the loop showing the speed range. You can see the controller on the bottom left to get an idea what's happening :)



Also, clip with train on slower speed doing a fly-by. This shows the sleigh carriage a bit better particularly over the back of the track.



The santa sleigh is quite slow, doesn't work that well on a short & fast loop but I think with the train running at lower speeds on a longer track it should look great.

Again, video quality not awesome because it's been done at night and in our lego build area so a bit messy lol. I'm hopefully getting a new camera soon which should do awesome video :D

Thanks,
Matt

#18 mattman

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Posted 25 October 2011 - 12:38 PM

Tested another one of my train motors and found a much quieter one - you can hear in the last videos that one of them makes quite a loud whine, this is no more  :laugh:

Currently getting it set up for an under-tree display for xmas  :classic: Really basic loop with a little bit of building around it

Matt

#19 mattman

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Posted 26 December 2011 - 11:01 PM

Bump for the xmas season, even if i should have done so a week ago :P

Train got run around the tree a bit... and trashed by my three year old :/ lol, thank goodness it's just lego and goes back together :P

#20 TheBrickster

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Posted 27 December 2011 - 02:34 AM

I'm tempted to delete your triple-posted bump, but in the spirit of the holidays, I'll go ahead and leave it.  Please don't triple-post.

In regard to the MOC, I do love the animated train car, a quite clever feature.




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