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New Track Design from BBB


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#51 zephyr1934

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Posted 25 October 2012 - 04:09 AM

View PostEric J. Olson, on 24 October 2012 - 04:30 PM, said:

The manufacturing process we began with in April of 2011, was not up to the standard that we wanted it to be.  With that said, we began searching for an alternate manufacturer that could provide the consistent quality that we demanded.  After consultation with an experienced micro-engineer, we finally located a firm that we believe will be able to deliver a product that meets the standards that you expect from us and we demand of ourselves.  This manufacturer also has many other projects that they work on including ours.  We have learned through this process that it's not as simple as just taking a piece of metal, rounding it off, and drilling a few holes.  It has now taken us almost a year to find a process that will meet or exceed our tolerances on a consistent basis.

Thank you for the detailed update and indeed, your note confirmed what I suspected was going on. From the get go, the ME Rails looked like an ambitious project and the first round showed keen attention to detail. I certainly appreciate what you are doing for the AFOL community, that doing this is a labor of love (as Steve B once put it, custom train kits was the best $2/hr he ever made) and I recognize that nothing like this is simple. So I understand the delays. I still think you should have led with the curves since wider radi is what is going to get the AFOLs attention, even if that had meant postponing the initial release.

I see that the only rails you currently have available specify, "Please note, these are NOT designed for use with 9V systems". Will that be addressed with the new manufacturer? The half track packs I purchased included a recommendation to use metallic tape to improve conductivity at the rail joints. Since I inserted them between 9v track, I didn't have any conductivity problems (the 9v track has springy tabs to make a connection).

One problem I have with 9v track is that on large loops there is significant power drops when pulling heavy trains (at each rail joint the drop is p=R*i^2). It would be great if an AFOL targeted track system could reduce the average resistance per unit distance in the track (perhaps via multiple power drops, which is also feasible with 9v).



View Postkyphur, on 24 October 2012 - 09:03 PM, said:

If you had removed the track listing from your store and provided some information about all of this then at least we'd know that something is happening.

I echo this sentiment 100%. There was a lot of flurry in the lead up to the release of the ME Rails, then two years of silence. Even if things are going slower than expected, it would be nice to have quarterly updates and a clear link to them from the ME Rails page to let the AFOL community know that you are still working on it.

I hope there is enough demand to keep both ME and BBB selling track (and that only a friendly competition develops). Certainly providing the geometries that the AFOLs crave will help business. Both ME and BBB might want to do a kickstarter like pledge system that includes estimated retail prices (or look at what is on cuusoo). That way you do not invest heavily in a piece that winds up being too expensive for the consumers.

Oh, and looking far ahead, when it comes time to developing switches, please keep both manual and remote controlled operation in mind (you don't have to build the remotes, just make sure the switches are friendly to PF additions). I would encourage you to solicit input from the community here and elsewhere, there are a lot of us who have banged away at the problem with conventional lego switches.

#52 fred67

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Posted 28 October 2012 - 04:30 AM

I share the sentiment that I like the look of Big Ben's track a lot, and we'll see what happens, but I haven't given up on ME - I was quite happy with my first purchase, and have collected hundreds of 2x8 brown tiles (padding my Brick Link orders) while waiting for more ME rails.

I'll be happy with just about anything - TLG is not serving our needs, so anything is an improvement.

#53 Eric J. Olson

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 12:51 AM

View Postzephyr1934, on 25 October 2012 - 04:09 AM, said:

I see that the only rails you currently have available specify, "Please note, these are NOT designed for use with 9V systems". Will that be addressed with the new manufacturer?
Yes.  The ones that we currently have for sale ("Online Special") did not meet the specifications for electrical connections, however, will work fine for a battery operated system.  While they may work with a 9V system, we can not guarantee continuity between connections.

View Postzephyr1934, on 25 October 2012 - 04:09 AM, said:

One problem I have with 9v track is that on large loops there is significant power drops when pulling heavy trains (at each rail joint the drop is p=R*i^2). It would be great if an AFOL targeted track system could reduce the average resistance per unit distance in the track (perhaps via multiple power drops, which is also feasible with 9v).
Our testing shows that our rails are a better conductor than the original 9V rails.  While individual mileage may vary, our eventual goal with the complete system is also to provide power supply with potential upgrades.

View Postzephyr1934, on 25 October 2012 - 04:09 AM, said:

Even if things are going slower than expected, it would be nice to have quarterly updates and a clear link to them from the ME Rails page to let the AFOL community know that you are still working on it.
Point taken.  The issue is, it's hard to report news when there is nothing to report beyond, "It's still being worked on."

View Postzephyr1934, on 25 October 2012 - 04:09 AM, said:

Oh, and looking far ahead, when it comes time to developing switches, please keep both manual and remote controlled operation in mind (you don't have to build the remotes, just make sure the switches are friendly to PF additions). I would encourage you to solicit input from the community here and elsewhere, there are a lot of us who have banged away at the problem with conventional lego switches.
Noted.  We have constantly solicited input from the community through the use of surveys and 1:1 consultation with those in the community.  We certainly won't put out a product that people won't use.

#54 hoeij

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Posted 30 October 2012 - 01:51 AM

View Postzephyr1934, on 25 October 2012 - 04:09 AM, said:

One problem I have with 9v track is that on large loops there is significant power drops when pulling heavy trains (at each rail joint the drop is p=R*i^2). It would be great if an AFOL targeted track system could reduce the average resistance per unit distance in the track (perhaps via multiple power drops, which is also feasible with 9v).
If you look at a piece of 9V track, you immediately see the reason:  The layer of metal is very thin.
This problem is much smaller on 12V track because the metal is thicker there.

I do not yet have ME track, however, the pictures show the whole rail made out of metal, so the resistance should be much lower still.

#55 Hrw-Amen

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Posted 17 December 2012 - 11:57 PM

Anyone have any updates on dates these will go on sale and what the price is likely to be yet? Have looked on the site but no update yet. Obviously I can (and will if needs be.) contact hime via e-mail, but did not want to keep bombarding him for no reason if someone else has had recent communication as to this? i did note that right at the top the first bit of track pictured appears to have much darker brown sleepers, is this a new colour or is it just the camera lighting?

#56 zephyr1934

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 08:47 AM

I just spotted this announcement on BBB's web page. Sorry to hear about the delay but great to see quality comes first.

==========================
New Modular Track System(MTS) by Big Ben Bricks
Update: Design Revision and Delays
13 January 2013

Having extensively reviewed the current track design, it has been determined that the electrical connector is inadequate to support the electrical power required by nine volt (9v) train motors.  Because of this the track will not be released as planned.   As another famous toy company said long ago, 'Only the best is good enough'.  The current design is not 'the best' and a significant revision is required before moving forward again.

Thank you for your patience as Big Ben Bricks works on providing a quality track for your train needs.  Big Ben Bricks is committed to providing quality products that fully meet or exceed the high expectations of builders around the world.

Please check back for further updates in the coming months.

#57 Hrw-Amen

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 06:56 PM

Hum, just seen that as well. I've been looking daily for when the prices would be announced. It is a bit disappointing news but I guess it would be worse to get something that was not up to scratch. Lets hope he can sort it out for us all.

#58 bricks n bolts

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 01:14 AM

Yes, saw that too. I wonder if inadequate for 9v would mean still ok at 12v? Nothing stopping you from running track power at 12v with 12v transformer and swapping out the internal motors which would likely need replacing at some point anyway.
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#59 legoboy3998

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 02:37 AM

View Postbricks n bolts, on 19 January 2013 - 01:14 AM, said:

Yes, saw that too. I wonder if inadequate for 9v would mean still ok at 12v? Nothing stopping you from running track power at 12v with 12v transformer and swapping out the internal motors which would likely need replacing at some point anyway.

I'm thinking it would be even worse.  12V motors require more power than 9V.  in other words, if you were trying to run a 9V motor with a 9V transformer, (Based on the statement from BBB) it would sound like all 9V would not make it around the loop.  So your (V motor set on the highest power seeting, may only be going half speed.  Same would be true for the 12v.  However, if this is the case, putting 12V on the track and running a 9V motor would possibly work.

The statement from BBB raised a question to me.  Why is there a connection issue?  the rails being used seem to be garden railroading rails.  If so, there are connectors avaliable for them.  I wonder why Ben needs to reinvent the wheel so to speak in stead of use the existing connectors.

Sal
WFB, WI

#60 Spitfire2865

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 04:28 AM

I think the issue arises with the original design. If trackpins were used, he would have to change the sleepers to allow a trackpin to be fitted. Easier having the hidden connection design. Unfortunately it doesnt work well. I was really hoping to get a bunch of plastic railed tracks. Lets all hope for the best!
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