LegoMonorailFan

[WIP] Lego monorails. [Custom Rail Systems (CRS)]

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Hey, LegoMonorailFan, so I've been trying for some time to make a smoother running monorail and, while I think I have the motor and gearing OK, I took a closer look at yours to see why it ran so smoothly (although I'd like to see it running smoothly slowly).  I see what you did with the gears for wheels and the hinges you made between the motors and the carriages, which restricts the train from being able to change elevations.

Is there a reason you couldn't use two wheel sets per carriage so that the motor portion doesn't have to support half the carriage?

I have kind of given up on the idea of a functional four-wide (I still think about it), I might even think standard train magnets could work, and could result in arbitrary sized trains.

On 1/14/2018 at 11:27 PM, djm said:

Fully built double switch (please pardon the parts' colour selection!).

[vid removed]

Regards,

David

I was wondering if it wasn't possible to somehow accomplish this with one motor.

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37 minutes ago, fred67 said:

Hey, LegoMonorailFan, so I've been trying for some time to make a smoother running monorail and, while I think I have the motor and gearing OK, I took a closer look at yours to see why it ran so smoothly (although I'd like to see it running smoothly slowly).  I see what you did with the gears for wheels and the hinges you made between the motors and the carriages, which restricts the train from being able to change elevations.

Is there a reason you couldn't use two wheel sets per carriage so that the motor portion doesn't have to support half the carriage?

I have kind of given up on the idea of a functional four-wide (I still think about it), I might even think standard train magnets could work, and could result in arbitrary sized trains.

My quote below explains how the monorail functions, and the reason for it's design in fairly good detail. :classic:

Quote

Well there are a lot different ways to make inclines and declines, but this monorail system isn't capable of making inclines and declines. And the very thing that doesn't allow it to make inclines and declines is what allows the monorail system to function. 

The coupler design (which can be seen in the picture below) is designed to hold up the cars, which travel on a single guider wheel.

Lego monorail

The entire monorail contacts the rail at three points. The motor.

Lego monorail

And the two car guider wheels. One for each car.

Lego monorail

Once assembled (seen in picture below) the modular setup is ready to have the cosmetic makeup of the monorail added.

Lego monorail

 

The reason this design is important to the function of the monorail is because in order for the monorail to have traction, it needs the weight of the cars.

When I was first designing the system, I would add a guider wheel to both the front and back of the cars. My intention was to have the couplers designed to pivot up and down to allow inclines and declines. But because there was a guider wheel in the back of the car, no weight was being applied to the motor meaning no traction. So that meant the back guider wheel had to go. Which in turn meant the coupler had to be locked from pivoting up or down which meant meant no inclines or declines. :sceptic: 

However (I haven't tested it) the monorail may be able to make gradual inclines and declines by means of flecking the track. 

 

40 minutes ago, fred67 said:

I was wondering if it wasn't possible to somehow accomplish this with one motor.

I'm not entirely sure since I haven't built his double switch yet. If I'm correct, I'd think no. 

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Yup... sorry.  Kind of got ahead of myself.

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5 hours ago, fred67 said:

I was wondering if it wasn't possible to somehow accomplish this with one motor.

It seems unlikely to me to be able to do this with one motor. I guess that there might be some cunning mechanical configuration where it could cycle between the three different settings using one motor but coming up with that would be way above my pay grade.

David

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10 hours ago, fred67 said:

Yup... sorry.  Kind of got ahead of myself.

:laugh: That's okay! Any questions you may have, just ask. I'm more than eager to go into all the little details! :sweet:

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11 hours ago, djm said:

It seems unlikely to me to be able to do this with one motor. I guess that there might be some cunning mechanical configuration where it could cycle between the three different settings using one motor but coming up with that would be way above my pay grade.

David

I was thinking about the servo motor.  Granted, it wouldn't stay in a switched position, but turning one way would make one connection, the other way would make the other connection.  I'm certain I've seen people accomplish things like this with one motor, but I understand if it's even possible, it would be complex and may involve some unwanted friction and require things like clutch gears.

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3 hours ago, fred67 said:

I was thinking about the servo motor.  Granted, it wouldn't stay in a switched position, but turning one way would make one connection, the other way would make the other connection.  I'm certain I've seen people accomplish things like this with one motor, but I understand if it's even possible, it would be complex and may involve some unwanted friction and require things like clutch gears.

@Mark Bellis has built a 4 track switch with a single servo motor (refer to pictures within his brickshelf gallery). I don't know whether or not it is able to go from any one setting to any other (e.g. from "A" to "B" directly and from "A" to "C" directly) or whether it has to step through each one (e.g. from "A" to "B" directly and from "A" to "C" but via "B").

David

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On 17/01/2018 at 9:00 PM, djm said:

@Mark Bellis has built a 4 track switch with a single servo motor (refer to pictures within his brickshelf gallery). I don't know whether or not it is able to go from any one setting to any other (e.g. from "A" to "B" directly and from "A" to "C" directly) or whether it has to step through each one (e.g. from "A" to "B" directly and from "A" to "C" but via "B").

David

Thanks David.  The 4-track switch in the linked Brickshelf folder has 3 positions:  all-straight, all left and all-right.  These correspond to the 3 positions of the servo motor when operated from a switch or a bang-bang remote control with IR receiver.  It means a single £21 servo motor can control 8 switch points in a junction, so it saves on cost.  Most other junctions are a sub-set of those 8 switch points, sometimes 2 sets, one at either end of a station.  In particular a through-terminus has an island platform with a reversing track between the running tracks at one end.  That would use three of the eight switch points with the servo motor.

The geometry is adapted from Masao Hidaka's design.  I used multiple sets of the geometry, supported the middle and made it so that two switch rails can come towards each other, rather than a single point having fixed destination tracks.  The switch points on the outer tracks use belts to spring them to the straight position because they have only 2 positions.  The straight position of each one corresponds to 2 of the 3 servo motor positions.

I might make an improvement by fixing the round bricks and log bricks in the middle more securely for long-term running.  This would add axles from underneath to manage the collision forces from the monorail train guide rollers.  In the meantime an occasional finger-press suffices.

Mark

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On 05/01/2018 at 1:59 PM, LegoMonorailFan said:

Well there are a lot different ways to make inclines and declines, but this monorail system isn't capable of making inclines and declines. And the very thing that doesn't allow it to make inclines and declines is what allows the monorail system to function. 

The coupler design (which can be seen in the picture below) is designed to hold up the cars, which travel on a single guider wheel.

...

The entire monorail contacts the rail at three points. The motor.

...

And the two car guider wheels. One for each car.

...

Once assembled (seen in picture below) the modular setup is ready to have the cosmetic makeup of the monorail added.

...

The reason this design is important to the function of the monorail is because in order for the monorail to have traction, it needs the weight of the cars.

When I was first designing the system, I would add a guider wheel to both the front and back of the cars. My intention was to have the couplers designed to pivot up and down to allow inclines and declines. But because there was a guider wheel in the back of the car, no weight was being applied to the motor meaning no traction. So that meant the back guider wheel had to go. Which in turn meant the coupler had to be locked from pivoting up or down which meant meant no inclines or declines. :sceptic: 

However (I haven't tested it) the monorail may be able to make gradual inclines and declines by means of flecking the track. 

Cheers. :classic: And thanks again for fixing the topic! :sweet:

The 2-wide brick-built monorail system is capable of hills of certain angle.  Masao Hidaka made some quite steep hills but I prefer to limit the angle to a more modest and robust template, which is capable of rising by 5 bricks high in 48 studs long, or by 10 bricks high in 80 studs long (a bit longer for the same height change of the 64 stud length of the 1990s monorail hill parts).  The template can extend to any length of hill with the same slope-change pieces at the ends.

From Masao Hidaka's original free-form track ideas I systemised it to do all the functions of the 1990s monorail, and to fit on a grid.  I even made the direction switch function work, though it is obsolete with Power Functions having IR remote control.  I added a right-angle crossing and multi-point junction.  I have 4 radii of curves spaced 10-studs apart (centres at 48, 58, 68 and 78 studs radius) with trains from 6-wide up to 8-wide.  I have done a 2-track helix to make sure that space-saving technique can be used to facilitate world-record track lengths (562m to beat the 1990s monorail record).  I also made the trains faster; with belt drive it did 0.95m/s, almost as fast as L-gauge trains (measured over 10 laps of a 12-metre track including helixes).  I have slowed it down to 0.57m/s for heavier trains to climb with good reliability.  The belt-drive concept ran for 3028m on one charge of the PF LiPo battery.

My philosophy is that each train should have half its wheels powered.  A 1-motor train can have a battery car and at least 1 more car.  A 2-motor train (with the battery between them) should be able to have 4 further cars; I have tested 3 successfully ad I think there is scope for more to work.  The design should bias the adhesion weight over the driving wheels by making the extra cars lighter than the powered cars.  Also for bidirectional running, motors should be at the two ends of the train.  I did this with my gearmotor protoype that was my first step beyond Masao Hidaka's original work.  My shared-bogie system was a second step.  The belt drive, use of the train motor and new shaft drive are further steps.  It also has flashing lights of my own design!

Masao Hidaka ran his Osaka Monorail prototype as a LEGO Ideas project and got 1707 supporters.  I have a complete system with a set theme and would be prepared to do a project from my own work but would it be worth it unless we could get to 10,000 supporters?  I have considered many factors and learnt a lot from my BB-8 project that ran for 18 months and took about 500 hours of building work plus a lot of promotion work on social media.  That did OK at 1327 supporters but I felt like I had to fight for every one of them.  With that one I didn't have an optimised technical architecture because I had to launch quickly as the film was out but there was no LEGO BB-8 set.  For the monorail I have been building over 5 years so I have ironed out most of the technical issues, such that I plan to exhibit a layout next year in the UK once I have built some layout scenery.  I you would like me to submit what I have as a project then I would be happy to do so; a key question is "would it make a good LEGO set for the original age group of the 1990s monorail, as well as for TFOLs and AFOLs?".  I would like to create a bit more space in what should be my free time first, so that I could spend enough time on it to do it justice.  I think a project needs 1000 supporters in the first month if it is to reach 10,000; BB-8 got about 260 int he first month and that has Star Wars groups available to attract support from outside the LEGO fan community.  That is a second key question: "Could we attract interest from beyond the AFOL community?".  If not, then that might seriously limit the potential support base.

We would have a lot of convincing to do of traditional 1990s monorail devotees; they even have 3D-printed pieces becoming available as a product soon - images exist of the prototypes.  They still have the snag of keeping those motors going, and (for the time being) of unreliable points.  A further 3D-printed product might be possible to fix that in the future but it was one of my reasons for looking for another monorail system.  Other reasons include obsolescence of track, motor and train parts, cost of 2nd hand parts, limited power supply with a PP3 battery, slow speed, single curve radius, 4-wide product that struggles to do 6-wide, and limited scope for points and crossings (TLG filed patents for a Y-point and a right-angle crossing).  I think I blasted most of those limitations with the brick-built 2-wide system!

I am encouraged that djm (David) has written some instructions for my straights and curves and the Hidaka points - major thanks.  David, if you are OK with me linking to them from a prospective LEGO Ideas project then that is another factor that might be persuasive because it means people can have a go.  I will reply to your message when I get chance.

Mark

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Wow @Mark Bellis! So much insightful information! Thanks so much for sharing it with us! :classic:

One of my intentions when designing my monorail, was to have it function similar to Lego's official system.

34673518935_66301a2906.jpg

27725806479_ac44292c10_c.jpg

Of course, as I had stated previously, in order for it to function properly, the couplers have to be locked from pivoting up or down. But, again, it can likely make gradual inclines and declines.

I hope people will find my design to be a good substitute for Lego's discontinued official system. :sweet:

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2 hours ago, Mark Bellis said:

I am encouraged that djm (David) has written some instructions for my straights and curves and the Hidaka points - major thanks.  David, if you are OK with me linking to them from a prospective LEGO Ideas project then that is another factor that might be persuasive because it means people can have a go.  I will reply to your message when I get chance.

Mark

Hi Mark,

you would be more than welcome to link to (or upload if appropriate) those building instructions should you decide to progress a LEGO Ideas project.

I would sound a warning that given the number of supporters Masa Hidaka gained (~1700) when he submitted his project , that the odds of one reaching the necessary level of support appear slight. Some good train projects on LEGO Ideas struggled to get enough votes so a monorail project may face an even tougher challenge.

In the meantime, we can of course continue our design postings on EuroBricks - I am currently experimenting with building a "trigger" track section.

640x578.jpg

The purpose of this section (if it works!) is to allow automation of a layout using NXT bricks e.g. changing the position of a switch for an inbound train.

David

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A couple of people have suggested to me that I should post my monorails on ideas, but I feel it's going to be as you suggested @djm: 1000 to 2000 votes. I feel it's just not worth the effort. :sceptic:

Anyways, after building the switch track, I'm currently seeing how simple of a switch track I can design by taking some of the most basic functions, and making a switch off of them. So far so good! :sweet:

Edited by LegoMonorailFan

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I've finished the switch, and I must say it turned out better than I thought! The entire design is simplified, most notably the track itself. Also, a nice feature is that motorization of the switch is optional. I'll be posting pictures, as well as a video when I get the chance. 

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3 minutes ago, gotoAndLego said:

Have you thought about being able to transition to a slight bank in the turns?

Yes, that would most certainly work! :sweet: 

It would probably work much like the spiral in this video, just not as tall. (But why not?! :sweet: :grin:)

 

Another example.

 

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20 hours ago, djm said:

Hi Mark,

you would be more than welcome to link to (or upload if appropriate) those building instructions should you decide to progress a LEGO Ideas project.

I would sound a warning that given the number of supporters Masa Hidaka gained (~1700) when he submitted his project , that the odds of one reaching the necessary level of support appear slight. Some good train projects on LEGO Ideas struggled to get enough votes so a monorail project may face an even tougher challenge.

In the meantime, we can of course continue our design postings on EuroBricks - I am currently experimenting with building a "trigger" track section.

...

The purpose of this section (if it works!) is to allow automation of a layout using NXT bricks e.g. changing the position of a switch for an inbound train.

David

Thanks David.

I would just say that, in the instructions for your 16-stud straight track piece, it needs the 16-stud picture, not the 32-stud picture at the end.  I have made successful straights of 48 and 64 studs without needing intermediate support.  That is useful for joining and leaving a helix.

I see the potential for automated control but for now I prefer a train I can control with a PF handset and PF point control with a switch panel, which is more like a signal box of a railway.  At an exhibition it is best to leave trains running and talk to people.

31 minutes ago, LegoMonorailFan said:

Yes, that would most certainly work! :sweet: 

It would probably work much like the spiral in this video, just not as tall. (But why not?! :sweet: :grin:)

...

Another example.

...

The monorail curves have a tendency to bank outwards slightly.  I found the same tendency with brick-built curves from the Hidaka original design to my own experiments, as well as plate-built ones.  This is OK if you build the trains with a low centre of gravity.  With careful train design I have had no problems at full speed but the battery box and motor are close to the track.  Even an XL-motor might be quite tall if it were to go fast.  How fast does your train go?  You could measure over a number of laps of a known track length and convert to metres per second.

I would prefer to have more than 8 supports per circle of track because of the potential to sag between them.  The train has enough power to cope but the "wow wow wow" sound might be annoying.  The 4-track quarter-circle section with 16 supports per circle is better as it stays flat and without any sag.  The 1x2 plate connections on the curves (1 stud overlap) are nothing like as strong as the 2x8 connections on the straights (2x4 overlap).

My helical track has the potential to do the same as the tall monorail helix at the show.  I wanted to prove that early, to make it worthwhile for record track lengths in order to convince those who chase such records to have a go.  I have enough parts for 45 metres of curves so far; it is easy enough to buy just 3 pieces in large amounts.  For gaining height I would like to do it with up to 16 supports per circle; not quite so easy to fit the geometry for all of them with a stud fix to the baseplates.  I can do multiple-radius helixes but more than 1 track would need outer supports too.  In reality that means a circular canyon of scenery and/or some tunnels for part of it.  To make the trains go in and out of mountains is more interesting.

Mark

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@Mark Bellis has graciously given me permission to post building instructions for his design of monorail track curves and straights. There are building instructions available to download for;

640x415.jpg

640x279.jpg

640x258.jpg

Regards,

David

[Link to the next of my posts containing building instructions]

Edited by djm
Tweaked build instructions/images. 1x2 blue technic brick is too expensive. Added next B.I. post link.

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Hey @Mark Bellis, I was curious how much sturdier your curved track design is compared to Masao Hidaka's curved track design. Yours takes quite a few extra parts, and I was wonder if it's worth it. :laugh:

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Hmmm.... my tracks are three bricks high (I didn't have a lot of plates to use at the time), and I was thinking that using all plates, with an extra layer of offset/not offset (which makes the curve work) would be a lot sturdier.... but also a lot more costly.

22 hours ago, LegoMonorailFan said:

A couple of people have suggested to me that I should post my monorails on ideas, but I feel it's going to be as you suggested @djm: 1000 to 2000 votes. I feel it's just not worth the effort. :sceptic:

Anyways, after building the switch track, I'm currently seeing how simple of a switch track I can design by taking some of the most basic functions, and making a switch off of them. So far so good! :sweet:

It depends on the goal of posting to ideas.  95% of the projects there seem to be kids saying "look at my MOC, maybe I can make money!" and have absolutely zero chance, yours is definitely a more serious project that has a lot of merit.  Still, trains and monorails simply don't make it on Ideas.  The one reason why you might do it is simply publicity - a way to make more people aware of this kind of project, and maybe a few of them will become interested - and that's a "win," even if you don't get enough votes.

 

Edited by fred67

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18 minutes ago, fred67 said:

Hmmm.... my tracks are three bricks high (I didn't have a lot of plates to use at the time), and I was thinking that using all plates, with an extra layer of offset/not offset (which makes the curve work) would be a lot sturdier.... but also a lot more costly.

My track is (1tile + 2 bricks) thick. While (1 tile + 4 plates thick) is probably a significant improvement, another option is to make your track (1 tile + 1 brick + 1 plate) thick. This is what I did for my suspended monorail track. It requires the same amount of parts* (just different types)* as the (1tile + 2 bricks) thick formula, but it's much stronger.

23 minutes ago, fred67 said:

It depends on the goal of posting to ideas.  95% of the projects there seem to be kids saying "look at my MOC, maybe I can make money!" and have absolutely zero chance, yours is definitely a more serious project that has a lot of merit.  Still, trains and monorails simply don't make it on Ideas.  The one reason why you might do it is simply publicity - a way to make more people aware of this kind of project, and maybe a few of them will become interested - and that's a "win," even if you don't get enough votes.

If posting my monorails on Ideas would bring interest to Lego monorails and CRS, than yes that would definitely be a win. :sweet:

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I remember seeing someone reduce cost by putting the studs pointed down; that way there is no reason to tile the top. Of course then the supports just rest not he ground, as opposed to fastening with studs.

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