zephyr1934

A review of the first elements from the FX Track system

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  Man, all you guys Europe-side are getting your orders right away.  I ordered in Canada second day of the release and haven't gotten them yet.  I don't blame them though, given they still have all their other duties going on in Ottawa.  It's likely going to be an even worse 'frenzy' when the curves are released.

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Posted (edited)
On 3/17/2021 at 1:03 AM, michaelgale said:

@fhurlbrink Our design goals for the motor bogie are more or less exactly as you describe.  We aim to offer a minimum of two motor bogie variants:

1. Standard - pickup terminals and motor terminals will be available on a discrete connector for "hacking" or testing.  A switch will let you isolate or jumper the pickup and motor terminals together.  In "jumpered" mode, the motor bogie behaves exactly like the LEGO® 9V motor with the power pickup connected directly to the motor.  In "isolated" mode, you can place an external controller between the power pickup and motor.  This can be a DCC decoder, a PFx Brick, etc.  

2. Smart - The smart bogie will have a DCC compatible version of the PFx Brick core integrated inside the motor bogie.  This gives a motor bogie capable of operating as standard DC voltage controlled bogie or a DCC controlled bogie.  Unlike a OEM DCC decoder, ours will be much easier to configure.  You simply configure it using our existing PFx Apps (desktop) via USB. You can also use other DCC command stations and solutions for configuration if you want.  Furthermore, we will have a small connector available to connect lights and a speaker for the total sound-decoder operating experience.

We've already started to design our Speed Regulator unit.  It will be USB-C powered using an external power brick or battery source capable of delivering 65-100W.  You can use any USB-C power source as long as it can offer 9V and 12V at 3A.  Most laptop type USB-C power bricks support these modes.  The advantage of USB-C is the vast eco-system of cables and power sources available.  Furthermore, it will let you easily select between 9V or 12V output voltage mode:  9V for legacy LEGO® 9V motor support and 12V mode for our new motor bogies.  It will also have many more goodies all enclosed in a pretty injection molded case with a similar form factor to the legacy LEGO® 9V speed regulator.  More details will follow soon--including our plans for the power feeder and electrical interconnect.  One hint we can offer is that we're leaning heavily towards reviving the awesome classic 9V 2x2 connector plate!  We absolutely love its design and versatility!   We think it is worth rebooting and extending it further!   

@michaelgale That sounds really great. For me the smart bogie would be perfect.

I assume, that both variants include the power pickup wheels direct in the boogie (like the old Lego 9V Train motor). Is my assumption correct?

Concerning DCC, will the decoder support Railcom?

Edited by fhurlbrink

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@Eki1210 @dtomsen Thanks guys!  Glad to hear you received the track and that you're happy with it!  :)

@supertruper1988 @legoboy3998 @bricks n bolts The standalone pickup wheelset will be part of our product system.  However, it will come *after* the motor bogie.  We believe the motor bogie is the most important component to close the loop on our metal track system since it will have immediate benefit for the majority of train fans.  We've got some exciting news on this front which we'll share in greater detail in future; suffice to say we have partnered with a major global model train manufacturer to expedite the development of the motor bogie!  There's still a lot engineering and commercial terms to work out, but we're so thrilled that we can combine expertise to bring a next-level motor system never seen before in the Lego train hobby!  Furthermore, we are also mocking up some designs for a 3-axle integrated motor bogie with an extended wheelbase.  It is 12 studs long with an extra 2-studs added to the wheelbase of the outer wheelsets.  We're trying to see if we can have common mechanical elements for both a 2-axle and 3-axle bogie--TBD!

@fhurlbrink Yes, both variants of motor bogie will include metal wheelsets for power pickup.  In terms of RailCom, it is not an open standard and is covered by trademarks by Lenz.  There are some difficulties with the patents/proprietary status of RailCom in the DCC standard.  We do not anticipate adding support for RailCom anytime soon.  If RailCom support is critical to some users, they can always buy a Lenz RailCom decoder and connect it to our standard motor bogie.

 

 

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Posted (edited)

I’m following all this very closely. I have trains that are PF and am very sick of the battery “woes”;... not having enough power and/or not lasting. 
But is is quite costly to switch to this track if you need it all. Motor boogies, track, power and speed controller at a minimum. 
I am though really excited and would love to see the tracks myself, so maybe soon I will buy a set of the S32 tracks. 
Please make the speed controller and two axle power boogie soon ?

Oh, and I want to add, I’m absolutely drooling over your P40 switches so it actually looks like a normal railroad layout instead of a toy; nice smooth take offs instead of the lego “jumps” to the left or right...  😃 

 

Thank you so much !

Edited by Wimmer

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Posted (edited)

@michaelgale
Received my three boxes of S32 straights (I think, first one to own them in Hungary) and I'm super satisfied with the design and the quality.


Is there any plan to speed up to gather the production costs for P40L and P40R switches via some crowdfounding campaign, or these items will be based on how the other tracks (S32 and R72) sell?

I have seen that you are planning a special R64 curved for the P40L and P40R switches to return to the standard grid in paralel tracks. Could you confirm or confute if the returning to the standard grid with paralel tracks could be also done combining two 11,25° segments of R104 curves and the P40L and P40R switches? I do own some TrixBrix R104 switches and R104 curves and they work together making a single siding with an offset of 16 studs.

Edited by Ashi Valkoinen

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@Wimmer We're doing our best to develop and produce the key elements of our system, in particular the motor bogie and controller.  We're glad you like the P40 switch!  We spent a great deal of engineering on this element and applied the same geometric principles used in designing real railway switches in 1:1 scale!  Unlike an all-plastic switch, the design of a metal rail switch is much more complicated.  Not only are there more components, but the design must maintain electrical continuity for each rail and ensure sufficient clearances for wheels without short circuiting.

@Ashi Valkoinen Glad you like the S32 straight tracks--thank you!  The P40 switch is already in the pre-tooling stage with our manufacturers and it is going to be produced for this year.  It does not depend on the sales of our other track elements; however, it does help!  

Technically, the diverging route of this switch is not a perfect segment of a R104 circle. However it is very very close. In all likelihood, given the wide tolerances of Lego train track, you would be able to form a parallel return curve from the diverging route with 2x additional R104 curve tracks.  The reason why using R104 curves it is not a geometrically perfect configuration is because the diverging route centreline MUST terminate 64 mm (8 studs) laterally and 0 mm axially relative to the straight route.  This is necessary so that you can make a crossover with 2x switches with 16 studs parallel separation.  

Two R104 curves with 11.25 deg sector angles form a R104 curve segment diverging at 22.5 deg.  Its centreline terminal point is +7.9 studs (63.2 mm) laterally and -0.2 studs (1.6mm) axially instead of (+8.0 / 0.0).  This error would be added to a parallel return curve and is not on the "grid".  

However, since our P40 switch terminates at (+8.0 / 0.0) at a diverging angle of 22.62 deg, a perfect return curve can be made with S8 straight element and R64 curve element (with 22.62 sector angle).  It is not just close, but mathematically perfect.  That explains why we have chosen the geometry of our switch to be 22.62 deg diverging.  Furthermore, a 22.62 deg rotated geometry can always be "realigned" in 16 stud intervals indefinitely with the use of multiples of S1.6 (12.8 mm) straight elements.  If you stack P40 switches in a yard ladder configuration separated with S1.6 straights, you can build infinite yard ladders aligned to 16 studs LATERALLY.  And by adding repeating multiples of S1.6 in each siding, you can align sidings AXIALLY to 16 studs.

As it turns out, the diverging route is tantalizing close to a R104 curve, but not enough that we would label the product as a "R104 switch". If you look at how real railway (and some model train) switches are described, they rarely use "radius" in the terminology. Often they will use other more important factors such as the length of switch and the angle of crossing frog/vee. We chose the nomenclature of P40x since it is short and sweet and concisely descriptive of what this switch really is (and is not).

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@michaelgale I'm that case with the switches, are you going to be selling the switch as a single piece or as a kit with the pieces to do a siding or crossover like @coaster does?

SD

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@michaelgale

Thank you for your reply. I found part of your comment earlier (I can't recall, where) and was aware of why it is P40 and not R104 switch, but also hoped if this difference is small enough to connect the tracks the way I needed (while that R64 fits nicely matemathically it questions the large radius geometry). Since track connections have some freedom (and remember Holger-curves method connecting straights) I'm pretty sure, that this 0,12° difference you described can be played well to make single sidings.

The only problem occured around those S32 tracks that I was able to order only three boxes from JB Spielwaren - I can understand the limitation but we wanted to make a joint order with club members after I encouraged them to buy also at least one box/person to make the buisness run. But hopefully from the larger second production batch we can make a bigger order. :)

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On 3/23/2021 at 5:43 PM, michaelgale said:

@Wimmer(can't remove this on the phone) 

However, since our P40 switch terminates at (+8.0 / 0.0) at a diverging angle of 22.62 deg, a perfect return curve can be made with S8 straight element and R64 curve element (with 22.62 sector angle). It is not just close, but mathematically perfect. 

 

 

brbbk.jpg

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@SD100 We are very likely going to sell the switches as a kit which includes the following:  1x P40L Left Switch, 1x P40R Right Switch, 2x S8 Straight Tracks, and 2x R64P Curve Tracks.  These components allow you to build a complete parallel loop siding.  The reason we want to start selling the switches as a pair is to avoid asymmetric inventory by selling Left and Right separately.  At least in the beginning, this will be important for recovering some of our development costs.  In future, we would be open to selling the switches individually for Left and Right.  

@Ashi Valkoinen We will likely remove the 3x quantity per order limit on the next batches available for sale.  We are increasing the production quantities of all the next items in the pipeline.

 

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@michaelgale Do you have an idea of the price range for that kit?

My first order will probably be two kits for two crossovers (and no idea what to do with the R64's ;- )

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14 hours ago, Duq said:

My first order will probably be two kits for two crossovers (and no idea what to do with the R64's ;- )

Isn't it obvious? Just buy 8 kits and have one of those very, very exclusive R64 circles! :pir-laugh:

 

Nah, just kidding. I also already received my 3x S32 tracks. @michaelgales track is just the raddest thing for me to happen to l-gauge since... well... probably BlueBrixx TrixBrix BigBenBricks.

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3 hours ago, Black Knight said:

Isn't it obvious? Just buy 8 kits and have one of those very, very exclusive R64 circles! :pir-laugh:

No, it won't work, since R64 curves turn 22,62° instead of 22,5°.

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@Duq Honestly, we don't know what the retail price will be for the switch kit yet.  I guess all I can say is that it will be expensive :(  The development costs are pretty big.  However, it will not be out of line compared with model train switches in the biggest scales.

@Duq, @Black Knight, @Ashi Valkoinen Don't forget, there is one nice use for the "leftover" R64P curves:  short and grid aligned S-bends! 

Sbend.png

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On 3/22/2021 at 9:28 PM, michaelgale said:

 

@fhurlbrink Yes, both variants of motor bogie will include metal wheelsets for power pickup.  In terms of RailCom, it is not an open standard and is covered by trademarks by Lenz.  There are some difficulties with the patents/proprietary status of RailCom in the DCC standard.  We do not anticipate adding support for RailCom anytime soon.  If RailCom support is critical to some users, they can always buy a Lenz RailCom decoder and connect it to our standard motor bogie

@michaelgale

Thank you very much for the answer.

Motor bogies with integrated power pickup wheels are perfect for me. One of the advantages of the 9V system over RC/PF/PU is, that you don't need annoying extra components which waste space in the locomotive.

 

I didn't know that RailCom is not an open standard. After knowing this, I completely understand, that you will not implement it. I can relinquish RailCom. In the case, Lenz will give up the trademarks (which is very unlikely), is the firmware of the smart motor bogie updatable, so that RailCom can be installed on an existing smart bogie belatedly (by installing a new version of your firmware)?

Independent from RailCom, will it be possible, to use a selfmade firmware or an open source firmware and install it onto the smart bogie instead of using your FxBricks firmware? It may be interesting for people, who want to hack around with special features, which are not implemented on your official firmware.

 

According to your website https://fxbricks.com/fxtrack/ you will sell the switches separately as 8140 and 8240, but not sell the R64P curve tracks. It seems logically, because these R64P curves are made for in combination with switches for the return curves.

But I think it would make sense, to sell R64P separately for the following cases:

- Someone plans a layout with crossovers and orders 8140 and 8240 separate switches. Some time later he/she wants to make a new layout without crossovers and with return curves. Now he/she needs R64P.

- Someone buys the 8040 switch pack and uses them. Unfortenately some R64P gets damaged or lost and he/she wants to replace the lost/damaged R64P with new ones.

- You have mentioned S-Bends on grid in a posting before. Someone will need the R64P, but without the switches.

So I would therefore suggest, that you offer R64P separetely.

 

Another question is, how will the switches be switched? When I view your picture https://fxbricks.com/fxtrack/files/stacks-image-14e7afd-1200x674.png of the switch, there I see an element with holes on the outer side of the switch track (on the left side of the picture). I assume, that this is for switching the switch.

So are the holes for DCC controlled motors?

What is, when someone wants to operate the switches by hand? The Lego switches (9V and Plastic) have a yellow lever for switching the switches by hand. Will your switches also include something like a lever? Or will the user to have switching the switch by directly using this element with the holes?

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On 2/25/2021 at 7:21 PM, dr_spock said:

My apologies. I posted this here because due to technical difficulties I could not confirm that anybody on the forum posted about it before me.  This was due either to a misunderstanding between me and the outputs of the forum's search bar and sorting filters or some malfunction when I used them.  The outputs make sense now and operate fine, but it is too little too late.  I can delete this thread if you want, just let me know.

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2 hours ago, IHadMegaBloksAsAKid said:

Tracks are a start but without new 9v motors coming into the market it's still a hard thing to get into.

Michael will also offer new motors.

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I already bought of these products. They are quality.

If anyone thinking about buying 9V-tracks, consider to by FX-tracks instead of used TLC-track. Support them to get back their insane founds by time and for offering the motors, power pickups and large radius points...

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@michaelgale   Hi there Michael.  I just ordered three sets of the straight track, to support the continuation of this project !  And also because I would like to make a switch to 9V tracks when everything is there later, like controller and motors.

I hope the order came through, because I saw a little error appear on the store site of Fx track; but Paypal payed it anyways ?  I know you're a busy man, but please confirm when you have a moment...

I can't wait to see them in real life !!!  So excited for this to come true...  :classic:

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@Wimmer Thanks very much for your support--much appreciated!  :)  I see the error and will make a manual entry into the order database to make sure it is processed.  Your order will likely ship tomorrow.

 

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18 minutes ago, michaelgale said:

@Wimmer Thanks very much for your support--much appreciated!  :)  I see the error and will make a manual entry into the order database to make sure it is processed.  Your order will likely ship tomorrow.

 

Thank you Sir,... much appreciated !... :classic: 

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Please discuss Fx tracks  in here:

Thank you and enjoy our hobby :)

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