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About michaelgale

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    Electronics, software, photography, graphic design, running, and of course trains and LEGO!


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  1. Wow! A geometry discussion! The way I would do this calculation is to compute the sleeper/stud locations for a "normalized" track element, i.e. centred at the origin (0, 0) rotated at 1/2 sector angle (e.g. 11.25 deg for an R72). Then you can take this list of stud/centre points and perform 4x rotation/translation operations into a complete 90 curve using matrices/linear algebra. This should generate a concatenated list of all stud centre points. You can then loop through each point and perform a modulo 4 mm operation and if the residue is less than a given tolerance in both x, y coordinates, then you have a candidate stud for attachment. I would use a tolerance of around +/-0.2 mm or maybe even +/-0.4 mm since the slack tolerance for a curve is somewhat generous. I'm sure an hour of coding in python would yield a result--extra marks if you can generalize to any curve radius/sector angle!
  2. Hi Folks, Sorry to hear about the R72 tracks bending slightly--it seems to be an issue confined to the R72 tracks--and not all of them. TLDR: Its easy to fix by either: 1. Gentle twisting back-and-forth of an individual track section. 2. Or let the track settle out with usage. The lift does settle out over time. Long Explanation: We suspect there are 3 factors which contribute to this phenomenon: 1. Settling of the product from the climate differences in China/Hong Kong vs. North America/Europe can manifest itself as very slight warping due to the different thermal coefficients of expansion of ABS plastic vs. metal rail. 2. Variances in metal crimp points along the length of the rail can result in slight mechanical stresses which produce this vertical lift. 3. The rail joint connections are designed to be tight and secure. This ensures excellent electrical performance and secure track connections. However, the tight joint introduces mechanical elastic forces in the plastic rail which have to be absorbed by the rest of the track assembly. This can manifest itself as a vertical lift to relieve this elastic tension. Vertical lift due to factors 1 and 2 will be observable with a single track element after it is removed from the box and placed on a flat surface. In our experience, most of the R72 elements will rest flat; however, in some cases we have observed very slight vertical lift, but within mechanical tolerances. Vertical lift due to factor 3 is more common, not only for the R72, but also other L-Gauge track elements. The mechanical forces which cause the vertical lift can be relieved with slight twisting back and forth along the long-axis of the track. This disperses accumulated tension along the entire length of connected track elements and reduces the vertical lift. These forces will also disperse naturally with repeatedly running a train over the track. The forces applied by a passing train will gradually disperse accumulated mechanical tension. Brand new track elements, especially hybrid ABS plastic / metal track, have tight crimps and do not have enough elastic performance to resist the forces applied by rail joints. Over time, the crimp joints loosen slightly, and the track element is becomes more elastic and therefore able to resist these forces and stay flat. It is analogous to "breaking in" a brand new car. Car manufactures specify a "break in" period to allow mechanical stresses to disperse and settle to a nominal equilibrium. Similarly, our track elements will settle to a nominal elastic equilibrium with normal use and handling. This should reduce the probability of observing this vertical lift. p.s. I don't recommend using a heat gun! You might end up with an R72 shaped puddle of plastic!
  3. Without going into too much detail, our product plans for electrical accessories and control is based on this simple idea: it's not the technology that makes it special, it's the form factor. That is what made the 12V system of accessories special--simple technology (obviously)--the appeal was the modular LEGO-like way it all worked together. The 9V system's appeal was the genius and versatility of the 2x2 plate connector.
  4. @ivanlan9 Thanks so much for the support! Also, thanks for calling out the 3-axle motor bogie--we do appreciate hearing what you folks want--and we have heard many requests for a 3-axle version. We're actively developing our motor and control systems and in fact have a purpose built R&D facility for it—"the 9v Nürburgring": A silly name for a serious workstation!
  5. @Vilhelm22 I forgot to answer your two questions: 1. I don't know if we'll make curve radii larger than R152. Each track element is quite expensive and offering 7x different radii R56 to R152 is already very generous! I'm not saying we're never going to make >R152; but we are more tempted to prioritize elements such as the 90 deg crossing, diamonds, accessory elements, etc. before other curve radii. Also, our product strategy is also guided by you guys--both in what you tell us and what you buy. We've learned a lot about your priorities over the last year--for example, we didn't plan on releasing a R56 curve track--but we heard enough vocal demands for one, that we went ahead with it! :) 2. The motor bogie is quite a complex product. After we release the familiar 2-axle version, we are tempted to develop a 3 axle variant as a follow-up. A dedicated steam locomotive drive unit would be more complex and quite honestly more likely to fail. This is because of the large variety of steam locomotive wheel arrangements, coupling rod gear, wheelbases, wheel diameters, etc. etc. It would be an impossible task to make a steam loco drive unit which would satisfy everyone. The better approach is for us to release power pick-up wheel sets and standalone motor drive units with cross-axle interfaces. That way, you are free to build the steam loco wheel chassis (with all the awesome BBB wheels, 3D print coupling rods, etc.) and use our power system to drive a motor of your choice.
  6. Hello Folks: JBS and we at Fx Bricks are definitely at the mercy of our supply chains and logistics companies. The freight brokers we work with are really good at their job and are doing their best to get the goods from our warehouse in Hong Kong to Canada and Germany. In the current climate, both air and sea freight rates have been in constant flux with rates more than tripling in the past few months. Furthermore, customs/import procedures have changed in Germany this summer and JBS faced a longer processing time to finally clear the consignment of R88 tracks. We do know that the shipment has finally cleared and JBS are working hard to fulfill orders with R88 tracks. (Luckily Canadian customs clearance has been mercifully smooth and quick!) We have a pipeline of more track shipments enroute via sea container and soon we will be green-lighting the R56 and R104 for a production run (with pre-order soon after). In fact, they are already in the shop for you guys to check out! https://shop.fxbricks.com/products/r56-curve-track https://shop.fxbricks.com/products/r104-curve-track We know our release schedule has slipped (predictably), but rest assured, we actually do deliver on our commitments eventually! I suppose I can't resist to reveal another bit of good news... We're getting closer! Both the left and right P40 switch master molds and the metal rails. We are so impressed with the precision and quality of the progressive metal stamping for the longer rail segments. This will make a big difference for smooth running and electrical continuity. Lots more work to do, but we're actually doing it! As for more work...the motor bogie, power feeder, speed regulator, etc. are all in the pipeline and in active development...more on those another time! Michael Fx Bricks
  7. Hi @Andrew Harvey Thanks so much for your support and your order--much appreciated. If your order contained R88 tracks, then those orders were delayed due to production delays. However, we've received the full complement in Hong Kong about 3 weeks ago and we sent both Canada and Germany small consignments of R88 by air freight (the remainder by sea). In Canada we have already shipped every pre-order batch including those with R88s and I believe JBS received their consignment of R88s and should therefore be actively shipping those orders. I know that their pre-order volume was quite large so they are likely just going through their pre-order list as fast as they can. I would expect to see some shipping notification from them very soon and sadly to expect some delays through the UK border. If you don't here anything within a week or two, let me know through the Fx Bricks shop website and I can follow up directly with JBS. Cheers, Michael
  8. michaelgale

    PFX brick Sound with Trains

    @legonerd54321 Wow...your timing is spooky! Just this week, we've been trying out pre-release candidates of our new firmware which include enhanced sound playback effects for trains. Some of the key features: 1. Gated Playback - Gated playback of sound files (for "chuff" type sounds) can include up to 4 different and sequentially played sound files. This makes the sound playback sound less "robotic" and flat. Furthermore, you can have up to 4x groups of 4x playback sounds. A group is selected based on motor speed with the same boundaries as the indexed playback. This will let you specify a different "chuff" sound sequence through a locomotive's total speed range. 2. Speed Triggered Extra Sounds - The indexed playback mode now includes specifying playback of extra sound effects based on speed. This includes: a) Accelerating from stop - e.g. a turbo-charger "whine" sound, a steam or air brake release sound, etc. b) Accelerating while moving - e.g. turbo charger sound c) Slowing down quickly while moving - e.g. dynamic brake sounds, fans, steam release, etc. d) Slowing down to stop - brake squeal sounds Note that these sounds are based on acceleration as well as absolute speed. Therefore a gradual slow down to stop might not incur a brake squeal sound. This makes the overall sound from the model feel more realistic and life-like. 3. Developer Tools in Python - We've added some more scripts and tools to help developers with make sound profiles for the PFx Brick. For example, you can specify all the details of a sound profile in a convenient plain text YAML file. A python script will read this file and automatically load the sounds, configure motor and playback actions and setup the PFx Brick ready to use. This will let you make changes and fine-tune the behaviour of the sound profile quickly since the script only makes changes that are required to the PFx Brick. For example, if you change one audio sample file, it will only load that changed file and not reload the entire set of files. There's still a bit more work to do in terms of testing and documentation; however, we're getting very close to a public release. This will include: 1. New ICD document v.3.38 2. New firmware release v.1.50 3. New PFx App release v.1.10 4. New pfx-brick-py Python language tools (v.0.8.0 on pypi probably) Stay tuned!
  9. @Jedi Bert Great! Thank you! We've increased the weight limit to the USA to 10 kg. We've also added shipping rates to UK / AU / NZ up to 5 kg. The store now also has a currency selector in the footer so that you can see equivalent pricing in CAD, USD, GBP, and EUR. Note that our default currency is CAD. A reminder to folks in the EU (and the UK): purchase your Fx Track from JB Spielwaren (in Germany). They offer very competitive flat rate shipping to the EU. For PFx Brick and accessory purchase, you may continue to use our Canadian web shop from our website.
  10. Thanks all to have already placed pre-orders for more Fx Track--much appreciated! There was an issue with weight thresholds for shipping that should hopefully be resolved. Standard shipping products are for <2 kg; therefore we have added shipping tiers for up to 6 kg (USA) and 5 kg (Aus/NZ). @TuffTuffTuff We're not exactly sure when the M-Speaker brick will be available again--our manufacturing pipeline is just stuffed with track! :) The CAD for the new M Speaker is complete, we just have to figure out when to schedule it for manufacturing. It is very likely we will use JB Spielwaren for reselling the PFx Brick and a few key accessories; however, we're just getting started with EU distribution and our focus is getting the process working smoothly for Fx Track. We're not sure when this will occur, but it will. As @zephyr1934 pointed out, all our store's pricing is in Canadian dollars (CAD)--US dollar (USD) prices are approx. 20% lower. And indeed you require twice as many R88 elements to make a full circle as R72. Since our cost is actually based on the number of elements, curve radii above R72 will cost more--its just the reality of what you're physically producing and its associated cost. One last word on prices: its really difficult to keep prices low these days: 1. Manufacturing costs have increased dramatically this past year 2. Freight costs have gone up 3x !!! 3. Electronics availability is going crazy: e.g. the CPU in the PFx Brick is currently 48 weeks lead time! the Bluetooth radio is 14 weeks with ZERO stock worldwide. You probably have seen items in the news about "chip shortages" etc. -- this is very real and it is impacting us. Luckily we have a good inventory buffer for the electronics so far--but we're getting concerned about future products like our motor bogie and speed controller. In any case, these are factors we can't control. For the factors which we can control, we try to offer the best retail price we can. If we were making USB cables for Amazon--then low cost matters--custom engineered LEGO compatible metal track is different story!
  11. @Jedi Bert There should be no issue shipping to the USA. However, we suspect that their might be a weight restriction with standard shipping options offered automatically by the new store. It be worth trying to process an order with a combined shipping weight of <2 kg? We're going to look at configuring alternative shipping options for larger/heavier orders. Sorry about the trouble, but we're just getting up to speed with this new e-commerce platform! @Black Knight We set retail pricing in USD and it is up to JBS to setup their equivalent MSRP in EUR. We suspect that their pricing is due to currency exchange rate fluctuations and other factors. Its tricky for us since we're dealing with multiple currencies for sorts of things in our business! In any case, JBS still offers great value since they offer very competitive flat rate shipping for the entire EU.
  12. We've not finalized pricing yet. However, the price does not simply scale with the size of the item. Each track item is roughly the equivalent in terms of tooling costs, i.e. plastic mold + one (for straights) or two (for curves) pressed metal stamping tools. The amount of plastic consumed per unit is not a big cost driver. Furthermore, other costs such as shipping, labour, and material prices have increased a great deal in just the past 6 months--each of which contributes to our cost of goods.
  13. Hi folks! Sorry for the delay in updating you guys with updated product availability. We've posted a detailed update on our site here: https://www.fxbricks.com/fxblog/?post_id=46&amp;title=new-fx-track-product-availability TLDR: 1. Pre-orders of S8, S32, R72 and R88 tracks start June 1, 2021 2. Deliveries expected to start late July/early August depending on sea container shipping. 3. No per-customer quantity limits 4. R56 and R104 available in 2021, confirmed schedule TBD 5. P40 switches currently in tooling -- complex manufacturing with many parts, but expect availability in 2021. 6. Motor bogie, power accessories in detailed design / some components in prototyping Thanks again for your awesome support, feedback, reviews, etc. -- we can't wait to bring you guys more products and are committed to applying the very best of our engineering and design skills and quality standards to these exciting new products!
  14. @Ashi Valkoinen The short straights (S1.6 and S3.2) are not out of the catalog. They will be made. We're still deciding how they will be packaged. They could be packaged with the switch, or as a separate pack of "short straights". We're leaning towards offering them as a pack of short straights since folks are likely to need very different amounts depending on what they are building. It will likely come as a box of 8x S1.6, 8x S3.2 and 2x or 4x S8. The website needs updating. The short straights do not appear on the catalog page since they are likely to cause confusion without an explanation about how they are used.
  15. @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.