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             Rating                           3D Printed Track and Turnouts
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561st message | this message only posted: 8 Jul 2018 18:15
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from:
Andrew Barrowman
USA

 

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Hayfield wrote: I have tested the chairs with C&L HiNi rail. I can only get C, E & F to thread, E being the easiest but in reality still far too stiff, I also tried some old PSM rail which wasmuch the same.
I tried a switch rail (one side filed away) it was still stiff, looking closely at the rail one side of the foot of the rail is higher than the other, though that might be an optical illusion, but if the slide rail is still still its the height of the foot not the width of the foot thats an issue

I thought the chairs would be more brittle, but I tried not to force the issue too much. So quite happy they are strong enough, just need to be freed up a tad

On the whole far better than I feared, and they do look good. Also seem compatible with their plastic counterparts 

Andrew would you like a short length of C&L rail ?

John
Andrew Barrowman wrote: Here's a map of the chairs.


I've labeled the six "sticks" A through F. I suggest you use some means to be able to identify which stick a chair came from. Keep them in envelopes perhaps, or even paint them different colours? We will get into a terrible pickle if we get our wires crossed :)

Hi John,

Yes please. A sample of C&L rail could be useful. Maybe several short lengths (an inch is plenty) from different batches.

The nominal dimensions of the jaw apertures are (foot width/web thickness) in mm

A  0.8, 0.3
B  0.8, 0.4
C  0.8, 0.5
D  0.9, 0.3
E  0.9, 0.4
F  0.9, 0.5

I had to guess the foot height. They are are all the same at 0.4 mm.

Here's what they should look like side on. A is on the left.




From here A, B and perhaps C seem to be a good fit on SMP rail. B is probably best.

The material will actually flex a bit but if you go too far it snaps.

Cheers!
Andy

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562nd message | this message only posted: 8 Jul 2018 18:27
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from:
Martin Wynne
West Of The Severn, United Kingdom



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Please do not send requests for help direct to me via email or PM.

Post your questions on the forum where everyone can see them and add helpful replies.
Andrew Barrowman wrote:I do not know to what extent any of them, other than STL, would help. I can post examples if you think any of them would be better. I'm not too optimistic but it's worth a shot.Hi Andy,

Is that a yes or a no? :?

I seem to have a hole in my brain where the 3D printing should be. I suspect that as with so many things the only way I am going to understand it is to buy one and take it to bits.

In a previous life I machined complex turbine blade forms for aerospace components, using my own language and coding on a CNC milling machine which we designed and built ourselves. So this stuff ought to be second-nature to me. But on the other hand no G-codes ever came near it, and I certainly didn't convert everything into triangles.

The state of play is:

Templot can export 3D solid DXF files in ASCII text format. They are much simplified, but only because at the time I was writing the code 15+ years ago I decided that it was more important to spend time on other things. 3D printing was out of reach for the majority and the only function of the solid rendering was to look nice in 3D walk-throughs and similar presentations.

Having exported such a DXF file I find that it opens just fine into TurboCAD Deluxe 20.

I can then save it from there in STL format.

The STL file then opens just fine in another CAD program, eDrawings 2016. It looks like this:



From which I assume that it is a bog-standard STL file, and from what you say, I'm assuming that a 3D printer would be able to use this STL file?

Which means that I can go ahead and add chair detail to this DXF export in the same way as the rails and timbers are implemented. The file size will be massively increased, but nowadays file sizes don't seem to matter. Every time I press the shutter on my camera it creates a file double the size of Templot.

And so can anyone else, now that I have made the code open-source.

I have been compiling the dimensions of the common chairs from the prototype drawings, and also from an actual BR(W) chair which I have here.

But I don't want to do that if you have already done it. Or would you prefer that I go ahead and do my own thing with this?

cheers,

Martin. 

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563rd message | this message only posted: 8 Jul 2018 18:45
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Trevor Walling
United Kingdom

 

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Hello,
      Would something like this be of use?
https://extensions.sketchup.com/sv/content/sketchup-stl
Regards :)

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564th message | this message only posted: 8 Jul 2018 19:27
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from:
Andrew Barrowman
USA

 

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Martin Wynne wrote: Andrew Barrowman wrote:I do not know to what extent any of them, other than STL, would help. I can post examples if you think any of them would be better. I'm not too optimistic but it's worth a shot.Hi Andy,

Is that a yes or a no? :?

I seem to have a hole in my brain where the 3D printing should be. I suspect that as with so many things the only way I am going to understand it is to buy one and take it to bits.

In a previous life I machined complex turbine blade forms for aerospace components, using my own language and coding on a CNC milling machine which we designed and built ourselves. So this stuff ought to be second-nature to me. But on the other hand no G-codes ever came near it, and I certainly didn't convert everything into triangles.

The state of play is:

Templot can export 3D solid DXF files in ASCII text format. They are much simplified, but only because at the time I was writing the code 15+ years ago I decided that it was more important to spend time on other things. 3D printing was out of reach for the majority and the only function of the solid rendering was to look nice in 3D walk-throughs and similar presentations.

Having exported such a DXF file I find that it opens just fine into TurboCAD Deluxe 20.

I can then save it from there in STL format.

The STL file then opens just fine in another CAD program, eDrawings 2016. It looks like this:



From which I assume that it is a bog-standard STL file, and from what you say, I'm assuming that a 3D printer would be able to use this STL file?

Which means that I can go ahead and add chair detail to this DXF export in the same way as the rails and timbers are implemented. The file size will be massively increased, but nowadays file sizes don't seem to matter. Every time I press the shutter on my camera it creates a file double the size of Templot.

And so can anyone else, now that I have made the code open-source.

I have been compiling the dimensions of the common chairs from the prototype drawings, and also from an actual BR(W) chair which I have here.

But I don't want to do that if you have already done it. Or would you prefer that I go ahead and do my own thing with this?

cheers,

Martin. 
Hi Martin,

It's a 'yes', but I'm not optimistic it will get us to where we would like to be :)

What I'm fairly sure about is that ultimately we need to create an STL file of the final model. That's what I give to Shapeways and it's what I use to drive my own printer. I can give it to anyone else and they'll be able to run it through a slicer program that will generate the G-code for their particular printer, including the vast array of variables associated with their particular configuration. You definitely do not want to try generating G-code in Templot.

That STL file you generated will print (they sometimes need a bit of "clean-up" but that's not something you need to worry about. There are plenty of tools available that can do that.

So here's the question: Does Templot add the chairs, are they added later in some CAD program (e.g. Turbocad), or is there a third way?

My preference is for a third way which is:

Templot puts "chairs" (or perhaps the components of chairs) on the timbers. These are not the final chairs, but they do identify the type of chair at that position and they are oriented and gauged correctly. All these chairs or components are actually "blocks". Templot generates a DXF that includes these blocks.

The DXF is imported into a CAD program - probably TurboCAD because we know that seems to work.
TurboCAD has a library of blocks (chairs etc) generated by people like me. By simply substituting a different block (it's very easy) for the blocks laid-down in Templot, the TurboCAD user can create a model that meets their requirements in terms of printed material, detail, region, rail type/dimensions etc, etc.

User saves the design/model as a STL and ships it off to the printer of their choice.

I'm glossing over some potentially thorny issues here, but I think it would be great if something like this could be made to work.

However, I've been banging on about printed track for quite a while now (EDIT: three years) and I've made all my ideas and experience very public both here and on RMweb. I was hoping others might have grabbed the baton and started running with it by now. As far as I know, nobody has.

I don't want to discourage you from incorporating more into Templot, but I don't want to see you put a lot of energy into something that's not going to go anywhere. Anyone with a little CAD expertise can easily import a 2D turnout DXF from Templot today and add chairs etc to make a 3D model for printing. Personally I think you should hold-off doing anything until there is some obvious demand.

Cheers!
Andy

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565th message | this message only posted: 8 Jul 2018 20:37
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from:
Martin Wynne
West Of The Severn, United Kingdom



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Please do not send requests for help direct to me via email or PM.

Post your questions on the forum where everyone can see them and add helpful replies.
Andrew Barrowman wrote:That STL file you generated will print (they sometimes need a bit of "clean-up" but that's not something you need to worry about. There are plenty of tools available that can do that.

So here's the question: Does Templot add the chairs, are they added later in some CAD program (e.g. Turbocad), or is there a third way?
...
...
user can create a model that meets their requirements in terms of printed material, detail, region, rail type/dimensions etc, etc.

User saves the design/model as a STL and ships it off to the printer of their choice.

I'm glossing over some potentially thorny issues here, but I think it would be great if something like this could be made to work.
Hi Andy,

What I'm aiming for, at least for ordinary turnouts and diamonds, is that the user enters details such as prototype (REA, GWR, NER pre-group, etc.) in Templot, which then adds the appropriate chairs into the DXF file. Optionally omitting the rail if the intent is a base into which metal rail can be threaded.

Initially this is likely to be REA or GWR chairs only, because the prototype data is clear-cut and available. For other prototypes the user would need to enter their own custom chair data.

Templot then produces the DXF export file including all the chairs (which is likely to be a massive file -- if it's a complete track plan, rather than a single turnout, the file will be enormous.)

User then opens the DXF in their CAD program, and saves it as an STL file for the 3D printer.

No doubt we can establish which CAD programs produce good conversion results. For example TurboCAD Deluxe appears to work, although we don't know that for sure until an actual 3D print has been made. That currently costs £70 for the 2017 version:

 http://lp.avanquest.com/UK/FULL/2018/SUMMERSALE_0618/lp.cfm?rs2=AQ_UK_MERCH_LAY_SUMMERSALE_0618

but earlier versions are often available at much lower prices and special offers.

However, I've been banging on about printed track for quite a while now and I've made all my ideas and experience very public both here and on RMweb. I was hoping others might have grabbed the baton and started running with it by now. As far as I know, nobody has.

I don't want to discourage you from incorporating more into Templot, but I don't want to see you put a lot of energy into something that's not going to go anywhere. Anyone with a little CAD expertise can easily import a 2D turnout DXF from Templot today and add chairs etc to make a 3D model for printing. Personally I think you should hold-off doing anything until there is some obvious demand.

Demand doesn't make any difference to me, Templot is free to use and I enjoy coding. But I do like to feel that what I'm doing would be useful to someone somewhere.

I think most folks are simply waiting to see finished track created with 3D printing. Or better still, a video showing models running over it on a layout.

It is also very obvious from the web stats that the new Peco track has satisfied a good chunk of the potential user base -- the modellers who find Templot and trackbuilding either a black art or just too much trouble. Which is one reason I feel I can now spend a bit more time on coding and a bit less on support.

cheers,

Martin.

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566th message | this message only posted: 9 Jul 2018 00:14
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from:
Andrew Barrowman
USA

 

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Hi Martin,

If you're up for it I'll do what I can to help. There might be a free CAD program that will import DXF and output STL. I've not had any luck finding one so far but I would not call it an exhaustive search.

I thought Fusion360 (there is a free version) might do it, but it blew-up when I tried it. Might be worth another shot.

Obviously you'll need some method of sectioning the model into printable chunks, but that shouldn't be a major problem.

BTW, re. the conductive rail, I was wondering if a modified rail section might also work. It would be a 'T' section - bullhead and web but without the foot. The foot would be part of the print. Might be easier to manufacture and it would have less resistance than a cap.

Cheers!
Andy
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567th message | this message only posted: 9 Jul 2018 05:34
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Andrew Barrowman
USA

 

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Hi Martin,

There seem to be any number of DXF to STL converters. Some are downloads and some are online. Because I've only ever used DXF to import into CAD I've had no reason to try any of them.

Andy
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568th message | this message only posted: 9 Jul 2018 07:44
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from:
Hayfield
United Kingdom

 

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Stephen Freeman wrote: Unfortunately all of them seem to be malformed on mine. Down to Shapeways probably.I cannot really say on first sight they look malformed, but being transparent its hard to see them clearly, 
Here are a couple of photos and the key definition seems to be missing. The keys with rail threaded on are the E type along with an Exactoscale chair for comparison. As Stephen has reported they seem not to have been fully printed certainly on the key side, but possibly on both sides, Andy please confirm

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569th message | this message only posted: 9 Jul 2018 18:11
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from:
Andrew Barrowman
USA

 

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Hayfield wrote: Stephen Freeman wrote: Unfortunately all of them seem to be malformed on mine. Down to Shapeways probably.I cannot really say on first sight they look malformed, but being transparent its hard to see them clearly, 
Here are a couple of photos and the key definition seems to be missing. The keys with rail threaded on are the E type along with an Exactoscale chair for comparison. As Stephen has reported they seem not to have been fully printed certainly on the key side, but possibly on both sides, Andy please confirm
Hi John,

It's very difficult to tell without paint but it looks like they might not be quite right.

Here are a couple of shots of mine for comparison.





They definitely were not printed on the same printer. Yours were printed in Holland, mine in the US.

(Sorry the paint has been chipped off a bit on mine. Too much handling.)

Best,
Andy

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570th message | this message only posted: 9 Jul 2018 21:49
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Andrew Barrowman
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Hi John,

I took another look and your chairs seem to be distinctly "dog eared". The tops of the chairs are rounded far more than they should be. They don't look much like Shapeway's own rendering.

I suggest you get your money back. You can use my pix if they give you any aggravation.

Andy
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571st message | this message only posted: 15 Jul 2018 07:41
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from:
Hayfield
United Kingdom

 

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Andy

I emailed them yesterday, outside the 10 days but the print is definitely faulty, will wait and see what they come up with
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572nd message | this message only posted: 15 Jul 2018 08:25
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from:
Stephen Freeman
Sandbach, United Kingdom



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The problem with mine was different, couldn't get any rail in the foot was semi-solid, split in half will be usable. Think I might have to get my own printer to go forward on this.
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573rd message | this message only posted: 15 Jul 2018 11:27
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Hayfield
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3 out of the 6 sets of chairs would accept C&L HiNi but all were very stiff, but as you can see all were deformed at the top
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574th message | this message only posted: 15 Jul 2018 16:24
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Andrew Barrowman
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Hayfield wrote: 3 out of the 6 sets of chairs would accept C&L HiNi but all were very stiff, but as you can see all were deformed at the topHi John,

That would be D, E and F.

They could be tight because the rail's foot is a little too wide for the chairs and/or the foot is a little too tall for the chairs. I think the web gap is OK.

You could take a file to a piece of scrap rail until you get a good fit. Measure the rail before and after so we know how much you took off.

Cheers!
Andy

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575th message | this message only posted: 15 Jul 2018 19:32
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Hayfield
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I am not too good at measuring, but earlier thought it was the height of the foot rather than the width, I have rubbed the bottom of the rail with some emery paper, made a slight difference, think its both the height and width which is an issue

John
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576th message | this message only posted: 15 Jul 2018 20:17
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Rob Manchester
Manchester



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John,
Try putting a small length of rail in the freezer overnight. Try the chairs tomorrow when the rail has shrunk a little :D It may give a go/no-go on some more of the chairs on the panel.

Rob


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Andrew Barrowman
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Try filing down a chair to remove all the jaw overhang. If the rail is still a tight fit between what's left of the jaws the gap isn't wide enough. It will be easier if you glue the chair on to a piece of laminate or something first.
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Phil O
Plymouth, United Kingdom



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I usually use a blunt scalpel blade, pushed into the jaws of the chairs and this seems to ease the opening enough to insert the rail.

Phil.
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579th message | this message only posted: 16 Jul 2018 19:48
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Martin Wynne
West Of The Severn, United Kingdom



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Please do not send requests for help direct to me via email or PM.

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Martin Wynne wrote:What I'm aiming for, at least for ordinary turnouts and diamonds, is that the user enters details such as prototype (REA, GWR, NER pre-group, etc.) in Templot, which then adds the appropriate chairs into the DXF file. Optionally omitting the rail if the intent is a base into which metal rail can be threaded.

Initially this is likely to be REA or GWR chairs only, because the prototype data is clear-cut and available. For other prototypes the user would need to enter their own custom chair data.
Hi Andy,

I have started a separate topic for this, and made a bit of progress:

  http://85a.co.uk/forum/view_topic.php?id=3307&forum_id=1

What I still don't know for sure is whether STL files created this way are capable of being 3D printed, so I will be sending a trial print to Shapeways before I go much further.

cheers,

Martin.

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Andrew Barrowman
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Martin Wynne wrote: Martin Wynne wrote:What I'm aiming for, at least for ordinary turnouts and diamonds, is that the user enters details such as prototype (REA, GWR, NER pre-group, etc.) in Templot, which then adds the appropriate chairs into the DXF file. Optionally omitting the rail if the intent is a base into which metal rail can be threaded.

Initially this is likely to be REA or GWR chairs only, because the prototype data is clear-cut and available. For other prototypes the user would need to enter their own custom chair data.
Hi Andy,

I have started a separate topic for this, and made a bit of progress:

  http://85a.co.uk/forum/view_topic.php?id=3307&forum_id=1

What I still don't know for sure is whether STL files created this way are capable of being 3D printed, so I will be sending a trial print to Shapeways before I go much further.

cheers,

Martin.
Hi Martin,

I'm pretty sure they will print, but it's not a bad idea to do a test. You could also post the STL and I'll make a test print here. The process is the same, but a lot less expensive :)

You can also download Meshlab and see what it makes of your STL model. If it can generate a convincing rendering, it should print anywhere. There might be some minor holes in your STL surface model, but current slicer tools and Shapeways tools are pretty good at repairing them.

Cheers!
Andy



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581st message | this message only posted: 17 Jul 2018 00:22
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Andrew Barrowman
USA

 

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Martin Wynne wrote: Martin Wynne wrote:What I'm aiming for, at least for ordinary turnouts and diamonds, is that the user enters details such as prototype (REA, GWR, NER pre-group, etc.) in Templot, which then adds the appropriate chairs into the DXF file. Optionally omitting the rail if the intent is a base into which metal rail can be threaded.

Initially this is likely to be REA or GWR chairs only, because the prototype data is clear-cut and available. For other prototypes the user would need to enter their own custom chair data.
Hi Andy,

I have started a separate topic for this, and made a bit of progress:

  http://85a.co.uk/forum/view_topic.php?id=3307&forum_id=1

What I still don't know for sure is whether STL files created this way are capable of being 3D printed, so I will be sending a trial print to Shapeways before I go much further.

cheers,

Martin.
Hi Martin,

I don't know if it's possible to do this or not, but I think it it would be great if Templot can include some sort of identifier (block?) for each type of chair in a DXF file. That would allow users to import the Templot model into a CAD program and substitute their own chair models for the chairs designated in Templot.

This might be a good approach for a few reasons:

Scale changes the 3D models. A chair model that works well in 1:100 scale will not work well in 1:10 scale, etc.

What rail section are the chairs designed to accept? Will Templot accommodate all of them, in every possible gauge/scale?

Different prototypes; abstract designations would allow users to substitute chairs (like those with inside keys for example) and even those for FLAT BOTTOM RAIL (wash my mouth out with soap and water).

Hope you get my drift. If you don't allow chair substitution you are going to limit Templot 3D to a small subset of prototypes and scales. Personally, I think that would not be good. The real magic of Templot is the geometry it produces. How the rails are attached to the timbers is of secondary importance.

Just my two cents.

Andy


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Martin Wynne
West Of The Severn, United Kingdom



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Andrew Barrowman wrote:Hope you get my drift. If you don't allow chair substitution you are going to limit Templot 3D to a small subset of prototypes and scales. Personally, I think that would not be good. The real magic of Templot is the geometry it produces. How the rails are attached to the timbers is of secondary importance.Hi Andy,

The plan is that all the chair dimensions can be set in Templot, within reason. So if you want them with a wider jaw, or a longer key, or different number of chair screws, or whatever, it can be created as custom settings. The two pre-sets available will be for REA and GWR designs. For the crossing chairs they will automatically adjust for a wider model flangeway where needed. The chair positions will adjust for square-on or equalized timbering styles.

For flat-bottom baseplates, the chair dimensions can be set up accordingly. Possibly one design will be available as a pre-set (there is a multitude of flat-bottom designs).

The chairs will be in "isometric" style based on lines, angles, dimensions. That's not the same as laser scanning a real chair casting with all its rounded curves and fillets. The difference will barely notice in small scale models within the limits of the 3D printing process.

For the rail section, it will be possible to enter all the significant dimensions. In addition the key fit and side taper will be adjustable for the best fit to the model rail.

The one issue which I'm uncertain about is rail inclination. Currently Templot supports this, and you can see the difference if you select the flat-bottom rails option. In plan view on the templates, the visible rail foot gets wider on the outside and narrower on the inside.

But it's not currently in the 3D DXF, and it does complicate matters massively beyond what seems reasonable. It also makes the physical building of small scale model pointwork extremely difficult. Bearing in mind that below Gauge 1 it is almost impossible to see, I'm minded to stick to vertical rails only (and suggest that modellers do the same).

As for a marker of some kind in the DXF to allow chairs to be added in CAD instead of generated by Templot, that will also be an option, although I'm not too clear what the marker should physically look like or how the required type of chair should be indicated? In the BOX file it's easy, but in the DXF it's a bit of a puzzle. What would the marker look like in the 3D print? Or is it only in the 2D DXF?

All that having been said, 3 things to bear in mind:

1. the code will be open source, so if anyone wants to modify it to work differently or add extra options, or implement a completely different chairing function, over to you.

2. the DXF files are in plain ASCII text, so they are very easy to edit. Either manually, or programmatically via a conversion utility program.

3. it has taken me 40 years to get Templot this far. It is very unlikely that I have another 40 years to spend on it. There is only so much I can do. :)

I'm starting with REA bullhead, vertical rails, plain track, turnouts, switches and V-crossings only. Then GWR ditto.

Chairing for the K-crossings and slips will have to wait. Likewise M1 chairs, bolted half-chairs, saddle chairs, joint chairs, and all the other specials, for tandems, etc.

cheers,

Martin.

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Martin Wynne wrote:
As for a marker of some kind in the DXF to allow chairs to be added in CAD instead of generated by Templot, that will also be an option, although I'm not too clear what the marker should physically look like or how the required type of chair should be indicated? In the BOX file it's easy, but in the DXF it's a bit of a puzzle. What would the marker look like in the 3D print? Or is it only in the 2D DXF?Hi Martin,

Sounds good, but also sounds like tons of work :)

Re. the marker, I think it need only be a two dimensional DXF block with a convenient name (S1a for example). If it's positioned and aligned relative to the rails, when the DXF is imported into CAD it should show up in the block menu under that name. Then it's simple to substitute a 3D chair block for it in CAD and every instance of the marker will immediately become a 3D chair.

At least that is what should happen with TurboCAD. I don't know much about any other CAD programs. Did we try to test this in the past, or is my memory playing tricks on me (again)?

cheers,

Andy

ps  It's not half hot here.

pps Another reason to skip the fillets. They add so many facets that the STL files become enormous and crash the slicer programs. Shapeways has file size limits too.

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Oh, I forgot to mention that the marker would need a block reference point that corresponds to the chair reference point. In my chair models I use the intersection of the bottom surface of the chair, chair center-line and gauge line (R.F. for reference face?)
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Andrew Barrowman wrote: Oh, I forgot to mention that the marker would need a block reference point that corresponds to the chair reference point. In my chair models I use the intersection of the bottom surface of the chair, chair center-line and gauge line (R.F. for reference face?)Hi Andy,

It also needs a reference angle for the chair to keep it square to the rail, and an indication of which way round on the rail. The latter could be done by adding 180 degrees to the angle, but not if the key drive direction offset is to be maintained.

(I'm intending that although the key drive offset can be specified, the key pad area will remain on the chair centre-line and in line with the inner chair jaw. Otherwise there is a risk that an offset key would cause the rail to twist in the chair. The end result may be that a significantly offset key would be longer that scale length.)

Bear in mind that the chair location and angle vary with the template's curving radius and its position on the grid within the track plan.

Then it's simple to substitute a 3D chair block for it in CAD and every instance of the marker will immediately become a 3D chair.Yes. But the Templot chairs and the chair markers need to be on different layers, so that one or other layer can be excluded from the exported DXF file.

At present the Templot chairs do not use blocks, each one is drawn individually. Likewise everything else in the file -- there are no blocks in the exported DXFs, as you probably noticed. I'm minded to keep it that way, although it may need to change if the file size becomes unreasonably large.

cheers,

Martin.

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Martin Wynne wrote:the Templot chairs and the chair markers need to be on different layers, so that one or other layer can be excluded from the exported DXF file.Here you go:



If you switch both layers on at the same time, Templot will suggest that you don't.

Martin.

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Hi Martin,

This is the orientation I use at the reference point. I snap the chair to the rail/timber intersection then grab the X handle and snap it to the rail to rotate and align it.



The features on this version are deliberately accentuated to find out how they will look in Shapeways "versatile plastic". It's nylon and a lot more robust than the hi-def resin but the resolution is not as good. If it looks good enough I'll make a complete turnout base and put it on Shapeways.

Here's the rendering.



cheers,
Andy

PS Now all the way down to 34C from a high of 37C, but still too hot to walk the dogs.

PPS - I discovered W10 includes a "Snipping Tool". Very handy for taking screen-shots. This is probably not news to many people. I'm usually a bit slow on the uptake :)

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Andrew Barrowman wrote: This is the orientation I use at the reference point. I snap the chair to the rail/timber intersection then grab the X handle and snap it to the rail to rotate and align it.

(Now all the way down to 34C from a high of 37C, but still too hot to walk the dogs.)
Hi Andy,

But that will take forever on a full track plan?

I thought you wanted to do a global replace in one go of the reference markers with your chairs as replacement blocks? That requires the markers to be blocks in the first place.

Did we try to test this in the past, or is my memory playing tricks on me (again)?We talked about it. I don't think we did anything about it. I'm just getting round to it now -- I don't work as fast as you. :)

It has been too hot here for walking. Not as hot as you, but still too hot for me. But we are now having a few cooler days before it is forecast to get hot again.

cheers,

Martin.

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Martin Wynne wrote: Andrew Barrowman wrote: This is the orientation I use at the reference point. I snap the chair to the rail/timber intersection then grab the X handle and snap it to the rail to rotate and align it.

(Now all the way down to 34C from a high of 37C, but still too hot to walk the dogs.)
Hi Andy,

But that will take forever on a full track plan?

I thought you wanted to do a global replace in one go of the reference markers with your chairs as replacement blocks? That requires the markers to be blocks in the first place.

Did we try to test this in the past, or is my memory playing tricks on me (again)?We talked about it. I don't think we did anything about it. I'm just getting round to it now -- I don't work as fast as you. :)

It has been too hot here for walking. Not as hot as you, but still too hot for me. But we are now having a few cooler days before it is forecast to get hot again.

cheers,

Martin.
Hi Martin,

I managed to confuse the issue with too much information :) The real information was the orientation of the axes.

Yes, if the markers are blocks that are positioned and oriented on the timbers I can do a global substitution with my blocks. No manual intervention required.

(I was describing how I currently position blocks on a template.)

Cheers,
Andy

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And here's the almost complete crossing.



What's interesting about this one (to me at least :) ) is that the crossing chairs were constructed from a small number of sub-components. The same set of sub-components can be used to construct the chairs for a large range of crossing angles very quickly. The check rail chairs are saved blocks that can be reused as is. I should probably save the crossing chairs as blocks for re-use too, but I haven't quite figured out a good way to organize the block library.

There should be be a slab and bracket there too but I'll come back and fix that if the first print is satisfactory.

The five sub-components are:
Base with two screws and a buttress.
Rotated jaw with seat, and it's mirror image
Rotated jaw with seat for wing rails, and its mirror image

I've added some construction lines to help position the chairs. There's a center-line through the crossing with lines perpendicular to it to align the chair bases. The jaws with seats are aligned with the rail rather than the base.

This means that the bases are properly aligned but, depending on the crossing angle, the body of the jaws can be rotated slightly from where they should really be, but with 3D printing at small scales it will be almost impossible to detect.

Again in plan view.




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Hi Martin,

If you can post a DXF or a BOX with a couple of chair markers embedded as 2D blocks I'll try to substitute them. It's either going to work, or it won't. There is no point in you expending a lot of energy on this if it doesn't simply work.

Andy

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Andrew Barrowman wrote: If you can post a DFX or a BOX with a couple of chair markers embedded as 2D blocks I'll try to substitute them. It's either going to work, or it won't. There is no point in you expending a lot of energy on this if it doesn't simply work.Hi Andy,

Yes, I want to get to that. At present I'm working on generating the bullhead rail section. :)

Does it matter if the rail section and the chairs are hollow? Or does the 3D printing require them to be injected with some sort of DXF filler? I have no idea how to do that. How does it work in the STL?

cheers,

Martin.

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Martin Wynne wrote:Hi Andy,

Yes, I want to get to that. At present I'm working on generating the bullhead rail section. :)

Does it matter if the rail section and the chairs are hollow? Or does the 3D printing require them to be injected with some sort of DXF filler? I have no idea how to do that. How does it work in the STL?

cheers,

Martin.
Hi Martin,

I'm no expert in these matters and DXF is something of a mystery to me, but from what I have gathered STL only defines a surface. Some programs will reject a STL model because it is not "watertight", which means (I think) that there are some gaps in the surface. Meshlab is a pretty good tool for identifying and repairing any gaps.

So, as far as I know, no filler is required. STL only defines a surface (I think, maybe).

Andy

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Hi Andy,

Some progress, but still a long way to go.

As you can see, the rail is hollow,



because it's intended to connect to the next template, so the rail end is never visible.

I have made no attempt to do the top corner radius on the rail head or the web fillet radii, life is just too short and it would massively increase the file size. See later.

Where the rail end is visible on check and wing rails I have added end caps (as on the printed templates):



But the rail is still hollow.

Of course for most 3D printing the rails would be omitted, so being hollow is irrelevant. However the chairs and timbers are also hollow, and I have no idea (yet) how that affects printing. Nor do I have the faintest idea how to fill them in if it does turn out to be needed for the printer.

Notice also that the crossing chairs are still on the to-do list. :)

For the chairs, I have a GWR 2-bolt chair on the table by me to look at while working on the computer. The edge thickness of REA chairs is only 1/4", which scales to only about 3 thou in 4mm/ft scale and may get lost in the printing. GWR chairs have a thicker edge thickness of 3/8" (to allow for their serrated base), so I have adopted that dimension for the first trials.

But that is still very thin (5 thou), so I have invented a thicker inner area which I have called the "plinth" rectangle, on which to stand the chair jaws. Hopefully this should look more like the rounded profile of the chair casting after printing. It's thickness can be adjusted by trial and error to get the best effect. All this will be barely noticeable in 4mm scale, but may be visible in the larger scales.

The blue objects are your DXF block markers:





They are actually the rail seats. The recess will accept the inner jaw. The projection on the outer side represents the seat area below the key (which supports the rail when it is first dropped into the chairs). The outer jaw butts against the projection.

The seat (and hence the DXF block reference) is longer under the wider L1 bridge chairs:



That's as far as I've got. The next job is to try building the jaws, and fitting the keys.

I will post you a DXF file shortly so that you can test replacing the block markers with your own chairs.

cheers,

Martin.

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Hi Andy,

Here is a DXF file for you to experiment on.





A bog-standard Left-Hand B-6, and a RH A-4.5 with negative curving and equalized timbering. EM gauge.

So far there are only 4 blocks defined in the file:

S1L and S1R are identical mirror-image blocks, for ordinary REA S1 chairs. L and R versions allow the replacement blocks to have keys driven in opposite directions:



L1L and L1R are ditto for L1 bridge chairs. These are longer blocks, to match the wider L1 chairs.

The switch chairs are temporarily set to S1 for the stock rails. The switch rails are left empty for now.

The datum X,Y location is the intersection of the centre-line of the chair with the rail gauge-face.

Z=0 is on the rail top (so all Z dimensions are negative). The seat level is 1.75" scale above the timbers.

Here is the DXF file (in inches) without the rails or chair bases. TurboCAD seems to be happier working in inches.

Here is a bit of the DXF file -- search for INSERT entities:

  0
INSERT
  2
S1L
  8
CHMARKER
 10
9.3569
 20
5.2197
 30
0.0000
 50
8.089


2 is the name of the inserted block, 8 is the layer name it is on, 10,20,30 is X,Y,Z for the insertion point, 50 is the rotation angle (in degrees, positive anti-clockwise from 3 o'clock).

cheers,

Martin.

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And here is the same thing as an STL file, saved from TurboCAD.

Martin.

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I couldn't live with the sharp corners on the rail top, although it makes no difference to the chairs. :)

So I have added the proper 1/2" top corner radius:





Martin.

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Amazing just how much difference it makes to the overall appearance. Wow!
Regards
Tony.

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Thanks Martin. Off to the coast for a few days. I'll investigate when I get back.

Andy
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Martin Wynne wrote:...Templot then produces the DXF export file including all the chairs (which is likely to be a massive file -- if it's a complete track plan, rather than a single turnout, the file will be enormous.)

User then opens the DXF in their CAD program, and saves it as an STL file for the 3D printer.

No doubt we can establish which CAD programs produce good conversion results. For example TurboCAD Deluxe appears to work, although we don't know that for sure until an actual 3D print has been made. That currently costs £70 £40 for the 2017 version:

 http://lp.avanquest.com/UK/FULL/2018/SUMMERSALE_0618/lp.cfm?rs2=AQ_UK_MERCH_LAY_SUMMERSALE_0618


But I've spent some time trying to find a free 3D CAD program which will import the 3D DXF files from Templot. There are lots of free 3D drawing programs, but typically they don't import DXF files, or only in the paid-for versions.

However, I have now found 3D Crafter:



which by happy coincidence turns out to be intended mainly for railway simulation applications.

It's from Amabilis Software:

  http://amabilis.com/

which appears to be a one-man business run by "Richard" from a log cabin in British Columbia, Canada, when he feels in the mood. I think I know Richard. :)

Here's the download:

 http://amabilis.com/downloads/

It's probably best to get the normal Windows7+ installer file.

The good news is that it will import Templot's DXF files (provided they contain only the 3D stuff and no 2D data). I can easily provide an option for that:



The bad news is that it won't export STL files directly unless you buy the $40 licence. However the free version will export 3DS files, and there are plenty of free programs which will convert 3DS to STL, such as MeshLab.

You don't need to know anything about 3D or CAD or understand what you are seeing. Just import the DXF file from Templot and then export it again as a 3DS file. Then repeat the process in MeshLab to STL for 3D printing:

 http://www.meshlab.net/

(File > Import Mesh...  / Export Mesh...)

The STL files can be viewed in Paint 3D in Windows10.

Martin.

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