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Different as night and day

April 2015. The lighting of the layout has been replaced by LED strips from Digikeijs. The system comes with RGB and warm white LEDs. The colour of the light can be set to four moments of the day: day, evening, night and morning. The modules are controlled via regular DCC commands, like any accessory. A simple press on a button on the central unit - or your smart phone if you use that as a remote - is enough to start a smooth transition from one state to the other. The effect is overwhelming.

Not only the layout has been properly lit. Almost all buildings are now connected to Z1-16+ light decoders from Qdecoder. These decoders come with a pre-set day, evening, night and morning sequence for buildings. The layout LEDs and the buildings are switched together from the central unit. So, when you set it to night, the lights in the room dim to dark blue and the lights in the buildings come on.

One by one, more details are added to the layout. A tree house has appeared in a tall tree next to the guard's house. It has a rope ladder to get in. The entrance of the sand loading depot has been secured with a barrier. It has been made from brass and be opened by hand.

The loading area of Baarn has been outfitted with a small forklift. This classic piece of German machinery is a kit from Schnellenkamp. The colours were taken from a real Muli that was on sale on the internet. The car with the postal bags comes from the same source.

One of the last big jobs is the model of Baarn station, today Restaurant De Generaal. The walls are completed and the windows have been fitted. Additional details will be added to the walls once the inside of the building has been done.

The front of the annex is till missing a few details, but it is already taking shape. It is amazing how much detail you can add to simple materials like MDF and plywood with laser cutting. Construction continues on the interior. Hundreds of parts have been fabricated and are now ready to be assembled.

Autumn projects

October 2015. It may seem nothing much happened over the last few months and there is some truth in that thought. Buitenlust didn't get on as fast as I had hoped for because I lacked the time. But... that doesn't mean the project has come to a full stop. Baarn station has moved on quite a bit. The building now has a fully detailed interior. All rooms are lit and the basis of the roof is on the main building. The roof proved to be a real puzzle.

Behind the building you can see tests for the backdrop. The entire layout will get panoramic backgrounds, made from photos I took around Soest and Baarn during the summer. I have stitched and edited hundreds of photos to create a realistic view of the surroundings of the line. The first series of prints is scheduled to come off the digital printing press soon.

A lot of parts had to be created from scratch for the interior. For example, the fireplaces with the logo of the company that originally funded the line, the ULS. The urinal from laser cut plywood will find a place in the left wing of the station, together with more comfortable toilets and other details.

The top floor has been decorated with furniture and several of those I made myself. The beds for the bedrooms are just some of the homecooked items. The basis was cut from polystyrene and the bedcovers are made from hankerchiefs. Behind every window are curtains and all rooms have a unique wallpaper.

Peeking through one of the windows. The curtains are a few millimeters away from the windows and drop behind the windowsills. The plants are H0 models from Noch. The slightly vague wallpaper prints work with the detailed foreground to create a nice sense of depth. There is something else to discover in every room.

Each room is individually lit. That means a lot of wires. The lights will be controlled by a special lighting decoder from Qdecoder. The decoder turns the lights automatically on and off to mimic people living there. The basic construction of the chimneys has been completed; they will be finisehd together with the roof.

The segments for the wye have been disassembled, painted, updated and reassembled. One of the changes was fitting the wye with a new reversing loop module, which I created myself from an Aurduino and two IR detectors. This solutions is completely full-proof and doesn't require any special detection tracks or other changes to the track. It only needs two small IR detectors besides the track to work.

Another project: a Dutch reailway crossing in 1:43,5. You can't buy anything off the shelve like it, so I had to create all the bits from scratch. I drew the parts on the Mac in Adobe Illustrator and sent the drawings to PPD for etching. The barrier still needs a fence below it. Once that's done, I will focus on the mechanic that controls it all.

For years I had a Bachmann Brass J94 lingering around the layout with the intention of converting it into a Dutch steamer, a NS8800. I finally got around to it. Changing the locomotive meant disassembling all the typical British parts and replacing them with their Dutch counterparts. I also added a number of extra details to the model. One of these locomotives has survived and can be seen in action at the SSN depot in Rotterdam.

Layout with a view

January 2016. The big addition of the last few months: backdrops. Yes, finally. I took hundreds of photographs around Baarn and Soest. Using Photoshop, I stitched them all together into over 20 meters of backdrop print. The horizon of the layout closely resembles the horizon of the real railway line. The files were printed in fullcolour on 0.3 mm polypropylene with a flat finish. It costs a bit of time and cash, but the result is well worth it.

I had to take the entire layout apart to put the backdrops into place. It turned out to be an enourmous job, but it was also a great opportunity to finish a couple of details in places that were hard to reach. All together it took nearly three months to get it done. In the mean time the layout was spread out around the house. What a mess.

The view is astonishing. The backdrop adds a lot of depth to the entire layout. You find yourself standing in the middle of the landscape. There is a bit of reflection from the overhead lights when viewed under a low angle, making the backdrop appear bleached on photos. This effect is picked up more prominent by the camera's lense than it appears to the naked eye.

A lot of time went into adjusting the background to the foreground. Ditches and roads continue into the background wherever possible. Of course this didn't all work out in the first run, so several pieces were reprinted. I also matched the colours of the foreground and the background. You can hardly see where the model ends and the backdrop starts. That is pretty cool.

The overall impression of the station of Soest is almost magical. So mission accomplished. The other station at Baarn is under construction, but it will turn out fine too.

The background wraps around the entire room seemlessly. There is a horizon everywhere you look.

Here is a new project: the LocoBox. I set out to create a transportation box for locomotives and other rolling stock without any hinges and locks. At the same time you should still be able to lift it by the lid. The design worked out. The LocoBox is fully laser cut from 12 mm plywood. A few drops of glue is all it takes to assemble the box. Everybody can put it together.

The baseboard can be outfitted with tracks, so you can simply drive your trains into the LocoBox. You could even connect various LocoBoxes together to form a staging yard for a modular layout. When it is time to go home, simply attach the top and the sides.

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2015, 2016

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