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The Randall Museum in San Francisco hosts a large HO-scale model model railroad. Created by the Golden Gate Model Railroad Club starting in 1961, the layout was donated to the Museum in 2015. Since then I have started automatizing trains running on the layout. I am also the model railroad maintainer. This blog describes various updates on the Randall project and I maintain a separate blog for all my electronics not directly related to Randall.

2022-06-15 - Lodi Camera for Train-Vision

Category Randall

I’m continuing trying alternate views for the cameras for the Train Vision Project. This time I’m still using the same good ol’ Edimax IC-3116W 720p cams I had around from 2015. They work well, and have the added benefit of having an ethernet plug so I can transfer the video over wired ethernet instead of saturating the limited wifi bandwidth.

This time I’m trying to change the Valley camera. In the initial project phase, I temporarily placed the camera by Fairfield, mostly because it was easy to access and we had a view of the automation trains -- which was an excellent tool to configure the Train Vision Project. Yet that was merely a placeholder. The real goal of the project is to provide a view of the layout that visitors cannot readily see from their public view area. One such area is the top of the mountain -- covered in the previous blog post -- and another such area is the Lodi town in the back.

Here’s one such attempt:

And viewed from the Vision laptop screen, this is the lower right quadrant:

Lodi is a bit of a tricky spot to place the camera. At first I wanted the camera from the other side. But right now the overhead light is broken over Lodi so the area looks really dark. And viewed from the other side, we mostly see the operators’ area along the wall, which is not very interesting -- or at least not what I want to focus on here.

With this view, we’ll see the operator trains coming from Sultan/Fairfield before they loop around, and in the foreground we have the B30 track out of the return tunnel. Since operators need around 15-20 minutes to do a loop around the layout, there will be activity here twice per loop, so that can provide an interesting view.

We have no activity from the automation on that view.

If I like this angle, I will tidy it up a bit. The camera is held in place with a piece of blue painters tape, and instead I’d securely mount it to the wooden benchwork. I also need to run the longer ethernet cable to reach that area and not rely on wifi.

Another option that I have not tried yet is to do an overhead view. It would be a tad more annoying to power the camera that way, but that’s not too big of a challenge. The actual challenge is where to mount the camera that does not involve drilling into the concrete wall/ceiling, and finding an angle that is not obscured by the operators who need to walk in the area.

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