A journal following the history, design, construction and operation of Bernard Kempinski's O Scale model railroad depicting the U. S. Military Railroad (USMRR) Aquia-Falmouth line in 1863, and other model railroad projects.
©Bernard Kempinski All text and images, except as noted, on this blog are copyrighted by the author and may not be used without permission.

March 22, 2022

New and New


Let me introduce you to my new granddaughter, Merritt Marie Willberger.  She was born on 12 March at 11PM in Birmingham, Alabama. She, mom, and dad are all doing well. We plan to visit them this week. 

Doing the laser cutter shuffle
In between pacing the floor waiting for Merritt to arrive, I took delivery of a new laser cutter. The new machine is a Epilog Fusion Edge with 50W of power. It is a much more advanced machine than the previous Epilog Zing. It has 20 percent more laser power, has better air assist to stop charring, autofocus, improved print driver software that can use both Corel Draw and Adobe Illustrator, wifi and camera optics for precise placement of the materials on the bed.  

Old Zing laser boxed up and going back to the manufacturer 
The old machine went back to the manufacturer via freight shipping. It took me a few days to get the new machine set up and the old one packed up and ready for freight pickup. 

 The new machine is just slightly larger than the old.

So far the first test cuts I have made have been excellent.

March 11, 2022

Testing iPhone 13 Pro Ultra Wide Lens

 I bought a new iPhone 13 Pro today to replace my battered iPhone 10. I had read a lot of great  things about the new iPhone 13 cameras so I thought I would take some test shots using the new ultra-wide lens. 


This is a basic shot using 5 exposures with photo stacking and the ultra wide lens. The resulting image has great depth of field. But there is an obvious barrel distortion in the image. Note how the track seems curve up and down as it crosses the bridge. I could not find a lens correction plug-in for this lens in Photoshop 2022 or Lightroom 2022.  I hope Adobe will offer one soon. Note that this image includes the built-in lens distortion correction that comes with the iPhone 13 as a user selectable setting. I tried fiddling with the liquify plug-in and the perspective tools in Photoshop to get rid of distortion, but didn't have good results. 

Here is a brief video of the same scene. This looks pretty good. The barrel distortion is not as obvious in this image, possibly because I moved a little back from the scene. 

iPhone 13 Pro Macro mode

The camera has many settings and modes. The macro feature is intriguing. It works mostly through software processing. 

I found that if the auto-macro option is selected, it is difficult to take a series of shots to focus stack. That is because the  lens switches the focal length as it jumps into macro mode. So the image cannot be aligned. However,  I was able to take the shot below by disabling that feature and manually selecting my focus points. 

I had to replace the sky in this image as the painted sky on the coved corner did not look right with such a wide angle shot. Still, I think it is an interesting shot. There will be several new images I can shoot with  this wide angle lens so close to the modeled ground, i.e. to get the worm's eye view.

This was the first ultra-wide angle shot I took. The focus stacking worked pretty well, but the contrast in the image was too much. This is the result even after I adjust the contrast way down.

March 10, 2022

Spun Casting

 Blair Mielnik visited the Aquia Line today to take possession of my spin caster set up. Since I got the 3D printer I haven't used the spin caster. It was taking up valuable garage space. Blair has plans to use it in casting narrow gauge cars and miniature soldiers. 

While he was here, he got a brief tour of the railroad. I was in the middle of adding the base scenery to Brooke. 

After he left I installed the foam and then covered it with some plaster impregnated gauze. Once that is dry tomorrow, I will paint the fascia and
the terrain.

I also used one of the warehouses from Aquia Landing to mock up the building that will go in the new space.  Hmm, perhaps two smaller two smaller buildings instead of one larger one might be better. The prototype image of Culpepper might provide some inspiration.

Mock up a a warehouse 

Prototype image of Culpepper during the ACW

The extension adds a fair amount of real estate to exploit

March 9, 2022

Attention to Orders

 Amby stopped by this morning to see if he could figure out why the telegraph system only works when all the stations are plugged in and turned on. He, Steve, and Seth think it is something to do with the ground not being at the proper voltage.  Before he worked on that I presented him with his official appointment as Chief Signal Officer of the USMRR Aquia Line. Amby, in true Hermann Haupt tradition, asked if he could refuse the appointment, but so far he hasn't declined it. He wasn't able to solve the problem, but at least it all works when plugged in. 

Cracked fascia at Brooke.

Meanwhile, I have been working on repairing the fascia by Brooke. It was damaged when the contractors were doing the  flood repairs and they jacked up the layout. 

Room for the telegraph 

I had extended the fascia in the area by the rock cut south of Brooke. That piece of fascia cracked along the seam and became loose when they jacked up the layout. Unfortunately, there was no easy way for me to access it from below to securely repair it. So I took this opportunity to extend the fascia about 3.5 inches. 

This achieves three objectives. First, it will allow me to fix the crack, second, creates a nice secure place to mount the telegraph station at Brooke, and third,  extends the scenery.

I plan to add a large foundry building between the tracks and the aisles. This will create a "urban canyon" for the tracks in Brooke.  I was inspired by the foundry in Fredericksburg that the USMRR used to repair rolling stock in 1862 and the iron works rolling mill on Thom Radice's layout.  The interior of the foundry will have full detail. I haven't decided if I will leave a wall open so one can see the detail, or to make it a fully enclosed building. 

The telegraph is resting where the new foundry building will go.

March 1, 2022

Telegraph System Update


Amby and I worked on the telegraph system today. He got the electronics sorted out using the modifications suggested by Steve Williams. The system is now working as designed, though there are still a few minor but perplexing things Amby noticed in the circuitry.

Meanwhile, I was installing the stations and building the dispatcher panel. The photo above shows the telegraph panel at Stoneman's Station. I also have Potomac Creek almost done. The telegraph stations at Brooke and Falmouth require that I do some repair and prep work on the fascia. The fascia at Brook was damaged when we jacked up the layout for flood repairs. My plan is to replace that section of fascia while also adding about 4 inches of scenery between the fascia and the track. That will allow me to add another big building at Brook between the aisle and the tracks. I am thinking of a foundry with a detailed interior.

I also got a fair amount of work done on the dispatcher's panel. See video below.  The reason for the door is to hide the LEDS that show which station is transmitting. The dispatcher doesn't need to look at them if he or she desires to remain more period-correct as there were no LEDs in the civil war. But the LEDs can aid in debugging the system and help a new dispatcher that is not familiar with the code.