Looking like something out of "The Jetsons", my new coffee-table layout provides for both end-to-end and continuous operation.
The trains reside in an annular space. The glass top is 545mm in diameter, and the central hole is 270mm in diameter. The layout is formed with standard sections of Märklin Z-scale track.
This is the track layout plan to help you figure out the actual arrangement. Track depicted without sleepers indicates that it is in a tunnel.
This photograph shows the wooden table "core" before staining or any sort of decorating. It has three angled legs holding the main, annular, base plate. Cutting the annulus took a custom jig holding the router.
This is me working on the layout in February 2014.
This shot shows most of the visible trackwork without the glass top in place. The ground station is shown to the right, and the upper or "alpine" station to the left. Visible down the hole is the small shelf that normally might house the controller. The lower shelf strengthens the legs and was fasioned out of the piece of wood cut from the middle of the main piece.
There are 3 curved points and 3 electric uncouplers. These and the locomotive are controlled from a box that plugs into the underside of the layout. It is powered by rechargeable batteries that are charged by plugging the control box into any handy power point.
You can see that the control box uses a set of old-style Märklin point-control push buttons for the switching and uncoupling. These have been mounted in a clear-fronted acryllic housing to expose the inner workings. There is a small PWM speed control, a battery, and a mains power supply to charge the battery based on a dimmable switchmode transformer intended for use with halogen lighting. These give you an isolated supply for only a handful of dollars. You can see the blue-coloured, mains-power IEC connector on the top of the box.
A DB9 connector with a rainbow ribbon cable connects the control box to a recessed
connector on the underside of the annular base plate.
Panoramic view of a train at the main station. The background photographs are ones I took on the Tongariro Crossing one fine day a few years ago.
View of the alpine (upper) station with people waiting around for the train, and enjoying the views.
This is a close picture of the main station on the ground loop.
Below are four examples of the Z-scale people I purchased directly from China for about US$2/100. The detail is nowhere as good as Preiser Z-People, but then neither is the price, and at 220:1 you don't see a lot in normal use. Can you tell the commercially-painted Preiser people from the home-painted sino-ayrian ones in this photo, even if the latter come from poor molds?
Here is a short video to show you what it looks like in operation:
And some wide angle views:
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