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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've discovered a unusual tool for planing layouts or making changes to existing layouts - an RC helicopter!

We have all spent many hours in our yard with a string, tape measure, and stakes/flags trying to map out the biggest curves possible. Some of us have even tried creating CAD models - but creating an accurate digital model of your yard is a challenge - until now. By using an RC helicopter with an attached camera it is quite easy to take high resolution overhead photographs of your target area. You can then import these images into a drawing program (like VISIO) and scale the drawing by referencing an object in the drawing of known dimensions. Presto! You now have your accurate "CAD model" of your layout area.


As a case study, here is my holiday layout. The left hand portion of the layout has been problematic for 2 reasons - it makes access to my neighbors backyard tight, and my Berkshire derails the pilot truck on the curves. In the drawing, the black circles are 9' radius - plenty for the Berk, and show a routing that resolves both these issues. It will require, as you can see, relocating a bush, but I'm willing to do so.

Click for photo

BTW - the red circles on the right verify the existing permanent track is 7.1' radius for the outer loop (which should be fine for the Berk). The black circle on the right shows how a 9' radius could be constructed using some cross overs and minor track changes (something I hope to avoid). In case your are wondering, the drawing was scaled using the rectangular platform along the double track. The platform is 2' x 5'.


For anyone near San Jose, I would be more than happy to come out with my RC heli and photo equipment to take pictures of your layout. Winter is an ideal time for this as most of the leaves are gone from the trees.

Cheers,

Mark
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Well, I made the changes today. After a bit more time with Visio I realized I could cut out about 1' of track and relieve the curve to a 7.5' radius:

Click for photo
[/b][/b]
The change I made causes the track to follow the green arc (7.5' radius). Took me less than 2 hours, and that included stopping for lunch and running a train. The Aster Berkshire now navigates the entire loop without issue! I am thrilled!
 

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Ah how sweet it is to have all this technology around. Never ceases to amaze me as to what folks come up with. Really neat Idea.Later RJD
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Hey Dwight,

already made the change to follow the green line (did it on Thursday). Ran the Berk on Friday and managed several laps without derailing the front truck. It still occasionally pops off, so there is some more fiddling to do. Joel and I are going to fly the Heli on Saturday (weather permitting) to compare the changes and make an accurate measurement of the new radius.
 

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Posted By Mark Scrivener on 12/18/2008 2:23 AM
I've discovered a unusual tool for planing layouts or making changes to existing layouts - an RC helicopter!

We have all spent many hours in our yard with a string, tape measure, and stakes/flags trying to map out the biggest curves possible. Some of us have even tried creating CAD models - but creating an accurate digital model of your yard is a challenge - until now. By using an RC helicopter with an attached camera it is quite easy to take high resolution overhead photographs of your target area. You can then import these images into a drawing program (like VISIO) and scale the drawing by referencing an object in the drawing of known dimensions. Presto! You now have your accurate "CAD model" of your layout area.


As a case study, here is my holiday layout. The left hand portion of the layout has been problematic for 2 reasons - it makes access to my neighbors backyard tight, and my Berkshire derails the pilot truck on the curves. In the drawing, the black circles are 9' radius - plenty for the Berk, and show a routing that resolves both these issues. It will require, as you can see, relocating a bush, but I'm willing to do so.

Click for photo

BTW - the red circles on the right verify the existing permanent track is 7.1' radius for the outer loop (which should be fine for the Berk). The black circle on the right shows how a 9' radius could be constructed using some cross overs and minor track changes (something I hope to avoid). In case your are wondering, the drawing was scaled using the rectangular platform along the double track. The platform is 2' x 5'.


For anyone near San Jose, I would be more than happy to come out with my RC heli and photo equipment to take pictures of your layout. Winter is an ideal time for this as most of the leaves are gone from the trees.

Cheers,

Mark





Mark:
Ok, so I read the title of your thread and I think Hey I'm trying to plan a layout ...


Then I read, "... (planning a layout using) an RC helicopter," and I thought to myself, self... That would be pretty difficult to control a helicopter to trace out the track outline of a layout while flying the helicopter flying. Let alone mentally keep track of the helo's path as you tried paths of various curves, straights, etc.

Taking a photo via a helo never occurred to me... until I read just a couple of sentences more of your post. Then suddenly,
OOOHHHHH ...
I get it now !


Just goes to show, "...a wasted mind is a terrible thing to watch..."



I've used AutoCAD for years to plan "my" layout - which so far has never been built. But I've got some terrific designs (in my own mind). But this coming Spring may be different and I may just get one built.


Thanks for the laugh you gave me at myself.


Chris
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Hey Chris,

Great to hear from you, and thank you for the laugh! Say, let me know if you ever break ground on that layout and I'll come up with the Heli to take some pictures!

Happy New Year!
Mark
 

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Great idea... but not for me... the only thing that I ever got a picture of with my Heli was... hmm... let's see... great shot of the moon... some horizon and sky pictures... Dirt... branches (various)... body and frame parts of said Heli... and of course the occasional shots of me running (that is funny in and of itself) toward the inevitable crash site. I do far better with planes. I sold the Heli because of the price of consumables... er... blades... he he...

Nice idea though... when ya comin' over?
 
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