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Any ideas for a every-room-micro-train? Railgun-railsystem? Answered


my girlfriend and I moved into a new appartment.
We allways had this idea of a tiny train that will drive from room to room, to deliver notes or just for the fun of it.

After I looked at the miniature model trains (z track) I decided that it both would still require larger holes to be drilled into the walls and a meter of rails costs about 20-25 euros- which would be horrible expensive for a long track.

Now I had the idea of using a railgun system and build my first one.
(Two strips of aluminum-tinfoil +-9V, a nail with two strong earth magnets on each tinfoil-track)
It worked even though I used strong magnets without goldplating and a rough wood plate where I simply "gluegunned" the strips to. It halted at some bumps but still it was amazing how little work this involved.

I now think about using a smaller "railgun"-system to power a tiny train-device.

Any thoughts if this could work out?
I was hoping if I made the curves wide that the angle would not stop the cart.

(pic attached also available at http://www.nottoxic.com/wapcc/ae/aqua/railgunrails001.png )


try an air suspension rail. i used to work with one in a phisics lab.

If I understand it right, the cart would hover completely? The power supply problem would cause this method to be a no-go, though I like the idea :-)

Does it has to be a train? Seeing the post, it reminds me of an episode of Lost, where message capsules were exchanged between stations through compressed-air tubes. I think that would be a lot cheaper/easier to build. A few suggestions: In a home setup, maybe you can use rubber hose as the tube, the reinforced-with-fibre type (the type used as washing mashine water inlet hose). They are cheap, strong, and flexible enough to negotiate obstacles that you may have along the path between the rooms. Costs around MYR2.50 a meter ( around USD0.74), not sure how much would it costs in Germany though. The message capsule itself should be short, with some extra room against the tube wall. Again, so that it can negotiate bends in the tube. Build a compressed-air gun (there are some good ones here in instructables) for both ends of the tube, pump it up, and shoot the message capsule down the tube to the other end/room. You can scrap the rubber hose idea and use the bigger / slightly flexible PVC pipe (black in color). Can accomodate larger message capsule. I'm too lazy to build one of my own, If you anyone happen to build one of these, please share with us the instructable..please :)

Well. the idea is mostly to have a small train drive arround, since for actual messanging we have wlan and we can walk/yell ;-) Plus, it would have to be silent, but I guess I could make a switch to activate the aircompression.

A hackable toy train that's small is the XTS series from Basic Fun XTS. About the size of an "N" scale train, the locomotive is large enough to take a single AAA battery to power the pager motor built in, that uses a very small plastic worm gear system to power the wheels. So this is an internally powered train. They have a whole series of expansions and track layouts which you can ignore - these trains run on standard nickel silver N scale track. That track is a lot cheaper than the Z scale stuff. The locomotives for Z scale are at around $110US to start as well. Now Z is a bit smaller than N, (220:1 ratio IIRC to an N ratio of 160:1) so it might be too big. I always look at cheap hackable toys for something like this - the economy of scale really does kick in. I've been wanting to build a vertically oriented train in N scale with subway cars - the XTS subway locomotive would cost me $14 if I bought it new at Amazon

Its a good idea, I will look into hacking some toys for this, though I havent found much to work from in germany yet.

much too much installation for too less effort i think. kinda crazy. but why not!? what about a simple letter shoot / pneumatic delivery? or what about a canal made of eaves gutter, filled with water, powered by a few small pumps with some small ships carrying you messages and stuff? also the water will help to climate your rooms, increase humidity and your cat / dog will love the floating water. uhm ... sorry, i'm a bit tired out, but -hey- cool idea, i think i'll build the canal system one day.

Yeah, I had all sorts of ideas too, also the watter... but it will eventually grow algue, mold and smell funny- and changing it all the time is not an option ;-) I thought the railgun idea would be best because of the upsides, as it requires no mechanical motor, only two rails and thats it. pneumatic is cool :-) But still, I dont know how to build a simple system that will make no noise and is easily build. Plus a train could be picked up at any station. Anyway, I might expirement with a pipe anyhow. This could be an interesting approach, thank you! I wonder how a magnetic ball will react when there is a half-pipe sort of thing with two contacts at the bottom? Unfortunaly I do not have one here.

We would just drill them. Nothing some stuff from the hardware store can't fix when we move out ;-) Yes, I thought about building tracks, but the existing trains, even if I bought the smallest z track thing, it would still require quite large holes. So I started to think about a all-homebuild solution. I dont think this would be too complicated if it worked, since the tracks are just some non-magnetic wires that have a support-construct every few meters. Copying some model trains tracks will probably require more acurate work I believe? Have you ever build any tracks? If we'dd use some larger train I believe I could manage to copy tracks, but otherwise I am affraid my big fingers will build something that stops the train rather efficiently every other meter ;-)

Thank you for the good ideas Andy! I have thought about a non-metalic track, but the problem would be the power supply, since the train would need to recharge and be bigger/heavier with a small lipo batterypack. I also thought of the gigantic-wire-loop problem today, and because I would need to supply power to the rails further away from the first powersupply anyway, I could maybee disconect the wires then a small gap so there will also be no supplydifference due to different ac/dc adapters. The drilling is indeed a problem and a risk; Since drilling holes for nails and such is allowed though, and I am aiming for a very small system, I think structural difficulties will (hopefully) not be a problem, and the landlord... well... Its a larger building and they hardly ever come to inspect or take a look at something even IF you ask them to do so ;-) I bought some coper wire and smaller magnets today to see if this could work at all. Thanks for all the ideas & thoughts, I'll post as soon as I got some tests done if the idea will work at all :-)

OK, I have bought two smaller magnets, but my setup will barely adapt to an actual rail. On tinfoil, it works fine, but tinfoil will sag to much and I have no idea how to build something that will keep the track. Suprisingly the tiniest magnets I got (2 mm diameter, 4mm lengtgh, all magnets I could get are Ni-Coated) really seem to develop speed. Its probably because of the good weight/magnetic field ratio. The downside is- Its hard to build an axis. All bolts I have are to big, so I tried using a piece of a paperclip and also a nail. I tried to clamp, saw and smoothen them, no luck. The axis allways jiggles when the thing rolls. Only the small magnet seem to like the ride on the 2.5mm wire. I am not sure if I'll even bother stripping some 10mm wire for the larger magnets, since straightening the coper wire is almost impossible, I even tried the electric-drill-to-straighten-it trick.

If you are going for simplicity and small size simply have an on board motor to pull it along the track. As for the tracks themselves you might want to consider using something non metallic, having little metal wires running everywhere is not good during a storm or if there is some faulty wiring somewhere. I would advise (thought I do not have experience; just some thoughts) a square wooden track and a train with a single powered wheel on top, and some runner wheels along the side… that would be the easiest from a construction standpoint. As for corners; have the train have multiple sections (articulate connections to the carriages as opposed to rigid connections) and enough space between the runner wheels to allow it to sit easily on the sharpest curve, the runner wheels will take care of the rest. As for manufacturing the track, I would do it in little (1 foot/half foot) sections held together with doweling, or something similar, the curve pieces would all be the same diameter curve so you could easily manufacture many at once with a saw and a vice or similar. Beware of drilling holes in walls, there are legal implications if you don’t get permission and you might put a hole in a main structural wall, of which the landlord will probably not be impressed, (and it may cause structural issues/problems in the building too). Hope this helps, Andy

and if your in an apartment check with the landlord to see if you can be drilling holles in your apartment they might not want little holes connecting every room pyro-

huh? thats complicated what i'd do is get one of those trains that runs on tracks buy one meter or so for stations if you have/want any and make your own tracks but dont listen to me im stoopid