Great Model Railway Challenge: TV shows

This week on the Great Model Railway Challenge, the Track-Laying Ninjas, Railway Video Division and Team Sci-Fi tried to out do each other by bringing to life a TV show.  There was drama a plenty!

Behind the Scenes Photos

Final Pictures

What did I learn?

An unusual theme can be a real boost for your layout, especially if it is an exhibition layout. Animations and lights do really help build a scene and I’ve been thinking about how I can use them on my layout.  Lights are easy and neon signs would fit right in.  You don’t have to overdo them or make them cartoonish but a little bit of movement goes a long way.

Watching how the teams sometimes struggle with their moving car systems, I’m really glad I sold my Faller car system because I couldn’t get it to work reliably. Selling it stopped me wasting any more time on it!

That leaves me with the following ideas that I will be hopefully putting on a layout soon:

  • moving dock cranes
  • working crossing gates
  • a puffing advertising board – very 50s and something I’ve been wanting to try for years
  • sound effects such as ambient noises, a port, city, factories… I have a few Fantasonics sound CDs and I created a bespoke sounds system on my layout but the laptop it was on has bitten the dust.  I need to resurrect it on my Mac.
  • a fusee (flare) on a grade crossing on my US layout
  • lights on buildings that go on and off in a random pattern
  • TVs in buildings which flicker and have that bluer light
  • Smoke coming out of chimneys

If you have any ideas that you’ve been inspired to do then do let me know in the comments.

No matter what your theme is though, animations are no substitute for great modelling and those trains do need to run flawlessly!

I know I can get carried away with an idea but I also need to always make sure the basics work.  My trackwork needs to be bulletproof!

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12 thoughts on “Great Model Railway Challenge: TV shows”

  1. must be difficult seeing the hope and the effort put in when there can only be one winner per heat


  2. Nice pictures Kathy.
    Looks to be a good deal getting all of that put on your layout.
    Good luck.


  3. Merg do a Pocket Money Project kit for randomly turning 10 LEDs on and off, and a recent Merg Journal described a stand alone sound player based on an Arduino and a cheap MP3 player module that plays files stored on a MicroSD memory card. I adapted this for use on our layout for Heat 3. It cost less than a tenner and saves tying up your laptop.

  4. Will not a 555 timer do random lights on and off?

    Been awhile since I have messed around with electronics.

    I know I have a built grade flasher , and some others, built back in the late 80’s early 90’s somewhere.

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