Fast clock for running to a timetable

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minipix
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Fast clock for running to a timetable

Postby minipix » Wed Sep 18, 2019 4:53 pm

If, like me, you're in the glorious position of having a layout mostly complete, you may find yourself wanting to up your game when it comes to 'playing' with the railway. I've just recently started creating a few timetables, so I can run specific trains in specific directions at specific times. To enable me to do this on a small layout, it's useful to run to a clock that isn't real-time. And I've found an app that'll do that.

"Model Railroad Fast Clock" for Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/deta ... .fastclock

It's a pretty simple app, but what it allows you to do is display a digital clock that runs faster than normal, at a speed you choose. I set it up on an old mobile phone and propped it up somewhere visible, with the clock set to start at 9am and run at 4x speed, allowing me to get through an entire day's timetable in around two and a half hours - perfect for an evening of play time.

If that sounds like your thing, go ahead and download it! And if you know of an iOS version, feel free to recommend it.
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Re: Fast clock for running to a timetable

Postby footplat47 » Wed Sep 18, 2019 5:08 pm

Whats wrong with running a time table from a normal clock. Example, instead using hours call every 10 minutes an hour so a train every 2 minutes would give you 5 trains every 10 minutes calling that an hour. And time to make a cup of tea. :) unless you want to run to a real time table then you can have loads of cups of tea. :) Jocking aside just devide any clock up in to segments you want to use as an hour.
There you have it, plenty of trains using Grenwick mean model time.
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Re: Fast clock for running to a timetable

Postby b308 » Wed Sep 18, 2019 6:20 pm

I suppose it would just feel better to run it against a real clock rather than doing it that way. I think the Rev Peter Denny of Buckingham Great Central fame used a conventional clock where he speeded up the mechanism. There was something in one of the Railway Modellers of the 70s about it.

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Re: Fast clock for running to a timetable

Postby Bufferstop » Wed Sep 18, 2019 10:38 pm

I think you might find you need your clock speed to vary, some operations needing closer to real time than others, such as the difference between running round the train, or picking up a wagon from the siding, compared to the time it takes to travel between stations. If you get a battery clock mechanism youl find there are very few components in there, Use a cheap can motor with a rubber band drive to one of the shafts.
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minipix
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Re: Fast clock for running to a timetable

Postby minipix » Thu Sep 19, 2019 12:48 pm

Fair point, you could use a 'normal' clock just as well. And yes, you would need to take some liberties in places to cater for some operations.

My layout is a loop, with one station at the front and a smaller station at the back. If I'm trying to simulate a day's timetable, it's nice to see the time reflecting where I am in the day - 9am will be morning, 12 will be lunchtime (and I would imagine the cafeteria being busy), and then by 6pm all my visitors will be going home. I guess it just adds realism to be doing certain things at certain times of day. One of my goals one day is to sort out some adjustable lighting so that I can simulate dawn and dusk at appropriate times.

At my small station I'm allowing a waiting time of 3 minutes (simulated), whereas at the main station where there may be some running-around required, waiting times can easily increase to 15 minutes. It is all somewhat artificial, because I'm trying to run the locos at a correct scale speed, which of course doesn't quite match up with a non-scale time speed!

I'm currently allowing a simulated 10 minutes journey time between stations. In reality, because I'm operating on a loop, that means the train probably goes round several times before eventually stopping at the appropriate station at around the right sort of time.

At the end of the day, we're roughly approximating real life, but it's only ever going to be approximate. I quite like this approach at the moment, for me the clock app helps. But each to their own!
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Re: Fast clock for running to a timetable

Postby RAF96 » Fri Sep 20, 2019 9:11 am

There are several ways of simulating ‘journey’ time. One is to put the train into a switched circle off stage where it runs round for X revs before being released back to its journey. Another is to hide the train in a tunnel for the duration, before finishing the last bit.
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Re: Fast clock for running to a timetable

Postby RAF96 » Wed Dec 11, 2019 11:03 am

Just adding to this oldish thread.

I have seen a time shift example where the operator adjusted the clock speed in an auto-program such that it was running real time during station operations, shunting, etc, with a scale time introduced for journeys, i.e. the journey time was shortened by a scaling factor speeding up the clock to represent a longer distance than the actual track had in scale. The equivalent of selecting fast forward for the journey. The train obviously travelling at its normal track pace.

The whole procedure was so that the ‘trains’ could run to a clocked timetable within a limited board size scenario.
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Re: Fast clock for running to a timetable

Postby gppsoftware » Thu Mar 12, 2020 7:59 am

'Fast Clocks' have been one of those 'chestnuts' which have been talked about for years!

What most people don't seem to understand is why some folks venture down this path or what exactly they are trying to achieve by doing it. In fact, those who do it don't really understand what they are doing either!

The answer is simple: what they are trying to achieve is the impression of a busy railway system, but the problem with this, as some have already pointed out above, is that some activities still need to be done in real time, so there becomes a problem of different timescales around a layout!

Time does not scale, so why bother ?

Think about it: what exactly is a timetable ? It is a sequence of events, each of which has a 'tag' attached to it which aligns with a measuring scale which we conventionally call time and measure with a device which we call a clock.

Why not just create a sequence, keep the 'tags' on it and just work through the events as whatever speed you choose ?

You can still talk about the '10:30am to London' because that's what it is labelled as on the sequence/schedule. Doing that is more realistic than creating artificial time zones around a layout, especially when those time zones operate at different rates of time!

Forget having a clock of any description because you aren't really using it anyway!

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Re: Fast clock for running to a timetable

Postby Bufferstop » Thu Mar 12, 2020 10:48 am

Having some form of clock is always going to present problems because we compress distances, and do it in a very non linear fashion, even in the confines of a station. The buildings might be 1/76th, but the platforms are no where near long enough, though peculiarly are nearer the correct width, and then the ramps at the end are to scale. If you manage to create a truly scale model (the S&D group's model of Bath Green Park and the first mile out is one of the few I've seen) running in real time should be right, but it seems too slow. Even a simple sequence of operations, can run into problems if it involves a train emerging from hidden sidings and approaching a station where shunting is going on. Time to invoke clause two "If it looks right it's as good as you can get it."
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Re: Fast clock for running to a timetable

Postby b308 » Thu Mar 12, 2020 11:01 am

gppsoftware wrote:'The answer is simple: what they are trying to achieve is the impression of a busy railway system,


I don't think they are. Rev Denny, possibly one of the most well known users of it modelled a quietish terminus and branch line. If you stand at a terminal station such as he modelled in Real Life you will notice that there are long periods of inactivity, i.e. nothing moving. By speeding up the clock the operator is able to condense the workings into a shorter time period and not have operators standing around doing nothing. In effect you are deleting the "dead" periods, the movements will still take the same time. So a train leaves, for instance, on the hour with the next at 20 past, that means 20 minutes of nothing happening, if you speed up the clock, however, the gap becomes shorter. So you are still doing the same movements but without the boredom factor.

Operating Denny's layout to Real Time would have got very boring with people stood around waiting to make the next movement.

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Re: Fast clock for running to a timetable

Postby gppsoftware » Thu Mar 12, 2020 11:11 pm

b308 wrote:
gppsoftware wrote:'The answer is simple: what they are trying to achieve is the impression of a busy railway system,


I don't think they are. Rev Denny, possibly one of the most well known users of it modelled a quietish terminus and branch line. If you stand at a terminal station such as he modelled in Real Life you will notice that there are long periods of inactivity, i.e. nothing moving. By speeding up the clock the operator is able to condense the workings into a shorter time period and not have operators standing around doing nothing. In effect you are deleting the "dead" periods, the movements will still take the same time. So a train leaves, for instance, on the hour with the next at 20 past, that means 20 minutes of nothing happening, if you speed up the clock, however, the gap becomes shorter. So you are still doing the same movements but without the boredom factor.

Operating Denny's layout to Real Time would have got very boring with people stood around waiting to make the next movement.


Which is exactly what I wrote: time is being artificially compressed in order to give the appearance of a busy service! The problem with this is that both time between services and the time that services are being run is also compressed, so you end up in a nonsense situation where one picks and chooses what time is compressed and what isn't!

Time doesn't scale.

Why make this so unnecessarily complicated!

If the desire is to remove time between trains and make things look more busy, then just create a more busy timetable! Or better still, stop using a clock and use a sequence and operate it at the desired speed.

It also has to be understood that in reality, the vast number of layouts which people model probably wouldn't have had more than a couple of services per hour anyway.

Remember: the observer has no way to tell whether a 'fast clock' is used, so why bother ?

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Re: Fast clock for running to a timetable

Postby b308 » Fri Mar 13, 2020 10:06 am

gppsoftware wrote:Which is exactly what I wrote: time is being artificially compressed in order to give the appearance of a busy service!

Remember: the observer has no way to tell whether a 'fast clock' is used, so why bother ?


Err, no, that is not what I said. It's being done to get rid of the "dead time" between services where operators would be stood around doing nothing. NOT to make it look busy. The only reason to compress time is to take out the quiet times when nothing runs so the operators can do what they want to do, run trains... people use the method because they like running trains in a prototypical manner but don't want to stand around for long periods doing nothing.

Take two examples, if you modelled New Street then you wouldn't need to compress time as there is always movement somewhere and if you tried to compress it you would quickly end up in a mess.

If you modelled a medium sized small town terminus the chances are there would only be a few movements per hour so a lot of times when nothing happens. So be speeding up time you can get rid of the time when nothing is happening and the operators would just be stood around talking.

Denny, his sons and their friends enjoyed operating sessions where they ran trains in a prototypical manner, trouble is if they stuck to a timetable over 24 hours they'd have lots of time stood doing nothing, so they compressed the time to they could fit the 24 hour timetable into a period which suited their operating periods. It has nothing to do with making it "look busy" but all about having something to do and running it in a prototypical manner.



To take that second point separately, Buckingham Great Central was designed as a "home layout", built to be run in a realistic manner following prototype practice, it had dedicated operators as I have mentioned and was not designed to have "observers". Although parts of it made it to exhibitions that wasn't the primary purpose, so what anyone else thought wasn't taken into account or relevant.

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Re: Fast clock for running to a timetable

Postby minipix » Fri Mar 13, 2020 1:11 pm

Wow. I wasn't expecting people to get so hot under the collar about this! It's clearly a topic that is important to some people, so I'm glad the discussion is happening.

I think where I started with this idea was to somehow represent the passing of a complete 'day', with different things happening at different times. In truth, the actual 'time' didn't matter, it was completely arbitrary. I just found it an interesting challenge to schedule my trains to start and stop at set times, complete manoeuvres within certain time periods, have 'morning' and 'evening' trains, that sort of thing. Having a fast-running clock just gave me a visual indicator of how I was doing. But I absolutely take the point that I could achieve the same result without a clock, and just have a schedule that I run through in order; if anything, that might actually help take the stress out of it and allow room for making mistakes without everything else then running late.

Those of you who exhibit at shows, do you run to a preset schedule? Does it represent a typical 'day', or is it just a set of interesting actions to keep it all moving? As always, each to their own, I'm just curious to hear what other people do!
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Re: Fast clock for running to a timetable

Postby gppsoftware » Fri Mar 13, 2020 11:23 pm

b308 wrote:Err, no, that is not what I said. It's being done to get rid of the "dead time" between services where operators would be stood around doing nothing. NOT to make it look busy. The only reason to compress time is to take out the quiet times when nothing runs so the operators can do what they want to do, run trains... people use the method because they like running trains in a prototypical manner but don't want to stand around for long periods doing nothing.


It is being done for both reasons, but some people may choose to do it for one or other reason.

b308 wrote:Take two examples, if you modelled New Street then you wouldn't need to compress time as there is always movement somewhere and if you tried to compress it you would quickly end up in a mess.

If you modelled a medium sized small town terminus the chances are there would only be a few movements per hour so a lot of times when nothing happens. So be speeding up time you can get rid of the time when nothing is happening and the operators would just be stood around talking.


Personally, I don't believe that time needs to be compressed at all.
If you want to close up the non-activity periods, then just run something!
Run a sequence. If you want gaps, then just wait. I you don't want gaps, then just move to the next movement.

The reason why people tie themselves up in knots with this topic is that they persist in making it more complicated than it is: the moment they see something that resembles a 'time', they immediately have to align it with a clock that they believe has to have some scaling. If the 'time' is just treated as a 'naming label' and not linked to a clock, then there is no longer a problem.

b308 wrote:It has nothing to do with making it "look busy" but all about having something to do and running it in a prototypical manner.


For different people, it is a combination of both.

The problem with 'fast clocks' is that they create all kinds of knock on problems: they may well be used to compress time between services, but the services themselves still run in real time, so you have this situation where some things are operating in real time and others are not, all at the same time. Then you get the 'scale speed' fraternity come along. How can you have 'scale speed' when you are not running in real time ?

Time does not scale.

Keep it simple folks! A sequence will give you all the activity you need, removing the idle periods and giving a realistic, purposeful, organised appearance.
Having operated layouts to both sequences and fast clocks, I can say that at an exhibition, sequences are much easier to work with because if (God forbid) one of those pesky members of the public start talking to you, you can loose focus on what you are doing. With a sequence, you just continue where you left off. With any form of clock, you have to reset the clock and get every operate back into sync before things can continue - too much mucking about in what is already a pressurised environment - and let us not forget that we are there to entertain the public. Our enjoyment is there too, but entertaining the public should be first.

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Re: Fast clock for running to a timetable

Postby gppsoftware » Fri Mar 13, 2020 11:36 pm

minipix wrote:I think where I started with this idea was to somehow represent the passing of a complete 'day', with different things happening at different times.

This is what most people are trying to achieve when they venture into timetables and 'clocks'.

minipix wrote:In truth, the actual 'time' didn't matter, it was completely arbitrary.

This is a key point which you have recognised, but some don't and they end up tying themselves up in knots trying to explain away the laws of physics with crazy stories!!!
If the actual time doesn't matter, what we are saying is that it is simply a 'label' that we give it in a sequence. Once we have made that simple decision, then we can operate our sequence in an organised fashion. We can still talk about the '10:30 to London' but that is its name only.

minipix wrote:I just found it an interesting challenge to schedule my trains to start and stop at set times, complete manoeuvres within certain time periods, have 'morning' and 'evening' trains, that sort of thing. Having a fast-running clock just gave me a visual indicator of how I was doing. But I absolutely take the point that I could achieve the same result without a clock, and just have a schedule that I run through in order; if anything, that might actually help take the stress out of it and allow room for making mistakes without everything else then running late.

We are in total agreement.
What you will find if you do try to apply a measuring device (clock), whether it is scaled or not, you will quickly find that things on model railways happen in very much shorter timescales than they do on the prototype because our distances are compressed, completely disproportionately the the actual model scale. Yet things like shunting can still take the same time. So if you try a 'clock', you find that in some places it may appear to work, but in other places, it won't. In other words, it needs different scaling in different places to make it work. It seems to me that once we get into that scenario, one should be asking why there is so much unnecessary complexity ? What are we doing ? And why isn't it working ? Maybe we're doing somethign wrong ?

minipix wrote:Those of you who exhibit at shows, do you run to a preset schedule? Does it represent a typical 'day', or is it just a set of interesting actions to keep it all moving? As always, each to their own, I'm just curious to hear what other people do!

It depends on the exhibition audience. If it is a family show where they just want to see things running, I may not operate a sequence or a timetable.
If it is a 'modellers exhibition' I will operate a schedule. Much easier to resume if one has to stop to talk to people. A sequence actually doesn't have to represent a day at all, it can be 'ongoing', so you can resume tomorrow where you left off today.


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