How the LEGO automation project started

Green Cargo Train on the table

I’ve got an Ikea Linnmon table (29 1/2″ x 59″) that I wanted to use for the LEGO train setup, and eventually the automation. A 32 stud baseplate is 10″ so, if we went 3 baseplates deep by 6 wide, we would have just a little overhang, which won’t be a problem when I build them as MILS sections. They will get some extra rigidity to manage the overhang.

Two reasons I wanted to go with MILS baseplates. First is room to hide the automation wires. Second is to make the track layout more kid-proof, harder the little hands to ‘break’ the track when they are playing with it.

Given the table dimensions, you can do 1 normal LEGO r40 half-circle with 6 straights to connect. Basically the green cargo train set (60198) as my older son calls it.

I’ve played with a number of layouts on paper using a grid system to see how I can be have two turn outs/side tracks(forgive me if not using problem train speak) to allow for at least two train to run autonomously on the track. The problem with the side tracks is that 6 track length is not a lot, when you lose two on each end for the shift off the mainline, plus the curve to make it a parallel line, but then you are left with 0 straights. Thinking of sensor placement, and length of the trains, it just doesn’t seem reasonable. I do have continuous curve switches, so I could make the side track on a curve, but this would make making a ‘station’ in the future tricky. It would be good for general two train automation. I thought of making a railyard, but that I think would make the automation complex for a first try at this. So for now, I’ve settled on two parallel turn outs, and have 4, maybe I can squeeze a fifth straight in. This would work well for stations.

I would love to add an extra baseplate all around, and maybe in the future to get a second loop, and use my double crossover, but that will have to wait.

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