Someone asked me how to estimate the required wattage for Marx accessories. Although I don’t recall Marx ever issuing any specific guidance, it’s easy to do yourself.
A frequent question I see is why the Lionel bulbs in any given accessory burn out quickly. I can sum up both the problem and the solution in a single word: voltage.
When you have too much voltage, bulbs burn out quickly–sometimes in minutes. When you have too little voltage, the bulbs will last decades.
A frequent question I read is how to attach tin accessories, such as Marx light posts and light towers, to a layout in a semi-permanent but reversible manner. I have found a way to do this, and as a bonus, it also makes it easy to hide the wires that are feeding the lights and makes the wiring simpler.
I was working in a vacant house the other day and noticed the previous tenants never changed light bulbs. When I went to change them myself, I saw why. Everywhere I saw a dead bulb, it was in a ceiling fan. Stuck hard.
Here’s the cause, and here’s how I fixed it.
I don’t come across burned-out light bulbs in Marx trains very often, but it can happen. When you need to replace a missing or dead bulb, you have some options.
Marx, like its competitors, used a standard E10 screw base in all of its trains and accessories that I know of. It’s best to never say never with Marx, but standardizing on E10 was cost-effective so I doubt there’s any variance. The question is what voltage.
The Lionel Multi-control 1033 is a 90 watt transformer produced from 1948 to 1956. They are reasonably durable and were popular in their day, which means there are still a lot of them floating around so they tend to be inexpensive. I paid $70 for one about 15 years ago but the price has come way down; today you can get a serviced 1033 for about half that, and an as-is one for $20-$25.
Even someone who has a larger transformer or multiple larger transformers for the layout might be interested in a 1033 for the test bench, as it has all of the functionality someone would need for testing locomotives and whistling tenders.
PC power supplies are exceptionally cheap and plentiful these days. If you’ve noticed and wondered whether you can use PC ATX power supplies on a train layout, wonder no more. You can.
Thanks to the miracle of mass production, even the cheapest, nastiest PC power supply gives far more power output per dollar than any train transformer. So if the lights and accessories on your electric train layout can run on 12 volts DC, which is a fairly good bet, you can get a lot of wattage for very little money by repurposing an inexpensive ATX power supply, whether new or secondhand. And on a wattage-per-dollar basis, they’re about twice as cost-effective as outdoor lighting transformers, which are another popular option for hobbyists.
All it takes to use these cost-effective ATX power supplies is a bit of rewiring.
This past summer I toured a large company’s “innovation center,” where they try new, risky things. “We don’t involve the legal or IT security departments in this stuff,” the tour guide said.
I wish I was surprised. And while I’m sure the tour guide thinks he isn’t missing much, it could be a missed opportunity.
It probably was just a matter of time, but one of my sons dropped his Asus Memopad HD 7 and cracked the digitizer assembly. What we usually call the screen actually sits behind the breakable piece of glass, and more often than not, it’s the glass digitizer that breaks. I left it that way for a while, but once the screen cracks, the cracks tend to spread, and eventually the tablet will get to a point where it’s unresponsive.
Replacement digitizers are available on Ebay. Note the exact model number of your tablet (my kids have ME173Xs, so here’s an ME173X screen) because they aren’t all interchangeable. The part costs around $20. It took me about three hours to replace because it was my first one. If I did this every day I could probably do it in 30 minutes, and I’m guessing if I have to do another–ideally I won’t–it will take an hour or so.
Here’s an interesting question I got recently: Will ARM overtake x86?
I think the answer depends on how you define “overtake.”