I am in the process of converting my last engine to battery-powered, S-CAB DCC. While waiting for glue to dry, paint to dry, and soldering irons to heat up, I decided that now is as good of a time as any to remove my Digitrax DCC system. I have no need for it any more, since all my engines are now powered by battery. I thought about swapping the DCC command station with a simple 12-volt power supply, but the more I thought about it, I thought it might be neat to actually have NO power on the track at all. However, the batteries in the engines have to be charged. Last month I built these "cassettes" for storing my equipment off-layout. I decided to simply hook one of those up to a power supply. Rob Paisley has an excellent article about what makes a good power supply and what doesn't. The two he recommends are the 12-volt supplies that are sold with, and for, laptops as well as automobile-battery replacements (for testing car electronics). The reason is that both of these power supplies provide a very high quality, and consistent, DC source. I bought a new 12-volt laptop power supply from Jameco. While waiting for that to arrive and while doing some cleaning around the layout room, I stumbled across my automobile power supply that I had bought from Radio Shack a good number of years ago (mine doesn't look like the current one, but it is functionally equivalent). I decided to use that one instead of the laptop power supply, primary because it has a built-in fuse. It also has a nice on/off switch. Both of these power supplies provide up to 3 amps of current, so plenty for what I need them for. The laptop power supply will now replace my accessories power supply on the layout (which is used for structure LED lights and Tortoise turnout control). The photo below shows the Radio Shack unit connected to the track of one of the "cassettes". The digital display was pure eye-candy that I bought while I was visiting the Jameco web site. Automobile batteries supply 13.8 volts, which is why this one is slightly higher than the model railroad standard of 12 volts. However, the S-CAB BPS board can handle that voltage. Note that the yellow connectors are just there for the digital display, so it looks more complicated than it is.
All I have to do now is simply drive my engines onto the cassette that is lined up with the layout bridge. I can then turn on the power supply, and let it charge the battery overnight. If the rail joiners, which I use to line up the cassette to the bridge, are actually connected, the rest of the layout will also get the power supply's power, otherwise the entire layout is dead. I am now a bonafide member of the "Dead Rail Society".
Last year I reworked the creek on my layout. It is perfectly flat due to the Envirotex epoxy. I thought it might be better to add some waves. I used Liquitex Gloss Medium on a pair of rivers on one of my old N-scale layouts. Those came out really well. So, I thought I'd try it again.
I used the same stippling method I had used years ago. The material is a thick milk-colored paste. However, as it dries, it dries clear. I covered the entire creek, and by the time I got around to taking this photo, some of the creek was already clearing up. In this photo, the white makes it look like a fast-moving creek, though. On my N-scale layout I applied three layers on the rivers. For this one, all I've done is one layer. I am not 100% happy with this first layer, so I'll soon add more layers to add to the effect.