The holidays went quite well here. Spent the first part visiting family, and having a great time, had to work part of the week, Saw Vince and Kristina on Friday, and then took a trip out to Deep Creek lake with some of my college friends and spent New Years there. That trip went very very well, and Katy and I spent a lot of time catching up with friends who we really haven’t had much of a chance to connect with recently. It was very important for Katy, because sh got to really know some of the other women in the group which she never really got a chance to do since we’ve been together. My car survived the trip, but it’s getting too old to handle strenuous mountain climbs and icy snow coming down mountains too. Need to budget for a new car sometime soon. It’s sad though, it’s been nice not having a car payment for the last 2+ years.

The unfortunate thing about the holidays is that I didn’t get a chance to finish the train garden. So that means that I still need to finish it and then have my family down later to see it. I redid the whole circuit from scratch and moved the relays far away from the microcontroller, and that seemed to make the auto-reversing part of the system work, but the IR sensors still weren’t detecting when the train hit the end of the track. I replaced the IR sensors with magnetic reed switches, and hot-glued a curiously strong magnet I got as an early Christmas present to the bottom of my trolley, and the whole thing worked great!

… for about 5 minutes, and then the trolley ground to a halt. The light was still on, so it was getting power, but it wasn’t moving. I put it on the regular track, gave it full juice, and it still wouldn’t work. I finally removed the magnet, and with a little coaxing, it finally started to work again. Something about having a semi-strong magnet near a DC motor makes it lose torque and then stop. I understand on one level why that might be (could be interfering with the magnets in the motor), but I don’t fully understand why. Sigh.

Anyway, I’ll need to redo the circuit with IR sensors again, and then maybe I’ll be done. Hopefully by this weekend.