The Barber Shop and the Laundromat

This is what it looks like when I totally lose control. It all started when I created a new home for the laundromat dryers from the decommissioned Mountain Vista Railroad, and things snowballed from there. I jokingly call it "the world's most animated building"* because it features:

Plus a gaggle of lighting effects:

  • animated neon OPEN sign (1 motor and 8 LEDs)
  • drop ceiling fluorescent lights in the laundromat, two of which are faulty (9 LEDs)
  • four wall-mount fluorescent fixtures in the barber shop (8 LEDs)
  • washer and dryer pilot lights (12 LEDs)
  • fire exit sign and exterior door light (2 LEDs)

That's ten motors and 40 LEDs! Because the animations were not all planned from the outset, the mechanism acquired the appearance of a Frankensteinian Rube Goldbergish nightmare: as I added each new effect, I'd think of two more, and I just kept piling them on top of one another. For instance, the barber's chair started out as a joke where the seat would rise up in steps as the barber pumped the foot pedal. After installing it in the new building, I thought, why not make it recline, too? And once I did that, I realized I could also make it rotate. The result was an object not much bigger than an N Scale figure that has nearly as many animation options as my excavator.

Here's a look at the guts.

The whole thing is so complex that I had to create a separate control box for it, because the main panel connectors didn't have enough circuits to accommodate it plus everything else on the diorama.

A Peek Inside the Barber Shop

Progress on the laundromat and the barber shop is very slow. All of the animations and effects are done, but there's still quite a lot of cosmetic work left to do. Here's a look inside the barber shop: below, the animated barber's chair is shown fully reclined.

Below, the four wall-mount fluorescent lights are illuminated. Each light is created by attaching a pair of cool white 0402 SMD LEDs to the wall, then inserting a length of fiber optic between them. Between each pair of fixtures will be mirrors, along with all of the usual barber shop paraphernalia. I must also make another (non-functioning) barber chair, which I'm not looking forward to doing.

Separate Control

The glut of motors and lights in this building pushed the control count beyond the capacity of the main control panel, so it got its own. It's very much like the excavator control, which is a small plastic electronics case that contains a battery power supply, making it a self-contained unit. Actually, as it happens, the very box I used was the original control box for the first excavator, repurposed.


*Not official by any stretch of the imagination.

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