Why N?

Because its small, but not so small as to overly challenge the dexterity of normal adults.

Here is a visual comparison of common scales:

N scale layouts can cram a lot of detail into a small space, yet present sweeping vistas in a way that HO can’t in a home layout. If the grand empire is what you want, N scale can really get the job done. Long trains on long winding mainlines, with big yards and industrial scale structures are the meat and potatoes of the grand N-scale empire.

Wandering around the net, you frequently see find N-scalers talking about 18″, 20″ and larger radii curves.  If you’ve got the space, cool.

If all you can handle is a 2′ x 3′ board, you can fit an N oval (with 9 3/4″ radius curves) and spur on that with plenty of space left for scenery.  Another approach is to simply take advantage of the size and fit a “bigger” railroad into a smaller space. It’s the layout you can’t do in HO because you just can’t fit it. But in N you can.

There seem to be more kits and parts available for N than ever before, but product lines are still thin relative to HO. Steam locomotives are a little on the scarce side right now; diesel is a completely different story.  I guess that is what the market wants at the moment.

N-scale Craftsman-quality kits are available from a wide variety of sources, though it takes some internet searching to find some of them. Sound decoders have gotten small enough to fit many N-scale locos now; the only remaining limitation in DCC/Sound caused by miniaturization is limits on functions and embedded memory. Trust me, these limits will be gone soon. Just look what gets crammed into a phone these days.

So, with all the N-scale kits and gear, miniaturized computing, electronics and general purpose robotics equipment available, what you can do is limited only by time, money and imagination. Where space is at a premium, and/or portability is essential, this is a good way to go.

6 thoughts on “Why N?”

  1. Hello
    I am new and very green to digital control and coding and have struggled with trying to make a servo work to operate a set of points and it was not until I found your web site that I could begin to understand how to wire and programme the Arduino to achieve this. I have followed the guidance in your excellent post ‘Turnout Control with Arduino’ and have succeeded in getting the servo moving perfectly however this entails activating the push button twice in order to stop continuous cycling. I notice that in the video at the end your post you push the button once and the servo runs through one direction then stops and then a further push runs the servo in the reverse direction then stops, exactly what is desired. The push button I am using is a simple two terminal push on push off type so I am wondering if I need a different type? The code I have used is from your post and the wiring is just as you have shown in the firsst diagram ie without LED’s. Any advice you could offer would be very much appreciated.
    Thank you

  2. Hey Robin … stumbled on this site just 15 minutes ago, and I’m kinda pumped with all that I’ve seen already. I’m close to dismantling my 12 year old N scale DCC pike and starting over. I started thinking about this only a few weeks ago when I got intrigued with two things that I just recently discovered – handlaid turnouts (eg – Fast Tracks offerings), and Arduino. I do not yet have any “hands on” with either of them, but it seems somewhat fortuitous that I just found your contributions to the latter! I’ve bookmarked your site, and hope to follow closely, and perhaps share experiences in due course.

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