Scratchbuilt Monopole Billboard under construction

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RCH

Been Nothin' Since Frisco
I finally took the first photos of my monopole billboards under construction today. Basically, this project began when I decided I'd be modeling a portion of Interstate 30 in Fort Worth as it passes over the trackage I'm modeling. There are billboards located all along I30, so I figured a pair, one on each side of the highway, would help create the desired effect of an urban, rush-hour type highway. Since I couldn't find any billboards on the market that resemble anything built during my lifetime, I decided to scratchbuild.

The first step was to make the drawings. I did some research and came up with a couple common sizes of billboards, the largest of which measures 14 ft. x 48 ft. There's a billboard right near my office, so I took a couple photos and imported them into AutoCAD:

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I drew a rectangle measuring 14 ft. x 48 ft. and scaled the photo to fit. I took the second photo as straight on as possible to make scaling it easier. Here's a photo of the resulting drawings:

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Next, I built the pole assembly:

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I don't have any photos of the billboard face under construction, but suffice it to say I built two faces, strip by strip (very tedious!). Once they were mounted to the pole, I began building the walkways from a fine etched brass sheet and strip styrene epoxied to the edges of the brass:

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I primed what had been assembled so far and began adding the walkways. That is the current state of the project.

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Detail of the walkways:

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Roadside view:

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Maybe by the end of this weekend I'll be able to get the walkways finished, ladders added and the advertisements created and affixed to the faces. Here's the first ad that will go up (assembled in Photoshop):

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Just for grins, my favorite billboard (photo taken in North Dakota this summer):

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I hope you enjoy. More to come!
 
D

dthurman

Guest
Ah! Wow! I have been eyeing one of the Blair kits for a while, but with this new found information I will be saving big time. Now I just need to read it 5X, and figure out how to shrink it down to a normal scale ;)

Will you be posting a "parts list" which I assume is mostly styrene. You are just one step away from making a cell tower with that base.
 
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RCH

Been Nothin' Since Frisco
modelbob said:
Nice job! What CAD program did you use for that drawing?
AutoCAD 2000i (I did it on my lunch breaks at work). I can save it as a .dwg or .dxf file and post it on my website if you can use it.
 

modelbob

Administrator
RCH said:
AutoCAD 2000i (I did it on my lunch breaks at work). I can save it as a .dwg or .dxf file and post it on my website if you can use it.
Nah, I don't really need it, I was just impressed with how nice that drawing looked. I suspected you might have been using AutoCAD. I use TurboCAD, which is pretty good. Not quite as fancy as AutoCad, but hey with the money I saved I can buy a lot of trains...

> (I did it on my lunch breaks at work)

What, you didn't buy a copy to use at home for your model railroad? (For those of you unfamiliar with AutoCAD, its a computer drafting program that sells for about $4,000. Oh, then you need a powerful workstation to run it with... You could use it to design anything you'd like, including full size railroads, but it's a bit of overkill for the average model railroader.)

I built two faces, strip by strip (very tedious!).
Some day when I get rich I'm going to buy one of those "3D Printers" rapid prototyping machines that let you create a model in your CAD program and then have the machine make it in plastic or a similiar material. It would work great for stuff like that!
 
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RCH

Been Nothin' Since Frisco
dthurman said:
Ah! Wow! I have been eyeing one of the Blair kits for a while, but with this new found information I will be saving big time. Now I just need to read it 5X, and figure out how to shrink it down to a normal scale ;)

Will you be posting a "parts list" which I assume is mostly styrene. You are just one step away from making a cell tower with that base.
I can post a parts list if you'd like. You can see the beginnings of it on the drawing image. I still have to determine what to use for lights, but other than that, I have everything else figured out. I'll double check the quantities of everything once I complete the first one.

Most of the cell towers around here are a slightly different pole style. All the ones I've seen taper toward the top, have angular instead of curved sides (through the horizontal section), and are made of galvanized steel. I'm not sure what I'd do to replicate that style of pole, but it really doesn't matter much since cell towers are pretty much out of my modeling era. However, I will need to come up with a paint effect that mimics galvanized steel. I've got an interstate sign to construct, as well as a few traffic signals. Fortunately, the drawings for those are readily available. And as a bonus, the poles have a circular horizontal section, not angled!
 

RailroadJeep

2711 & 2189 L-NWE8621
modelbob said:
What, you didn't buy a copy to use at home for your model railroad? (For those of you unfamiliar with AutoCAD, its a computer drafting program that sells for about $4,000. Oh, then you need a powerful workstation to run it with... You could use it to design anything you'd like, including full size railroads, but it's a bit of overkill for the average model railroader.)
And worth every penny of it! My personal favoirte was R14 though, never really played with 2000, and I was pretty much set in my ways with using R14. Power for the PC's was a nonstop battle when I did that stuff in high school, always beefing them up. Heck, you should have seen our 3d rendering machine that some students used to make a Sci-Fi movie.

Full size RR items...you betcha, what do ya think my senior project was... :D

Fantastic work there Ryan, as is everything else you've shown us!
 
D

dthurman

Guest
In our area, I have seen alot of cell towers using those monopoles like the billboards are using, and your right alot of them are more tapered and angled. I am doing the modern era, I see that BLMA has some cell towers, my only problem is I will need about a dozen or more to get decent coverage ;)

Very sharp billboard though. Can't wait for more details.
 

RCH

Been Nothin' Since Frisco
modelbob said:
Nah, I don't really need it, I was just impressed with how nice that drawing looked. I suspected you might have been using AutoCAD. I use TurboCAD, which is pretty good. Not quite as fancy as AutoCad, but hey with the money I saved I can buy a lot of trains...
Well, thanks for the compliment. I prepare drawings all day long, so I'd better be good at it by now!

I agree with using what's the most accessible to do this sort of thing, i.e., using TurboCAD over AutoCAD because of expense. There are a bunch of features I barely use at my job in AutoCAD. This drawing barely tapped into the capabilities of the program, so I'm sure the same could be done in any basic CAD program, maybe even in a track planning program.

> (I did it on my lunch breaks at work)

What, you didn't buy a copy to use at home for your model railroad?
Hehe, actually, when I was working for Wilson & Company (a civil engineering firm), they shut down the office I worked in and laid everyone off. They grabbed all the current releases of the software we used for highway design and said, "any software that's left here is yours to take if you want." We were using Land Development Desktop and Civil Design 2i, which I had *just* upgraded to, so the Release 2 versions of the same (the previous version) went home with me. So, there's a $10,000+ parting gift/severance from that job. Thanks, Wilson! Trouble is, that version was pretty buggy. And it won't work on XP, so my laptop is the only machine that will run it.

Of course, none of that prevented me from designing the alignment for my freelanced railroad the same way I'd design a highway using topo maps, vertical curves, superelevation, etc. That's really a hobby unto itself, though: Extreme Track Planning!

Some day when I get rich I'm going to buy one of those "3D Printers" rapid prototyping machines that let you create a model in your CAD program and then have the machine make it in plastic or a similiar material. It would work great for stuff like that!
Why buy one of those when you could get someone who already has one to do it for you? Seriously, if that's up your alley, check out:

Mark 4 Design

and

Smokey Mountain Model Works
 

RCH

Been Nothin' Since Frisco
RailroadJeep said:
And worth every penny of it! My personal favoirte was R14 though, never really played with 2000, and I was pretty much set in my ways with using R14.
Understand that! I have spent years trying to get my drafting team to drop R14, since none of our clients will save anything as R14 drawings. I guess I can't blame them. After all, R14 is so stone age! Drawing engineering plan sets using Paper Space did it for me. That's when the "conversion" to 2000 became mandatory. Oh, Paper Space is a beautiful thing!

Power for the PC's was a nonstop battle when I did that stuff in high school, always beefing them up. Heck, you should have seen our 3d rendering machine that some students used to make a Sci-Fi movie.

Full size RR items...you betcha, what do ya think my senior project was... :D

Fantastic work there Ryan, as is everything else you've shown us!
My first 3D model was a UP SD90MAC. 47 megabytes in size. Gotta watch your surftab sizes - those meshes get pretty huge really quick.

Thanks for the compliment! I can't wait to get this thing to the next level, but if I don't spend some time with my wife, I won't have a garage to build it in! Either that, or I'll be moving into the garage!
 
D

dthurman

Guest
Ryan

Have you ever used Mark's services? The MR article on using one of those machines looked like a great way to get some custom scratch stuff done. Suprised there aren't more companies offering that type of service, of course then we would need guys like you to get our blue prints done, though I have an old freind that is an arcitech. Hmmm..
 

RCH

Been Nothin' Since Frisco
No, I haven't used Mark 4, but I did contact them about doing some rapid prototyping. It turns out I'd need to have my drawings "converted" or redrawn in Inventor or some other native 3D format, so there's really an extra step (and charge) in there from what I expected, since I don't own or know how to operate Inventor. And, it's important to note that the cost of the item you want is directly proportional to its volume. In other words, an N scale boxcar body master might cost you say $100. The same thing in HO scale would cost about $400 because it's volumetrically larger. Make sense?

I have also spoken with Jim King (SMMW) about the same subject, but it was in reference to a kit I'd like to produce. In that case, the conversation was more of a technical nature and I didn't get into price.

Interesting you mention "needing guys like me" for this sort of work. I've done this in the past for a couple companies. If there's anything I can suggest when trying to commission technical drawings, get every conceivable measurement, photo angle, and make every sketch you can. The draftsman doesn't want to assume anything, and in many cases, just doesn't have the familiarity with the subject matter to make those assumptions. Also, triple his estimate - we're good at quantifying and measuring things, not prognosticating! ;)
 

modelbob

Administrator
RCH said:
Of course, none of that prevented me from designing the alignment for my freelanced railroad the same way I'd design a highway using topo maps, vertical curves, superelevation, etc. That's really a hobby unto itself, though: Extreme Track Planning!
Some of us do that sort of stuff for a living. :) I have to admit it's a lot of fun.
 

RCH

Been Nothin' Since Frisco
I love it. When I lived in Durango, Colorado and discovered that a highway project I was working on (right-of-way retracement, design of new roadway, intersection improvements, etc. on US 160) was actually built on the original RGS narrow gauge railroad grade, it was double the fun. I got to be a ferroequinologist in addition to my normal duties as field surveyor and design technician. Here in Texas, it's more of a challenge than it was there because of the dense development and almost ancient nature of the railroads. Definitely a puzzle solver's dream here!
 

RCH

Been Nothin' Since Frisco
Latest Progress Photos

These aren't the greatest photos, but they're a little better than the last batch. At least the sunlight makes it look a little less pasty. Anyway, I tried to shoot the safety cage and walkway, but I think I need Bob Boudreau's camera to do it!

The safety cage "hoops" are from Tichy, the vertical railings and ladder uprights are strip styrene and the ladder rungs are stretched sprue. I never would have scratchbuilt a ladder, but I ran out of the Tichy ladder stock after using it all on the ladder that goes down the front of the billboard. You can also see where some of the epoxy I used to fasten the etched metal down to the walkway frames got into the "see-through" area. I'll have to clean that out because it's pretty distracting.

Next I'll add the actual adverts to it and take some more photos. In the meantime, here are the photos I took this afternoon:

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jbaakko

Diesel Detail Freak
Beautiful! I'm gonna have to attempt this, I KNOW SOCAL has billboards like crazy around the region I'm modeling.
 

RCH

Been Nothin' Since Frisco
Thanks for the comments, guys. Once I finish this one, I'm going to attempt something like this, with the billboard faces pointed at an angle away from each other:

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Then comes the *fun* project, a cantilever style billboard:

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David, you mentioned the rapid prototyping thing. I've been given a link you might enjoy, since you're a Normal scaler:

http://www.makemymodel.com/catalog/

Go ahead, get yourself a free tanker truck from them - mine's already in the mail! I've contacted them for possibly doing some CAD to rapid prototyping for me, so we'll see how it goes....
 




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