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>>Kelly: Hi, Kelly from Opto 22 here. Most Opto 22 applications are strictly business
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and very serious. But Opto 22 has a fun side to it as well. What a better place to look at
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a fun application than the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Carnegie
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Science Center is huge. It has many displays, including a miniature railroad and village.
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But this is not just a little train set that my family puts up for the holidays. This display
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is huge! And we're going to go take a look at it right now.
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[Music]
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>>Kelly: I'm now sitting with Patty Rogers from Carnegie Science Center. Patty, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
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>>Patty: Well I'm the coordinator of the historic exhibits here at the Carnegie Science Center.
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I've been fortunate enough to work with the Miniature Railroad for 16 years in just about every capacity, so.
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>>Kelly: My understanding is the Miniature Railroad has been with the Carnegie Science
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Center for many years. Can you give us a brief history about the railroad?
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>>Patty: The Miniature Railroad is actually 87 years old. It'll be 88 years old this year.
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It was started in Brookville, Pennsylvania on Christmas Eve in 1920 in the home of a
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man named Charlie Bowdish, and Charlie Bowdish's display came here to Pittsburgh in 1954. And
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it's been a tradition here in Pittsburgh ever since. What we're going to do is a year-long
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process now. We have a staff of volunteers, about 50 volunteers that work and present
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the exhibit to the public every day. We have staff along with myself who may help maintain
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it, other technical staff, machinists here fabricate each and every gear and cam that
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go into the handmade animation. And it's just really a team effort. We want to show the
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industries that Pittsburgh was built on, in the era that we represent, which was 1880
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to 1930: the steel, the coal, the railroad, the rivers. And then we also want to show
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the models that are unique culturally and architecturally.
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>>Kelly: And those displays are made in this room, right?
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>>Patty: Absolutely. The room that we're in right now is the Miniature Railroad and Village
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workshop, and this is pretty much where it all happens behind the scenes. This is our
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workbench where the models are built, and as you can imagine over all these years we've
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amassed a lot of pieces, all hand-built, but this is a lot of our storage, a lot of the
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finer pieces. And of course we store all the tools and materials that it takes to craft each model every year.
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>>Kelly: My understanding is that you're using Opto 22 control to do the animation along
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with the lighting. Why did you guys end up using the Opto 22 platform?
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>>Patty: When we brought on teams of experts
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to help us design this exhibit, it was then, and is still now, the best technology for
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this exhibit. The goal was to maintain the magic and mystique of the exhibit while they're
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in the room. The magic would be broken if we were fixing things, and there were obvious
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[problems], and that doesn't happen so we don't have to worry about that. We've had
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an Opto 22 operating system, OptoControl, all these years that it's been here at Carnegie
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Science Center, so that would be 16 years. And we've upgraded it along the way and we've
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changed things, and we wouldn't do anything differently. It runs seamlessly. It's extremely
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dependable. You hit the Start button on the touchscreen in the beginning and it runs flawlessly all day.
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>>Lou: We wanted to make the system as user-friendly as possible for the people who actually run it.
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I was excited to say hey, listen, we can really kick this up a notch, and we've been able to do that so far.
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My name is Lou Bertha, I'm with RDI Controls. We're a process control system integration
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company that specializes in engineered applications with the Opto 22 product line. What we've
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been doing over the last year or so, is we've been maintaining the railroad for the Science
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Center as far as the controls go. What we want them to do is on a graphic, change how
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they want the whole system to operate. So now they can put their artistic creativity
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into it. And when we were approached, we said, hey listen, that'd be an easy thing for us
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to do. We've done some upgrades on the controls, and we've added some functionality. And we're
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working now with them to just keep on expanding that functionality. Whether it's when does
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the rooster crow, when does the cow move, or when the lights come on into the different
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sections. Even the lighting control to show day and night can be adjusted, and I want
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them to have the ability to do that without much angst.
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>>Kelly: Is it difficult to add additional hardware to the current system?
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>>Lou: No, absolutely not. With the existing racks, if we just need to add an I/O point
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here or there we can put in a new module to do digital ins, digital outs, analog ins or
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outs. For instance, the lighting system is a bunch of 4-20 outputs that change the level
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as the time progresses in the simulation mode. So every six minutes you go through a whole
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day, and that can be adjusted on the system. If we wanted to add another rack for a section
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of the system, all we'd have to do is just add another Ethernet-based controller or brain
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board, and tie that into our main controller. Depends on the functionality.
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>>Kelly: Can you tell us a little bit more about some of the additions that you've made recently?
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>>Lou: Sure. We had added on the roundhouse
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and the switch yard. We did that with a PAC R2, and added a G75 Terminal, so they can
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have local interface, to show the kids and everything how things operate. The roundhouse
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is being driven by a servo motor, and we're looking at the counts, the pulses, to determine
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where we're actually situated. For local control, we have the G75 and it allows us to select
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and program macros in, so we can route the trains as they come through the setup to go
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on their particular routes and hit the roundhouse, and then park them into the various bays.
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We get these kids coming in here, looking at the system, saying "Wow, how does that
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work? How do you do this?" And it gives us a chance, you know, I've talked to a few of
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them, to explain hey, this is all engineering. You know, this is stuff, whether you're doing it on
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a model railroad or doing it on a combustion turbine or factory process automation. They're
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all part of the same concept. So it's one of those things to try to excite kids as they're
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coming into it, and the reality of the engineering field.
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>>Kelly: All right. Well, thank you Lou for sitting down and talking with us today. I know you have a very
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busy schedule so I appreciate you taking time to come play with your toys and explain to us how they work.
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>>Lou: Ah, you gave me a chance to play with my toys and I appreciate the time.
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>>Kelly: Thank you guys for watching this application about Carnegie Science Center and their Miniature Railroad. If
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you would like more information about this application, or other applications, please visit the Opto 22 website. Have a great day.
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