Forest Hill Panel: This project involved some minor restoration, but more so involved the animation/simulation of a small mimic panel as an interactive display piece. The panel is owned by Queensland Pioneer Steam Railway and is on display at Swanbank station. Queensland Pioneer Steam Railway operate heritage steam and diesel passenger trains between Bundamba Racecourse, Box Flat and Swanbank in Ipswich, Queensland.
Panel Description and brief history.
Forest Hill station is located between Ipswich and Toowoomba on the Main Line and opened in 1881. The double line was extended from Laidley to Forest Hill in July 1912 and interlocking was provided at this time. By December 1912 the double track had been extended further west to Gatton. By May 1915 interlocking was completed at Forest Hill and the signal cabin existed by this time.
Forest Hill had a Type 2 signal cabin and a photograph can be found on the Signal Cabins - No Remains page. The photograph shows the signal cabin in the year 2000 by which time the building had been enclosed, it was originally built as an open structure.
By 1992 the signalling at Forest Hill, and at other stations from Forest Hill to Grantham, had been altered with colour light Home and Starter signals installed. The signal cabins remained and were electrically released by the Train Controller when shunting was to take place. When shunting was to take place the signal cabin lever frame was cut-in allowing the Station Officer to operate points and signals as required. When the signal cabin was cut-out the colour light Starter signals were controlled by the Train Controller, and the colour light Home signals functioned as automatic signals.
The mimic panel at Forest Hill was provided at this time to repeat the indications of the Up and Down Home and Starter signals, the Up and Down Approach tracks, and the Up and Down Electric Releases (which could be independently given as required).
The small mimic panel was manufactured by ?? and has the bare minimum of indications provided.
The mimic panel required very little in the way of restoration and was in good condition when it was acquired by the Queensland Pioneer Steam Railway. Simple cleaning of the panel was the only work required.
The mimic panel operation is simulated using an Arduino Uno and an additional 16 Channel Relay Module. Programming of the Arduino allows two modes of operation, one with the buzzer sounding for an interactive display, the other with the buzzer silenced.
Similar mimic panels existed at Laidley, Gatton and Grantham and were all installed around the same time. They were built by the same supplier and have similar features, although the physical size depended on the station layout. The Gatton mimic panel is also in a private collection.