The idea, a little bit unusual, to realize this layout was born as a challenge, when it was offered to me to participate at the meeting of Japanese Z-scale model railways that is held every year in Osaka.
My great passion for Doraemon, who in Italy is only considered as a cartoon aimed at children but that in the Land of the Rising Sun is a true national symbol, the desire to build a bit different from the usual layout and, why not, the desire to make a new experience in a world so far from mine, convinced me immediately to design a completely originalcircuit to fit in a suitcase.
The observer should not think that this is a joke or anyway something not worthy of modellers' attention, since in a Z scale reproduction of a Japanese town I inserted a series of technical elements and fine details as I rarely found on "conventional" layouts so far. In fact, don't forget that, with every model, I'm used to experience something new that I will then use in my later works...
The starting point was a nice aluminum suitcase given to me by my friend Giacomo, just ready for my purpose. So I got some Sankei cardboard kits and a couple of models bought from Shapeway and I started to build the small world of Doraemon, adapted to the little space available and structuring everything in order to develop and add all the needed electronics.
Another fundamental element was the purchase of a 3D printer, letting me designe and build many elements, from traffic lights to figures, to buildings, galleries and the hot air balloon!
As usual, the model had to be equipped with a Bluetooth 4.0 connection so I created a graphic interface for smartphones giving the possibility to set and manage everything.
The railway circuit is very simple but, thanks to the hidden station with two tracks, it allows a certain variety of movement. Each train, in fact, can circulate indifferently in the two directions, so you have 4 different possibilities of movement.
Trains consist of Kiha52 units, in single composition. These are diesel railcars built from 1958 to 1966 and the models adopted for the Doraemon layout are those in the classic red/beige and blue/beige colors.
The heart of the layout is an Arduino Mega 2560 board, expanded with as much as 7 16 PWM outputs boards and 2 boards with 64 digital outputs for feeding the many light circuits. A motor board allows the feeding of the tracks and the operation of the electric turnouts.
Below the surface of the pond I wanted to place an LCD screen that could play movies and images, increasing that fantastic atmosphere that the layout has to offer. This screen is also driven by the Arduino board, as well as by an infrared remote control.