For electronics novices
Revised 08 September 2020
MERG generally makes an effort to provide learning opportunities to those coming new to Model Railway Electronics. These are provided through a variety of methods as follows:
The book, "Electronics for Model Railways" written by member Davy Dick provides 28 chapters covering almost all aspects from basic electronic theory through kit construction and use to the application of many of the MERG systems to layouts. Its not expected that it would be read straight through but rather used as a reference as needed. Each chapter can be downloaded when required. See E-book
Our regular Journal carries a wide variety of articles and most issues have something of interest to anybody but the editor does make special efforts to include something in every issue with the novice/beginner in mind.
Area Groups & VAG
The MERG area groups as described here, Area Groups, are always pleased to welcome new members and will do their best to help novices to electronics. For those who do not have access to an area group we also have the Virtual Area Group (VAG) which meets on line via Zoom and provides as much of the benefits of an area group as iss possible on line. The VAG activities have included presentations aimed especially at novices. NB. With actual meetings cancelled for the time being many of the area groups are using Zoom to keep in touch.
Special Interest Groups (SIGs)
The advent of the VAG has spurred the introduction of a number of Special Interest Groups also using Zoom for meetings. Examples of SIGs are: Arduino, Automation, CBUS-ANZ, JAL. Whilst not specifically aimed at beginners they will help anyone interested in their specific subjects.
Pocket Money Projects (PMPs)
MERG now has a selection of more than 25 PMPs designed to serve as a learning excercise for novices to electronics while providing something useful to use on the layout. These are really low cost and allow novices to practice soldering and kit assembly very cheaply while obtaining useful items. The PMPs range from a track tester at £0.29 to a set og Hall effect (Magnetic) sensors at £3.13. The range includes a variety of train detectors, servo drivers, speed controllers, shuttle controllers, etc.
The knowledgebase is the MERG term for the Wiki pages on our website where a huge amount of material releted to the MERG kits ant to members' projects is kept, The knpwledgebase includes a MERG TV section with video recordings of many of the meetings, both actual and virtual are available as well as video tutorials on mant aspects of model railway control, for example on building the CBUS beginners kits. The knowledge base also includes a specific page known as the 'Beginners Portal' to guide newcomers where to find items of interest.
MERG organises a number of courses, ranging from those arranged over Zoom to residential courses at Missenden Abbey. Of special interest to those starting out maybe:
MERG Grand Tour
This is a monthly Zoom video call with members who have just joined MERG. Longer serving members are also welcome too - and may be surprised with what there is to find. MERG has a range on resources available to members and this call is a combination of an on-line presentation of the web pages that are available, how to find them and a discussion about what is there.
This is a series of Zoom based courses that started in the Spring of 2020 and to begin with focussed on giving beginners an introduction to some of the fundamental components used in electronics. As the seies progressed, it diversified into more complex devices and the tools and techniques needed to build successful kits. The sessions were recorded and for each topic a page was produced providing a link to the recording and any other related materials.