Virtual Meetups

Next Meetup

Our next meeting will be Sunday, June 7th from 4:00 PM - 5:30 PM Eastern Daylight Time. Our presenters are:

  • Scott Sabo - I have been modelling trains for about 45 years; 40 of that in N scale. I have been an OPSIG member since 2011 and a NMRA member since 2016.  The Feather Mountain Railroad is a freelanced railroad.  I have based my operations on Canadian National Railway practices. I began construction in 1995 and just 5 years ago I started scenery. (Life just kept getting in the way)  The layout has a home built ABS signal system based on a 1978 MR article and modified for DCC operation.  I have been using JMRI (Decoder Programming, Panels, Speed Matching, and Operations) for about 12 years.
  • Dana Driskel - The LA&SL Third Sub is an N scale layout occupying roughly half of my garage. The year is 1920 and the Moapa, Nevada junction is the focal point. The Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad's Third subdivision runs from the recently established town of Las Vegas to the division yard at Caliente. Six passenger trains and two listed freights run daily past the Moapa depot. All other traffic is run as extras and TT&TO is in force. Moapa is the junction to the St. Thomas branch, an active 21 mile, single track run full of agriculture and mining. All engines are steam excepting the McKeen motor car which runs daily on the branch.  Operating sessions are scaled to four participants: the Moapa Yard, the mainline train runner, the St.Thomas branch train runner, and me. I run trains onto and off the layout from Las Vegas and Caliente staging. The Moapa yard is faithful to the prototype at a 2:1 compression and the schedule follows the ETT's for 1920 though all listed trains have been compressed from 24 hours to 12 daylight hours, 5am to 5pm. Sessions run about three hours.
  • Cal Sexsmith (backup presenter) - I have been a model railroader most of my life starting when an Athearn train set was purchased to celebrate my first Christmas. I am a semi-retired Civil Engineer with 40 years’ experience, most of it with the City of Saskatoon in water distribution, sewage collection and storm water management. I am currently on the Board of Directors of the LDSIG and of the Saskatchewan Railway Museum and help organize the Northern Rails Operations Weekend.

Future meetings will remain on Sundays at 4 PM EDT. 

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 811 2792 5656
Password: 2HNpA4

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May 31, 2020 Meetup Report

Video Replay:

Carl Blum owns the Misery and Short Life Railroad. Carl discovered toy train collecting in 1994 and operations in 1995. First Place in the K-Line layout design in 1996. Publishing model railroad articles since 1998. Convention Clinics since 2011. You can see more about his layout here:

Carl's presentation is available for download here

Tom Cain (backup presenter) has worked on the board of the Central Indiana Division of the NMRA for at least 15 years.  His layout was built with the help of three good friends and he's been running trains for 10 years and doing operations for at least 7 years.  He will discuss how the JMRI Operations software uses the layout owner's car inventory and information regarding the size of layout sidings and cars needed at those sidings to generate switch lists for layout operation. You can see more about his layout here:

Tom's presentation is available for download here.


May 24, 2020 Meetup Report

Video Replay:

Dan Hinel's railroad is the RailXpress, which is a terminal switching railroad with a CTC controlled double track beltline configuration surrounding a metropolitan area of Gotham. You can download Dan's presentation here and you can view more about his railroad here:


May 17, 2020 Meetup Report

Video Replay:

Bob Ellis is a member of the UP Wyoming Division Historical Society and discussed passenger operations. Download this document for more information about the layout  You can see more about the organization at

Dave Abeles provided this guide to all the software used for remote operations on his railroad. 


May 9, 2020 Meetup Report

Unfortunately, the meeting did not get recorded. However, you can download Burr Stewart's slide deck here:


May 2, 2020 Meetup Report

Video Replay:

John is from Syracuse, Indiana and his railroad is called the Burlington Southern. You can see more about his layout here:

Thomas Stephens presented the operations scheme for the Texas Northern Model Railroad Club. You can visit the club site at

Notes from the session:

  • The telephone system used by John Hanske is a PABX, 8 station unit. Model # is MS108-GSM. MK308., MFG Vintelecom SV308.


April 26, 2020 Meetup Report

Video Replay:

Richard Sieben is from Island Lake, Illinois and he's modeling the Illinois Northern, which also includes the Chicago Junction and Belt Railway of Chicago. You can see more about his layout here:

Mark Dance is from Vancouver, BC, Canada and his railroad is called the Columbia & Western. You can see all his videos here:


Meeting Format and Rules

Because of the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on our hobby, the OpSIG started hosting virtual meetups. The format is simple: 

  • 5 minutes: announcements
  • 20 minutes: presenter #1
  • 5 minutes: questions
  • 20 minutes: presenter #2
  • 5 minutes: questions

After the two presenters, the virtual meeting is opened for general discussion. For each scheduled event, we plan for two presenters and a backup presenter, since technology sometimes prevents connections, etc. 

In terms of content, we want to stay focused on operations. That said, some things just don't work on Zoom:

  • Playing a video through Zoom is painful. It's best to share that video URL in advance or after the fact and we'll link to it from this page. If you do have video to stream, make sure that when you show the video, check the box that says Optimize for video when you choose which screen to share.
  • Layout tours are best done as prerecorded video that can be shared. If you want to do live video of particular parts of your layout, that's fine, but keep the focus on operations.
  • You may want to have a second person acting as your camera person if you're going to be moving around.

If you're interested in presenting, please contact Eric Smith at Eric can also do a test meeting if you want to try out your video capabilities. 

Our meetings are hosted in Zoom and through the end of May, we can accommodate up to 500 participants. After May, the OpSIG board will determine if the interest is high enough to continue the large meetings for another month. Without the “large meeting” add on, we're limited to 100 participants. However, we are also recording our sessions for publication on YouTube. 

Because of the large number of participants, we have to put a few extra rules into place:

  • All participants will remain muted until the host unmutes them.
  • If you have a question, you can either type it in the chat window or you can raise your hand. To get to the Raise Hand feature, click the Participants button to see a list of other participants.
  • At the lower right hand corner of this list, there is a button with an ellipsis (...) on it. Click there and you can choose Raise Hand. This will notify the host that you want to talk and the host will unmute you.
  • A final rule that I am sad to have to list - if you're going to turn your video on, put clothes on. Apparently there was someone shirtless in the last call that I didn't see and let's just say he was not exactly runway supermodel caliber.

Also, since we don't have time to introduce almost 90 people, you can change your name for just this meeting to show your name, location, and/or favorite railroads, if you like. For instance, I might set mine to this:

Eric Smith, Fishers IN, Canadian Pacific/BNSF

To do this, you can click the More button next to your name in the Participants panel and choose Rename.