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Discussion Starter #1
Hi folks, I am new to the hobby and I am currently planning a shelf/ceiling O scale layout that will travel through 3 bedrooms and a closet. I was thinking about unique ideas for this, and was wondering if the following idea can be wired up and how one would do it:

Basically, can you create a bypass section using a couple Y switches where one side is powered and the other insulated until the switch is thrown? And if so, can one of those "infrared activation units" be used to activate the switches? So then you could have one train drive onto one side, and when it reaches a certain point it would activate the switches and switch power to the other side? Thus, you would have 2 different trains running the layout alternately without user input.

I thought it would be neat to have the train enter the closet section, and then a different train comes out the other side.

Please let me know if something like this is possible or not. Like I said, I am new to the hobby and just brainstorming right now.

Thanks!
Rob
 

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Discussion Starter #3
welcome!

i don't see why not. 100% possible
Thanks for the response! So, next questions then :

- How would you insulate the one section of track when the switch is thrown to the other side?

- Is there any harm in killing power or applying power abruptly on these engines? Will it just get a litte bit of wheel spin or is it bad for the engine? Because switching power from one side to the other would then start the engine up at like 1/2 power or whatever we have it set at.

Thanks,
Rob
 

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there is such thing as insulated rail joiners. they are plastic and as the name implies any 2 sections connected with these will not share power.

perhaps not to bad but i don't like "abruptness" you speak off. if i ever to do layout automation i would build something like this:
http://home.cogeco.ca/~rpaisley4/AutoStop.html

since you were talking throwing turnouts automatically too, you might as well be interested in Robs (well, he says his name is Rob as well, lol) section about detection ...
goodness, for some reason i can't find it this morning...

well look through his site, he has lots of interesting ideas
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
there is such thing as insulated rail joiners. they are plastic and as the name implies any 2 sections connected with these will not share power.

perhaps not to bad but i don't like "abruptness" you speak off. if i ever to do layout automation i would build something like this:
http://home.cogeco.ca/~rpaisley4/AutoStop.html

since you were talking throwing turnouts automatically too, you might as well be interested in Robs (well, he says his name is Rob as well, lol) section about detection ...
goodness, for some reason i can't find it this morning...

well look through his site, he has lots of interesting ideas


Thanks for the link! I love this auto-slowdown circuit you linked here. That could certainly solve one part of the equation.

OK, so I am not seeing this in my head...how would you use these "insulated rail joiners" to insulate one section of track from another and be able to switch the section being powered?

Just so we are on the same page here, this is what I am thinking in my head:

Code:
        __x______a_____A____x_
-------<__x______b_____B____x_>------
|     1                        2    |
|                                   |
|                                   |
-------------------------------------
- Train travels through switch 1, enters track section a, and reaches point A.
- Hitting point A triggers both switches 1 and 2 to change position, as well as switching power to track section b, where the second train sits and will then take off and run the circuit.
- Vice versa when train completes loop and re-enters track b.

I am assuming this insulated connector would go at points (x), but how would these sections be turned on and off?

Weird, this sounds super simple and complicated at the same time to me :)

Thanks again!
Rob
 

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Rob,
I'm an acknowledged dunderhead at electronics, but the bigger problem seems to be how you hide an entire train in your closet. *L* For example, if you used two transformers, T1 and T2:

E1ooo> E20000>
------------A----------------------------------------------------------------B-----
T1 T2 T1


Transformer 1 powers the main part of your railroad. Transformer 2 powers only the part in the closet, between A and B. Infrared switches are at A and B. As engine 1 (moving left to right) reaches point A, the switch powers up the T2 segment and E2 moves forward. When E2 ceases to block the switch at B, power to T2 is cut off and E1 stops. T1 is always on; T2 is only on when both switches are blocked. Is that doable? Of course, you still have to find a way to hide the full length of that T2 section in the closet, and time it to get all of E1's cars onto T2 before it shuts down by E2 leaving.
 

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For some reason, my E2 engine keeps backing up to the E1 unit in the message. It should be over by B!


Grrrrr! And T2 belongs between A and B....
 

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the way i see it you will have 3 independantly powered blocks:
1. block A
2. Block B
3. the rest - directly powered.

or instead of isolation you can just use power routing turnouts, such as peco-insulfrog. they will make it so the only powered section is the one set.
so train goes around , pulls into its siding, sensors detect it and stop it. then some sort of devise detectes no power on rails and flips both turnouts for the other siding. when power is gradually resotred the other train will move since now its the other siding that is getting power.

so now you need some device that will trigger upon power outage. perhaps pair of relays on each line, charging capacitor when power present and releasing its charge through coils of both switch machines as soon as power gone. other options obviously exist

with that said, i don't think such layout will be interesting unless it is unattended display in some store, or something
 

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The problem is a little advanced. You need to decide on your track and transformers. Most switches have auto derailing. You need to decide between three rail and the newer two rail track because they take different cars.
You will need a track detection circuit tied to a relay. You may want to get it working on a ping pong table before it goes in a closet.
After doing a reverse circuit, It will not be easy.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
tankist, thanks for the ideas. And yes, this is meant to be a mostly unattended display which will run on a shelf near the ceiling through both my kids rooms. This idea would just make it a little more visual with a switch between 2 different trains running the circuit.

t-man, I guess I should have mentioned the hardware I am going to be using. I have on order a new MTH PS2 steam passenger train and I will be using Realtrax track. The set comes with a 100W transformer. And yes, I will certainly be setting up and troubleshooting the layout in the shop before installing anything in it's permanent location.

So how do these insulated track sections work? You apply power to a separate section of track, and then the train just bridges the gap to travel from one section on the track to another? Is that the idea?

Can I power both(or 3) sections of track with the same transformer, just using some sort of switch or circuit inline to alternately cut the power on the bypass sections?

Thanks!
Rob
 

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So three rail and AC power it is. I am no real trak expert but all you may have to so is pull the pins to insulate a section since it snaps together. A picture of the end of the track section would be great. Each section has it's own feed. You can keep your grounds commected but the center rail is the key. Now with that feed line it will be tied to a toggle. When you go auto it will be a relay. Next you need to figure out how your switches work. Then attach them to a relay. Gee and you even haven't got to any electronics yet. You may have to go with four switches instead of Y's. They may not make them.
For track detection consider a magnet on the train and a reed switch on the trak. For the most part I can only suggest having never done it.
 

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doh, O scale again... i guess plastic isolators don't apply.
but then Tman, is there such thing as power routing turnouts for o scale? if so, no need to isolate anything, as as soon as train triggers both turnouts to choose the second route it suddenly finds itsel on unpowered section.

i;m sure turnouts can be modified to be power routing...
 

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If he used vintage S scale, he could just tell the hamster when to start and stop the train. Those guys work for peanuts, too.
 

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Anton. You are saying just have a relay operate off the switch? For power it may be better just to have one track section shut off so when the engine gets there it stops. With track detection the relay would start the other train.

Two problems exists. Direct the train path, then stop the train and start the other. By moving a switch is too early in the process for my logic. To me it has to be ready for the approaching train after the second one leaves.
Just an idea How would the power routing work out?
 

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Discussion Starter #15
These are some great ideas guys, thanks, and keep em coming!

How would these power routing switches work? I don't see anything like this for Realtrax, unless I am not looking hard enough. Is it possible to take a normal remote switch for Realtrax and somehow modify it to be a power-routing switch? If so, is there a tutorial out there on how to do it?
Also, to create this parallel track section, what is the closest I can get 2 trains to each other? Do I use an O72 Wye switch and the O72 turns back to make it parallel? Or just normal switches and have the one side curved? O72 for these?

Looks like I have a couple steps to work on to make this happen:

- First Set up the switches and parallel track sections, and modify them into power routing switches. I think this would allow me to be able to do the train switch manually by just stopping the train at the right spot, flipping the switch(es), and the bringing power back up to start the other train. Obviously need to be careful of train location when switching.

- Next, work on automating this process. Use track detectors to somehow automatically flip the swicthes, thus switching trains. At this point, make sure to keep the trains going slowly so the abrupt stop/start of power is not too bad.

- Finally, integrate something like the auto-slowdown-stop-startup circuit mentioned earlier into the process to slow and stop one train, flip switch, then soft-start the second train.

Now that I see what would have to go into this, I may want to move this section of track out into one of the rooms so I can watch this magic happen instead of hiding it away!

-Rob
 

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Anton. You are saying just have a relay operate off the switch? For power it may be better just to have one track section shut off so when the engine gets there it stops. With track detection the relay would start the other train.

Two problems exists. Direct the train path, then stop the train and start the other. By moving a switch is too early in the process for my logic. To me it has to be ready for the approaching train after the second one leaves.
Just an idea How would the power routing work out?
we already established (or so i think) the use of the slowdown/ramp-up circuit for soft start and stop. directing the train path (switching the active platform) only needs to happen when both are stopped (at station). so i was thinking about some separate circuit that will detect power loss (or power resoted) and will trigger the turnout upon it. perhaps it can be a simple latching relay, solenoid of which is powered from mainline tracks, but then it need to be made so starting voltage of that solenoid is lower then that of train so the turnout switches first. or something solid-state and bit more elaborate (i don't like mechanical solutions).
 

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How would these power routing switches work? I don't see anything like this for Realtrax, unless I am not looking hard enough.
i have no idea how this works outside of HO world (same goes to your parrallel track question). but the concept is that turnout is powered from facing end and both streight and diverging routes depend on this supply (no direct power lead for them). depending on which route the turnout has selected, only that route receives power on both rails (or 3r rail, dough, we talking O here).
 

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Rob
these are completely hand built. If you want to look at some off the self items read up on auto Blocks. This allows two trains on one track, one engine stops the other before they colide. You want the opposite effect, you want to start another engine and have the trigger engine stop.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
OK, so I went to the train store and bought 2 Realtrax turnouts and started looking at the documentation.
In the documentation, they have a wiring concept that is part of the equation here. It says to remove the outer rail connector on the switches, and thus create 2 insulated sections of track off the main line. These 2 sections get connected to the transformer through a double-throw switch, which will allow you to toggle which side of the turnout gets power. Then they say to parallel the turnouts so they can be thrown at once. That's fine and good, but it still is a 2-step process of turnout switch, and power switch. So how would I connect the turnout switches to the power-routing switch to both flip the turnout and power with a single throw? Some sort of relay (terminology?) to trigger a momentary switch when power is applied? I am pretty electronically inept, so I am not sure what to look into.

Agsin, thanks for the help folks!
 

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I read the Lionel version and their switches connect to their DCC setup. Somaybe they can program a switch to work. MTH may have the same setup. I have never done this before. I can only guess what to do. Just so that you understand. You can try and find a momentary relay that would work. SO you activate one relay and then that activates the momentary one. Or see if youcan build an actuator like Anton is going to do. I did copy the MTH manual.This is very specialized to the product.The problem is that the plan is not made.


A thought, if the closet is in the middle why can't you have two trains running. One on each side in a loop with the siding in the closet. One gets to the closet and waits for the second to pass through. Technically they run in opposite directions.This could be done mechanically with track connectors and block signals. MTH must have something like this. My specialty is Lionel. This would reduce your problem to stop the first train. Detect the second train. Determine how you want your switches to work. They are partiallly auto matic anyway. If the switches are rigged opposite they will never collide. Let the auto do the work when the train leaves the switches switch. I think this is the simplest way.


Going back to your first plan the two switches are rigged to feed inner or outer sidings.
Train A is in the outer and goes out. Auto features works and the the other switches to outer position for the return. Train returns activates a relay to killa section of track ahead and powers the other siding. Train a stops. Train B starts AUto derail works,second switch readies for return, and train leaves and returns to inner loop. Activates same relay to kill power ahead and turn on outer loop. Train B stops and A starts and a loop is born. The relay is 12 volt DC to operate unless a simpler contact exist. If the system fails the same train keeps running.
 
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