Good morning, thanks for the response Mark. Right now i'm using 2 BXP88's for detection and 3 DS64's for switch control. Just getting into using JMRI software.I've got a signal system on my layout using Digitrax hardware, but I'm not using these signal heads. When you say you have a Digitrax system, what components do you have exactly? Are you using SE8C boards? The SH2ABs are signal heads only and need some type of driver board to control them. They are meant to be used with SE8Cs. I'm sure they can be used with other controllers too, as they are really just LEDs on a PCB with integrated resistors. If you don't have any type of controller boards already, then you may be in for a surprise at how complicated and costly signaling can get.
Its a matter of personal taste as to if you want to use these signal heads or something else. These are pretty simple looking. The main advantage is that they are pre-assembled and are less costly compared to alternatives. You can find more realistic looking signals, but they will be more expensive.
I won't have any more than 32 signals, so 1 board should do it. I just have to figure out how to set up track detection using the JMRI software and my bxp 88's. Thanks again for the response, and I'll keep you posted on my progress.Ok, you're well on the way to being able to do signaling. As I said above, you're going to need some type of signal driver board. The SE8C is Digitrax's board for driving signal heads. It supports up to 32 signal heads. So you'll need to count how many heads you expect to need or want. Typically, you'll need 4 signal heads per turnout. You may also want a couple signal heads between adjacent occupancy blocks if there's no turnout between them. Do some studying of railroad signaling so you understand the basics of where they're used and why. You may want them to just "look pretty", which is fine, or you may want them to act more realistically. Getting them to act realistically will require more sophisticated programming which JMRI should be able to do. I use a software program called TrainController rather than JMRI, so I can't help you with JMRI specifics.
I have three SE8Cs for my layout, primarily because of the number of switch machines I needed to drive. I have a total of 44 signal heads on my layout. To save money, don't put signal heads where you can't see them, of course. If you end up getting higher detail signal masts, you may choose to have them be unlit where they're pointing in a direction where their lights can't be seen. If you go with the SE8C, you'll also need wire/cable to connect the SE8C to your signal heads. Digitrax makes the SDCK Signal Driver Cable Kit for this purpose. This kit is very overpriced, but the concept is great. You can buy equivalent ribbon cable and connectors online through an electronics supply company for much less cost. If you go this route, let me know and I can look up the part numbers and company from which I ordered my cable kit parts.
Working signals look great and add a lot of realism to your layout and are really gratifying to get working. Let me know if you have more questions.