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Discussion Starter #1
Having some issue with a Tyco road crossing (I think it was Tyco). Some cars do ok with it, others do not. Passenger cars don't like it and my Bachmann lowboy didn't either. I can seem to figure out where the issue is. They are detailing, but not at the rail connections or at the approach like I would have expected. I know this is designed for use with a road bed material, which I'm not using, so there is a slight incline up to it. Any common areas to look for? I know that's not a lot to go on.



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Possibly the springs for the center section are too stiff for the weight of the cars and the wheels are riding high enough for the flanges to clear the top of the rail. Just a guess. I haven't had that accessory since I was about 12.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I'll try adding some weight and see what happens. The lowboy was carrying a switcher, so it should have been pretty heavy. But then that car had issues from time to time anyway.

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Discussion Starter #5
That helps for sure. I added 1.5oz directly over each truck and it runs with about a 90% success rate.

Is there a better way to do this without getting too complex? I know there is a system with optical sensors, but that's pretty pricey for one crossing. If I could get one that want raised up like this one it might help.

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Start with the NMRA car weight guide. If you're running cars as old as that crossing, you're going to find NONE of them are even close to the recommended weights. Get yourself a cheap digital kitchen scale, that way you can get your fleet set up better.

Now for that crossing... basically it relies on the wheel flanges pushing down on the center platform, so take a very close look at the wheels on all of your cars. You will probably find some have fairly normal wheel while others have pizza-cutter flanges (very noticeably over-sized compared to the cars the work correctly through this crossing). Most likely the cars with the larger flanges are going to be the ones you're having trouble with because they ride up on the center platform and can easily skip over the track from there.

And last, you have an S-curve forming on either side of the crossing. Having a single straight track between the curves will only work as long as everything else is perfect. The opposite curves put a large amount of stress on the cars, attempting to pull them off the track in opposite directions. To really reduce the problems you will continue to see with this crossing, try to redesign your layout so that you have another straight track on either side of the crossing. That will greatly reduce the strain from the S-curve, and it will make sure that all the cars are approaching the crossing in a straight line. It will also give you a little space to bring the track up level to the crossing before the cars get there.

I know redesigning your layout probably isn't what you want to hear, but I had a similar type of crossing when I was a kid, and it was nothing but trouble when I tried to use it between curves (even when they were going the same direction). I could never get it to work reliably until I moved the crossing to a straight section.
 

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I was never satisfied with mine because it would not operate like a real crossing. That was not a common realistic working accessory in the 70's or even the 80's.

Today, it is a common sight on most advanced railroads. I plan on eventually installing two crossing gates on my Modelleisenbahn, but there are other current priorities that must come first.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Yeah, I kind of had a feeling that might come into play. Luckily it's not that many sections to pull. I have enough room I might be able to do a short straight piece on either side, maybe 3-4". Not sure that's enough to help thought.

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Discussion Starter #9
I was never satisfied with mine because it would not operate like a real crossing. That was not a common realistic working accessory in the 70's or even the 80's.

Today, it is a common sight on most advanced railroads. I plan on eventually installing two crossing gates on my Modelleisenbahn, but there are other current priorities that must come first.
What are you going to use if you do it? I see an automated one with optical sensors and since big box that good under a table (which isn't an option for me), but it's like $150. To high for what it is in my mind.

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I haven't decided yet as there are many electronics available for setting this up. It will likely be Viessmann, but like I said I'm still undecided.

They are definitely not cheap if you want realism.
 

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If you’re running kd couplers the little magnetic “air lines” may be causing it if they’re making contact with the road center. I had a grade crossing like that when I was a kid and with the kd type coupler they would derail nearly every time and the old hook horn couplers would clear it. Just a thought.
 

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Here ist the Viessmann example, I'm really leaning towards this system. About $100 a crossing but well worth the effect.

 

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Discussion Starter #13
Walthers had one as well, about $60 for the controller and a pair of signals. Add in a second set and your at $90. It claims you can do two sets with one controller, but it's unclear how with the documentation they have. Maybe one way only (which would work for me). I don't see a gate available though. A few different types of signals, but no gates.

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Honestly if you have an interest in this sort of thing, adding motion and/or controlled lights to your layout, learning how to write code with arduinos is the way to go. Just as a comparison, a lot of people use Tortise machines to control their turnouts, at somewhere around $20 each. For my own setup, I'm using a particular type of arduino (about $5 each) which has pins laid out that are perfect for plugging in small servo motors ($1 each). I programmed it with code found online. The completed setup runs 16 servos, each controlling a single turnout, for a total cost of $21, compared to around $320 for the tortise machines. If you want to include switches for live frogs, those are an extra 10 cents each. Of course you have to spend a little time setting it up yourself, but for the considerable difference in cost to get exactly the same functionality, I find it is worth it.

Now consider your crossing gates. You'd need the LEDs for the signals, one servo for each crossing arm, plus two pairs of IR LEDs to detect the approaching train. Each arduino could run two different crossings, maybe three. Even if you're only building for a single crossing, you still have less than $10 in components, plus the knowledge to fine-tune the speed that the crossing arms move, the speed of the flashing lights, and the ability to modify this setup for various other train-activated items on your layout.

There is example code online for each part needed here -- controlling the servos, detecting the IR signal, and flashing LED's (literally one of the first things you learn how to do with an arduino).
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Actually I've been thinking about that. I don't know a lot about coding, but I have an Arduino board and an stm nucleo board I'm not using. Used a blue pill to create aDCC controller with code I purchased for $15 (need to do a write up). So I suppose a crossing is doable.

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Used a blue pill??? I have no idea what that means, other than a reference to Matrix?

You purchased code for a DCC decoder? Somebody ripped you off. The entire NMRA DCC library is free to use. For a great (free!) start on building a DCC decoder take a look at Geoff Bunza's articles and code using the NMRA library, starting with this one. This is what I started with for my own turnouts, with some slight modifications to set all pins as servo outputs and an adjustment to the available pins that is better suited the board I'm using. He has several example programs which walk you through different aspects from a simple decoder to adding functions and motor controls for a simple loco decoder.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Used a blue pill??? I have no idea what that means, other than a reference to Matrix?

You purchased code for a DCC decoder? Somebody ripped you off. The entire NMRA DCC library is free to use. For a great (free!) start on building a DCC decoder take a look at Geoff Bunza's articles and code using the NMRA library, starting with this one. This is what I started with for my own turnouts, with some slight modifications to set all pins as servo outputs and an adjustment to the available pins that is better suited the board I'm using. He has several example programs which walk you through different aspects from a simple decoder to adding functions and motor controls for a simple loco decoder.
No, I purchased code for a controller... Not decoder. Actually I think the code for the blue pill board (Amazon.com: 1PCS STM32F103C8T6 STM32 Core Minimum System Development Board Module: Industrial & Scientific ) is free, but it only works with his software, which is $15. Low Cost DCC Controller


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For what it's worth, DCC++ controller is free and open source. I'm using a variation for the ESP32 which provides wifi access so you can control locos from your browser. I'm working with the developer and have a new web interface nearly complete which is geared more for smaller mobile screens, hopefully we'll get it included in the next full release.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Lc-dcc is actually pretty nice. It's a full controller with read/write ability and uses an app or computer program. His license covers the firewater, so one covers you phone and pc and iPad if you want. I've got a total of about $40 into the project. And he has great customer support. If you aren't tech savvy he will walk you through the entire build.

If I'd have known about your option I would have looked into it for sure. But even if it provides the same support I've gotten with lc-dcc, I don't feel I've lost much. $15 is cheap and it seems like a good product.



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