Model Train Forum banner

1 - 18 of 18 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
574 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
What would be the thinking about having some signals on the railroad that are lit, but didn't actually respond to anything.

I'm doing a lot with led lighting and signals seem like they would add a lot of ambiance to a railroad, I'd like a few for scenery. I'm not to the point that I want to jump into blocks and sensors, etc., that's a whole new world for me. I have too much other work to do first.

I'm HO scale, do not operate but rather I'm building for the visual effects and a place to just run trains. I'm DCC, have started on JMRI, and use MRC.

Any reason I shouldn't add signals on a fake basis for the visual effect?

Deane
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
574 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for your thoughts Wvgca. I'll add another question since I haven't started looking at signals at all. I have no clue what's out there. I could use suggestions.

I'd like something that looks really cool, maybe even a bridge type, not sure yet. I'd just as soon they weren't super expensive, but I can live with whatever it takes to get the effect. Later, they might actually do something rather than just be lit.

I realize various roads used different styles, I'm mostly U.P. with a little Burlington. I'm pretty loose on specific authenticity.

What sort of voltage do signals usually run on, or do they vary by brand? I have plenty of 12v. around for my LED lighting, and use 1k resistors as needed.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,444 Posts
12 volt with a 1k resistor for each led in the signals will work fine ... adjust up or down for the brightness wanted ..

plastic signal heads are more reasonable than brass
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,076 Posts
Now might be a good time to learn about using an Arduino for LED control. You could Pulse Width Modulate the LED for Brightness and put in a random on/off sequence. Some day when you put in sensors, you can do the logic in the Arduino also! Yiu could also experiment with serially connected LED's, so you could control the color of all your signal LED's with one signal from the Arduino. That would be the ultimate flexibility!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,050 Posts
Any reason I shouldn't add signals on a fake basis for the visual effect?
so you might have a signal with a red, yellow and green LED, and just have the green LED lit?

i think without getting too complicated, you could add an optical sensor between the ties at the signal and a little bit of logic to make the signal red while a train is above the sensor. A 555 could be used, not as a timer, but use its two outputs to control a red and green LED.

A circuit like this, except using the sensor, photo-transistor and resistor to control the trigger and threshold voltage
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,514 Posts
Consider using the Z Stuff HO signals. They have a variety of configurations, simple to install with just 2 power wires. The built in IR sensor responds to train movement using a timer. I have the Z Stuff S gauge signals on my layout and am very happy with them. They all a lot of interesting detail with minimal work. Pricing is not too bad.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
574 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Well, I asked for some thoughts to work on and I got them. Much appreciated. Probably the biggest thing I learned is that I have some learning to do. This is something I had not previously paid any attention to other than admiring their look on other layouts.

After spending an hour or so searching around on the internet, I decided to check what might be most reflective of U.P. practice, though I realize with all of the mergers and the passing of time, there is no single set standard.

I happened to run into a set that is pretty reflective of the U.P. around Omaha, so I figured this being home base for the U.P., they were no doubt chosen by the U.P. The price is cheap, they are LED, so I thought I'd start with these as a "mess with set". They're even the right color for U.P.

https://www.amazon.com/JTD873GYR-Railroad-Signals-3-Lights-Green-Yellow-Red/dp/B07FGFH57F

There are some good ideas in the posts above for improving them from just having a light on. I intend to pursue some of those suggestions as I have time to think it through.

I appreciate the trouble everyone has gone to and I did get a lot out of the thread already. I always seem to on this forum anytime I ask for advice.

Deane
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,374 Posts

Deane, This is a crossing signal I put together. Super cheap.
Less than a dollar but I already had the Bachmann cross bucks.
The cross buck had a round piece of red plastic that popped right out and the leds fit perfectly. The Leds were flashing Leds. They
flash a little fast but no biggie to me. I did not want to mess with sensors either. I run my trains slow so not a problem to turn
on/off switch to on as train approaches the crossing. LOL, keeps me involved.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,209 Posts
keep the discussion going

In my humble opinion, install the signals with a 3 or 4 point terminal board under the layout.

For example a 3-color LED signal will have 6 wires, you would connect one wire of each bulb to terminal 1, red to terminal 2, yellow to terminal 3, green to terminal 4.

For now, run DC power negative to terminal 1, positive to any other terminal.

You could buy the inexpensive Chinese e-bay signal lights for now, and replace later with better looking signals.

Now we need some experts to tell us who makes good true to scale tower signals. I've been trying to make my own with 3mm LED's, but they may be too large (10 diameter in HO scale)


https://www.ebay.com/i/401535431762?chn=ps&norover=1&mkevt=1&mkrid=711-117182-37290-0&mkcid=2&itemid=401535431762&targetid=595232348789&device=c&mktype=pla&googleloc=9053087&poi=&campaignid=2086088130&mkgroupid=77632104192&rlsatarget=aud-622524042438:pla-595232348789&abcId=1141016&merchantid=101704769&gclid=CjwKCAjwibzsBRAMEiwA1pHZrq95l2jCoJdpaiLTyRctiohUxHAN0rLBKIf5ZasD_5kTwKwgkoCNYhoCI9kQAvD_BwE
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,050 Posts
I happened to run into a set that is pretty reflective of the U.P. around Omaha, so I figured this being home base for the U.P., they were no doubt chosen by the U.P. The price is cheap, they are LED, so I thought I'd start with these as a "mess with set". They're even the right color for U.P.

https://www.amazon.com/JTD873GYR-Railroad-Signals-3-Lights-Green-Yellow-Red/dp/B07FGFH57F
Here, Dean, save a few bucks:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/JTD873GYRCN-3pcs-Model-Railroad-Train-Signals-3-Lights-Block-Signal-HO-Scale/352362316721?hash=item520a6e43b1:g:zv8AAOSwwFNb~gHC ;)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,865 Posts
BLMA used to market some real nice signal heads and masts. I would think they can still be found on ebay. I think Atlas bought them out and is turning them into more of a toy like signal for the Christmas tree layouts.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
574 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
Dennis461: I concur with your thoughts. I terminate everything under the layout with a terminal strip. Various number terminals for assorted applications. Soldering under the layout, or using the various clip on devices aren't for me. Probably traces back to my start in life as a broadcast engineer where everything had to work every time. My thoughts on approach are pretty much as you described.

Flyboy2510: I ordered yesterday via Amazon Prime for a couple of dollars more than the link you posted. Exact same product. It arrives tomorrow (Sunday). I'm anxious to see how the quality looks.

My layout is about 15' x 25' with double track mainline. I'm now thinking I might divide the loop in at minimum 2 blocks on each track so that the signals can be made to actually work, but without going to a huge amount of trouble at this time. I like long trains, so long blocks would seem appropriate, though I haven't learned enough to develop a feel for that factor yet.

I've quickly learned that automatic signals take a lot of learning and understanding, something I'm not ready to devote time to right now.

One thing that has already popped into my mind is that with double track mainline all the way, I may need the signal bridge type rather than the stand alone type I ordered. The signal bridge type appear to be rather a rare commodity.

Deane
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
574 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
The 3 signals addressed earlier in this thread came today. Very impressive for the money. Detail is excellent and realistic. I have no criticism of any kind.

Wiring is well done. 4 leads. One positive with built in resistor, and 3 negative with color coded wires for the appropriate colored light.

Now comes the hard part, deciding what the control circuit will be comprised of, where to locate the signals, and how to break up the track in appropriate blocks.

Funny how I always start off thinking simple and then research leads me to complexity.

Oh yes, and my "Deane Still Plays With Trains" tee shirt came today.

Deane
 
1 - 18 of 18 Posts
Top