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 A very simple signaling system
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Author Topic Next Topic: DCC switch wiring  

MarkF
Engineer

Premium Member


Posted - 03/17/2017 :  12:21:46 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
A friend of mine has an operations oriented layout that generates a lot of mainline traffic. He is NOT into electronics, nor or any others in our group, but we recently got into a conversation about signals on the railroad.

Let me start off by emphasizing we need to apply the KISS theory (Keep It Simple Stupid) to this project! While functioning CTC machines are cool, the electronics behind it are WAY over the ability of those involved.

The conversation started by suggesting we could simply have rotary switches at the dispatcher's desk which the dispatcher would use to select the aspect (clear, approach, stop). (He will be using PRR position signals) While this approach would work, the problem is how do you know when the train has past the signal, or more importantly, when to turn the signal to the stop position.

After some discussion, we wondered if there was a simple circuit out there somewhere that would work like this; the dispatcher pushes a button which would 'clear' the signal. Then, an optical detection device located between the rails past the signal would drop the aspect back to stop, and stay at stop until the button was pushed again to clear the signal.

There are no complicated interlockings involved. We just basically was an 'on/off' circuit that would provide a clear/stop aspect.

Any help would be appreciated!
Mark

Country: USA | Posts: 13181

cajon
Engine Wiper



Posted - 03/17/2017 :  2:32:31 PM  Show Profile  Send cajon a Yahoo! Message  Reply with Quote
Do a Goog;e search for "GCOR Signals" to learn about how they are used on the real RRs.

Andy Jackson
Santa Fe Springs CA
LAJ/ATSF Modeler

Country: USA | Posts: 246 Go to Top of Page

MarkF
Engineer

Premium Member


Posted - 03/17/2017 :  5:30:23 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks Andy. Good information there. Perhaps my request wasn't clear though.

What I am actually looking for is some ideas of a simple circuit. Push a button, it clears the signal. Train goes over an optical detector, the signal goes to stop.

Anyone?


Mark

Country: USA | Posts: 13181 Go to Top of Page

rca2
Engine Wiper

Posted - 03/17/2017 :  7:24:35 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by MarkF

...What I am actually looking for is some ideas of a simple circuit. Push a button, it clears the signal. Train goes over an optical detector, the signal goes to stop....


Signals confuse me thoroughly.

I was thinking you could make the problem much easier by going with a simple 2-aspect signal. Regardless of what you do, I think you will need separate circuits for interlocking/junction/siding blocks and linear blocks.

Here is a radical idea: why not just leave the linear block signals permanently set to an approach signal (or switched between stop and slow on a single track main--only one switch needed per block).

I thought you might like this article I found with a general overview. http://www.hubdiv.org/articles/signalsClinic.pdf

Can't wait to see what signal solution you chose.


Modeling Arizona Eastern Railroad, Hayden Junction (1920), in On30

Edited by - rca2 on 03/17/2017 7:25:31 PM

Country: USA | Posts: 409 Go to Top of Page

BurleyJim
Fireman

Premium Member


Posted - 03/17/2017 :  7:33:28 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Mark,

Are you guys DCC or DC? Is the layout already wired using blocks? A simple block detector could make the dispatcher aware of which block was being used. I had some old DC detectors that jbvb very successfully used. There are DCC block detectors from Bruce Chubb, Digitrax, etc. that will do a nice job of informing the dispatcher what's where. The logic behind the 'rotary switch usage' adds another level of complexity. Google "model train detection circuits" and look through some of the solutions out there.

Jim



Country: USA | Posts: 2084 Go to Top of Page

dave1905
Fireman



Posted - 03/26/2017 :  8:40:15 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
You could check out the Model Railroad Hobbyist forum, they have a thread on Arduino circuits that might be useful.

Dave H.

Iron men and wooden cars

Country: USA | Posts: 1093 Go to Top of Page

sjconrail
Engine Wiper



Posted - 03/31/2017 :  11:28:44 AM  Show Profile  Visit sjconrail's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I second Dave's comment. Arduino would give you local control over sections and could potentially be daisy chained through outputs to get back to a dispatchers desk. Is it a requirement to have everything electronic? The April MRR had a manual signal system that seems to work pretty well for the author and a few of his layouts. Not sure the size of their layouts compared to who you may be talking about but it was a very interesting concept,

Phil



Country: USA | Posts: 299 Go to Top of Page

quartergauger48
Fireman

Premium Member


Posted - 03/31/2017 :  3:13:29 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Mark, have you looked at "Z stuff for trains" signals. Built in infra red detector, works really excellent. Very easy to wire and completely uncomplicated to install. A little pricey, but worth it. Can also daisy chain with no hassles'...When building my layout I researched every type available, and chose these. Highly recommend'..


Ted in South Western, Connecticut

Country: USA | Posts: 4368 Go to Top of Page

MarkF
Engineer

Premium Member


Posted - 04/01/2017 :  01:55:53 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks Ted. That is very similar to what we are looking for. I have never heard of them but will look into it further.

Their site doesn't seem to have a lot of information on the signals though, but I see the signals have an input for 'external control', what ever that means! What I am looking for is something just like that, but it would stay at stop until it gets reset by the push of a button.


Mark

Country: USA | Posts: 13181 Go to Top of Page

BurleyJim
Fireman

Premium Member


Posted - 04/01/2017 :  07:34:46 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Mark,

You guys might want to check out this www.elkproducts.com/products/elk-912-compact-relay-module-12-volt-dc-coil as a 'controller'. It's a simple solid state latching relay. One input triggers it, and then can be manually reset. There are other 'latching' relays that would do what you guys want to do as well.

Jim



Country: USA | Posts: 2084 Go to Top of Page

Greg@mnrr
New Hire

Posted - 04/27/2017 :  12:19:11 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Have you checked out Circuitron's SA-1 Block Signal Animator? Circuitron.com. Easy installation and operations. As a train passes over a optical sensor, the signal will change to a red, then yellow and finally green. You can set the time form 10 to approximately 30 seconds. I have several on my layout and I like how simple they work.

Works like the real thing.

Greg


Where the Milwaukee Road Meets the C&NW, SOO and Wisconsin Central

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jbvb
Fireman

Premium Member


Posted - 04/27/2017 :  1:36:15 PM  Show Profile  Visit jbvb's Homepage  Reply with Quote
I installed Circuitron Signal Animators on my Rowley modules years ago. If it had external inputs for 'red' and 'yellow', I might have gone with more instead of building my own signal system (Circuitron SD-3 drivers, various detectors and one relay per power turnout).

What Mark described in his original post could be done with 1) a signal driver card that can run a position-light head, 2) an IRDoT module with infra-red detector at the block boundary, 3) a relay wired to latch when the IRDoT goes 'occupied' and 4) a normally-closed pushbutton that the dispatcher presses to unlatch the relay. But if you buy the driver and the IRDoT rather than build them, you're spending $30-40 per block plus the signal, same range as my system.



Country: USA | Posts: 5101 Go to Top of Page

MarkF
Engineer

Premium Member


Posted - 04/28/2017 :  12:28:16 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks James. Someone recently suggested experimenting with a latching relay. If it works the way he suggests, it may be just what we are looking for.

Mark

Country: USA | Posts: 13181 Go to Top of Page

jbvb
Fireman

Premium Member


Posted - 04/28/2017 :  10:28:34 AM  Show Profile  Visit jbvb's Homepage  Reply with Quote
If you knew a circuit designer with contacts in the 'low volume circuit board manufacturer' industry, the price could probably be reduced by combining the IR detector, latching logic and signal driver into one board. Minimum volume might be in the 20 - 100 range shipped from some place like Serbia, which could also populate your own PRR. Note that I am not that circuit designer, but I know several people who might be worth asking.


Country: USA | Posts: 5101 Go to Top of Page

MarkF
Engineer

Premium Member


Posted - 04/28/2017 :  11:38:31 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks James. For my layout, I'll be doing the full CMRI system. I already have the detection installed. This is for another local guy who, if he does this, wants something simple and hopefully, relatively inexpensive.

Mark

Country: USA | Posts: 13181 Go to Top of Page
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