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Thread: Operational Signals?

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    Default Operational Signals?

    Once again, I am just "playing around with ideas". Ever since I started getting serious about this hobby (X amount of years ago) I have thought about things such as remote turn out operation (tortoise if you will) lighting and signals. The first two I have come to terms with; however the latter (signalling) still alludes me.

    What I would like to know (to begin with) is what is needed for working signals on a layout aside from the signals themselves?
    Cheers Tony

    "Knowing what to do is one thing ... being able to do it is another"
    "It is easy to criticize ... a lot harder when you have to justify it"

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    Some form of detection. It depends on how close to the real thing you want, the closer you get the more complex and expensive it becomes. You not only have to detect locomotives but rollingstock as well.
    Digitrax (among others) do make the items for this but it's more complex than what I'm interested in so never really looked at it.
    Cheers,

    Russ

    CEO of Devil's Gate Mining Co.



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    Thanks Russ, and yeah - I figured it was going to be "complex" at any level where I am concerned. The ideal would be to have it as real as possible; however ............... that might depend on how many signals I "might need" and where they would be/should be positioned.
    Cheers Tony

    "Knowing what to do is one thing ... being able to do it is another"
    "It is easy to criticize ... a lot harder when you have to justify it"

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    Don't know anything about signals yet , but I hope you don't mind asking why you write Tortoise , are you aware that DCC Concepts with their Cobalt turnout motors has a base in Australia ? You probably are aware of it , but just in case. I have several of them and Tortoise and I like the Cobalts a little bit more because of the easier connecting.
    As long as I can model in N-scale, I know I'm not old

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    Janbouli,

    Yep I do know about the DCC Concepts Cobalt's and they will be what I use. I just couldn't think of their name at the time I couldn't agree more with you when it comes to the Cobalt's easier installation either. They seem (to me) to be more robust as well.

    I'm also considering their Cobalt SS motors. They seem a little easier again as they sit on top of the layout and not beneath it. While they may detract a tad from the aesthetics, I hate working under the bench work
    Cheers Tony

    "Knowing what to do is one thing ... being able to do it is another"
    "It is easy to criticize ... a lot harder when you have to justify it"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Janbouli View Post
    are you aware that DCC Concepts with their Cobalt turnout motors has a base in Australia ?
    They've moved headquarters back to the UK.
    They have dealers here in Australia, hobby shops that mostly order stuff in as needed with the wait for shipping from the UK.
    Cheers,

    Russ

    CEO of Devil's Gate Mining Co.



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    Quote Originally Posted by wombat457 View Post
    What I would like to know (to begin with) is what is needed for working signals on a layout aside from the signals themselves?
    I assume you are talking light signals? Then it's a question of how far you want to go...

    1) you can just use simple switches to turn on and off the different lights.
    2) you can use function decoders (NCE light-it would be my favorite) and enable/disable the signals from your throttle
    3) you can use a panel (either real or on a screen built with JMRI or other software) to control the signals
    4) you can automatically change signal aspects depending on the turnout settings if you control the turnouts remotely - either with a panel or with some extra logic around the turnout control switches
    5) you can add detection, either just for locos or also for cars and program something to set the signals correctly - usually connected through Loconet

    I believe from steps 4) onwards, the easiest solution will be something around JMRI.

    Heiko

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    Thanks Heiko - all sounds complicated; however, option 2 might be okay for my skills, or lack of them maybe.
    Cheers Tony

    "Knowing what to do is one thing ... being able to do it is another"
    "It is easy to criticize ... a lot harder when you have to justify it"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Heiko View Post
    you can automatically change signal aspects depending on the turnout settings if you control the turnouts remotely - either with a panel or with some extra logic around the turnout control switches
    If I opted for this method (my preferred depending on complexity) how would that be done using DCC Concept Machines? Okay, have looked at the DCC Concepts site for their Cobalt Omega A switches and the install instructions are great for its installation; however, I don't understand how to connect signals to them. From their diagram, there seems to be only one wire coming from the Omega and it doesn't show where it goes or what it connects to?

    Last edited by wombat457; 20th Oct 2019 at 08:50 AM.
    Cheers Tony

    "Knowing what to do is one thing ... being able to do it is another"
    "It is easy to criticize ... a lot harder when you have to justify it"

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    hummm i too have been thinking about this as well. trying to gather as much info as i can.

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    Hopefully we can learn this together
    Cheers Tony

    "Knowing what to do is one thing ... being able to do it is another"
    "It is easy to criticize ... a lot harder when you have to justify it"

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    One other thing at the moment ... what make and type of signals should I look at?

    My intention, if I can talk the better half into it, is to buy one Cobalt and signal and connect them to a turnout etc to see if I can do it before I lay out X amount of dollars.
    Cheers Tony

    "Knowing what to do is one thing ... being able to do it is another"
    "It is easy to criticize ... a lot harder when you have to justify it"

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    Automatic signals are very cool, but extremely complex and expensive to implement. Also, most model railroads are so small that there's not much point in signalling much more than around the turnouts anyway.

    If anyone doesn't think signal lights manually controlled by switches is realistic, they'd be surprised:
    http://media.gettyimages.com/videos/...3867?s=640x640

    If you can stand the look of them, an ebay seller called WeHonest sells inexpensive signals. They don't look TOO bad. Tomar makes really pretty signals, but they are expensive.
    "Do Not Hump!?!?! Does that mean what I think it means?!?"--Michelle Blanchard

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    Thanks and I have bought from WeHonest in the past and they are pretty good. The Tomar signals are nice but as you said, expensive for $27/28 each.

    Quote Originally Posted by ranulf View Post
    extremely complex and expensive to implement
    THIS scares me off Maybe I would be better off just having non operational ones just for appearances. Or, scratch the idea altogether. Does anyone have operational signals on their layouts by any chance?
    Cheers Tony

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    "It is easy to criticize ... a lot harder when you have to justify it"

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    There's nothing wrong with using switches for signals. That makes it easy, you just have to turn them on and off. You could also use a handy little gadget WeHonest also sells that will make the signal go red, then yellow for a while before going back to green.

    It all depends on what exactly you want. If you just want signals for looks, they don't have to work like the prototype and there are very simple and cheap ways to make them work. If you want a fully automatic prototypical signalling system, that's where it gets diffucult and expensive.

    Do you have a track plan posted? Where do you want your signals?
    "Do Not Hump!?!?! Does that mean what I think it means?!?"--Michelle Blanchard

    "People saw wood and say nothing, but railroad men saw trains and say things that are better left unprinted."--Charles De Lano Hine

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    ranulf,

    Thank you and yes I do have a track plan but here it is anyway. My gut feeling is to have the signals connected to the Cobalt's so they change with the points, nothing more complex than that Red and Green basically.

    Cheers Tony

    "Knowing what to do is one thing ... being able to do it is another"
    "It is easy to criticize ... a lot harder when you have to justify it"

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    Wow, that's a nice plan..... That sounds like a good idea using the cobalts to run little signals to start with. You might also try a few of these on your longer sections of track between switches:
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Logic-Delay...item2319d4ab44

    You might like the effect, and it's certainly cheap enough.
    "Do Not Hump!?!?! Does that mean what I think it means?!?"--Michelle Blanchard

    "People saw wood and say nothing, but railroad men saw trains and say things that are better left unprinted."--Charles De Lano Hine

    Down with UP

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    Also, if I may make a suggestion if you DO buy WeHonest signals, maybe buy a couple spares. A buddy of mine had about 20 or so, and 2 of them didn't function properly out of the box. One had a dead LED, another had 2 yellows instead of a green and a yellow. He made those work for him anyway.
    "Do Not Hump!?!?! Does that mean what I think it means?!?"--Michelle Blanchard

    "People saw wood and say nothing, but railroad men saw trains and say things that are better left unprinted."--Charles De Lano Hine

    Down with UP

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    Well, there are steps between "non operational" (dark) and "automatic" (lit and changing according to turnouts and trains in the vicinity), at least as far as I understand the terms.

    Guess we need to define that first

    I personally don't have any signals on my modules, but I have a couple of NCE Light-it decoders which I'm planning to setup for manual control through a JMRI panel for a modeling friend. Another modeling friend has installed semaphores at his interlocking tower to automatically fall closed whenever any turnout is set for "crossing the main". I don't know how he accomplished that, but he is using manual turnout control, so you'll need to find a different way for your Tortoise/Cobalt machines anyway. And another one has created a self-configuring fully automated signalling system with track occupation detection and IR sensors, running as APB signals: http://www.lundsten.dk/us_signaling/abs_apb/ - that one is really complicated and also expensive, I can't really recommend it. Although it is fun to operate, I guess it's not much fun to build and configure

    edit: Sorry, I'm slow responding, those others have made these points very nicely while I was still typing

    Heiko

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    Quote Originally Posted by ranulf View Post
    Wow, that's a nice plan..... That sounds like a good idea using the cobalts to run little signals to start with. You might also try a few of these on your longer sections of track between switches:
    https://www.ebay.com/itm/Logic-Delay...item2319d4ab44

    You might like the effect, and it's certainly cheap enough.
    Thanks and I am going to stick with Cobalt + Signal option I think. From everything that has been said, that will probably be my "safest option" - one I can't screw up too much. The circuit boards you linked me to, are they available from somewhere other than evil-bay? I just don't/wont shop evil-bay. Also, can you give me an idea of what they do?

    Quote Originally Posted by ranulf View Post
    Also, if I may make a suggestion if you DO buy WeHonest signals, maybe buy a couple spares. A buddy of mine had about 20 or so, and 2 of them didn't function properly out of the box. One had a dead LED, another had 2 yellows instead of a green and a yellow. He made those work for him anyway.
    I learnt that as well when I bought some lights from them so buying extra is a must just in case

    Heiko,

    I really don't want "full automation" as I don't want to get into JMRI or anything more than something basic due to my lack of electronics knowledge and abilities. I probably should have clarified that from the outset sorry.
    Cheers Tony

    "Knowing what to do is one thing ... being able to do it is another"
    "It is easy to criticize ... a lot harder when you have to justify it"

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