Let's Talk Signals

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grande man

Bonafied Grande Nut
Hi everyone. We're planning to possibly signal our RR. Some of you may have seen it in the Virtual Tours section, The D&RGW Platte Canyon Sub. We're only in the planning stage currently and as it stands now, I'm a bit undecided as to how to proceed. I think it's going to take a bi-directional, three aspect system to satisfy us. I know that the Circuitron BD-1's will drive two aspects bi-directionally from each detector. Should we settle for that? It would be easier/cheaper but not nearly so realistic.

Here's what we have so far. Circuitron BD-1 Block Occupancy Detectors (3ea), SD-1 Three lamp/color signal drivers (4ea), SD-2 Semophore driver (1ea), SD-3 Tri-color Searchlight driver (1ea), PS-1 filtered power supply (1ea). I got these components from a friend and they can stay for $100.
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The D&RGW used signals like these and possibly others (semophores).
H-858.jpg


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I know the Circuitron boards will drive these fine but would love to hear from someone with experience using/wiring them. I've heard they require more hard wiring than some of the newer systems. That brings me to my next point. I'm thinking that we'll upgrade our current DCC system to a Digitrax Super Empire Builder. There's many possibilities with the Digitrax system and I've seen it in operation ( on the friend's layout that gave us the Circuitron boards). It'll drive all three aspect and give a flashing yellow! Each BDL-168 board will handle 16 blocks! I think we'd need a SE8C signal decoder (32 signal capability) and a computer interface.

I'm not thinking of signalling anything that's not in veiw but obviously the whole layout would need block detection. At most we'll need maybe 10 signals. I'd like to do a train order semophore in town but it would have a separate facia board switch for control and wouldn't be part of the system.

The next possibility is Bruce Chubb's system. I've got the old back issues of MR to read about it but maybe someone can interject some info on it here. Bruce kinda lost me when he started talking about writing the code to drive the signals from a PC. It does sound like an incredible system though.

Like I said, this is all just planning at this point. If you have any expertise in the area, please help us out. Any general signaling info such as where to put them etc would be helpful. I know I'll need a minimum of three blocks to get all aspects. One bridge that has to be crossed is how to divide the blocks. When we operate, the railroad will be run as a point to point (with one short section run twice, this will complicate things). When we show the RR, we usually just do a continuous run. With the layout blocked for ops the signals wouldn't work for showing the layout. We may have to give it up and just do point to point. Visitors would get to see more variety with staged trains anyhow.

Any help offered will be apprieciated. Thanks!
 

grande man

Bonafied Grande Nut
Well, I told my friend that we'd be giving him back his Circuitron boards. He can sell them on ebay. I'm now leaning heavily toward the Digitrax system. Any info on it would be apprieciated. Any Digitrax signaled RR's out there in cyberland?
 

CBCNSfan

Registered Member
Staff member
Now why did you start this? I'm getting interested :D
Seriously I don't know much about RR signals so I guess this is a good place to learn eH!
Cheers Willis

PS that's an excellent link. In regard to the signal rules page, are the rules about the same for all roads?
 
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grande man

Bonafied Grande Nut
CBCNSfan said:
Now why did you start this? I'm getting interested :D
Seriously I don't know much about RR signals so I guess this is a good place to learn eH!
Cheers Willis

PS that's an excellent link. In regard to the signal rules page, are the rules about the same for all roads?
Willis, they're general rules. Different roads varied somewhat depending on the road and era. For instance, lunar white meant "clear" at one point. That is a fantastic summary of info though. I think his is one of the better model RR signal sources available. We may just use the block animators. This would solve the issue of running the same, short section of track twice and the difference in continuous running and point to point running on our RR. No, they wouldn't be as good as a full system, but they would look as good in a particular scene.
 

HaggisKennedy

Coal Shoveler
CBCNSfan said:
Now why did you start this? I'm getting interested :D
Seriously I don't know much about RR signals so I guess this is a good place to learn eH!
Cheers Willis

PS that's an excellent link. In regard to the signal rules page, are the rules about the same for all roads?
There's a number of pages out there which talk about RR Signalling.

http://broadway.pennsyrr.com/Rail/Signal/
http://www.lundsten.dk/us_signaling/abs_st_sp/index.html
http://raildata.railfan.net/java/DivRte/NORAC.htm
http://modratec.com/mud_sig02.php

to name a few.

Within all of this, each RR has their own specific applications. More aspect combos, or even different meanings for a set combo. The rulebook will have that info in it.

If you're working to a prototype RR, find a rulebook for the period and it will tell you what the signals mean. If you're freelancing, you can probably get away with the general signals definitions...

Kennedy
 

Red Oak & Western

Active Member
And if you are freelancing, you can make up your own rules. I have two rulebooks from electric railways of the 1930's and neither discusses switch position signals. Both rely on switch stand flags. Well, I wanted signals for the switches (turnouts) on my railroad so I devised the following plan, which seems logical (to me at least) and "could have happened".

Each switch has three, two-color dwarf signals. As you approach the switch from the leading point side on the main, the signal is yellow over green: yellow if the switch is set to the diverging route, green if it aligned for the main. Approaching the switch from the trailing point side on the main, the signal is red over green: red if the switch is set to the diverging route, green if it aligned for the main. Lastly, approaching the switch from the diverging route, the signal is also red over green: red if the switch is aligned for the main, green if it set to the diverging route. All the lamps (LED's) are fed from a diode matrix that is driven off contacts on the switch machines. (I did it that way because I have a few hundred diodes that were surplused from a project I worked on and it was a way to make them useful.)

Kevin
 

CBCNSfan

Registered Member
Staff member
If you're freelancing, you can probably get away with the general signals definitions...
Yes use the generic rules to suit what I have and modify if I have too.Could be interesting anthough to the best of my knowledge the only signals I see on the CB&CNS are the flags on the switch stands red the switch is against and green is a go. With the grades on my layout converging on the bridges across the gate there certainly could be a reason for a signal systen although it is a short line.
Cheers Willis
 

HaggisKennedy

Coal Shoveler
Your shortline probably isn't signalled anymore, and probably operates under track warrant control. And maybe not even that if they only have one loco and there's no possibility of meeting any other traffic on the line as they do their thing.

On the flip side, if your version is going to have more traffic, you can go ahead and signal it. But then it may not be prototypical.

Kennedy
 

grande man

Bonafied Grande Nut
grande man said:
Wow! I'm gonna have to spend some time on your friend's site. His block animator might just be our solution. Thanks very much!
It looks to me like the Logic Rail Tech Block Animators are the way we'll go. Their advantages would seem to outweight the disadvantages of not blocking/signaling the whole RR, in our case. They'll work for continueous running or operating point to point, won't be affected with a train running a small section of track twice, should be simple to wire, will let us run any DCC system on the market, and will give all three aspects. I may still use a block system leading into west staging (behind backdrop) to actually indicate if a train is in the following, unseen blocks. I'm still pondering that one.

It'll be a while before we get to the signals, but this seems like the best bet I've seen yet. Thanks for the tips!
 
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CBCNSfan

Registered Member
Staff member
Your shortline probably isn't signalled anymore, and probably operates under track warrant control.
Hi Kenedy, yes you are just about right on in that, the traffic is down to an East and return West train per day none on Sunday. It's a 240 mile line and there are locals in 3 major areas that could be met, but with cell phones and radios today that would be doubtful
On the flip side, if your version is going to have more traffic, you can go ahead and signal it. But then it may not be prototypical.
LOL I believe I've passed being prototypical some time back and my plans are for six mainline trains per day, five freight and 1 passenger, and East and West bound have to meet in the yard, with locals on the spurs. Actually for operating it may not be a bad idea as it would give a visual indication of what tracks the East and West bound will arive on. Since I'm taking it back to the 70's to justify the traffic even the era is incorrect. About the only thing close to prototypical is the locos, so I guess a few signals wouldn't be too out of place eh! I don't know for sure if I will, but it's a thought.
Cheers Willis
 

kenw

5th Generation Texian
I'm glad you like the LRT site, he is an old friend and I really like his stuff.

Actually, if you look at the "Signal Animator", that product grew from an idea of mine. I don't use signalling but really wanted something to dress up the layout and add some action to the scene. Having a light change as the train passed seemed like an easy-enough thing to do (as long as someone else designed it..) and it would be something I could use without a lot of investment in the entire signalling enterprise. And lights that don't change are kinda like trains that don't move: not much fun.

So we talked it over and he made a prototype for me to use. I gave him a lot of feedback on what the timing choices "should be", what needed to be adjustable and what could be fixed, etc.

In a nutshell, the prototype is still installed on my layout many years later. When the train goes by, it goes red, then after awhile it goes yellow then green. Real simple.

be sure and tell him ken whitehead sent you his way.
 

HaggisKennedy

Coal Shoveler
CBCNSfan said:
Hi Kenedy, yes you are just about right on in that, the traffic is down to an East and return West train per day none on Sunday. It's a 240 mile line and there are locals in 3 major areas that could be met, but with cell phones and radios today that would be doubtful
Well, all the cell phone does is to ease getting a hold of the engineers to find out where they are. From an operating perspective, the rules will require somebody to get permission to occupy the main. They may not be as formal or strict as what they did before the radios were available, but the local will still call the dispatcher to find out where the main train is, and to get permission to occupy the main. Conversely, the dispatcher will tell the main train what will happen, and coordinate.

Documenting is important; if there's a wreck and the NTSB shows up, your lack of paperwork will mean a stiff fine. Not to mention problems with liability when the inevitable lawsuits occur!

:D

Kennedy
 

grande man

Bonafied Grande Nut
kenw said:
I'm glad you like the LRT site, he is an old friend and I really like his stuff.

Actually, if you look at the "Signal Animator", that product grew from an idea of mine. I don't use signalling but really wanted something to dress up the layout and add some action to the scene. Having a light change as the train passed seemed like an easy-enough thing to do (as long as someone else designed it..) and it would be something I could use without a lot of investment in the entire signalling enterprise. And lights that don't change are kinda like trains that don't move: not much fun.

So we talked it over and he made a prototype for me to use. I gave him a lot of feedback on what the timing choices "should be", what needed to be adjustable and what could be fixed, etc.

In a nutshell, the prototype is still installed on my layout many years later. When the train goes by, it goes red, then after awhile it goes yellow then green. Real simple.

be sure and tell him ken whitehead sent you his way.

I'll be contacting LRT when we get ready for the signals. The more I think on it, the more I see that the block animator will do everything I'm looking for. We've got a few bigger fish to fry right now (like a new DCC system and staging yards), but I'm planning to place an order when I can. LRT also sells Sunrise Enterprises signals at a reduced price. A friend just got some and said they are really something special. That's a decision yet to be made, what brand to buy. Right now Oregon Rail, Sunrise and Tomar are what I'm considering.

Thanks again for your help, Ken. You've saved me some $$$ and headaches!
 

jrbernier

Milw Road in SW Wisconsin
Grandeman,

This 'snow hood' signals are what I have seen on the line through Minturn. They are the vertical 3 light type. I have looked at several signal systems for use on my DCC layout and I plan to use the LogicRail system. Controlling 8 blocks is about $200.
Do not let the Digitrax cost figure influence you. The Digitrax system provides 'detection' and 'signal' output. But the 'logic' appears to be be in a Windows software program(several 3rd party) that needs to be interfaced to the Loconet with a MS100 or LocoBuffer II unit. I sort of like the idea of keeping the signaling system seperate from the train control, or at least I want the signal system to have a 'standalone' capability.
Signaling is not cheap - I will have over $400 in my 8 block APB system before I am done! I just got done installing acuators/microswitches for all of my mainline turnouts so they will be able to 'knock down' the signal in front of them(per the prototype). This has consumed about 3 weeks of my time(and 11 Rix PTL's). At this time I have not purchased the RailLogic unit, but I have been 'building' the signals(Oregon Rail Supply 'kits' at about $10 each).

Good luck with your installation!

Jim Bernier
 

grande man

Bonafied Grande Nut
I'm with you, Jim. Signalling isn't cheap, but it sure does add a quantum leap to a layout's realism! I'll get off cheaper using the block animators and just covering visable sections of track. I'm thinking our next layout (basement empire) will be fully signalled. Right now, I'm just trying to get our fleet up to snuff and get the staging done. We have definitely spent some $$$. :D
 

grande man

Bonafied Grande Nut
While at the LHS yesterday, I ran across a Oregon Rail Supply seachlight signal kit. I still want to use Sunrise Enterprises signals but the ORS searchlight looks good. Actually, after working with the ORS kit, I could live happily ever after with them. It was fun to build, I may try a few more.

So far, the signal is just connected to an LS150 stationary decoder thru an Atlas snap relay (for constant on). It's controllable via the Digitrax throttles.

Beyond the signal/bridge/tunnel, is the west staging yard. When wired to the LRT board, the signal will give actual indications for East/West trains. Obviously, red will mean a train is coming from the west yard onto the layout, green will mean it's clear to proceed to staging.

Here's a couple of shots of the ORS searchlight.

120168374.jpg


And one from farther back...
120168373.jpg
 

cprman

New Member
Hey GM & LGM , GREAT job on the "scratchbuilts" !!! I just now got a chance to see them for myself. Someone DID their homework ! I will be posting some of my signaling learning curves using Digitrax and JMRI soon . I am looking forward to seeing & meeting old and new MR friends next month ! Ray
 




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