Well, we're at the end of October and model railroading season is strarting to pick up here on the Northeast Kingdom layout. I've been somewhat busy with other things, but I have a few projects readyto start and some things coming up to get things going.
First up, I have an electrical project just finished up. I'm certainly no electronics expert, but I can solder and run wires pretty well. Back in July at the National Train show I stopped by the booth for Logic Rail Technologies <http://home.houston.rr.com/lrt/>. They had a neat display of a train going through a grade crossing with the flashers going on and off automatically. If you've seen the pictures from my earlier posts, you know I completed a road that crosses the mainline and siding on the Lamoille Valley at East Hardwick, VT. I talked about installing the unit and was convinced it was something I could handle. I picked up their Grade Crossing Pro package along with a bell ringer circuit and speaker.
I had planned to use the Details West Grade Crossing model, but I was unable to get it working with the LEDs supplied. Soldering them and getting them into the castings was frustrating and I ended up with some LEDs that did not work and did not disguise the wires easily. Oh well, back to the drawing board. I went through the Walthers catalog and decided on using the Tomar crossing flashers.
Well, to make this long story a little shorter, I got the flashers and the circuits installed with no real problems. Because I added extra sensors to activate the flashers from the passing and siding tracks, I have a pretty good amount of wires under the layout. But using terminal strips helps keep things under control. I added the bell circuit and speaker and hooked up the power supply. Everything worked! I did have to adjust the sensitivity on the photocells to get the on/off timing to work well. I also found that it helps to have a light source over the cells to avoid accidental tripping of the cuircuit when someone leans close to the layout. I actually already had this covered by havnig a set of three spotlights installed in this area because it seemed a bit dimmer than other areas. This answered my question of whether I needed that light!
I'll post a little video of the grade crossing flashers in action soon, but for now here is a photo:
It's nice to have a project like this completed as it adds sound and animation to the layout, something that is fun for me and for visitors. Speaking of which, I have my layout open on the annual November layout tour that occurs each year throughout the Philadelphia area. So I'll have a few weeks to get a few more things done before the visitors arrive.