G Scale Model Train Forum banner
1 - 10 of 10 Posts

·
Senior Member
Joined
·
3,010 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
OK so I am a bit crazy.

I am planning to put a railroad crossing signal pole (full size) complete with flashing lights and bell on my driveway. My thought is to possibly rig it to start flashing the lights when someone drives toward the layout. The bell and lights would have switches so that I could turn them individually on or off according to my plans for the day. One benefit is that the bell could be used to alert me when the UPS or FedEx guys drive up and I do not hear them.

I don't know what power (AC or DC volts and amps) I would need to operate the lights and bell and how to make the lights flash alternately. I would also need to come up with a way for a vehicle to activate the lights and bell and perhaps a remote (wireless) means to turn everything on or off.

This could also serve as sort of a burglar alarm - how many burglars would hang around after activating a railroad crossing bell and flashing lights?

The trigger for the lights and bell should probably be about 100 feet from the pole and there would need to be some sort of timer or deactivation switch to keep power on and then turn power off after the vehicle has passed. In effect the vehicle would replace a train for activating the signal.

I have no idea how the railroads activate and power their signals but that essentially is what I need to learn.

Thanks,

Jerry

PS for those who may be wondering - my wife wants the signals as much as I do. We are still trying to buy a caboose but our latest offer was turned down so the crossing signal is sort of a consolation prize.
 

·
Senior Member
Joined
·
3,010 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I appreciate the responses. They help a lot.

The light bulbs are marked 10V/25W and it seems that the system operates at 12 volts DC.

From the link it seems that the Model D2 12VDC Adjustable Alternating Flasher may be what I need.

http://www.trafficlights.com/d2ad.htm

The D2 is marked 50 watt maximum and two 10 volt 25 watt lights at 12-14 volts would probably exceed the 50 Watt maximum. I will probably send them an email to check on it.

Although it is not marked the bell probably works on 12VDC as well.

That would leave a triggering and delay mechanism to be worked out.

Perhaps a nearby 12 volt marine battery with a trickle charger would work for a power supply and an outdoor motion detector light (with a built in delay) could be used to power a 120VAC relay instead of a light.

I have a pole with a circuit breaker panel that is not far from where I am thinking about putting the signal pole in so that would be a ready source for 120VAC and pole mounted switches could be used to turn the light and bell circuits on or off.

Everything is more expensive than I anticipated ($60 just for a 13' tall 4" wide steel pole) but once it is in there will be little expense of running it.

I have about decided that the only really safe mounting will be to bury 3 feet of the pole in the ground (in concrete). Everything is far heavier than I had expected and I'm afraid it would take quite a large concrete base to support a surface mount of the pole.

That will only allow 7 feet from the ground to the lights (9 feet seems to be about standard from my checking some working signals). I don't know if it would be worth it to weld an extra few feet to the pole or not.

The project is proceeding well but every step seems to result in more questions.

I am a little uncomfortable connecting a 12 volt battery that may put out 14 volts when fully charged to light bulbs marked 10 volts and to an unmarked bell.

Jerry
 

·
Senior Member
Joined
·
3,010 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Posted By SlateCreek on 11/09/2008 2:05 PM
Jerry,

Wouldn't worry about the extra couple volts. The current draw should pull it down anyway... but it's just a light bulb. Most automotive 12 volt bulbs are being fed 13.something by the alternator anyway. You could always use automotive bulbs instead.

Does your sign have four bulbs or two? If it's only two, remember you're only turning on one at a time.....

Matthew (OV)

Oh, and semper... nice idea.. Do not STEP on tracks!



Hi Matthew,

Good point. There are only two lamps and only one would be illuminated at a time.

I too LOVE the "Do not step on tracks sign" - how would someone like me get one?

Since my outdoor switches are now LGB Nickel Plated and thus virtually irreplaceable I need a sign like that. Someone saying "Sorry" after their child may have destroyed one of those switches would not help much.

Thanks,

Jerry
 

·
Senior Member
Joined
·
3,010 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
The project is moving along. The pole, lights and bell are now up and I tried the bell with a 12 volt automobile battery and it works.

Since the bell is working on 12 volts I've decided to continue and power the lights also with the 12 volt battery.

Rather than pay for a meter just to power the railroad crossing I may just put a car battery nearby and use it to power the signals - perhaps with a solar cell recharger.

That still leaves me with finding a way to trigger the lights and a timer to keep them going for 15 - 30 seconds. If I can do that with a 12 volt dc circuit as well it would be great.

I ran across a great article "Crossbucks, flashers and gates" in the July 1996 Trains Magazine (page 74) that explains how the system works. Finding the article was a lucky coincidence for me.

Jerry
 

·
Senior Member
Joined
·
3,010 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Posted By SlateCreek on 11/08/2008 1:30 PM
The problem with using a 537 relay (the turn signal flasher) is that you get an uneven flash pattern ..... FLAAAAASH ... flash... FLAAAAASH....flash .... if you're only flashing one light, it's OK, but quickly you'll see one stays on a lot longer than the other. (in a car, where one is your flasher, and the other is the light on the dash, nobody cares.)

You can use a police "Wig Wag" flasher, solid state, even rate... but it's generally WAY too fast (3 per second, often!) for what you want. Better to build one, or use something else with an even, slow flash rate. Commercially, there's options like this: http://www.trafficlights.com/b2ad.htm but that's just a quick google... there may be better ones out there.

Matthew (OV)


Hi Matthew,

I appreciate the link to trafficlights.com. I ordered their D2 12 V Wigwag Light Flasher. At $35 plus $7 shipping there may be better or cheaper choices but by the time I drove around looking at alternatives I would probably have spent more on gas and not ended up with anything as good or better. At least they are a company that makes a flasher specifically for railroad crossings. Additionally, at only 2 by 2 1/2 inches I should not have a problem fitting it into the pole.

This should get the pole totally functional. That will leave the triggering mechanism to work out but all I will now need will be a SPST contact to energize the signals and I may elect for multiple options including remote radio control.

Thanks,

Jerry
 

·
Senior Member
Joined
·
3,010 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
A small package arrived yesterday. It was the D2 12 V Wigwag Light Flasher from trafficlights.com.

It took me quite awhile to get all the wires sorted out and then cut to fit etc. but I am happy to report that the RR Crossing is now 100% operational aside from having a means of remote activation set up. The timing is perfect as my wife has been out of town working all week and she has been looking forward to seeing it. When she left town all that was up was the pole.

I think I figured out why the RR got rid of it. The wiring was screwed up and I spent half the morning working out the problems.

Jerry
 

·
Senior Member
Joined
·
3,010 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I have not sorted out the reason why (because I would have to remove the terminal block and that would mean disconnecting all wires.

Actually the signals have a lot of connections.

2 to the bell and at least 6 in the bell (8)

2 to each light and 6 inside each light (16)

4 to the flasher relay and then back to the terminal blocks (8)

2 for the power input and then to the power source (4)

That allows 36 opportunities for something to be connected wrong.

Most all of the wires had been cut.

The main problem was with the terminal block. There had been two and if I had used the other everything would have worked.

The terminal block I used was wired for 3 pairs of screws. The outside two pairs were properly connected to each other with a metal strip. The inner pair (for reasons I don't know because I left it alone) had a conductive metal strip between them but oddly were NOT connected electrically.

I checked 3 other identical terminal strips and all of them were connected electrically in pairs.

The problem slipped in when I realized the flasher relay would fit better on the left. I had removed the right terminal block but not tested the left terminal block. I moved the left terminal block to the right without checking it for continuity (heck it was pretty basic - 3 pairs of screws with visible metal strips between the pairs).

The result was that the bell and one light worked but the other did not yet it showed continuity. Apparently there was enough continuity to show a connection but not enough to make the light work even though the connections were screwed down tight.

The light is old and the connections held with rust and corrosion so everything took more effort than expected but it is done now and works nice.

A nice surprise was that one red lens is glass and the other is plastic. The plastic one looked like it would not pass light well but after I cleaned everything it did not look better but when the lights flash there is no apparent difference.

Jerry
 

·
Senior Member
Joined
·
3,010 Posts
Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I thought I was about done with this project. The signals are up and working and I finally decided on a means to activate them with The Reporter motion detector:

http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2104409&tab=features

It has a 10 amp switch and I would have sworn that I read that it had 15 - 30 second delay but I was wrong (and I cannot find any driveway vehicle detector that does have a delay - to keep the lights and bell working until the signals are passed).

If I keep the Reporter I need to find a way to now add a 15 - 30 second timer to the circuit.

The Reporter will close the circuit connecting a 12 volt battery to the lights and bell. It seems that I now need a 12 volt relay to keep the circuit closed.

Any suggestions or recommendations?

Thanks,

Jerry
 

·
Senior Member
Joined
·
3,010 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Posted By SteveC on 11/23/2008 3:59 PM
Jerry

Maybe this may be of help.

[url]http://www.aaroncake.net/circuits/relaytim.asp[/b][/url]



Hi Steve,

I appreciate the link. I may use it but I am hoping to find a ready built circuit if possible.

I may try just using a motion detecting outdoor light instead of the Reporter detector since a light has a built in timer.

Thanks,

Jerry
 

·
Senior Member
Joined
·
3,010 Posts
Discussion Starter · #22 ·
Posted By SlateCreek on 11/25/2008 6:36 AM
http://www.dallee.com/Timers.html


That sounded good until I saw "Seperate power of 14-18 volts is required"
I was/am hoping to end up with a complete system running from a 12 volt marine battery.

I'm going to check with some of my old electrical distributors as there is a good chance they will have a 12 volt relay with a timer and would probably give me wholesale prices on it if they do.

Thanks,

Jerry
 
1 - 10 of 10 Posts
Top