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Discussion Starter #1
I'm interested in lighting control via DCC options. And more specifically the typical practice of lighting at work on and within the locomotive, i.e. what is the sequence of events lights are toggled on or off? Which lights if any are on all the time, night time only or during specific tasks?


My interest is specifically aimed at Southern Pacific practices, but I’m interested in hearing about others as well.


Seems many G-scale decoders offer motor control and FWD and REV headlight functions, while some offer AUX functions and sound too. So I’m left with hacking lighting boards and such together with AUX function features to control lighting and or other options. Aux Sound decoders will be in play; QSI's on-board w/decoder and others.


Common lighting items are listed below, dependent on the degree of effort I’m willing to endure or number of channels needed to support the prototype railroad/engine in question I’ll have to look at decoders that support same. I’m pondering using small HO decoders for AUX lighting controllers together with QSI, NCE and other G-scale decoders, there cheap NCE’s 13SRJ is about $20.00. There are four AUX channels and a motor controller for smoke systems. Any suggestions why this would not be a viable alternative for a lighting controller? RC via Airwire and or G-Wire control would be desirable too.


I didn’t look to hard but only found one dedicated function only decoder from Lenz, #LF101XF 6-channel about $27.00, 200mA per channel. NCE offers four, six and eight function plus motor decoders for $20.00-$30.00.


Ditch lights


Cab interior lighting


Porch and or step lighting


Number boards


Marker lights


Rotary beacons


Headlights fwd and rev
Regards,
Michael
 

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TCS FL-4! They control 4 functions per chip and list for $20. They will control regular lights, firebox flicker, strobe lights, gyralights, mars lights etc. If you include the headlight/backup lights in a normal motor decoder, an FL-4 will give you 4 more functions. I used one to run a mars light, number boards and a dimmable headlight on an F-3.
 

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Michael,

The BNSF loco's that I have watched use the crossing lites with the headlite on bright to indicate the loco is moving.. Crossing lites do not flash when the horn is used on the BNSF & UP loco's.. There are no marker or class lites on the diesels.. When stopped, headlite is dimmed & crossing lites are turned off.. When meeting another train the headlite is dimmed & good engineers will also dim the headlite for cars on adjacent roads @ nite.. Cab lites can be on if stopped or if a 2nd crew is riding in mu loco's.. Porch/step lites are on all the time.. Number boards on mean it is a train.. Digitrax makes a function/transponder decoder also.. The HO decoders will work as long as you do not excede the current ratings & they meet the NMRA standards.. Some use the motor decoders to dim the lites in cars/cabooses & buildings..

BulletBob
 

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An HO decoder will have enough capability to drive a smoke unit on the motor output, few smoke units draw more than 600 mA. LED lighting also draws little current so that you can put loads on all the outputs without overloading even an HO decoder. Few decoders have function outputs that will drive a smoke unit but some do. Check the specs.

Most decoders now have sufficiently advanced function controls such that you can program them to simulate the prototypical lighting rules, especially as they relate to train movement.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Bill,

Was the MARS light feature you utilized comprised of multiple LED's, I'm looking at these for future projects on F units too.


Bob

Thanks the operating info, good stuff, a few clarifications please?

Are the crossing lights you note, ditch lights? Do you know what SP practice is in regard to flashing and or alternating the ditch lights when horn is active? What about when approaching crossings, alternating ditch lights or?

Diesels don’t have any marker or class lights, that’s news to me but then I have no knowledge of same. Seems all my diesels I have marker lights with varying degrees of operation.

Seems odd porch and steps lights are always on!

So if the number boards are lit up that means the loco is part of train, and would this be the lead engine only or?

Can you offer any ideas on rotary beacons atop the cab of some locos? Would this be a yard switcher thing or maybe a local branch line consideration for work in town on or around populated areas?


George,

Yes I noted that most of the decoders currently offered have the ability to be programmed for various lighting effects, this is a great feature.

I found Massoth offers a function only decoder too.

Thanks again for your insight
Kind regards,
Michael
 

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Michael,

Ditch lites are slang for crossing lites.. Ditch lites are dangerous for yard personal as they were designed to point 7 to 15 degrees off of center.. Crossing lites are aimed to strike the opposite rail @ 800', Santa Fe ( BNSF ) turns them 2/3 degree off center is all.. This makes it easier for cars @ grade crossings to see the lites of approaching trains.. I do not recall seeing SP loco's lites flashing when the horn is blown.. Out here the only loco's with flashing crossing lites are the NS ones..

Railroads remove all lites that are not needed, marker & class lites are not needed with the use of train control & radios.. Look @ BNSF loco's on the internet, they have welded plates over the holes where the lites were, & new loco's do not have them @ all..

I think the reason the porch & step lites are also on is the dummy approach, do not have to remember to turn them on.. If a loco is left running, and no one around then all lites are turned off..

I have heard that the lead loco's # is the train # & they are the only # boards on.. Make it easy to identify the train..

On the rotary beacons, some terminal railways still use them because of all the grade crossings, but again it is 1 more lite that has to work..

BulletBob
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Bob,

Thanks again for all the great info.

Bill,

I have noted that many of the current breed of decoders offer a MARS light feature (pulsing the light on/off), I assume its similar to what you used. I'm going to tinker with a Massoth board I have to see what it looks like. thanks again for sharing.

Regards,
Michael
 
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