I have wanted to post more lately, but most of the things I have been doing are just not that interesting, as it is trying to figure stuff out.
I have been working on the crossing gate setup that I want. I am using the following items:
- NJ International Crossing Gate and signal
- Grade Crossing Pro with Infra-red by Logic Rail Technologies
- Grade Crossing Pro Bell sound module (same page as above)
- Circuitron Tortoise Switch Machine
- 12 VDC power supply
It looks complicated in the picture, mainly because there are so many wires. But when it all comes down to what is going on, it is not too complicated.
The Crossing gate itself is really nice looking and has 2 LED lights, and a gate that lowers and raises with a wire that is pushed up or down. So the gate by itself does nothing.
To make things work, you have to have a gate controller, which I am using the Grade Crossing Pro. This is kind of like the motherboard, everything starts here.
The board gets the power, and the infra red sensors all get wired into the board. The sensors will be buried between the rails and between the ties. There is one infra red light, and the other is the eye or receiver.
The way they work is both the infra red eye and receiver are next to each other, pointing up towards the train. When the train goes over the sensor and light, it is reflected off the bottom of the cars, and it “senses” there is a train! Then all the action begins, the gate goes down, the lights and bell turn on.
Here is a great explanation and diagram in the instructions for the sensors.
Then there are a set of sensors on the other side of the crossing, and guess what they do? They detect when the train has passed, and they put the crossing gate back up, and then turn off the sound and lights.
There is a photocell option which is a bit cheaper, but infrared work better in situations where bright lights might be, the photocells do not work well with bright ambient light.
The rest of the devices all connect to the Grade Crossing Pro, and the cool thing is, everything is clearly marked, and the instructions are fairly clear.
The Bell module to make it ring, the Tortoise Motor is the slow moving motor to bring down the gate mechanically, and of course we need a speaker for the bell.
The main problem with this whole process is that there is not one manual or instruction set for doing this whole process. You are piecing it together, that is why I am writing this to help those that are interested in doing this, some idea on what it takes.
Actually the bulk of the wires are for the sensors, everything else only has a couple of wires. It looks messy in the photo, because this is called breadboarding, and that is just getting everything hooked up into a prototype, so we can test it before we build the real thing.
I am going to do a detailed, step by step video on Youtube, and I will post it here also.
I have made the parts above in the list all links if you want to go look at their company websites!
More good news, even though nothing on the layout out in the shop is getting done, Gavin was over for the weekend and we had “guy time” and spent a lot of time on the layout running his cool little Steam Engine and some of mine.
What is great about this, is I am seeing the areas that are going to be trouble and might be causing issues, and it has been fun, just running trains around and enjoying them. I brought out a bunch of Boxcars I have never shown him, and of course that was fun trying them out.