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KevinWalsh

Working Semaphore Signalling

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Hi all,

 

I'm thinking about making the semaphore signals, that I will have on my layout "East Hoathly", working ones. Does anyone have any advice on using radio control servo motors to operate the signals, or is there another method I should consider using? At present I'm planning to use Hornby/Triang signals with modifications as my scratchbuilding skills are less than garbagetongue.gif .

 

Thanks in advance

 

Kevin

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How about using the Ratio kit ones?

 

They come in a couple of different styles, so there should be one for what you want (IIRC, SR, LMS, GWR are represented, but LNER is not...)

 

They are not hard kits to build, requiring a little bit of fiddly work to get right and operational. Realize that it takes quite a bit more than the 1/2" hole they suggest to make them operational- at least, I can't get them to work reliably using 1/2" plastic tubing under them...

 

Either a servo or motor driven (I use Tortoise) can be easily used to operate them-I think you could use a Peco type, but would need to latch it. (Seep?)

 

Get one and try putting it together- and ask away for help designing something sensible for singaling your layout with. It's not that you have to follow the advice of people on here, but there are some really good people for advice on here.

 

 

James

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There have been a couple of threads on using radio control servos for signals. The problem is that you need an electronic driver circuit, they can't be simply wired to a supply through a switch.

 

A simple solution could be to use small relays, which can be purchased from Maplins etc.

 

The club I'm a member of has a page on working semaphore Signals and their motors which may be of help.

 

Jeremy

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I know this is not really much help as the kit is no longer available but I used a set-up from MSE (Wizard Models) that used a servo and control board. It's shown on my Summat Colliery blog here It's a great shame that this kit is no longer in production as it is really easy to install and the operation is almost prototypical with a good bounce to the arm when the signal goes on and even a slight drop after it's pulled off. there's a youtube vid in the entry here

 

Maybe we should start up a petition to get them back into production :lol:

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For Mostyns signals Mike T and myself fitted Embedded Controls modules, they seemed to work well (and still do I believe)

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We have used servos to operate the signals on Crumley and Little Wickhill using control board kits from MERG (Model Electronics Railway Group). You need to be a member to purchase their items.

The operation is quite successful but we have had some problems with interference - signals thrashing wildly from unsuppressed locos (all too common in 009) traversing points. Hopefully now solved - will find out under exhibition conditions this weekend at St. Albans.

 

Mal

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Thanks everyone for the helpful replies, lots of food for thought. The way things are progressing it looks like it will be about 12-18 months before the layout is ready for signalling (I wasn't the lucky UK winner of euromillionsicon_cry.gif ).

 

Kev

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I know this is not really much help as the kit is no longer available but I used a set-up from MSE (Wizard Models) that used a servo and control board. It's shown on my Summat Colliery blog here It's a great shame that this kit is no longer in production as it is really easy to install and the operation is almost prototypical with a good bounce to the arm when the signal goes on and even a slight drop after it's pulled off. there's a youtube vid in the entry here

 

Maybe we should start up a petition to get them back into production :lol:

 

There are developments pending - watch this space!

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good news! I won't ever need another one for Summat Colliery (unless it breaks!) but the next project, well .......

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We have used servos to operate the signals on Crumley and Little Wickhill using control board kits from MERG (Model Electronics Railway Group). You need to be a member to purchase their items.

The operation is quite successful but we have had some problems with interference - signals thrashing wildly from unsuppressed locos (all too common in 009) traversing points. Hopefully now solved - will find out under exhibition conditions this weekend at St. Albans.

 

Mal

Mal,

We have not had reports of problems of this nature from other members. Your fellow MERG members would appreciate if a brief desription of theis problem and how you have fixed it could be put on the MERG forum. Maybe we can improve the kit.

Regards

Keith

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After further consideration I think I will be using fixed signals to start with, maybe working upto some form of manual operation (string and wire springs to mind (possibly)) before going fully motorised.

 

Thanks everyone who contributed answers and advice.

 

Kev

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I once made some working 4mm semaphores using cotton/fishing wire to actuate (from a simple lever) and attached cotton/fishing wire to the balance weight and to that attached some plasticine so the arm returned under gravity

 

post-6662-12647835732548_thumb.jpg

 

(yes I know the lever is back to front :blink: :lol: )

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Guest D.J.K.

We have used servos to operate the signals on Crumley and Little Wickhill using control board kits from MERG (Model Electronics Railway Group). You need to be a member to purchase their items.

The operation is quite successful but we have had some problems with interference - signals thrashing wildly from unsuppressed locos (all too common in 009) traversing points. Hopefully now solved - will find out under exhibition conditions this weekend at St. Albans.

 

Mal

 

Hi Mal,

 

Could you give us a bit more info on this please..............

 

I've just fitted a number of these boards to our club 00 train set, so I'd be interested in finding out more about any problem and the solution....

 

Cheers Dave

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My own experience from many years ago would be that the Ratio signal kits are quite delicate for mechanical operation, particularly from a relay or even a servo. Having said that I am awaiting delivery of a couple of LMS signal kits to build. My own thoughts at this time, if I decide to 'automate' them will be to try 'memory wire', I find the 'rivet counters' looking to create the prototypical 'bounce' over the top. It would I am sure be most interesting to see how well some of their layouts really work. Retd Ex Electrical/Mechanical engineer Beeman

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Well the kit (including "bounce") that Redgatemodels has fitted to his layout is simplicity itself. I'm sure he'll agree.

I've a pair here. One servo, one switch, one pre-manufactured box of electrics. Combine the three, job's a good 'un.

No rivets required.

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Well the kit (including "bounce") that Redgatemodels has fitted to his layout is simplicity itself. I'm sure he'll agree.

I've a pair here. One servo, one switch, one pre-manufactured box of electrics. Combine the three, job's a good 'un.

No rivets required.

 

True, one 0.5mm wire down from the signal balance lever to the servo. My signal is an MSE brass jobbie, but is really delicate, one of the fiddliest jobs I have undertaken. But it works great. No rivets, just a sticky pad to hold the servo to the underside of the baseboard B)

 

http://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php/blog/246/entry-671-a-signal-of-success/

 

If anyone wants a look under the board so to speak then shout up at one of the shows I am attending this year. I'll only be too pleased to assist :D

 

Hopefully Major Clanger will be able to source these or similar from a new supplier soon

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I've watched the subject of servos over the last few months, with growing interest. So much so, I've jumped onto the bandwaggon.

Over the years I've built a fair number of 4mm semaphore signals but my greatest challenge was an eight arm bracket for a Lincolnshire based layout. Once made, I thought it would be someone else's job of getting it to work. :D

 

Here is the signal, mounted on a lump of plywood for test purposes.

 

post-2537-126894864224_thumb.jpg

 

Here is the underside of the test rig showing the rather bulky, first attempts, at servo support brackets. Also visible are the MERG Serv4 driver units. MERG is an organisation about which I knew nothing until reading a posting on the Templot forum. I must admit to joining the group simply to be able to purchase the 'members only' driver kits. I'm very impressed with the organisation such that I intend to make fuller use of my membership and their excellent facilities. Can you imagine eight conventional motors trying to actuate wires down one post?

 

post-2537-126894868663_thumb.jpg

 

A more compact design of bracket utilised some aluminium angle from a scrapped greenhouse.

 

post-2537-126894900552_thumb.jpg

 

The signal, in position, guarding the down ECML.

 

post-2537-126894910092_thumb.jpg

 

The engine room of this signal. The cramped location is demonstrated by the 'chewed away' plywood of part of the baseboard.

 

post-2537-126894918821_thumb.jpg

 

A second signal, for the same layout, also mounted on a test board. This time utilising an aluminium angle so simple that I can't think why I never thought of it before.

 

post-2537-126894931166_thumb.jpg

 

The underside. Quite compact for 4 motors.

 

post-2537-126894951638_thumb.jpg

 

This is my attempt at a point machine. It employs the 'below the baseboard' stretcher bar I first saw in Iain Rice's book on trackwork. The box is made of plastic strip solvented together. The limit switch is for changing crossing polarity.

 

post-2537-126894964807_thumb.jpg

 

The reverse side of the machine, using another greenhouse angle but similar materials are available from B&Q and the likes.

 

post-2537-126894984282_thumb.jpg

 

The topside of the turnout showing a cosmetic, insulated, stretcher bar.

 

post-2537-12689499829_thumb.jpg

 

These three final photos demonstrate why I became interested in servos in the first place. I just couldn't come to terms with using a Tortoise or Fulgurex motor to operate these. Our new layout, under construction, will have several of these, all working.

 

post-2537-126895007067_thumb.jpg

post-2537-12689501017_thumb.jpg

post-2537-12689501425_thumb.jpg

 

I hope these photos don't come across as boastful. All I've done is develop ideas I've seen or heard about elsewhere. If I can do it at my advanced age, so can you.

 

Martin Lloyd.

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I've watched the subject of servos over the last few months, with growing interest. So much so, I've jumped onto the bandwaggon.

Over the years I've built a fair number of 4mm semaphore signals but my greatest challenge was an eight arm bracket for a Lincolnshire based layout. Once made, I thought it would be someone else's job of getting it to work. :D

 

Here is the signal, mounted on a lump of plywood for test purposes.

 

 

Hi Martin,

So you've dumped the memory wire mechanisms then?

 

Rick H put me on to your gallery t'other day as I've been "theorising" along similar lines over the last few weeks.

 

I was initially thinking of designing my own boards but after a few hours internet research realised everything thing is available out there and there’s no need to re-invent the wheel.

 

Couple of Questions:

Does the Merg Kit allow for programming in bounce and different acceleration rates throughout the semaphores angle of travel?

Will you be “there†on May 9th so Rick and I can give it a good looking at… and maybe compare it to mine. (The Signals.)

 

I’ve also turned up a few more S Pelaw pics that Richard might be interested in seeing; plus, if he hasn’t got one already the BR operations manual for the 52 tonners.

 

Cheers,

Porcy

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A friend of mine used a Viessmann Signal motor for the Ratio Signal kits. He said that the opening in the baseboard got the same diameter as the Ratio base. But the Viessmann motors got some drawback. They are not so reliable especially if your layout is moveable.

 

Markus

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I wonder whether it is much harder to add working signals to a complete layout rather than building them in before all the scenic detail is worked up. I think it would be useful to turn the baseboards over to connect up the works.

Donw

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Does the Merg Kit allow for programming in bounce and different acceleration rates throughout the semaphores angle of travel?

The kit as supplied has software optimised for points operation and is provided with adjustments for each end position and for speed of movement. Alternative software is available which provides for signal bounce but needs to be loaded into the chip. Plenty of help available in MERG for this.

My link

Keith

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Hi Martin,

So you've dumped the memory wire mechanisms then?

 

Rick H put me on to your gallery t'other day as I've been "theorising" along similar lines over the last few weeks.

 

I was initially thinking of designing my own boards but after a few hours internet research realised everything thing is available out there and there’s no need to re-invent the wheel.

 

Couple of Questions:

Does the Merg Kit allow for programming in bounce and different acceleration rates throughout the semaphores angle of travel?

Will you be “there†on May 9th so Rick and I can give it a good looking at… and maybe compare it to mine. (The Signals.)

 

I’ve also turned up a few more S Pelaw pics that Richard might be interested in seeing; plus, if he hasn’t got one already the BR operations manual for the 52 tonners.

 

Cheers,

Porcy

 

Yes, the memory wire is just a memory (sorry)! It occupies too much space for a busy layout.

 

The beauty of the servo system is it's size of power unit (the size of two sugar cubes). The MERG kit is so easy to assemble and one kit plus the four servos it will control costs under £30 or around £7.50 a motor.

 

The MERG kit doesn't give "bounce" as supplied but I understand that it can be reprogrammed to do so. The angle or more precisely the limits of travel and the speed of travel in either direction are all set by using another MERG setting up kit, of which you only need one for any number of servos. The setting up can be done by a computer with the relevant software but here I'm getting well and truly out of my depth.

 

I'm not very keen on bounce. Upper quadrant prototye signal arms bounce because there is a shock absorbing spring in the immediate linkage adjacent to the arm. The rest of the wire linkage and the balance weights don't bounce. I think it is unrealistic to have all this lot yanking up and down. Not only that but you are wearing out what is a rather delicate set of linkages prematurely. Just my view!

 

I'll be at the signal site on the date mentioned.

 

I feel a bit of a fraud really. All I've done is taken someone else's brainchild and made it work in a particular setting. I've done it partly out of self interest for our South Pelaw layout, under construction but also to assist a friend. Any photos would be welcome! I suspect we may have been bidding against each other on eBay occasionally. We have had several site visits - magic!

 

Martin.

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I wonder whether it is much harder to add working signals to a complete layout rather than building them in before all the scenic detail is worked up. I think it would be useful to turn the baseboards over to connect up the works.

Donw

 

It makes sense to plan where they are going to be sited and to leave room but if you are modelling the prototye, they have to go where they have to go and you have to find a way to operate them. However, a set of knee-pads is a sound investment!

 

Martin.

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