N scale signals from eBay

pdavidson Jan 9, 2019

  1. pdavidson

    pdavidson TrainBoard Member

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    Looking for opinions from anyone who has purchased any of the budget N scale signal mast from eBay (China). I am in the process of adding signals to my N scale layout and I will need a bunch to do it the way I want to. I know they will not compare with a nice brass mast but neither does the price. My main question is about the LED's. I will probably be shopping for a 2 color (red/green) version rather than the three color version. Some of the pictures I saw made the green look almost like it was yellow.

    Also, how difficult would it be to remove the LED and install my own?

    Comments? Which one did you use?
     
  2. Onizukachan

    Onizukachan TrainBoard Member

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    Subscribing bc I’m in the same boat. Not there yet, but I would like signaling when the actual layout gets built.
    Particularly interested if anyone has used the WeHonest_cn., as I have used their presoldered SMD LEDs as well as their LED power block and been very happy with the quality. Especially with them using super fine stranded wire instead of magnet wire.
     
  3. MK

    MK TrainBoard Member

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    There's a guy over on NScale.net who has bought a bunch of these from WeHonest and has been very happy with them. The price is certainly very enticing.

    I can provide a link but not sure if it's against TB policy to link to another forum. Mods?
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019
  4. Onizukachan

    Onizukachan TrainBoard Member

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    You can PM the link, I’m not sure either.
     
  5. MK

    MK TrainBoard Member

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  6. pdavidson

    pdavidson TrainBoard Member

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    I found the NScale.net posting you referred to. I was also looking hard at the Wehonest listing. I decided to bite the bullet and so I went ahead and ordered 70 of the #160S3MD. I picked the WeHonest version over some of the other budget mast because it was brass, had a short post, centered on the mast (vs the right & left version) and was 160 scale vs some of the other mast which were a 150 scale and thus a bit taller than I wanted. I actually wanted a single head searchlight signal with a RGY LED but the cost was just too high for 70 signals already built and at my age, I no longer have the ability to make my own.
     
    Onizukachan likes this.
  7. MK

    MK TrainBoard Member

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    Let us know how you make out. I would love to see some pictures when completed.
     
  8. pdavidson

    pdavidson TrainBoard Member

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    I am in the process of setting up a LCC network (RR-Cirkits components) to control signals as well as some other stuff so that activity will not clutter up my DCC (Loconet) network. I will try to set up something just to show them in action. My layout is not quite ready for installing a bunch of signals yet.
     
    Atani likes this.
  9. pdavidson

    pdavidson TrainBoard Member

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    MK....I received my signal mast from WEHONEST on eBay and am very satisfied so far. The pictures on eBay are true to form. Here is my initial reaction
    - I was concerned about the "yellow" LED and that it might be too orange but it is much closer to yellow than I expected.
    - Hook up wire is really small...about 36ga I suspect. It is wired as a common anode (the black wire with a resister) so the black is the positive lead.
    The back side of the signal head is not totally sealed so the LED light leaks out the side and back. Would be easy to fix with something like Squadron Putty and touch up paint. However, I think I am going to leave it that way. Since my signals do not always point toward the aisle and I am often looking at them from a bad angle, I can still tell what aspect the signal is showing. Others may not like that. If you look at some of the pic on eBay, you can see the light leaking out the sides.
    - Listing says it is brass but the head (black in eBay picture) is plastic and the rectangular base is plastic. The threaded piece at the base is about 3/16" diameter and about 3/4" (have not measured) and the mast itself is a bit smaller. I will be mounting these in 2" foam. I think I will find some kind of tube I can insert through the foam then use that to mount the mast. This will allow me to remove the mast easily if needed.
    - Paint is OK but I will probably do some touch up before I install them.
    - Still working on a plan to add wire from the signal to my controller (Signal LCC boards from RR-CirKits).
    I looked at various options for using a connector of some type but the 36ga wire on the signals do not lend themselves to that approach.
    I have some solid 22/4 signal wire left over from a home security project that I think I will use. I like it better than Cat5 wire for this installation. The individual wires match (R/G/Y/B) the signal mast wiring so that is convenient. I think I will solder the signal wires to the 22/4 wire and add some heat shrink to the connection then run the 22/4 wire directly to the control boards where they have screw terminals that can easily accept the 22ga solid wire.
    Overall, I am pleased with them. Not much to pick from for N scale but these are very acceptable and the price is great compared to the high quality stuff.

    I have plenty now but I would not hesitate to order more if I needed them. In fact, I will need something that is a close match to mount on some signal bridges I intend to use. I may take some and try to hack off the ladder and base and then use a shorter mast mast and the head to mount on my signal bridges.
     
  10. Onizukachan

    Onizukachan TrainBoard Member

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    Thank you for the follow up.
     
  11. MK

    MK TrainBoard Member

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    Thank you for the report! Interesting findings. I think for the price, the short comings are acceptable.
     
  12. Tony Burzio

    Tony Burzio TrainBoard Supporter

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    You can change the color of an LED with stained glass paint applied with a toothpick. Signal green is actually very blueish...
     
  13. Tony Burzio

    Tony Burzio TrainBoard Supporter

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    The first thing to build when working with magnet wire is a twister. Get an HO scale 12V motor and a 9v battery. Drill a hole in a piece of wood to hold the end of the motor, leaving the drive rod sticking up. Solder a small alligator clip on the end. When you place the magnet wires in the alligator clip and turn on the motor, the wires will slowly be turned into a perfectly twisted wire, suitable for installation.
     
  14. Tony Burzio

    Tony Burzio TrainBoard Supporter

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    I make my own signals out of brass with a hole punch, small scissors and super glue. $2 a signal, including 3 color LED.
     

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  15. pdavidson

    pdavidson TrainBoard Member

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    Tony,
    I like your wire twisting method. I am sure it will twist the wire but will the wire stay twisted or does it try to unravel?
    I agree with you on the brass signals. However, at my age with shaky hands, those type of construction projects are well behind me.
     
  16. Tony Burzio

    Tony Burzio TrainBoard Supporter

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    The wire stays twisted, in fact it’s nearly impossible to get it apart again.

    My hands shake too, always have. I buy a bottle of superglue antidote with every bottle of superglue.
     
  17. Tony Burzio

    Tony Burzio TrainBoard Supporter

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    How do you strip insulation from magnet wire? With a 45 Watt soldering iron and a block of wood. Press the hot iron against the wire onto the wood, then slowly pull the wire out from under the iron. Ta Da!
     

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