RETURN LOOP STAGING & OCCUPANCY DETECTION

SOUPAC Jun 24, 2012

  1. SOUPAC

    SOUPAC TrainBoard Member

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    After waaaaay too long, I finally made up my mind to terminate my mainline at each end with a staging loop.

    Now, after having to pull out considerable risers and sub-roadbed, I''ve just about finished laying the track on the back half of the staging loop. (built the rear 1/2 "off site" to make it much easier) Knowing this area will be out of sight, I'm wanting to install occupancy detection as I go. I'm running DCC and I know about most of the options. The layout is in N scale and is pretty well tied into doing the SP's Cascade sub. With the mandatory searchlight signals not being available any longer, I don't know whether I need to bother with the voltage-drop systems out there. I'm expecting a line of maybe 18 LED's displaying the occupancy of the 4 staging tracks. I'm thinking an IR system would be good enough. I find circuit designs all over, but I'm hoping for a PCB already available and ready to go. Can any of you advise me where I might find such a thing please?
     
  2. dstuard

    dstuard TrainBoard Member

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  3. SOUPAC

    SOUPAC TrainBoard Member

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    My question is about locating trains on hidden staging tracks in a reversing loop. Voltage drop block occupancy detection would be very good for this, especially if I had or planned to have an operational signal system. Lots of folks would recommend such a thing if they weren’t told that it really isn’t feasible.

    So I just need, because I can’t physically see the trackage, to be able to identify locations of equipment on the 4 staging tracks. I’m hoping there is a printed circuit board already designed that is at the “just hook it up” stage.
     
  4. dstuard

    dstuard TrainBoard Member

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    I must be missing something. Why is it not feasable? See Fig. 5 in the BDL168 manual. Isn't that doing what you are referring to?
     
  5. SOUPAC

    SOUPAC TrainBoard Member

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    I think I stated "With the mandatory searchlight signals not being available any longer, ", Did you miss that? To me, that means going to the expense involved in such a detection system, and the purchase of resistor wheel sets for 700 cars for just a reverse loop and no signals all spell "NOT FEASIBLE"

    I don't have a BDL168 manual. That is probably because I don't have a BDL168, whatever that is.
     
  6. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    SOUPAC - the signals have nothing to do with occupancy detection. The BDL168 is one available detection system (which can also be done via other block detections). (I've used the Team Digital DBD22s, which are a more inexpensive solution than the Digitrax BDL168) The light/IR detections are another. Both can integrate nicely with JMRI PanelPro or other indicator systems. I agree with Doug, I took your "not feasible" as implying that someone told you it can't be done with block detection. You meant it as an economic statement, so maybe "not affordable"? It isn't difficult to build your own searchlights, btw, and there are still lights available from vendors (even if Serge has gone out of business).
     
  7. SOUPAC

    SOUPAC TrainBoard Member

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    I then, Rick, wasn't aware that signals would work properly without any block occupancy detection. Sorry about my stupidity. I will jump all over this then — if I can locate some searchlights that match the prototype!

    Oh, please include photo's of the searchlight signals you made, along with instructions.
     
  8. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Here's a link to the thread I created last year on building signal heads using TrainCat's searchlight signals.

    BeNscale also has built up searchlight heads available

    Oh, you will need something to control your signals (block detection, switch position detection, etc.) and block detection can be light based or current based. But, once you decide the what/how of what you want to display, this is a great place for ideas/help on actually implementing it
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 4, 2012
  9. Rich Businger

    Rich Businger TrainBoard Member

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    Look at BeNscales signals. I saw them in person at the NSE Medford Convention last week. They look good!


    Rich
     
  10. Mike Sheridan

    Mike Sheridan TrainBoard Member

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    Sounds like you (SOUPAC) have two separate issues, which you linked in the original post thus causing some confusion.

    Signals can be operated by a detection system or manually (ie. you have a switch). No reason you can't go with manual to begin and then gradually automate them later on - when you have the time, knowledge, cash, inclination :)
    With multicolour LEDs available it shouldn't be too hard to build the actual signals.

    Detecting your hidden sidings is a different matter, but retrofitting 700 cars does sound a bit much (that point also feeds into the signalling choices above of course). Proximity or IR detection was mentioned but you could also consider CCTV. You can get very cheap systems - monitor with a couple of cameras - and these do not require any interaction with the trains or track. A friend uses such a thing to monitor his long helix which doubles as storage. The cameras can also let you see other problems, like derailed cars ... or dead mice on the track :)
     
  11. nolatron

    nolatron TrainBoard Member

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    Don't forget you don't *need* to put metal wheels on every car for block detection. I didn't.

    Put some on the last car or two and then on a car or two middle. Unless you have some seriously long blocks this will usually cover you until you do want outfit every single car in the future.

    For my hidden staging I used a Digitrax BDL168 detection board. Made the entrance yard ladder one block, then each individual track a block. Soon as the yard ladder was clear I knew my train was safely in.

    With 6 tracks, I only used 8 blocks (double ended yard ladders).
     
  12. SOUPAC

    SOUPAC TrainBoard Member

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    Yes, a couple of days ago, I happened to catch their ad in the Nov/Dec NS Magazine. They do look good... there anyway. I have been in touch with them. So we'll see...
     

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