A question that may get you some help

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by ezdays, Oct 30, 2006.

  1. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    Here’s a question, not a “question of the day”, but one of curiosity and one that could possibly lead to something constructive and helpful. I ask: do you have a need for some kind of electronic circuit on your layout that you cannot find, but would make life and your layout better if you had it? Maybe some sort of detection circuit, or a timer of sorts, or perhaps a digital sequencer or a different power supply?

    Why do I ask you say? Well, when we started our electronic manufacturing business way back (longer than you'd care to know), I didn't want to start making a product that no one wanted, so I asked some people in the security industry that I knew, what product that didn’t exist would they be able to use if they had it. That approach worked, I got lots of feedback. We had an instant market for our new products and our customers had something that made their jobs easier that they were guaranteed to use. We have long since retired and have no plans to go back into manufacturing anything, but I thought it would be interesting to see if I could perhaps design some small digital circuits to do specific jobs on a layout, and that I could make available to everyone here to use. If it was popular enough, I could possibly even get someone to build up a limited quantity of whatever it was that I designed.

    [FONT=&quot]This is just a wild thought, and if you don’t want to post your ideas here, just PM me with them. I promise you, they will be held in strict confidence and non-disclosure if that’s what you want.

  2. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    There was/is a member (Mr Foxx??) that had an interesting idea for making a random flicker using a LED and a small radio. Something like that, but smaller would be good. People are always asking about firebox flicker, welding, campfires, etc, etc. A really small, truly random flicker would be great.

    I am interested in small lighting applications that are independent of track power, like passenger car lighting, caboose marker lamps, etc, etc. LEDs, fibre optics and microcircuits/switches seem to be in order here.

    I wish I knew more about electronics...! I have been collecting electronic scraps now for a while, but so far my focus is on gears and cogs, and other interesting looking parts out of CD players, Walkmans and VCRs. I have not focussed on the electronic components at all... I guess it is time to learn!

  3. shaygetz

    shaygetz Active Member

    An affordable auto reversing unit would be nice along with a good lighthouse flash circuit. A circuit that automatically stops and starts trolleys at sellect destinations would be cool too.
  4. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    I think many people would still like to see some easy, inexpensive crossing gates that work reliably. Detection systems are always handy - the problem is they almost need to be customized to a particular layout. Another common thing people may want is passenger car lighting...

  5. kitsune

    kitsune Member

    Detection for signals that doesn't require visible light sensors or magnetic switches on the cars, e.g. something similar to the circuit detection used on 1:1 scale. Must be DCC friendly and simple to install.
  6. kchronister

    kchronister Member

    Yep... simple, reliable, affordable detection. And for me, using DCC, that doesn't mean "block" detection it means physical detection that a train is there. Think in terms of a hidden staging yard where you want, at least, one sensor near each end of each staging, and ideally 3+ (one at each end, 1+ amidships - say ever 12-18") to get a good picture of where a train is in that staging track.

    IRDOT is the closest thing to it now, but at $20-25 a pop, I don't consider those affordable. I can build my own IR detection setup for about $3.00 each in quantity. The Infra-emitting LEDs, voltage comparator IC and resistors cost pennies, but the IR sensor costs a bit...

    So something less than $20, but more than $3 is where I'm thinking. You make and sell one for about $7.50-$8 each, I'll buy a boatload of 'em from you... More than that and it becomes worth my time to build my own again...
  7. TrainNut

    TrainNut Ditat Deus

    You know something that I have always wanted for my coffee table layouts but have never been able to figure out is how these people have it rigged so that when somebody pushes a button on the side of the layout, the train comes on and runs for a set period of time and then shuts off. How'd they do that?
    Also, I'd still love to get together and work on that other RV idea we discussed but can't seem to find the time.
  8. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

    This is pretty much the circuit I used on the museum layout. This makes one lap after
    the button is pressed and stops back at the magnetic switch. The magnet which operates
    the switch isglued to the bottom of a boxcar. On the N-scale side I put the magnet inside
    a boxcar. The power-packs stay turned on at a set speed during display hours.

    All parts were obtained from Radio Shack, except for the 24V power supply. The relay
    is a miniature type with pins sticking out the bottom, I don't have the number available
    here but the relay type is not that critical as long as it has two isolated sets of contacts.

    This could also be done by switching the AC to the power pack if you are comfortable with
    wiring 120 volt circuits. If you did it that way your momentum switch would work.

    Attached Files:

  9. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

    You can also wire a timer in here to break the circuit after a set time,
    or to bypass the magnetic switch for a set time so that the train would
    always stop back at the switch. I'm looking for something inexpensive
    to do that with.

    And Don, I'm looking for a circuit which would toggle a relay on or off
    alternately when hit by a laser pointer beam from about 25' away. Must have
    enough filter time so that it does not flicker, but operates solidly. Also must
    operate in an environment of around 130F or so.
  10. TrainNut

    TrainNut Ditat Deus

    Wow! Thank you. I'm going to have to print that diagram out and study it.
  11. MilesWestern

    MilesWestern Active Member

    I really like the detection circut idea!

    also, how about a lil' circut that can be connected to multiple leds, so you can have a whole building have lights that turn on in one room, maybe in another, and turn off, at random intervals! But obviously not too fast to look cartoonish, like have one led lit for 30 seconds, another for 5 minutes, and any interval inbetween, and perhaps one or two (different ones each timer you turn it on) that are left on all operating session! Whaddya think? would it be too complicated?
  12. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    How about something so that when you run into a dead section of track, the train will slow to a stop instead of full emergency.
  13. kchronister

    kchronister Member

    Oh, I nearly forgot my A#1 request:

    Something that can somehow receive/intercept output from sound decoders and run it through a crossover (electrical, not literal) to put the low-freq portion into a subwoofer. I'd even be willing to buy special "broadcasting" decoders as part of such a setup.

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