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    • November 28, 2018 7:44 AM EST
    • The smoke unit is a standard USA Trainsmotorized  unit that is found in most diesels and later hudsons.

      Control board looks much the same also.


    • November 28, 2018 6:44 AM EST
    • Here is the unit.

      Greg it looks to be the same unit.

      Can you tell me what could cause the fan from working ?

      Are they robust units ?


    • November 27, 2018 12:14 PM EST
    • Hello

      I have a question ( Greg ): is the smoke unit for this caboose Image result for USA trains caboose a special unit or did they just add tubing to get smoke into stack.

      I will have to post a pic later ( after I take one )

      It has two wire power plug, feeding the board , a separate plug for smoke unit and another plug for the fan.

      Greg has a pic of one ( on his web site  Greg ) that he has a QSI Titan Decoder hooked up to it ( looks the same with out the white piece )


    • November 5, 2018 3:38 PM EST
    • Thanks, now if I ever get my blinking light for my city water tower figured out I'll have something

    • November 3, 2018 5:34 PM EDT
    • Beautiful work, Bill!

    • November 3, 2018 3:16 PM EDT
    • I've done several and have had no problemstown lite you can add an LED to the circuit for like a porch light in addition to the inside light, makes it a little dimmer but not really noticeable but adds 25% run timelalularoechurch roofstore front

    • November 5, 2018 3:34 PM EST
    • Yes, but I never tested it with 2 solar panels in it's finished stage, believe because it does switch to battery the photo sensor is working but now believe that the excess voltage generated by the extra solar panel is bypassing the diode in the circuit that is suppose to prevent back feed, just been over cast and rainy the last couple of days. I realize I can build a circuit that will work just find this this one simple and just searching for ideas for it's fix, Bill  

    • November 5, 2018 1:19 PM EST
    • Clearly you need a switch that only conducts when it is dark.... so it will have to be a photodiode and transistor, since most photocells conduct when it is light.


      So, didn't the original circuitry go on and off with the dark?



    • November 3, 2018 3:21 PM EDT
    •    My problem is I had an blinking LED that would light off of a solar pathway light but would not blink. What I found: even though the pathway light has a 1.2vdc battery that powers it, the LED is 2.4-5-6 vdc, and the boost in voltage is done with a small transformer called a joule thief and this devise was causing the LED not to blink because it was messing with a IC in the LED that made it blink. Went looking on the small circuit board but was unable to find a joule thief but did locate what I thought was a resistor, which I found strange as that would limit voltage not boost it, further investigation I discovered it was a devise call a converter which is marked the same code as resistors and is shaped pretty much the same and it boosts voltage like the joule thief but is much cheaper(hence why they are used in cheap LED solar lights). How I cured that problem by removing the converter and replace it with a small piece of wire, added a battery holder that was 2 AAA instead of the standard built in one and used 2 rechargeable 1.2vdc batteries, secondly in tied 2 solar panels together in series, now the batteries charge, and the LED blinks but it also blinks during the day and pulls it's current from solar panels. This isn't really that much of a problem other than it doesn't charge the batteries enough and they only come on for about 30 to 45 minutes. Any thoughts to curing this problem would be more than appreciated, Billcity water tower

    • November 5, 2018 9:43 AM EST
    • Concerning 'blinkies' I found the J&S Bachmann cars with the spring on the axle did give blinks to the lights.  I sold them as I had too many (nine) for my pike.  The ones I have now are the other types with a PP9 battery in a box beneath the floor powering the lights.

      Many years ago I read that having 'blinkies' was not necessarily a bad thing as those old time cars often had oil lamps for their lighting.  Oil lamps often flicker'and as the Western type movies showed they did swing a little with the trains movement. . I guess the secret to all this might be to arrange a random blink for the various leds or bulbs.  Beyond my capabilities, but not for many posters here I know.

    • November 4, 2018 4:23 PM EST
    • If you put a bridge rectifier in the circuit, you can add a capacitor to get rid of the "blinkies".  When I added a blinking diode to my streamliner as a FRED, I had to do this or the LED would not blink.  I'm betting that USA does this for their cabeese that have a flashing rear light.  Use at least a 25 (or 35) volt capacitor and I used 470 mfd with good success

    • November 4, 2018 3:48 PM EST
    • The other direction would use the weight of the ball to make the connection. Spring assisted to over ride vibrations . Fine spring steel wire....


      PS; the ball is making 2 connections, you double the problems.

      Soldering one wire to the ball could ease the connection problem, but adds a potential weak connection ... on a moving part...

    • November 4, 2018 1:09 PM EST
    • "Could you put a small magnet on the powered side to hold the ball bearing down and keep it from making the blinkys? my .02Cents worth"

      Possibly, but then it might be difficult to move the bearing to turn the lights off. The reed switch solution has worked very well!

      Thanks for the thought.


    • November 4, 2018 9:02 AM EST
    • David Palmeter said:

      I did get magnets and batteries and the tests have proven successful. However, when a mechanical engineer messes with electronics, generally some big chunk of metal ends up in the circuit. I really like the 'wave a magnetic wand' method of switching the passenger car lights on and off, and since latching reed switches are mostly unavailable, I came up with this genius solution. This is part of the battery box inside the roof so I can use a magnet outside the roof to move the ball bearing between the wired and unwired boxes. Mechanically it works a treat but electrically, when shaken around as if travelling on my branch line level of track maintenance, it reintroduces the dreaded blinkys. I even applied dielectric grease to damp the oscillations - no luck. 

      Back to square one. I want the battery box, wiring and lights all self contained for easy removal for battery charging so an external magnetic off-on capability would be a plus. Has anyone been able to find a source for reasonably priced and readily available latching reed switches lately?

      I did find THESE but no retail source. Anyone?


      Could you put a small magnet on the powered side to hold the ball bearing down and keep it from making the blinkys? my .02Cents worth


    • November 3, 2018 7:30 PM EDT
    • Thanks to all for your comments and help! I am very pleased with the final results of my 'light the Kalamazoo passenger cars' project. Here is the detailed Kalamazoo 4-4-0 with the modified, repainted and lighted Kalamazoo passenger cars at my September, 2018 club Open House:

      The roof is held on by the two magnets at the far ends of the car. The light module slides into a bracket at the right end and is held by a magnet and galvanized steel tab at the left end:

      The latching reed switch (thanks, Dave Bodnar) in the right end bracket activates the lights with a magnet passed over the top of the car when the roof is in place:

      It looks bright here but the two warm white LEDs look good outside at night:

       The Frankfort Terminal Railroad generates a lot of revenue with its excursion service!

    • November 3, 2018 5:14 PM EDT
    • long ago in HO I made my own latching reed switches using a very small bar magnet attached to the reed switch with a small balsa wood spacer.  Always had to experiment with getting the magnet just far enough away from the switch to hold it closed or open.  Theses were super cheap "play" magnets that were about the same size as the reed switch.  To turn them on you pass the north end of a bar magnet over them, to turn them off pass the south end (unless I messed up the location of the magnet on the reed switch - then it was just a matter of flipping the bar magnet to the other end.

    • November 3, 2018 3:05 PM EDT
    • rear of observation car

      Lit my cars with 2 AAA batteries and hid them along with the switch in the clearstory, using 2 10mm led's attached in the stock bulb location, my observation car also 2 marker lights and 1 yellow light (for bugs) in the observation area, don't run much at night but the batteries have yet to be changedroof lights

    • September 27, 2018 4:57 AM EDT
    • Bob McCown said:

      I know some of you have dabbled with DCC++ on an Arduino (Eric?  Dave?).   Since I'm getting close to the "Need to configure this thing" on a couple locomotives, I started looking around to what I want to use to program with.  I looked at getting the cable for my Prodigy, but that's $50 I probably won't use once I get my system completely set up.  A SPROG2 looks nice, but its $100.  Then I started reading about DCC++, and I already have all the hardware to build one of these.



      Any caveats or insights?  

      Bob - DCC++ is fairly easy to get going - As David said I put together a number of units for our club - the notes that I wrote up for that group are here

      and may be of help.



    • September 26, 2018 4:21 PM EDT
    • Dave built some of those for us in the club. Its an Arduino, a motor shield, and a USB cable. I added a Bachmann power supply to it. I can read the CVs, and program the decoders with my tower through JMRI. Since its sort of English on the screen, I can understand what I am doing, and so far its worked out great for me. The pain in the bottom part is swapping the track leads from the program terminals to the run terminals and back when I need to switch from program to run.

    • September 26, 2018 11:20 AM EDT
    • Yea, I figured as much.  Time to get hacking, I guess...