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How many blocks for my station?


gavino200

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gavino200

I have a dilemma. I'm working on two small projects in parallel. One is learning about block detection on a small practice layout. The other is building my station as a module to be added to my layout when my train room is finished. Problem - I'm making my way slowly through the basics of block detection and automation and don't expect to have an in-depth concept of how it works for some time. However, I'd like to continue work on my station as it's a crucial part of my layout. 

 

Can anyone take a look at my station plans and tell me how I might want to block it? I don't mind adding too many blocks. I'd prefer to add too many than too few. 

 

I understand this will depend on what I want to do. Right now I want it to be as versatile as possible. I definitely want to be able to do accurate precise stops. Perhaps music/announcements. Definitely signalling. Perhaps other things I haven't thought about yet. 

 

These are some pictures of the basic plan. 

 

West end. Each white card is a platform. 

 

tvCVZel.jpg?1

 

East end. 

GvniYce.jpg

 

Anyrail view

 

BASBNBe.png

 

Platforms. Not sure this is relevant for the blocks

 

RtLFaPO.jpg

 

The length is 13 N700 cars, or an E5 and one car of an E6

y79zyDr.jpg

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Martijn Meerts

It depends a bit on how you want to occupy the tracks on the station. The most obvious would be 1 train per platform at most, in which case you only need 1 block per platform. If you want to be able to store 2 shorter trains on 1 track alongside a platform, you'd need to split that track into 2 blocks. Longer trains can then still use the platform, they'll just occupy both blocks.

 

For precise stopping, that can be a bitt difficult. If you have a long train, it'll occupy the entire length of the platform, so in that case you can add a stop section near the end of the platform. However, if you have a shorter train, that'll then also stop at the same stop section, which means it's not centered alongside the platform. You might not want that of course, and even so, with software you can always have long trains stop at the stop section, and shorter trains to center themselves.

 

Signalling might be an issue, I don't know of any software that supports Japanese signalling by default. Some programs allow you to create custom signals, but of course you'll have to know how the Japanese signalling system works. Since you've been using iTrain, there's a fair chance that if you can explain the Japanese signalling system, the developer will implement it.

 

There is also hardware such as the OC32 (http://www.vpeb.nl/english/solutions/accessories/oc32/) which allows you to hook up LEDs and have them working together. Again, by default this thing doesn't support Japanese signals, but it is programmable. I believe you can then basically map signals in iTrain to drive a signal through the OC32. Of course, in iTrain it won't look like a Japanese signal, but on the layout you can make it look however you want.

 

I don't know anything about Japanese signals, so I'm not sure if it's possible, but considering I want to add signals to my layout as well, this is something I've been wanting to look into. At some point ... 🙂

 

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gavino200

I guess I jumped the gun by assuming that there are working Japanese signals on the market. Apart from the automatic crossing signals, I'm not seeing any. If I have to use European signals that wouldn't be the worst thing. It would still look cool. Also, I don't really need it to be absolutely prototypical. If they change as the trains go round that would probably be enough for me. But I do think that working signals would look very cool.

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Martijn Meerts

Tomix has working Japanese signals, but I believe they have all sorts of electronics in them, so no idea how / if they work with DCC. Here's one with 4 lights https://www.1999.co.jp/eng/10160426. They're rather rough, should be fairly easy making these yourself, especially since you don't need all the electronics apart from some LEDs for the lights.

 

Also, seems the Japanese system is based on the Swiss system, so it that might be usable in iTrain.

 

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I don't know anything about Japanese signaling but they also make 5 color ones

 

https://www.1999.co.jp/eng/10160419

https://www.1999.co.jp/eng/10034520

 

The 4 color doesn't have it but the 5 color ones actually have an image in the "other images" that shows the progression.

 

Anyway, the comment I wanted to make was this is maybe where a 3d printer of some sort becomes useful...   (Not having any myself)

 

 

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gavino200
1 hour ago, chadbag said:

 

Anyway, the comment I wanted to make was this is maybe where a 3d printer of some sort becomes useful...   (Not having any myself)

 

 

Agree. This could be the perfect thing for a crowd-sourced JNS project!

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Martijn Meerts

There are signals with 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 lights, but for most layouts, the 5 and 6 are probably not very useful. Wikipedia has a pretty decent English article about the signalling system actually https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_railway_signals

 

The Tomix signals have a pre-defined progression, due to the electronics in them. I guess they could be re-purposed for DCC use, but they're a bit expensive for that. You really only need some LEDs, some resistors, and a (3D printed?) signal housing. And then of course some sort of accessory decoder that can drive the LEDs.

 

I could do some experimenting with 3D printing and the like. I don't know the dimensions of the signals though, so I'd have to see if I can find those somewhere.

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gavino200
On 2/11/2021 at 4:08 AM, Martijn Meerts said:

 

I could do some experimenting with 3D printing and the like. I don't know the dimensions of the signals though, so I'd have to see if I can find those somewhere.

 

I can pony up for one of the signals available on the market, if you want to use it to "draw inspiration from". 

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Martijn Meerts
22 hours ago, gavino200 said:

 

I can pony up for one of the signals available on the market, if you want to use it to "draw inspiration from". 

 

Nah, that's okay, I can order some signals if needed as well, that'd give me a good idea of how they look, although the Tomix ones definitely look out of scale. I do have some Tomix form signals though, so I might be able to compare those with some pictures, and base measurements for light signals on that. I also believe some people on the forum have been looking into this and made some working signals, but I can't remember exactly.

 

I'll try to make a little circuit board first with just a few white LEDs on them, and hook those up to an OC32. That way I can see if I can program the OC32 to do Japanese signals, and check how I can control them through iTrain.

 

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On 2/10/2021 at 11:24 AM, gavino200 said:

I have a dilemma. I'm working on two small projects in parallel. One is learning about block detection on a small practice layout. The other is building my station as a module to be added to my layout when my train room is finished. Problem - I'm making my way slowly through the basics of block detection and automation and don't expect to have an in-depth concept of how it works for some time. However, I'd like to continue work on my station as it's a crucial part of my layout. 

 

Can anyone take a look at my station plans and tell me how I might want to block it? I don't mind adding too many blocks. I'd prefer to add too many than too few. 

 

I understand this will depend on what I want to do. Right now I want it to be as versatile as possible. I definitely want to be able to do accurate precise stops. Perhaps music/announcements. Definitely signalling. Perhaps other things I haven't thought about yet. 

 

These are some pictures of the basic plan. 

 

West end. Each white card is a platform. 

 

tvCVZel.jpg?1

 

East end. 

GvniYce.jpg

 

Anyrail view

 

BASBNBe.png

 

 

 

There you go!

 

From your pictures and comments (also some of my assumptions), I designed how the signalling (includes blocks) should be made if you layout was for real (using UK signalling practice, sort of...). That is, it gives you an idea of how things should work and this design would need to be modified for a model layout. About the picture below, I added the signals so you can see (more or less) what train movements could be achieved.

 

1312510075_NXsignalling.thumb.jpg.e7df18b0a13f60b04bc82c785e6a50b2.jpg

  • highlighted in yellow = Insulated rail joints, these mark the block sections (thinking more about "train detection")
  • Shunt (or auxiliary) movements from 17 and 19 signals must end at 13 and 15 signals. If you want to run directly (without stopping), signals 17 and 19 need to be modified and/or and additional signal should be added where the "X" is place (orange colour).
  • Bidirectional lines
  • To make it Japanese, you could start by replacing signals (from UK to JPN) then finding more about JPN signalling
  • I found the video below about a Numeric Route Indicator, it could not be JPN practice but check by yourself.

NX

 

 

 

Edited by NX:
note: overlap sections not shown for simplicity's sake
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gavino200
2 hours ago, Martijn Meerts said:

 

 I also believe some people on the forum have been looking into this and made some working signals, but I can't remember exactly.

 

Hmm, it would be good to know who's working on this. I bet @cteno4 would know. Perhaps, @chadbag too. I've seen on @Madsing's Shin-Yukari website that he's had experience placing LEDs in Kato traffic lights, though I think It was a static display. Still, there might me some useful pearls to be gathered. 

 

2 hours ago, Martijn Meerts said:

 

I'll try to make a little circuit board first with just a few white LEDs on them, and hook those up to an OC32. That way I can see if I can program the OC32 to do Japanese signals, and check how I can control them through iTrain.

 

 

Cool beans. The OC32 is a signal control DCC peripheral? Like the Digikeijs DR4018?

 

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I am not doing anything with working signals.  I am interested but have enough other things right now.

 

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gavino200
2 minutes ago, chadbag said:

I am not doing anything with working signals.  I am interested but have enough other things right now.

 

 

Yeah, I know. I just figured you might know who was. 

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Sorry, you’re right there have been a few folks chatting here or there on doing more prototypical signals here and there but I don’t recall specially who. @Madsing was working on his signaling system and a connector system to the signal from the layout. I think he was using premade signals. I’m sure he will chime in.

 

jeff

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Hello,

I am still working on the signals (is anything ever finished in this hobby?). This is the current status:

 

1. Trains

I am using Tomix signals, but I only use the signals themselves (I know, it's a waste). The signals can easily be detached from the base (the piece of track with the sensor and the electronics). Tomix provides two-, three-, four- and five-aspect signals (they even have two kinds of four-aspect signals). The nice thing is that they all use the same four pin connector with the same pinout. This is a photo of the three-aspect signal's PCB:

 

IMG_1358.thumb.jpeg.523f9b21a9b31a26ef12105d566534c7.jpeg

 

The three LEDs are at the top (with the resistors in between) and the connector is at the bottom. I have reversed engineered the signals; the schematics are here:

TomixSignals.pdf

 

I couldn’t find the exact four-pin male connector corresponding to the signals but using standard 1.27mm pitch headers works.

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32706990813.html 

 

I cut four pins and solder them on this base board:

https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32395360741.html 

 

This is the result:

IMG_3100.thumb.jpeg.c7f3d6a21c7d6b93fba09e6e4c392c26.jpeg

IMG_3099.thumb.jpeg.cd67f8d0647de7fa9a21d4d93081ec69.jpeg

IMG_3098.thumb.jpeg.07c177174b8cb632dfc5e41f8a2eefea.jpeg

 

To control the signals using the Z21 (and Rocrail), I have designed a DCC controller based on an Arduino Nano. It works well (still working on the software). The latest version is compatible with two-, three-, four- and five-aspect signals, but I am still trying to figure out how DCC commands would work with five-aspect signals. This is a photo of the controller. It supports up to 10 two-, three-, four- or five-aspect Tomix signals. I can share the design files and the code if anyone is interested.

IMG_2418.thumb.jpeg.acc7026c020fa29150fc0202abcd3aa0.jpeg

IMG_3024.thumb.jpeg.91782faf381cbda618250a9ff8a2f0ec.jpeg

 

My understanding of the most common Japanese signals is that they basically indicate how many blocks are free in the route ahead. They turn red when a train passes them, then will turn yellow ("different kinds of yellow") and finally green as the train moves further away along the route. The sequences are detailed on the Tomix web site.

 

I have captured that behaviour in this video:

 

The standard Tomix signals have a single sensor in their base track. A train passing triggers the red aspect, then the signal shows the following aspects based on an internal timer.

 

On my layout, I am using sensors and the position of switches to trigger the various aspects. This is not the default mode in Rocrail, but that can be programmed using “Actions”. As my layout is very small, I don’t have routes long enough to justify using four- or five-aspect signals, Since I still wanted to use these, I am working on a mix of sensors and timers to simulate that (still WIP, the signals shown above have been connected last week)

 

2. Trams

I use a mix of Tomix two-aspect signals and Kato 23-214 traffic signals kit-bashed to look like departure signals from the Toyama station. They are fitted with small LEDs and connected to the same DCC controller described above.

IMG_2426.thumb.jpeg.69b96923588553c2a71aa2ef170197e8.jpeg

 

3. Road

I use Kato 23-214 traffic signals fitted with small LEDs. Their color doesn’t change (except for the flashing pedestrian crossing signal).

 

 

IMG_2898.thumb.jpeg.12c21c4caf9ebb19583fc49b7d868174.jpeg

 

4. Other notes

I have tried purchasing cheap(er) signal from AliExpress, but they don’t look good. Many are just oversized.

I have purchased the Tomix 0742 (https://www.1999.co.jp/eng/10405410) in the past, this was probably a spare part, but it didn’t look as good as the model currently available, and it is sold out for a long time anyway.

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Martijn Meerts
12 hours ago, gavino200 said:

 

Cool beans. The OC32 is a signal control DCC peripheral? Like the Digikeijs DR4018?

 

 

OC32 is a pretty universal bit of gear. It can control signals, lights, motors, servos and more. It also has inputs and can also be used as occupancy detector, and control functions based on inputs.

 

It does require programming though, and a lot of layout control software doesn't really support it directly, so it definitely has some limits.

 

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Martijn Meerts
1 hour ago, Madsing said:

I am using Tomix signals, but I only use the signals themselves (I know, it's a waste). The signals can easily be detached from the base (the piece of track with the sensor and the electronics). Tomix provides two-, three-, four- and five-aspect signals (they even have two kinds of four-aspect signals). The nice thing is that they all use the same four pin connector with the same pinout. This is a photo of the three-aspect signal's PCB:

 

I'd be mostly interesting in the physical dimensions of the signals. They look rather straightforward, so making some 3D models would be relatively easy.

 

Things like the ladder would probably need to be etched or scratch built from brass rods to get any sort of detail, the pole itself can be a brass tube so you can run wires through it. So it's really only the enclosure for the LEDs, and those detail parts around the pole that would need to be printed.

 

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