Friday, October 12, 2018

Detecting Trains for Signaling

Something that I didn't have on version 1 was detection of any rolling stock; only the engines were detected.

As you can imagine, this caused turnouts to get thrown under moving trains somewhat frequently.

The fix for this is resistor wheelsets. I bought resistors and conductive paint years ago to get it going and never actually sat down and got it done.

I sat in a clinic by Stephen Priest at KC2018 and he mentioned where he had done his entire fleet of cars (700+ ish) in 2 half Saturdays of work. He did an axle per car and that's what I am going to aim for as well.

That inspired me to give it a try.

The conductive paint pen didn't really work, as it has a finite lifespan and it was well over it so I had to take the pen apart and use a microbrush to get the paint onto the wheelsets.

I decided to standardize on Intermountain wheelsets, and in a spot of great luck, my Dad had a bunch of them from a buy his club did a while back.

Process - use a pair of tweezer to glue the resistor onto the side of the axle joint that is insulated with gel CA and wait. Then dab your conductive paint onto each contact side of the resistor and wait to dry. Test with your multimeter. Easy!

I'm going to buy another silver pen shortly when I'm ready to do more of them.

January 2024 Update to this post:
You can source a partial reel of 1000 of these resistors, for ~$15, even at current 2024 prices from Digikey or Mouser. I use Yageo brand resistors, but any manufacturer is fine. Get 1% or better tolerance. 10K Ohm, 1/8 watt.

You want 1206 size, so they aren't so hard to deal with. You could go bigger, 2010 size, if you are in O scale, I'd bet.

Reminder - gel type CA. Trying to use the thin stuff will be an exercise in frustration.

Done so far
10K 1/8W 1206 size, if you are curious

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