Above photo is my Gosford complete with the Overhead. Click on the photo to see the Main North Album at Flickr

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Improving Sydney Staging Route Indication.

With my previous Control Panels, the appropriate road/route is indicated by illuminating the Green LEDs using one pole of a 2PDT (2 Pole Double Throw) or 4PDT Toggle Switches but as I'm substituting the Toggle Switches with a Diode Matrix for Sydney Staging, I have to use something else. In this case I'm using Microswitches that are operated by the Point's Throw Bar, after experiencing intermittent operation of Point motors, piggybacking a Peco Accessory Switches.

To indicate "occupancy" of the hard to see Loop/Road for an Operator entering Sydney Staging, I made 5 Occupancy Detectors on a piece of Veroboard, shown below. Occupancy is detected by passing the applicable Track Feeder through the Doughnut transformer 3 times, similar to what I did for the Armidale Control Panel.

With Armidale Staging, I used Bi Colour Red/Green LEDs for the LAST LED, connected to the two pink wires at the left, for each of the tracks on my Control Panel, indicating that the Road/Track is "Full" (occupied), by illuminating the Red LED.

I don't want a lot of LEDs illuminating on my Control Panel - only the appropriate ones for the selected route. Using the above method, the Operator had to press the Track Push Button or in my Armidale Staging, operate the Toggle Switch, to find the occupied roads. 

After installing Point Motors, a Diode Matrix, Capacitor Discharge units & a Control Panel for Sydney Staging route control, I had a visit from Erik & Randall where I demoed my efforts.

Erik suggested that it would be better if the track "occupied" Red LED was illuminated all the time. This would make it easier for the Operator to see which route/road they'd have to set, just press a Switch for any track, not in the "Red".

This new concept needed a lot of thinking how to do this. As the Occupancy Detectors only get 12 Volts when the track is selected from the combination of the Microswitches, shown below. 

How would I do it?

How could I provide 12 volts to the track indication circuitry that was not selected due to the Microswitch action removing power to the circuit. Initially I added a small Relay as I have with my Occupancy Detectors for my Signaling Detectors where the Relay is energized when the appropriate track is "occupied", supplying 12 Volts that would keep power to the Detector, shown in the below schematic. Selecting another track, the previous track if occupied, kept the Red LED illuminated.

It worked only when each push Button was pressed - Bugger.

Having very basic skill in electronics, I needed to solve this with "something" basic.

I added another Relay with a 470 uF Capacitor in series with the Coil, shown in the above schematic on the L/H bottom corner. On power up, this relay supplies 12 Volts to ALL 5 Track Detectors for a 1/4 of a second, long enough time for any of  the Detectors that sensed occupancy energizing it's own small Relay that supplied 12 Volts to "itself". This resulted in Red LEDs illuminating for ALL the occupied tracks with only the "selected" Track's Green LED, illuminated. 

It works.

Shown below with the appropriate LEDs illuminated with Track 1 selected.

Shown below with Track 5 selected.

The overall view with Werris Creek (top) & Sydney Staging (bottom) with the LEDs illuminated showing the route an Operator has selected (Track 1) & Tracks 3 & 4 are "occupied", to run through Sydney Staging, a common running of trains on the Main North as their Operator runs back to where they came from. 

I've finally added a second Control Panel to Sydney Staging, connected "in parallel" to the Main Panel that allows Operators to "start" their "staged" train, without going to Main Panel. I added a Crossover that's used only for the Northern Tablelands Express & now for returning the 46 Bankers to Hawkesbury River Station Siding.
With some help from Andrew, I fixed the Occupancy Red/Green LEDs circuitry. 

Time will tell how my circuit "logic" survives.
This project started 6 weeks ago where I spent heaps of time making this work & it has been fun.