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Here's another little tutorial I did.......

This project is not for the short tempered as it is quite fiddley, you have been warned! ;-)

Although this is how to build a three aspect colour light signal, the basic design can be adapted to a two aspect or even a four aspect. Parts required are as follows. 1.8 mm dia LED's, 0.75mm thick styrene sheet, 3/16"(4.8mm)dia plastic tube(evergreen ref no 226)and some six core alarm cable.

1. 1.8 mm LED's. These were obtained from RS components,the more you buy the cheeper they are. Note that one leg is longer than the other. Led's will only work when conected the right way round, the longer leg is the +ve conection.

2. Cut a 8mm wide strip off the styrene sheet. This will form the 'backplate' for the led's.

3. Using the led legs as a guide carefully cut out two slots in the backplate.

4. Dimensions are not realy critical here just cut the slots long enough to accomadate the required amount of led's.

5. Test fit the led's in the slot to make sure that you hav'nt cut them too long!

6. Trim the backplate strip down to the required size. Dont forget to cut off the corners.



If you have got this far WELL DONE! ;-)

7. It dosent realy matter if you want to use the +ve or -ve leg on the led's as your common just remember to connect the same leg on each led. On my garden layout I will be switching the -ve so on my signals I have connected all the +ve legs together (longer leg). Carefully bend the 'common conection' legs over then twist them together then carefully apply some solder.

8. Take the plastic tube and using the 'signal head' as a refrence cut out a slot.

9. Trim back the common conection then attach some wire. Strip back some alarm cable and then carefully slide the plastic insulation you have removed over the remaining leg on the led. TIP, use a pair of long nose pliers to hold the leg while fitting the insulation.

10. Use a diffrent colour for each led. This makes the wiring clearer. Bend the led legs over so they are parallel to the common conection.

11. Solder on the rest of the cables. Make sure to stagger the joints this is very important!

12. The plastic tube that will form the signal post should now be cut to length. Again the dimensions are not realy critical and will variey according to the signals final position on the layout. A guide line is that the red aspect is always on the bottom and is generaly level with the drivers eyesight. Also dont forget to allow for the post to fit through the baseboard. Position the wires so that none of the joints are touching then carefully feed the wires down the tube.



13. By now you should have 'something' resembeling a signal! Note in the pic the black line around the post. This is the level of the baseboard 'top' the bottom of the post being flush with the underside of the baseboard.

14. Here's one I made earler! Note that the four aspect post is a lot longer than the three that I have just made. This is because the four aspect was made to fit on the outdoor section and the ground level is a lot lower than the track.

15. TESTING TESTING TESTING. Most important before finishing off!

16. The signal just requires paint and a set of ladders to complete. As my layout is based on the WCML the signals will eventualy be fitted with some wire mesh.

17. And there you have it! Working colour light signals, at a fraction of the cost of ready made items, that are robust enough to be used outdoors.




This methord of construction can be adapted to produce T bar or gantry type signals. One final point. Dont forget to use a current limiting resistor to power your signals. Even on a 3v battery supply you can damage the led's as I found out! 1k works fine on 12v DC and one advantage of switching the -ve leg on the led instead of the +ve is I only need one resistor per signal. I will be following up this tutorial with another showing how to 'automate' the signals operation. ;-)

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Just as a post script here's some more pic's.
1. Base and ladders added.

2. Signal mounted on layout

3 - 5. Add paint to finish. ;-)

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As I mentioned in my origanal post the design can be modified to produce T bar type signals. Here's one I made last night.....

Robert
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There's nothing much I can say Dave. Excellent work and the very best scratchbuilt signals I think I have ever seen. Yet another one for the Forum Index.

Sol
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Dave, I was very interested in your method - one of my modelling mates here has done some using brass tube & washers for searchlight types but yours looks well.
It will be bookmarked for reference.

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An excellent "how to" which will come in very useful when i decide it's time to add signals to my layout.
Like Sol, I've bookmarked this one.
Thanks Dave :!:

Sol
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Just going back over this, these have an advantage over commercial LED signals in that these by Dave can be seen from the side whereas the Commercial units you really need to be in front to see them properly due to the hoods.


                 

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