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Diameter of N scale searchlight signal head? Update Dec. 3 - First attempt at an N scale double head signal.

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Diameter of N scale searchlight signal head? Update Dec. 3 - First attempt at an N scale double head signal.
Posted by hon30critter on Wednesday, October 2, 2019 9:51 PM

Hi gang,

A friend who has an N scale layout is looking for searchlight signals but he can't find anything that suits him. I would like to explore making them for him. What size washer would be suitable for an N scale target?

Thanks,

Dave

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Posted by carl425 on Wednesday, October 2, 2019 10:38 PM

It's not going to be that simple.  Standard washers don't have the right ratio of ID to OD.  OD is not large enough.

I have the right to remain silent.  By posting here I have given up that right and accept that anything I say can and will be used as evidence to critique me.

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Posted by hon30critter on Wednesday, October 2, 2019 11:30 PM

Hi carl425,

Oh ye of little faith!Smile, Wink & Grin

Thanks for the great closeup picture.

I'm not expecting to get the size absolutely to scale. Close is good enough. 

Here is a first attempt. I'm guess that it would be about 3 1/2 ft in diameter in N scale. I'm using an HO scale ruler:

I used a #6 #4 washer. The ID was easy enough to adjust. I reamed the hole out slightly to accept a 1/8" brass tube, and then I inserted a 3/32" brass tube inside that to get the sun shade closer to the right size. The 1/8" tube sticks out the back a bit but I can cut that off.

I found some 0603 tri-colour pre-wired (Bow) LEDs that will fit on the back nicely. I'll have to come up with a way to make the lens so that it shows under the sun shade. Maybe just some rounded off acrylic dowels.

If it is a bit too large I hope the gentleman that I am doing them for (if he wants them) can live with that. Making something smaller is doable but this size is already fussy enough.

How tall should they be?

Dave

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Posted by gmpullman on Thursday, October 3, 2019 12:40 AM

hon30critter
How tall should they be?

Scroll down to page 68:

http://www.rrsignalpix.com/pdf/GRS_176_sec.pdf

I've got drawings of PRR, NYC and B&O signal masts but none of them are searchlight signals. Probably wouldn't make much difference in actual practice.

 Signal_0001 by Edmund, on Flickr

 Signal by Edmund, on Flickr

 

Locations at curves and multiple tracks will call for taller masts, though. 

Hope that helps —

Regards, Ed

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Posted by hon30critter on Thursday, October 3, 2019 1:04 AM

gmpullman
Scroll down to page 68: http://www.rrsignalpix.com/pdf/GRS_176_sec.pdf

Hi Ed,

Thanks!

I'm building signals for the club layout as well as the ones for my friend. I was guessing at the height but now I can make things more accurate. So far I have one prototype set up at the club. I'll get some pictures next Tuesday.

I think you must be a genius at choosing the right search words!

Dave

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Posted by gmpullman on Thursday, October 3, 2019 1:15 AM

hon30critter
I think you must be a genius at choosing the right search words!

Nah, just file that under the blind squirrel finding the occasional nut! I've been fascinated with signals for a long time so I've had some of my "favorite" signal web sites saved.

I admire you for attempting N scale signals Bow ! Sometimes making them in HO is frustrating enough.

Glad you're having FUN! Ed

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Posted by hon30critter on Thursday, October 3, 2019 1:23 AM

Hi Ed,

Based on the diagram in your link, I don't think the head I made is very far off the mark. The diagram doesn't show the exact head diameter but it does show the offset for the heads from the center of the signal poles. That dimension is 27 1/4" and it looks to be about 80% of the width of the head. If I divide 27.25 by .8 = 34". I'm guessing mine are about 36". Good enough for me!!!

Thanks again,

Cheers!!

Dave

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Posted by carl425 on Thursday, October 3, 2019 10:13 AM

hon30critter
Oh ye of little faith!

I never should have underestimated you. Smile It looks like you're well on your way to a convincing model.

I have the right to remain silent.  By posting here I have given up that right and accept that anything I say can and will be used as evidence to critique me.

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Posted by hon30critter on Sunday, October 13, 2019 1:52 AM

Hi again,

Is there a silver paint that is more durable than Testors enamel? I used the Testors silver on a test signal and I found that it took very little handling to mess up the surface and make it go dull. The signals will likely be handled fairly regularly as they are being removed to allow for scenery work etc., and it would be a PITA to have to repaint them all the time.

I tried coating the Testors paint with Dulcote but it didn't seem to solve the problem. The Testors paint just doesn't seem to dry hard.

Thanks

Dave

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Posted by doctorwayne on Sunday, October 13, 2019 2:39 AM

Humbrol makes a couple versions of silver in those tiny cans.  I also have some older cans (250ml) of silver and aluminum paint by Armor Coat.  It's a Canadian Tire brand, but I can't say for sure if it's still available.  It seems to last forever in the cans, although I don't know how durable it is in use.  Both of the brands mentioned are meant for brushing - the latter one advises that too much thinning will result in poor coverage, so it's not likely suitable for air brushing.

Wayne

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Posted by hon30critter on Sunday, October 13, 2019 4:05 AM

doctorwayne
Humbrol makes a couple versions of silver in those tiny cans.  I also have some older cans (250ml) of silver and aluminum paint by Armor Coat. 

Thanks Wayne,

I'll try the Humbrol first.

Dave

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Posted by hon30critter on Tuesday, October 15, 2019 1:21 AM

I ordered some Humbrol and Tamiya silver paints to see how they perform. I'll post the results when I get around to painting a test signal.

Dave

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Posted by hon30critter on Wednesday, October 23, 2019 1:52 AM

Just to update everyone on my signal construction projects, here are some pictures of the HO scale test sample:

When I made this I was guessing at the dimensions. Since then Ed (gmpullman) has provided me with a drawing of the prototype which includes the proper sizing. The sample is a bit too tall and the lights are a bit too far apart but all of that can be easily adjusted. I have also decided to remake the signal heads with more prototypical sun shades (slightly longer and smaller diameter).

The camera has washed out the LEDs. In reality the colours are pretty good, but the green could be a bit greener.

As far as the N scale signals go, today I received the 0606 tri-colour LEDs. They are incredibly small. My biggest concern is that the LED wires supplied are a bit bigger than the usual magnet wire. I'm not sure if I will be able to feed all the wires down a 1/16" tube, especially if the signal has two heads. We shall see.

Now that I have the LEDs I can experiment with building an N scale signal. Wish me steady hands!!Smile, Wink & GrinLaughLaugh

Dave

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Posted by RR_Mel on Wednesday, October 23, 2019 10:01 AM

hon30critter

 

 

Dave
 
Your signals look GREAT!  I really like the socket mounting!  That would have work great for my signals, thanks for the idea!
 
For my signal I went with a 7/16” Styrene tube base on the ground next to the track and built up the signal base with Styrene tubing so that I could drop the wires with 4 pin connectors through the tube base, no crawling under.  Your way would have been much better.
 

My signal bridges have four heads so there are four connectors that drop through the 7/16” tube.
 
I’m running ribbon cable from the Arduino MEGA to the signals, really helps reduce a wiring mess under the layout.  As my norm everything plugs in for easy maintenance down the road.
 
 
EDIT:
 

I used #36 Litz wire for my signals and it easiy slips through a 1/16" K&S Brass tube.
 
 
I ordered balck for ground or common (even though it is actually positive 5 volts) and red, yellow and green for the LEDs.
 
 
 
 
Mel
 
 
My Model Railroad   
 
Bakersfield, California
 
I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.
 
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Posted by hon30critter on Thursday, October 24, 2019 12:25 AM

RR_Mel
Your signals look GREAT!  I really like the socket mounting!

Thanks Mel,

The IC sockets do work quite well. I will just have to caution people that they can't force the sockets together. Anybody who bends a pin will pay dearly!!! The sockets make it really easy to move the signals out of the way for doing layout work. They will be mounted just below the level of the scenery so we will be able to add signal bases above them. I'm not quite sure how we will do that just yet. I'm thinking that we might use resin castings because the available bases are so expensive. The signal shown cost us about $10.00 Cdn to build.

I just purchased some 0606 tri colour LEDs for use in some N scale signals that I'm building (or trying to at least) for the Secretary of the club. The LEDs came with somewhat thicker wires attached. They are definitely larger than #36. I'm not sure if I will be able to get all the wires needed for a double head signal down a 1/16" tube. I'm going to have to be in a good mood before I try!Smile, Wink & GrinLaughLaughLaugh If I have to replace the wires I will just cut the existing wires down to about 1/4" and solder on a #36 magnet wire which will go down the tubes. Trying to solder new wires to the LED pads would be very challenging. I have a Streamlined Backshop LED wiring jig but I doubt that my hands are steady enough to use it for 0606 LEDs.

Dave

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Posted by hon30critter on Monday, October 28, 2019 9:08 PM

Oops, wrong thread!Dunce

Dave

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Posted by RR_Mel on Monday, October 28, 2019 9:19 PM

hon30critter

 

 
RR_Mel
Your signals look GREAT!  I really like the socket mounting!

 

Thanks Mel,

The IC sockets do work quite well. I will just have to caution people that they can't force the sockets together. Anybody who bends a pin will pay dearly!!! The sockets make it really easy to move the signals out of the way for doing layout work. They will be mounted just below the level of the scenery so we will be able to add signal bases above them. I'm not quite sure how we will do that just yet. I'm thinking that we might use resin castings because the available bases are so expensive. The signal shown cost us about $10.00 Cdn to build.

I just purchased some 0606 tri colour LEDs for use in some N scale signals that I'm building (or trying to at least) for the Secretary of the club. The LEDs came with somewhat thicker wires attached. They are definitely larger than #36. I'm not sure if I will be able to get all the wires needed for a double head signal down a 1/16" tube. I'm going to have to be in a good mood before I try!Smile, Wink & GrinLaughLaughLaugh If I have to replace the wires I will just cut the existing wires down to about 1/4" and solder on a #36 magnet wire which will go down the tubes. Trying to solder new wires to the LED pads would be very challenging. I have a Streamlined Backshop LED wiring jig but I doubt that my hands are steady enough to use it for 0606 LEDs.

Dave

 

 

Dave
 
Being careful I can get 5 #36 Litz down 1/16” brass tubing, 6 with lube.  
 
 
 
Mel
 
 
My Model Railroad   
 
Bakersfield, California
 
I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.
 
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Posted by hon30critter on Monday, October 28, 2019 10:58 PM

RR_Mel
Being careful I can get 5 #36 Litz down 1/16” brass tubing, 6 with lube.

Hi Mel,

I was experimenting with the wires and the 1/16" tubes last night and I can get six of the LED leads into the tube. I can use the brass pole as the common for both LEDs so that gets power to all three colours on both LEDs. 

That was feeding the wires straight down from the top of the tube. It remains to be seen whether or not I can feed three wires through a hole in the side of the tube beside the lower signal head and then get the other three wires for the upper signal head to go down from the top. That could be a challenge! I hadn't thought about using a lubricant - thanks.

I have another question. When I was experimenting with applying power to the first LED, I got red and green fine but the yellow blew itself up. I was using two AA cells in series. Is it possible that the yellow LED fried itself on 3 volts or was it maybe defective?

These are the LEDs:

https://www.ebay.ca/itm/T0603RGY-20pcs-Pre-soldered-micro-litz-wired-leads-Red-Green-Yellow-SMD-Led-0603/352803555645?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2060353.m2749.l2648

There were no instructions with them as usual.

Thanks,

Dave

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Posted by hon30critter on Monday, October 28, 2019 11:06 PM

By the way, I was finally able to get my hands on an N scale ruler and the heads I made measure about 44" across. I believe they should be about 34". In reality the heads are only 0.025" off so my friend for whom I am making the signals said to not worry about it. Good thing I'm not cutting gears eh?!?

Dave

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Posted by hon30critter on Tuesday, November 5, 2019 1:32 AM

Made some HO signal heads for the club tonight. They still require filing to finish them.

Dave

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Posted by hon30critter on Tuesday, November 5, 2019 1:36 AM

Last night I realized that the six pin IC sockets won't work for tri-coloured LEDs so I have ordered eight pin sockets. The tri-cloured LEDs require at least seven circuits to show the proper indications.

Dave

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Posted by hon30critter on Tuesday, December 3, 2019 3:39 AM

Okay gang, here we are a month later. The ladders and platform materials finally arrived so I have been able to construct an N scale test signal:

As I said previously, the heads are a little oversized, but I will leave it up to my friend for whom I am building the signals to decide if they are acceptable. Remaking the heads would actually not difficult at all. They are basically just brass washers and tubes.

FYI, the ladders and the platforms are from Gold Metal Models. The platforms are made from their 'Atlas/Con Cor 40' Boxcar detailing set #160-15', and the ladders are made from their 'Freight Car and Industrial Ladders #160-25'.

http://goldmm.com/

The eight pin IC socket will fit into an identical socket which will be mounted below the surface of the layout. That will allow the signals to be removed as needed when work is being done on the layout. The reason for the eight pin socket is that we want the signals to be tri-coloured, and we want the two heads to be able to operate independantly. The HO signals that I showed previously in the thread were originally designed for just two colours, hence the six pin sockets, but we have changed our mind on those so they will be three colours as well.

I have to confess that making the first signal took far longer than I had anticipated, mostly because of my own ineptitude.Dunce I managed to solder the lower signal head on side ways and upside down three times before I got it right.Bang HeadBang HeadBang HeadLaughLaughDunce Then at one point I was simply trying to adjust the distance between the upper and lower heads. I needed to move the lower bracket up about 1 1/2 scale feet but it wouldn't budge. I guess I pushed a little too hard on the lower signal head mounting bracket and everything including both heads and the mounting brackets slid all the way up the pole and fell off. That got me exactly back to where I had started 20 minutes before! I guess I should have backed off before that happened! Holding the big Weller soldering gun on the signal for more than a couple of seconds was obviously a big no-no.DunceLaughLaugh

Here's hoping I can get better at this. I only need to do 6 or 8 N scale signals, but there will be 30+ HO signals to do for the club.

Cheers!!

Dave

 

 

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Posted by BARRY COOPER on Thursday, December 5, 2019 3:15 PM

May I ask where you found the 0306 tri-colour LEDs?

Barry

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Posted by hon30critter on Thursday, December 5, 2019 10:09 PM

Hi Barry,

I got the LEDs on eBay. Here is the listing:

https://www.ebay.ca/itm/T0603RGY-20pcs-Pre-soldered-micro-litz-wired-leads-Red-Green-Yellow-SMD-Led-0603/352803555645?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&_trksid=p2060353.m2749.l2648

However, I have decided to use different ones based on RRMel's recommendations. The LEDs above come pre-wired which is great, except that the wires are quite thick when compared to most pre-wired LEDs. The thicker wires won't fit inside the poles on the double head signals. Single head signals are okay.

These are the LEDs that I'm going to use:

https://www.digikey.ca/product-detail/en/bivar-inc/SMTL4-RGY/492-2173-1-ND/6217520

The LEDs are larger but they will still look as though they are just part of the case on the back of the signal heads. They are not pre-wired unfortunately, but that allows me to use magnet wire which is small enough that I can get six wires down the posts even for the two LEDs on double head N scale 1/16" posts. (The posts will serve as the common lead for both LEDs.) Feeding the wires will be a challenge on the N scale signals. It shouldn't be a problem on the HO signals.

I will offer one caveat regarding the N scale signals. I haven't tested the new LEDs to see if the light will project properly through the hole in the target. I'm going to test one tonight and I will let you know. They will be fine on the HO scale heads.

Dave

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Posted by RR_Mel on Thursday, December 5, 2019 10:35 PM

The SMTL4-RGY has increased in price since I bought mine.  I bought mine from Mouser for $1.27 each about a year ago.  Mouser was 3¢ each cheaper than the other sellers.  As I remember there was a pretty good price break at 25.
 
I soldered #36 Litz wire to the SMTL4-RGY off eBay, 20meters of four colors for under $7 free S&H.
 
Soldering the #36 wire was a piece of cake, I didn’t ding any soldering them.
 
EDIT:
 
Dave, I really like your socket mount!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
 
Mel
 
 
My Model Railroad   
 
Bakersfield, California
 
I'm beginning to realize that aging is not for wimps.
 
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Posted by BARRY COOPER on Wednesday, December 11, 2019 9:07 PM
Have you had a chance to try the new LEDs in the n-scale searchlight yet? I have brass coming but have not ordered LEDs yet. Barry
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Posted by hon30critter on Thursday, December 12, 2019 4:46 PM

Hi Barry,

I haven't assembled a head with the SMTL4-RGY LEDs yet but I have tested them by holding a lit one to the back of an N scale target. The light was quite visible even without a lens in place. I plan on using a piece of acrylic rod polished on both ends and then epoxied in place to act as a lens.

I'll assemble one within the next couple of days and post some photos.

Dave

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