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Working Signals

Postby martink » Sun Mar 16, 2014 4:19 pm

As one of half a dozen simultaneous projects, I have been looking at adding working colour light signals to Sarum Bridge. The initial tests are looking good, so now all I have to do is make the signals look like real signals.

The signals are made from short lengths of optical fibre aimed at multi-colour LEDs beneath the baseboard to give fully functional three-colour searchlight signals. The length of fibre is pretty much the entire signal - both the mast and the head. The end of the fibre is bent over sharply to form the lens and hood. The current versions are still rough trial pieces - they need straightening, and I have some tiny 0.8mm washers on order for the back backplate. I will post again when they are complete.

I would have liked to go for dummy multiple-aspect signals with a dummy head wrapped around the single searchlight aspect, but that is beyond my current capabilities. Perhaps one of you 3D types might consider it? Searchlight signals were uncommon in the UK, but the GWR used them on a small scale between the wars. These were exact replacements for semaphore types, so fit in well with the automation I am also working on.

The red aspects are a lot redder than they appear in this video (camera issues):
http://youtu.be/IbVGsgC5lBw

Note the brass tube leading the fibre to the LED on the left.
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Re: Working Signals

Postby Ozrail » Mon Mar 17, 2014 2:25 am

Very impressive work. :D
Check out my Shapeways store for T-gauge stuff.
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Re: Working Signals

Postby dkightley » Mon Mar 17, 2014 7:55 pm

I think we're all going to have to include something in each photograph we post that gives an indication of how small things are.

The second photo looks at first glance as if enormous brass tubes and thick plastic rod has been used...until you realise that the tails of the screws through the baseboard seem a bit too big in comparison! :shock: :shock: ;) The true scale of things then becomes obvious...that those plastic rods are in fact fibres.
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Re: Working Signals

Postby mattd10 » Mon Mar 17, 2014 9:21 pm

These look great! I tried to get a 3D print of signals to hold a fibre optic cable, but the small diameters meant the tubes were all bunged up in the printing process so were completely unusable. My next attempt was going to be very similar to what you're doing...using the fibre optic itself as the signal and paint it black or something, but this never got off the drawing board for me!
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Re: Working Signals

Postby martink » Tue Mar 18, 2014 2:35 am

I will be sticking with the searchlight signals, but what I was originally thinking of for a 3D multi-aspect head was something like this, with a slot in the back and a hole for one aspect. Bend and insert the fibre, then seal it with glue. And don't even think about ladders.

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Re: Working Signals

Postby jerrybigcat » Wed Mar 19, 2014 3:56 am

Gold Medal M<odels has brass ladder stock in 1/400 and 1/500 scale. :)
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Re: Working Signals

Postby martink » Wed Apr 23, 2014 7:20 pm

Now that the heavy scenic work is done, I got around to finishing these off. A length of optic fiber, bent 90 degrees at the top, a 1mm washer slipped over the end, a dab of PVA glue to hold the washer in place and form a back-shell to the signal head, and a quick coat of paint. As usual, they look a lot better at a distance. There are 11 of them on the layout.

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Re: Working Signals

Postby tjejojyj » Thu Apr 24, 2014 3:31 am

Gee that's impressive. I have to remind myself how small they are. Once the ground cover and ballast goes in it will be "scary good", as they say, when seen in person. (I like the boom gates too.)
I wonder if you had more depth-of-field on the photos whether it would make it look even better?
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Re: Working Signals

Postby dkightley » Wed Sep 16, 2015 12:13 am

Here's a YouTube video showing how two aspect signals for N gauge can be made:




I'm sure the technique can be used to make T signals...I particularly like the use of the plastic "skin" from paper clips as uprights.
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Re: Working Signals

Postby martink » Wed Sep 16, 2015 6:56 am

dkightley wrote:I'm sure the technique can be used to make T signals...I particularly like the use of the plastic "skin" from paper clips as uprights.

I have more than a few doubts about this one. I have used similar techniques (making and kitbashing products from CR Signals) for my still unfinished N gauge layout, and I found that wiring and handling the LEDs at this size was about at my limit of skill.

Please note these pics are in N, and the signal heads are still slightly overscale, and since T is 1/3rd of that...

If you do make the attempt, I would be really, really interested in the results.

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