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Author Topic: I want my train to automatically leave the station every half hour.  (Read 3640 times)

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« on: October 24, 2014, 07:49:53 AM »

I don't want remote control, I want my train to automatically  leave the station every half hour punctually from 11am to 10pm, perfectly synchronized and preferable driven by  a wall clock , go around the track once ,  whistle a few times on the way , and stop gently exactly on the spot where it started. With my nonexistent knowledge of electricity and wanting to spend as little as possible to achieve this goal, this is what I have been planning: Buy an electric clock mechanism and a dial, build a case for it, place a minute hand inside the clock as well as one outside, attach a small magnet to the inside minute hand and two sensors with cables placed behind the dial , one directly at 12 o'clock and the other at 6 o'clock . This will be attached to a small simple hopefully inexpensive electrical board that will switch power on the track when the cable sensor is very near a magnet. In the same way I will place a sensor cable  by a rail where the train must stop so that a magnet hanging from a car will send a signal thru the cable sensor to the board to switch power of the track. Possibly another magnet and cable sensor will make the train slow down a lot before it stops. The 11 am to 10 pm schedule I can easily achieve by plugging the power supply to a  simple wall timer.   Does  this make sense? Are there simpler ways to achieve this keeping cost down to a minimum? And the most important question.  Is there an inexpensive electrical board I can buy readymade that will suit this purpose?

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« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2014, 09:32:22 AM »

Sounds like you need the Bachmann shuttle unit that has a 'soft-start and stop' facility, but AFAIK it doesn't have a 'dwell-time' as long as the one that you are looking for.  A regular household light-timer is going to be the easiet way to get around it, else you are talking custom timers and DCC and all kinds of fancy/costy electronics.

We've been using a couple of the Bachmann shuttle units for years with total reliability, providing that you keep all  the contacts clean.

The only real problem I can see is having the timing that feeds to the track to coincide with the train actually being in the right place when the power feed to the transformer/controller actually stops...

Ottawa Valley GRS

Kevin Strong

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« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2014, 10:40:50 AM »

Check with RR Concepts or Dallee Electronics. Both of them have a line of automation products which might fit your needs for starting and stopping. The only thing is that I don't know if they've got timers to leave on the half hour, but I'm 99% sure they both have controls that would allow automation with pushbuttons to start things in motion. Then you could use magnetic reed switches attached to a clock face, and a magnet on the minute hand to actuate it. As long as the train took more than a minute or two to complete the loop such that when it got back to the station the magnet on the minute hand was no longer closing the reed switch, you should be good.




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« Reply #3 on: October 24, 2014, 09:53:18 PM »

Very good point, the minute hand is very slow, I had not thought about that. I'll have to try till I find a train speed slow enough,  perhaps increasing  the distance between the magnet reed switch  and the magnet will help?  I am reading about  RR Concepts and Dallee Electronics, I had no idea, very interesting.
Chuck N

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« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2014, 10:14:48 PM »

Try posting your question over on <> in the beginners forum.  There is an active participant there who does wonders with relays and chips.  He might be able to help. 

His name is Todd.

Loco Bill Canelos

Model railroading since 1947

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« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2014, 10:21:10 PM »


 No matter how you make it work, it is most important that it not be run when not attended.

If you have a derailment and short the power supply no problem, but if you have a derailment and the loco keeps running, you will destroy either the locomotive wheels or the track or both.  My club maintains a Large Scale layout at the local children's hospital.  We have had derailments that have run so long that they wore completely through the brass rails and ruined the loco wheels.  The hospital maintenance staff is supposed to check it frequently but rarely do.  


Loco Bill,  Roundhouse Foreman
Colorado & Kansas Railway-Missouri Western Railway
Official Historian; Bachmann Large Scale
Colorado RR Museum-Brakeman-Engineer-Motorman-Trainman
There are no dumb or stupid questions, just questions!
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