I want to add sparking 3rd rail shoes to my Lionel Subway set (6-31751, I'd start with the non-powered cars (6-18378 will bring up a parts list for the cars) first). I'm thinking about using a 0402 SMD LED (mounted to the side of the truck side frame) attached to a 555 timer circuit (or some kind of timer) so the light will "spark". I'd like to only have it spark when in motion, would a hall effect sensor or reed switch work to do that?  

Original Post

Obviously, any type of indication that the wheels are turning will do the trick for the spark enable signal.  I'd be thinking of something a lot more random than a periodic timer pulse for the sparking that will not really look that realistic.  I'd consider something like the flickering LED's in blue or white (or a combination of those) to generate the "sparks". 

Perhaps an even better solution is the ngineering.com lighting effects modules.  The page is Lighting Effects for Streets & Highways, about halfway down the page.

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gunrunnerjohn posted:

Obviously, any type of indication that the wheels are turning will do the trick for the spark enable signal.  I'd be thinking of something a lot more random than a periodic timer pulse for the sparking that will not really look that realistic.  I'd consider something like the flickering LED's in blue or white (or a combination of those) to generate the "sparks". 

Perhaps an even better solution is the ngineering.com lighting effects modules. https://www.ngineering.com/lig...amp;%20highways.htm, about halfway down the page.

I didn't even think of using this. I'll take a look at it. I take it one board per car? 

gunrunnerjohn posted:

...

Perhaps an even better solution is the ngineering.com lighting effects modules. https://www.ngineering.com/lig...amp;%20highways.htm, about halfway down the page.

Link has an extra comma at end.  

https://www.ngineering.com/lig...&%20highways.htm

GRJ makes a good suggestion in that module.  You could then use a hall-sensor or reed switch to detect motion from a tiny disc magnet fastened to the inside of a wheel.

 

I fixed my link, got lazy and it bit me.

The reed switch could just trigger something like a simple retriggerable single shot 555 circuit to provide power while moving and kill the effect when you stop.

FWIW, I normally heatshrink the little modules to protect them, that way you can just stick them anywhere.  Note that each module has two separate independent LED outputs that are different timing, so you need a module for each two contact points.  You also need DC for the module power, the circuit that is sensing movement should supply filtered DC for the circuit.

 

gunrunnerjohn posted:

...

The reed switch could just trigger something like a simple retriggerable single shot 555 circuit to provide power while moving and kill the effect when you stop.

Nice.  The 10-cent 555 with its ~100 mA output current capability should be able to drive the module directly.  I'd also think that with clever application of the single-shot timing, you could power the module less frequently at slow speed when starting to move or slowing to stop...then power it 100% above some speed threshold.  I'd think this might improve the effect - more sparking at faster speeds. 

stan2004 posted:
GRJ makes a good suggestion in that module.  You could then use a hall-sensor or reed switch to detect motion from a tiny disc magnet fastened to the inside of a wheel.

Cool! I got to thinking too, on the powered unit, an annoying feature is when the set is moving, the lights dim. Of course the key point is when moving here but, could I use board that triggers that feature as power for the spark board? This video shows the dimming. I can open up the car and show the inside if needed. 

I'm not familiar with the Lionel subway set wiring but apparently there's a tether between the powered unit and the trailing cars.  That tether carries the dimming control so I agree you should be able to extract that information to power the sparking circuitry when the lights dim in both non-powered and the motorized unit.

Do you know how the dimming control circuit works?  Does it just change a voltage on the tether or is the brightness embedded in a microprocessor digital signal?

Separately, you ought to be able to add circuitry in each car (including the motored unit) to maintain constant brightness if that's what you want.

stan2004 posted:

I'm not familiar with the Lionel subway set wiring but apparently there's a tether between the powered unit and the trailing cars.  That tether carries the dimming control so I agree you should be able to extract that information to power the sparking circuitry when the lights dim in both non-powered and the motorized unit.

Do you know how the dimming control circuit works?  Does it just change a voltage on the tether or is the brightness embedded in a microprocessor digital signal?

Separately, you ought to be able to add circuitry in each car (including the motored unit) to maintain constant brightness if that's what you want.

The tether also carries the signal for the doors to open and close. I don't know how the dimming circuit works unfortunately. I wonder if I could wire the lights in the powered car directly to track power? 

gunrunnerjohn posted:

No problem wiring to track power, the problem is figuring out exactly what you have now so you know how to do that.

Alright. What I'm thinking about is using the tether, from the dimming circuit (if possible) for the power to the spark board in the powered car and have the power travel down the train through the tether (for the board in the 5 non-powered cars). Can that be done? 

Well, not knowing anything about the dimming circuit or how it works, that's one I would have to see to make intelligent recommendations of how to use it for the purpose you describe.  I have no idea what goes over the tether to the unpowered, or how it's represented.

gunrunnerjohn posted:

Well, not knowing anything about the dimming circuit or how it works, that's one I would have to see to make intelligent recommendations of how to use it for the purpose you describe.  I have no idea what goes over the tether to the unpowered, or how it's represented.

Ah alright. I'll have to look at the tether and see if I can figure it out. 

Looking at the spark board some more, it says "The NLA/D8063 can produce its special effects in one of two ways: either as a double pantograph (dual pickup) spark effect simulator or as one for a single pantograph. Many electrics have two pickups (one at each end of the locomotive or traction vehicle), while some such as earlier-era street trolleys may only have a single spring-loaded pole which contacts the catenary cable overhead.

By default, the NLA/D8063 is configured to produce spark effects on two separate LED outputs (one for each pantograph or pickup). The outputs of these 2 LEDs will be random and timed differently for each." 

So, I would need two boards per car? 

Trainlover9943 posted:

Ah alright. I'll have to look at the tether and see if I can figure it out. 

I would be curious to see as many photos/angles as possible of the electronics and anything that touches the tether in both the motorized and the non-powered cars.  

BTW, does non-powered mean no-power-pickup rollers?  Or does non-powered just mean non-motorized?  With a suitably designed tether system you'd think it would possible to eliminate the power pickups in the trailing cars?

stan2004 posted:
Trainlover9943 posted:

Ah alright. I'll have to look at the tether and see if I can figure it out. 

I would be curious to see as many photos/angles as possible of the electronics and anything that touches the tether in both the motorized and the non-powered cars.  

BTW, does non-powered mean no-power-pickup rollers?  Or does non-powered just mean non-motorized?  With a suitably designed tether system you'd think it would possible to eliminate the power pickups in the trailing cars?

I'll do my best when taking the photos. The non powered cars don't have motors but do have pick up rollers.

Matt. Another way to skin the cat is to put LEDs in the roadbed that flash as the subway passes over them. I either saw it here or on youtube and it looks great. Sorry, but I don't know much about how the LEDs are triggered. I plan on going that route because it's once and done with no danger of damaging a board. No matter what subway you run, they'll all be sparking. Then you just shut the LEDs off when your running regular trains.

Dave Z

Dave Zucal posted:

Matt. Another way to skin the cat is to put LEDs in the roadbed that flash as the subway passes over them. I either saw it here or on youtube and it looks great. Sorry, but I don't know much about how the LEDs are triggered. I plan on going that route because it's once and done with no danger of damaging a board. No matter what subway you run, they'll all be sparking. Then you just shut the LEDs off when your running regular trains.

I really like this idea as the sparks that would occur were usually at certain points like a switch. And as each cars truck passes over the switch the 3rd rail shoe would arc. I’ve seen this in person and in videos and will try to find one on YouTube and post it here. 

The other great idea is to use a warm & a cool led. That would look great!!!

 

Dave Zucal posted:

Matt. Another way to skin the cat is to put LEDs in the roadbed that flash as the subway passes over them. I either saw it here or on youtube and it looks great...

That might have been this OGR thread which I participated in from over 5 years ago.  Here's the kludgy video I made at the time; I too thought it looked pretty cool!  Duh, I realize that's not a subway car...so I beg for your forgiveness.

 

 

stan2004 posted:
Dave Zucal posted:

Matt. Another way to skin the cat is to put LEDs in the roadbed that flash as the subway passes over them. I either saw it here or on youtube and it looks great...

That might have been this OGR thread which I participated in from over 5 years ago.  Here's the kludgy video I made at the time; I too thought it looked pretty cool!  Duh, I realize that's not a subway car...so I beg for your forgiveness.

 

 

So cool!

In this video it looks like most sparking occurs as the subway is accelerating as it's pulling out of the station and then lessens quite a bit once the train gets up to speed.                                                           https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJs4myD4kEo          GRJ's idea of using a reed switch to trigger an LED would work great if a magnet was mounted on each car and a reed switch at each LED, or a strip of chasing LED's in a home made third rail with one reed switch to activate the strip. OK, Stan, GRJ and all the rest of the electronic geniuses of OGR forum, I know when you guys put your heads together you create electronic miracles. On the subway modeler's Christmas wish list is one foot long sections of third rail with chaser LED's. Wouldn't that be a cool product to manufacture. We can plant the seed here. I've seen chasing Christmas lights and often wondered how they work. Is there a circuit in the plug or does each bulb trigger the next bulb? I also found the video I first saw a few years ago that "sparked" my interest. LOL          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xTeRa9gR3uU

Dave Z

Personally, I still like the idea of the sparks on the trucks so that the effect is layout-wide.

Trainlover9943 posted:

Looking at the spark board some more, it says "The NLA/D8063 can produce its special effects in one of two ways: either as a double pantograph (dual pickup) spark effect simulator or as one for a single pantograph. Many electrics have two pickups (one at each end of the locomotive or traction vehicle), while some such as earlier-era street trolleys may only have a single spring-loaded pole which contacts the catenary cable overhead.

By default, the NLA/D8063 is configured to produce spark effects on two separate LED outputs (one for each pantograph or pickup). The outputs of these 2 LEDs will be random and timed differently for each." 

So, I would need two boards per car? 

If you have four trucks and want unique patterns for each truck, then you would need two boards for the full effect.  Of course, you don't have to have all the trucks sparking uniquely, since you can't see both sides of the car at once.  I'd probably see if I could do the effect with one output for a truck, and perhaps two LED's.

The only thing missing with both techniques, is the wonderful smell of Ozone and the snapping sound. Before the LED idea came to light, I thought about introducing real sparks by using a AAA 1.5 volt gas grill igniter. They come with 4 outputs. I would just replace the push button with a mercury switch that responds to specific motions. No John, I don't have a Frankenstein on a gurney in my attic.   

Dave Z

Since the sparks would be sure to drive command stuff nuts, I'll pass on that idea.   I tried the EL wire on my Phantom set a long time back, but the EMI generated was enough to kill any command operation.  I stick with the visual effects now.

GRJ. Did it cause problems with communication in both MTH and Lionel? I could understand how Lionel could pick up interference because of the antenna, but I didn't think it could effect MTH subways since they communicate through the tracks. 

Dave Z

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