Skip to main content

Replies sorted oldest to newest

I think I see where you're going.  The "name-brand" IR activation devices including the similar MTH ITAD run about $40-$50 each.


In principle, yes, your $1.28 (free shipping) IR module could be the basis for DIY roll-your-own 153IR.  You need two additional modules, 1)5V SPDT relay module such as this one for $1.07 (free shipping);hash=item3f4350579b


and 2) a 5V voltage regulator module such as this one for $0.99 (free shipping);hash=item3395663f42


And 2 discrete components, a 10 cent bridge rectifier and a 10 cent capacitor - well, both are 10 for 99 cents (free shipping);hash=item4188edf22c;hash=item3cb9519f8a


ogr roll-your-own itad

The story is something like this.  Your IR module operates at 5V DC.  When it detects reflected IR energy, it generates a relatively "weak" output signal; according to the listing, it uses a device which can drive only about 10 mA (0.01 Amps).


The 153IR and similar devices have a relay output that can supports many Amps to drive power-hungry accessories.  So you add a 5V DC relay module to provide that kind of current switching capability.


Additionally, by adding a capacitor (value may need to be adjusted), you can provide a time-delay like the 153IR.  That is, after the train passes by, it waits several seconds (adjustable) until the relay opens.  This also keeps the relay closed for "gaps" between cars where the IR energy does not reflect until the next car.


The 153IR also operates on AC track/accessory voltage.  So you need to convert the AC to DC and then regulate it to 5V DC since the IR module and the relay module both operate on 5V DC.  As shown, a single 5V DC power supply can drive multiple roll-your-own 153IR's - at least a dozen.


Obviously you will need to fuss with packaging to hide or disguise the electronics.  If I were doing it this way, I'd look at even removing the two optical components from your module (transmitter and receiver) and just running those 2 above ground with the other electronics hidden underneath or some track-side shed or whatever.


Anyway, that's the overview and the devil's in the details.  There are ways you might be able to save another $1 per channel but you're already at about $3-4 per channel or 10x less than a purchased unit.


Images (1)
  • ogr roll-your-own itad

Another thought.  For model train applications, if you're rolling your own detector system, I'd consider placing the transmitter and receiver on opposite sides of the track.  So you would activate the relay by "breaking" the beam.  This is much more reliable than detecting a reflected beam.  Black steam engines or dark-colored cars do not reflect light (IR) that well...whereas all engines and rolling stock block light equally well to break a beam.  This also allows you to detect across multiple tracks whereas detecting reflected energy across more than 1 track is quite tricky.


All this is quite tedious and would not be a simple Saturday afternoon project! 


If you've already thrown in the towel and ordered a 153IR that's fine too!

Dear Stan


Thank you for the reply and the details. My original idea for AC to DC supply was going to be either a GunrunnerJohn LED power supply or 25A 400V BRIDGE RECTIFIER, WIRE LEADS and 1000 uf cap. But I see that you system is much easy to make. Another quick question do you think there is another IR module that mine work better that is reasonably priced? Thanks for the road map that was what I was looking for to build the 153IR.  The bottom line is I purchased Maiden Rescue a few years ago because I though my wife would like it. Now with this forum I am trying to make the Maiden Rescue work on the carpet layout. I wanted to hook this up to the my version of the Lionel 153C for carpet layout. Posting coming soon version 1.0 made and operation, will share shortly.

Hi Stan


I see now that this project is way beyond my skill level. I see now that I am better off with the outer-rail method as per your last comment. I thank you for your time on this question. Maybe this tread will be helpful to someone else that had the same idea but with a better skill set than I. I am still reading thread from years ago and using the information on my project now.


 Well, I'd really like to see you build a Maiden mechanism reset circuit but one step at a time.


ogr IR reflective and 5v spdt relay module


ogr ir reflector and 5v relay module

I don't have the specific "obstacle avoidance" IR module listed above so to demonstrate, I hooked up a similar IR reflective module that has the same hookup.  Note that the eBay IR reflective modules I've seen all generate a "low" level (to Ground) OUT signal when an object is detected.  As such, I used the "low" level trigger that some eBay relay have.  If you are searching eBay relay modules, they seem to use the term "H/L" in the description suggesting they have High or Low level trigger capability.  But unfortunately I've seen many listings that are simply incorrect in their descriptions so buyer beware. 


And here it is in action.  When my "box" car passes in front of the obstacle avoidance sensor, the relay trips.  I think this is all you need to activate the Maiden accessory.  As I understand it, the Maiden does not need the time-delay function. If you need the time-delay function (relay stays closed for several seconds after the train clears), a capacitor-based time delay circuit is shown in the IR thread but requires another 25 cents of parts and some component level assembly.


Note the beginning shows my IR detection widget from the other IR thread to show the IR energy being sprayed by the IR module.


Also, I can't remember if I already suggested buying jumper-cables, but many of these insanely-priced eBay modules use header-pins for the input/output signals.  For $1.12 (free shipping) you can get a nice supply of socketed wires that push on to these pins.;hash=item339a2b63be



ogr arduino female jumper cables


Images (3)
  • ogr IR reflective and 5v spdt relay module
  • ogr ir reflector and 5v relay module
  • ogr arduino female jumper cables
Videos (1)
ogr ir reflector and 5v relay module
Last edited by stan2004

Talking about infrared, it would be cool to have a device for trains without command that would send a signal to stop briefly or slow down a train that was coming up behind it.   This way you could run a couple of trains on the track at the same time without any remote control.  Maybe something like this has already been made?

Hi Stan


I will try to build the Maiden rescue IR  this Tuesday time permitting. The one thing I have going for me is my step son is in Hunter College studying engineering and currently a Junior.  In his senior year I will ask him to help me with this project. I also have a hobby shop that down the road from my work and they do flying model airplanes. I will show and explain it to the owner and see if he has any suggestions for the Maiden project. This is zombie project it keeps coming back. One day hopeful soon I will be able to get tackle it head on.

Originally Posted by riki:

Talking about infrared, it would be cool to have a device for trains without command that would send a signal to stop briefly or slow down a train that was coming up behind it.   This way you could run a couple of trains on the track at the same time without any remote control.  Maybe something like this has already been made?

It's curious that the IR module sold on eBay is pitched as "obstacle avoidance" for the robotics crowd whereas the same reflective IR function is a "track activation device" in O gauge.  I've run the idea of using IR for "obstacle avoidance" to space trains up the flagpole several times but no one salutes! 


In my scheme, you need to add electronics to the engine to regulate or cut-off motor power when the IR is detected from track-ahead whether it be from a EOT or from a signal-head projecting an IR beam whenever the aspect is Red.  I think the specter of messing with internal wiring of an expensive engine is a huge stumbling block.  So the tried-and-true isolated-rail block-detection with power cut-off to trailing blocks continues on.


Add Reply


OGR Publishing, Inc., 1310 Eastside Centre Ct, Suite 6, Mountain Home, AR 72653
800-980-OGRR (6477)

Link copied to your clipboard.