Lionel Activator Track 6-81317 versus Lionel 153 IR accessory activator

attempting to activate gate crossings and other accessories when train passes by.  Does the activator track do the same thing as the IR activator?  If so, the track is much cheaper than the IR.  Is one better than the other?  Is there another way of handling this goal?  Thanks!

Original Post

If its a crossing with  dual gates an Azatrax D2T-DS works well. http://www.azatrax.com/ This is very affordable. These allow you to activate a train before it actually reaches the crossing from either direction, just like the real thing.

If your detecting individual accessories. The 153 IR from Lionel is good. Theres also the DZ1075M from Z stuff.

I can't say one is better, track versus  I.R, outside of the I.R detectors give you more flexibility as you can activate anything pretty much anywhere on the layout whereas the activator track requires a straight section.

 

" No matter how far we travel, the memories will follow in the baggage car."

If cost is an issue as I gather from your comment, note that you can make your own activator track section starting from a "standard" piece of Fastrack.  So this would be even less expensive out-of-pocket.  There have been OGR threads on this.  Here's a well-done video (not mine) showing you what's involved.

OTOH, I see you specify the more recent "plug-expand-play" version of the activator track.  

fastrack activator sections

So for $3 more (MSRP) you buy into Lionel's plug-expand-play "system" which can simplify connections to accessories also equipped with the connectors.  Not all accessories come equipped with the special plugs so Lionel sells various wiring adapters.  Again, if cost is an issue, and you have basic wiring/assembly skills, I'd go with the original (shown on left) activator track.

There are considerations in choosing between the two methods which I think would be best explored if you share a bit more about exactly what you're trying to do and which accessories you have.  If you want to activate the crossing accessories coming from either direction, you'd need qty 2 of the 153IR which can get spendy.  If you have 2 (or more) parallel tracks at the crossing you might find a 153IR is not sensitive enough to trigger on the more distant track(s).  And so on. 

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stan2004 posted:

If cost is an issue as I gather from your comment, note that you can make your own activator track section starting from a "standard" piece of Fastrack.  So this would be even less expensive out-of-pocket.  There have been OGR threads on this.  Here's a well-done video (not mine) showing you what's involved.

OTOH, I see you specify the more recent "plug-expand-play" version of the activator track.  

fastrack activator sections

So for $3 more (MSRP) you buy into Lionel's plug-expand-play "system" which can simplify connections to accessories also equipped with the connectors.  Not all accessories come equipped with the special plugs so Lionel sells various wiring adapters.  Again, if cost is an issue, and you have basic wiring/assembly skills, I'd go with the original (shown on left) activator track.

There are considerations in choosing between the two methods which I think would be best explored if you share a bit more about exactly what you're trying to do and which accessories you have.  If you want to activate the crossing accessories coming from either direction, you'd need qty 2 of the 153IR which can get spendy.  If you have 2 (or more) parallel tracks at the crossing you might find a 153IR is not sensitive enough to trigger on the more distant track(s).  And so on. 

And by the way, they (153IR) ARE Sensitive enough for Parallel (doublemainline) Tracks!!

Fredstrains

 

Neither is foolproof or bullet proof.

  Room light can mess with IR detection.... a light about to burn out more so. (worst were incandescents about to burn, then any florecents, then halogen (LED room lighting was not in use, placement is a factor too) 

I do like IR a whole lot, I just know them better than most folk from non-train applications.... great product; but everything has limits.  Not a bad type of circuit to begin learning about electronics more deeply with either.  You could make one too, but the result likely would be slighty worse until you learn to aim, sheild, and adjust well...not to mention the trackside electrical box look is darn cool.

Pressure contactors, I prefer older ones.  The leaves seem thicker, the points foul less (file/sand/bend flat,clean), the mech. hangs less once old, adjustments work better (even after trying many spring rates on newer ones, adjustment works best on the older.... I use 6, 3 old, 3 newer(more plastic)

I also made one with a 2" strip of copper bent to a mild convex (up), just under a rail, and stuck a spring under a tie.  Worked even better, but was on a temporary track.

Isolated rails can be made on most track.  For tube track, cut a box top off your box of Wheaties... pry up the tie hold downs on an outer rail, insert cardboard, close them... it should look like the center rails isolation now. Plastic pins replace the metal pins for that rail only.

  As any metal wheelset travels over it, one wheel picks up the non-isolated outer rail and connects it to the new isolated rail via axle & other wheel (like a switch ) A wire from there, and a maybe a wire from center (depends on acc) now go to the accessory.

Some accessories won't like Iso-rails though. The pressure and IR triggers have more isolation from the actual track, and doesn't take away a rail as a power delivery .  Dirty wheels and track won't work as well on iso-rails. Plastic wheels won't work at all on Iso-rail. (2rail and cheaper cars use plastic or at least a plastic insert in the wheel hub to keep their outer rails isolated as each is a separate power leg.... cheap cars....are just cheap.

I think the IR also contains an after trigger "on time" adjustment (or off).

I don't have an overall preference, except that I don't really like board work anymore. I'm more of a electro-mechanical fan than a tech chaser. I've found it more reliable... mileage may vary.

Stans point is spot on.... the more you tell us in one thread, the easier yes, no, or "like this" becomes. Options are vast without specifics...and sometimes with them too

Oh, wood tie track GarGraves/ Ross, maybe Atlas(?) and some MTH already have isolated rails... when you install it you must connect them if you want them to both carry power.(makes for easy radical customization, or simple set up. It covers everyones plans, just takes a little effort... great track ). You can also buy iso-rails in most brands, even old tubular... it's just soooo easy most folks do it themselves once they understand what is needed.

"Still trying to not shoot my eye out"

 

"Nursing insomnia one railcar at a time"

My aroma therapy? Smoke Pellets.

 





You can vastly improve IR detection with modulated emitters and detectors.  They only detect light modulated at a set frequency, and they're the basis for high reliably IR detectors.

Thanks to everyone for their input!  I've learned alot!  Just getting back into the hobby I have realized real-quick that the "investment" in the hobby can accelerate quite rapidly and that I am gonna have to start "prioritizing" my wants and maybe handle the "needs" through do it yourself alternatives like the video shows!  Thanks again!

 When room light fluxuates sheilding of the reciever is key.  Bulb startups, near burnouts, etc.. of normal room lighting emmit a wide band and lots of IR.

 Fix:  New bulb or starter/ballast, better shielding, finding offending reflections occasionally.... moving lights when you can't. 

  Issues are not guaranteed by any means, just possible

  You can always thow yourself back into something like fun starter sets on a folding table on weekends. Still fun.

Informed investment keeps folks around

  Hey, if you've got the cash to make it rain behind you as you walk, and all day to blow, feel free to buy it "all" hire a full time pro-build team to do a few layouts under you, throw any stuff you don't like or doesn't work out in the trash, and have a personal scretary tell us all about it eh? 

"Still trying to not shoot my eye out"

 

"Nursing insomnia one railcar at a time"

My aroma therapy? Smoke Pellets.

 





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