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MTHs R26 (Redbird) powered car has headlights for forward and red taillights when it’s in reverse (the unpowered cars don’t have this). A train with one powered car you either get headlights on the lead car or taillights on the last car, but not both. If I build a lashup with a powered car at each end I can have headlights for the leading car and taillights on the last car, but then I lose the trolley mode. Any ideas or suggestions for a work around? 

Original Post

Probably not everyone’s version of a good idea. But what I did was take the motors out of one powered car, turning it into a dummy but with all the DCS electronics and directional lights. Now when the train meets the end of its out and back sequence, the powered unit automatically switches to reverse and headlights change to taillights, I just need to press the direction button on the controller for the dummy to change taillights to headlights. 

Not the most economical fix. But it works. 

You'd have to be a determined DIY'er and some soldering would be involved, but a few years ago I posted (I think it was here on OGR) how to do this for about $5 in parts/modules.  Basically you use $1 eBay RF/wireless modules.  When the front powered car is in reverse, the power to the reverse lamp (MTH PS2 electronics) powers a transmit module.  The car on the other end has a $1 receive module that detects this radio signal and drives its directional LED lights. 

The limitation is/was this would only work on one subway set at a time since otherwise all end cars in all consists would detect the reverse radio signal.  There are workarounds to this but that's why I said you have to be a determined DIY'er.  If you're seriously interested, I can dig around for the info. 

Got it - PS3.  The earlier proof-of-concept I mentioned was for a PS2 engine.  I found this 4-year old thread which unfortunately is not the original thread which had the technical how-to but there are photos and a video showing the wireless link in action.

I'd have to give it additional thought but would be a bit more complex for PS3.  In PS2, I had the rear lamp circuit driving the RF transmitter directly.  The PS2 incandescent lamp circuits of course have gobs of power that could directly power the RF transmitter module.  Not that the tiny RF transmitter consumes that much power.  But then again the PS3 lighting outputs are to LEDs so there's that much less available power.  Hence, I'm thinking there would be more than 2 wires from the PS3 board to the wireless transmitter circuit...for example stealing some 5V DC power from the 40-pin harness.

You can see eBay surplus technology has moved along in the last few years as the $1 eBay transmitter and receiver modules GRJ identifies are much smaller than what I used.   So even with additional circuitry to deal with the PS3 LED output, I think it should be easy to fit the transmitter half in the powered engine.

Obviously there should be volumes of space in the trailing unpowered end-car especially if you can remove that PS3 board whose sole purpose in life appears to be to drive a backup LED!  

Last edited by stan2004

Ok. I found a workaround that actually works pretty well with some caveats. I’ll keep this short for the sake a brevity but if you want more a more detailed list of what I did, let me know. 

First, I flip flopped the headlight/taillight connectors for the dummy car. Now when it’s initally start up its taillights are lit. 

Next I tricked the DCS controller into thinking only one engine is on the track. 

Now when I press “start up” both cars start up with the lead engine displaying headlights and the trailing car displaying taillights. The press of the direction button changes headlights to taillights and taillights to headlights simultaneously and appropriately. 

The caveats:

In trolley mode the subway will go to all stops and at the last stop it will automatically change direction a reverse its course. When it does this, the lead car automatically switches from headlights to taillights. However the tail car doesn’t automatically switch from taillights to headlights.  A quick double press of the direction button fixes this and the taillights will switch to headlights. 

I had to take the trailing car (dummy car with PS3 board and directional lights) off the track to program the trolly stops. It caused too many issues with the DCS. Once the stops were programmed for the powered unit, I added it back with no issues. 

I’ll run it like this for a while and see if any issues creep up. Thanks all again! 





My R-40 Premier sets designated last add on car already has a reverse marker light switching circuit box in it. Red tail markers switch over to HDL's when changing direction.

Maybe copy/build that circuit and install it into an RK. I would assume all other Premiers have that feature?

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  • SUBS (19)
Last edited by SIRT
Trainlover9943 posted:
Scott Ca posted:
gunrunnerjohn posted:

Is that still the full PS3 board driving the unpowered unit lights?

Yes. From an identical subway unit. 

Got pictures of how that works? 

The videos above show it in operation. I don’t have any pictures of the install. It was pretty simple though, I just used double stick tape to mount the board in a dummy car, wired it up with the leads for the track, and swapped the connectors for the head light, tail light LEDs. To simplify, the board still receives and puts out a head light signal, but the tail lights on the last car light up instead. 

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