Milan Branch of the Iowa Interstate RR

Category: Miscellaneous

Random flange squeal system

Over three years ago my friends, Michael Petersen and Nathan Holmes, designed a system that would allow random flange squeal on my layout’s three curves. The system has sat, waiting for me to get far enough along with construction to install and test. Even though I only have one of my three curves built, I can no longer wait. I have to install the system and see if it will perform as originally designed.

Below are the components of the system: an Arduino Red Board along with the programming and LCD keypad shields attached; several IR sensors; and a Squealer sound module. I plan to install all the IR sensors even though additional trackwork needs to be laid. I can still test the system on my single curve.

The system is designed to play random sounds via four channels on each Squealer sound module (there will be one Squealer per curve). I plan to copy a variety of flange squeal sounds from online railroad videos and isolate each sound to upload to the Squealer’s microSD card. IR sensors will be positioned at each end of the curves and wired in series. Once tripped, the sounds will play randomly through speakers installed on the layout fascia.

The beauty of the system is not only that it will play the flange squeals randomly, but it will also sense the locomotive’s speed and will not play any sound after a specified reduction in speed. The only limitation is that only one locomotive can be active on the layout. This is ok because I only run one loco at a time.

Below is a schematic of the wiring diagram as well as a layout plan showing the positions of each IR sensor. The plan shows all the IR sensor positions which include sensors to be used for eventual grade crossings and a reversing module for automatic back-and-forth train operation.

Once I have the flange squeal system operating, I’ll post a video to demonstrate how it works.

This blog going forward

I was blogging about the Milan branch at the Model Railroad Hobbyist site before I started this WordPress theme. I don’t plan to move those MRH posts over to this blog, so below is a list of topics covered at MRH and a link to get there if you’re interested.

Going forward I’ll only be blogging from this site.

• Homasote curved roadbed
• Superelevation for a branch line (cheap and easy method)
• In search of the perfect ties
• IAIS 250 sounds off
• Ambient and triggered sound for the Milan branch
• Continuous running on a point-to-point branch line!
• Ballasting approach
• In praise of Proto87 spikes!
• First time experience with Shapeways
• Soldering solution for turnout points
• Realistic power pole wire?
• Cheap but effective turnout throws
• IAIS MOW #52 resurrected
• Backdrop development and LED lights
• Inspiration fosters a plan – using a conductor in operation
• Corn, anyone?

Click on the GP10 below to go to my MRH blog:


Layout room amenities

In addition to working on the layout, I like to think creatively and develop amenities that add to the flavor and comfort of the layout room. Below are some Iowa Interstate-themed items that I’ve custom created.

I rendered the IAIS logo in Adobe Illustrator and had a local sign company cut vinyl that I carefully applied and burnished onto the ceiling light.

Next, I decided to design and fabricate a neon IAIS logo for the layout room. I drew the logo up and had the black base CNC’d out of plexi, added reflective yellow type, and had a local custom neon artist create the red accent line out of neon. It hangs above one of my work surfaces.

Finally, I decided to fabricate stools for when operators come for a session. I purchased two, 30-inch stools in a weatherworn red color, and had black leather embroidered and then upholstered to fit.

Copyright © 2018 Milan Branch of the Iowa Interstate RR

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑