Milan Branch of the Iowa Interstate RR

Category: Wiring

3D printing to the rescue

3D printing is a godsend when one needs a custom design produced. 

Recently, I needed a faceplate to mount an Arduino module for my reversing unit as I’m getting very close to completing all track work on the layout. I asked my friend, Michael P., if he would print me a faceplate that I designed in Tinkercad and he obliged. Thanks, Michael! Below is a photo of the finished plate sitting on top of the module along with another 3D printed IR sensor holder from Iowa Scaled Engineering. Both components will work perfectly for installing the reversing system. Since I don’t have a continuous run, it’s going to be fun to work on the layout as a train moves back and forth.

Michael also sent me several different sizes of drainage pipes. Perfect timing as I start to work on my river scene. 🙂 Below is a photo with an HO figure for scale.

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.

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