The On-Line Magazine of Rideable Model Railroading


AUGUST 12, 2005 

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Shake'n Bake Crossing Signals

Written by Jerry Warner

These signals are made from readily available materials. Radio Shack provides the needed electronic components and your local building supply store provides for the structure. Plastic downspout was used for the "pole" and ABS fittings were used for the lights assembly.

Referring to the schematic note that the values for "R" are 10K ohms and the two resistors indicated with an asterisk are 1K ohms. Plan your real estate on the project card to allow for space between the heat sinks, as they are the TIP 120 collectors! Solder the IC sockets in place before installing the ICs. The terminal strip allows for easy connection to off board components. Test the completed board with alligator clip leads to the bell, lights and battery before installing in a weatherproof enclosure. The circuit is capable of driving 2 pair of lights and to change the flashing rate up or down you may experiment by changing the value of the caps marked with an asterisk. The same applies to the bell circuit. The bell sound will depend upon the quality of the "gong" and the sharpness of the delivered pulse.

click on schematic to enlarge

The blinds and hoods are made from ABS catch basin drain plugs (7"dia) and (3"dia) ABS pipe. Grind the tabs off the plugs to make a flat disc and drill through holes for the lamp connections. Screw the lights and blinds to a one and half foot section of aluminum rectangle. This aluminum will be connected to +12 V forming the" hot" side of the light. Cut the ABS pipe at a pleasing angle to form the hoods and cement over the lights to the blinds. The assemblies were screwed to 4-foot sections of downspout and placed over metal stakes at each side of the crossing.

The circuit card and bell are mounted in a weatherproof housing adjacent to one of the signals and sit over the above ground-mounted battery. In this case a small automotive solar charger was placed on the "roof". 3 way switches are mounted in weatherproof boxes about 20 feet from each end of the crossing. The 3 ways allow the operator to turn the circuit on before entering the crossing and off after leaving. The same will happen in the reverse direction. The switches activate a relay thus passing +12V to the circuit. 8-conductor phone wire was run through plastic conduit buried around the crossing to make connections from the terminal strip to the lamps and switches. Sound or wheel activated switches could take the place of the 3 ways with a little more ingenuity

While not prototypical, these signals add a fun visual and sound effect to any backyard railroad.


Description  Qty. Where to Purchase
    Radio Shack Part Numbers
Darlington TP 120 3 276-2068
TO-220 Heat Sink 3 276-1368
556 Dual Timer 2 276-1728
14 Pin Socket 2 276-1999
12 V Relay 2 275-0226
Project Card 3"x4" 1 or your choice
8 Place Terminal Strip 1 274-0678
Diode 1N914 1 276-1122
Diode 1N4001 2 276-1101
Cap. 100pf  2 272-1016
Cap. 1uf 1 272-1434
Cap. 2.2uf 2 272-0997
Cap. 100uf 1 272-1016
Res. 10 K  9  
Res. 1 K 2  
1A Fuse & Holder 1  
3" Red Clearance Lights 4 Auto Parts Store
12V Garden Tractor Battery Auto Parts Store
    Home Center Store Departments
Electric Doorbell 1 Elect Dept
Option 3 way switch 2 Elect Dept
Option  Weather Proof Box 2 Elect Dept
Aluminum Rectangle Tube Stock 4 ft Hardware
3" ABS pipe and cement 2 ft Plumbing
7" Catch Basin Drain Plug 4 Plumbing
3" x 16" RR Xing Signs 1 pair


Article, illustrations and photos by Jerry Warner


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