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Scratchbuilding & KitBashing Making a model from raw materials and parts, not using kits or take a commercial product and to modify it to suit your own needs. This product might have started out in kit form , but it might also have been ready-to-run .

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Old 08-26-2010, 05:08 PM   #1
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Homemade bicolor dwarf signals (now with step by step construction tutorial)

I'm going to show a couple of pics of my prototype for dwarf signals that I will use to indicate turnout position on my layout. I didn't know where else to place this but in the scratch build forum. If the mods feel there is a more appropriate place for this thread then please feel free to move it.
It is important to note that although this is my first "prototype" for my dwarf signal, there is actually no real life prototype for this particular item. It is from my imagination and intended to give the "flavor" of a prototypical dwarf signal.
If you are a purist or a card carrying member of the "prototype police" then these signals probably aren't for you!
I don't claim originality for this idea. Like most everything I do, it is copied from someone else's idea I saw on the web somewhere a while back, liked, and filed away in my mind for future reference. I do feel I improved on the original concept a bit though.
The body of the signal is made out of a piece of RC model airplane landing gear strap. There is already a screw hole in these straps that has been drilled out a bit to accept a three lead, 3mm bicolor LED. I chose the three lead, common cathode LED because of the way that my electronic circuit for turnout indication works. Those of you using different methods could just as easily use a two lead 3mm bicolor LED that changes colors based on polarity reversal if that's what your circuit or system requires.
It is important to note that the body of the LED becomes part of the dwarf signal structure so therefore I don't think an SMD type LED would work here but I guess someone could try. Because of my meds, my hands are too shaky to solder to the darn tiny things anyway so I'm more than happy with the conventional LED!
The only other detail to mention is the use of a small diameter piece of aluminum tube to fashion a hood over the LED. This is my addition to the original idea I found on the web which I think improves the signals appearance a great deal. I used aluminum tube because I had it on hand. I imagine brass or plastic tube would work just as well.
Without further ado, here are the pics. Please note that the signal appears bigger than it's actual size because I wanted some clarity to the pics so the details could be seen. Later in this thread when I get around to mounting one of my babies near the turnout, you will be able to discern the size a little better.
More details and construction pics of the signal will follow as I get time. I didn't actually title this as a "tutorial" but in effect I think that's what it will be for those of you who might want to try this or at least steal some ideas for your own designs.

EDIT: The step by step construction tutorial starts at post #23
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File Type: jpg signal1.jpg (2.3 KB, 203 views)
File Type: jpg signal 2.jpg (2.3 KB, 167 views)
May the work of the incomparable John Allen
"The Wizard of Monterey" continue to live on in our hearts and minds and inspire us all!
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Last edited by noah_count : 08-29-2010 at 06:47 PM.
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