Model Railway Electrics - Build you own railway
When I saw the price of signals and then multiplied
that with the number I needed I was shocked. There was no way I could justify
the expense especially as the level of detail and scale accuracy was very poor.
Click here to see it in action (Movie)
So what to do? The only option I thought was to
build them myself. There was no way the ones I could build would look any worse
and be any worse scale than the ones I could have brought.
Below are the step by step instructions on how to build a simple two light
1 Red Light (LED or grain of wheat bulb)
1 Green light (LED or grain of wheat bulb)
1 On – On switch
Electrical wire (enough to reach from the
signals location to the switch and power source)
1mm thick card
Paint: Black and Metallic Grey
Step 1 (signal head)
Cut out three pieces of card (1cm by 2cm). With one of the pieces cut out the
centre (See image B). The cut-out allows the wires from the lights to have space
to leave to top part of the signal.
In one of the pieces you need to make two holes for
the lights to fit through. I used 5mm LED's so had to make 5mm diameter holes,
evenly spaced apart (See image A). This is the most difficult part to do. I used
a rotary tool to make the hole but a hole punch or craft knife can be used.
For the signal shades, I cut the end of a pen lid
off and then cut that in half. This gave me two half arches.
Step 2 (signal stem)
Cut the straw 3cm in length and paint grey. You can also use a pen or a hollow
steal rod for the signals stem.
Step 3 (electronics)
Below is the circuit diagram for the signal:
As you can see both of the lights share one of their wires (Negative or
Positive) and have one other wire each which is connected to the switch. If you
use LED's you must remember that they will only work if the power is connected
the correct way round, so test this before you solder the wires together.
Step 4 (Assembly)
Glue Part B onto part A making sure the holes are
still clear. Glue on the signal shades above each hole leaving an even gap
around the holes. This is the best time to paint the face of the signal
including the shades black as you wont be able to after the lights are in place.
Push the lights into the holes, making sure no wires
stick out further than part B. If they do you may need to use two part B's.
Stick Part C onto part B, to give you a flush top
and sides. You may need a clamp to hold this together as the wires will often
push off part C. Once dry, this is a good time to paint the rest of the signal
head black after sanding or cutting off any excess glue.
Thread the wires through the pre painted straw until
it is touching the signal head.
There you have it, a signal ready to be fitted to
your board. Simply drill a small hole in you baseboard for the wires to fit
through and to support the signal, and position the switch and connect the wires
and power and your done. A signal that cost you less than £1.00 . The more you
make the cheaper it gets.