Computerized Signals on the Conrail Railroad

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Ken McCorry of the Conrail railroad came into Paul Maynard’s hobby shop one day and asked for a signaling system. Knowing that Paul Ziembicki was building an N scale layout and had a great signaling system, he had the idea to get them together. Ken’s layout is now fully functionally signaled using the TDP product. They use a board they developed which uses the same technology and the same wiring connections that one would use in a DCC system along with a home computer. This made it affordable, reasonable to install, and simpler to run.

The signal system is run by a PC that most people already have. It is fully menu driven so the pulldowns have all the signal names for easy editing or calling up. There is no programming at all involved in this method. The system can accommodate a full DCC panel with complete occupancy indications and work full DCC switch levers and panels. This means they can set the switch to 189 to reverse and either left or right.

For signal installations that use semaphores or crossing gates, they have adapted radio control motors to operate these appliances. Paul Ziembicki shows a semaphore signal that he can program the three positions into. The crossing gate can use a servo control motor. Ken and Allen Keller go on to talk about the notoriety of the layout and how complete it is. For more on designing model railroad signal systems like how to incorporate signaling systems into model railroads, visit the Model Railroad Academy archives.