TrainCat signals

SJ Z-man Sep 17, 2008

  1. zmon

    zmon TrainBoard Member

    Folks i may need some help on this subject... Last night after reading through this thread, i decided to give building my Train Cat signal a shot.... Wow is the sun shade hard to shape and install... I bent and fit a piece of fiber optic to replace the brass rod, and to bring light to the target from and under board LED. Yhis worked okay, but the fineness of the small parts is killing me.

    I plan to give it some more attention tonight, and to begin my work session with them...

    Tony B..
    Wasatch Z Club
  2. shamoo737

    shamoo737 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Tony, what did you use to bend the shade. I used a round toothpick to bend it. I roll it like dought, and slowly, it begins to take shape.
  3. zmon

    zmon TrainBoard Member

    John..... rolling like dough...hmmm i didn't try that, maybe that will work bellter. I tried to shape it over the tooth pick on my finger.... about imposible.

    Tony B...
    Wasatch Z Club
  4. BillMock

    BillMock TrainBoard Member

    I also lightly Scotch taped the shades to my work surface. First, so they didn't blow away. And second, so that I could align the bend on the correct axis.
    I used my fly tying vise to hold the mast in place while I glued the rest of the things on.
    Bill Mock

    DPSTRIPE TrainBoard Supporter

  6. SJ Z-man

    SJ Z-man TrainBoard Member

    My kits came with a proper diameter metal rod to roll the shades. I simply pressed the shade piece into my skin as the soft deforming surface. I tried thos small "coupler" pliers but thy don't close enough.

    Bob at TrainCat says to just insert them thru the back side, then press the vertical frame down on a matte surface until they are near flush, then CA.
  7. tjdreams

    tjdreams TrainBoard Member

    Reviving a old thread

    Has anyone else had any luck soldering in the 0402 LED's?
    Got any advice and/or tips and tricks on how to do this?
    I have all the supplies and am going to try my hand at building a few signals with lights this weekend.
  8. kimvellore

    kimvellore TrainBoard Member

    I would practice with 402 resistors so you get a hang of soldering, else you will be loosing expensive LED's good luck and please post your experience.
  9. Garth-H

    Garth-H TrainBoard Supporter

    I use a micro tip 15 watt soldering iron and a magnifier light and I hold he LED with alligator clip and solder magnet wire to pads to for connections, I use canopy glue found in model shops that deal with airplanes to hold the LED in place and it also insulates the solder pads from metal lamp holders. I get all my supplies from I also use acc gel to hold magnet wired in place in hidden place like under cowl of engines when going from porch mounted ditch lights to DCC decoder board and leave long tails free under top of shell.
  10. Cleantex

    Cleantex TrainBoard Member

    I use in general first a micro-drop of super-glue on the end of a needle to fix all parts =< 0603. This works very good and when you solder it after, every excess of glue will burn. A good replacement for lacquered wires are thin flexible strips.
  11. tjdreams

    tjdreams TrainBoard Member

    Well I got my first one done. It's not the best but I guess it's ok for my first attempt.
    I still need to trim off the tails and paint it once the CA has had more time to dry. But hear it is. What do you think?
    IMG_2178.jpg IMG_2179.jpg

    In any case I still have 11 more to practice on. So I am going to try and solder the ground wires to the back of the signal before CA'ing them in place on the next one.
    I got the LED's & Resisters from Digi-key for a very reasonable price, and am heading out to a local train shop now to pick up some more TT-61 tube for the 2 dozen (6 packages) of additional signals I ordered last night.
  12. HoboTim

    HoboTim TrainBoard Supporter


    I'm gonna chime in here with emphasis! is DEFINITELY the place to START your journey with LEDs for signals, BUT it should be SHORT LIVED as the go to place for 0402 or 0603 LEDs.

    If you can't find what you are looking for on ebay then your #1 stop for LEDs should be Kingbright! Go to and order online from them.

    Split your screen left-n-right and put Ngineering on one side and Kingbright on the other. Compare pricing to Kingbright by signing up and logging on on to "Order Online".

    0402 SMD LEDS
    Shade Price Each
    Green .11
    Green .17
    Blue .15
    Orange .12
    Red .12
    Yellow .11
    Green .27
    Green .25
    White .21

    0603 DOME SMD LEDs
    Shade Price Each
    Green .13
    Blue .18
    White .22
    Red .38
    Orange .12
    Red .27
    Orange .27
    Red .12
    Yellow .38
    Yellow .12
    Yellow .27
    Blue .39
    Green .24
    Green .27

    Although the colors are listed above, a closer study will find some birghter than others and at different shades. The modern signals that I made in etched nickelsilver were designed to use the 0603 DOME SMD LEDs as the dome would fit inside of the etched hole in the targets.

    Front-Back1.jpg DSCN9361.jpg

    I ordered almost all shades of the red, yellow and green to find the LEDs that gave off the most accurate colors. If I were at home right now and not at work I would type here the exact stock numbers for the red, yellow and green Dome SMD LEDs I wound up using in my signals.

    A 15watt soldering iron and an extra tip are a good purchase from Ngineering as are the assorted SMD resisters, the super tiny copper wire and various other parts, just don't over pay for your LEDs.

    BOOKMARK and use the variety of tips that Ngineering has on their pages. As I said, Great place to start, but quickly go elsewhere for your LEDs. Just use it for the calculators and tips.

    I hope that you can find some useful information in this.

    Hobo Tim
  13. SJ Z-man

    SJ Z-man TrainBoard Member

    Also, the current thru these smaller and much too bright LEDs can easily be just painted conductors, at least for the common (to the brass). Simply secure the LED's with CA, trying to avoid the conductive contacts on each end of the LED. Then, place a drop of the conductive paint, covering the contact to the brass. Same with any of the parts that connect between the LED plate and the tube used as the common conductor. You can get the conductive paint thru MicroMark, ebay, etc. Small capped bottle, use a tooth pick.

    You can use the paste solder that comes in a syringe to prime the other end of the LED. Then, press the enameled wire from ngineering to the LED, apply heat and you are done. You do not have to scrape the enamal off of most suppliers of the red/green enamaled wire.

    Radio Shack sells o.015" solder with Silver content, part number 64-035 for $7, Still way to big for these smaller LED's but the smallest you can get and you will learn much better with this smaller size than the typical .032" size.
  14. tjdreams

    tjdreams TrainBoard Member

    Thanks for all the tips.
    I've bin using a 12 watt Weller Soldering Iron with a 0.015 tip and the 0.015 solder from radio shack.
    I'll have to order some conductive paint and give that a try.
    After CA'ing my fingers together and a few parts to the table. OOPS !! I made a jig to hold the TT-61 tubing, the latter and platforms all in place and have had good success soldering them together.
    I still need to come up with a better way to install the shades. I'm going to try and make a jig up for them this weekend.

    As for the brightness I have resistors figured for 10V but plan to power them with a spare MRC 1300 (Z modified) Hopefully I'll be able to adjust the brightness by simply turning the power up or down.
  15. markm

    markm TrainBoard Supporter

    Back in the 80s, I scratch-built signals from a MR article. Used 10mil optical fiber up the center of the pole to an LED in the bench work. I was happy with the result. I haven't tried the technique on any of the brass kits yet and don't know if it would work for you. But it has the advantage that you can use just about any LED in the bench work.


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