It can be nice to enhance a layout with physical signals, just for some ‘eye candy’, or maybe to get closer to the possible ideal to create an as prototypical as possible model railway.
The blocks in Traincontroller have ‘internal’ signals by default. These are used by TC to control train traffic. Physical signals on the layout do not have any function with regard to train control, they are merely there for the nice visuals.
The signals on the layout require some hardware. The lights, in my case, are red and green LED’s. They are switched by a DCC accessory decoder. Via a DCC address the signal is switched form red to green, and back, by Traincontroller.
I use Arduino microcomputers as DCC decoders. One Arduino (which can be had for as little as $4,-) can control 8 signals, a very money efficient solution. Every LED has a resitor, the value of which depends on the type of LED’s you use and on how bright you want them to light up.
The Arduino DCC function decoder software that is used can be downloaded here.
The schematics for the opto coupler circuit can be found on the Software page.
Two things are needed to get a signal working:
1: We need to tell TC to what DCC address the signal is connected on the physical layout.
2: The signal needs to be coupled to the internal TC block signal.
The video shows how this is achieved.