BLOCKsignalling manufactures low-cost control systems for model rail enthusiasts, which are designed to be highly flexible and sophisticated whilst being simple to install, configure and use.
Low Cost Train Detection (even in Tunnels)
We are often asked if our DET8 (8-channel Train Detector) can be used in tunnels. Unfortunately, as it uses photocells for detection which need a light source to operate, this is not possible.
Customers who run their models in the dark, making use of moden led lights on their layouts, are also looking for reliable train detection.
To satisfy these requirements, and to add a non-soldering module to our range (always liked !) we have designed the BOD2-NS.
Very easy to install, the module is able to drive control panel leds and a small relay. You can read all about its features here.
Capacitor Discharge Units with Ready Indication
For points motors to operate reliably, a voltage of around 15V is necessary. This voltage has to be sustained for the fraction of a second required for the points to move over their complete range. During this time they will draw about 4A.
This is where a Capacitor Discharge Unit comes into play, particularly when operating several points at the same time. The capacitors on the board are charged by the supply in less than second, and when required can provide the very high current necessary to operate the points motors with a firm snap action. This allows you to use a comparatively small power supply (typically rated at 2A).
Following the operation of the points, further current flow is inhibited until the points switch is released. This prevents points motor burning out if the points are left operated for any length of time.
The BLOCKsignalling CDU4R has a red led on the PCB that lights when the capacitors are charged to 15V and above. Knowing the state of the charge on the capacitors is useful to confirm correct supply connection and to show that the capacitors are charged sufficiently. The led will also indicate if a points switch has inadvertently been left operated.
There are some excellent replica model signals now available which would grace any layout, some requiring very deep pockets, but are practically works of art.
Until now signal controllers have not kept up - simply switching between aspects.
If you have observed the operation of signals where the aspects contain filament lamps, you will know the characteristic dimming out and fading up which takes place over 1/4 of a second or so as the filament cools and heats up.
On our latest range of infra-red triggered controllers have added fading of the leds, which you can adjust to suit. You can have the slowest of fading, or instant switching; it's your choice.
Adjustable fading is available on the SPAD1, ASP1A, ASP1-NS and ASP2A modules, which also have adjustable times when all the leds are off to simulate point interlocks, etc.
Infra-Red Triggered Signal Controllers
Completing our line-up of easy to use light signal controllers, the ASP2A fills the requirements of modellers using led signals with common-anode wiring. Typically signals manufactured in the UK use common-cathode wiring where all the led cathodes (negative connections) are wired together. In the US and Europe it is generally the case that the anodes (led positive connections) are wired together.
The ASP2A can be fed from a wide range of AC or DC voltages, and once triggered by a train passing over the sensor operates the light sequence automatically, including realistic fading between aspects. As usual, these are quick and easy to install, so make a perfect weekend project.
New Switch Stock
Continuing our campaign for simple to wire switches, with good sized toggles to make them easy to operate, we now have four types in our range. These include sprung toggle type to operate points motors.
Whether you like to solder or not, screw terminals are a boon for wiring in the confines of control panels. No melting of adjacent wires and quick to re-wire on the fly if needed.
New Led Stock
We often are asked if we stock red/green leds for use with our Points Position Indicator boards.
You can find bi-colour leds, but these have the red, green and a blue led in the same moulding, with one common lead for the three leds. This makes it neat and easy to install a single led to provide either a red or green indication on a control panel.
The common lead can be either be the cathodes connected together (common-cathode) or the anodes wired together (common-anode), and we stock these now in either clear or diffused packages.
The part numbers (in packs of 20) are
LED5-CAD (common-anode, diffused)
LED5-CAC (common-anode, clear)
LED5-CCD (common-cathode, diffused)
LED5-CCC (common-cathode, clear)
Use the common-anode versions with our latest Points Position Indicators.
SPAD Signal Controller
Continuing our series of simple-to-install signal controllers, we have released our SPAD signal controller.
Designed to be connected to an existing signal, the SPAD1 remains inactive, until the protected signal is switched to danger. At this point the SPAD1 monitors for trains passing the signal by reflecting infra-red light off the underside of the train.
If a train is detected, the module operates the connected SPAD signal, illuminating the centre aspect and flashing on and off the top and bottom aspects.
In common with our latest modules, a wide supply voltage range can be connected, current limiting for the leds is built-in so no external resistors are necessary, and all the aspect switching is undertaken with realistic fading. Fully configurable.
For more information on installing this module, see our dedicated page.
Points Position Indicator (PPI)
The BLOCKsignalling Points Position Indicator provides an easy way to monitor the position of points on a layout, using red and green leds which can be mounted on a control panel.
Solenoid points motors provide a low-cost and effective method of operating points, and as long as wiring with a decent cross-section is used and a Capacitor Discharge Unit (CDU) is provided, they are pretty much trouble free.
However, once the points have been operated, it is not clear then to recall their position.
The BLOCKsignalling PPI monitors the brief voltage pulses used to operate the points and updates leds which can be mounted on a control panel to indicate the last points operation.
Each points movement is stored in memory, even when the power is turned off.
New Light Aspect Signal Controller ASP1-NS
Following the success of our easy-to-wire Semaphore Signal Controller, we are now offering the same convenient method of driving light signals.
The ASP1-NS (NS standing for No Soldering) allows you to add automation and simplify wiring when installing light signals to your model railway layout.
Whether you are operating 2-, 3- or 4-aspect signals, the controller will simplify the wiring and allow you to run your signals off a variety of input voltages rather than just from 12V DC (you can now use the accessory output from your DC throttle, or even use power from the DCC rails).
We have added smooth transitions between the aspects to give the effect of tungsten lamp bulbs, but as usual with our products, you can adjust all the timings and fading rates if you wish to suit your own preferences.
For more information on installing this module, see our page dedicated to the ASP1-NS.
Signal Controller for Bidirectional Lines
Controlling signals on lines with bidirectional running can be problematic, so we have developed the DAP4-BR for DC layouts.
This module monitors the polarity of the current drawn by a loco and only operates the signal when a train approaches the signal from the front.
Compatible with semaphore and 2-aspect signals.
For more information on installing this module, see our page dedicated to the DAP4-BR.
New Semaphore Signal Controller DAP1-NS
Our DAP1 semaphore signal controller is used by 100's of modellers to automatically operate their semaphore signals. The train passes over an infra-red sensor to trigger the signal. This works very well but requires connecting up and possibly some soldering as well.
We were keen to provide a solution that would simply work straight of the packet, without the need for soldering, programming or making any additional connections. So here it is.
The four wires from the signal connect directly to the four terminals on the module, with the power feed doubling up on two of the terminals.
The sensor is then inserted into an 8mm hole drilled through under the track. With the power on, the approaching train will trigger the signal, and the signal will automatically revert to danger after the train has passed.
For more information on using this simple module, see our page dedicated to the DAP1-NS.
We are finalising our system of loco detection, based on transponders installed within trains. When triggered by a magnet placed under the rails, these transmit an identifying serial number and other data to a detector located a short distance along the track.
Signal controllers and headcode displays will automatically operate signalling and update headcode displays and occupancy indications on control panels as trains more around the layout.
New Train Detector with 8 Channels DET8-BR
We already have an 8-channel train detector using photoelectric cells, and a cunning reference detector which changes the threshold according to the ambient light level of the room, the DET8. This detects trains passing over the sensor and then lights leds on a control panel or operates 2-aspect signals following built-in programs which you can easily change to suit.
We also wanted to offer a detector which can track trains in blocks by monitoring their traction current. In fact carriage or loco lights will generally be sufficient to trigger the detection circuits.
With DC layouts, the detector can show the train direction. Plenty of simple-to-program options as usual.
Station Stop Module SSM1
We have designed the Station Stop Module to operate a DC train around a loop, stopping automatically at the station platform. A pair of sensors ensure that the trains stop at the appropriate point at the platform, irrespective of the direction that the train arrives from.
The waiting time at the platform is adjustable, and can be set to random to provide a very realistic operation. There are plenty of options for adjusting the operation to suit, including connecting control panel leds or 2-aspect signals.
Shuttle for DCC Locos
BLOCKsignalling DCC Auto Shuttle Modules can operate a DCC locomotive backward and forward along a stretch of track, with realistic acceleration and deceleration at the ends of the line and automatic changes in the direction of travel.
A shuttle operating in the background adds interest to a layout, and ensures that there is always something going on. DCC equipped locos are ideal, providing a realistic show whether a slow shunter in a small yard or an express on a long run.
Our DCC shuttle operates from 12V to 16V DC (an old laptop power supply is ideal, and we have provided a socket on the board just for that purpose).
The loco changes direction when it enters a section of isolated track at the end of the line.
Operates with short addresses in the range 1 to 99.
Includes built-in programs for slow-speed shunting and high-speed lines, with variable and random waiting times at the end of the run.
Sneak Preview of our Section Controller for DCC
Many locomotive DCC controllers can be configured to brake automatically to a standstill when the track feed is switched from DCC to DC. They can also be set to accelerate automatically when DCC is re-applied.
The BLOCKsignalling DCC Section Controller monitors for trains entering a section using infra-red sensors located below the track, and switches the signal at the entrance to the section to red. At the same time, DC is switched to an isolated section in front of the signal, causing any following trains approaching the signal to decelerate to a standstill.
When the train fully exits the section (crossing over the exit infra-red sensor), the signal switches back to green.
If 3- or 4-aspect signals are used, the modules can be connected together to correctly operate the single yellow (and double yellow aspects, if appropriate) automatically.
Further details and wiring diagrams can be found here.
Fully Automatic Level Crossing Module LCS6
It's only a matter of days now, and our long awaited fully automatic level crossing module will be available.
We have been holding back until we are entirely happy with the servo operation, to lower the barriers or operate the gates with the most realistic movement possible. The simple programming allows sequential or overlapping operation of the gates or barriers to replicate the real article.
Also built-in are 18 of the most varied level crossing sounds, enabling you to model UK, continental, Asian and American crossings with the most realistic effects. There are bells, gongs, Yodalarm sounders, and others from all around the world, so there is certain to be one to suit.
Finally, warning led lights can be connected to show the yellow and flashing reds common in the UK, but can also be set to display various alternatives commonly found around the world.
There is a full page dedicated to the operation of the module, including the simple programming of the lights, barriers and sounds here.
We have placed an 1/8 page advert in Hornby Magazine's August Issue featuring some of our best sellers. Due in newsagents on 31st July.
Why not ask to see them in the flesh in your local model shop ? OnTracks is our trade distributor.
BLOCKsignalling Guest Appearance
BLOCKsignalling gets a mention in the June 2014 issue of Railway Modeller. Our Dapol signal controllers (DAP1) and light aspect controllers (ASP1 and ASP2) are grouped with new products from our trade distributor, OnTracks.
You can find further detail on this range at:
New Arrival: 8-Channel Train Detectors
Here is a sneak preview of our new 8-channel train detectors.
If you need detection in a number of locations, the cost can soon mount up. Our 8-channel detector is designed to provide sophisticated detection at low cost per monitoring point.
Fully flexible features and easily programmable.
Model Rail Shuttle Module with Infra-Red Detectors
We already have a couple of model rail shuttles in our range, but really wanted to add infra-red train detection. This allows any train to be detected without needing modification.
Infra-red detectors are located at both ends of a length of track, and automatically detect trains as they pass overhead.
Relays on the module stop the train, and after a period of time, reverse the track polarity to send the train back up the line.
We have added interest by allowing different delays at each end of the line (1 to 240 seconds), and that time can be either fixed or random.
There is also the option to connect leds to show the status of the module (these can be positioned on a control panel), or to connect simple 2-aspect light signals which change to allow the train to depart.
Lots of options for both DC locos and DCC locos set to run on DC.
See our page on the Infra-Red Shuttle SAS2-IR for information and ideas.
Infra-Red Triggered Points Controller
We love driving trains, but sometimes it is great to add a bit of extra interest by running other trains in the background or let them look after themselves while you are concentrating on some shunting.
A train running round and around the same track soon draws attention to itself, in all the wrong ways. When used with facing points, our points controller can reroute trains on to alternative tracks, either randomly, or just a proportion of trains. Perhaps set it up to send every fourth train on to a different line, or to randomly send trains to sidings (you can stop them with diodes or dead track).
Alternatively, use it with trailing points to automatically select the points to match approaching trains. If you have trains in sidings, as you run them towards the main line, the points will automatically route them.
Plenty of possibilities for both DC and DCC layouts.
Checkout our page on the Infra-Red Points Controller (IRP1) for more ideas and full details.
Introducing our Encapsulated Reed relays
We have introduced some miniature reed relays to our range. Designed to detect trains which have been fitted with magnets to their undersides, these are ideal for block occupancy detection and other triggering requirements.
These could easily be disguised as an AWS ramp or other track feature.
Each time a magnet passes over the sensor, the contacts inside close and a short output pulse is produced. Most of our modules can be programmed to accept these brief inputs as triggers.
Reed relays can be connected in parallel, giving the advantage that trains in several locations can detected and feed into a single module - for instance if you have a level crossing across a number of tracks, a train approaching on any track will trigger the module.
You can see from the picture below, these are really compact. The encapsulated section is just 15mm long (around 1/2").
BLOCKsignalling is owned & run by Steven Heaton address 12 Ennerdale Cl Leamington Spa.
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