Product Evaluation by Dana Brown

Light-It Manual
Illuminator Manual
5240161 Light It-3: Three pack of the Light-It Decoder
5240162 Light It-6: Six pack of the Light-It Decoder
5240163 Light It-15: Fifteen pack of the Light-It Decoder
5240164 Illuminator: Single Scenic Lighting Decoder
5240165 Illuminator-5: Five pack Scenic Lighting Decoder

Someone asked me about a simple method of running block signals on a railroad. With block detectors connected to each block and a NCE Light-It board connected to each block signal head, one almost has the complete solution. For NCE DCC controlled layouts, just add the NCE Minipanel to the mix and up to 15 of the block signals can be automatically operated as the trains progress from block to block. The system should allow signaling in either direction on a block if bidirectional traffic (and opposite direction signals are provided).

Here is how it works:

  • The blocks are defined for the layout and insulated rail joints are used to electrically separate one block from the next.
  • Block detectors, such as the Block Watcher from Tony’s Train Exchange, are connected to the electrical feeders to the blocks; 1 Block Watcher for each block.
  • The detection outputs of the Block Watchers are connected to the inputs of a NCE Minipanel.
  • The signals with NCE Light-It boards are installed on the layout at the point where a train enters a block. Power for the signals is provided from the Light-It boards. The power for the Light-It boards comes from the track (or a dedicated DCC connection if you don’t want the signals to go down when the track breakers trip on a derailment).
  • With the proper set up for the Minipanel memory and the Light-It boards, the signals will now sequence through their various aspects as the trains move around the layout.

All of this is done without the expense of adding a computer to control the signaling. It brings the signals to life on the layout without much more complexity than the initially wiring hookup.

Note, that this system will work just like a prototype railroad. If you decide to add resistors to the wheels of your rolling stock, the Block Watcher will indicate that a block is occupied if any car is in that block, even if the locomotive has gone on to the next block. The block signals will remain red as long as the Block Watchers sense that something is in the block drawing current.