Signal Aspect Engineering

Gizmos, Inventions & Contraptions

As problems solved, I suppose this is sort of a Resume'.

Model Railroad Block Signals
about as easy(?) as it's going to get.

    The Signal Controller generates three(3) colour signals, in both directions, from a built in detection circuit. Compatible with any control system I have yet to encounter, this circuit is capable of powering signal loads and repeaters ranging from LEDs to Christmas Tree lamps.

    A quick start project will get signals up and running in an afternoon. Although I charge for the printed instruction manual, most of the text is in this complete manual .  It's a handfull,  over 100 pages for both sections and growing every day.  The printed version contains elementaries and numerous other circuits and ideas not directly related to the logic controllers.
(NOT Dial-up friendly....)
    I also produce a multi-purpose board that can be configured for slow motion switch machines, crossing gates, flashers, strobes, mechanical semaphores, LED drivers, two aspect signals; well, contact me with your ideas, this board may well do the job. The manual for that board is    HERE
(NOT Dial-up friendly....)
Gear Reduction (Back Gears)
for Asian 9 X 19 Lathes.

     Complete article in PDF or zipped in  HTML.  A home-made spindle reduction gear set for the "Grizzly G 1550". A separate page is dedicated to this very useful contraption.  It works on most of the nine inch swing (9x19) lathes imported from Asia over the last 20 odd years.  Can be fabricated using only the lathe itself. (and some old automotive parts)
     Since I wrote this, I have acquired a 12X36 Atlas, with a quick change box and back gearing.  C.1951, or thereabouts.  But guess which one gets first shot at a small project?.

Plastic Dome_
Yet another iteration of Buckminster Fuller's dome...

     My contribution to the concept is the use of lightweight plastic struts and the development of a hub that allows assembly without glue or fasteners.  Just plug in the pieces, like a "Tinker-Toy".  Remember those?  Or am I showing my age? 

     The entire 14 ft structure, knocked down, fits in a 5 gallon pail. The tooling is designed to use "off the shelf" parts and materials.  Erects in under two hours.  Certainly would make an interesting greenhouse...... Even with no anchors, a high wind didn't knock it over.

     This thing was developed when I took an interest in how the geodesic dome works.  Once I figured out the details, I sort of lost interest.   Back during the greatest "non-event" in history (Y2K), there was considerable interest in this thing from the "survivalists".  One of them even wrote a guide for it.  I have no further opinion on that subject.  I do still have the tooling for making the hubs, should you get curious.  They are fascinating structures.

       Probably as much a "toy" as a piece of equipment.  But sure makes it easy to hang wind-mill power heads and solar panels.  Infernal thing had two micro-controllers and a '186, just to operate three cylinders and a  motor.
Modern technology has it's place, but this is preposterous. 

      I retro-fitted the machine with magnetic(relay) control;  took the OEM documentation and prints, determined what they were doing, and duplicated those functions with relay logic and a diode matrix.  All safety interlocks are included; I even thought up a few the OEM didn't cover. It should be a lot more reliable.
And field repairable. . .  I'm still debating about powering the outriggers, the manual cranks are hard work to set up.

PLC Control_
An electrical design.
    The enclosure houses integral troubleshooting controls as well as finger tip adjustments for operating conditions. Another point to note is the location of terminations above the cable entries permitting ease of maintenance.  The mechanical configuration of the machine involved two independant drive lines that had to run within a twentieth of an inch of each other over a distance of several feet.  With a 75 ton load....... A high maintenance machine.

     The controller was built to existing electrical specifications, but I was given a free hand in the physical construction.  Gave me a chance to try out some ideas for a creative installation.   This isn't a commissioning photo,  I had to smuggle in a camera.

     From being a Motor Inspector in the steel mills to installing computers in the South Seas, I've had enough experiences for three men.

     Everything you always wanted to know about that phenomenon called electricity.  Some time back I wrote an article for home shop (hobby) machinists on the subject of operating used and salvaged industrial machine shop equipment on residential power.  At 50 pages, I suppose it could be called a small book....   PDF  HERE
(NOT Dial-up friendly....)

     When it was posted here, I removed the last section; involving operating three phase motors on single phase power and generating 120 volts from an automotive alternator.  It distresses me so when a lawyer slobbers all over his leash necktie.

     If you want to understand the fundamentals of magnetism as it relates to electricity, have a look.  And no, you won't need a calculator.  The information is presented without a lot of math.  In the worst case you might want a pencil and paper for notes; should something strike your interest.

      If you are interested in the three phase or automotive details, read  THIS  first, then contact me   personally.  I don't want it associated with the business.  Just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get me.

Some Thoughts

A designer knows that he has achieved perfection . . .
not when there is nothing left to add . . .
but when there is nothing left to take away
Antoine de St-Expurey

In theory
theory and practice are the same
but in practice, they're not.

Always listen to the experts;
They will tell you what can't be done, and why.
After you have heard them, go on out and do it.
Lazarus Long (with respects to Robert A. Heinlein)

When your work speaks for itself,
don't interrupt - Henry J. Kaiser

Designing to Requirements
is like Walking on Water;
either is easy; if frozen.

For information on the Model RR Electronics:

Signal Aspect
P O Box 101832
Irondale, Alabama, 35210

Any other contact

Web Hosting Companies