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Model Railroad Infrared Train Detection

If something can be activated with a button, it can be automated with a train detector!

Infrared ('IR') Train Detectors

  • Coded pulsed infrared proximity sensors for detecting model trains on the track.
    • Pulsing (modulation) allows the detector to ignore ambient lighting.
    • Coded pulsing allows each detector to ignore the IR signals of other nearby detectors.
  • May be used as a reflective detector (sensors in the roadbed) or as an interrupt detector (detector looks across the track).
  • Sensors can be used with the room lights on or off, they do not require overhead light sources.
  • No rail gaps required, no modifications to rolling stock.
  • On-board LEDs to aid with installation.
  • Relay contact triggers crossing signals, trackside signals, panel lights or action accessories.
  • Automatically switch track power, see the how to automatically stop trains and the collision avoidance at track crossings pages.
  • Infrared detectors also available with USB computer interface
Other methods of model train detection
IR detector with adjustment
MRD1-V (variable delay) installation instructions [pdf]
About relay contact ratings
 
How to:
Connect to a green/red LED signal
Connect to Digitrax LocoNet™ decoder
Connect to Märklin s88 decoder

 
drop out delay
Continuous mode drop-out delay:
how long the detector remains 'on'
after the train clears the sensor.

 
  IR detector not adjustable
MRD1-NV (non variable delay) installation instructions [pdf]

MRD1 - Single & Simple

  • Single position detector, senses a train at one point on the track.
  • Includes optical sensors with 2-ft. wire leads.
  • When activated, the on-board relay contact closes. You connect your circuit to this relay contact, it functions as an on/off switch for your circuit.
  • Output contact rated for 3 amps.
  • To control higher currents, use with an auxiliary power relay
  • Compact size: 1.7 x 1.5 x 0.7 in.
  • Power required: 8 to 16 volts AC or DC, 40 milliamps.

MRD1-V variable delay version

Using the on-board delay control, you select one of two operating modes:

set to one-shot mode Turn the delay control counter-clockwise from center to put the MRD1-V in one-shot mode.
 
In one-shot mode the arrival of a train activates the detector, closing the relay contact. An internal timer immediately starts ticking, and when it reaches its limit it de-activates the detector, opening the relay contact.
 
The detector always activates for the same length of time, whether the train is still on the sensor or not.
 
You set the activation duration with the delay control. Turn it fully counter clockwise for the minimum 1/3 second 'on' time. Turn it back toward center for longer 'on' time, up to 14 seconds.


set to one-shot mode Turn the delay control clockwise from center to put the MRD1-A in continuous mode.
 
In continuous mode the arrival of a train activates the detector, closing the relay contact. As long as the train is on the sensor, the relay contact stays closed ('on').
 
After the train clears the sensor the detector stays active for a short time, called a 'drop-out delay.' After the drop-out delay has elapsed, then the relay contact opens (turns 'off').
 
You set the drop-out delay time with the delay control. Turn it fully clockwise to select the minimum 1/3 second drop-out delay. Turn it back toward center to select a longer drop-out delay, up to 14 seconds.
MRD1-V  $19.50
variable delay version, each
MRD1-V 3-pack  $55.00
variable delay version, three circuits


MRD1-NV non-variable (fixed) delay version

Single detector, as above, that always operates in continuous mode with a 'drop-out' delay fixed at one second.
Works well with:
MRX3 grade crossing controller
PFRR back-and-forth controller
SBRR switchback controller
MRD1-NV (non-variable delay) installation instructions [pdf]
MRD1-NV  $17.50
non-variable fixed delay, each
MRD1-NV 3-pack  $49.50
non-variable version, three circuits

 
dual IR proximity sensor

More setup and user information
About relay contact ratings

D2T - Dual IR detector for track switch control or direction sensing

 
six channel proximity sensor MRD6 HexDetex™, Six Channel Detector

The MRD6 has an auxiliary output that can switch a DC circuit, such as a signal or relay, up to 0.25 amp.

There are two versions of the MRD6. The difference is the function of the auxiliary output:
RR xing MRD6X intelligently switches a grade crossing signal on & off based on the location and movement of the detected trains. Crossing signals and flasher circuit sold separately. Click here for the user's guide.
MRD6X HexDetex™ with crossing signal trigger output.
Select the number of pre-wired IR sensors and their wire length.
No IR sensors included.
For users who will use their own IR sensors.
 
'Barefoot'
$41.50
  All six sensor sets with 2-ft (60cm) wire length.
Use when all detection zones are close together.
6 x 2 ft.
$53.50
Two sensor sets with 2-ft (60cm) wire length, plus
Two sensor sets with 6-ft (180cm) wire length.
Four sensor sets for crossing signal control where only four sensors are needed.
2x 2ft, 2x 6ft.
$53.50
  Two sensor sets with 2-ft (60cm) wire length, plus
Four sensor sets with 6-ft (180cm) wire length.
Use when detection zones are widely separated, or for crossing signal control where six sensors per track are needed.
2x 2ft, 4x 6ft.
$59.50
tunnel
MRD6T controls a signal to indicate occupancy of a tunnel or other hidden track. Click here for the user's guide.
Is that a light at the end of the tunnel, or... ?
MRD6T HexDetex™ with tunnel occupancy signal output.
Select the number of pre-wired IR sensors and their wire length.
No IR sensors included.
For users who will use their own IR sensors.
 
'Barefoot'
$41.50
  All six sensor sets with 2-ft (60cm) wire length. 6 x 2 ft.
$53.50
Two sensor sets with 2-ft (60cm) wire length, plus
Two sensor sets with 6-ft (180cm) wire length.
For tunnel signal control where only four sensors are needed.
2x 2ft, 2x 6ft.
$53.50
  Two sensor sets with 2-ft (60cm) wire length, plus
Four sensor sets with 6-ft (180cm) wire length.
2x 2ft, 4x 6ft.
$59.50

 
octal IR proximity sensor

Installation instructions [pdf]
More installation tips and examples
 
How to:
Connect to green/red LED signals
Connect to Digitrax LocoNet™ decoder
Connect to Märklin s88 decoder

MRD8, Eight Channel Detector
  • Senses model trains at eight places on the track.
  • Solid state relay outputs for electrical isolation and maximum system compatibility.
  • Eight on-board LEDs for easy setup.
  • Quick-connect terminal blocks.
  • 10-pin ribbon cable connector compatible with RR-CirKits LocoNet Control Point (LNCP)™, Tower Controller (TC-64)™ and similar interface boards.
  • Power required: 8 to 16 volts AC or DC, 40 milliamps.
LocoNet Control Point and Tower Controller are trademarks of RR-CirKits, Waxhaw, NC
MRD8 with eight pre-wired infrared sensor sets
Choose wire length... or use your own sensors
All 8 sensor sets with 2-ft (60cm) wire length.
Use when all detection zones are close together.
8 x 2 ft.
$89.95
  4 sensor sets with 2-ft (60cm) wire length.
4 sensor sets with 6-ft (180cm) wire length.
4x 2ft, 4x 6ft.
$98.95
All 8 sensor sets with 6-ft (180cm) wire length.
Use when detection zones are widely separated.
8x 6ft.
$107.95
  'Barefoot' option -- circuit board only, no IR sensors included. For those who wish to use their own IR LEDs and IR photo receivers. without sensors
$67.50

• Extra sensor sets for use with MRD1, D2T, MRD6 or MRD8 detector circuits above

two sensor placement
Two sensor sets can be wired to one detector when used in across-the-track configuration. For details [ click here ]
Order extra sensor sets. One set includes one IR LED and one IR phototransistor. Does not include a detector circuit.
Choose lead length

 
   

DBD, Dual Block Occupancy Detector for DCC


block occupancy detection with current sensing
dual DCC block detector

Installation guide [pdf]

  • Senses current flow to two track blocks.
  • Sensitive enough to detect one 10k ohm resistor.
  • Separate solid state relay output (SPST) for each block,
  • Current-sense 'donuts' cause no voltage loss to the track.
    • 'Donuts' can be placed up to 12 ft (4 m) from the circuit board, right at the power feed to the track block.
    • No need to re-route your track wiring.
  • Separate sensitivity adjustment for each block.
  • On-board LEDs for easy setup.
  • Power required: 9 to 16 volts AC or DC, 25 milliamps.
Sense coil connection choice: One circuit: Three circuits:
unterminated coils
Plain coils, you solder your own wire to the coils

DBD  dual block detector for DCC, $23.00 each

with 2 plain coils


DBD 3-pack, $62.00

with 6 plain coils

pre-wired coils
Coils pre-wired with 3 ft (1 m) wire leads

DBD  dual block detector for DCC, $25.00 each

with 2 pre-wired coils


DBD 3-pack, $68.00

with 6 pre-wired coils

terminal blocks
Each coil on a solderless quick-connect terminal block

DBD  dual block detector for DCC, $27.00 each

with 2 coils on solderless terminal blocks


DBD 3-pack, $73.00

with 6 coils on solderless terminal blocks


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