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ShareThisEvery so often one needs an absolute position detector, rather than a block detector.
For purposes of both signaling and animation, it is often desirable to know when a moving locomotive, car, or even vehicle has reached a particular point or location. Absolute position detectors are often optical detectors, detecting the absence or presence of a light source.
The new Differential Absolute Position Detector (DAPD) uses 6 components, and is relatively easy to build. The detector uses two small ambient light sensors based on a photo-transistor (a PT19 SMD device or a PT204 through-hole part). The light sensitivity of this detector is mostly in the same range visible to the human eye.
Also, am I correct that in a tunnel application, IR LEDs could be used as a light source, maintaining tunnel darkness. Since I am something of a microcontroller kind of guy I may try using an 8 pin PIC 12F683 with two light sensors - that would give some additional options via software. Yes, any processor with 2 analog to digital converter capable pins should easily handle this. Product DescriptionThis is the HO Scale Philadelphia Peter Witt Street Car with Full Interior & Lights from the Bachmann Spectrum Series. Manufacturer CommentsDue to small parts that could cause a choking hazard please kee away from children 3 years of age and younger.
Description: Item This sale is for a points position indicator which records which points are set and provides a constant indication via leds on a mimic. These DCC decoders work with designated "DCC friendly" Kato train sets and train cars only. Visit his website about wiring and DCC, garden train and much more : Wiring for DCC (see links page). The Points Position Indicator (PPI) monitors the brief switching voltage to either of the two coils of a points motor, and displays their last operation using coloured leds which can be mounted on a route mimic. The microprocessor controls the led brightness (adjustable) and so no resistors are required, simplifying wiring up. In this way, only one of the output leds is lit at any one time, that being the one with the most recently grounded input.

Each time an input change occurs, it is stored in memory, so that when the power is switched off and on again, the led outputs are set automatically to their last recorded condition. Simply connect one of the PPI input terminals to one end of one of the points motor coils, the other input to the end of the other coil, and the common of the coils to the COM POS input to the PPI. When powering up, the uP (red) led on the pcb will flash when the microprocessor is starts. The negative lead (cathode) is identified by a flat on the side of the led body, and by having a shorter lead. The red and green leds share the same output, so for instance, the first set of points are represented by a green and red led pair, with their anodes connected to terminal A1+.
Operating the leds at the minimum acceptable brightness level will prolong the life of the leds. The best I’ve used employ their own light source, but older designs use Cadmium Sulphide (CdS) photocells and depend on ambient light in the room.
The obvious solution is to remove the emitter and detector from the board and then rewire them so as to relocate them away from the detector board. The board layout is such that it is separate from the sensor that can be placed between the rails, and then wired to the detector board some inches away, nearby.
OSHPark offers a public service fabricating very high quality, low cost PC boards in low quantities. Do you think the electronics could be mounted under the table and some fiber optic used to send the light to the detectors?
Because both light sensors "see" the same ambient light level, they balance each other!
These phototransistors have a small overlapping range into either infrared or ultraviolet, but I don't remember which or how much. It would simply have to look for the two 2 light levels to be out of balance -- that is the very essence of the detector. Designed for systems where the common connection of the points motors is the POSITIVE supply. This block length can vary to accommodate the largest anticipated train length on a layout. When the light level of the sensor between the rails falls below the light level of the nearby sensor, the output of the detector goes low (to ground).

It would then be a simple matter to drill a couple tiny holes though the scenery and use some shrink tube to attach the other end of the fiber optic to the detector. I actually went out of my way not to use IR or UV specifically, because my IR & UV detector experiences were not satisfying because I always needed a device to find out where the emitters and sensors were pointing! No harm will be caused to the PPI if they are connected in reverse, but the PPI will not function. If the points position has changed, the (red) uP led on the flashes to indicate that the updated status has been stored in memory.
More accurate position detection is sometimes needed, where the absolute position is most important, rather than coarser block detection.
Nonetheless, you could intentionally pick out an IR sensitive phototransistor and use it in this detector.
This might occur when positioning a train at the end of a hidden staging track, or spotting a car on a loading track inside a building. The board layout is such that it could substitute for a portion of an HO scale track tie, and be disguised (covered) in place. The output normally has a 10K pull up resistor on board, that can be omitted or adjusted to your needs.
If you want to place the detector in a lightless tunnel or building, simply add a lighted LED or incandescent lamp nearby and you should enable correct operation. When the track sensor goes dimmer at any ambient light level, the detector indicates the presence of a car or loco. In fact, I have used 8 different phototransistors (including some surplus ones for which I have no specs) and they all work better than most other optical detectors I have used. If the sensor not between the rails sees a much lower light level, the sensor may never turn on.
Some adjustment may be needed for the two emitter resistors, depending on how different your choice might be.
If the sensor not between the rails sees a much higher light level, the sensor may always be on.

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