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Model Railroad Control Systems

Modular Signal System (MSS)

The Modular Signal System (MSS) is a standardized method for animating model railroad signals to react to trains moving along a signaled track without the need for  computers or software. Having track side signals automatically change aspects in response to train movement adds significantly to the realism and enjoyment of operating sessions, not to mention enhancing visitors' viewing experience.

MSS simulates basic Absolute Block Signal (ABS) functionality in any model railroad scale and format, though it's especially well-suited for modular model railroads. Many owners of sectional or "permanent" layouts will find MSS well suited to their needs,  Any number of signaled tracks can be supported, and any style of track side signal can be used (e.g. searchlight, tri-light, position-light, semaphores, etc.).

MSS uses low cost CAT5 crossover network cables for interconnections, and can utilize commercially-available model train detectors and signal logic drivers. This includes MRCS' cpOD and DAPD.  This gives modelers the flexibility to select components that best fit their budget and specific signaling needs.

MRCS is pleased to offer MSS products from Scale Signal Systems as well as community designs.  If you have an MSS-related product you'd like to share with the community, please contact us 

Why do we handle both MSS and CMRInet?

MRCS started as an outlet to offer cpNode (Arduino based open source nodes) to the CMRI community, so we’re driven by the same motivations as the MSS developers. Where MSS focuses on Automatic Block Signal system with minimal configuration and no programming, CMRI and CMRInet were designed from the start to handle any prototype signaling system as well as support for automatic staging systems and complex layout animation. CMRI assumes a computer to manage these (arbitrarily complex) implementations and most CMRInet systems use either Dr. Bruce Chubb (MMR)’s BASIC/VBASIC code or take advantage of the Java Model Railroad Initiative (JMRI).  

The quick take away is if you are looking for a simple Automatic Block Signal (ABS) system, minimal configuration and mostly plug-together installation you should take a hard look at MSS: It’s proven, it’s easy and it does simple block signaling (No CTC, no control panels), on the other hand if you want accurate APB, CTC panels (screen based or hard panels), staging automation and complex animation you will want to use a computer based layout control bus. CMRI is the oldest open source Layout Control Bus and is supported by a base of several thousand users.