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DCC Power to Tortoise Switch Machines

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JMB
  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • From: Brighton Ontario Canada
  • 19 posts
DCC Power to Tortoise Switch Machines
Posted by JMB on Saturday, February 23, 2008 1:07 PM
First DCC layout for this oldtimer... gradually gaining an understanding of this technology but not there yet!

Is there a way to utilize the DCC Power Bus for my Digitrax Zephyr System to power the 14 Tortoise Switch Machines planned for my N-scale layout?

Around the wall layout some 30' in length (3 walls) - The Power Bus ( 2 wires / #14 gauge) is in place under the layout & it would be nice to be able to utilize it as the power source for the turnout machines.

Or is it preferred to set up a separate wiring system for the Tortoise Machines/ Panel Lights / Signals?

Thanks!

...John
  • Member since
    November, 2002
  • From: Colorado
  • 3,942 posts
Posted by fwright on Saturday, February 23, 2008 1:29 PM

Whether you are using DC or DCC, the preferred wiring is to keep track power for trains and locomotives, and use other power sources and wiring for everything else.

In particular, the DCC power bus is not DC, and is too high a voltage for your Tortoise switch machines.  Secondly, DCC power is expensive to produce compared to common DC or AC needed by your accessories.

my thoughts, your choices

Fred W 

  • Member since
    February, 2007
  • From: Christiana, TN
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Posted by CSX Robert on Saturday, February 23, 2008 1:34 PM
You could power your Tortoise switch machines from your DCC power bus, but I would advise against it. For one, if you have any problems with the wiring, it is easier to debug if they are seperate. Also, if you have a short on the railroad, it's nice to not have it bring everything down until you resolve the short. For example, if you run an engine into a turnout that is aligned against it, if the turnouts are powered by the same buss as the railroad, you would have to physically move the engine by hand to clear the short. If the turnouts are powered seperately, you could throw the tunrout and continue on your way. If you really want to power the turnouts off the track buss, use the wiring diagram for powering the Tortoise with AC power that is included with the switch machine.
JMB
  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • From: Brighton Ontario Canada
  • 19 posts
Posted by JMB on Saturday, February 23, 2008 2:49 PM
Thanks for the advice... sort of proves that my instincts were right .. do it right & don't look for shortcuts!

...John


  • Member since
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  • From: Gahanna, Ohio
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Posted by jbinkley60 on Saturday, February 23, 2008 3:46 PM
 davidmbedard wrote:

You can, but through decoders.

David B

Actually a bridge rectifier and a few other components could pull off the DC voltage necessary to do this but I generally wouldn't recommend it.  You could also pull it off the input side of what powers the booster (depending upon your DCC system).  Again, not recommended but not difficult to do.

 

Engineer Jeff NS Nut
Visit my layout at: http://www.thebinks.com/trains/

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  • From: Winnipeg Canada
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Posted by Blind Bruce on Sunday, February 24, 2008 12:27 PM
NCE makes two decoders expressly for this type of stall motor machines. I have the "switch it" for two Torti and a "switch-8" for up to eight Torti. It is nice to be able to throw any of the ten turnouts from my wireless remote (DT 400R) and not have to return to a central panel.

73

Bruce in the Peg

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  • From: Gahanna, Ohio
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Posted by jbinkley60 on Sunday, February 24, 2008 2:30 PM

 

I went the DS64 route and use the cascaded routes, that the DS64s support.  My longest route is the "reset route" which resets all switches back to normal.  It covers 12 turnouts on 3 DS64s and cascades to a turnout controlled by a DS44.   I agree using the DT400 to throw a string of turnouts is nice, along with not having to build diode matricies.  The DS64s can use local power and not pull power from the DCC track power, if you supply 12V DC. 

 

Engineer Jeff NS Nut
Visit my layout at: http://www.thebinks.com/trains/

  • Member since
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  • From: Charlotte, NC
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Posted by Phoebe Vet on Sunday, February 24, 2008 3:43 PM

 

 

http://digitrax.com/menu_statdecoders.php

Dave

Lackawanna Route of the Phoebe Snow

JMB
  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • From: Brighton Ontario Canada
  • 19 posts
Posted by JMB on Sunday, February 24, 2008 11:45 PM
Wow..what a great response.

Thanks gang..now I have a lot to think about..& to plan for!

THink I will start slowly with a separate DC Power Supply & gradually move to DCC switch controls once I get a little more familiar with this DCC stuff!

Thanks again to all who replied.

...John


  • Member since
    February, 2007
  • From: Christiana, TN
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Posted by CSX Robert on Monday, February 25, 2008 12:07 AM
If you do go to DCC controlled switches, I would still run them off of a seperate buss and have a circuit breaker on the track buss so that a short on the layout does not disable your switch machines.
  • Member since
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  • From: Winnipeg Canada
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Posted by Blind Bruce on Monday, February 25, 2008 9:18 AM

 

how can I use a separate power supply with a decoder? Seems to me that the DCC signal would not be getting to the decoder that way. The NCE decoders run off "track power" so the DCC comes to it from there.

73

Bruce in the Peg

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  • From: Charlotte, NC
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Posted by Phoebe Vet on Monday, February 25, 2008 9:24 AM
 Blind Bruce wrote:

 

how can I use a separate power supply with a decoder? Seems to me that the DCC signal would not be getting to the decoder that way. The NCE decoders run off "track power" so the DCC comes to it from there.

If you go to the link I posted earlier, you can download the stationary decoder manual.

A stationary decoder can be powered by the rails, but if you have several of them, it becomes a great drain on power.  A small power supply like the ones that allow you to plug in electronic consumer gadgets can be attached to the decoder for power.  The instructions are easy to follow.  They are in the decoder documentation.

The commands arrive through the Loconet cable.

Dave

Lackawanna Route of the Phoebe Snow

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  • From: Gahanna, Ohio
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Posted by jbinkley60 on Monday, February 25, 2008 9:40 AM

 JMB wrote:
Wow..what a great response.

Thanks gang..now I have a lot to think about..& to plan for!

THink I will start slowly with a separate DC Power Supply & gradually move to DCC switch controls once I get a little more familiar with this DCC stuff!

Thanks again to all who replied.

...John


This is exactly the approach I took.  The fist half of my layout uses a DC power supply and DPDT switches. 

Then went to DS64s and DCC control for the second half.

 

You'll notice the only toggle switches are the block power switches on the second control panel.  I am thinking about retrofitting the first control panel with DS64s but haven't made the decision yet.

Feel free to post any questions you have on Tortoises, stationary controllers and control panels.

 

Engineer Jeff NS Nut
Visit my layout at: http://www.thebinks.com/trains/

  • Member since
    January, 2005
  • From: Winnipeg Canada
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Posted by Blind Bruce on Monday, February 25, 2008 9:54 AM
Looks like the Digitrax decoders can use a separate supply. I checked the manual that came with my NCE and NO such instructions are provided. DarnBanged Head [banghead]

73

Bruce in the Peg

  • Member since
    March, 2003
  • From: Scottsdale, AZ
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Posted by BigRusty on Sunday, March 02, 2008 4:39 PM

Although I have not the time, the need,  or the money to convert to DCC for train operation, I am seriously considering the advantage of using a DCC system to operate tortoise switch machines.

As I understand it, I could program routes through station throats and staging ladders and thus not need the diode matrixes and Capacitor discharge units needed for twin coil machines.

And, it could save a ton of control panel toggles and wiring. I would probably use the tortoise contacts to wire frogs and to light panel LEDs, however, to show routing and to interlock with the signal system.

Does this idea have any merit?

Modeling the New Haven Railroad in the transition era
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  • From: Colorado
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Posted by joe-daddy on Sunday, March 02, 2008 4:59 PM

 

I power all of my 24 tortoise off the local DCC bus in the vicinity of the switch.  Power consumption is minute.  Originally I powered the Hares directly from the track but since I use current flow occupancy detection, the Hare shows up as a train! 

The Tortoise works very well with the Hare or the Wrabbit decoders.  They are extremely easy to install, work with most if not all DCC systems, easy to install and have more features than any other decoder solution.  Yes they are expensive Hare at 25 bucks, but the cost reduced wabbit is about 12.50 and the extra features made it a no brainer for me.

Here is a link to my blog where I attempt to explain the differences between the Hare and the Wabbit.

http://wwwjoe-daddy.blogspot.com/2007/12/ll-hare-vs-wabbit.html

 

Joe 

 

My website and blog are now at http://www.joe-daddy.com
  • Member since
    February, 2006
  • From: Gahanna, Ohio
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Posted by jbinkley60 on Sunday, March 02, 2008 7:08 PM
 BigRusty wrote:

Although I have not the time, the need,  or the money to convert to DCC for train operation, I am seriously considering the advantage of using a DCC system to operate tortoise switch machines.

As I understand it, I could program routes through station throats and staging ladders and thus not need the diode matrixes and Capacitor discharge units needed for twin coil machines.

And, it could save a ton of control panel toggles and wiring. I would probably use the tortoise contacts to wire frogs and to light panel LEDs, however, to show routing and to interlock with the signal system.

Does this idea have any merit?

Yes, you are essentially correct. I wire my LEDs in series with the Tortoise motor.  The Tortoise does the current limiting so no resistors are needed.  You can use the Tortoise contacts, if you desire.  Some folks shy away from using them for powering frogs due to their current limit of one amp for switching but they can carry 4 amps after being switched.  This should be more than enough for powering frogs.

 

Engineer Jeff NS Nut
Visit my layout at: http://www.thebinks.com/trains/

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