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Rix vs. Torti's

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Rix vs. Torti's
Posted by loathar on Saturday, March 29, 2008 12:04 AM

I've been trying to decide which switch machines to buy. I've got it down to Rix or Torti. I don't really need slow motion, but I am thinking about powering my frogs. Can you do that with a Rix? I don't want to have to buy extra relays to do it.
I know a torti can, but do you need to buy anything extra to make them do it or will the base $14 unit do it?
Does either unit come with the necessary linkages for the turnout or is that extra?
I want to use DCC to control them. Lenz makes the decoder for the twin coil Rix and NCE makes the unit for the Torti's. Is there anything else I need to worry about when doing this?

Thanks

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Posted by UpNorth on Saturday, March 29, 2008 1:39 AM

Go to Tony's Trains web site and read up on the LENZ LS100 stationnary decoder and the RIX.

I would not go this route. It' a twin coil type B2, high current. The Lenz ls100 is expensive to control 4 turnouts.  Your option for stationnary decoder to control a RIX is limited. It is recommended you run capacity discharge or 16 to 24V.

Tortoise switch machines come with all necessary hardware. Just add stationnary decoder of your choice. The Tortoise will power your frog but the turnouts must have insulated frogs/point rail. Non-DCC friendly turnouts cause a shorting issue when moving the points.   

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Posted by jrbernier on Saturday, March 29, 2008 8:54 AM

  Both switch machines can be had with a set of DPDT electrical contacts.  Sometimes the contacts will need to be adjusted if powering a 'live frog' turnout so that the contacts do not 'make' before the points are clear of the stock rail(short).

  • The Tortoise machine has the DPDT contacts built in. 
  • The Rix machine can be had with or without the contacts.  Here is the URL with the details:

http://www.rixproducts.com/twincoil.htm

  I have never used the Rix machine and from the photo, I am suspect about how reliable that contact set is.

  I have used the Kemtron/PFM/Tenshodo type of twin-coil in the past.  They have a rather light duty DPDT set of contacts and a heavy duty set of SPDT contacts for powering the frog.  The DPDT contacts would get out of adjustment over time(from the hard 'slam' as the machine operated).  I rebuilt a bunch of them in 1990 and epoxied the contacts so they would not vibrate out of position.  I used them until 2003, when one 'died'.  Investigation showed that the panel switch 'stuck' and the machine basically 'burned up'.  I think a good 'Capacitive/Discharge' power source would have prevented this, but I decided to 'update' and have replaced all of my old machines with Tortoise motors - Much smoother operation, and they are powered by an old used 'wall wart' power supply!

  The Rix machines are about $11 MSRP, and the Tortoise machines are $19 MSRP.  I have seen the 12 packs of Tortoises on the web for a per unit cost of about $14 each.  I have picked up 'used' Tortoises from $6 - $10 each at train shows.  They seem to be 'bullet-proof' and I have never had one fail(even the used ones).

Jim

Modeling BNSF  and Milwaukee Road in SW Wisconsin

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Posted by jbinkley60 on Saturday, March 29, 2008 10:01 AM

I have over 40 Tortoises and have never had a problem with any of them.  It does come with the throw rod to actuate the turnout, if it is mounted below the turnout.  You can also get remote control by fabricating your own push rod or buying one from Circuitron.  For stationary decoders I use Digitrax DS64s.  They support both stationary and snap action switch machines.  I've never used them with a snap action machine so I can't comment directly but they are supposed to work fine.  They'll work with any DCC system.  They only thing you can't do with a non-Digitrax system is cascade routes between DS64s.  You can if you create your own Loconet segment between the DS64s, since that is needed to send commands between them.  I am very please with the DS64 and Tortoise combination.  Lastly, the DS64s will support pushbutton panel controls, in addition to throttle or computer control.

 

Engineer Jeff NS Nut
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Posted by loathar on Saturday, March 29, 2008 11:20 AM

Looks like I'm going to end up spending the extra $100 and go with the torti's. Need about 25.
I was trying to decide between the Lenz ls150 which is only $40. Does 6 machines and has input for push buttons too. OR the NCE switch8 which is $47 and does 8 machines, but doesn't mention push button control. Push button auxiliary would be nice. I don't really need routing.
Neither of these mention the Rix machine. I guess it's the high voltage thing.
You don't need capacitance discharge with a torti, right?
I'm using all Atlas code 83 customlines, so I think I'm OK with the frogs and point rails being insulated.

(thanks for the info!)

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Posted by cacole on Saturday, March 29, 2008 11:32 AM

If you don't mind a loud banging noise as the turnout is thrown, which some people claim can eventually damage turnouts, use the Rix.  For very quiet operation, the Tortoise or Torque Master machines fit the bill.

This debate of which is best has probably been raging since the Tortoise was first invented, and it will no doubt never be resolved one way or the other because people who use one or the other swear that their choice is the only right choice.

The same can be said for the weekly question that pops up here about the "best DCC system" or "best track cleaning car."  Eventually, I just ignore these questions because I know that nothing will ever be resolved.

That's just my My 2 cents [2c] worth, keeping in mind that a penny costs more to make that its face value.

 

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Posted by UpNorth on Saturday, March 29, 2008 4:20 PM
 loathar wrote:

I was trying to decide between the Lenz ls150 which is only $40. Does 6 machines and has input for push buttons too. OR the NCE switch8 which is $47 and does 8 machines, but doesn't mention push button control. Push button auxiliary would be nice. I don't really need routing.
Neither of these mention the Rix machine. I guess it's the high voltage thing.
You don't need capacitance discharge with a torti, right?
I'm using all Atlas code 83 customlines, so I think I'm OK with the frogs and point rails being insulated.

(thanks for the info!)

The warranty on the stationnary decoders you list is void if you use a type B2 switch motor, they will blow.

No need for CapDisc with Tortoise.

The NCE switch 8 uses track power and signal thru track to trip the tortoise. no provision for local panel control.

Digitrax makes the SE8C that has control for 8 turnouts (tortoise only) and push button control. You also get signals but that requires a computer and JMRI PanelPro to get the signals working.

Other option is the DS64 from Digitrax, button control, alt power source (good idea) or throttle switching.

 

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Posted by jbinkley60 on Saturday, March 29, 2008 4:39 PM
 loathar wrote:

Looks like I'm going to end up spending the extra $100 and go with the torti's. Need about 25.
I was trying to decide between the Lenz ls150 which is only $40. Does 6 machines and has input for push buttons too. OR the NCE switch8 which is $47 and does 8 machines, but doesn't mention push button control. Push button auxiliary would be nice. I don't really need routing.
Neither of these mention the Rix machine. I guess it's the high voltage thing.
You don't need capacitance discharge with a torti, right?
I'm using all Atlas code 83 customlines, so I think I'm OK with the frogs and point rails being insulated.

(thanks for the info!)

You say you don't need routing but you might want to think about it more.  Not all stationary decoders support them.  You might not want/need them now but they are very helpful in yards or other areas where you have complicated switching that you'd like to simplify.  The advantage pf local routes is that they live on the controller and don't eat up routes in your DCC system (Most systems have a limited number).  A cascaded route is a route that can be passed from one stationary controlelr to another.  As an example I have 12 turnouts spread across 3 DS64s.  I can program in a route that will throw turnouts across all three DS64s.  This is much easier than throwing 5-6 turnouts by hand from a DCC throttle.  They become an advanced electronic diode matrix.  With routes I rarely have to throw an individual turnout in my yard.  I also have a clear route that will set all turnouts back to a default condition.   

No, capacitance discharge units are not needed with Tortoises.  I also use Atlas code 83 customline turnouts for most of mine.  I don't do any power routing and have all insulated frogs.  No fancy wiring needed and things run great.

 

Engineer Jeff NS Nut
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Posted by loathar on Sunday, March 30, 2008 12:38 AM

I was reading Tony's review of the LS150 with the Tortis. It said they work OK, but they're not recommended because the LS150 doesn't provide continuous power after the turnout is thrown. It said the Torti can back off on it's own with no power going to it. Is this REALLY a problem? Can it really back off on it's own? I thought they were a worm gear setup inside? I don't see how a worm gear can back off on it's own.

I read the manual for the NCE Switch8 and don't see where the Torti gets it's power from. The DCC track buss through the decoder?? Wouldn't 25 switches be a big drain on a 3 amp DCC system since it supplies continuous power to the Torti?? Or do you have to run separate power wires to the Tortis?

It's dumb what NCE did. All their other stationary decoders have provisions for auxiliary push button control, but the new Switch8 doesn't.Dunce [D)]

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Posted by larak on Sunday, March 30, 2008 1:10 AM

Loathar,

Personally I've never had a tortoise on a turnout back off. I use 22 of them at the moment - wish I could afford more.

The one place I do occasionally have an unpowered tortoise back off is where I use one through a mechanical advantage system trading force for distance. The system pivots a scenic item from horizontal to vertical and there is a lot of force on the tortoise. Overnight, if I leave the item up, the throw will sometimes back off about 1/8" of an inch. Total mechanical advantage on this system is approximately 4:1 multiplied by 2:1 with an end weight of perhaps four ounces. This is two pounds of force.

I don't believe that you need to worry about the motor backing off when used in the normal fashion.

Karl

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Posted by jbinkley60 on Sunday, March 30, 2008 12:12 PM
 loathar wrote:

I was reading Tony's review of the LS150 with the Tortis. It said they work OK, but they're not recommended because the LS150 doesn't provide continuous power after the turnout is thrown. It said the Torti can back off on it's own with no power going to it. Is this REALLY a problem? Can it really back off on it's own? I thought they were a worm gear setup inside? I don't see how a worm gear can back off on it's own.

I read the manual for the NCE Switch8 and don't see where the Torti gets it's power from. The DCC track buss through the decoder?? Wouldn't 25 switches be a big drain on a 3 amp DCC system since it supplies continuous power to the Torti?? Or do you have to run separate power wires to the Tortis?

It's dumb what NCE did. All their other stationary decoders have provisions for auxiliary push button control, but the new Switch8 doesn't.Dunce [D)]

Assume about 20ma or so for each Tortoise.  So 25 of them would be about 1/2A of continuous draw.  I know what you are going through looking at stationary controllers.   I too was surprised at some of the compromises that many of the manufacturers made.    In some cases it seems like they went after small use cases where someone would only have 8 or so turnouts.  I just don't see someone with 8 turnouts going through the expense and such for DCC controller turnouts.  The market seems to be the case where someone has 30, 40 or mote.  In which case the other features like pushbutton control, local power and routes become more important.  I just wish Digitrax would make a DS68 with 8 outputs or more. 

As to your question about a Tortoise backing off without power, I don't see that happening.  However what it does mean is that you can't use LED inline throw indicators on your control panel with the LS150s becuase there will not be any current to light the LEDs.  You'll have to wire up auxiliary contacts on the Tortoises.

 

Engineer Jeff NS Nut
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Posted by CSX Robert on Sunday, March 30, 2008 4:09 PM
A couple of comments about using the LS150 with Tortoise switch machines. First of all, the LS150 does not really have inputs for push buttons, but it does allow you to bypass it with pushbuttons. What this means is that when operating a Tortoise, you have to hold the button in until it completes it's throw. Many people would not care, but it is something that you might want to know before hand. As far as the tortoise backing off, it has a gear reduction, not a screw drive, and it will back off some with out power(if you cut the power and listen, you can hear it back up some as the tension in the rod pushes against it), but it has been my experience that it is not enough for the rails to seperate.

No matter which decoder and switch machine you decide to go with, I would suggest either connecting it to a seperate booster or having the track on a seperate circuit breaker, especially if you have any switches that are hard to get to. The reason for this is if you run into a switch aligned the wrong way and cause a short, if your switch decoders are on the same bus as the track you won't be able to throw the switch to clear the short and you will have to move the engine by hand.

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Posted by loathar on Sunday, March 30, 2008 8:46 PM
A couple more problems to think about!Banged Head [banghead] I hadn't thought about no LED's with LS150 and never even considered the shorting problem with switch8.Dunce [D)]
It's like eveyone of these units has 1 feature(or lack of) that's gonna bite me in the butt!
I didn't think the Torti backing off would really be a problem. I'm only going through a 5/8" table top so it's not like the throw rod is going to be 2" long.
It seems like no matter what route I take, I'm going to end up spending more money than I want to or sacrifice a feature or two.
Disapprove [V]
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Posted by SpaceMouse on Monday, March 31, 2008 10:37 PM

I've played with a truckload of Rix machines at the club, and although we kept the track running, it seems I was always crawling under the layout futzing with them. And it was always me because the old-timers dummied up like they didn't know anything when they broke.

Anyway,I never used them with decoders. I've never used the turtles either, but having wokred with the Rix machines, the Turtles have to be better.

Chip

Building the Rock Ridge Railroad with the slowest construction crew west of the Pecos.

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Posted by UpNorth on Tuesday, April 01, 2008 12:20 AM

Oh yes the Tortoise can and will bounce back on you. Just take one in your hands and move it over manually. It will go to the end and come back partially on you, momentum. The stall voltage is what keeps it forced over. So if you are using some type of momentary switch or do not provide stall current (lets say center-off switch), you can get bounce back.

I had allready posted that the Switch8 uses track power. It does not have provision for any other power connection from an external power source. So if you run a wrongly set switch, your stuck and must fiddle around... 

 

nof
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Posted by nof on Tuesday, April 01, 2008 12:58 AM

UpNorth!

You can move the Tortoise manually, if you aren't carefully you might damage it according to the manual.

But if you try to move it with just using a force similar to the piano wire actuator I don't think you will be able to move it.

I have a small layout with two tortoise on it that hat have been unpowered for two weeks now and the tortoise haven't moved a bit. I have transported the layout in my car for more than two hours during that time and vibrations from the trip haven't managed to overcome the initial force to start the Tortoise to move.

I don't think that you will ever have any problem with Tortoises that changes positions by themselv. 

Nils-Olov Modelling the tomorrow in N-scale.
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Posted by UpNorth on Tuesday, April 01, 2008 1:30 AM
I know that I can damaged them,  but never have so far.  My point was that it can bounce back and will if no stall current is present when it is asked to move, momentum can carry it right passed the end point and back around. Once the power is cut I fully agree that the Tortoise will not move an iota.

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