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Digitrax se8c vs. ds64 to run tortoise machines

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Digitrax se8c vs. ds64 to run tortoise machines
Posted by norcalmodeler on Tuesday, April 2, 2013 6:50 PM

Hi everyone,

quick layout description -

 i have a 3 level layout (in process) double mainline level one (staging) and two ( Mt. Shasta & Dunsmuir), level three single main (Mccloud & Beiber), in northern California.  I have been moving at a slow pace and plan ahead for a first class layout and track operations. I have digitrax dcs100 & 3 - 150's for boosters. i plan to run 4 pm42's  and then 5 or 6 bdl168's.  PR3 for programming and computer control. I will use JMRI? Would like to be able to have computer controlled trains if i want.

Here is my main question, you can run signalling, tortoise control  and block detection off of the se8c. I was going to use them for both signaling and tortoise control. I have about 100 turnouts and was wondering is that going to work fine or should i use the ds64's for the tortoise switch machines? Am i loosing anything if i just use the se8c's

I am big on doing things right for smooth operations,  i just put new point rails on 13 of my turnout (from the march Model Railroader article). I really like the Shinohara turnouts and that is a great fix for eliminating power from rail contact.

any thoughts or firsthand experience would be great.

thanks

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Posted by jrbernier on Tuesday, April 2, 2013 7:25 PM

  The SE8C costs $125(MSRP) and you can control 8 Slow motion turnouts.  The DS64 costs $60(MSRP) and will control any type of turnout(slow motion included).  If you are going to be using the SE8C for signalling, then it might be a better value.  And if all of your turnouts are going to use the Tortoise, then you really do not need the other switch machine types that the DS64 can control.  Either way you are looking at $12-15 per Tortoise for DCC control(street price).

Jim

Modeling BNSF  and Milwaukee Road in SW Wisconsin

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Posted by norcalmodeler on Tuesday, April 2, 2013 7:50 PM

yea, I only use tortoise machines (all ready have) and the ds64 only controls 4 turnouts, where the se8c controls 8.

i figure i get the signaling for free, so to speak.

thanks

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Posted by gondola1988 on Tuesday, April 2, 2013 8:46 PM

The DS64 will control 8 tortoise machines if you hook them up to opposite ends of a siding or yard track. So far I have 8 DS64's and control 64 tortoise machines. Jim.

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Posted by norcalmodeler on Tuesday, April 2, 2013 9:47 PM

you are correct, i guess what i should say is that the ds64 has 4 individual outputs and the se8c has 8 individual outputs. The only turnouts i put together are crossovers. everything else will have single output for single tortoise. I do it this way because if you have a train passing one end of the siding on the mainline, the train can leave the siding as soon as it passed the turnout. If both operate on the same output, you have to wait until the mainline train passes both siding turnouts. 

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Posted by rrinker on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 6:19 AM

 The design of the SE8C is such that it can control and detect everything around 8 'control points' meaning the 4 signal heads, detector, and turnout.

 However, what they don;t make clear is that all 32 signal head outputs are completely independent so you do not have to use it only for signals arranged as shown in the basic example. Every output on it has aunique address and does not depend on the state of another output - so for example if you have a double crossover on a double track main and thus have 4 signal heads at one end of it and 4 signal heads at the other end, this can all be controlled by part of one SE8C.

 You will likely have more turnouts than signals, so the DS64 will be more economical where there are only turnouts and no signals.

 Another use for the Tortoise drivers on the SE8C is for semaphore signals. Or train order signals at stations.

                     --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 6:32 AM

In another thread a while back, we discussed the power source to drive the Tortoises using various stationary decoders.  The OP has 100 Tortoises, so it will take roughly 2 amps to drive them all.  That isn't an amount that you want to pull off your DCC system.  How do these two option compare on availability and ease of use of either a booster or just an external supply?

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

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Posted by rrinker on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 7:19 AM

 Both use outside power supplies. The SE8C REQUIRES a power supply, DS64 can use one or use track power.

           --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by gandydancer19 on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 8:26 AM

norcalmodeler

any thoughts or firsthand experience would be great.

thanks

I am doing exactly what you are talking about doing.  The only draw back, if there is one, is that when you wire up the toggle switches to a control panel when using the SE8C inputs, is that there is no directionality to which way the switch is thrown.  You could actually use one push button switch for each turnout.  Press it and the turnout moves to the position it is not currently in.

Elmer.

The above is my opinion, from an active and experienced Model Railroader in N scale and HO since 1961.

(Modeling Freelance, Eastern US, HO scale, in 1962, with NCE DCC for locomotive control and a stand alone LocoNet for block detection and signals.) http://waynes-trains.com/ at home, and N scale at the Club.

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Posted by Renegade1c on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 9:43 AM

IMHO I think the BDL168 is a poor design, hence why I used the RR cirkits block detection which is loco net compatible. I also don't like the PM-42's. I have nothing but trouble with them and felt it justifiable to purchase the PSX circuit breakers by DCC specialties.

One note on the SE8c is that the inputs can either be used for block detection (using a bd4 detection module) OR control panel inputs but not both. I think you would be fine using the Se8c for tortoise control and using the input for local control panels.

I like using the DS-64 for tortoise control because I can located the DS-64 near the turnouts they control whereas the Se8C is more of a centralized design. The DS-64 has 8 inputs. I use 4 of those for turnout control at the local panels. It also makes it quite easy to setup to multiple control panels if you need to access control of switches from different locations. 

I have found even though some of these devices are made to control multiple things (ie the Se8c) that wiring them and getting everything to work correctly is much more tedious, than separating things out and having separate devices perform their specific function.

I used the DS-64's for turnout control, Se8c's for signalling, RRcirkits bod-9s and TC-64 for block detection, and the PSX breakers for current protection. IT may be somewhat more expensive to have all separate systems all integrated by loconet and function independently, but it sure makes wiring and troubleshooting much easier. 

I have some info on what I did on my previous layout (and shortly will be on my current one) here on my website

I use JMRI via a locobuffer USB to read the block detectors, control turnouts, and control signalling. 


Colorado Front Range Railroad: 
http://www.coloradofrontrangerr.com/

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Posted by norcalmodeler on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 9:46 AM

I was going to use the momentary push button and LEDs to show turnout position.  I use the LEDs for direction on my layout now but i will not be able to use the DTDP switches will have to change them to the momentary switches. I can put LEDs in line with the tortoise to show turnout direction.  

i do not connect anything to track power. Track power is for trains, i run everything else with external power supplies.

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Posted by Renegade1c on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 9:52 AM

Yes you can put LED's inline with the turnouts to indicate switch position. That is exactly what I do! I use push buttons for my control panels. One push throws the turnout one direction and another push throws it the other way. 

I too use a separate power supply to power everything other than trains.  


Colorado Front Range Railroad: 
http://www.coloradofrontrangerr.com/

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Posted by norcalmodeler on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 10:06 AM

i took a look at you website and thanks for making a wiring diagram.  i find the Digitrax instructions lacking. I wish they would show more on how all there items work together with real photos of the items in place on a real layout. i know there are many different ways of doing things but it would be nice to just have something as a base reference.

 I do have a question, you isolate the turnout and put in on its own detection section, why? Won't the stationary decode for the switch machine determine what you need for signaling on the turnout? I will have close to 100 turnouts and that will add a lot of extra wiring and detection sections. 

i broke my layout into detection sections about the length of a train. should i change that?

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Posted by Renegade1c on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 11:25 AM

The reason why turnouts are isolated is that you want to make sure that they are clear when throwing a switch. By having the switch as a separate block you can make sure there is not a train on it when it is thrown. You do not want to throw a switch under a train. Signalling is designed to protect OS sections (generally switches). If you take a look at old US&S dispatchers panels (similar to my digital version) they have two toggles under each switch. the first is to set the switch direction (normal or reversed) and the second is to set the signal aspect (either west, east or stop).

I do have some turnouts that are not separate blocks which are shown in red on the track diagram. These switches are only locally operated by the train crew and are considered part of the block in which they are located. The dispatcher does have the ability to lock out these switches so the local crew can not throw them  and must ask permission to use them. 

Basically what I did in terms of separating blocks is that in a passing siding you will have 4 tracks and 2 switches for a total of 6 blocks. you will have entry block, switch, main track, siding track, switch, exit block. The entry, exit blocks are the blocks between passing sidings. Below is how i separated my blocks. The black image is my dispatch panel (still in the works) and the track plan shows the physical blocks on the layout. 

One the panel above the blue tracks are dispatcher controlled blocks. Orange are sidings and not controlled by the dispatcher. Orange dots are for block detection for switches. Green dots are for track block detection. Red lines indication passing blocks which yellow lines separate blocks between passing areas.

The track diagrams below show block designations and switch numbers. LS stands for "loconet sensor" in JMRI. The colors are designated for different Block Detector cards. The numbers with no prefix are switch numbers. Red lines are block isolation points. 

I hope this helps out. Let me know if you need any further info on signalling.


Colorado Front Range Railroad: 
http://www.coloradofrontrangerr.com/

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Posted by norcalmodeler on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 12:23 PM

thank you that is great.

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Posted by gandydancer19 on Friday, April 5, 2013 8:02 AM

Putting turnouts in their own blocks for OS sections is more of a prototype thing.  Some modelers do it, some don't.  I chose not to because I thought it was over kill.

I am not saying don't do it.  I am saying that you don't have to.  It is up to you.  Your budget may or may not be a factor in this decision.

Elmer.

The above is my opinion, from an active and experienced Model Railroader in N scale and HO since 1961.

(Modeling Freelance, Eastern US, HO scale, in 1962, with NCE DCC for locomotive control and a stand alone LocoNet for block detection and signals.) http://waynes-trains.com/ at home, and N scale at the Club.

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Posted by rrinker on Friday, April 5, 2013 12:51 PM

 On one hand, doing it like the prototype makes it pretty easy to do the interlocking logic such that you can;t throw the switch under a train. On the other hand, if you take into account that distances on a model railroad are almost always way shorter than prototypical distances, if you lock out the turnout when the blocks to either side are occupied, you accomplish much the same thing with at least one less detection section. Just a slightly more complex logic expression.

             --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by SLI_Fallen on Friday, August 9, 2013 9:15 AM

Regarding The SE8C and Tortoise wiring. Though on Circuitron's web site, it shows that a Tortoise can be wired DC or AC, momentary pushbuttons, SPDT or DPDT switches (confusing enough right there!)

 

I would like to have BOTH local turnout control, and thru loconet (to provide the throwbar position back to RR & Co. software as well, regardless if the turnout was thrown from the local switch, thru the throttle, or from the software itself).  

 

It LOOKS like I can accomplish this with the SE8C, but....when using the Tortoise outputs of an SE8C, you ONLY can use momentary pushbuttons for the local control, right?  

 

AND you cant use the SE8C Tortoise LED outputs if your using a BDL168 for block detection (which I am)

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Posted by Renegade1c on Friday, August 9, 2013 9:42 AM

SLI_Fallen

Regarding The SE8C and Tortoise wiring. Though on Circuitron's web site, it shows that a Tortoise can be wired DC or AC, momentary pushbuttons, SPDT or DPDT switches (confusing enough right there!)

I would like to have BOTH local turnout control, and thru loconet (to provide the throwbar position back to RR & Co. software as well, regardless if the turnout was thrown from the local switch, thru the throttle, or from the software itself).   

It LOOKS like I can accomplish this with the SE8C, but....when using the Tortoise outputs of an SE8C, you ONLY can use momentary pushbuttons for the local control, right?  

 AND you cant use the SE8C Tortoise LED outputs if your using a BDL168 for block detection (which I am)

You are correct that it is a momentary switch that has to be used on the SE8C. Also you can wire your LED's in series with the Tortoise for switch position indication. 

Both the DS64 and the SE8C have inputs for local control and can be controlled via loconet. 


Colorado Front Range Railroad: 
http://www.coloradofrontrangerr.com/

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Posted by SLI_Fallen on Friday, August 9, 2013 3:35 PM

I see the led wiring part now from a separate document on Circuitron's site as well. Thanks for the clarification!

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Posted by SLI_Fallen on Monday, August 12, 2013 4:31 PM

Have another question regarding the SE8c, and using it with Tortoises.  

 

Circuitron's documentation talks about directly connecting LED(s) between one of the motor leads and the power source (in this case the SE8c) This way, you can drive a fascia panel LED directly from the tortoise with no other wiring to the SE8c. I've tested it and it works fine. (an added bonus, I'm using a single bi-polar 2 lead LED and it switches perfectly with the turnout).

 Here is the rub. (question) Circutron's site states EACH LED with drop the power by 2 volts. Assuming I use the single bi-polar LEDS across all 8 Tortoises from the SE8c, will I have enough power to still drive all the signal heads (up to 32) ? I'm using a dedicated PS14 for my SE8c.

 

I have not been able to find any real answer from Digitrax's site, or from the SE8c documentation on this.

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Posted by rrinker on Monday, August 12, 2013 5:36 PM

 Won't matter for the signal heads, all it's dropping is voltage to the Tortoise. And since the LED is in series witht he Tortoise, there is no increased current draw.

However - the SE8C already runs a fairly low voltage to the Tortoise. Dropping it another 2 volts with an LED might be too much. Tortoises are made for 12V, but are kind of noisy at a full 12V, so a pair of LEDs (trackside plus panel) makes them run on about 8V, which is just about perfect in terms of speed vs noise tradeoff. The SE9C outputs for the Tortoises are already well below 12V. You might be Ok with just one LED, for a panel lamp, but using two is definitely out.

           --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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