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Automatic Routing of Passenger Station Turnouts

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Automatic Routing of Passenger Station Turnouts
Posted by richhotrain on Saturday, September 21, 2013 6:12 AM

I have a large downtown passenger station with 10 tracks, that feed off the two legs of a wye.  In other words, a single track leads into the station and split off into 10 passenger tracks via the wye, five tracks per leg.

Looking from the wye on the left to the station on the right, these 10 tracks are reached through a series of 8 turnouts, 4 right hand on the upper portion and 4 left hand on the lower portion.

The turnouts are powered by Tortoises which are controlled by DPDT switches.

This arrangement works fine, but it requires a lot of manual flips of the DPDT switches to route trains correctly onto the right passenger station track.

I would like to automate the station track complex so that I can more easily route trains through some automated system.

Ideally, I could throw one switch or press one button and have the routing take place automatically.

What type of circuitry is available to accomplish this task?

Incidentally, my layout is DCC-powered, using an NCE PH-Pro 5 amp wireless system.

Rich

 

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Posted by fmilhaupt on Saturday, September 21, 2013 7:33 AM

Your situation sounds like a really good fit for an NCE Mini Panel board and Switch 8 turnout decoder.

You would connect the turnouts to the Switch 8 decoder and program it, then connect a pushbutton for each station track to the Mini Panel and program it.

Once you have programmed the Mini Panel, you should be able to line a route by simply pressing the button corresponding to the track you want the train to end up on or depart from.

If I read your description correctly, trains to/from five of the tracks (let's say tracks 1-5) will only go in or out via one leg of the the wye, and trains to/from the other five tracks (let's say 6-10) will only go in or out via the other, so this would make this relatively simple to set up.

If trains could go from any station track (1-10) to/from either leg of the wye, it would be a little more complicated, but not impossible, to set up.

-Fritz Milhaupt, Publications Editor, Pere Marquette Historical Society, Inc.
http://www.pmhistsoc.org

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Posted by richhotrain on Saturday, September 21, 2013 7:40 AM

fmilhaupt

Your situation sounds like a really good fit for an NCE Mini Panel board and Switch 8 turnout decoder.

You would connect the turnouts to the Switch 8 decoder and program it, then connect a pushbutton for each station track to the Mini Panel and program it.

Once you have programmed the Mini Panel, you should be able to line a route by simply pressing the button corresponding to the track you want the train to end up on or depart from.

If I read your description correctly, trains to/from five of the tracks (let's say tracks 1-5) will only go in or out via one leg of the the wye, and trains to/from the other five tracks (let's say 6-10) will only go in or out via the other, so this would make this relatively simple to set up.

If trains could go from any station track (1-10) to/from either leg of the wye, it would be a little more complicated, but not impossible, to set up.

Fritz, thanks for that information.  I had researched the Switch 8 decoder a little bit, but I was not familiar with the Mini Panel.  That sounds like a perfect setup, so I will look into the Mini Panel further.

Yes, you did read my description correctly, trains to/from five of the tracks (tracks 1-5) will only go in or out via one leg of the the wye, and trains to/from the other five tracks (tracks 6-10) will only go in or out via the other leg.

Rich

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Posted by gregc on Saturday, September 21, 2013 8:12 AM

richhotrain
This arrangement works fine, but it requires a lot of manual flips of the DPDT switches to route trains correctly onto the right passenger station track.

I would like to automate the station track complex so that I can more easily route trains through some automated system.

diode matices can be used to control multiple turnouts for route selection.   here are a few links

see Basic Diode Matix System on the paisley site -- http://home.cogeco.ca/~rpaisley4/StallMatrix.html

the Page site may provide more explanation -- http://rail.felgall.com/dm.htm

there's a passenger station and coach yard on the Pacific Southern.   There's a panel for this section of the layout with push button switches for mainline, station and coach yard tracks.   pressing two buttons aligns all the switches between the two points

greg - Philadelphia & Reading / Reading

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Posted by dehusman on Saturday, September 21, 2013 8:17 AM

There are a couple ways to do it with a diode matrix.  You can set it up to have a rotary switch and as you dial in a track it automatically lines the Tortises.

Or you can use the matrix with a push button for each track.

Dave H. Painted side goes up. My website : wnbranch.com

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Posted by Javelina on Saturday, September 21, 2013 4:23 PM

Our hosts here at MR ran an article a few years back on "cascading" Tortoises to set  up routes. I can't recall when this was, but if you are a subscriber you can probably search for it. I'm guessing it was about 5 years ago or thereabouts. The general idea was to use the secondary contacts of the Tortoise to trigger another, but there were fine points concerning voltage drops and so on. When you search for it, if you do, I'd use the term(s) "cascade" or "cascading Tortoises". Sorry I can't remember more...........

Lou

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Posted by BroadwayLion on Saturday, September 21, 2013 5:47 PM

LION does not do DCC. Him thinks they are for FROGS or some such animal.

LION uses DC and has TORTOISES to move the switch points, but him can route the yard with the use of a single lever. With no lever pulled the train stays on the main line, call it track 0.

Pulling any lever will move the lead switch from track 0 to the yard alignments.The default movement would be to the number 6 track.

Pulling the first lever moves both the lead switch and the switch for track 1.

Pulling only the second lever moves both the lead switch (switch 1 remains in the default position) the train goes to track 2

Pulling only the third lever moves both the lead switch and switch 3 (switch 1 and 2 remain in the default position) the train goes to track 3.

And so on.

Roar

The Route of the Broadway Lion The Largest Subway Layout in North Dakota.

Here there be cats.                                LIONS with CAMERAS

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Posted by mlehman on Saturday, September 21, 2013 10:25 PM

Rich,

I give Thumbs UpThumbs Up to the NCE Switch-8 solution. Implemented through macros, all you have to do is remember the different routes. I've used this for my  staging yard for 4 years now with virtually zero issues. It's very easy to program, another advantage.

Mike Lehman

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Posted by rrinker on Saturday, September 21, 2013 10:58 PM

 Adding the mini panel means not even having to remember routes. And not having to switch the throttle into macro mode or anything, just press the button on the panel for the desired route.

                --Randy


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

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Posted by hdtvnut on Sunday, September 22, 2013 12:52 AM

Been using three Switch-8 and two Mini-Panels with Tortoises on my yard for a year or so with never a problem.   Some Switch-8 outputs go to two motors.

Hal

 

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Posted by mlehman on Sunday, September 22, 2013 5:38 AM

hdtvnut
Some Switch-8 outputs go to two motors.

Hal,

That's a good tip and may help avoid having to add an extra Switch-8 or other device if you have more than 8 Tortoises to control, depending on the specific track design used.

Randy,

I've got no experience with the mini-panels. That would probably work well with controlling a station in the layout room, because they could be physically placed in proximity to the track they're controlling.

For staging, I like having the Macro controls available on the hand-held controller. My staging yard is in another room from the layout and I move back and forth between it and the layout. My guess is you can use multiple mini-panels, so one could drive my staging directly and another act as a remote? That might work for me, but would not be as flexible for the way I have things set up as the macro-on-controller method is.

Mike Lehman

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Posted by richhotrain on Sunday, September 22, 2013 5:52 AM

mlehman

hdtvnut
Some Switch-8 outputs go to two motors.

Hal,

That's a good tip and may help avoid having to add an extra Switch-8 or other device if you have more than 8 Tortoises to control, depending on the specific track design used.

Randy,

This is great input everyone, and I very much appreciate it.

While the diode matrix seems interesting and, undoubtedly, less expensive, I am going to pursue the Switch It / Mini Panel approach.

I actually have 9 turnouts to automate.  Eight of them feed the 10-track ladder in the yard and the ninth is the wye.  So, I may need to add a Switch It to the Switch 8 setup.

If the Switch-8 outputs go to two motors, I wonder if I could get away with just the Switch 8 without having to add a Switch It to control the wye turnout.  Could each of the eight Switch-8 outputs connect to both the Tortoise controlling the respective station turnout as well as to the Tortoise controlling the wye turnout?

Rich

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Posted by mlehman on Sunday, September 22, 2013 8:48 AM

richhotrain

I actually have 9 turnouts to automate.  Eight of them feed the 10-track ladder in the yard and the ninth is the wye.  So, I may need to add a Switch It to the Switch 8 setup.

If the Switch-8 outputs go to two motors, I wonder if I could get away with just the Switch 8 without having to add a Switch It to control the wye turnout.  Could each of the eight Switch-8 outputs connect to both the Tortoise controlling the respective station turnout as well as to the Tortoise controlling the wye turnout?

Rich,

Hal may be able to answer this better.

It seems like one of those things that will only work in certain circumstances. The most obvious one to me would be where you have a crossover between two parallel tracks. Both turnouts are thrown at once, as they would never be out of sync in actual use, either one way or the other.

So a definite maybe, depending...Wink

It might be a case where putting the wye track on a Switch-it is the easier approach.

Mike Lehman

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Posted by richhotrain on Sunday, September 22, 2013 9:13 AM

mlehman

It might be a case where putting the wye track on a Switch-it is the easier approach.

Yeah, I would agree, and that is probably what I will do.

Rich

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Posted by hdtvnut on Sunday, September 22, 2013 2:55 PM

Any situation where two turnouts will always be moved at the same time should be OK, since the load of two Tortoises doesn't exceed the capability of a Switch-8 driver.  I run four crossovers this way.

Hal

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Sunday, September 22, 2013 4:07 PM

Rich, I could easily design a one button per track circuit using relays that would provide control of dwarf signals as well.

Push one putton for the desired track, all needed turnouts would align, signals would all change.

Material cost to build - one relay and LED lighted pushbutton per track, $5 per relay with a base, $4 per LED lighted PB,

10 tracks - $90 and a little wire.

How much do the solid state solutions cost? Since you would still need the "user interface" (push buttons) the real cost to compare is $50

Sheldon

 

    

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Posted by richhotrain on Sunday, September 22, 2013 4:12 PM

Sheldon,

At MB Klein, the Switch 8 is $48 and the Mini Panel is $40.

If I add a Switch It for the wye, that is another $16.

Rich

Alton Junction

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Sunday, September 22, 2013 4:37 PM

richhotrain

Sheldon,

At MB Klein, the Switch 8 is $48 and the Mini Panel is $40.

If I add a Switch It for the wye, that is another $16.

Rich

Amazing that he solid state solution is not one penny less expensive than the simple analog one. Does the Switch 8 have any extra "outputs" for signaling?

Can an additonal Mini Panel be added as a redundant control in another location?

Sheldon

    

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Posted by richhotrain on Sunday, September 22, 2013 6:06 PM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL

richhotrain

Sheldon,

At MB Klein, the Switch 8 is $48 and the Mini Panel is $40.

If I add a Switch It for the wye, that is another $16.

Rich

Amazing that he solid state solution is not one penny less expensive than the simple analog one. Does the Switch 8 have any extra "outputs" for signaling?

Can an additonal Mini Panel be added as a redundant control in another location?

Sheldon

I think that it is more amazing that the simple analog solution costs as much as the solid state solution.

I cannot answer your two questions on the Switch 8 and the Mini Panel.  We need someone more knowledgeable than me to jump in here.

Rich

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Sunday, September 22, 2013 6:23 PM

richhotrain

ATLANTIC CENTRAL

richhotrain

Sheldon,

At MB Klein, the Switch 8 is $48 and the Mini Panel is $40.

If I add a Switch It for the wye, that is another $16.

Rich

Amazing that he solid state solution is not one penny less expensive than the simple analog one. Does the Switch 8 have any extra "outputs" for signaling?

Can an additonal Mini Panel be added as a redundant control in another location?

Sheldon

I think that it is more amazing that the simple analog solution costs as much as the solid state solution.

I cannot answer your two questions on the Switch 8 and the Mini Panel.  We need someone more knowledgeable than me to jump in here.

Rich

Rich, If the solid state solution does not cost less, or work better, or offer more features, then what is its advantage? Other than actually being more complex?

Also, if one relay in my approach quits working, highly unlikely actually, the repair cost is $5. If the Switch 8 or the Mini panel quits..........

Sheldon

 

    

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Posted by rrinker on Sunday, September 22, 2013 7:22 PM

 If you REALLY want to go there, you can probably do it for under $40 with a rotary switch and a bunch of cheap diodes, per the MR article referenced previously (there was a mistake in it, later corrected). I don;t think it was 5 years ago, more like 2, but then time seems to be flying lately.

 As for the mini panel, yes, you can add additional ones that all trigger the same macros, so you cna have controls in multiple locations.

 Alternative solid state solutions can do it with a $5 chip plus a four $2 chips for the drivers to the Tortoise, plus one pushbutton per route, and some supporting resistors and capacitors. The only thing likely to ever fail would be the driver chips, although running a Torotise motor is well below their capacity so a $2 fix if one blows. OK, if you don;t want mail order, it's one of the few chips Radio Shack still stocks and it's $2.49 there.

 Or with diodes and pushbuttons, and Rob Paisley's circuit: http://home.cogeco.ca/~rpaisley4/556Stall08.html

You'd need two circuits for $12 each to drive 8 Tortoises. A pack of 50 small signal diodes from Radio Shack for $3.49, and some pushbuttons.  Again the only thing TO blow are the 556 timers used as drivers, they too are $2.49 at Radio Shack. The most expensive piece like usual will be the actual pushbuttons. Oh, I just looked - at All Electronics the 556 is THIRTY FIVE CENTS. If so inclined, you could build Rob's circuit for less than $5 each. Less than the cost of 1 relay.

               --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 ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Monday, September 23, 2013 5:45 AM

Randy,

I have built that diode system with the rotary switch too, and yes it was about 5 years a ago or more. I built it for a friends layout, i works very well.

It takes a special power supply, but even that was cheap to build.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by richhotrain on Monday, September 23, 2013 5:57 AM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL

Randy,

I have built that diode system with the rotary switch too, and yes it was about 5 years a ago or more. I built it for a friends layout, i works very well.

It takes a special power supply, but even that was cheap to build.

Sheldon

Maybe cheap, but not easy, at least for an electronics neophyte such as me.

I will go the Switch-8 / Mini Panel route.

Rich

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Posted by mlehman on Monday, September 23, 2013 2:12 PM

To make the comparison more realistic, it's also worth considering the amount of time for installation. The Switch-8 is quick and simple. I'm sure the analog solution is really pretty simple, but I'd expect it to take more effort to build and install.

Mike Lehman

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Monday, September 23, 2013 6:56 PM

mlehman

To make the comparison more realistic, it's also worth considering the amount of time for installation. The Switch-8 is quick and simple. I'm sure the analog solution is really pretty simple, but I'd expect it to take more effort to build and install.

Does the Switch 8 and the mini panel need to be programed after it is installed? Wiring 10 switch motors is wiring 10 switch motors - makes no differece if I'm hooking them up to the switch 8 or my relays.

OK, I would build my own panel and wire it, and I would connect the relays to my panel and each other with some control wires - but once my hard wiring was done, I am done - no programing.

I suspect, that done by persons of equal skill and knowledge of each system, the total construction times are similar.

I build all my relay logic panels on the bench, making it fast and easy, leaving only the same sorts of field connections you would have with the switch 8 to be done on the layout.

Sheldon

 

    

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Posted by mlehman on Monday, September 23, 2013 9:08 PM

Sheldon,

Yeah, practice makes quick hands once you're up to speed on a build. I'm sure it wouldn't be too big a time difference, but some people's comfort level with building and testing a circuit is limited.

In the case of the Swicth-8, it's pretty plug-n-play. In my case, I had DPDTs to control one end of my staging, as it was stub-staging at first. Gained some real-estate and went double-ended, which is when I went to the Switch-8s to control things.

So hard to compare vs a totally new install, but roughly comparable to what Rich is likely looking at. For the end on DPDTs, I just cut the control wires and routed them to the appropriate inputs on the Switch-8. I had to run wires for the other end, but still quick and easy. It had another Switch-8. Each Switch-8 takes power and DCC control from a single circuit to your buss. Then it's a piece of cake with the NCE hammerhead controller to program it by stepping through a simple menu, repeating as necessary, to get the macros programmed.

I've not had much need to do so, but the NCE macro system also lets you quickly reconfigure the system in the event you want changes in it. Once you're hardwired, it's a bit more effort to do that.

Mike Lehman

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Posted by richhotrain on Tuesday, September 24, 2013 5:02 AM

While I appreciate all of the comments and suggestions, Mike is correct, at least in my case.

My comfort level with building and testing a circuit is, indeed, limiited.

Plug and play is definitely what I am after, and the Switch-8 / Mini Panel approach seems ideal.

Rich

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Posted by Motley on Tuesday, September 24, 2013 1:57 PM

Its not "plug and play" Rich, its "Plug and Pray". LOL

Michael


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Posted by jalajoie on Tuesday, September 24, 2013 2:04 PM

I have a question. Does the Switch-8 and Mini Panel only compatible with NCE or can it be used with other DCC system?

Jack W.

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Posted by mlehman on Tuesday, September 24, 2013 2:14 PM

Jack,

I think the Switch-8 will be NCE only, because it relies on the NCE command station to generate macros to drive it. I'm not absolutely sure that's the case.

The Mini-panel acts a bit like a throttle, so generates its own macros. I'm unsure on the compatilibility. It may work with other systems.

A couple of useful links:

https://sites.google.com/site/markgurries/home/nce-info/nce-mini-macro-panel

https://sites.google.com/site/markgurries/home/nce-info/nce-accessories/nce-accessory-decoders/nce-stall-motor-switch-it-switch-8

Mike Lehman

Urbana, IL

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