Point decoders

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Gilbert
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Joined: Sun Nov 29, 2015 1:05 pm

Point decoders

Postby Gilbert » Mon Dec 21, 2015 7:21 pm

Just about to make the leap to DCC. Looking at point decoders....the Lenz 150 6 way one looks good value for money. Are there any other one that are cheaper or better?. Getting rid of miles of wires under the layout appeals to me...!!!!!( 51 points...!!!!).

RFS
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Re: Point decoders

Postby RFS » Mon Dec 21, 2015 9:11 pm

Which point motors do you have? The LS150 is for solenoids and can just about do Peco PL-10s provided the motors are well maintained and not stiff. The low-voltage ones (PL-10W) are much better. Seep motors are not reliable enough. I once had half a dozen of these and they just drew too much current for the LS10s and were basically unusable.

You could try the DCC Concepts ADS8 but I've no experience of that, apart from the fact that if you use it for frog polarity switching it doesn't remember the setting of the points after a power outage (eg layout shut down or DCC short).

How are you planning to operate the points? 51 points using any DCC throttle can be a right faff, even assuming you can remember all 51 numbers. A computer would allow an online switchboard using free software such as JMRI, with points changed by a simple mouse click.

Another consideration is that converting your layout to DCC doesn't require the points to be DCC-controlled. A conventional system with a physical switchboard works just as well.
Robert Smith

Bigmet
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Re: Point decoders

Postby Bigmet » Mon Dec 21, 2015 10:56 pm

Unless it is vital for your operation - such as automated route control using software or full layout control from a mobile handset - I would advise against DCC control of points as an unnecessary and expensive waste. I have precisely ten sets of running line crossovers run by DCC, this is to enable main line route setting automation. All these points may be actuated manually from nearby panels as well; something the LS150 enables.

All the rest are either mechanically operated (small yards up to five points) or electrically operated (large yards). The advantage with the electrical operation is that a mimic panel showing the network, with stud and probe route selection makes route setting intuitive, and for next to no cash. The logic behind this is that when shunting a yard, you have to watch, which means standing nearby, so why not have a fixed control panel at the location as 'signal box'? (There's also the little matter of being a real tightwad, and not spending money where I don't have to!)

Suzie
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Joined: Tue Dec 17, 2013 11:46 pm

Re: Point decoders

Postby Suzie » Tue Dec 22, 2015 1:35 am

If you already have Peco PL10(E) or Seep solenoid motors you need to think carefully about which decoder to use - they draw more current (typically 4A) than is available from most decoders (usually suitable for up to 3A).

The LS150 is particularly one to avoid because it requires an AC power supply, so you cannot take advantage of a CDU. They are jolly expensive too.

If you have not yet bought your point motors think about using servos. They will typically offer the cheapest way to DCC your points and you get reliable slow motion operation in to the bargain, and don't have to splash out on big fat wire, heavy and expensive transformers and CDUs. Servos are cheaper than solenoids, and servo decoders are often cheaper than solenoid decoders.

Bigmet
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Re: Point decoders

Postby Bigmet » Tue Dec 22, 2015 8:26 am

Forgot to mention the slow motion motor aspect. Servos are the more recent means of achieving this, but I have no experience with these.

I have long used the slow motion motor types, tried various makers before settling for the Fulgurex type. This requires significant DIY skill to install in my opinion, but it does offer a large advantage in economy. The Tortoise type is a much easier install but needs depth under the layout, the fairly recently introduced Cobalt is more compact, but I have never tried this one as I have no need for more motors at present.

The superiority over the point whacker solenoid is significant. If starting new, you can go straight for sophistication.

RFS
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Re: Point decoders

Postby RFS » Tue Dec 22, 2015 9:43 am

I use DCC automation with RR&Co Traincontroller. In this environment absolute reliability is paramount. There are 70 motors and a 2-hour session with grandchildren present can result in several hundred automated turnout changes. Trailing point failure = DCC short (all turnouts are electrofrog), whilst facing point failure = wrong route taken with possibly severe consequences (eg collision).

After using Peco PL-10 + LS150 for while, I got fed up with their occasional but persistent failure (and the constant racket at busy times) and switched to Tortoises with NCE Switch-8 decoders. Reliability is as close to 100% as it's reasonably possible to achieve. Provided you have space under the baseboard, the advantage of these motors is that they are "plug-and-play", ie very easy to fit. As I heard someone else say having used Tortoises, "the quality endures long after the cost is forgotten".

Servos may well be cheaper but require a lot more work to install, especially if you have 70, and I'm not sure they could deliver the reliability required for a fully automated layout, especially due to the amount of user configuration needed compared to Tortoises. There have been many issues with Cobalts, especially the first series, and they've yet to demonstrate the reliability of Tortoises.
Robert Smith

Gilbert
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Joined: Sun Nov 29, 2015 1:05 pm

Re: Point decoders

Postby Gilbert » Tue Dec 22, 2015 4:21 pm

Thanks for your comments.....that's peed on the chips...I was hoping to do away with all the wiring...not getting any younger and accessing under baseboards a pain, hence the decoders....or so I thought....shame I can't use my existing CDU, didn't realise an AC feed was needed, thought my DC one was sufficient.....ho hum....further investigations perhaps.

Bigmet
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Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2007 2:19 pm

Re: Point decoders

Postby Bigmet » Tue Dec 22, 2015 5:39 pm

That's a very sound reason for DCC control of points that hasn't started to trouble me - yet! Simpler wiring under the boards is always going to be good news.

This also indicates where there is room for real innovation from a hobby supplier. A truly plug and play track system for DCC, the points having an integral servo and DCC decoder built in, the track with four cores and a connector system. That way you could have both track supply and independent control bus supply for the points; users wanting to add heavier gauge wire buses can do so, but the inbuilt conductor provision would be good enough for a typical domestic layout.

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Flashbang
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Re: Point decoders

Postby Flashbang » Tue Dec 22, 2015 6:56 pm

Hi
Have you considered the DCC Concepts AD-S8 or its smaller brother the AD-S2 decoder? Either the earlier versions if still available? Or the latest ones with an fx suffix.
No additional AC or DC is needed, as the power to recharge the on board CDUs (One CDU per output) is from the DCC system.
Additional use of push button or switch operation from a panel if wished and LED indications. Each output can operate two solenoid points simultaneously - cross over pair of points for example.
Very simple to set up too. :D
[Image << Click the Icon to go to my website
Broken? It was working correctly when I left it.

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PinkNosedPenguin
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Location: Wiltshire

Re: Point decoders

Postby PinkNosedPenguin » Tue Dec 22, 2015 7:37 pm

Gilbert wrote:Getting rid of miles of wires under the layout appeals to me...!!!!!( 51 points...!!!!).
If you already have that wiring installed for DC point control, there doesn't seem to be a huge advantage in ripping it all out :?:

I'd suggest you consider (as I have on my own layout) the advice from RFS
RFS wrote:Another consideration is that converting your layout to DCC doesn't require the points to be DCC-controlled. A conventional system with a physical switchboard works just as well.

Suzie
Posts: 339
Joined: Tue Dec 17, 2013 11:46 pm

Re: Point decoders

Postby Suzie » Tue Dec 22, 2015 9:31 pm

Gilbert wrote:Thanks for your comments.....that's peed on the chips...I was hoping to do away with all the wiring...not getting any younger and accessing under baseboards a pain, hence the decoders....or so I thought....shame I can't use my existing CDU, didn't realise an AC feed was needed, thought my DC one was sufficient.....ho hum....further investigations perhaps.


The Lenz LS150 that you mentioned is about the only points decoder that specifically requires AC - virtually all of the others can be powered from DC, and some can be powered via a CDU but not many, and some include a CDU, but not necessarily with much grunt. If you don't mind making up kits the DIY Decoder accessory decoders will work with your existing CDU, or can be used with local track powered CDUs

BananaRepublic
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Re: Point decoders

Postby BananaRepublic » Tue Dec 22, 2015 11:00 pm

Getting rid of miles of wire for the 51 points - is that already existing wire, or from your layout plans?

Gilbert
Posts: 17
Joined: Sun Nov 29, 2015 1:05 pm

Re: Point decoders

Postby Gilbert » Tue Dec 22, 2015 11:34 pm

Existing, along with 18 sections presently under cab control via rotary switches from 4 gaugemaster hand helds.
Am looking at the gaugemaster prodigy advance 2.

Bigmet
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Re: Point decoders

Postby Bigmet » Wed Dec 23, 2015 9:24 am

You have a serious layout there. Buy a serious system. Lenz.

RFS
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Location: Derbyshire, UK

Re: Point decoders

Postby RFS » Wed Dec 23, 2015 10:03 am

BananaRepublic wrote:Getting rid of miles of wire for the 51 points - is that already existing wire, or from your layout plans?


You can't get rid of the wires for 51 points - only shorten them. That's provided you are able to place your chosen accessory decoders close to were the points are. Coming in units supporting up to 8 turnouts that's not always easy, unless you're prepared to buy enough decoders to eliminate any long runs. And long runs are not recommended where solenoids are concerned.
Robert Smith


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