DCC Point Controller?

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mahoganydog
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DCC Point Controller?

Postby mahoganydog » Sat Jul 01, 2017 12:09 pm

Hi all,

Currently trying to solve the points control problems that stalled work on my layout last year. What I need is a simple unit that translates an "analogue" signal from a switch to a DCC input then to a decoder which changes the point. I have circa 90 points to operate and individual wiring isn't an option, this is what I could not get to work last year because the layout is designed to be taken apart. I need to get the huge number of inter-board connections right down because even with brand new connectors, a CDU and recommended sized wire (16/0.2 and 24/0.2 for common return) many points especially where there was more than one motor just would not change properly.

Ideas anyone?

Jim
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Flashbang
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Re: DCC Point Controller?

Postby Flashbang » Sat Jul 01, 2017 1:19 pm

Hi
DCC operation plus manual panel operation too look at the DCC Concepts AD-S8sx or the smaller ADF-S2sx range of decoders.
8 has eight separate outputs while the 2 has of course two outputs. These have an individual CDU per output so no sharing of CDUs and can be powered form the DCC or a DC source. https://www.dccconcepts.com/product/cobalt-ip-dcc-decoder-sx-solenoid-motor-drive-8-way-output-2/ or https://www.dccconcepts.com/product/accessory-decoder-cdu-solenoid-drive-fx-2-way-power-off-memory/ Note these are only suitable for solenoid point motors.

If you hunt around there are still some of the older AD-S8fx or AD-S2fx decoders available and they are cheaper too. Example of the older 8 way decoder... http://www.digitrains.co.uk/ecommerce/accessory-decoders/solenoid-only/ads8fx-ads8fx-8-way-solenoid-decoder.aspx
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Ironduke
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Re: DCC Point Controller?

Postby Ironduke » Sat Jul 01, 2017 1:42 pm

The Sug-natrak DAC20 accessory decoder has digital inputs for switches or feedback. I use the DAC10 which is the model before. It provides 8 inputs and outputs. It requires an additional power supply for solenoids but it has an inbuilt CDU. If you switch more than one point in quick succession it waits until the CDU charges before changing the next point (about 2 seconds) but it can drive more than one Peco solenoid at a time from each output (but not Seeps). It supports programmable routes. On a price-per-output basis it's quite cost efficient.
It also has a Loconet interface if you happen to use a Digitrax controller; unlikely if you're in UK it seems but they are quite popular here in Aus.

However, if there's a new product from DCC concepts that does it better I'd go with that.
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Re: DCC Point Controller?

Postby mahoganydog » Sat Jul 01, 2017 1:53 pm

Hi Flashbang & Ironduke,

Thanks for those but neither reduces the wiring which currently congregates under one board totalling 124 connections to the control panel (also a stalled project) and that is far from the actual total, just what I managed before I was forced to give up because of the problems I was having. It does not include the link leads between boards either.

The control panel is a completely separate unit on wheels so the layout can be controlled from either side by moving it, the only way due to shortage of room both sides of the layout. I basically need to get the number of links between the boards and then to this to a minimum. The only way is a switch-dcc encoder-link cable-decoder-point motor(s). There isn't enough space for any kind of computer so that way of control is out.

There has to be something out there in DCC land that does this??!!??

Jim
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Roger (RJ)
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Re: DCC Point Controller?

Postby Roger (RJ) » Sat Jul 01, 2017 2:09 pm

Possibly the DCC concepts Cobalt Alpha System may do just what you want.
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Re: DCC Point Controller?

Postby mahoganydog » Sat Jul 01, 2017 3:23 pm

Roger (RJ) wrote:Possibly the DCC concepts Cobalt Alpha System may do just what you want.


And that is a Eureka moment followed by how much and fainting. Thanks Roger!

OK, so seriously this now has me thinking; somewhere I have four Lenz LS150 accessory decoders from a long dead project. Are these compatible with the Cobalt Alpha system? If they are the inner miser will be much happier!

Jim
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Re: DCC Point Controller?

Postby TimberSurf » Sat Jul 01, 2017 5:31 pm

Well here is a second eureka for you!
http://megapointscontrollers.com/megapo ... panel.html
Designed as a servo driver system with multiple 12 way cards connected by just 3 wires, it also has mimic panel input cards on the same 3 wires, however, this can then be fed to DCC and standard DCC decoders! (I think)
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Re: DCC Point Controller?

Postby mahoganydog » Sat Jul 01, 2017 6:01 pm

TimberSurf wrote:Well here is a second eureka for you!
http://megapointscontrollers.com/megapo ... panel.html
Designed as a servo driver system with multiple 12 way cards connected by just 3 wires, it also has mimic panel input cards on the same 3 wires, however, this can then be fed to DCC and standard DCC decoders! (I think)


Certainly interesting but it would mean significant replacement of point motors many of which are surface mounted. Definitely doable but the Cobalt Alpha slots right into the gap I built myself into. I can re-use all my switches, relay units (latching type, for LED indication operated by the "other" side of a DPDT point motor switch) and some of the wiring of which there is a vast amount.

Thanks though.

Jim
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RAFHAAA96
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Re: DCC Point Controller?

Postby RAFHAAA96 » Sun Jul 02, 2017 9:35 am

Mine works the other way round Jim.

I have several 2 pole x 6 way rotary switches to select the point and 2 x push buttons to fire straight or turn using a CDU as usual for grunt, but I also have a relay paralleled in circuit such that a DCC pulse from an accessory decoder into the relay coil pulls it in long enough to fire the CDU charge through the relay main contacts to the motor.

Thus the CDU side and the DCC side remain isolated from each other.

Disadvantages are you need a relay for each side of each solenoid so in your case maybe a step far too far. Mine are ordinary car headlight flasher relays (1" cube) so they do take up a bit of real estate in quantity.

Advantages are you could have the majority of the associated hardware on each of your boards and only the manual switching wires to cater for across board joints.

A modern accessory decoder with add on manual switching functionality would be my choice if starting again.

Edit for Eureka moment - have a look at Can-bus (C-bus) on the Merg site. The whole idea is to cut down on wiring.
Rob
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Flashbang
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Re: DCC Point Controller?

Postby Flashbang » Sun Jul 02, 2017 10:26 am

Hi
If you're OK with soldering components to a PCB then seriously consider joining MERG. http://www.merg.org.uk/
You have a choice of at least three systems using two wires and a power supply pair of wires to operate everything from panel switches through to the final point motor or other accessory. Costs a fraction of commercially made items and you have the pleasure of building them yourself. Loads of back up in the event of something not quite working as expected. MERG - CBUS or PTP Lite or their DCC Panel Encoder 51 and Accessory decoder 52 are three systems for starters.
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Bufferstop
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Re: DCC Point Controller?

Postby Bufferstop » Sun Jul 02, 2017 11:17 am

A friend of mine is a member of a MERG group in Leicestershire, he is one of their "elves" who assembly modules bought by other members. I don't know if this is practised in other MERG groups.
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Re: DCC Point Controller?

Postby mahoganydog » Sun Jul 02, 2017 2:08 pm

Thanks Flashbang and Bufferstop,

PCB soldering wouldn't bother me at all what does bother me with the MERG system is the complete lack of information about compatibility and it seems you need a degree in programming just to make it work. You also seem to need to make a unit to program it to start with!

It took me under five minutes to work out the Cobalt system and what I'd need to make it work. An hour of looking at the MERG site and I still hadn't a clue how it was supposed to go together let alone what I would need. I get the distinct feeling that the instructions would assume you know a lot already and fail to explain what they are getting at with an instruction.

Jim
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Flashbang
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Re: DCC Point Controller?

Postby Flashbang » Sun Jul 02, 2017 4:58 pm

Your very wrong re MERG kits or assembly. Instructions are written with simple step by step procedure. Many components are on a card strip with the items value and part number etc marked . As with many DCC decoder kit or ready made there is always some form of setting up needed. I haven't found MERG DCC kits to be much different than ready to use items.
No degree needed to assemble or set up either.

I'm unsure as a non member if you can view MERG TV channel? Where videos exist showing what's available and suggested for a particular system.

I've been a MERG member for around 10 or more years and never been phased by what to buy of how to assemble etc.

But I guess it's not for you. So really youre looking at ready made and then the need to pay more.
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mahoganydog
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Re: DCC Point Controller?

Postby mahoganydog » Sun Jul 02, 2017 5:28 pm

Hi Flashbang,

It is purely the impression their site gives me. I can understand them not wanting to "give away" instructions and so forth but it does not inspire confidence in prospective members when you have to join to find out further information on whether the product is compatible with a main manufacturer's.

If it is compatible and can "talk" to the four Lenz LS150's I have sat doing nothing then I'm interested, that's six less MERG units I have to buy or 3 ADS8FX if I go for the Cobalt system. That's a substantial saving.

Jim
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Re: DCC Point Controller?

Postby Gordon H » Mon Jul 03, 2017 1:07 pm

Bufferstop wrote:A friend of mine is a member of a MERG group in Leicestershire, he is one of their "elves" who assembly modules bought by other members. I don't know if this is practised in other MERG groups.

For clarification, the MERG kit 'elves' don't actually assemble modules, they collate all the bits and pieces and instructions to produce the kits that members then construct themselves.


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