Posted by: aj427 | May 13, 2013

Power & Control

trackwork-0931With all pointwork and linking trackwork finally down it was time to install point motors. I’d pondered the best method for a turnout operating mechanism for some time before coming up with my chosen solution. Many use the tried and tested sliding copper clad sleeper method but I didn’t really like the look of it, finding it rather clunky looking.

Instead I managed to get some thin 0.8mm copper clad from ebay. This is cut into strips about 32mm long and 3mm wide and three holes drilled, the spacing pre-determined by the track gauge and desired clearances (in the case of 00-SF a 20p piece is the desired gap). The outside hole positions are not too critical as there is some adjustment in the design. A loop of brass wire is then fed through the central hole and soldered into place. This is for the turnout motor actuator. Next brass wire is fed through the side hole and wound round the strip tightly twice before ending in a tail on the outside.


The loop of wire should now be secure but will still have some movement allowing adjustment and a small pivot action to (hopefully) protect the soldered joint with the blade. Once both side holes are done the copper clad is now gapped with a file on both sides before fitting to the turnout. The strip is long enough to fit under the stock rails and prevents the blades from riding up. The blades are then soldered to the tails and ready to go. Only time will tell if the design is successful but so far they are working well and are relatively unobtrusive.

CobaltsSo, onto point motors. I’d chosen DCC Concepts Cobalts for size, weight and some decent reviews. The board is not thick enough to allow them to be screw fixed so they were marked and fixed with double sided adhesive foam pads. These seem very secure but I think I may apply silicon to the edges as recommended. Wiring was time consuming but a doddle with the built-in polarity switches and I soon had all 5 turnouts working. The motors are quite noisy on my thin boards (I dread to think what Tortoises would have been like) but the action is nice and slow and smooth.

control panelNow I needed a control panel. This is something that ultimately I want to take my time on, get right and possibly add signals at a later date so this first attempt will be strictly temporary. The basic track plan was drawn with a marker onto a piece of ply off-cut, holes drilled and DCC Concepts switches and LEDs fitted into place. Again wiring was simple with the built-in LED circuits on the switches. Whilst I was impressed with the Cobalts I was less so with the switches. I found that on two of the switches the LED circuit didn’t work (one of them working for a while before giving up the ghost, the other just not working at all) and a third switch only fires the turnout motor when thrown/manipulated in a certain way. Another problem is that the green LEDs (my choice) are brighter than the sun! I will live with these for now but when I come to do the final control board something better (and red) may need to be found. Finally control and bus wiring from the panel to the baseboards was achieved by way of some multi-contact plugs/sockets. Time to test the trackwork…


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