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Thread: Quick switch machine for Peco?

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    Default Quick switch machine for Peco?

    I have a kickback track with a spring switch that is too unreliable. I'd like to automate this, preferably controlled by optical sensors. But the throw has to be quick - less than a second to complete, so a Tortoise isn't going to do it. Does anyone know the best way to accomplish this? It either has to be powerful enough to overcome Peco's spring or I can remove the spring and it has to hold the rails in position after throwing.

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    What about the Peco switch machine with a CDU?

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    Thanks @Ender. In the past I tried the Peco switch machine. I followed instructions http://www.cucamongatrains.com/sites...structions.pdf and hooked it up to the aux (16vac) on my MRC Tech II transformer. It was not powerful enough to overcome Peco's "self locking tie bar". And removing the spring on the tie bar didn't do any good either; the points bounced back.

    If I use a capacitor then it can't be AC, right? Have you succeeded in getting it to work?

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    I see Peco offers the PL35 CDU and it says to hook it up to 16vac, so apparently I don't understand how they work.

    Looking at this combo:
    Peco PL-10E standard turnout motor, long pin. $10
    Peco PL-35 CDU $27
    Azatrax D2T-3W dual IR detector for double coil snap switches such as Peco. $39

    $76 total.

    Am I on the right track on this? Seems like a lot of $$ to auto-throw a switch. The setup is logically the same as one where you put sensors on both legs of a turnout to make sure the turnout is thrown correctly no matter which leg a train approaches from.

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    I'll second the Peco solenoids - they're fast, especially when combined with Ken Stapleton's 751 circuits. You'll have to find a way to automate though.
    http://www3.sympatico.ca/kstapleton3/751D.HTM


    At the club, we've also use a 9G servo driven by an Arduino on our reverse loop n-trak module. Using Opto sensors to detect that a train has entered the loop, it will sense again just before turnout and trigger the servo. Darn near as quick at the Peco solenoids.

    If you have Facebook, here's a short video of the servo'd switch in action: https://www.facebook.com/groups/wind...6822591034564/
    Peter

    Layout Depot (share your designs with others): www.LayoutDepot.com
    My Build Thread: www.nscale.net/forums/showthread.php?28081-Green-Valley-Railway

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    Quote Originally Posted by NtheBasement View Post
    I see Peco offers the PL35 CDU and it says to hook it up to 16vac, so apparently I don't understand how they work.

    Looking at this combo:
    Peco PL-10E standard turnout motor, long pin. $10
    Peco PL-35 CDU $27
    Azatrax D2T-3W dual IR detector for double coil snap switches such as Peco. $39

    $76 total.

    Am I on the right track on this? Seems like a lot of $$ to auto-throw a switch. The setup is logically the same as one where you put sensors on both legs of a turnout to make sure the turnout is thrown correctly no matter which leg a train approaches from.
    I'm not sure what to use as a detection circuit. I would guess there are several options. The CDU doesn't have to be Peco's. You can use another brand, build your own, or you might find one that's integrated with the detection circuit. And detection doesn't necessarily have to be optical. There are ways to detect based on resistance, like when a loco enters a section. But this probably gets a little more expensive as I think it would require a separate power section.

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    No locos. The turnout is on a kickback track which deserves a description. It's kind of a roller coaster for coal hoppers.

    A barney pushes individual coal hoppers up a ramp to a dumper (out of focus in foreground of photo), which tips the hopper over and dumps the coal. When the next hopper is pushed, it shoves the previous one off the dumper and onto a downramp. Gravity rolls it thru the turnout in question (center of photo), and up again on a kickback ramp. From there gravity rolls it back thru the turnout which routes it to a yard on the left.
    IMG_6815.jpg

    Currently the turnout is a Peco short lefty with the tie bar spring removed. Piano wire springs the tie bar to route the hoppers to the yard. The weight of the hoppers push the spring aside as they come down from the dumper. In theory. In practice pushing the point harder causes some of the cars to derail as they come down from the dumper. Pushing the point less fails to close the point all the way all the time, causing cars to derail as they roll back to the yard. Best I can do is 25% derails. The cars are Atlas 90 ton hoppers. I did not add weight (which should solve the issue) because it will reduce the number of cars that the engine can pull when they are loaded with coal.
    IMG_6811_cr.jpg

    I'm giving up on finagling the spring switch and going with automation. The spring switch is actually round 2 - previous the operator (me) had to manually throw the turnout. I had to fire the operator... too many derails.

    The Azatrax has two pairs of emitters and sensors. I will put one on the kickback ramp just past the points to throw the turnout to the yard. I will put the other past the frog toward the yard to throw the turnout back to the dumper for the next car.

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    Sounds neato!

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    I remember reading something about a 'fixed blade' turnout that may be what you need. The throwbar was removed from a turnout and both blades carefully soldered to the respective stockrails and a dremel cut flangeways through the point blades. I think a check rail was added just before the straight route blade so cars going back pick the straight route.
    In operation a car rolls down the ramp, entering the turnout from the curved track, rolling out and up the tail track ramp. gravity gets the car returning back into the turnout and through the straight route to the yard track, all done with no moving parts...
    Cheers,

    Russ

    CEO of Devil's Gate Mining Co.



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    Thanks @mosslake. I'm interested in seeing what such a switch looks like but came up empty on google; I'm probably using the wrong set of key words.

    At this point I have it working using the Peco switch machine and the Azatrax DT2T-3W. It is very reliable. Some details:

    I was able to cut back part of the switch machine so that I could attach it directly to the track without a chunk sticking up above the ballast. Still had to dig a pretty deep hole for it.
    IMG_6826.jpg
    Turns out the Azatrax is incompatible with a capacitor discharge unit because it does not have a separate power supply - when hooked up to the Peco CDU it just cycled on and off. Throwing the solenoid would cut the voltage too low for the Azatrax even if it got that far. Fortunately I have been saving wall warts and power supplies for years. I had one marked 4 amp 14vac that works just fine. It is from one of those "free" speaker systems that Dell and Gateway threw in with every desktop whether you needed it or not.

    Other than being CDU incompatible, the Azatrax unit impresses me with how well thought out it is. I place the optical sensors where I thought the car would move quickly because I was concerned that the solenoid circuit would remain closed as long as the sensor was triggered, thus burning out the solenoid with those four amps. However the unit takes care of this by closing the circuit for a fraction of a second and only does it once per sensor. And it is smart enough at startup to throw whichever triggers first. The sensors work by interrupt (car blocks the infra red) or reflect (infrared bounces off the car), your choice.

    I had to move one of the sensors because the Azatrax also has a delay before it will throw the turnout the other way. According to the instructions this avoids having it throw the turnout while train one is on top of it and train 2 approaches and triggers the other sensor, but it would also serve to avoid burning out the solenoid if both sensors trigger simultaneously and the unit seesaws from one to the other and back. They supply a resistor to reduce the delay to 1/2 second which I used.
    IMG_6830.jpg

    With this setup the car triggers the turnout as it is pushed out of the dumper, blocking the first sensor.
    IMG_6827.jpg

    It triggers the other while traveling up the kickback by reflecting off the car.
    IMG_6828.jpg
    There is a short delay before the turnout kerchunks to the yard. Then the car travels back down the kickback and crosses the sensor again which causes no action to be taken. Very nice.

    There is also a set of SPSTs that I am not using which throw according to which sensor was last hit. I do wonder which one is "on" at startup.

    I'm almost done restoring the ballast.
    IMG_6833.jpg

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