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Author Topic: DCC Concepts CDU Solenoid drive for Electrofrog point  (Read 530 times)

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Offline Takamine

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DCC Concepts CDU Solenoid drive for Electrofrog point
« on: December 07, 2017, 05:02:59 PM »
Hi all

Have done a forum search and could not find any direct reference......

Has anyone used the DCC concepts CDU Solenoid Drive SX 8-Way with Power-Off Memory - possibly with a Zephyr Xtra 51. Looks like a very straight forward way to go? Runs on DCC power bus - minimal drain. CDU for each output x 8 per unit, auto frog polarity switch and led signalling output. Also has memory so resets all points to last known position to avoid short on re-powering up layout (old FX version which is much cheaper did not do this and people had issues - had to make sure all points were in last know position)

Would also appreciate any views on Peco vs Seep point motors. All points will be Peco code 55

My apologies to the purists out there but would prefer to avoid complicated wiring, microswitches etc.   :)

As a newbie starting from scratch seems a good (I hope) and uncomplicated way to go?

Many thanks
Chris
« Last Edit: December 07, 2017, 05:33:53 PM by Railwaygun, Reason: heading clarified »

Offline kirky

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Re: DCC Concepts CDU Solenoid drive for Electrofrog point
« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2017, 07:23:31 PM »
Hi
I get where you are coming from in wanting to avoid microswitches, but you'll probably end up using them.
Just speaking from experience, my first efforrts were with seep and peco, and neither are satisfactory in my opinion. The seep solenoid is awkward to position correctly so that you get the frog switching correctly. The peco one needs a massive woop of juice to get the solenoid and the switch to move, although easier to site than the seep. You'll also run into problems if you are leaving the points unmodified except the frog wire.
Hang on though...you arent going to use switches because the dcc concepts thing switches the frog polarity for you. I'd be interested to see how this works because in peco electrofrogs, you need to make the switch as the blades move, that is at mid point, unless you are modifying points. Its all a bit of a minefield, and people from the the world of OO think that their points are the same as ours - theyre not!
Hope this helps.

Cheers
Kirky
Northallerton is in the August 2018 edition of Raiway Modeller

and in real life at the Normanton and Pontefract exhibition. New College, Park Lane, Pontefract. 26/27th January 2019



Layout: Northallerton: http://www.ngaugeforum.co.uk/SMFN/index.php?topic=1671.msg16930#msg16930

www.northallertonngauge.co.uk

Cleveland Model Railway club website: www.clevelandmrc.club

Offline Vonzack

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Re: DCC Concepts CDU Solenoid drive for Electrofrog point
« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2017, 10:32:55 AM »
If you are going for solenoid motors, then I'd use the Seeps, you can get them without switches as well if you're polarity is coming from your accessory decoder. The Seeps will switch as positively as any other solenoid motor in N Gauge, but as Kirky points out, they can be tricky to setup because the point blades don't actually move that far in our scale.

To make them a little easier to setup, add some spacers between the baseboard and the point motor, I use 1/2" tap washers and that extra distance between the point and the motor means the actuator travels further and this makes setting them up easier if you are using them for polarity switching.

Cheers, Mark.

Offline Takamine

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Re: DCC Concepts CDU Solenoid drive for Electrofrog point
« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2017, 01:18:18 PM »
Hi all
Many thanks for the input

I am looking at using the solenoid drive decoder unit to do everything (CDU, polarity change etc.) and the solenoid motor will only switch points. Is set up as sensitive in this case as it only needs to move point blade? I understand setup and movement if polarity switching is being done as well but this is taken care of by the unit - hence the memory - it resets all points back to last known position so that polarity is correct. The previous model did not and this resulted in shorts on the track

Have read a bunch on point (elecrofrog) setup and polarity switching and while a bit costly, this route just seems very clean and simple?

Will be my first attempt an opportunity to use new tech to simplify things (I hope)

BR
Chris

Offline kirky

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Re: DCC Concepts CDU Solenoid drive for Electrofrog point
« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2017, 02:59:44 PM »
@Takamine
Hi Chris, Yes I understood... eventually what you were doing, ie not using switches but using the unit to switch polarity. Do you know if the dcc concepts unit allows you to synchronise the polarity change with the switching? My fear is that the polarity will change before the point blades move, and that will result in a short. What you need to happen is the polarity to change #just as# the blades move, that is when neither blade is touching a stock rail, and then you wont get a short. Dont forget, most modellers and customers of DCCconcepts are OO modellers and they arent using peco N gauge points!
Or you could modify them, but thats a whole different can of worms.

Just for info, on Northallrton, we use unmodied points (except for the frog wire) and we use frog juicers to make sure the frog has switched polarity, but no micro switches.
Cheers
Kirky
Northallerton is in the August 2018 edition of Raiway Modeller

and in real life at the Normanton and Pontefract exhibition. New College, Park Lane, Pontefract. 26/27th January 2019



Layout: Northallerton: http://www.ngaugeforum.co.uk/SMFN/index.php?topic=1671.msg16930#msg16930

www.northallertonngauge.co.uk

Cleveland Model Railway club website: www.clevelandmrc.club

Offline Takamine

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Re: DCC Concepts CDU Solenoid drive for Electrofrog point
« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2017, 09:36:11 AM »
Hi

An update and another question

I have been advised that the SX8 fires the CDU and the frog polarity relay at the same time so that answers the question on whether there is any configurable delay. I have been advised that if a fast solenoid is used there "should" be no issues. I have seen some posts where there are "intermittent" shorts with the older SF model (using N gauge) but understand that this may be due to point being manually switched and polarity being incorrect on start up - the new model has a memory and resets all points / corrects polarity on start up.

I have been looking at various posts on the internet and there seems to be a 50/50 opinion around elecrofrog being wired at all with some people saying that they have been using point blade contact to switch for years - (seems advocates for either are pretty adamant in their opinion  ;) )? They also do however qualify that they have set the point switching up very carefully (so assuming this can be done badly and would probably be a combination of installation of point and switch?)

So I will be looking through the forum for other options for DCC control of points. The SX8 still seems a good solution though? Just a thought but if people are having so may issues with point contact and are wiring electro frog, given the cost of frog juicers and the apparent difficulty of point motor contact adjustment, has anyone used shellac (or something similar) to insulate point blades from the rails and isolate the frog without any major modifications? Maybe this has been tried already but would be interested to find out? Shellac is used for coil winding insulation and is pretty hardy - points could be "serviced" with a periodic touch up?

I am keen to use the latest technology on the new layout but am not averse to solenoids with switches - tried and trusted - should it come to that. Will start layout with tails soldered to frogs in case and take it from there. Lot of work to be done before I get round to solenoids etc  :)

BR
Chris

Offline Vonzack

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Re: DCC Concepts CDU Solenoid drive for Electrofrog point
« Reply #6 on: December 11, 2017, 11:35:05 AM »
@Takamine, I think its time to stand back a little on this one, remember people mostly post on forums when they are having problems, so your view of how difficult these things are to setup may be being polarized by this.

I'm pretty sure the DCC Concepts device in combination with Seep motors will work perfectly fine for you out of the box. There are lots of other options out there, but it does seem to tick all the boxes.

To be utterly sure you don't have any issues we've discussed in this thread, then you need to look at modifying your points, so that the frog is isolated and the point blades are tied to the polarity of the nearest stock rail.  This is not for everyone and I'm sure somebody will be along shortly to advise you absolutely no changes are required, but if the blade and the stock rail are the same polarity, it doesn't matter when it physically moves or when the polarity of the frog is switched, you can't get a short or a micro short.

The pics in these blog entries may help as it:

Shows how to modify the Peco points - http://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/blog/979/entry-9559-heworth-sidings-update-31052012/
How we installed the Seep PM1s with tap washers - http://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/blog/979/entry-9833-heworth-sidings-fiddle-yard-update-rollup-entry-09072012/

This is also a fantastic resource of information - https://www.brian-lambert.co.uk/DCC.html#Short

Cheers, Mark.



Offline Vernon

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Re: DCC Concepts CDU Solenoid drive for Electrofrog point
« Reply #7 on: December 12, 2017, 11:01:37 PM »
Hi,

I used the older version with Peco point motors and apart from being "brain dead" they worked perfectly. To get over their lack of memory I created a macro to set all the points to match the switch start up polarity and selected that before turning off. As long as I remembered I never got any shorts (using electro frog code 55 points with the switch on the ADS8SFX changing the frog polarity). With the switches now remembering how they were set it should be even easier.

If you do go down this route one word of caution. The capacitors in the on board CDUs hold their charge for some time and unless they have also added some protection in the new version it is very easy to fry the circuit if you accidentally short the solenoid output to the switch input. On the plus side, killing one did not seem to effect the other 7.

Vernon

Offline Takamine

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Re: DCC Concepts CDU Solenoid drive for Electrofrog point
« Reply #8 on: December 13, 2017, 08:59:09 AM »
Many thanks for your input Vernon. The new version has a discharge button and LED indicator so they have improved the product considerably

BR
Chris

Offline Dizz

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Re: DCC Concepts CDU Solenoid drive for Electrofrog point
« Reply #9 on: December 17, 2017, 10:15:23 AM »
I went through an very frustrating period trying to get 3 x AD-S2SX working consistently with Peco and Gaugemaster solenoids until I bit the bullet and modified the points (shorting links between switch blade and adjacent rail plus frog isolating slots as described above). Yes it was a faff and quite an intricate task to avoid damaging the point, but after the first couple I got the knack and IMHO the advantages far outweigh the requirement for additional work. The units are 100% reliable, simple to program, the CDUs give a hefty thump of current for a positive change over everytime and I am now using the built-in switches to provide remote LED indication of the selected route.

Offline ptopo

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Re: DCC Concepts CDU Solenoid drive for Electrofrog point
« Reply #10 on: December 28, 2017, 10:42:38 AM »

Iíd also second the use of the DCC concepts CDU and would use with SEEP PM1
(The one with switching anyway).

The frog control is basically OK though it may pay to modify the points as others describe to avoid shorts (Links in Vonzack's note). As he predicted someone (me) will suggest this isnít necessary - in my case I paint the track anyway which very effectively insulates the side of the switch rail blades and the stock rail which has the bonus of preventing shorts due to incoherent switching, turing on with the points moved (e.g. manually) and due to wide wheeled stock (Iíve never had this problem though understand why it would be smart to avoid).

When I first painted points I used to avoid the switching & stock rail contacts as it gives a backup if the seep fails but these days I make sure the frog power is robust and ensure cover the stock/switch rail contact is well painted to avoid any kind of short. It looks nicer too.

SEEPS are very cheap and work well with regards to movement but as everyone says do need to be very carefully placed if they are being used to control the frog. About 10% of mine have needed a little correction after initial fitting so I tend to fix them with a slowish setting adhesive (no more nails or equivalent) and electrical tape for initial placement which allows enough movement to get them properly set. In theory you could then drill holes and and fix but Iíve never had one move in 8 years of use.

About 5% have given problems later with the small washer moving a little - this can be corrected (best by rotating the spring pressing it up onto the contacts) if the motor is readily accessible but is a big problem if not. In one case I had to replace the entire SEEP but given the cost this wasnít too painful but again, being able to get access is important.

My approach now is to use the CDU (8X or 2X) and have PM1 SEEPS. This is very inexpensive and gives two options for frog control and a free and simple micro switch for controlling other accessories (e.g. direct switching of a colour signal or feedback to a LED).

Good luck

PT

Ps sorry if this is incoherent, the ol' brain isnít working well at the mo.


Offline Takamine

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Re: DCC Concepts CDU Solenoid drive for Electrofrog point
« Reply #11 on: January 03, 2018, 03:37:53 PM »
Hi PT

Many thanks for the reply. Would appreciate any recommendation on track paint colours. After many days of pondering have decided to go the Cobalt IP route.

BR
Chris

 

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