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Dunge Wood
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello

This is my first post after joining the forum, which is great by the way...

I've been trying to figure out how to set up control of points using DCC, being fairly new to actual layout building I read some of the posts on here and got well and truly confused. I just don't know what to buy...

I have a Lenz compact, which I bought a few years ago from Mackays, I wondered if someone could advise me what I can use
and what is required to operate at least fourteen points, ie: point motors, decoders and any other gubbins which may be required.

I have a mixture of points, Hornby and Peco, some newish some old but all work in dc. New ones can be purchased if required but
my low budget will get eaten up rather quickly.

Any help is greatly appreciated

Thanks

Paul

p.s. As with all things, I would like to do this with the least expense but do it right. Thanks
 

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Hi and welcome to the Forum.

QUOTE I read some of the posts on here and got well and truly confused. I just don't know what to buy...

That's not surprising. When it comes to controlling points there are just so many choices.

There are some basic decisions you can make which will help narrow things down a bit but first a general piece of advice:-

It is best to use a separate power supply for providing power to the points. This is because many of the solenoids used to control points are very current hungry and will have an adverse affect on power to the track if that's where they get their power from.

I would divide electrically powered point motors/drivers into four classes
  • Solenoids such as Hornby, Peco, Seep, Gaugemaster
  • Motor drive - Tortoise, Fulgurex, Conrad
  • RC servos
  • Memory wire

The last two are rather more esoteric, so we will drop them from consideration.

The choice of solenoid vs motor is largely based on whether or not you mind if your points change with a "bang" in an instant which is not very prototypical or whether you prefer them to change at a slower pace - in say a second or so.

Another important distinguishing feature between solenoid driven control and motor driven is the type of circuit required to control them. Pretty much all DCC accessory decoders can control solenoids without modification straight out of the box. Controlling motor driven units may require the addition of some components to the circuit, usually diodes or the purchase of a different accessory decoder entirely.

Assuming I have put you off motor driven control at this point
, we are left with Solenoids. The Peco brand is probably the most popular but it has a very high current requirement. This high current requirement can make operation a bit iffy with some accessory decoders. There is a thread a few years back about one member's experience with Peco solenoids and the Lenz LS150. Some recent posts have suggested that other solenoids - I think Gaugemaster was one mentioned - are not so power hungry.

One solution to the power problem with solenoids is to use a Capacitor Discharge Unit (CDU) which is local to the solenoid in question. The capacitor stores the current which the solenoid requires. This means the Accessory Decoder power supply does not need to. The CDU is a well established solution to the solenoid power problem and there are quite a few product offerings available.

Here are some reasons why using solenoids in a DCC environment cause people problems:
  • Peco is the dominant non "RTR" solution for motorising points but the solenoid was designed long before DCC became widespread.
  • Most accessory decoders come from overseas where point motors have quite different characteristics to the Peco solenoid.
Since a large number of people want to motorise their points using Peco solenoids, specialist companies have come up with solutions. One such is DCC Concepts "Master Switch" product.

At this point, I must confess that I use motors to control my points and have not yet connected them to my DCC controller. I am thus unable to advise any further on the practicalities of using solenoids to control your points.

I hope what I have been able to say has clarified matters a little.

David
 

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Just another modeller
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*** Hello Paul

This may sound a strange thing for a DCC specialist to say but are you really sure you want to change the points using DCC.

To do so needs three button pushes with a DCC controller that has a direct easy button interface, and the Lenz compact, which has a button plus "scrolling", will make it a less easy and to be honest... slightly frustrating process!

If the answer is "yes" I still want to use DCC - then use the Lenz LS150 which is easy to install and quite good value. It will cost you about GBP40 per six points.

The decision is of course yours and no matter which way you go I will be happy to help where I can with advice.... To be honest though, having used a lenz compact for this purpose as an experiment some time ago... I strongly suggest you consider using a conventional switching panel for point control leaving DCC for the trains only

Kind regards

Richard

QUOTE (paulbeta @ 8 Feb 2009, 20:37) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Hello

This is my first post after joining the forum, which is great by the way...

I've been trying to figure out how to set up control of points using DCC, being fairly new to actual layout building I read some of the posts on here and got well and truly confused. I just don't know what to buy...

I have a Lenz compact, which I bought a few years ago from Mackays, I wondered if someone could advise me what I can use
and what is required to operate at least fourteen points, ie: point motors, decoders and any other gubbins which may be required.

I have a mixture of points, Hornby and Peco, some newish some old but all work in dc. New ones can be purchased if required but
my low budget will get eaten up rather quickly.

Any help is greatly appreciated

Thanks

Paul

p.s. As with all things, I would like to do this with the least expense but do it right. Thanks
 

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Hi Paul,

Going back to Richard's comment I looked at the practicalities of using decoders for point operation and decided against it for 2 reasons.
1. It would have meant having to continually refer to a table of accessory numbers to be sure of operating the correct point.
2. It does, as Richard says, require 3 pushes of the DCC Function button to activate the point motor once identified.

In the end I decided it was all just too much hassle and I have used a traditional mimic type control panel with DPDT switches and LED lights to indicate point positions. See my photo album for pictures.

At the end of the day though it's your layout so only you know what you are/will be happy with.
 

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Dunge Wood
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52 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hi and thanks for the replies.

After considering a few things and how easy or not it may be to operate the points using my Compact I think maybe the standard
tried and tested panel method as mentioned by Richard will suit me better. I would have liked to do it using dcc but it sounds a bit
of a fiddle....

What do you suggest using, I'm going to price the solenoid and motor types.

I also intend to have two tracks for DC as I can't afford to equip all my locos with decoders so the again the panel operation of the point
motors seems suitable.

If you've any more pointers please let me know

Thanks

Paul
 

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Probably the only reason to use DCC control of your points is if you intend at some time in the future to have them controlled by a computer. This avoids having to build a hardware panel and opens up the potential for interlocked points/signals and even automatic driving of selected trains. I'm planning to embark on this soon but the software is either free and difficult to use or a bit easier but very costly (not to mention buying a PC), and in either case I suspect a lot of time is needed to get it working properly.

If you don't want this, I agree with other posters that DCC point control is a lot of cost to end up with something that is probably more difficult to do than the hardware equivalent.
 

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QUOTE (Richard Johnson @ 8 Feb 2009, 13:35) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>*** Hello Paul

This may sound a strange thing for a DCC specialist to say but are you really sure you want to change the points using DCC.

To do so needs three button pushes with a DCC controller that has a direct easy button interface,

Kind regards

Richard

Only 2 with bachmann dynamis! 1 if already switching points!
 

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QUOTE (Edwin @ 8 Feb 2009, 17:19) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Probably the only reason to use DCC control of your points is if you intend at some time in the future to have them controlled by a computer. .

Or like me, you dont want to be any where near a controll panel when you want to switch points. Using the Bachmann Dynamis I can controlll my points from upo to 5 meters away from the reciever, which is over kill on a 10 foot layout but it does mean i can operate points from ether end of the layout, or the middle for that with out having to return to a fixed controll panell.
 

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QUOTE (Piemanlarger @ 8 Feb 2009, 20:04) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Or like me, you dont want to be any where near a controll panel when you want to switch points. Using the Bachmann Dynamis I can controlll my points from upo to 5 meters away from the reciever, which is over kill on a 10 foot layout but it does mean i can operate points from ether end of the layout, or the middle for that with out having to return to a fixed controll panell.

That's true, but if you regularly operate particular points from a particular place you can always move their controls onto a local panel or have some form of duplicate control from both places.
 

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QUOTE (Piemanlarger @ 8 Feb 2009, 20:01) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Only 2 with bachmann dynamis! 1 if already switching points!

Same with Digitrax.

I would counsel caution using a Lenz Compact to control a forty point layout. Not enough power to run sufficient locos to justify the number of points you intend to use let alone power the points themselves.

You need something with more oomph IMHO.
 

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Paul Hamilton aka &quot;Lancashire Fusilier&quot;
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For further confusion potentially I like to use BOTH methods together!

There are a number of quality stationary decoders for point/turnout/signalling control that allow switched inputs from push buttons or other momentary sources aswell as supporting full DCC control. This enable later expansion and experimentation with computer control / assisted signalling interlocking etc as ell as the advent of clever DCC shuttle units, one of whch I have seen allows triggering of sensors that can be linked to point motors etc providing the motors are DCC controlled. This has endless possibilities when you really think about it.

BTW I use Digitrax DCC products and am mainly referring to them when providing an opinion.
 

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Just to chuck in my two cents worth, I operate almost all my points with my DCC system. ECoS, LS150 with Tillig and Tortoise motors and LDT S-dec-4 with PECO motors. The exception is a section where I am waiting on funds to finish it, so it will all be DCC controlled eventually.

My reasons are that I move around the layout a lot and need to operate my points from where ever I happen to be standing at the time so I use my Mobile Control for ECoS if I am away from the main controller. I'm not a fan of control panels.

As Paul has mentioned some systems, like mine, will allow my points to be automatically triggered by an s88. Which is another benefit but one which is dependant upon your choice of controller.
 

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QUOTE (Edwin @ 8 Feb 2009, 17:19) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Probably the only reason to use DCC control of your points is if you intend at some time in the future to have them controlled by a computer.
DCC is not the only way to control things by computer.
 

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I use Lenz controllers for my layout (set 100) and all points (64 at present) are controlled by LS150 decoders. The only reason I use DCC for points is because I had an old, spare computer so I was able to use that for the "signal box" instead of a control panel. TrainController 5.8 is the software I use on that. I just couldn't face wiring up that many points manually and building a fixed control panel. The big advantage of using a computer with a large layout is being able to easily create routes, so with one click of the mouse I can set routes into and out of the main station etc. I also get a visual display of which way the points are set without having to wire up LED indicators. But I would never have used DCC for point control without a computer - far too cumbersome IMHO.

It is however very useful to be able to change points from time-to-time by the hand-held LH100, especially when installing, testing etc. Recently I've been ballasting and painting so it's been useful to be able to watch the points change at close range when they are tested after such work - and from both above and below the baseboard.

The LS150 does allow you to set up push buttons so that you can change the points from these locally if desired, eg to shunt a yard or re-arrange the loco shed. However these changes are not picked up by the computer interface so I haven't resorted to using that facility.
 

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QUOTE (Gordon H @ 9 Feb 2009, 22:10) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>DCC is not the only way to control things by computer.

Indeed not, but it is by far the best supported by the industry and therefore the most likely route for someone who wishes to use computer control and doesn't want to design and make a lot of their own hardware.
 

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QUOTE (Edwin @ 9 Feb 2009, 22:52) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Indeed not, but it is by far the best supported by the industry and therefore the most likely route for someone who wishes to use computer control and doesn't want to design and make a lot of their own hardware.
That is not in dispute - it is the easy way out for most people. I was simply making the point that DCC is not a pre-requisite for computer control, as many people seem to think.
There are several designs out there for computer interfacing systems, so designing your own isn't necessary either. For people on limited budgets, self assembly can save an awful lot of money over commercial offerings. Convenience tends to cost.
 

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Paul Hamilton aka &quot;Lancashire Fusilier&quot;
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QUOTE (Gordon H @ 10 Feb 2009, 06:10) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>DCC is not the only way to control things by computer.

Well you have to expand on that sublime statement. Can't leave us all breathless with curiosity now can you?
While I am sure there are numerous one off type means to control via computer at least DCC provides for a ready to run commercially supported interface. I am always open to other ideas though so please do tell...
 

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Dunge Wood
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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Hi

Many interesting points being raised here.... I'm not so confused but can't decide what to do, I'm leaning towards a panel
one minute then thinking about a pc and dcc the next.....

I think I'll take a trip to the model shops in Derby and see what they advise, play dumb, really dumb and see which way
they go

Thanks everyone for your pointers

Cheers

Paul
 

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QUOTE (paulbeta @ 10 Feb 2009, 23:57) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Hi

Many interesting points being raised here.... I'm not so confused but can't decide what to do, I'm leaning towards a panel
one minute then thinking about a pc and dcc the next.....

I think I'll take a trip to the model shops in Derby and see what they advise, play dumb, really dumb and see which way
they go

Thanks everyone for your pointers

Cheers

Paul
Good idea Paul. Everyone has different preferences so take your time and see what suits you best.

Cheers

Neil
 
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