Does anyone have experience with both Tortoise and Cobalt switch machines.
The Cobalt manual made me very interested, and as they are the same price
( per 12 ) from England , I wondered if anyone had first hand experience.
First of all, Richard Johnson of DCCConcepts is a friend, so I
may be biased.
I have one of his test Cobalts in my car to show a club member on
Saturday, who is interested in them.
This particular Cobalt has done 8,000+ cycles driven from a 20 Volt
power supply, another, in his office, running on 15 Volts had 11,800+
last week, at six cycles per minute. 1 cycle = throw & return.
It is smaller, quiet compared to a Tortoise, can be mounted upright
or on its side, gold plated contacts, no soldering and has a lifetime
warranty. How many turnouts on a layout would operate 16000 times?
My club has 80 of his original Masterswitches. One let the smoke
out as it was being installed, replaced immediately, the layout has
been operated 3 times a week for the last 5 years without any
So, what's a "Cobalt switch machine"? I've never heard of one. A Google
search produces NO results.
I assume it's some form of motorized switch machien something like a
Tortoise? Does it include power routing?
I've used lots of tortoise machines with good results. How can a Cobalt
be much quieter? Most of my tortoise machines are almost silent. Many of
my operators can't even hear them throw, and have to look at the switch
points to confirm the action (indicator lights can be fitted, but that's
an added complication).
What is the Smail ? - Google only refers to a computer
Richards website has a comprehensive 22 page manual for the Cobalt,
shows several installation methods so your question may be covered.
Unfortunately I do not have a layout, I run my trains at the club
but am starting to build components for when my new house is built and
the furniture etc. removed from the shed. So far one helix is ready
and a basic track plan, which is sure to be changed.
I am happy to answer direct emails, change oz to au in my email
address to reply.
schreef in bericht
Smail is a tortoise with built in DCC, I actually meant the Hare by
DCC-specialties a DCC decoder that fits on the tortoise without any wiring
While continuous reliability is interesting I'd be more interested to
know how long they last with intermittent use, ie do the contacts get
dirty, does the mechanism stick, etc. No one operates their turnouts
continuously. I have turnouts that unfortunately might get thrown
once every six months. I want the switch machine to work without
fail or require any fussing.
That is a good point that many don't think of when considering overall
Another detail about the Tortoise that many are unaware of is that the
electrical characteristics of the two sets of contacts are different.
Tortoise states a maximum current of 1 amp may be switched (4 amps may
be carried, so power-routing a frog works for up to 4 amps, since one
usually does not throw the switch while a locomotive is passing through
Both sets of contacts meet this spec, BUT the contacts on terminals
2-3-4 actually meet a higher spec than the 5-6-7 contacts because they
use wider traces on the circuit board. For that reason, the 2-3-4 contacts
are better to use for power routing and the 5-6-7 should be left to
position indicator lamps or a computer input.
Should a short occur when a locomotive passes over the switch, the traces
for the 2-3-4 contacts are less likely to get fried. It's not that they
can never be fried, just that they are less likely to be fried.
Now, I heard of this through someone who models in G scale, so the
current levels are higher to begin with, but he had a switch where the
5-6-7 contacts were used for power routing and after burning it out for
the third or fourth time, he decided to crack open a burnt out Tortise
and got to see the difference in trace size. Since rewiring the switch
in question, he has never had the problem again.
That said, I model in N scale and all my switches have a 24 watt
automotive bulb in line between the common terminal and the frog so that
a dead short limits the current to about 2 amps.