I am getting to the point in my layout construction where I am
thinking seriously about turnout control. Since I am already
committed to DCC, I want to control the turnouts that way, too.
The most common stationary decoder seems to be the Digitrax DS54,
with 4 outputs for around $65.
I have also seen an Austrailian product that looks intriguing, except
for the price. It has 16 outputs for Atlas-type dual coil motors as
well as 16 indicator light outputs. But it was Aus$170 and the
exchange rate makes it even more.
Has anyone got any other suggestions? I will need to control 18
turnouts, although 6 are crossovers, reducing the number of controls
to 15. I do want indicator lights on the panel and mini-toggle
switches as well as the DCC control.
If you use low-current switch machines like tortoises, the DS54 will work
fine. There are add-ons you can buy which will boost the current available,
but that will bring up the cost significantly.
Can you provide a link to this? I'm always looking for good turnout
decoders, and I've never seen one with all those outputs! Do you mean 16
outputs total, or 16 PAIRS of outputs?
Check out team digital's stuff, teamdigital1.com. I swear by (and seldom
at) the SMD8s, and they have other neat stuff for making panels. They're a
pain in the rear to program, but you can do route controls with them too -
I recently did a yard with one, and it was a lot more fun than the old
diode method. *
pv+ firstname.lastname@example.org (Paul Vader) wrote in
I went back and looked and I was wrong. It only has outputs for 8
turnouts, not 16. The link is...
This thing looks almost ideal except for the price. Control of 8
dual-coil turnouts, control panel LED outputs for each, plus (I
forgot to mention this in the first post), layout signalling LED
outputs for each turnout. All of this in an enclosed package with
mating connectors provided.
For various reasons I have a combination of two DS54's and two Team Digital
SRC8's controlling Tortoises on my layout. Their characteristics are very
different, but I'd be hard pressed to say that either is *better* than the
other. It depends on your needs/wants.
I seem to recall that the SRC8's require external power, whereas with the
DS54's it's optional. However, by virtue of it's higher output voltage, the
DS54 moves the points quite a bit faster even without that optional external
power. (I do have a separate power district set up for the DS54's) That's
good for yards and spurs where switching is done. For mainline use, where the
points may be aligned well in advance, the slower SRC8 may be the choice.
I also seem to recall having more problems first trying to program the DS54's
than the SRC8's (you have to follow the Digitrax programming setup *exactly*),
so my experience seems to be different than Paul's in that regard. But that's
what makes life (and the hobby) interesting. :-)
Finally, the SRC8's were lower cost per output than the DS54's unless you
power two sets of points with one output, e.g. a crossover. The DS54 handles
this easily, the SRC8 less so if at all.
I haven't used any of the Team Digital SMD's that Paul mentions so I can't
comment on them. However, I've had good experiences with the SRC8's so I
wouldn't hesitate to recommend them. Same goes for the DS54's. Again, it
depends on your needs/wants.
P.S. Have you looked at JMRI? Among many other things, you can use it to
program your DS54's, and set up a dispatcher's panel that will work in
conjunction with your layout-mounted panel switches and indicators.
The SRC8 is a lot more than a turnout decoder - it also has lots of
route programming functionality. The SMD8 is much more simple, but it
has the built-in CD system, so your solenoid-based turnout motors
will work. Also, it gets power from the track, so you don't need a power
supply, and you don't have to seperately hook it to loconet.
I don't really have problems with it as such - Team digital provides a
handy tool for calculating all the CVs. There is supposed to be some sort
of interface to program them directly (presumably over loconet), but they
never make it clear HOW you're supposed to be able to do that. So, I just
use the tool to give me the right CVs and values, and then feed them in
from a handheld on my test track. If you're just setting a base address
it's dead simple. The routes, on the other hand, that gets annoying after
setting ten CVs or so. But it works! I set up one SMD8 to run a small yard
(8 routes, 8 turnouts, the maximum the SMD8 supports) in about a half hour,
and it's really fun to watch in action.
Yup. The DS54 is really overpriced for what you get.
JMRI is insanely cool. I keep meaning to look under the hood to see if I can
figure out how to make a SMD8 programmer with it. At the moment, it looks
like decoderpro can't do stationary decoders. I do all my loco programming
with JMRI, using a SPROG II attached to a test track (the track is on a
large shelf attached under my workbench with drawer rollers, so it's out of
the way when I'm doing something else). A couple weeks ago, I started
playing with PC control of the entire layout using a locobuffer - you can
do some really fun stuff with that. *
FYI, Digitrax has announced an upgrade to the DS54 called the DS64.
This supposedly does everything the DS54 does, except it's $20 cheaper and
is much easier to connect to (it uses integral terminal strips vs. phone
Also, if you are only going to use slow-motion machines, Digitrax also
offers the DS44 ($40). They also offer the DS52, which only does two switch
machines (but it's only $25).
Paul A. Cutler III
Weather Or No Go New Haven
pv+ email@example.com (Paul Vader) wrote in
Yeah, I realized that once the excitement wore off. Even if I could
be content with just controlling them from switches on panel, it's
still a big budget item. I'd need two of them at Aus$170 each. With
the exhange rate and shipping from down under, they would set me back
about four and a half big ones. Ouch!
The exchange rate brings it down to US$126.91 as of 26 Aug 2005 2251GMT
Stationary decoders are going to be the only way to control them with DCC.
If you have a computer to dedicate for turnout operation, you can set up a route
See if you can wake up Greg Procter. This sort of thing is right up his alley.
I only use manual turnouts at home, but I have done a great mant installs of
control turnouts at other's layouts. Stationary decoders are the only things I
of that you can control directly from the handheld.
You seem to like JMRI. :-) Yup, those folks have put together an amazing
suite of tools.
I'm sure that if you were to contribute an SMD8 programmer (or an SMD8/SRC8
programmer - hint, hint) it would be greatly appreciated. ISTR that the later
versions have DS54, PM4* and SE8c programmers, but you're right, GUI programmers
the Team Digital stuff would really be nice to have...
At the club we have the prototype of Todd's TC8 and about 7 others
on the HO and Noddy layouts with another 6 going on the Pommy layout
under construction. They are self checking -- on power up they
sequentially check each of the turnouts to match the switch position
in case it has been manually altered. We use all Peco and there is
adequate power from the built in CD unit to run them. The switches
do not need to be in a panel - that is optional - but can be fascia
mounted around the layout. The only difficulty we have is that we
want both panel and fascia control and the switches do not
consistently point in the same direction, just like a two way light
switch in your house - but the LED indicator lights are always
correct. I will have to check with Todd but as far as I remember,
only light gauge wire is needed for the point motors - we used the
existing heavier gauge wire when we installed them - but all switch
wire is light gauge, reducing cost. Price, as far as I remember, is
about $130 US including international postage.
in beautiful Golden Bay, Western Oz, South 32.25.42, East 115.45.44 GMT+8
VK6 YAB ICQ 6581610 to reply, change oz to au in address
Hey! I've been away for two weeks out of the last month! :-(
I made my own decoders following a circuit published in Elektor Electronics
They use long since deleted Motorola ICs. When I needed an additional decoder I
kit from Viessmann in Germany.
Since then I've used direct printerport output through a home made interface, so
layouts have something of a mismash of control systems until I get around to
something logical about the situation.
DCC decoders mounted on each baseboard would simplify all the cross baseboard
wiring, (my layout is built on transportable, separable baseboards) but I also
that daisy chained PC interfaces were simple and relatively cheap. (circa $50-