Sunday, December 18, 2011


Having run all the wiring for the Lower Works East Panel I managed to hook up the two electrically controlled Tortice switch machines on the wye and all the associated switches and LEDs worked great - the route is denoted by the green LEDs on the panel.    The next step was firing up the primary mill staging yard.  This five track hidden staging yard has four turnouts with your basic Atlas electric throws.  I wanted to be able to press a single button on the panel, and all the turnouts align themselves to that track - sounds simple but is actually fairly complicated.  It is doable by a using a diode matrix, but I chose a different route and as I mentioned in an earlier post, I am using a NCE Mini Panel to accomplish the same task.  The wiring was simple in that I used five momentary single pole push buttons - attached a common ground to one lug on all of them and connected this to the ground bus on my main wiring board.   Then I ran a single wire from each of the remaining lugs back to the Mini Panel and attached to terminals 1 thru 5.   Basically, whenever a button is pushed it triggers the micro controller on the Mini Panel to execute whatever commands have been programed for that specific input.   The inputs are programed by plugging in a throttle directly to jack on the Mini-Panel for that purpose - you just follow the prompts and can program up to four lines of commands for each input.  For a five track staging yard, the maximum number of commands needed would be four anyway - one command for each of the four switch machines.   For a larger staging yard I can still use the Mini-Panel, but I'll just have to link to a second input once I get past track five - this will give me four more command lines but at the cost of two inputs (the Mini-Panel has 30 and there is no limit to the number of Mini-Panels you can use)  
Programming the Mini-Panel

I do need to stop for a second and explain how the turnouts receive the commands - the switch machines are connected to a Digitraxx DS-64.  This is a stationary decoder with four locations.  So the switch machines in this yard are designated DCC Accessories 1-4  . So when it comes to programming the Mini-Panel say for Track 4 of the yard - this would be Input #4.    The first command line would throw Accessory #1 Reverse, Line 2 - ACC #2 Normal, Line 3 - ACC #3 Normal, and Line 4 ACC #4 Reverse.   So now when I press the button for Track 4, all those switch machines are thrown to the correct alignment designated by the program.  There is a time delay between throwing each machine in the sequence so the process can take a few seconds.    The last thing I have to do for this panel is connect the indicator LEDs for the Yard - again not as simple as it looks.  I need to cascade a set of alternate contacts for the switch machines - I will have to use Atlas Snap Relays wired in parallel off the DS-64 and connect their contacts in a way that will only power one LED .  If I had used Tortice Machines I would have had their set of contacts built in and not have had to buy Snap Relays.
Mini-Panel top Left, DS-64 just under.  Only the beginning of much more wiring.

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