Thursday, February 23, 2012


What's in the box?
A goodly portion of the turnouts on my layout will be thrown by Tortice switch machines - I'll use the contacts on these machines to power the frogs - but - what about all the hand-throws near the edges of the layout?  I could use the Caboose ground throws with the built in contacts.  I've installed these on our Free-mo modules and they mostly perform well, although they are a little fragile for my liking.  This gets a bit complicated on the layout as the throws are all mounted on the fascia on blogs that would be difficult to drill out and run wires for the ground throw contacts.

 The solution - Tam Valley's Hex Frog Juicer.  This small circuit board works like a charm and is about as simple to hook up as it gets.   The "Hex" means it's good for six frogs - you can also buy singles and doubles.  There is no real cost savings in buying the Hex board over six singles, but there is less wiring.   The Frog Juicer works sort of like an automatic reverser.  It senses a change in the polarity when the locomotive wheel sets cross the frog and adjusts accordingly.  It does this all faster than our DCC system can sense a short so there is no hesitation or cutting out at all.
Juicer #1 Installed
As to the wiring its a no brainer - there are two terminals for a feed from the DCC bus.  It doesn't matter which lead you hook to which terminal - I used 20 gauge wire as feeds but the instructions say you can go as low as 22 gauge.   The DCC terminal is the blue block on the bottom of the board.  The other blue terminal block on the upper left of the board has six lugs - one for each frog.  I used a Cat-5 cable to run a single wire to each frog.  That's it.  It took me less than two hours total, including drilling the holes, soldering the wires to the frogs, and making all the connections,...etc..

The LEDs on the board are indicators.  The one near the DCC terminal indicates DCC power, the rest alternate from Green to Red when the frogs change polarity.  There is also another LED in the center of the board that triggers when a frog has been "juiced".  The LEDs make it easy to be sure the board is doing it's job without pulling out a multimeter.

Jimmy's two EMD Model 40's are now happy little critters.

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