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How To Wire For Switch Control

Club Member Allan asks readers:

“This hobby is quite new to me so I need some advice. I am a bit confused with turnouts and how to control them. Do I need seperate wiring to control the switches or can I control them with DCC? I’m ok with making scenery and woodworking joinery, but struggle to understand technical wiring issues. Please help.”

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8 Responses to How To Wire For Switch Control

  • Greg Wible says:

    I use DPDT switches to not only throw the switch, but also to change the appropriate led lights to the correct color. ie. red/green (2) or yellow/green (1). I drill holes (2) 1/16″ in the vertical slide; one for a piece of music wire about 1 1/4 ” to throw the switch, and one for a longer piece of wire to go from the control area to the switch. I mount them on their side with 6000 commercial glue which is readily available. Total cost per switch is about $2 US. I can show you how to wire them also! Greg

  • Newman Atkinson says:

    Allan,
    If you plan to use switch motors like tortoises, you will need to wire these to a double pole double throw switch. I am running a 9 volt Dc pair of wires for a buss feed for power to all the powered switches. If your yards or close sidings are easily accessable then I would use standard hand throws such as from caboose Hobbies. Small sidings were usually hand throws on the prototypes anyway. If they are in reach then this is an easy way to save money to concentrate on main line switches. Tortoise motors also have two extra circuits to work signals or to power the frog (if you have powerable frogs) You power the double pole double throw electric switch with that 9 volt dc power.then from there wire to the switch motor. Most layouts will usually mount their electric switch to the facha boardnear your switch. Digitrax and others have switch control boards that can control several switches run from your throttle. You still have to run the power for the switch motor anyway so go aead and wire that in. Later on get the add on’s to control the switches from your throttle they should wire right in and tie in to the system. I am planning to go thith throttled controlled DCC switch controlling later as you are. But go ahead and wire them up as I said and you can tie in the DCC system to them later. But if you are planning to control your switches at a main control panel then each switch has to have wires going all the way from the switch to the control panel and that is a lot of wire and a lot more to trouble shoot if you have a problem. When I get done with mine I plan to have all main track routing switches where I can throw the switch ahead of the train without having to stop. I am also doing a switch for manual control by using a house hold three-way switch and the plastic blue box.and these are the cheapest of all. a push-pull rod under the table and less than 2.00 each for a electric 3 way. The three way has the wire terminals to wire a switch frog or signals for it. These I am using on en-route seldom used switches such as an enroute siding. These are a little work but very cheap. Model railroader had this in it in a Jan or Feb magazine about 4 years ago I believe. I just took it to the three way switch for the extra circuit. The nice thing about the house hold switches is they are spring loaded each direction to hold the switch rail. (don’t get the dimmer switches there is no spring load.) So hope this gives you some ideas for your switches. from Newman Atkinson

  • Peter says:

    Most modern DCC systems can control accessories like switches, signals, lights and so on. Check on your brand website. I am getting into Marklin Digital and it will control just about everything. There are a number of Forums and Facebook pages that are very helpful too.

  • Jay says:

    After years of trying out twin-coil switch machines, then the tortoise machines, I have finally found (in my opinion) the best and most advanced method for controlling turnouts. I used Tam Valley Depot’s “Singlet” DCC controllers with model airplane servos. The actual cost per turnout for me was about $15 each. The Singlet (a 1.25″x1.25″ board), is totally programmable (precise amount of throw & Dcc address). They can be powered with DC or AC, I power them off of my DCC Buss. The servos are mounted under the table below each turnout (I mount them vertically) the instructions show you how to mount them horizontally. These units draw about .06 amps each, and the boards have two bi-color LED’s for turnout indication and programming status. You can also plug in a small relay for powering frogs. The board can be mounted on your control panel, with the LED’s visible showing turnout position. I tap onto one of the board’s LED’s and run 2 wires to a Bi-colored LED mounted near the turnout used as a “Dwarf” signal to indicate turnout position. Being DCC controlled, I can operate my turnouts using my NCE controller or using JMRI Panel Pro by Sourceforge.net (it is free software to control your layout).

    • Jay says:

      Here is another photo…

      • Jay says:

        and another photo…

      • Jay says:

        I should mention that the Red Push Button was added to the board (Via labeled contacts) so that you can locally control the turnout. Each press of the button throws the points of the turnout, and toggles the dwarf signal to show Reversed or Normal position. I can still control the turnout from my computer or my NCE DCC controller. The “Singlet” board is pretty much Plug & Play”, no soldering required, it has connectors for both servos, and power buss connections. As shown in the picture, I have hard-wired the bush button onto the circuit board using standard 45 degree header pins. To remove the assembly, I just unscrew the Hex nut holding the button in place. I also used standard “L” brackets to mount both the Buttons and the Servos. This was cheap, these brackets are available at most hardware stores. I then used double sided tape to mount the servos to the brackets, and then to the underside of the table.

  • Sherrie Scaffidi says:

    Allan,
    If you want to control the switch tracks/turnouts with DCC, you need a stationary decoder. I use a Digitrax DS 64 to control 4 switch machines, and DPDT toggle switches to control the other 22 switch machines. You can mix and match. The choice is yours.

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