DCS Layout and Turnout Toggles

My layout has evolved into an all-DCS affair. By that I mean that I am using DCS for everything including turnouts via AIUs. I am not experienced with layout building. This one is my first, and at age 65.5, also my last.  I am finding out that there are very few if any "simple" questions even though many questions are DISGUISED as simple ones. I fear this question is one of those.

Simply put, do I want, for all the reasons that an experienced layout builder would know, a physical, locally-mounted turnout toggle switch on the fascia near the turnout? This toggle switch would be IN ADDITION to my ability to control all the AIU-connected turnouts using the DCS remote. 

Again, I am running no conventional engines. There is no conventional operation. That was a design choice. I do run TMCC locos through DCS. But no conventional operation. Am I going to regret not having local turnout control if I leave off the local turnout toggle switches?

Don

Don M.

Original Post
Don Merz 070317 posted:

My layout has evolved into an all-DCS affair. By that I mean that I am using DCS for everything including turnouts via AIUs. I am not experienced with layout building. This one is my first, and at age 65.5, also my last.  I am finding out that there are very few if any "simple" questions even though many questions are DISGUISED as simple ones. I fear this question is one of those.

Simply put, do I want, for all the reasons that an experienced layout builder would know, a physical, locally-mounted turnout toggle switch on the fascia near the turnout? This toggle switch would be IN ADDITION to my ability to control all the AIU-connected turnouts using the DCS remote. 

Again, I am running no conventional engines. There is no conventional operation. That was a design choice. I do run TMCC locos through DCS. But no conventional operation. Am I going to regret not having local turnout control if I leave off the local turnout toggle switches?

Don

I certainly don't consider myself an experienced layout builder (three small ones and the medium one I'm building now), but I think your question really comes down to personal preference.

Seems like some modelers prefer to run all their turnouts via command control without manual toggles. You didn't say how many turnouts you have, but operating them exclusively via command control eliminates all the extra wiring as well as the potential for electrical issues down the line and a lot of people like that idea.

If your preference is to have manual toggles in addition to command control it seems like you have two options - one to place the toggle near the turnout on the fascia as you suggested for local control or two, to have all the toggles located in a central location. My personal preference is, although it's more work, I like the idea of having a manual toggle in addition to the command control. I like the tactile sensation of being able to "throw" something by flipping a toggle. I also like the idea that it gives me a second option of how my turnouts are able to be utilized and it can also serve as a failsafe, back-up if something goes wrong with the command control or I get confused with the remote or app (that happens too frequently nowadays).

If I was to have toggle switches, my personal preference is to have them centrally mounted altogether on a board so that I can control them from one central location rather than have to move around the layout to throw them. I think it's more convenient and there's something about being able to flip a switch here and have something move 10' - 20' away, but others may disagree.

I don't think you'll regret not having them but, whatever you decide, it's your railroad and you get to choose how it's laid out.

As above, personal preference, but I find the layout mounted switch controllers near the switches to be very handy. I started out several years ago and was going to use an AIU for my switches. Ended up just installing the switch controllers on the layout and decided I liked them that way. AIU is coming eventually for routes and things, but still not yet installed on the layout. I find myself walking around while running trains so it works out good for me to have the local controls. I have DCS and Legacy only, no conventional.

Don,

If you have your sidings directly connected to AIU channels, that's not a very good thing to do.

AIU relays have a 4 amp limit. A load or a short-circuit that draws more than 4 amps and less than the 10 or so amps where a circuit breaker or fuse is intended as protection, can destroy an AIU relay.


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AS for the switch mounting. REMEMBER THIS If you have small children or even adults and they throw a switch that YOU DID NOT THROW watch for an accident! Also if you are using Atlas switches be aware that anyone pressing that button and holding just a tad too long CAN fry a switch motor. These are the biggest disadvantages to having a parallel hookup for controlling switches in MY opinion. As you did not state what switches you are using I am mentioning all the options for a problem only.

Now regarding your statement about being your last layout remember that best laid plans usually end up being different down the tracks. I agree with the statement as I am 65, but already have (and still am) working on my original layout with a  new addition that more than doubles it side. MY thought "I bit off more than I can chew, but it sure does taste good" and I can NOT even begin to thank enough people like Barry , Marty F, Gunrunner (?) and GGG and so many others for their help and encouragement to keep moving forward. Barry's books alone I have learned are the bibles of DCS. Bought hard copies and electronic copies, which I like because I can print out sections or the entire thing and mark the crap out of it. Mine are so thumb marked and have notes written all over. LOVE THEM!

If the tracks aren't clear it's because we are still building! And Loving EVERY MINUTE of it!

Thanks for all the thoughtful replies guys. Opinion seems split 50/50 down the middle. I am generally inclined to be lazy. If the AIU will do the job, and it seems like it will, then I prefer not to do the extra wiring for a toggle switch. Including staging, there will probably be 40+ turnouts when I am done laying track. I will be using a PTC of 2.5-4A on each switch machine. So the AIU relays will be correctly protected I think. Then we'll see how it goes. It may be that some turnouts will end up with toggles and some will not. 

Again, thanks. Seeing the variety of approaches gives me real insight into what is to come.

Don

 

Don M.

40 turnouts = (at least) 4 AIUs.  If minimizing wiring is an objective, several OGR threads discuss using longer TIU-AIU and AIU-AIU cables than the ones supplied.  So rather than a set of centralized AIUs next to the TIU, you can run longer versions of that snap-in "phone" cable to place an AIU closer to the cluster of turnouts it controls.  Shouldn't be hard to dig up the OGR threads including where to buy the cables.  

The other factor with long AIU cables is you may have to add "booster" power to the AIU power pin in the cable for proper operation.  Marty Fitzhenry has a diagram he posted somewhere of the pin connection needed.

I don't know exactly which turnout you have, but as everyone else is saying you don't need to protect each individual turnout with a fuse.  One, and only one, AIU turnout is "active" at any instant.  That is, an AIU fires one of its SW relay outputs at a time for exactly 0.5 seconds.  And hence 1 fuse can protect multiple turnouts.

You can get resettable fuses for about 15 cents a piece (free ship from Asia) on eBay.  The cost is not the issue.  It's the hassle of installing or wiring up many fuses when only 1 is needed.

3a pptc 15 cents each

The Amp rating of the fuse depends on which turnout you have.   As to whether you even need a fuse at all for AIU SW outputs is a separate discussion...but if 15 cents is make-or-break, you ought to find a different hobby.  

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