Automatic Reversing loops possible?

ClassiCut Nov 23, 2015

  1. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I am not familiar with DCC Specialties new Quad-Frog board, but their PSX-AR board has an output on it which can trigger moving a switch when the polarity reverses. A few years ago, I helped someone configure it to work with a Kato switch, would have to search for it. Cannot find the manual for your board to verify if that output is available on it (their site is down, right now). The real trick is making sure the switch doesn't get thrown while cars are still going through it.
     
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  2. bill pearce

    bill pearce TrainBoard Member

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    I know that many of you will not like my experience with this situation, and respond that it is technology deficient. I beg of you, don't list all the ways you think it won't work. If you've never tried it, keep your skepticism to yourself. I did it and it worked flawlessly. It never failed me. I gapped both ends of the loop right after/before the switch. The switch was operated manually, by throwing a small toggle switch on the facia. The loop track was protected by a MRC reversing module, which I believe was designed and intended for DC layouts. None of the high tech, and rather expensive solutions existed. I don't believe I spent more than about $15 for the module. It somehow wensed a short and quickly changed the polarity on the loop track.. All of this happened in a sealed unit, so don't ask me how it kneww. I can only guess it know by the same process that makes a thermos bottle work, but the polarity change was seamless. No loco ever even stuttered once.

    I know, it didn't have a hundred connections, two hundred electronic components, cost three hundred dollars or required four hours of programming, but it never failed to work.
     
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  3. bill pearce

    bill pearce TrainBoard Member

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    Sorry, I reviewed the OP and now realize it's not the reverser you are having trouble with it's the throwing the switch that puzzles you. Don't know an thing about that. Sorry
     
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  4. EsK

    EsK TrainBoard Member

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    Hey (B). Rick, thanks for coming to the rescue!
    I guess I didn’t provide enough details. Your post gives me enough of a framework to provide it now.

    It’s a Kato Unitrack layout, DCC with SPROG 3 controller, JMRI run system. I already have the reversing units in place & both the reversing loops work automatically absolutely fine, with all the isolator gaps etc in place.

    The reversing unit is from DCC Specialty, their Quad Frog AR which can be configured as 2 automated reversing loop controllers.
    The turnout controller is Digitrax DS64 stationary decoder. The turnout switching itself is done via Panel Pro software running on the laptop.

    After the train has entered the loop, the turnout needs to be thrown the other way before the train arrives back to it. My issue is that I wish this to happen without me lifting a finger!

    I guess that would be possible if I had used Kato #4’s instead of Kato #6 turnout. Both, #4 & #6, are well capable of mechanically receiving the train back in, whichever position they may be in but the #6 shorts because this turnout’s frog & points are power routed & on the way back in from the reversing loop I am driving over it the “wrong” way.

    I am told that #4 gives us the option of choosing whether to power route or not & that’s the difference between the #4 & #6.

    Coming back to the main topic, it’s all about not having to scramble to throw a switch on time, while I am busy operating the 2nd train! It’s only a 3’ x 7’ track layout.
    Cheers!
     
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  5. EsK

    EsK TrainBoard Member

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    I missed out giving the complete details.
    It’s a Kato Unitrack layout, DCC with SPROG 3 controller, JMRI run system on a Windows laptop using DecoderPro.
    The turnout controller is Digitrax DS64 stationary decoder. The turnout switching is done via PanelPro software running on the laptop.

    Even if I find that Quad-Frog board gives an output when the polarity reverses, your other concern is very real. If the polarity reverses just as the engine is entering the loop, it will indeed trigger moving the switch while the cars are still going through it.

    Any other solutions that comes to mind please? Would one of them be to try replacing the Kato #6's with Kato #4 turnouts? Anything else that could provide an input to the Digitrax DS64 to switch...?

    Thanks!
     
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  6. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Using a DS64 to activate the Kato switch makes the situation easier IF the board you are using has the same additional outputs of the DCC Specialities PSX-AR. The real trick is to make sure that the polarity and the switch are aligned correctly when you start up, or if you activate the switch from Panel Pro.

    Where are your isolation gaps(unijoiners)? Right on the switch, or up into the loop a section? If you have non-autoreversed track connected to the legs, you could even add block detection on them, aligning the switch to whichever block is occupied and actually ignoring the polarity of the reversing section.

    Oh, and a #4 would have the same issue. Even with an unpowered frog, you never want to rely on every car being able to push the points over on a switch thrown against you.
     
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  7. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

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    Now I have a better understanding.

    I defer to who I should of deferred to in the first place Rick Brozinsky.

    Enjoy your layout.
     
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  8. papahnash

    papahnash TrainBoard Member

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    I would like to pass along an experience I had with the PSX-AR and the DS-64 switch controller. In operation, the PSX-AR would intermittently not function currently and the loco would stop after creating a short. The only way to restart was to remove power from the PSX-AR to reset it. The PSX-AR uses a switch number as a programing function, I believe it to be #34. After a great deal of research and frustration I discovered the conflict between the turnout to the reverse loop was was a result of them being named the same so that every time the turnout was thrown it would change the PSX-AR. I renamed the turnouts on the DS-64 and the problem went away.
     
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  9. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

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    I hate it when you have to rename a switch to turnout.

    It's no wonder I say DCC is to Big Bear Dam, confusing and difficult to work with.
     
  10. NtheBasement

    NtheBasement TrainBoard Member

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    One solution has nothing to do with type of track or DCC - optical sensors that power the switch machine. An example is Azatrax D2T-2W; they have two models depending on what type of switch machine you need to run. Add one of these to each loop, with a sensor on each leg near the turnout. Wire each one to throw their turnout so it aligns with that leg. I couldn't get a spring switch to work reliably on my kickback track and ended up installing a solenoid switch and a D2T-3W. Works great. They have more complicated capbilities, this install is simple.
     
  11. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    This is a good solution, but it removes the switch from PanelPro control. And, embedding the sensors in Unitrack is not fun (ask me how I know).
    The Digitrax BD4 can feed a signal into the DS64 for controlling the Kato switch.
     
  12. NtheBasement

    NtheBasement TrainBoard Member

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    Got it. Didn't realize the OP was going to use PanelPro on such a simple layout.
     
  13. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Not the OP. @EsK resurrected a 4 yr old thread to ask a related question
     
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  14. EsK

    EsK TrainBoard Member

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    Hey folks, am overwhelmed by the level of support a new member is afforded in this forum!

    As @RBrodzinsky mentioned, I fancied this track plan to start my model railroading journey & am slowly exploring the various options available, deciding to go the DCC way. This is my first track plan and am using this to learn about the concepts.

    @RBrodzinsky has asked about the location of the isolation gaps. Am attaching the schematic showing the locations of all the insulated unijoiners, feeders & the 2 feeders powering the reversing loops (from the auto-reverser board). This experimental layout is operational (with 2 trains), am attaching a couple of pictures. Given that I have just stepped into this world only a couple of months ago, it’s only tracks so far!

    Per advice, I will go with the Digitrax BD4 since I am already using the DS64. Once I order it, would request some advice on how best it can be wired on my tracks. Would anything else be needed along with the BD4 for it to work? I did check the Digitrax website for the BD4 but didn’t quite understand how it’s to be wired. Also, the site mentions that it can be connected to the LocoNet. Hopefully it works without the LocoNet too.

    I have not used any boosters, it being a small track plan & SPROG 3 controller provides up to 2.5 A, has inbuilt short circuit protection & resets automatically once the short is removed.

    A shoutout to @BarstowRick, @papahnash & @NtheBasement for all the valuable inputs. I also learnt that one should not rely on every car being able to push the points over on a switch thrown against you!

    Yes, I have gone with PanelPro, auto-reversers, switching etc even with a very basic layout because I thought it would be a good way to experiment to get to learn as much as possible about the fascinating possibilities!

    Thanks all!
     

    Attached Files:

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  15. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

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    Way to go @EsK your going to be way out there and ahead of me when your finished. Go for it.
     
  16. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    @EsK , once you are ready, I suggest you start up a new thread, and the folks here on TrainBoard will be glad to provide assistance.
     
  17. EsK

    EsK TrainBoard Member

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    Got it, thank you!
     
  18. EsK

    EsK TrainBoard Member

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    Hehehehe...highly unlikely. I travel quite a bit and I am never going to get this "finished"....it will keep on going!
     
  19. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

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    I believe it's more then likely.
    As it should be.
    What a start.
    Hang in there.
     

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