Kato Unitrack N Scale Track Discussion

Hardcoaler Jul 6, 2017

  1. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    Did y'all modify both sides of your No. 4s or just one side to assure a smooth transition onto the diverging route?
     
  2. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I notch and file both sides
     
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  3. atsf_arizona

    atsf_arizona TrainBoard Supporter

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    Hi, Rick, all,

    Yes, that's right, the photos disappeared when a software changeover / ISP discontinuance happened, but the photos that still exist are here:

    http://www.pbase.com/atsf_arizona/kato_4_turnout_tuning&page=all

    And thanks to the Internet WayBack Machine, there is other stuff of mine related to this Unitrack #4 and Unitrack topic here:

    https://web.archive.org/web/2015100...cast.net/~j.sing/Peavine_Layout_Overview.html

    Hope that helps :) .
     
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  4. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    Regarding the DC power needed to move the solenoid in Unitrack turnouts, has anyone experienced sluggishness with a layout of say 25 to 30 turnouts?

    I ask because my 30+ year old layout uses three wire Rix Rax AC machines and I have to use a capacitive discharge unit to get them to work reliably. I'm hoping the Unitrack DC-powered turnouts are different in this regard and move easily with a modest DC supply, even in the case of the Unitrack crossover where one controller works four turnouts. I'm hoping to avoid the requirement of a high amp DC turnout power supply that invites an increased risk of burning out the solenoids. Thank you everyone.
     
  5. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    The Digitrax DS-64, of which one output can throw a double crossover, requires just 300ma as input power. Unless you are planning to throw every single switch at the same time, a 300 to 500 milliamperes wall wart is more than sufficient if you are using momentary on-off-on toggles.
     
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  6. Maletrain

    Maletrain TrainBoard Member

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    While we are on the subject of throwing Kato turnouts without burning-out their solenoids, I'll ask about what it takes to safely replace the huge OEM switches so that the control switch can be mounted in a track diagramed panel. The OEM switches work by having the contacts connect and disconnect as they move through a travel path controlled by springs that make the contacts travel a "snap" function, limiting the contact time my manual means. I have seen simple on-off-on momentary contact (i.e., spring-loaded to return to center-off position) switches used in panels for these turnouts, but I understand that they have a tendency to burn-out the solenoids, especially if used by visitors who are not used to making the contact time very short.

    I know that there are a variety of designs for home-brew capacitive discharge devices, and have the schematics for some of them. But, there are enough differences to make me wonder what is safe and what is not for these sensitive solenoids. And, I know that there are multiple capacitive discharge devices available commercially, some with decoders and some without.

    I am looking for the simplest, most economical option that is both reliable and safe for the solenoids. Recommendations?
     
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  7. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    I was looking at the Sumida Crossing website and read that "Kato warns against use of the #4 with long-wheelbase cars". I'll not be operating 86' intermodal cars on my pike, but will run common 80' passenger cars. Has anyone experienced trouble with longer cars on Unitrack No. 4s?
     
  8. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    No problems.
     
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  9. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    If you are asking about controlling Kato switches, see this on FHS' How to section: http://www.fiferhobby.com/how-to-make-kato-turnout-control-switches/ There is no need for any capacitive discharge device - that is inside the Kato switch. All you need is a momentary polarized DC pulse. A momentary-on toggle meets all the requirements, and I have never heard of anyone burning out the internal solenoid with one.

    If going a DCC decoder route, the NCE Switch-kat works very well, but is a bit expensive per turnout. On my home layout, I have DS-64s controlling the vast majority of my Kato switches (have a couple of DS52s in place for some "after plan" additions). These are all controlled via panel push-buttons (including indicator lights). The panels are controlled via TeamDigital SRC-16s
     
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  10. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    The thought occurred to me that I could probably buy non-momentary DPDT switches and install one momentary contact button on the input side of the DC power for all of the turnouts. An operator would set the DPDT switch(es), then press the momentary contact button once to complete the movements(s). This would somewhat replicate the Code Send button on a real CTC machine. As a dividend, the non-momentary DPDT switches would stay in position and offer a low-tech visual indication of turnout position.

    However, the downside would be that every solenoid on the railroad would receive current each time the momentary contact button was pressed and that might not promote system longevity.

    Eh, all-in-all, I'm now thinking the Mike Fifer approach is probably the best. (y)
     
  11. Maletrain

    Maletrain TrainBoard Member

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    I have seen Mike's approach and understand how it works. I think a problem might come in if somebody who is familiar with turnout slow motor machines stands there holding a switch closed while he looks at the wrong turnout, waiting for it to move.
     
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  12. Carolina Northern

    Carolina Northern TrainBoard Member

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    Bingo

    Exactly why I don't like the momentary switch type solution.

    The most reliable and frankly, easiest why to control a Kato turnout is with Ray Stillwell's BCD circuit. It has close to twenty years of proven reliability.

    All you need is a SPDT switch and a capacitor. If you want a lighted indicator to tell you which way it's currently set, add two resistors and a Bipolar LED. You cannot burn out a turnout motor with this - even if you try.

    Quick, cheap, reliable - what more can you ask?

    Don
     
  13. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    Oooh, hadn't thought of that Maletrain. Without some sort of electronic coil protection or use of the Kato control, I guess some operator counseling might be required .... along with a refundable cash deposit.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2017
  14. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks Don. Do you have a link with the schematic for this circuit? The few links I find are broken and anything related to Photobucket has been wiped out.
     
  15. Carolina Northern

    Carolina Northern TrainBoard Member

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    PM sent
     
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  16. Point353

    Point353 TrainBoard Member

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    Wasn't that the guy who would rather post 1,000 words about his circuit instead of 1 picture?
     
  17. Maletrain

    Maletrain TrainBoard Member

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    How about including me on that PM, which I assume has some sort of link or other info on "Ray Stillwell's BCD circuit"? Better yet, can you post it for all of us?
     
  18. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Ray has copyrighted his work, and requested that it not be publicly posted. TB will respect that
     
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  19. Maletrain

    Maletrain TrainBoard Member

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    Well, is he selling it, now, or just making the information unavailable? And, did he patent it? If not, then somebody else here can simply post the design in his/her own words so we can all know what this magic thing really is.

    Edit: An internet search turns up several versions of these BCD circuits. So, can we just discuss those without reference to Ray?

    It is basically as simple as putting a capacitor and SPDT switch in the circuit so that the capacitor either charges or discharges through the Kato turnout coil, depending on which way the switch is positioned. The capacitor limits the current to a brief duration, so the coil can't be burned-out.

    The down-sides of this are (1), there is no position indication for use on a panel other than the position of the SPDT switch, and (2) the Kato turnouts have a manual throw slider that could be used to manually change the turnout position without the SPDT switch being moved, so it would indicate the wrong position of the turnout when looking at the panel. Much of the rest of the discussion has to do with electrically overcoming those issues. But, the Kato manual throws have the same issues, so it just becomes a matter of how much enhancement you want to achieve and how much complexity you are willing to deal with to achieve it.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2017
  20. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Well, it seems Ray (George Raymond Stilwell Jr) passed away in May (he was 89). He was trying to get this published (the basics were in MMR in 2005), but who knows what ultimately occurred. He basically faded from most MRR stuff about 4-5 years ago. I don't know if it was ever patented (he was a 40yr IBM Electrical Engineer before retiring, I know Ray was well aware of what was and wasn't patentable and how to go about it).

    I cannot find my copy of his file (but then, been having problems finding a lot of things today including my CalTrain set - showed up about 2 hours after I first started looking). Don (@Carolina Northern ), do you have a copy? If so, I (as staff) will create a TB Resource for it.
     
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