Mini Toggle Switch Quality

GNMT76 Feb 18, 2019

  1. GNMT76

    GNMT76 TrainBoard Member

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    About a month ago, I installed nine new toggle switches (Tawainese made) on my control panel for Tortoise control of Shinohara turnouts. Each is also wired to two LEDS, one for indicating mainline direction, the other for the divergent route. All the wiring is securely soldered to the poles of the switches and to the other related wiring.

    Recently - and after having operated flawlessly for several weeks - one switch began moving the turnout only for the mainline route and lighting up the respective LED. When toggled to the divergent route, nothing happens. No movement, no LED.

    For another switch - which I replaced after the first one didn't work at all - I have to jiiggle the toggle handle just a bit to get it to move the turnout to the mainline route and for its LED to light up. It works fine for the divergent route.

    I bought most of these switches from All Electronics, others from Megatone Electronics, an eBay store. On a previous layout I used Minatronics switches for three years or more and never had a problem.

    I'm hoping I don't have to remove them and re-install Minatronics switches, but will depending on the feedback I get from the collective brain trust out there.

    Update: Just before sending this, I decided to take another stab at that inoperative switch. When I flipped the toggle, the mainline LED lit up (the turnout was already pointing in that direction), but it still did not work for the divergent route. Until, that is, I pressed down vertically on the toggle handle and - voila! Turnout movement and a lighted LED. I've tried it several times now, and it's still going strong. But for how long?

    Are these switches, then, just of inferior quality, leading to the internal contact mechanism failing to make physical contact with the respective pole and, thus, the absence of electrical flow? How common - or uncommon - is this problem? A bad batch? Maybe. Likely not though. And are Minatronics simply that much better than the ones I am using?
     
  2. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    I'm reading your post with some grave concern. I sourced all of my mini toggle switches from Newark, but they're probably produced at the same overseas factories as others and with the same rating -- 6 Amp @ 120 VAC. My control panel is not yet in service. If these fail in use, I'll have a real headache.

    My panel uses capacitors to actuate solenoid-controlled Kato Unitrack turnouts. I'm betting we are both using non-momentary contact switches. (With capactive discharge, momentary contact switches are not used and with your Tortoise motors, I think their amp draw is so low that they are made to stall with current applied.)

    Long ago I had a number of larger Radio Shack toggle switches fail. I went to the store and asked for replacements and they refused. I later disassembled several and found that the main interior plastic piece that held the metal contacts had cracked on all of them.
     
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2019
  3. Tony Burzio

    Tony Burzio TrainBoard Supporter

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    Toggle switches aren’t for user input, they are generally for diagnostic service internally. Do you have any toggle switches anywhere else in your home? True, they are rated for X flips, but in reality they have to be moved with extreme care or they fail.
     
  4. Tony Burzio

    Tony Burzio TrainBoard Supporter

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    Rocker switches are reliable, but round ones are around $6 more or less.
     
  5. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    This website has some illustrations of the internals of our little buggers - [ https://www.engineersgarage.com/insight/how-toggle-switch-works ]. Kind of neat. Perhaps too, crappy build quality has much to do with failure rates.

    Maybe I should have sourced my stuff from global military surplus. ;)

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2019
  6. GNMT76

    GNMT76 TrainBoard Member

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    Hardcoaler,

    Very interestink! On both counts - toggle switch innards and the Russki gear. I'm a Russian-speaker, and that misspelling of "interesting" was intentional, mimicking how native Russians commonly pronounce "-ing." It's in their phonetic blood. And no, I won't translate the Russian terminology, as I don't wish to freak anyone out! ;)
     
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  7. Point353

    Point353 TrainBoard Member

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    I prefer to buy electronic components from a distributor such as Mouser or Digi-Key so that I can choose the brand of product.
     
  8. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    That's what I should have done. I sourced all of my mini-toggles from Newark, but didn't pay attention to the manufacturer. Ends up that they're supplied by "Multicomp", which is Newark's own value brand and they can come from anywhere. Oh well, too late to change now. Time will tell.
     
  9. Tony Burzio

    Tony Burzio TrainBoard Supporter

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    Fun: Making a hole in plexiglas for switches is difficult. If you make the hole with a sharp drill bit, the plastic will crack from stress. Either use a plastic bit or a very dull bit, which will melt the edge and relieve the stress.
     
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  10. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    Plexiglas is a neat idea and would be durable too. I bought a scrap sheet of black countertop laminate at a local shop and laminated it to 1/8" ply found at Jo-Ann's. I had to backdrill each hole because the panel thickness was a bit too much for the mini-toggles and the LED holders. If my toggles start to die, they're easily accessible, but it'd be an arduous replacement job. I'm using a capacitive discharge circuit for Kato Unitrack. Next up is a matching panel for block control.

    2019-02-11 001 DS&N Turnout Control Panel - for upload.jpg
    2019-02-11 002 DS&N Turnout Control Panel - for upload.jpg
     
  11. nscalestation

    nscalestation TrainBoard Supporter

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    Over the years for my self or my work I have purchased such switches from Allied, Newark, Mouser, Digi-Key, and others. I have found them all to be OK and that it is important to not let the lugs get too hot when soldering the wires to them. I use a pointed reverse tweezers as a heat sink when soldering the wires.

    Lately I have been buying from a place called LED-Switch which specializes in electronic items for model railroaders.
     
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  12. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    I used heat sinks to protect the semiconductors while soldering, but unfortunately didn't have anything small enough to protect the toggles. I'm using a 15w iron and tried my best to work quickly and not overheat things, so maybe I'll be okay. I once had a 45w iron and it cooked just about everything it touched. :mad:

    Thanks for the link to LED-Switch. Looks like a good spot!
     
  13. Tony Burzio

    Tony Burzio TrainBoard Supporter

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    Plexiglass is sold in control panel-ish sizes as window panes in the Home Depot door section. :)
     
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