Jon’s modules – thoughts on point control

Looking back at earlier posts, you will have detected a dislike for wiring.  Having looked at the design of staging for the main line, my thoughts turned to operation.  Loops at either end of a N-club modular set-up could need an operator at each end.  This assumes DC rather than DCC control.  And it could mean three operators to handle the layout – one at either end and one to operate the short line and interchange.  I was working on the line of local control for points, rather than a central control panel – that would, of course, need miles of wire to both ends of the layout to operate the staging loops.

Mulling this over, I had an idea…..

Perhaps I could use DCC for point control (ease of wiring), whilst keeping the running tracks DC (silly, but I need to fit in with the club modular system)?  This would enable me to have a traditional control panel, and operate remote points with a simple to wire power bus.

I put a question into RMweb – “Has anyone else taken this perhaps unusual route, and what system did you use?”  And within a couple of days, I had 20 (mainly) helpful replies.  I had a browse through the suggested approaches and the suggested web-sites. Here’s my proposed way forward:

  • One recommended approach was to make my own DCC setup using the Model Electronic Railway Group (MERG) designs.  This was interesting and I could cope with putting the bits together – but I have little enough modelling time as it is and would rather spend a little money than start building electronics.
  • Although an expensive option, I favour adding Cobalt decoders to my Cobalt point motors, as they allow local push button control of the point, and either DC or AC power input. Local control with two wires would be a bonus and easier than my current DPDT switches.
  • To operate the points and program the decoders, the Sprog II looks to do all I need at a very reasonable price, when connected to a PC, tablet or phone.
  • This approach would allow me to start with local control and DC supply, then move to a single control panel created on my PC with JMRI (Java Model Railroad Interface).
  • I have downloaded JMRI and can play with this whilst I wire the points.
  • And finally, my wife’s old netbook on Windows XP needs replacing before it helps run cyber-crime. I’ll wipe the disk of XP and install Linux, and it can have a new lease of life as a rather basic control pad.

I trust all this makes a degree of sense! I think it will work for me.  I’ve received 3 Cobalt decoders from trusty Hattons and will now wire up my next module to see if it works.


About snitchthebudgie

Secretary of the East Surrey N Gauge railway club
This entry was posted in Jon's layout ramblings, Layout design, N Club International and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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