Friday, January 30, 2015

Add a terminal strip to a Tortoise turnout motor

In the past when installing these Tortoise turnout motors, I had soldered all 8 wires to the PC board edge connector on the Tortoise then ran those to a terminal strip for later connection to the controls.  This time I wanted to simplify things a little by having a terminal strip right on the turnout motor.

The PC board that sticks out of  the bottom of the Tortoise has 8 holes that correspond with the edge connectors that are on the other side.  After measuring the spacing between the holes at about 3.8mm I found a terminal strip I could mount directly to the turnout motor.

Kobiconn P/N P02EK381V8 is an 8 position PC board mounted terminal strip with a pin spacing of 3.81mm.  I ordered mine from Mouser Electronics.  Their catalog # for this item is 158-P02EK381V8-E and they were $2.33 each.

By straightening and then re-bending every other post on the terminal strip, the post can be made to align quite nicely with the holes on the Tortoise PC board.

This photo shows how the posts will look after all of them have been re-aligned as described above.  The posts that were re-bent are the ones with the blue arrows.

After doing just one or two, I was able to do this very quickly and get them to fit perfectly in the holes.  Once soldered they were solidly mounted to the PC board.

Here is the finished installation of the terminal strip with all 8 of the post soldered to the PC board.

I am always concerned about being able to access things on the layout.  This photo shows the orientation of the turnout motor the way one is done in my previous post.  The screw heads are pointed down and the wire holes are pointed out the end.

Here's another photo showing the orientation of where the wires will connect and also the terminal strip screws when the turnout motor is mounted vertically under the layout.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Customized turnout linkage

Over the years I've used many Tortoise turnout motors with some having served on 3 different layouts or modules. Most of these don't get installed in the conventional way, with the wire going up through the deck to the throw bar.  I often mount them upside down and use .030 diameter piano wire traveling through 1/8 inch square tube to carry the movement to turnout.  Examples of this can be seen in the recent post First trains run in staging yard.

On this most recent install on the entry end of the main staging yard I needed to mount the motor on it's side to keep clearance above and below.  I was having trouble transferring the motion correctly from the Tortoise wire to the wire connected to the throw bar.  I decided some sort of hinge was needed to connect the two.

The hinge I came up with consist of a pair of brass strips with small square brass tubing soldered along most of it's length.  The area with no tubing has a 4-40 screw and nut which creates the pivot point between the two.  The piano wires fit into the square tubes with the one from the turnout throw bar being bent at the point where it exits next to the nut.

Here is a view from underneath the layout so the placement of the L bracket and the angle that the Tortoise is attached to can bee seen.

Yesterday finished building another turnout and it seems like the best one yet.  It will be used to connect two more of the staging tracks and it's motor will be mounted in a similar way as this one.                                                                                                                  

Saturday, January 17, 2015

First two staging tracks completed

After finishing my latest Fast Tracks turnout I was able to connect two of the staging tracks at the entry end of the staging yard and run test trains through the full length.  The line was temporarily extended onto the surface that will support the helix with Kato Unitrack.

The Unitrak was connected to the Atlas track by making the adapter shown here.

The molded roadbed section was cut from part of a section of Unitrack then some Atlas ties were slipped onto the rails.

I am still learning about building turnouts.  While the Fast Tracks jig is very helpful in setting up the turnout, I have learned to check throughout the turnout with the NMRA track gauge and make any fine adjustments needed to bring it into spec.  The plan is to get lots of practice building the code 80 turnouts for the yard then having that experience when it gets to building the code 55 ones for the scenicked parts of the layout.

I purchased some larger ties that are .060 thick to match the Atlas ties and placed them in several spots between the standard Fast Tracks ties.  A wider .030 thick tie was used as the throw with the width to handle the wire hole without breaking.  I am also making the guard rails longer.

Several different trains have been pushed and pulled back and forth on both routes of this turnout many times today.  I think this turnout may be my bet one yet.  The next one will finish the pair of staging tracks shown now in this photo as cork.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Temporary layout

I've always tried to have a layout of some kind over the years even if it's just a test loop on a piece of plywood.  Shortly after I dismantled the old California Northwestern in December 2013, I re-used the plywood shelf from that layout to make a test track above my work bench.

I've always had some Kato Unitrack around for about the past 10 years for use in temporary displays or projects.  This is the first long term use I've done with it.  While it has generally has preformed well I am still reminded from time to time that it is still sectional track.   I am only using one power feeder and will sometimes notice a drop in the speed of a locomotive in some of the sections furthest from that feeder.

I recently purchased a new camera that has a panorama function and wanted to try it out.  On the left is a Digitrax Super Chief DCC system and on the right is their older Big Boy system along with a Tomix power pack.  I use all these to program and test locomotives.  At the top right edge of this photo can be seen some more Ikea cabinets.  These will be almost all the way around the layout room by the time all the layout bench work is done.

Another thing being tested here is that this is about the height the layout will be when it gets around to this part of the room and I wanted to see how the work bench area would work out with the layout right above it.  So far, no problem at all.  When the layout does get to a point where it will replace this temporary layout, I'm sure the materials from this will be recycled again into another project.