Servos and their installation (continued)

Some pictures

The first picture shows the turnout control by the upper crank arm. Admit that it's discreet and easily camouflable, even if it doesn’t reproduce the actual mechanism. The original holding spring is removed. Anyway, it jumped every time I cleaned the track!

Turnout control

Zoom on turnout control

Click the image to see the transmission more closely.

The second picture shows what is behind the scenes, with, left to right, the servo, the Peco switch embedded in the PCB, and the terminal block. The red and black wires belong to the DCC feeder; the yellow one is connected to the turnout frog; the blue one, connected to the yellow one and therefore to the frog, is the wire returning to the console, which allows to light the LED indicating the position of the turnout. The terminal block can be unplugged to allow an easy removal of the support in case of problem.

Servo in situation

To install the bracket with sufficient precision with respect to the pivot hole, I made an aluminum drilling and alignment gauge.

Mounting gauge

Experimentation with microswitches

This experiment is underway. The advantages of these microswitches are their reliability (they equip the mice buttons), their small size and low price (around 1.5 €), and also the relatively large switching current, from 3 to 5 A. Do not forget that short circuits may occur on a turnout. Their disadvantage is related to the very short pusher stroke: the setting is therefore delicate. Here is a short video (53 s) on the subject.
See video (2.6 MB)

Test model

The Peco switch has been removed (the useless terminal block remains). The microswitch is fixed on the table, which would not be practical in real situation.

Another purely electronic solution

A Switchpilot Extension module can be connected to the Switchpilot Servo for switching the turnout frogs. It connects directly to the previous one, and has four outputs (one per turnout) with dry contact dual inverter. The switching can be set either immediately upon the command receipt or with a delay to take account of the turnout travel, with CV 49 = 15 to indicate that all four servos are concerned. But the delay itself is not adjustable.

Switchpilot Extension

I bought such a module because I had difficulties with one (1 out of 7) of Peco switches, which switched randomly. This module works perfectly, but…

…but there is a big drawback: this module does not reflect the exact position of the turnout; it only indicates that the position change order has been received. If, for example, the servo connector is unplugged or has a wire cut, it will not move, and yet the turnout frog will be switched and the control panel LED will light up. So it's not a safe device. And this is not unique to the Switchpilot Extension, but it is also valid for the other solutions mentioned on page 2, namely the Smartfrog and the Frog Juicer.

With a switch operated directly by the servo, this type of incident could not occur. The only possible fault would be an incomplete point blade closure due to an obstacle such as a misplaced ballast grain, like in this video from a 1950 SNCF movie on safety. See video (3 MB).

But to avoid this, it would be necessary for the switch to be linked to the actual position of the points, which appears difficult on a 87th scale. Difficult, but maybe not impossible…

CV 49 indicates which servos are affected by
the delay, as follows:
The servo numbers are 0, 1, 2 and 3, which
corresponds to the bit numbers of the byte
to be written to the CV. In my case, this gives:
20 + 21 + 22 + 23 = 1 + 2 + 4 + 8 = 15.