Author Topic: Tortoise Wire & Accessories  (Read 2529 times)

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Ed Kapuscinski

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Tortoise Wire & Accessories
« on: August 22, 2016, 05:35:23 PM »
+1
I have a pair of tortoise questions:
  • What should I use to replace a missing throw-wire? You know, the one that reaches up through the layout and actually actuates the switch?
  • Are there good headblock connectors that are worth investing in? I'd much rather have screw terminals than solder ones, if those exist.

ryan_wilkerson

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Re: Tortoise Wire & Accessories
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2016, 07:49:49 PM »
+2
I've had to get new "piano wire" for a Tortoise that I needed to connect so it would work through 3" foam. I think I got a bit thicker wire but you'll want to be careful on the size so it doesn't apply too much pressure. I use Atlas #10 turnouts and if you put too much pressure, it'll push the rails out of place.

I'd be interested in reading the answers to the second part of your question.

SD452XR

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Re: Tortoise Wire & Accessories
« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2016, 08:51:37 PM »
+2
I use .032 piano wire for my tortoises account of my fastrack switches. Needed a wire that was a bit more stiff than what came with them.

C855B

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Re: Tortoise Wire & Accessories
« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2016, 09:05:49 PM »
+1
Discussion (and cussin') about Tortoise connectors: https://www.therailwire.net/forum/index.php?topic=37461
...mike

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Ed Kapuscinski

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Re: Tortoise Wire & Accessories
« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2016, 11:12:12 PM »
+1
Ugh, what a world of suck.



These seem promising, but are an expensive solution.
http://www.traintekllc.com/accu-lites-snaps-wiring-connector-for-tortoise-switch-machine/

These are a little cheaper, and might be an improvement over the other ones from the older thread:
http://www.traintekllc.com/tortconn2-edge-connector-for-tortoise-switch-machine/

peteski

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Re: Tortoise Wire & Accessories
« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2016, 11:49:50 PM »
+2
Ed, you will have to experiment what diameter wire will be stiff enough to throw the points and hold them tightly (but not too tightly)against the stock rail.  As others have mentioned, that depends on the thickness of the layout and the brand of switches.

Friend of mine replaced the stock Tortoise with with either 0.020" or 0.032" music wire to throw the Peco switches (with the throwbar snap-spring still installed). His layout is just the thickness of the cork roadbed and 1/4" plywood.


As far as edge connectors go, since there is no locking mechanism I would not trust any of those connectors.  My friend's solution was to solder short wire leads with crimp terminals on the end. Then they are connected to the under-the-layout wiring using barrier strips.  That way, if needed, the tortoise can be easily disconnected and serviced.  Here is a photo of that setup.  Mind you that in about 15 years I think he only to service one out of about 2 dozen of machines.  The layout is used for regular (once a week) operating sessions for 2/3 of the year.

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Ed Kapuscinski

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Re: Tortoise Wire & Accessories
« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2016, 09:51:52 AM »
+1
Cool. I think, given that I'm using Atlas C55, the .020 will suffice.

I think I'll be placing my order shortly. Thanks!

Given the horror stories with the edge connectors (great idea in theory, shitty in practice), I think I'll end up just going with soldering some solid wire on there, and bundling them off to terminal strips.

I like the idea of the ribbon wire too, that sounds like it'll make it nice and neat too. Although, I have a boat load of old Cat 5 cable that might end up giving its life for this endeavor. Thoughts on that?

jdcolombo

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Re: Tortoise Wire & Accessories
« Reply #7 on: August 23, 2016, 10:10:08 AM »
+2
Hi Ed.

Before you buy the .020, try .032 piano wire.  Why?  Because you can adjust the throw of the rod with the adjustable plate on the Tortoise to put LESS pressure on the points, but if you need MORE pressure than what you can get with the plate adjusted for maximum throw, you're hosed.  In theory, the .020 wire will work fine IF the Tortoise is placed perfectly with respect to the throwbar.  In practice, it is physically impossible to get the thing perfect.  That means that having a little extra "oomph" for the tortoise that's not quite square to the throwbar or whose center point is 1/16" off is a godsend.  Plus I've found that after ballasting, the points don't move quite as freely as they did when the switch was bare; some graphite powder helps, but having the stiffer wire is a big plus at this stage.

As for electrical connection, I do what Peteski does.  I solder 12" lead wires to the Tortoise on the bench, then connect the lead wires to a terminal block (I use the European-style terminal blocks, which you can get bulk from electronics suppliers for a decent price).  It makes completing the wiring later much easier, and if you have to troubleshoot, you undo the wires at the terminal, and you still have a way to make an electrical connection to the Tortoise at the bench or disconnected from the main wiring if you need that.  I use 22-gauge solid wire in a variety of colors: red and black for track power; green for the frog; yellow and blue for the motor power (I don't use the "extra" terminals on mine).

John C.

Iain

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Re: Tortoise Wire & Accessories
« Reply #8 on: August 23, 2016, 11:22:06 AM »
0
I wrote a little thing for arduino that controls servos based on a combination of inputs over i2c, pushbutton, or even console (yes, I wrote a serial console command line interface for my arduinos).  It needs some tweaking, but, you can get an Arduino Mega (my target) for $10, and the small servos for about $1 a piece; the Arduino Mega will drive seven of them if you provide sufficient power.  I haven't tried hooking them up to DCC, though that would be entirely doable with some extra electronics and a little more code.
Thanks much,
Mairi Dulaney, RHCE
Member, Free Software Foundation and Norfolk Southern Historical Society

http://jdulaney.com

skytop35

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Re: Tortoise Wire & Accessories
« Reply #9 on: August 23, 2016, 12:45:55 PM »
+1
Ditto what John Colombo said
Bill Denton

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peteski

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Re: Tortoise Wire & Accessories
« Reply #10 on: August 23, 2016, 01:34:55 PM »
0
Ed,
I agree with others - before you buy bunch of music wire experiment with different thicknesses and the position of the fulcrum to see which one is optimal., Then buy a larger quantity.

As far as wire leads go I prefer using stranded wire because I'm afraid that stiff solid wire can lift the PC board's copper pads when it is bent.  But I guess CAT 5 solid wire is flexible enough not to cause a problem.  Ribbon cable is a neat-looking idea but in reality it still has to be spread out at both ends and since each conductor has to be mounted in the terminal block separately having all the wires fused together makes it a hassle.  I think that using individual wires neatly tied together with couple of wire  ties looks neater than a ribbon cable.
--- Peteski de Snarkski

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Ed Kapuscinski

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Re: Tortoise Wire & Accessories
« Reply #11 on: August 23, 2016, 03:33:21 PM »
+1
Well, I don't think I'll need a @C855B sized amount of it, so I'll just grab some of each, and use the rest to poke out visitor eyes or something if they complain about anything with the layout.

Also, the Cat 5 cable sounds reasonable?

peteski

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Re: Tortoise Wire & Accessories
« Reply #12 on: August 23, 2016, 06:02:04 PM »
+2

Also, the Cat 5 cable sounds reasonable?

Perfectly fine. Actually if you look at the photo I posted earlier, the gray colored cables are CAT 5.  My friend runs stranded wire from the machine to the terminal block, then from the terminal block to the control it is all CAT 5.

These machines only use about 15mA when stalled and much less when in motion.  CAT 5 is plenty robust enough to handle that, even in extended length runs.
--- Peteski de Snarkski

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mmagliaro

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Re: Tortoise Wire & Accessories
« Reply #13 on: August 23, 2016, 06:09:07 PM »
+2
+1 on stranded wire.   

Solid wire only brings two things to your party:

- stress on the edge of the Tortoise board
- wires that break off.

jdcolombo

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Re: Tortoise Wire & Accessories
« Reply #14 on: August 23, 2016, 06:17:45 PM »
+2
Yeah, actually  if I had it to do over again, I'd use stranded wire instead of solid.  I didn't even think about the possibility of using Cat 5, but that would be perfect: already color-coded, plenty of wires and cheap in bulk.

John C.