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Discussion Starter #1
Been working on putting a control panel and remote switches for the turnouts on our small layout. I seem to find nothing but issues. I've got a whopping four turnouts wired so far and only one works. I'm using Atlas twin coil machines and 751d toggles. I'm still getting burnouts, failures, LEDs that don't light, constant buzzing!! I know these machines are not the greatest, but I don't think my issues are the machines. It's somehow in the wiring or switches (751s). That's after spending several hours on it!

I don't mind this type of work when things actually work... But with this amount of issues I'm behind frustrated with it. Your would think this would be an easy layout to wire up, I've managed to make it difficult and it's driving me crazy!!!!

Just venting. I need to walk away from it a bit.

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what power supply for the 751D,
and
did you buy preassembled?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
It's an old DC power pack. I admit.. it's really old. It's the only non switching supply I have, and they aren't way to find and buy either.

I did not buy preassembled. I may eat that and buy more that are assembled though. But I can't see anything wrong with them.

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Just went back up there to turn it on and give it another look... Now nothing works. Some slight buzzing from one machine, but no lights and no response at all from flipping the toggle! Ugh

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Been working on putting a control panel and remote switches for the turnouts on our small layout. I seem to find nothing but issues. I've got a whopping four turnouts wired so far and only one works. I'm using Atlas twin coil machines and 751d toggles. I'm still getting burnouts, failures, LEDs that don't light, constant buzzing!! I know these machines are not the greatest, but I don't think my issues are the machines. It's somehow in the wiring or switches (751s). That's after spending several hours on it!

I don't mind this type of work when things actually work... But with this amount of issues I'm behind frustrated with it. Your would think this would be an easy layout to wire up, I've managed to make it difficult and it's driving me crazy!!!!

Just venting. I need to walk away from it a bit.

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vette-kid;

I sympathise because I'm having somewhat similar problems on my grandson's layout. Mine are mechanical, rather than electrical, but a problem is still a problem either way. Very frustrating! :mad:
You might try the old "divide and conquer" troubleshooting technique. Temporarily eliminate the 751s by hooking the black, center, wire from an Atlas switch machine to one of the "accessories" output terminals of your power pack. BRIEFLY (1 second) touch one of the other wires,(red or green) to the other accessories terminal. Does the turnout switch routes? If so, try doing the same touch test with the other color wire. Did the turnout switch to the other route? If this test works, there is something wrong with the 751s or with your control panel wiring. Another good technique is to install only one control, and test it to make sure it works, before moving on to the next.

Good Luck;

Traction Fan 🙂
 

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Discussion Starter #7
TF, that's the next step for sure. Test all machines and then add 751 one at a time. Most had been tested previously, but not all.

The only way there is a short is of one of the wires insulation got nicked. I'm using cat5 cable and that does happen sometimes when removing the outer sleeve.

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That's crazy. I am using two Atlas machines out of four powered turnouts and have never had any trouble in over two years. My last layout back in the 80's had a slew of Atlas turnout machines and never had a failure in over four years that the layout was up and running before moving.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I'm not sure it's the machines, but that's the easiest to test. So that will be next when I get a chance to get back to it.

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TF, that's the next step for sure. Test all machines and then add 751 one at a time. Most had been tested previously, but not all.

The only way there is a short is of one of the wires insulation got nicked. I'm using cat5 cable and that does happen sometimes when removing the outer sleeve.

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vette-kid;

Cat5 cable is good for data, but awfully small for switch machines! They draw a lot of current, especially when your using a CDU (which the 751D has in it) The high current is a very quick burst. your little layout will only have short wire runs, and the Atlas switch machines are somewhat smaller, and less "current hungry" than some others.
Still, I would recommend 18Ga. wire for switch machines. Even larger if you want to matrix several switch machines to fire at the same time.

regards;

Traction Fan
 

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Discussion Starter #11
vette-kid;

Cat5 cable is good for data, but awfully small for switch machines! They draw a lot of current, especially when your using a CDU (which the 751D has in it) The high current is a very quick burst. your little layout will only have short wire runs, and the Atlas switch machines are somewhat smaller, and less "current hungry" than some others.
Still, I would recommend 18Ga. wire for switch machines. Even larger if you want to matrix several switch machines to fire at the same time.

regards;

Traction Fan
Good points. Ken recommended three pair phone cable, which I believe is also 24awg. I happened to have a large spool of cat5, so that's why I used it. Each stand is, I believe, rated for 2.2a at 24v. I do have an extra pair of stands available, so in theory I could run three stands to handle 6.6a? I'm not sure those machines will draw over 2 amps though will they?

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I'm still getting burnouts, failures, LEDs that don't light, constant buzzing!!
The turnout machines are buzzing?

That means they have power.... solenoid switch machines should NOT EVER be given constant power, only momentary power when actually changing position.

Solenoid machines should not be controlled with a simple toggle switch; if this is a special type of switch designed to be used with solenoid switch machines, it sounds like the switch is defective/stuck and supplying power when it shouldnt.
 

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Good points. Ken recommended three pair phone cable, which I believe is also 24awg. I happened to have a large spool of cat5, so that's why I used it. Each stand is, I believe, rated for 2.2a at 24v. I do have an extra pair of stands available, so in theory I could run three stands to handle 6.6a? I'm not sure those machines will draw over 2 amps though will they?

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vette-kid;

I don't know how much current an Atlas switch machine draws. It would be difficult to measure, as they can't be energised for much more than a second, without overheating. Add a CDU into the circuit, and current measurement gets even more difficult, since the burst of high current coming from the capacitor is only microseconds in duration.

Many years ago I used some Shinohara twin-coil switch machines. I operated them with a home-built CDU built from a plan in an ancient Electronics Projects for Model Railroads book by Peter Thorne. I also used a diode matrix for "route control" where one button fires all the coils needed to select a desired track simultaneously. Now the coils in a Shinohara switch machine are a good deal bigger and more robust than those Atlas uses. They, and Peco, use much thicker wire to form their coils. When I tried to operate 4-5 machines at once, I had to go to a more powerful CDU, and some very large wire, in order to have all the machines move the points all the way to the selected route position. The instant current was high enough to quickly burn out the little red Radio Shack buttons I had used on my control panel. I had to replace them with heavy duty buttons.

Now your using Atlas machines, not antique Shinohara ones, and you're probably not trying to fire more than one at a time, but you are also using much smaller wire (I think I ended up doubling my 18 ga. wires in order for things to work.) So yes, doubling up wires is a possibility.
In my opinion, even the wire that comes attached to the Atlas switch machines is barely adequate to fire one switch machine, without a CDU in the picture, and without extending the very short wires provided by Atlas. Bigger wire works more reliably.

Telephone wire has been used on many layouts, including some large club layouts. This is often because someone has access to lots of telephone wire cheap, or free, not because it's good wire for model railroad wiring. (it's not)
My former N-scale club once had a visit from two members of an HO-scale club across town. The HO club's layout had been wired with a monumental rat's nest of telephone wire, and things were starting to fail left and right. Worse, troubleshooting was extremely difficult since the people who had wired the layout weren't around anymore, and they hadn't documented, or labeled, anything.
Their club was considering ripping out all the old phone wire, and replacing it with better wire, installed properly, and with proper labeling and documentation. They came to our club to see how we had wired our layout, and were very favorably impressed. This was long before DCC was in use, but our club's wiring somewhat resembled today's DCC wiring. We used 14 ga. bus wires, and frequent, smaller feeder wires, and kept everything as simple as possible.

Maximum current ratings for wire sizes are somewhat subjective. A wire can handle more AC current than DC, and the amount of voltage used is a big factor too. A given wire size may be rated at a much higher current capacity on 24 volts AC than on 12 volts DC for example.

Also, generally speaking, manufacturers & advertisers of many products tend to quote only the very maximum, or minimum, depending on the product, because it makes the product sound better, and therefore sell more. As an example, I saw a TV ad for some medication that "Works in as little as 30 min." In the fine print at the bottom of the screen it said 30 min. to Three Hours! Well 3 hours ain't 30 min, it's 180 min. Whenever anything has the words "As little as" or "as much as" they are sorta lying.
Wire may be an exception to this generalization, because the max current rating may not be coming from the manufacturer, but from some independent regulatory agency.

The minimum curve radius recommendations for model locomotives are a common model railroad example. To sell more locomotives, it's desirable, from the manufacturer's perspective, that their locomotive be able to "fit" as many model railroads as possible. Since most model railroads have tight radius curves, to fit into limited available spaces, it is common to advertise the very minimum radius the locomotive can possibly negotiate. That does not mean it will stay on that tight a curve reliably for the long haul, only that it can (just) make it through that tight a curve. (sometimes)

Regards;

Traction Fan 🙂
 

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I think the most aggravating issue you will find with using Cat5 is that the stuff is terribly brittle. I've used it in the past, and found that I can hook it up to a screw terminal once, but if I try to move the wire after that it frequently breaks. If you're not immediately stapling the wire down, you might want to consider something else. Stranded is really the best choice for anything that will move.

Regarding the amperage... You could always hook up each wire pair as a single connection, thus doubling the wire that the current can flow through.
 

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Buzzing? That means constant power feed, usually traceable to the push button. Let it buzz for a while, and it will eventually ignite. Seen it
 
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