Jump to content

Terry Tolliday

SEEP FROG POLARITY SWITCHING

Recommended Posts

Hello all,

I have recommenced railway modelling after a break of over 60 years(!). I have built a 12' x 10' DCC layout to track (Streamline code 100)  laid and wired level, including 20 (electrofrog) points and am satisfied with the engineering side.

My control panel switches the Seep points to my satisfaction, but, despite extensive efforts at readjustment, I cannot reach an acceptable level of reliability from the Seep point motors in powering up the frog.

I am now considering fitting Gaugemaster DCC80 frog juicers to  each of the points. I have two questions:

  • Are these frog juicers reliable?
  • Will they work with an NCE Power Cab starter set?

​I shall be grateful for specific responses to each of the above.

Many thanks in anticipation.

T.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello all,

I have recommenced railway modelling after a break of over 60 years(!). I have built a 12' x 10' DCC layout to track (Streamline code 100)  laid and wired level, including 20 (electrofrog) points and am satisfied with the engineering side.

My control panel switches the Seep points to my satisfaction, but, despite extensive efforts at readjustment, I cannot reach an acceptable level of reliability from the Seep point motors in powering up the frog.

I am now considering fitting Gaugemaster DCC80 frog juicers to  each of the points. I have two questions:

 

  • Are these frog juicers reliable?
  • Will they work with an NCE Power Cab starter set?
​I shall be grateful for specific responses to each of the above.

Many thanks in anticipation.

T.

Anybody got a reply to this? I also would like to know the answer re the frog juicers. Cheers, Dai

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

SEEP point motor frog switching uses contact pads on the pcb base, and a washer on the drive pin, which together form a very rudimentary switch. The design has inherent faults.

 

1) a solder-tinned pcb is one of the worst designs to incorporate in a switch. The tinned surface rapidly oxidises - gets dirty - leading to poor electrical contact.

2) the mounting of the SEEP on the baseboard (usually underneath, so not the easiest job anyway) has to be accurately aligned, if the switch contacts are to be lined up coorectly for the switching to actually work.

 

For these reasons it is best not to use the inbuilt switches. A proper electronic microswitch can be easily and cheaply obtained (try Ebay). Fitting this microswitch to be operated by the point motor in sync with the point itself is not difficult.

 

Personally, I have designed for my own use, a plasticard sub-base, onto which  the SEEP and the microswitch are mounted. My design is easily constructed, for a few pence, on the bench. To install it, the job is actually easier than trying to mount the SEEP on its own.

I have posted pictures of it on here before, but can't access them until the end of the week as I'm not at home. But there are other designs that have been posted here as well.

 

Stewart

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I’m surprised no one has responded, although the specification for specific responses may have come across as overbearing and put some off from providing an answer.

 

To set up Seeps to operate frog polarity is a pain. If they slip slightly when installing, they can work perfectly to switch a point but travel too far to operate the frog polarity switch.

 

I’ve used Gaugemaster DCC80s on my layout and they work great, although I would recommend testing them first as I received two failed units when fitting my layout. However the tam valley units seemed to work better and have a small led on the board so you have a visual indication of the frog polarity switching rather than hearing the relay clicking on the DCC80s.

 

As for the second question, if it works on my DCC set up which uses a slightly elderly ZTC511, it should work with any DCC setup, however I cannot be specific given I do not own an NCE powercab.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I’m surprised no one has responded, although the specification for specific responses may have come across as overbearing and put some off from providing an answer.

 

To set up Seeps to operate frog polarity is a pain. If they slip slightly when installing, they can work perfectly to switch a point but travel too far to operate the frog polarity switch.

 

I’ve used Gaugemaster DCC80s on my layout and they work great, although I would recommend testing them first as I received two failed units when fitting my layout. However the tam valley units seemed to work better and have a small led on the board so you have a visual indication of the frog polarity switching rather than hearing the relay clicking on the DCC80s.

 

As for the second question, if it works on my DCC set up which uses a slightly elderly ZTC511, it should work with any DCC setup, however I cannot be specific given I do not own an NCE powercab.

I would agree with all of the above. DCC is designed as a general standard, where different brands SHOULD work together seamlessly.

 

To my mind, the OP wanted a specific answer to his questions and nothing else, hence the lack of replies.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But if SEEPS are installed properly in a better way so that frog switching actually works, and installation is actually much simpler, then expensive add-ons such as frog juicers etc (of which technically I have little knowledge I admit), then surely that is a much easier and cheaper way forward?

 

Stewart

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But if SEEPS are installed properly in a better way so that frog switching actually works, and installation is actually much simpler, then expensive add-ons such as frog juicers etc (of which technically I have little knowledge I admit), then surely that is a much easier and cheaper way forward?

 

Stewart

Sadly after many successful projects  I have now had repeated problems with frog switching on SEEPs in recent years on at least two layouts and have found alternative solutions...

Chris

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I take that this thread relates to OO gauge. For us N-gaugers, these motors can be a problem as the point blades don't travel far enough for reliable contact to be made. I usually find that cleaning the blades with IPA applied with a pipe-cleaner solves the problem, but for those points where this isn't adequate, I wire in an additional Seep motor to purely switch the frog.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sadly after many successful projects  I have now had repeated problems with frog switching on SEEPs in recent years on at least two layouts and have found alternative solutions...

Chris

Me too.

After seeing how a SEEP worked, I was very sceptical about their reliability.

I think Stewart was being accurate earlier:

a solder-tinned pcb is one of the worst designs to incorporate in a switch. The tinned surface rapidly oxidises - gets dirty - leading to poor electrical contact.

On the ones I had, the connector washers were also loose. It would not matter how well they had been mounted. The fact they were underneath meant they needed to defy gravity in order to work.

 

2 of the 5 switches did not work from new. Having seen them, I had already bought some microswitches. Fitting these took 2 of us less than 30 minutes & they have behaved faultlessly for several years.

 

 

 

 

But if SEEPS are installed properly in a better way so that frog switching actually works, and installation is actually much simpler, then expensive add-ons such as frog juicers etc (of which technically I have little knowledge I admit), then surely that is a much easier and cheaper way forward?

Cheaper to do this with microswitches but easier to do it with frog juicers.

 

I had heard 'Frog Juicer' mentioned a lot, so I looked it up.

They detect for a short circuit at the frog. As soon as this is detected, the frog polarity is changed, but so quickly that neither the loco or command station has time to react. a 'hex frog juicer', as its name suggests, copes with 6 points at once.

So a hex frog juicer needs 8 wires for 6 points: 1 for each point & 2 for the track feed. That compares with 18 needed for switching 6 points with accessory switches.

Because they work on the layout side of the booster, there is no issue with system compatibility. The system is not aware the device is there.

 

Gaugemaster's DCC80 is a similar product, but only available as a single unit.

Edited by Pete the Elaner

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

I had heard 'Frog Juicer' mentioned a lot, so I looked it up.

They detect for a short circuit at the frog. As soon as this is detected, the frog polarity is changed, but so quickly that neither the loco or command station has time to react. a 'hex frog juicer', as its name suggests, copes with 6 points at once.

So a hex frog juicer needs 8 wires for 6 points: 1 for each point & 2 for the track feed. That compares with 18 needed for switching 6 points with accessory switches.

Because they work on the layout side of the booster, there is no issue with system compatibility. The system is not aware the device is there.

 

Gaugemaster's DCC80 is a similar product, but only available as a single unit.

 

The DCC80 is relay based so is relatively quite slow compared to a solid state device such as the Tam Valley units.

 

As for the OP - there are a couple of threads relating to using DCC80s and NCE Powercabs - I think if the DCC voltage is a bit on the low side it can cause erratic behaviour.

 

Any short  - however quick - has the potential to cause a spike on the DCC leading to problems - both short and long term.

Microswitches will not cause a spike.

 

BTW - this thread may be better in DCC questions as the OP is running a DCC layout.

Edited by newbryford

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Simple answer based on using frog juicers on two of my layouts is yes. A frog juicer is easy to fit, has no moving parts to fail or wear out and requires no adjustment. I have only used the Tam Valley Depot Hex juicer up to now but am about to install some Gaugemaster ones on a layout so I'll see how they go.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you don't like using frog juicers because they are correcting a DCC short, then an alternative is to use the Gaugemaster GM500D (see http://www.gaugemaster.com/item_details.asp?code=GM500D&r=1 ). This is just a standalone, relay-based polarity switch that is wired together with the point motor. It has two switches (ie DPDT) so if you have two points forming a crossover then you only need one GM500D. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What a lot of tosh written on here about SEEP switches being unreliable. My layout uses 38 and has been in use for about 25 years including many periods of lengthy inactivity. Installation is best made by using Evostick and moving the points manually to ensure the switch makes and breaks correctly. Once working correctly they will work satisfactorily for many years. WD40 is a good remedy if any odd contacts are dodgy after many months of inactivity, but usually several throws back and forth obtains the same results.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What a lot of tosh written on here about SEEP switches being unreliable. My layout uses 38 and has been in use for about 25 years including many periods of lengthy inactivity. Installation is best made by using Evostick and moving the points manually to ensure the switch makes and breaks correctly. Once working correctly they will work satisfactorily for many years. WD40 is a good remedy if any odd contacts are dodgy after many months of inactivity, but usually several throws back and forth obtains the same results.

Maybe the quality has varied & yours were from a good batch? The contact washers on mine were visibly loose.

 

Too many people find them bad to be making it up as 'tosh'.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you don't like using frog juicers because they are correcting a DCC short, then an alternative is to use the Gaugemaster GM500D (see http://www.gaugemaster.com/item_details.asp?code=GM500D&r=1 ). This is just a standalone, relay-based polarity switch that is wired together with the point motor. It has two switches (ie DPDT) so if you have two points forming a crossover then you only need one GM500D. 

 

What's the difference between the GM500D and the GM500?  The wiring diagram looks the same except that the GM500D one shows a DCC accessory decoder to fire the point motor instead of a toggle switch.  It's not obvious to me why the actual latching relay board would need to be different.  I thought Gaugemaster were one of the good guys: I can't believe they're just adding 25p for sticking a "D" on the end of the model number...

 

The GM500 is also available slightly cheaper in a three-pack (BPGM500).

Edited by ejstubbs

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What's the difference between the GM500D and the GM500?  The wiring diagram looks the same except that the GM500D one shows a DCC accessory decoder to fire the point motor instead of a toggle switch.  It's not obvious to me why the actual latching relay board would need to be different.  I thought Gaugemaster were one of the good guys: I can't believe they're just adding 25p for sticking a "D" on the end of the model number...

 

The GM500 is also available slightly cheaper in a three-pack (BPGM500).

 

The difference is explained here - http://www.gaugemaster.com/articles/product-spotlight/universal-relay-switch-reloaded.html

 

Another issue is that the GM500 is available in packs of 3 for £15.25 whereas the GM500D is only available singly at £6.  Might be worth talking to Gaugemaster about whether they do multi-buy deals and whether a GM500 will suit your accessory decoder. 

 

An alternative is to use slow-motion point motors. A Cobalt IP Digital combines motor, accessory switch and DCC decoder in a single unit. Likewise the Tortoise motor together with NCE Switch8 for DCC operation. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

Ah, I hadn't spotted the difference in the polarity of the common wire.  Doesn't this just mean that the diodes are the other way around on the PCB, though?  Still don't quite see how this justifies the higher price...

Edited by ejstubbs

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello, i use an nce powercab on my layout which is currently being built. I have a reverrsing loop which uses a frog juicer- operation is seamless and highly reliable (no glitches in dozens of automated polarity switches)

 

My points are frog switched by pm1 motors operated off a 16v supply via a cdu using 'old fashioned' wiring on a switch panel. No issues as yet apart from a very occasional short on a single point which i might rectify with some clear nail varnish.

 

I'm working in n gauge.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To add my two-penneth, I have 32 points, 4 of which are SEEP with the frog switching, the rest are Peco. 12 of the Peco point motors are powered via DCC80 frog juicers (4 are on double-slips), a further 6 via the ADS-8SX accessory decoders and the rest manually via the Peco PL-13 switch, or PL-15 micro-switches.

 

I use a Roco z21 controller and can operate the point motors via manual switches or I can use the tablet via the wi-fi and ADS-8SX's. 

 

So far, no issues with any of them.

 

The DCC80 do come in triple packs which offer a bit of a saving if buying in bulk.

 

Ian

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.