Today I went down to the shed and installed a new NCE Snap-it that I picked up at Austral Modelcraft on Thursday night. It was an easy job screwing it to the baseboard support underneath where the point motors that it was about to control were located. I found my layout bus wires that were running through that area of the layout and then spread the insulation on those wires and tapped off the track feeds to power the Snap-it. My next job was to bring the wires from the first point motor back to the Snap-it and then do the same for the second point motor. I was going to control a crossover from a single Snap-it. I attached the wires, and then realised that I had not put then in the correct places on the Snap-it. So that was rectified and the Snap-it device was given an address. I then tested it and you know, it fired in reverse. So I reversed the wires from the Snap-it and then test fired the points again. I had a problem! It worked to throw the two points to the normal position – i.e. straight through on the two parallel tracks. When I set it to reverse, one point threw and the other did not. It did not matter what I did, the point on track 1 in Acacia Ridge Yard would not throw to the cross over to the dual gauge track. Hmmm! What to do next? I decided to swap out the point motor for another one. That too, would not throw the point in the reverse position. So I needed a new Peco LH curve point. I did not have a spare one. I was thinking about heading over to the local Hobby Shop when I realised that I had a LH curve point in my Grafton Yard Loco area. Hmmm! Yes, I bit the dust and ripped that one out and replaced this one with the point in Acacia Ridge Yard track 1. So I reattached the point motor and gave it a test and yes it seemed to work. So the point for track 1 in Acacia Ridge Yard was placed back into the layout and then given a few more tests. It was working, but now the other point in its crossover pair - on the dual gauge track, was now not working 100% of the time, when I threw it back to normal position. However, a second push of the actuator button was ensuring that it threw back to the straight throw position and will prevent a train shunting in the Dual Gauge track from not side swiping something in Acacia Ridge track 1. I then replaced the previously faulty LH curve point back into the Grafton Loco area. All is now good. I am thinking that maybe I need to add some extra capacitance to the Snap-it to ensure that it has enough oomph to throw both points in both directions - all the time. All this testing was undertaken by using my Radio throttle. However, when I went over to my small control panel to throw this crossover back and forth, you guessed it, it threw in the opposite direction. So out with the soldering iron again, and I then swapped the two wires on the control panel for the two push buttons. So it again all good.
Now my issue with not enough oomph will require another trip to Jaycar next weekend. I did make a trip there last Thursday and picked up another half dozen 0.1uF capacitors to be created into 6 extra track snubbers that I was making. I had the 100 ohm 0.5 watt resistors sitting around at home. So on Thursday afternoon, I soldered these up and they are now ready to be unleashed onto layout when I work out where I want to place them.
My next major purchases that I will be saving up for will be an additional NCE Mini Panel and an extra NCE QSnap. The QSnap is to power the two remaining points in Fisherman Islands Yard and I might as yet added another small loop to the narrow gauge at this location - watch this space. The Mini Panel is to be used to accept the push buttons from the Fisherman Islands Northern end panel. I had planned on running wires from this panel to two other Mini Panels but that would leave them with no spare ports on them. I have finally made a decision that eventually when I get around to it (and it might be a few years off yet), I will add track detection to at least some of, and maybe all of my crossing loops. When I detect a train on any track in a crossing loop, it will trigger the input on an NCE Mini Panel and this will throw an accessory address via my Mini Panels, which will be then put a command out onto the track bus. This will then enable the North Coast Control, who will have an electronic control panel, and it will light up an LED displaying that the track is now occupied. That way he will know that the train has arrived at the crossing loop, and ensuring that the other train from the other direction, takes the opposite track at that location for a train cross to occur. So I need to ensure that I have some spare positions on my various Mini Panels located around the layout to facilitate this detection.
Again this is quite a few years off I expect, unless if I win Lotto.