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T O P I C    R E V I E W
AVRR-PA Posted - 02/23/2013 : 8:39:16 PM
Hi, everyone --

In my Rail-Marine thread, I posted some pictures of a disassembled Tortoise. A couple of people suggested I repost them where more people mght see them.

The two internal SPST switches in this Tortoise were shorted. The motor still worked ok. I bought a replacement and was going to save this one for something like operating a crossing gate or operating a turnout where I didn't need to control frog polarity.

But Lynn told me that they are actually pretty simple machines and I should just open it up and see if I could fix it.

The only tricky part of opening it is the 5th screw which is hidden under the label:




Tortoise 5th screw

The other little hazard is how you have it oriented when you open it. You want the label down. If you open it with the label up, all the pieces parts fall out and go rolling across your bench. I got lucky.

Once I got it opened, I photographed it before I started removing parts, so I would have a fighting chance of getting it back together. Here's what it looks like before (and, hopefully, after):





This is the arm. The actuating rod attaches to it and it also has the contact wipers on it which switch current to the two outputs of the internal switches. I cleaned the contacts with 800 grit paper and wiped them down with alcohol.




Tortoise arm with contact wipers


Here's the PC board which doubles as a motor mount. The wipers on the arm apply voltage to the various outputs when the arm is moved by the stall motor.




Tortoise PC board before cleanup

I polished the surfaces and cleaned them with alcohol. After I reassembled it, I removed all the soldere and old wire with Radio Shack unsoldering braid.

Here's the stall motor, mounted on the PC board.




On first reassembly, I found I had one working internal switch - which was all I needed. But curiosity overcame me so I opened it up again and found a wee scrap of conductive material that was shorting out the other switch. After the second cleaning, everything worked.

So there you have it. A pretty bullet-proof little machine. (That doesn't mean I enjoy installing them.)

Don
15   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
David J Buchholz Posted - 05/10/2016 : 6:45:33 PM
KP. lets start from a simpler point on this business with the LED's.

Think for a moment about running one of your locomotives forward.

You can visually see what direction it's running, provided it's not stuck in a damn tunnel somewhere. You know that the polarity of your throttle has to be a certain direction that makes it go forward.

If you flip the polarity, with the button or switch on the throttle, it's going to go the other direction. You can see it go the other direction. But we can't see that the electricity is actually going through the wires in the opposite direction, but it is. It's the locomotive that gives us our reference of current direction.

The tortoise switch machine is in fact a motor, and will go either direction, just like the loco will, but we really don't have much of a way to prove it when the thing is buried in a tunnel for a holding track.

The LED provides a way of telling which way the electricity (current) is traveling in our circuits because they only work in one direction. If they aren't hooked up correctly (by polarity) the circuit is not completed, and the LED won't come on. Is this case the switch machine can't move either. It stays where it was.

If we only put one LED in the circuit it would allow the turnout motor to move only once, the first time that the polarity was correct so that the light works. But now when you flip the reverse switch, nothing happens, except the light goes out, because the electricity is blocked from going the other direction, as the LED allows only one direction of travel, the first direction. The motor can't go the other direction because it is being blocked by the one way nature of the LED.

So now we need a second LED placed at a point where it will allow the opposite polarity to pass through. So when the flip the reverse switch the first LED goes out, and the second light came on. It allowed the power to run the tortoise to run in the opposite direction.

By the way, they can't be on opposite sides of the motor, wired in opposite direction as then no power would ever get to the motor. It would be blocked from traveling either way by one or the other LEDs. Can't get there from here in either direction.

The pain in the butt part is if they were both the same color lights, it would be tough at a glance to really see which direction the turnout is thrown. So we use two colors, and two different bulbs.

The problem is that using two separate LEDs of different colors is also a pain in the butt to fiddle around with when there is a much easier way to resolve it. The simple answer is, how about a bulb that has two colors already in it! A Bipolar LED! (same as my sister -in-law, but she's not red and/or green when she gets lit up, if ya know what I mean)

The slick part is instead of having to wire up TWO LED's of TWO different colors, and futz around with all the soldering and separate wires, the bipolar LEDs already have two different colors wired together internally to work in opposite directions.RED and GREEN in one housng and only two wires to worry about.

One connection to the switch. one connection to the tortoise, and one wire from the opposite side of the tortoise back the the other side of the switch. We don't even have worry about adding "dropping resistors" like all those other LED circuits we've seen because the switch motor IS the dropping resistor.

Now that we have it all wired up, we go OH CRAP! the lights are coming on at the wrong time!IT"S GREEN WHEN IT SHOULD BE RED!

Easy fix. Just reverse the solder connections of the bipolar LED wires, and now it shows green for your intended path, and red when the switch is thrown.

Hope this helped you. It didn't help my sister-in-law, even though she is still lit up.

Dave


Bindlestiff Posted - 05/10/2016 : 3:19:50 PM
Like a lot of people, my eyes glaze over when looking at electronic circuits and talk of diodes, resistors, etc. Wow! I've just exhausted my electronics vocabulary.

However the idea of feeding power to the tortoise through a pair of led's is simplicity itself because the motor of the tortoise functions as a dropping resistor. (just can't get away from some jargon). What it has allowed me to do is create control panels that at a glance let me know if the turnouts through a given location on my layout are properly aligned for the chosen route.

If you look at the photo above you'll see that the train's route crosses from the front track over to the back to go through the return loop.

While the layout was designed to operate point to point from staging yard to staging yard, so far all I really do is run trains in circles. Fortunately I am easily amused.
hon3_rr Posted - 05/07/2016 : 11:31:31 AM
Well, while I really do appreciate the thread, there are some of us who are totally clueless as to what the conversation is about. I know that it's got something to do with electricity and that is as much as I understand. I have spent probably close to a hour trying to comprehend what is being discussed, but in all seriousness, all I really know is that it's electrical. Not trying to be obtous, just being honest so that some of the contributors to this thread might be a bit more simplistic in some of their postings for us Dumb-dumb's who just aren't familiar with electronic elements. And this is coming from one with 25+ years of middle/sr mgt in high-tech hardware/software.
desertdrover Posted - 05/07/2016 : 10:48:59 AM
What he has there is a wiring for panel LEDs in series with the Tortoise switch machine. Being one LED is red and the other is green. When the switch changes direction the red or green light lights up. But, If you use a Bi-polar LED red/green type, then just the one is put in place of the two shown in his drawing.
Frank Palmer Posted - 05/07/2016 : 08:50:39 AM
quote:
Originally posted by David J Buchholz

I realize this thread is a few years old, but what I was wondering was when "WE" substitute the red/green LEDs in the above diagram, does the wiring change in any way? When Bitlerisvj mentioned "one on each leg of the tortoise" it threw me as to whether it is simply a LED exchange in terms of parts or if there was actually a change to the wiring diagram that also was needed to accommodate the new LED. I'd appreciate clarification on this.



David, thanks for asking that question. when I reread this thread I thought the same question.
David J Buchholz Posted - 05/06/2016 : 9:33:05 PM
I realize this thread is a few years old, but what I was wondering was when "WE" substitute the red/green LEDs in the above diagram, does the wiring change in any way? When Bitlerisvj mentioned "one on each leg of the tortoise" it threw me as to whether it is simply a LED exchange in terms of parts or if there was actually a change to the wiring diagram that also was needed to accommodate the new LED. I'd appreciate clarification on this.
AVRR-PA Posted - 02/26/2013 : 4:33:55 PM
Frederic - Vagel and I shamelessly stole your design and used it for all the Tortoises on the B&SGE. We did it because we had to attach them to foam. Because my rail-marine layout has a layer of plywood under the foam, it didn't occur to me to use your design - even though there are a stack of them (extra's) sitting in my shop. Aargh! It definitely would have been easier.

Vic - thanks for the refinement.

Don
bitlerisvj Posted - 02/26/2013 : 3:12:28 PM
This is pretty much what I do for my panel indicators. Except I use Bi-Polar LEDs, one on each leg of the Tortoise. One way they light Green, the other way they light Red. They cost me about 50 cents apiece at All Electronics.
Regards, Vic Bitleris
quote:
Originally posted by LynnB

You may find this interesting as well if you want to add green and red leds for open and close on the switches.Only mine is utilizing the ds64 for control but can also be used for simple 12volt spst toggles.
Obviously I wasn't ambitious enough to do this to all my tortoise switches but I did do it to one just to make sure it worked as its suppose to. I still have to comeup with an idea to add some kind of visual reference for the number of the turnout I'm changing on my handcontroller, especially when I don't use it for months.




Frederic Testard Posted - 02/26/2013 : 1:26:16 PM
Don, about tortoise installation, you might be interested in this mount I designed a few years ago to help install them :







The two slots on top and bottom of the mount on the second photo for instance are used to screw the mount but leave some possibilities of locating precisely the metal link to the turnout.
AVRR-PA Posted - 02/25/2013 : 2:24:09 PM
Thanks, Bob --

Yes, testing before installing is a most excellent idea - especially if you are as "installation challenged" as I am.

Don
time2play Posted - 02/25/2013 : 10:26:39 AM
I never had any problems with Tortoise machines until I bought a new box of six. Every one of them had defective wipers. They are mounted on two small pieces of plastic that are melted to hold each wiper in place. They all had one end break free which caused the wipers to work OK in one dirrection but cause short circuits in the other direction. Because I had never had problems with these units before I installed all six and wired the frogs, etc. before testing. Boy, did I have a problem trying to find all the short circuits!
I wasn't able to return them to the manufacturer because they were way past warranty by the time I installed them. Now I test first before installing. I never had any problems before these six nor any problems with any since then.

Bob Farquhar
AVRR-PA Posted - 02/24/2013 : 7:52:55 PM
quote:
Originally posted by GrandTrunk

Hmmm, and here I was expecting to see a tiny turtle on a tiny treadmill.



Orionvp17 Posted - 02/24/2013 : 7:50:48 PM
quote:
Originally posted by AVRR-PA

quote:
Originally posted by CieloVistaRy

This is a much needed tutorial. Thanks for sharing. I have two machines that I believe to be possessed. WIth the SBS you posted, I now have the confidence to dive into those machines and perform the proper exorcism.



Don't forget the Eye of Newt and Tongue of Dog.

Don



And the Universal Incantation!

Pete
in Michigan
AVRR-PA Posted - 02/24/2013 : 7:48:01 PM
quote:
Originally posted by CieloVistaRy

This is a much needed tutorial. Thanks for sharing. I have two machines that I believe to be possessed. WIth the SBS you posted, I now have the confidence to dive into those machines and perform the proper exorcism.



Don't forget the Eye of Newt and Tongue of Dog.

Don
CieloVistaRy Posted - 02/24/2013 : 4:11:28 PM
This is a much needed tutorial. Thanks for sharing. I have two machines that I believe to be possessed. WIth the SBS you posted, I now have the confidence to dive into those machines and perform the proper exorcism.

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