A Look At The DCC Concepts Colbalt SS Point Motor ( DCC & DC )
A Look At The DCC Concepts Cobalt SS Point Motor ( DCC & DC )
When planing a model railway, it’s best to try to position your points (turnouts/switches) on your baseboard so that they don’t sit directly above the baseboard framework. This then allows for the point motors to be installed directly below the point trackwork. However, in some cases, this for whatever reason may not be practical & one has no choice but t mount the point motor on the baseboard top alongside the pointwork. Solenoid point motors such as though by Peco, Hornby, etc, can be difficult to hide, though Hornby does provide a line side hut which sits over the top of the point motor. If you have a large number of points, this would lead to a forest of lineside huts hiding the point motors.
Peco & Hornby also produce a long slim type point motor that is lower in profile than the standard solenoid point motor. Again these two are of the solenoid type point motors. The lower profile means they don’t stand out so much compared to the standard solenoid point motors, & could be partly hidden under ballast scatter or low height bushes so as not to foul the passing trains.
DCC Concepts produce a surface side mount point motor (Cobalt SS) which is low profile & is quite small in size making it much easier to hide from view. The dimensions of this point motor are as follows:
- Width 27mm
- Depth 14mm
- Height 11mm
The Cobalt SS contains a stepper motor which gives a very smooth controlled movement, unlike solenoid point motors puts less wear & tear on the pointwork moving parts due to its smooth action. The standard Cobalt-SS 2 Pack contains:
- 2x Cobalt-SS Above-Board Point Motors with “Plug & Play” leads to connect to the Control Board.
- Linkage pack – to connect your Cobalt-SS motor to your turnout/Points. (Two types of linkages included to suit most types of pointwork)
- Mounting screws – to install both the Cobalt-SS motors and the control boards.
- Control Board.
- 1x Cobalt-SS Extension Cable (600mm) to enable one motor to be mounted further away from the Control Board.
- 1x Cobalt-SS Y-connection or reverse connection cable to enable two motors to be connected to one output on the Control Board.
They are ready for installation and connection with everything needed already in the pack. The Cobalt-SS can be powered by either DC or DCC systems. Operation is possible by DCC, conventional switches or both. The supplied control board size dimensions are as follows:
- Width 115mm
- Depth 60mm
- Height 25mm
An additional add on accessories are available which can be found here:
For those of your with larger layouts or who are apart of a model railway club, there are two further Cobalt SS point motor multipacks these are a pack of 6 & a pack of 12. Again supplied with everything you need.
The supplied control board which works on both DCC & traditional DC-powered layouts will directly control two SS-Cobalt Point motors. However, there is an addon accessory pack that allows two point motors to be linked to one outlet on the control board (for example on a crossover pair of points/turnouts) so that’ll operate together in unison as pair. So you could have two sets of crossover points/turnouts with four point motors being operated from this one control board. The diagram opposite has all the inlets/outlets numbered. The list below describes what each inlet/outlet does on the control board.
- Power Connection: Cobalt-SS works well with both DC and DCC power input. The voltage range is 12~23v. When connecting up to a power supply, use only a regulated DC power supply 11~23v or a DCC system with an output track voltage between 11 and 23 volts.
- Cobalt-SS is connected with a simple plug & socket. The Cobalt point motor comes pre-wired & fitted with a plug. Plug the point motor into this outlet.
- DCC-Addressing is via a simple switch. Choose an accessory address on your DCC system, move switch marked 3 to “Set”, then operate your DCC accessory changing the turnout at that address and then return the switch back to “Run” mode.
- Momentary switch connection (Left/Com/Right). For use with push buttons or lever to operate the points/turnouts.
- Panel LEDs or Computer I.O. or Colour Light Signals. Connect up to a signal, control panel L.E.D., or computer.
- Independent additional S.P.D.T. changeover switch. If using electrofrog points, connect the live frog of the points to this outlet to change over the polarity of the points.
- Turnout FROG power switching (Left/Com/Right). Switches the power on the point frog to left or right as the point switch rails are operated.
- Cobalt-SS “Direction Swap” switch for reversing the direction of the turnout throw. This allows to alter the direction a point is operated so keeps in sync with a second point motor for example on a crossover.
- Adjustment of Cobalt-SS “Point throw” distance for various scales or pointwork types. Allows the point switch rails to be moved/thrown shorter or longer distance.
- Indicator LEDs to guide your adjustment of the “Point throw distance. (“Small-Medium-Large-Extra Large”). Shows what throw setting the point switch rails have been set to.
- The Reset Buttons re-centre Cobalt-SS. It returns throw settings to factory Default. Hold button down for 3 seconds to reset back to factory settings.
In this next diagram by DCC Concepts, can be seen how various items are connected to the control module. So starting at item labelled number one…
One at the left-hand side, this is the power supply inlet. If running DCC (digital) connect this to your power bus or directly to the track. If running traditional DC to operate your layout, then connect this to a 12v to 23v regulated power supply. The outlet marked one on the right-hand side of this module allows other DCC Concepts Point control modules to be connected & powered from this outlet, like a daisy chain so to speak.
Two is the actual Cobalt SS point motor. This simply plugs into the control module as shown. The outlet that the point motor is plugged into can power more than one point motor.
Three. If operating your layout on DCC (digital), this is basically a learn mode switch. If programming a DCC accessory address for the point motor, set the switch to ‘Set’. Once programmed with the DCC accessory address, move the switch to the ‘Run’ setting for normal operation of the points.
Four. This outlet is for pushbuttons &/or point operating control levers. If running your layout on traditional DC control plugin your levers or buttons here. This also works on DCC Digital too! So on DCC, you can then either operate your points/turnouts via your DCC handset/command station or via pushbuttons/levers on a control panel.
Five. This outlet is for plugging in & connecting to your model railway signals so that the signals will work in sync with your points as per the real thing. This outlet can be also used for connecting the point control module to a computer & also LED’S mounted on a mimic control panel for showing the status of how the points have been set.
Six. This is a spare outlet for allowing you to control other things. Here DCC Concepts show this outlet connected to two isolated sections ahead of the heel of the point and wired it so that if the point is not set for the train to cross safely, then power to that section will be turned off. This will prevent accidental derailments and the inevitable short-circuits that will otherwise occur. So in other words gives you a safety feature & prevents trains to run through points set against them as they show here. Works on both DC & DCC.
Seven. This outlet controls the polarity of an electrofrog point/turn out. As the Cobalt SS point motor doesn’t have a polarity changeover switch, the control module has the polarity changeover switch built-in, making wiring up much easier. Again, works on both DC & DCC.
Eight. This switch changes the direction the Cobalt SS point motor throws/operates in. So for example on a crossover set of points, & one point motor isn’t moving in the required direction, simply flick this switch & the point motor will then operate the opposite way. So forward becomes reverse & reverse becomes forward. Again this works on both DCC & DC.
Nine. This is an adjustment screw that changes how much the Cobalt SS point motor moves. There are three settings, short throw, medium throw & large throw. This allows the point motor to work with N gauge, OO Gauge, O gauge point work. To adjust, simply turn the screw with a screwdriver & the L.E.D lights on the control board will light accordingly to show which throw setting has been selected & set at. Again works on both DC & DCC.
Ten. As explained in point nine above, these are the point motor throw setting indicator lights. Again works on both DC & DCC.
Eleven. If you end up making a mistake or it all goes wrong, this is the factory reset button. Simply press & hold down for three seconds to reset the control module back to factory default settings. For DCC this will set the two points outlets back to default DCC address number three.
For DCC users – Programming/setting the accessory addresses.
This next diagram, again by DCC Concepts, shows how to program a DCC accessory address on the control module (the left-hand side of the diagram). There are two of these switches, one each for the two point motors. So for example, one point motor could be programmed accessory address number 5 for example & the other to accessory address number 10 for example. DCC Concepts says: Please note that if you have a DCC screen-based system such as the Roco Z21 or ESU ECoS you will need to create a track diagram or set up an on-screen turnout before you can set an Address.
The following procedure can be done before or after installing the point motors.
- First of all, connect the Cobalt-SS control module to the DCC track power bus or your dedicated DCC Accessory Power Bus.
- Decide which accessory DCC address number you wish the Cobalt-SS point motor to use and then move the Set-Run switch to the “Set” position.
- Follow your DCC system instructions for changing a point or turnout using the DCC accessory address number that you chose. (DCC Concepts recommend repeating this procedure twice just to be sure!!)
- Return the Set-Run switch back to the “Run” position. This is the normal operating position.
- If you haven’t done so already, plug in the point motor.
- Now call up the DCC accessory address you gave the point motor & operate it as per your DCC control system instructions. The point motor should then move.
For both DCC & DC users – Adjusting the throw distance of a Cobalt-SS Motor
In the right-hand side of the diagram opposite, DCC Concepts shows how to adjust the throw of a point motor. This very handy feature of this point motor system. DCC Concepts says:
S – M – L – XL as it is a common designation on many things – indicating increase or change in size. You’ll find that they correspond approximately to Z, N, OO/HO, and O scales. Thus makes the point motors suitable for a wide range of track scales/sizes.
To adjust the throw of the point motor:
- Install the Cobalt-SS point motor and test it. Leave the control module on the factory default settings position.
- If the point blades do not move fully, either way, adjust the throw by turning the adjustment screw to improve the throw of the blades.
- If the point blades move across well before the motor stops, reduce the throw by turning the adjuster screw anti-clockwise.
- If the point blades do not move fully or have weak pressure against the two outer rails of the points/turnout, increase the throw by turning the adjuster screw clockwise.
To go back to the default factory throw setting, hold the “Re-Set” button down for three seconds to reset back to factory default settings.
On our layout, in the cutting scene section, there are two sets of points at either end. Both sets of points sit above the baseboard framework, so here we’ve removed the Peco side mount points & have replaced them with a pair of Cobalt SS point motors. The layout is operated by DCC control, so setup was carried out as per instructions above. The small linkage bar that connects the point motor to the point tie bar, has to be fitted. The points were set to the furthest away from the point motor position. The point motor was also set to its furthest throw position. A hole was then drilled into the end of the point tie bar & the point motor linkage bar then fitted into the drilled hole & then glued to keep it firmly in place.
I should add at this point as this point motor is a slow action point motor, it’s recommended to remove the point center spring on the actual points themself. You’ll see in the center of the points a small plastic square with a tiny hole. This square is held down by two little metal tags. These need to be bent upwards to release the small center plastic square to reveal the point center holding spring. Remove the spring & refit the plastic square & bend back into place the two metal tags. The point blades will now move freely & smoothly. The point motor will hold the point switch rails firmly in position, hence the removal of the spring.
The other end of the linkage bar then fitted into the small hole on the metal tab located in the slot on the side of the point motor. The point motor was then screwed & secured into place. The point motor was then test operated to make sure that all was well & operating as it should do. Any adjustments to the throw of the point motor carried out (as per the instructions above).
After testing & happy all operating as it should be. Ballast was then applied & glued into place around the point motor. This was then followed by some lineside bush foilage applied over the top of the point motor to hide it but carefully glued so that the bush doesn’t foul the linkage bar & moving parts of the point motor. The photo right shows the point motor after completion of installation.
The photo below shows the second Cobalt SS point motor after installation.