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Electrics – Back To Basics (Part 17) Cobalt Slow Action Point Motors (DCC Version)

Electrics – Back To Basics (Part Seventeen) Cobalt Point Motors

Part seventeen of this back to basics series, we continue our look at the basics of how to wire up a layout. In this article, we take a look at one of the higher-spec point slow action point motors that are available on the market by DCC Concepts. DCC Concepts offer three different Cobalt point motors which are the third generation of these point motors. Design for use on both traditional DC Analog layouts & DCC Digital layouts. The three types are as follows:

Starting off with traditional DC analog users is the Cobalt iP Analog (part number DCP-CB1iP). Next is the Cobalt iP Digital which is for both DCC Digital & DC Analog users. And finally, the Cobalt Omega which is for DC switch control on Analog DC & AC powered layouts.

The point motors come with solder-free wire connections, MIL-spec fiberglass circuit boards with hardened plating in the switch area, gold plated switch contacts. Each point motor also has three changeover switches, more than enough for power to the pointwork frog, feedback, signal control, panel LED’s, as well as interlocking/safety “isolations” for your points/turnouts. The digital versions have a built-in DCC accessory decoder which gives DCC users the option of going full DCC control or manual DC Analog control.

The current draw for these point motors is very low, 5mA when static & when changing40mA (Cobalt iP Analog & iP Digital). For the Cobalt Omega between 20 to 40mA (varies with the level of power supplied to it).

These point motors are for mounting under the baseboard, so like some of the other point motors we’ve coved in this ‘Back to Basics Series’ a hole or slot needs to be drilled/cut under the moving tie bar of the pointwork. These Cobalt point motors can be mounted in two positions under the baseboard, pointing straight down &/or at right angles via an add-on right angle adaptor plate (Part number DCP-RA3). Included in the point motor packs are all the screws for mounting, a double-sided sticky foam pad to help reduce motor resonant noise, an adjustable bracket to increase or decrease the point motor throw, rod bar which likes the point motor to the pointwork tiebar.

Further additional add-on items include Tie-bar ballast stickers with a pre-cut slot to help cover drilled holes in the baseboard, spare foam mounting pads. A value-added pack which includes the aforementioned add-on items as well as the correct size drill bit & spare mounting screws & point motor to point tie bar rod.

A whole range of signal box style point leavers, push-button control, LED’s, wire packs, control panels & power packs also available to give a complete point/signal control system. Visit DCCconcepts Home Page for further details. 

 

 

 

  • Cobalt Omega Point Motor

 

  • Cobalt iP Analog Point Motor (For traditional DC controlled layouts – Can be used with DCC via additional DCC accessory decoder) 

 

  • Cobalt iP Digital Point Motor (For DCC controlled layouts – Has built-in DCC accessory decoder so no additional DCC accessory decoder is needed. Can also be used on Traditional DC Controlled layouts as well.

 

  • Right-angled adaptor plates. These allow the point motors to reduce their depth by being mounted flat rather than vertical.

 

  • Add-on switches, LED/button combo switches, LED’s for manual operation & display of point setting status.

 

  • Add-on Signal Box style point levers for manual operation of points via the point motors. 

Installation & set up

The point motor we’re installing is the Cobalt Digital. The procedure for fitting the Cobalt iP Analog & Cobalt Omega is the same. In the photo opposite right is the pack contents, which includes the point motor, Mounting pad, mounting screws (including one spare screw), Point motor throw adjustment plate, Point motor to point tie bar connecting rod plus mounting rod holding screw.

 

Take the adjustment plate & insert it into the two slots on the side of the point motor as shown in the photo opposite right. Position the adjustment plate about half way down the two slots for the time being.

 

Take the adjustment plate & insert it into the two slots on the side of the point motor as shown in the photo opposite right. Position the adjustment plate at the bottom of the slots for the time being.

 

Now insert the rod through the center hole of the adjustment plate. The additional holes allow for the point motor to be installed slightly offset from the points if needed. The L shaped angled end of the rod needs to be at the bottom.

 

The L shaped angled end of the rod needs to be inserted & fitted into the top of the two holes on the center mount as shown in the photo opposite right.

 

Now insert the small screw into the remaining hole on the central black mount, as shown in the photo opposite right. Tighten the screw which will hold the rod firmly in place.

 

Remove one of the white stick pad covers from the mounting pad & stick the mounting pad into place on top of the point motor as shown in the photo opposite right.

 

On this installation, we’re swapping out SEEP solenoid point motos for the Cobalt point motors. If at the track laying stage, you’ll need to drill a hole or slot big enough to take the point motor rod. As in our case, the hole for the point motor rod is already there. So it’s a case of unscrewing & removing the SEEP point motor & disconnecting it from the wiring.

The next job is then to remove the small point tie bar latching spring as it isn’t needed. On the Peco points, we need to remove the latching spring from the points. A small plastic cover plate needs to be removed to remove the spring. This is held in place by two small metal strips, we’ve highlighted these in the photo opposite right.

Use a small flat blade screwdriver to prise up one of the small metal holding strips, as highlighted in the photo opposite right.

Move the point switch rails over slightly to gain access to the other small metal holding strip. Again use a small flat blade screwdriver to prise up the small metal holding strip, as highlighted in the photo opposite right.

Now lift off the small plastic strip with the two slot holes. The small latch spring will be inserted into the bottom of this plastic stipe. Remove the latch spring. Sometimes the spring can remain in the recess in the point tie bar, highlighted in the photo opposite right. 

This is what the tiny point latch spring looks like. Worth keeping in your spare parts box for any points that haven’t been converted over to slow action point motors. 

With the spring removed, refit the small plastic strip making sure that both metal strips fit through both holes on the plastic strip. as shown in the photo opposite right.

Bend the two metal retaining strips back into place as shown in the photo opposite right. Make sure that the retaining strips nor the plastic strip foul the movement of the switch rails. 

Position the switch rails so that they are about halfway on mid-throw, leaving an equal gap between the switch rails & the two outer rails. The point tie bar center hile should be in the center position, as shown & highlighted in the photo opposite right.

The Cobalt point motors are supplied with the throw position centered, this makes it easier for installation & set up. Carefully insert the rod on the point motor through the hole on the point tie bar, & position the point motor against the underside of the baseboard.

With the two marks done for the recesses. Remove the point motor. Screw two screws into place on the two marks as shown in the photo opposite right.

Now peel off the white protective covering off the mounting pad on the point motor.

refit the point motor rod back through the hole on the point tie bar. Slide & stick the point motor into place making sure that the two screws that have been screwed into the baseboard fit in the recesses on the point motor. Now screw the remaining two mounting screws into place on the opposite two recess mounting slots on the point motor. As shown in the photo opposite right.

Wiring Up – DCC Controlled Layouts & DC Controlled Layouts

As the layout we’re using is DCC controlled, The Cobalt point motor we’re installing is the Cobalt iP Digital. The Points we’re using are Peco Electrofrog & will be using the DCC throttle handset to operate the point motor. Thus the wiring for DCC will be as shown in the image opposite right.

If the layout is DCC controlled & using insulfrog points & the DCC controller/handset to operate the points & the point motor is the Cobalt iP Digital. Thus the wiring will be as shown in the image opposite right.

If the layout is traditional DC controlled & using Electrfrog points, a pair of pushbuttons are used to operate the Cobalt iP Digital point motor. Thus the wiring will be as shown in the image opposite right. This may seem strange using a DCC digital point motor on a traditional DC layout, but the Cobalt iP digital point motor will work happily on both DCC & DC controlled layouts.

If the layout is traditional DC controlled & using Electrfrog points, a pair of pushbuttons (or a toggle switch) is used to operate the Cobalt iP Digital point motor. Thus the wiring will be as shown in the image opposite right. This may seem strange using a DCC digital point motor on a traditional DC layout, but the Cobalt iP digital point motor will work happily on both DCC & DC controlled layouts.

If the layout is traditional DC controlled & using insufrog points, again a pair of pushbuttons (or a toggle switch) is used to operate the Cobalt iP Digital point motor. Thus the wiring will be as shown in the image opposite right. 

Instead, of a twin push button to control the point motor, a single push button or toggle switch can be used. Thus the wiring will be as shown in the image opposite right for electrofrog points. If using insulfrog points, omit the green electrofrog wire as that isn’t needed for insulfrog points.

To fit the wires, strip the end of the wires back exposing approximately around 10mm of bare wire. Twist the bare wires so they don’t fray apart. DCC Concepts recommend not to tin the wires as the wires will be held more securely in the wire connector.

The wire connectors on the point motor are sprung loaded. To allow the wire to be fitted into the connector, push up & hold the yellow lever in the top position as shown in the photo opposite right. (Tip: Use a small flat blade screwdriver to push up the yellow lever).

Fully insert the stripped exposed wire end into the connector & then release the yellow lever. Connect the wires from the point motor to the track, power bus, etc as per the wiring diagrams shown above.

Power up the layout, & test the point motor. On DCC call up the default accessory decoder DCC address number 3 & operate the point motor as per normal. If the point doesn’t through far enough or too little, slide the adjustment bracket on the point motor to adjust the throw. (Move the adjustment bracket up to reduce the throw, move the adjustment bracket down to increase the throw). 

Once happy that the points are operating as they should do, cut the point motor rod bar close to the points tie bar as shown in the photo opposite right. Use a pair of cutters or a rotary tool with a cutting disc.

For DCC, to program the Cobalt iP Digital DCC address from the factory default address of 3, it’s very simple to do. On the lower left-hand side of the point motor next to the wire connectors is a small slide switch. The switch upper position (marked as Run)is for normal operation of the point motor. The switch lower position (marked as Set) is for programing the point motor address. 

Slide the switch to the Set setting.

Next, call up the accessory address you wish to operate the point motor on or as. In our case, we want to assign the point motor to the DCC accessory address of 24. Having called up Accessory DCC address 24, we simply press the button on the keypad that operates the point motor, as though operating the point motor. The built-in decoder on the point motor has learned & recognises that it will now operate as address number 24. 

Now slide the slide switch on the point motor back to RUN. The point motor will now only respond to DCC accessory point address number 24. The address can be changed at any time you wish, by simply setting the switch on the point motor to SET & giving it a new DCC accessory point address number of your choosing. Once programmed, set the switch back to run.

And that’s it the point motor is all installed & working. The video clip opposite shows the point motor in action.

HELP!! The Loco trips & cuts out the system when running over the Electrofrog points

If using Electrofrog points, you find the locomotive when running over the points & it trips the DCC system or the DC control into shutting downing. This will be down to the polarity being wired in wrong. This can be easily rectified by swapping the two wires over on the outlets numbered 1 (DCC IN) & (DCC IN). Take the wire that is in outlet one & insert it into outlet two. The wire that was in outlet two inserts into outlet one.

With the polarity now corrected, the loco should now run across the electrofrog points without tripping the system.

LED’s & Interlocking

LED’s & other items such as signals can be wired directly to these point motors. The LED’s can be mounted on to a mimic panel or control panel & thus show which way the points have been set. For the signals, once connected to these point motors will work in sync with the points. These point motors can be also wired up together to create working interlocking like the real thing. Further details about using LED’s & creating working interlocking using these Cobalt point motors can be found over on DCC Concepts website here: https://www.dccconcepts.com/

 

 

One Final Item Of Note

On the point motor connections, you’ll notice that there is a yellow label with Switch Wiring Only on it. Only remove this label once the power wirings to terminals 1 & 2 have been fitted. This is to prevent any accidental wiring up of the power to the two wrong terminals. See the photo below.

Servicing

The DCC Concepts Cobalt point motors through normal use are recommended to be re-lubricated once every five years. DCC Concepts recommend using Labelle or Nano-Oils, with a small drop being applied to the internal motor bearings & along the gear train. To gain access, unscrew the four screws that hold the body together to remove part of the point motor body shell. The point motors have a lifetime warranty to give you further peace of mind.

To follow…

In the next part we’ll look at the wiring up of the DCC Concepts iP Analog & iP Omega Point motors.

Happy Modelling

 

 

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