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NCE Switch-It

NCE Corporation Switch-It (buy it)

General: The NCE Switch-It is a two-address decoder specifically designed to drive stall motor switch machines. It therefore does not have some of the features that the other decoders have.† It is the easiest to install:

  1. Connect two wires to the track
  2. Connect two wires from Switch Machine 1 to Output 1
  3. Connect two wires from Switch Machine 2 to Output 2
  4. Use 3M double-sided tape to attach to the side of one of your switch machines

The Switch-It has a terminal block for manual input. If you wire four momentary push buttons to these terminals, the operation of the push buttons will provide manual operation of the switch in addition to DCC control.

Since the unit is designed for stall motor switch machines, its output current capability is limited to 50 ma, more than sufficient for the 25 ma stall current of the Tortoise™.† An added benefit is that since the switch machine limits the current to 25 ma, you can place LEDís in series with the decoder output without the normal current limiting resistor.† The switch machine itself acts as the current limiter.

Connections: Connections for the track, switch machines, and manual control switches are by screw clamp style terminal strips.† You can use any general-purpose hookup wire to make connections to the Switch-It.

Feedback: The Switch-It has no provision for feedback to the cab bus.† If you need switch position feed back, then you must wire the switch position data into an auxiliary cab bus input such as the NCE/Wangrow AIU-01.

Programming: Since the Switch-It only has one function, there is no programming other than to specify the address of the associated switch.† The unit can be programmed by any DCC system that supports accessory control.† This is done by connecting two wires across the manual switch inputs for the output to be programmed and issuing an accessory control command to the desired accessory address.† Then remove the wires.† You are ready to go.† This method also works to recover the unit if you have hopelessly programmed the Switch-It to a secret address.† If you have an NCE Powerhouse system, then programming the Switch-It is even easier. Set all decoder addresses within 4 of the current address (factory default 1 or 2) to OFF.† Set the address to be programmed to a new value to ON. (This assumes you know the units current address. It comes defaulted to 1 and 2.† If you have no clue as to the address, then use the jumper wire procedure.)† Use the PROGRAM ACCESSORIES mode of the ProCab to set CV 545 (output A) or CV 546 (output B) to 1.† Next hit SEL ACCY and enter the address you want the Switch-It to use and hit 0 or 1 when prompted.† The unit is now programmed to the new address.† You can re-assign Switch-It addresses in place on your layout as your layout changes or as operating considerations require.

Manual: The manual is clear and easy to follow. It contains all the information you need to get your Switch-It working.

Performance: I did not test the Switch-It with the high current loads because its output capability is limited to 50 ma.† It did light the grain-of-wheat bulbs, but they were dim.† I measured 23.8 ma instead of the more normal 30 ma.

The Switch-It works perfectly with the Tortoise™ switch machine.† Run voltage is 9.8 Ė 10.5 volts when operating directly from track power (there is no provision for separate switch power input).† Run current was 3.3 ma, and stall current was 13.6 ma. The Tortoise™ ran solidly with good torque.† I tried putting a red/green dual LED in series with the Tortoise™.† It was bright red when running/stalled in one position and bright green when running/stalled in the other position.† This gives a simple method of indicating point position on your control panel.† If the LED where installed in a single lens target signal, it would make a perfect track side position indicator. Two LEDís could be connected in series for dual indications with little effect on the Tortoise™ operation.

I replaced the Tortoise™ with a 470 ohm Ĺ watt resistor. The LED switched from red to green just as before.† In this mode, you could make a dual lens signal with the Switch-It and be able to do all four color combinations (red over red, green over green, red over green and green over red) as are used in prototype signals. If you used a separate red and green LED, a standard two-color signal can be made.

The Switch-It is the only decoder of the group that is small enough to fit inside of an HO boxcar.† By filing the small tabs on either side of the printed circuit board, the card will just fit into a standard boxcar.† With a flashing LED, this will make an End of Train device controllable from the command station. With a white LED, you can control the drumhead and tail light of a passenger car, in addition to the red and green marker lights. You could also control the marker lights on a caboose.

Recommendation: If your main application of a stationary decoder is to operate stall motor switch machines, the Switch-It is a BEST CHOICE for this application.† It is easy to install, works well, and is the least expensive per switch point.† It is functionally and programming compatible with all DCC systems that allow accessory control.

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