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RailPro => RailPro Discussion & Help => Topic started by: JJ Crooke on January 29, 2016, 10:08:03 PM

Title: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: JJ Crooke on January 29, 2016, 10:08:03 PM
I was wondering if anyone knew for sure or, better yet, actually tried using the Tam Valley's mono or hex Frog Juicers to power the frogs on their layout. Tam Valley's website specifies the Frog Juicers are DCC devices only but I'm a bit confused knowing that you can run RailPro equipped locomotives on DCC layouts. I have not powered-up my layout yet (not quite ready) but I just realized that they may not be compatible with the PWR-56. I've already wired two mono Frog Juicers on my layout.

Better to find out now if it is an issue than finding out the hard way when I power-up my layout for the first time.  :o
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: melarson on January 30, 2016, 12:41:00 AM
There does seem to be a lot of confusion on the topic of inter-mixing RP and DCC control systems.  The fact is, as control systems they don't inter-mix.  No device that requires a DCC signal (reversers, juicers, some occupancy detectors, etc) will work on a RailPro-powered layout.  DCC devices that don't require the signal (a few occupancy detectors come to mind) may or may not work on RP, but the device manufacturer must state that it will work on DC systems for them to be RP-compatible.  Of course, going the other way, Ring states clearly that their devices (AR-1, etc) are not DCC compatible.

But we can run RailPro-equipped engines on a DCC-powered layout because the modules (LM-2/LM-2S) are able to use the DCC track power as their power supply, in lieu of pure DC.  This is accomplished on the modules by using a rectifier/filter/regulator circuit at the inputs (red and black wires).  In fact, DCC decoders do the same thing to supply power to their on-board circuitry.  Unlike decoders however, the RP modules ignore the data stream that the DCC system puts on the track and just uses the power.

Apparently the frog juicers need that DCC data stream (or more accurately, that waveform) to work.  I don't know if they will be damaged if you power them with pure DC, but given that they won't work on pure DC, thus making them useless for a RailPro-powered layout, why take the chance?
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: William Brillinger on January 30, 2016, 06:57:42 AM
Why is the DCC signal required? This makes no sense to me. Aren't these kinds of devices simply electronic switches that detect shorts etc?

I'm sure they don't work on DC layouts merely because the locomotives are not isolated from the direct track power.

Has anybody actually asked TamValley if they will work with RailPro?

Tam's website says:
Q: I sometimes operate my DCC layout as DC.  I know they will not work with DC but will this hurt my frog juicers?
A: A lot of model railroaders have done this and it has not caused any damage.  However, I can't warranty your frog juicers in this case.

So probably no harm in trying it.
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: JJ Crooke on January 30, 2016, 08:23:25 AM
Thanks for the replies. Because of the relatively low cost of a mono Frog Juicer (less than $20 CAD), I may take a chance and try to power one with the PWR-56. But I won't get my hopes up. Tam Valley's "DCC only" claim could be for warranty purposes only but I will send them an email to find out, although Tam will most likely stick to its 'DCC only" claim even though the juicers could technically work with DC.

That being said, does anyone knows of an alternative to power turnout frogs (e.g. DC compatible frog juicer, Tortoise type switch machine) that would work with the PWR-56? I will have to do more research on this.
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: G8B4Life on January 30, 2016, 09:46:56 AM
The "DCC only" part for the waveform could be on the track side; it might not be able to detect and switch properly if it see's a constant +v or a constant 0v. The power supply side get's rectified as soon as it enters the board (all those components don't work on AC) so the PWR-56 should work on powering it up. Whether it would switch frog power correctly though who knows.

Edit: On the bottom of Tams website it says this.

"Will DC damage the frog juicer?  No- although they will not power the frogs, they will not be damaged by DC so feel free to run your layout in DC mode with the frog juicers attached." which gives some weight to the above theory, or similar theory anyway.

What switch machines are you using Joel? Although you said "Tortoise like" Tortoise can apparently switch frog polarity.

As to what else is out there, well all I can really say is research research research, because I don't know. I have one of these. Mine is an older version of A004 set (without DCC the set would be A002). These are of course complete turnout control sets but they are made for DC in the first instance.

http://www.anemodel.com/products_list.aspx?LEVEL=1&TYPE=2

- Tim
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: JJ Crooke on January 30, 2016, 01:06:58 PM
Tim, I am not using any switch machines besides the Frog Juicers for frog polarity. My turnouts are Peco Code 83 Electrofrog, all manually hand-thrown. I wanted to avoid using any kind of switch machines but I may not have a choice, we'll see. The SmartSwitch is an interesting option although a bit expensive but I'll look more into it. Either way, it will most likely be an expensive alternate option (whatever that may be) if the Frog Juicers don't work.

My layout is all wired but I haven't installed any LM-2S in my locomotives yet so it may take me another couple of weeks before I'm ready to test the Frog Juicers with the PWR-56. Stay tuned....
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: William Brillinger on January 30, 2016, 01:17:41 PM
I have a hand thrown solution: http://pdc.ca/rr/catalog/product/simple-switch-machine/53
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: drisdon on January 30, 2016, 04:58:50 PM
I had the same problem, but I see Bills machine is the perfect and affordable solution.  Can this be used on a module where it needs to be actuated from either side of the module?

I'll be selling my hex frog juicers next!

First Digitrax was sold, then all my decoders, Railpro just makes it all fun again.

Dan
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: William Brillinger on January 30, 2016, 06:32:14 PM
Yes, the simple switch machine can be actuated from both sides.
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: G8B4Life on January 30, 2016, 08:21:31 PM
Joel,

If your not using switch machines and throw your points manually from the edge of the layout then I can certainly recommend something like Bill's creation with a slide switch incorporated to change frog polarity, simple and proven method by thousands of layouts.

Some further investigation shows that ANE do have just the frog changing board separately, which might be better a better option if you throw the points directly by hand, and certainly less expensive that having to go the whole outfit of having switch machines.

http://anemodel.com/products_content.aspx?id=32

The manual for the board can be found in their downloads section (link at bottom of their webpage). I've not got one nor used one so I can't
comment on how good it is but it's another research avenue for you.

- Tim
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: JJ Crooke on January 31, 2016, 08:40:44 AM
Thank you very much for the info. Ane's SmartFrog v5 is exactly what I would need if I can't use Tam Valley's Frog Juicers with the PWR-56. I throw the points directly by hand but Bill's Simple Switch Machine is an interesting option.
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: Prostreetamx on January 31, 2016, 08:56:23 AM
Just returned from a train show in Costa Mesa California. There was one club layout that manually controlled all their track switches with mini slide switches built into the ground level of the track with the top of the slide switch exposed. They could move the slide switch or the points with their fingers to switch. The points and slide switch were connected with a piece of piano wire, The slide switch would change the frog polarity with no other linkage. Personally I use manually controlled bullfrog turnout controls with a built in slide switch.
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: Alan on January 31, 2016, 09:57:44 AM
For your consideration... A subject not often discussed with frog juicers is their mode of operation. The design essence is a) allow the problem occur; b) solve the problem as quickly as possible. A better design approach is a) prevent the problem from occurring.

Frog juicers by design purposely introduce track/wheel arcing albeit a minuscule amount but an amount nonetheless. An actual short circuit (momentary excessive high amperage induced voltage drop) must occur to trigger the juicer, i.e., allow the problem to occur. For the tiniest fraction of a second there is 50,000°F plasma at the track wheel interface. Frog juicer circuity is designed to be very fast so the arc time is very short thus minimizing the damage. Additionally, frog juicers are typically placed near the frog and connected with shorter smaller wire gauges. As a result there is virtually no capacitance to the wiring which helps minimize arc current flow.

Switched frog polarity, which is arc-free under normal conditions, has the potential for the same and perhaps even more damaging problem when a loco runs a switch. In this scenario the system or district circuit breaker extinguishes the short circuit. A system breaker will trip much slower than a frog juicer can switch polarity. System power wiring is much longer and heavier gauge wire. It will have a significant capacitance. When the loco runs a switch the arc will be longer duration (breaker trip time) and more intense (wire capacitance discharge). Running a switch is operator error and so is within human control.

So it can be said that neither frog juicers nor switched frogs genuinely achieve the ideal design: a) prevent the problem from occurring. The real difference is frequency of occurrence. Frog juicers will introduce very frequent but less intense arcing. Switched frogs will introduce infrequent but intense arcing.

It all boils down to a single question - How good are your operators?

I am of the opinion it is better to not deliberately design in a problem. Hence why I am not a fan of frog juicers. They are convenient, easy to install, virtually plug-n-play. These attributes have value. But over the long haul the layout could aptly be named Sparky! Good operators can run a switched frog layout without arcing. Or at the very least, an absolute minimum number of occurrences.

If you are as anal about preventing arcing as I am there is a solution. Switched frogs with "wrong-way sensing". This is the path I have taken. The frog polarity is controlled by the switch motor. IR sensors on the through and diverging routes sense presence of equipment. If the switch is thrown reverse of a sensed occupancy the frog polarity to the switch machine is reversed for the duration of the sensed occupancy. The to-the-switch-machine part is important. The switch machine does not attempt to align the point rails to accommodate the wrong way approaching equipment. The switch machine is too slow for that to be viable. The operator is still going to run the switch. The only difference is the frog will be the correct polarity and no arcing occurs. Once both route sensors report the switch is clear the frog returns to the polarity dictated by points position.
 

   
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: JJ Crooke on June 01, 2016, 09:18:02 PM
Hi everyone,

I had the chance to go down in my basement to work on my layout this past weekend for the first time in several months so I'd like to give a quick update on Tam Valley's Frog Juicers compatibility with RailPro. I was able to install an LM-2S decoder in one of my locomotive and the verdict is...

Tam Valley's Frog Juicers are NOT compatible with RailPro's PWR-56. The locomotive can run fine in one of the turnout's alignment but will create a short on the alternate alignment. The Frog Juicers will not change the polarity of the frog as it can't detect the short.

Oh well... I'll have to sell my Frog Juicers and look at the other options listed in this thread.  :-\
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: KPack on June 01, 2016, 09:25:21 PM
Thanks for the info Joel.  Now we know for certain that they will not work, which is useful knowledge to all of us.

-Kevin
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: yvesmary on June 01, 2016, 09:46:42 PM
Hi JJ

I've built all my turnouts using the Fast Tracks system with the isolated frog. I use to use the HexFrog Juicers with my Tortoises when I had DCC but now that I'm totally RailPro they won't work.

The easy solution is to use the Tortoise itself with its 8 connectors. #1 and #8 is powered from a wallwart bus. The isolated frog is powered to #4. Then #2 and #3 from the track feeders -- if the polarity is wrong reverse #2 and #3. You can also power the frog from #5 and use #6 and #7 for the feeders. Now when you throw the Tortoise the frog has the correct polarity.

There are places where I have to use Caboose Industries ground throws. For those turnouts I power the frogs with a SPDT switch. When I throw the turnout I then I flip the toggle on the switch to reverse polarity.

Yves in Alberta
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: JJ Crooke on July 11, 2016, 11:53:32 AM
Hi everyone,

In my quest to find a replacement for the Tam Valley's Frog Juicer that will work with the PWR-56, I am considering testing the Ane Model SmartFrog v5. The power input for the SmartFrog is 12V DC with a max current of 4 amps. In another thread, it was mentioned that the power output for the PWR-56 is 14.2V regulated DC and output current of 4 amps. I've also read somewhere else that you can simply power the SmartFrog in DCC by hooking the unit to the layout bus, but we all know that the PWR-56 is different than your typical DCC power supply. I have a basic understanding of wiring a layout but when it comes to voltage and amps, I need help from someone who knows this stuff.

So my question is: can I power the SmartFrog (@ 12V DC, 4 amps) using my layout bus (powered by the PWR-56 @ 14.2V DC, 4 amps) without damaging the unit? I'm not sure if there is a safe "tolerance" range for voltage or if the amperage is what really matters in this case. If the SmartFrog is not an option, then I'll have no other choice than to consider a hand thrown solution such as Bill's Simple Switch Machine.

http://www.anemodel.com/products_content.aspx?id=32

Thanks,

Joel 
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: Alan on July 11, 2016, 05:41:55 PM
That's a rough web site to read. If I understand correctly you also need SmartSwitch (or possibly some other switch input) to make the SmartFrog work. I don't see where it defines "automatic".

The amperage is maximum for the unit so no worries there.

I might add, there is a big ole honkin' relay sitting in the middle of the board. That means it will be slower to actuate (more wheel sparks) than an all electronic device.
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: JJ Crooke on July 11, 2016, 07:29:11 PM
Previous versions of the SmartFrog needed the SmartSwitch to work but the latest version (v5) can work by itself, hence the need for 12V DC power.
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: Dean on July 12, 2016, 11:14:21 AM
I'm confused. Why all the fuss with the switch frog? My layout is almost 20 years old. I have a combination of code 100 and code 83 switches. Some are 'DCC friendly', some are not. All my switches are Shinohara or Walthers/Shinohara.
I have only tried to modify one switch according to an article on the internet to make it DCC friendly. When done, all I did was ruin a perfectly good $75.00 double crossover. To get the double cross overs on my layout to work with DCC, all I do is throw all 4 switches at the same time. All are either straight through or crossing over. No shorts, no stalling, no sparks.
My power routing switches were installed with only the lead end (where the points are) connected to the rails. The main and diverging routes were not. It was just a matter of putting feeders on tracks after the switch, which should be done anyway.
Again, what's all the fuss?
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: Alan on July 12, 2016, 02:47:28 PM
Forgive me if this comes off as condescending. I do not mean it that way. The fuss over frog is important. It is for Joel, it was for me. I am merely boiling it down to its brass tacks.

All of the following assumes dead frog is not an option.

Powered frogs, to prevent stalling, need some method of aligning frog polarity with point movement. Juicers (incl SmartFrog) do it by short detection so there is no user interaction. Switch machines also make it automatic through micro switches, etc. Conceivably it could be done with parallel wiring/switching with turnout motor fascia switches. Or with micro switches hooked to manual ground throws, etc. Shucks, in this day and age, it is likely an Arduino or other micro processor solution exists out there. Regardless of the mechanism employed, ultimately frog polarity control without direct user intervention is the desired outcome. Am I correct Joel?

The RP issue that compounds the problem is all popular frog juicers are designed for square wave AC short detection (DCC). Passing DC through them may or may not work with probability leaning heavily towards won't work. Detectors (juicers) that rely on an inductive coil to sense current (most products) definitely won't work the same or at all. The signal being monitored will be different for DC through an inductor compared to AC through an inductor. The device has to be designed from the get-go to detect DC current rush. Hall Effect devices come to mind. The Ring AR-1 is an example of such device. It is designed to detect DC current, without the use of an inductor, and so could be used to power frogs. Although at $39.99 a pop it would be an expensive way to go.

If I understand correctly Joel is seeking a practical short detector and polarity reverser for DC operation. The SmartFrog sounds like a possible solution. My concern is the fact the SmartFrog is a mechanical relay device. We know from years past relay based devices work. But we also know they are slow in response time and as a result tend to have a lot of serious arcing going on at the wheel/frog. The old turn-out-the lights-run-trains observations. It would be beneficial to find an all electronic device with transistors that operate at near instantaneous speed i.e MOSFETs with a fast drain. Exactly what the DCC crowd enjoys with current frog juicers. Transistors if for no other reason than to reduce the wheel/frog pitting that will eventually result because of relay action.

And, as Joel rightfully is concerned about, compatibility with RP products namely power supply. What if the SmartFrog relay action is slower than the trip action time of the Ring power supply internal circuit breaker? Only way to know is to try it. And even if it works you won't know if it will work every time everywhere. Wiring length, bus impedance, supply load, and many more variables are in the equation.

The "allow the mistake to happen (short circuit) and then quickly resolve it (reverse polarity)" is, in my mind, a poor approach to the problem. No denying it is a popular approach. I just don't like it and have rambled on this forum about it in the past. I am of the opinion it is better to not allow the problem to occur in the first place. This brings us back to frog polarity controlled by points position. Either flip a toggle switch or tie it to switch motor contacts. Done.
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: Dean on July 12, 2016, 07:32:01 PM
I understand what you are saying, but I think you summed up my position when you said, "Powered frogs, to prevent stalling, need some method of aligning frog polarity with point movement" Exactly! that's what the points do in a powered frog. The points supply the proper polarity to the frogs. In the power routing switch, the points also send power to the main or the diverging route rails from the frog. This can cause problems unless you have gaps between the main and the switch, and a gap between the diverging route and the switch.
In the DCC friendly switch the frog is insulated from the rails but gets it power from jumpers that are attached to the points. The rails leaving the frog going to the main and diverging route also get power from these jumpers except that those rails only get power when the switch is selected for that direction. All the tracks can be connected to the rails of the switch.
When I install a power routing switch, I install the switch, leave a gap at the main and diverging route rails, install a Caboose Ind ground throw and run my trains.
When I install a DCC friendly switch, I install the switch, connect all the rails to switch, Install a Caboose Ind ground throw and run my trains.
My layout has gone from DC to two different DCC brands and now to RailPro. I have not had to change any of my track work for any of these systems.
But, maybe Peco does something weird. All my switches are Shinohara or Walthers/Shinohara.
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: William Brillinger on July 12, 2016, 08:10:07 PM
Quote
This can cause problems unless you have gaps between the main and the switch, and a gap between the diverging route and the switch.

And that's my problem. I have Peco insulfrogs and they are not gaped after the frog. I'm still mulling over the best approach to adding a gap to them without pulling up track.
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: Alan on July 12, 2016, 08:10:34 PM
Frogs are not electrically connected to point rails or at least shouldn't be. Point rails do not change polarity. If they did, and there is no reason for them to do so, there would be a serious risk of a point rail shorting to the flange side of a wheel. All of my point rails are hard wired with feeders to their respective rails. I too exclusively use Walthers Shinohara track. The points are fastened to the throw bar with a rivet that has a hole in the middle. I solder feeders inside of those rivets. They do not change polarity. My frogs are polarity switched via Tortoise switch contacts.

The only way a short occurs is if the engineer runs the switch. Then the local block circuit breaker trips before damage is done. Eventually I will have protection from this possible event using IR sensing on the turnout legs to automatically change the frog polarity. The engineer will still run the switch but there will be no short induced arcing in the process.

A power routing switch (Peco I believe) is a unique bird. In order to have frog polarity changing capability then both point rails have to be electrically bonded together with both electrically connected to the frog. Power is then transferred from whichever stock rail is currently in contact with the point rails. This makes the frog automatic but raises all sorts of other issues including the aforementioned wheel flange shorting. An even bigger problem is reliance on point rail to stock rail for electrical conductivity. A little bit of oxidation and the connection becomes unreliable especially at high current load. Walthers Shinohara 88xx series turnouts do not have electrically bonded point rails thus have no inherit means of changing frog polarity. Walthers frogs are electrically isolated from all other parts of the turnout.

In this image you can see the feeders from the point rails coming out beside the Tortoise actuating wire. They are soldered directly to the track bus. You can follow the white wire in the image. If Walthers Shinohara point rails were electrically bonded then this arrangement would short out as soon as power is applied. Obviously it doesn't thus proving the point rails are electrically isolated from each other.

(http://www.lkorailroad.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/100_6952.jpg)
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: Dean on July 12, 2016, 09:38:12 PM
Quote
This can cause problems unless you have gaps between the main and the switch, and a gap between the diverging route and the switch.

And that's my problem. I have Peco insulfrogs and they are not gaped after the frog. I'm still mulling over the best approach to adding a gap to them without pulling up track.
Put the gap between the switch and the layout rails. The rails that need gaped are the ones that come from the frog. Maybe you can slide the track connectors.
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: William Brillinger on July 12, 2016, 10:11:29 PM
Quote
Put the gap between the switch and the layout rails.

Yeah, I know where it needs to be, I just hate the thought of cutting the rails on the switches.
Even if I can slide the connectors, I'd still need to lift the rail to get an insulated joiner in.

And I'm not loving the idea of shaping all those fillers.
Although I think I can probably laser something reshaped to fit.  hmmm.

Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: Alan on July 13, 2016, 08:02:22 AM
Why not just put a dab of paint on the frog tip? Save yourself from all the cutting and insulated joiners.
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: William Brillinger on July 13, 2016, 08:18:00 AM
Paint wears off. For the last year+, I have had .003mm vinyl covering them and that works, but if I would take that off and gap them properly I will get rid of a little bump and have the longest possible electrical contact again.
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: Alan on July 13, 2016, 08:39:42 AM
Makes sense.

Curious... what drove your buying decision to purchase Peco and more specifically Insulfrog? Wasn't a plastic frog a red flag?
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: William Brillinger on July 13, 2016, 08:50:13 AM
Having about 50 of them from 1989 may have been an influencing factor.
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: Alan on July 13, 2016, 08:55:21 AM
Ah, very much so.
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: G8B4Life on July 13, 2016, 10:27:45 AM
ANE's documentation has always been a bit on the "to be desired" side. They do try though. Unfortunately I can't comment much on the SmartFrog v5 as I don't have one; I only have an old (v1 ??) SmartSwitch set somewhere... I could possibly get v5 fairly easily though as a friend of mine carries ANE.

Pondering Alan's comments, if it's automatic polarity wanted (not switch machine driven) I wonder if it wouldn't be better to leave the frog unpowered until something runs over it. I imagine you could then detect which polarity it needs to be easily without the "allow the mistake to happen then resolve it" as the frog would have some potential once the locomotive bridges the frog and the powered rails. This could operate one of two transistors that apply the correct power to the frog (yes I know this would probably cause a power loop which would cause the frog to remain powered indefinitely but I think you get the general idea). Only the shortest wheelbase loco's  might still an issue but a timer could possibly be thrown in somehow to delay the turning off of the power once there's no more detection.

I don't think this approach would work for DCC though so it wouldn't work for those that want dual capability. Then again it might not be a workable idea at all even for DC in which case I'm just spouting hot air.

- Tim
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: Alan on July 13, 2016, 11:33:44 AM
Quote
...leave the frog unpowered until something runs over it...

That's an awesome idea!

One glitch that would need to be worked out - differentiating between a short circuit and loco motor draw. Otherwise, you are effectively lower bound limited to sensing the current drawn by the heaviest locomotive in your fleet. Even a good runner drawing only 100mA is in the sparking range. Little tiny spark but still a spark. The sensing current needs to be down in the low double digit mA range to make sparking inconsequential.

Perhaps the circuit could sense current rise time instead of total current. As an aside, my block circuit breakers do this. They allow temporary current overshoots if the ramp is slow enough. If the ramp is fast then they trip right at the set point. It is not my handywork. This functionality is part of the IC I used. Hmmm, wonder if my breaker circuit could be adapted? Lest I digress. On the good idea, keeping the sensing current low in the frog would require precision measurement. A zero ohm path should have a faster current ramp than a 150 ohm path (100mA loco) but it will be close. I would imagine only occasionally will all the power for the loco be transferred through the one wheel on the frog. If only a percentage of power flow exists then it would be easier to differentiate the ramps. Still may require scary precision to work reliably. Hey! I know of a company with Precision right in their name - Precision Design Co. Maybe they can pull it off.  ;D

Short circuits of any sort cut square against good electrical design. I am always drawn to any idea that eliminates them from the application.   
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: Josephbw on July 13, 2016, 11:42:25 AM
Quote
This can cause problems unless you have gaps between the main and the switch, and a gap between the diverging route and the switch.

And that's my problem. I have Peco insulfrogs and they are not gaped after the frog. I'm still mulling over the best approach to adding a gap to them without pulling up track.

Bill our club has been using Peco Insulfrogs for over 30 years. I put a small thin layer of clear nail polish right behind the frogs on the diverging rails of all the switches. That has worked just fine for all these years. We've had 2 different switches that get the most traffic wear through the nail polish in the last 3 years, so I just gave them a quick touch up and after drying we're back in business. Nail polish is pretty tough and will last through many years of wheels rolling over it.

Joe
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: JJ Crooke on July 13, 2016, 08:26:36 PM
Thanks everyone. Lots of good information/comments. But going back to my original question: can I power the SmartFrog (@ 12V DC, 4 amps) using my layout bus (powered by the PWR-56 @ 14.2V DC, 4 amps) without damaging the unit? Or is that something that must be tested to know the answer?
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: Alan on July 13, 2016, 08:46:11 PM
Sort of answered that in first reply. As mentioned earlier, their documentation leaves a lot to be desired. English is obviously not their native tongue.

From the manual:
1. Power input DC12V, AC 16V, DCC 18V
2. Acceptable for DC, AC and DCC power
3. Max current 4A for any scale layout

http://www.anemodel.com/Upload/Download/201509140818159669.pdf (http://www.anemodel.com/Upload/Download/201509140818159669.pdf)

This leads one to believe 14.2v should be fine. It accepts DCC 18v and since it works on DC it must be rectifying the DCC signal yielding 17.3v.

You will find out soon enough, eh?
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: JJ Crooke on July 13, 2016, 09:06:45 PM
Thanks for the answer Alan. I needed a little bit more explanation in order to understand the DC12v vs DC14.2v vs DCC18v thingy. And yes, I chuckle a bit every time I read their manual but at least they're trying.
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: JJ Crooke on July 13, 2016, 09:14:38 PM
... I could possibly get v5 fairly easily though as a friend of mine carries ANE.

Would you mind sharing the info regarding that friend? If I ever decide to go with the SmartFrog, it may be easier for me to deal with a North American-based dealer than the Taiwan-based Ane.
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: G8B4Life on July 13, 2016, 10:19:12 PM
Joel,

More than happy to share, but I'm afraid it's not quite what you think, myself and my friend are way over the duck pond, in Australia.

http://www.roadandrail.net (http://www.roadandrail.net)

Looking at ANE's website, there are a few dealers in the US. Here is the link to them. Maybe one of them might  have the SmartFrog, or at least be able to get it.

http://anemodel.com/dealers_list.aspx (http://anemodel.com/dealers_list.aspx)

Alan,

I'm glad you liked my idea. I was thinking a bit more basic than your description though. I was thinking of simply detecting/using the voltage somehow; when a locomotive first bridges the insulating gap from the powered rail to the frog (same side of the locomotive) the frog will either have ~14v or 0v applied to it from rest of the locomotive pickups on that side. That much we know. I had thought that perhaps it'd be possible to use that voltage to simply turn on one of two transistors (one each for the correct polarity to apply to the frog). There is of course a bit more to it that would need to be worked out, like stopping the frog from being permanently on after first activation that my basic description provides.

Perhaps my way of thinking how to do it isn't workable. It sounded good in my head at least.

- Tim

Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: Alan on July 13, 2016, 11:05:45 PM
Quote
the frog will either have ~14v or 0v applied to it

Relative to what potential? A completed circuit is required to detect current flow.

Where Power = Vcc or Gnd depending on train direction: Power --> Rail --> Wheel --> Frog --> Sensor --> ?

If "?" connected to Vcc then will be unable to sense when Gnd frog is required. If connected to Gnd then unable to sense when Vcc frog is required.
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: Dean on July 14, 2016, 07:30:20 AM
Hi everyone,

I had the chance to go down in my basement to work on my layout this past weekend for the first time in several months so I'd like to give a quick update on Tam Valley's Frog Juicers compatibility with RailPro. I was able to install an LM-2S decoder in one of my locomotive and the verdict is...

Tam Valley's Frog Juicers are NOT compatible with RailPro's PWR-56. The locomotive can run fine in one of the turnout's alignment but will create a short on the alternate alignment. The Frog Juicers will not change the polarity of the frog as it can't detect the short.

Oh well... I'll have to sell my Frog Juicers and look at the other options listed in this thread.  :-\

You might try an auto-reversing device.
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: Alan on July 14, 2016, 08:43:15 AM
Quote
I'm glad you liked my idea. I was thinking a bit more basic than your description though. I was thinking of simply detecting/using the voltage somehow; when a locomotive first bridges the insulating gap from the powered rail to the frog (same side of the locomotive) the frog will either have ~14v or 0v applied to it

I've got it!!! The solution hit me out of the blue last night - a voltage divider network. I'll whip up a schematic later but here is the general idea: A series network consisting of 2 sense resistors sized to develop a 1.7 volt drop at 20mA and 2 limit resistors sized (combined) to limit current to 10mA at 14.2V.

Arranged thusly: VCC --> RSENSE --> RLIMIT --> Frog --> RLIMIT --> RSENSE --> Gnd

Connect an optoisolator across each sense resistor. When no wheel is on frog then only 5mA flows across the network. Insufficient RSENSE VDROP to meet optoisolator LED turn-on voltage. When a wheel connects frog to either polarity rail then effectively the network is cut in half raising the current flow to 20mA creating a 1.7V drop across the corresponding RSENSE and firing the respective optoisolator.

Now with a clean optoisolator output signal we can trigger anything we want. I'm thinking a pair of NAND gates controlling a quad switch like a CMOS4066 that disconnects the RNETWORK from the frog to solve the permanently-on problem. The logic output would initiate the correct charge pump MOSFET combination and start a short duration timer to temporarily hold 1/2 network at 20mA. The logic gates serve to prevent both polarity transistors from being on at the same time.

Wheel bridges rail to frog --> current jumps on one side of resistor network --> optoisolator triggers --> timer starts --> frog to network disconnect --> charge pump fires transistor --> timer expires --> transistor shuts down --> frog to network connect.

Tim, you are a genius!

 
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: G8B4Life on July 14, 2016, 11:20:03 AM
Alan you've put a smile on my face this cold winters night  :); I've been called many things before but never a genius. I do think the title of genius should go to you though for figuring out the way to implement my idea, something I would not be able to do.

I really look forward to seeing the design you come up with.

- Tim


Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: Alan on July 14, 2016, 01:12:23 PM
The credit is all yours. I was satisfied to explain why off-the-shelf juicers work but are not ideal. Mostly because I practice another religion where there is no need for them - switch motor control. Your statement caused me to think about the problem, a problem I don't have <snide wink>, from a different angle. It is all about occupancy detection not short detection. Kudos to you.

The dots you helped me connect were "Hey, I've already done this!" My circuit breakers sense current flow and current ramp. Accurately. My occupancy detectors use measured voltage drop to trigger optoisolators. Sensitively. Together they form the foundation of the solution. Instead of shutting down high current circuits or sending logic pulses to a signalling system, we use the same basic sensing but do something different with the output - switch circuit polarity. At least we know the sensing side is probably doable!

Circuit breaker on the right - Sensing current rise via voltage across resistor (big brown resistor) to trigger a charge pump (IC) to turn on a MOSFET (transistor with the heat sink).
Occupancy detector on the left - Using voltage drop via current across a device (3 big diodes) to trigger an optoisolator (far IC) that starts a timer (near IC) to put out a signal (LED).
Many of both devices are functioning on my layout today. Proof the sensing scheme works. Exciting.

(http://www.lkorailroad.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/100_6462.jpg)
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: JJ Crooke on August 07, 2016, 09:51:28 PM
I have finally received the SmartFrog V.5 (AP003) that I had ordered directly from Ane Model. It took 3 weeks to receive (Taiwan to Canada) and I was anxious to see if it would work with the RailPro system. As I explained elsewhere in this thread, I am looking for a replacement for the Tam Valley Frog Juicer as it is not compatible with the PWR-56. The wiring is the same as a Mono Frog Juicer (left rail, right rail and frog) but it must also be powered by a separate set of wires. Since my turnout was already wired for the Mono Frog Juicer, I've added two additional feeder wires (16 gauge) from the bus (14 gauge) to power the SmartFrog.

I am happy to report that the AP003 SmartFrog V.5 works like a charm with the PWR-56! The polarity of the frog changes automatically when a locomotive enters the isolated frog area and there is no jerking or hesitation from the locomotive. Everything is very smooth. You can hear a "click" when the polarity is changed or when you turn the PWR-56 on or off. Each SmarFrog is $14.95 USD (ordered directly from Ane Model's website) and shipping is free on orders over $100 USD.
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: Tom on July 16, 2018, 09:20:30 PM
Can someone explain how to wire an ANE v5 AP003 Smartfrog?  I am not certain I understood the wiring explanation by Joel on August 7, 2016.  My frame of reference is frog juicer where a + and – from the power buss goes into the frog juicer and then up to 6 individual wires are each run from the frog juicer to up to six individual frogs - simple enough.  But where does the power go into on the ANE v5 Smartfrog: the “TRACK+”, the “TRACK-“, or somewhere else?  If it either one or the other, is there anything else besides connecting the actual frog to “FROG” on the Smartfrog?
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: G8B4Life on July 17, 2018, 06:17:34 AM
Hi Tom,

Joel still hangs out here so he should be able to chime in however this should get you started as well.

When used by itself ANE's documentation states that the Smart Frog (now at version 6) requires a 12v supply connected at the terminals marked POWER, which is located away from the other terminals.  The current documentation for the Smart Frog can be found here: https://www.anemodel.com/%E4%B8%8B%E8%BC%89/SmartFrog%206%20manual%20V1.2.pdf (https://www.anemodel.com/%E4%B8%8B%E8%BC%89/SmartFrog%206%20manual%20V1.2.pdf).

The TRACK+ and TRACK- go to the turnout and FROG goes to the frog. Each Smart Frog unit can only service one frog.

Hopefully Joel will let us know what he did for the 12v power.

- Tim
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: Alan on July 17, 2018, 06:53:20 AM
Wow, those directions are tough to read. No wonder you are asking for help.

These are especially curious statements. Odd that a specific current is called out.
Quote
Limited to DC Controller Features, Auto switch turnout position function will not working well in
DC control environment. We recommend that you carefully
to install SmartFrog V5 in DCC control
will be better for this special function.
In DCC control, Auto Switch function perfectly within the following conditions of operation.
Locomotive running current over 400mA and track voltage higher than 2.5V.
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: G8B4Life on July 17, 2018, 07:25:55 AM
Wow, those directions are tough to read. No wonder you are asking for help.

Just remember, English is not these guys primary language. At least they do better than some of my works Chinese suppliers!

Quote
These are especially curious statements. Odd that a specific current is called out.
Quote
Limited to DC Controller Features, Auto switch turnout position function will not working well in
DC control environment. We recommend that you carefully
to install SmartFrog V5 in DCC control
will be better for this special function.
In DCC control, Auto Switch function perfectly within the following conditions of operation.
Locomotive running current over 400mA and track voltage higher than 2.5V.

This is in relation to the new feature in the V6 revision, If you have the Smart Frog hooked up to the Smart Switch system, if you run through the turnout from the trailing direction the Smart Frog in conjunction with the Smart Switch can realise if the points are set correctly or not and throw them automatically for you. Why this apparently doesn't work well for DC track but does for DCC track and why the minimum current I don't know but there must be something to it.  It does not matter anyway if your using just the Smart Frog by itself as the Smart Frog can not throw points.

Oh, Points = Switch for anyone unfamiliar with the term.

- Tim
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: Tom on July 17, 2018, 07:58:52 AM
Tim,

I appreciate the information, hard to find ANE documentation.

My Frog Juicer works as described with a PWR-56 earlier in this string whereby the polarity reversal works well in one direction, but shorts out the PWR-56 in the other direction.  But when the power supply comes back on after having been shorted out the polarity has been correctly reversed and locomotive run well in that direction from then on.

The ANE Smartfrog requires another power supply and more wiring than the Frog Juicer.  So, to avoid that, I willing to accept the one-in-so-many hiccups as long as PWR-56 lasts, at least I have a spare one of those.

Also, it would have been nice to have known sooner that Shinohara turnouts are wired to power the frogs for whichever way the turnout is aligned.  It is almost worth considering pulling a few Atlas turnouts and replacing with Shinohara to solve the problem the way it should have been solved in the first place.  They can still be found, and rumor is that Walthers will reconstitute the Shinohara line.
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: Alan on July 17, 2018, 08:14:22 AM
...
Also, it would have been nice to have known sooner that Shinohara turnouts are wired to power the frogs for whichever way the turnout is aligned.  It is almost worth considering pulling a few Atlas turnouts and replacing with Shinohara to solve the problem the way it should have been solved in the first place.  They can still be found, and rumor is that Walthers will reconstitute the Shinohara line.

Applies only to the old, out-of-production, pre-DCC, 3 digit pt# Shinohara switches. Current production 4 digit pt# DCC-friendly Shinohara switches have an isolated frog that is dead unless you route power to it via a feeder. My layout has 72 of these each with a feeder to the frog with polarity controlled by a Tortoise.

Notice the insulated gaps on the ends of the frog and the feeder soldered to it:

100_6754.jpg
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: G8B4Life on July 17, 2018, 08:24:29 AM
Your welcome Tom.

It took me a while to remember where the ANE docs were it's been so long since I've visited their site. All their docs can be found here for anyone looking: https://www.anemodel.com/DL1.html (https://www.anemodel.com/DL1.html).

What brand of frog juicer do you currently have? From previous discussions here the line from frog juicer manufacturers seems to be "Nope DCC only" or "It might work on DC but we don't know or care to find out for you" so it'd be interesting to know.

Alan would know better than I on the electrical side of this so perhaps he knows if this is the answer or not but from your description of your current arrangement with the PWR-56 and the frog juicer it sounds like the PWR-56 is detecting the short quicker than the juicer is changing the polarity hence the shutdown and all is good once it comes back on.

I read back a few posts and it seems that Joel just used the PWR-56 to power the Smart Frog and didn't use another power supply thus:

The wiring is the same as a Mono Frog Juicer (left rail, right rail and frog) but it must also be powered by a separate set of wires. Since my turnout was already wired for the Mono Frog Juicer, I've added two additional feeder wires (16 gauge) from the bus (14 gauge) to power the SmartFrog.


- Tim
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: Alan on July 17, 2018, 08:55:29 AM
...
Alan would know better than I on the electrical side of this so perhaps he knows if this is the answer or not but from your description of your current arrangement with the PWR-56 and the frog juicer it sounds like the PWR-56 is detecting the short quicker than the juicer is changing the polarity hence the shutdown and all is good once it comes back on.
...
- Tim

I agree the PWR56 is detecting faster. Really the only possible explanation other than the juicer is faulty.

My layout uses homemade circuit breakers for power districts. I discovered while prototyping the circuit breaker design that modern power supplies have a very very fast trip response time. It was quite challenging to build a circuit breaker that was faster than the power supply yet didn't nuisance trip. I had to dial in the component values to a very narrow range to get it to work as expected. Since frog juicers work on essentially the same principle I am not surprised to see them less than 100% reliable.

100_6462.jpg 
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: TwinStar on July 17, 2018, 10:57:36 AM

...Shinohara turnouts are wired to power the frogs for whichever way the turnout is aligned. 

Can you explain how this works? The Free-mo standard has a prohibition that reads:

S4.10 All turnout frogs shall be powered. Turnouts shall not rely on switch points to power the frog.

I'm wondering if these two are related.
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: Alan on July 17, 2018, 11:40:16 AM

...Shinohara turnouts are wired to power the frogs for whichever way the turnout is aligned. 

Can you explain how this works? The Free-mo standard has a prohibition that reads:

S4.10 All turnout frogs shall be powered. Turnouts shall not rely on switch points to power the frog.

I'm wondering if these two are related.

Shinohara wiring aside, the prohibition may be because switch points are notoriously poor contacts.

You read a lot about people experiencing connectivity issues with points. The usual fix goes something like solder a jumper across the hinge joiner. If they have problems with the points then they automatically have problems with the frog if it is powered from the points.

How about more pictures?  ;D
Why treat points differently than any other piece of track? Drop a feeder through the same hole used for whatever point mover mechanism you have or for point flickers, drill a hole near the hinges and use sufficiently long flexible feeders. Problem solved permanently, no hardware, near zero cost.

100_6791.jpg

100_6795.jpg

 
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: Tom on July 17, 2018, 01:30:06 PM
I stand corrected: Shinohara turnouts do not have frogs powered by switch point contact.

I have a very small all Ring layout.  I can reach all turnouts to operate them manually.  Several locomotives stall for a split second on #6 turnouts.  A couple of locos/tenders have 6 wheel trucks and one has room for a TCS Keep-Alive so no problems with these.  Thinking novice, what might be a couple of the least cumbersome simpler options available to keep locomotives running over these turnouts? 

I thought I had hit the jackpot with the Tam Valley Frog Juicer, but it only partially works with Ring PWR-56.  Maybe an easy option is just to switch to a DCC power supply that works with the Juicer.  Ring LM-2S/3S modules work with DCC power.

Tom
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: Alan on July 17, 2018, 03:33:06 PM
You pretty much covered your options - keep-alive, DCC on the rails, hard wiring.

Keep-Alive is probably the best option if your fleet is relatively small and there is sufficient space in the equipment. The Keep-Alive fix comes with the caveat that every electricity using rolling stock needs one - locos, lighted cars, sound cars, etc. The benefit is no hardware and no layout wiring.

DCC on the rails will make frog juicers work but you need more than just the power supply. A booster of some sort is needed to put the square wave on the rails so there is the cost of the extra equipment (that serves no other useful purpose). And you will be locked into the effective rectified voltage of the DCC system instead of having the option of selecting any rail voltage you wish. 14v DCC square wave is not the direct power equivalent of 14V DC. The effective voltage is slightly less from DCC due to the momentary zero volt crossing and the packet shape of the DCC waveform. Not a deal breaker but something to be aware of especially if combined with Keep-Alive.

Hard wiring feeders and a direct wire method of switching frog polarity is the best option in the long run but does require the upfront effort to put it into place. It has the advantages of absolute lowest cost, no concerns of potential hardware failures in the future, and no space utilization inside locos. It also affords you the option of using any voltage power supply you wish which is extremely useful on a large layout (overcoming buss and rail resistance) or when adding occupancy detection for signaling (diode drop sensing).

Of the above three, only Keep-Alive somewhat compensates for dirty track. The analysis then becomes how much cost and effort are you willing to expend so you don't have to clean track so often.
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: Tom on July 17, 2018, 04:59:53 PM
Alan,

Thanks for the reply.   Based on your comments I will probably go with the hard wiring one way or the other.  I think I have heard of hand switch throws that have a way to run a wire from the throw to the frog such that the polarity is changed when the switch is manually thrown.  I hope this is not exactly the same, or as precarious as, the contact method of the old Shinohara turnouts which is not advised.

In the mean time I asked Ring about this and he wants me to buy an AR-1 to power as well as change the polarity on a frog.  I cannot understand how this would work.  From Ring: “There should be two connection points to power the frog.  You would simply connect RT1 to one of them and RT2 to the other (makes no difference which one is connected to RT1 or RT2).”  But there is only one place to power a frog, at least Atlas anyway.  That would mean one has to combine the RT1 and RT2 wires and run them both to the frog connection point which does not sound right.

Tom
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: Alan on July 17, 2018, 05:32:33 PM
There are oodles of ways to switch frog polarity. Any sort of SPDT or DPDT switch attached to the thowbar linkage will suffice. Your imagination is the limit.

RP AR-1 is a frog polarity solution but it gets real expensive real fast. $30 each (at pdc.ca (http://pdc.ca)) for the ability to control a single frog is out of range unless you need only a couple or have money to burn. I have not used an AR-1 as a frog juicer because I have no need but I do have one on a reversing loop. For frog juicing I believe you would connect either RT1 or RT2 to the frog leaving the other RT unused. No frog I know of has two electrical connection points or two isolated metal parts for that matter. Think of it this way - if you had a reversing loop where the insulated rail joiners are staggered then an approaching train would short only one RT terminal as it crosses the first insulated joiner. The AR-1 flips polarity even though the train never crossed the second insulated rail joiner. The frog arrangement is effectively the same as crossing one insulated rail joiner with the unconnected RT being another insulated rail joiner an infinite distance away.
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: JJ Crooke on July 17, 2018, 08:58:59 PM
Can someone explain how to wire an ANE v5 AP003 Smartfrog?  I am not certain I understood the wiring explanation by Joel on August 7, 2016.  My frame of reference is frog juicer where a + and – from the power buss goes into the frog juicer and then up to 6 individual wires are each run from the frog juicer to up to six individual frogs - simple enough.  But where does the power go into on the ANE v5 Smartfrog: the “TRACK+”, the “TRACK-“, or somewhere else?  If it either one or the other, is there anything else besides connecting the actual frog to “FROG” on the Smartfrog?

Tom,

What you described here is a Tam Valley Hex Frog Juicer, which powers 6 turnouts. The ANE v5 AP003 SmartFrog is similar to the Mono Frog Juicer as it powers only one turnout. I have no issues at all using 30 SmartFrogs on my layout, all powered by the PWR-56. Here's a picture of a SmartFrog under my layout (see below).

(http://[attachment id=1 msg=5503][/attachment])

Tam Valley's Mono Frog Juicer is only DCC compatible and will not work with DC (like the PWR-56). ANE Model's v5 SmartFrog is both DC and DCC compatible. If I understand correctly, the SmartFrog can work around the DC vs DCC issue by powering the SmartFrog circuitry (POWER connections) separately from the turnout polarity (TRACK+, TRACK- and FROG connections), hence the extra two wires (total of 5) compared to the Mono Frog Juicer (3 wires).

The SmartFrog device feeds to the frog (via FROG connection) whatever current (DC or DCC) that is coming in from the TRACK+ or TRACK- connections (main Bus). This incoming current bypass any circuitry and goes straight to the frog.

The SmartFrog circuitry (POWER connections; what makes the device detect a short and trigger the change of polarity) can be powered by either DC or DCC (in this case by the main Bus with a PWR-56).

Not sure if it makes any sense but all I know is that it works with the PWR-56.
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: Tom on July 20, 2018, 09:00:02 AM
Joel,

Got it, with one exception: I was unaware that the PWR-56 is DC since Ring is pretty emphatic that their modules should not to be used with a power pack set to full throttle.

Based on your description and picture of the SmartFrog, what do you think about powering my Tam Valley Hex Frog Juicer with a separate DCC power supply and then running the single wires to the frogs?  It seems like the Frog Juicer might line up the polarity of the frog with whatever it detects.  If that is something that would work the next question is: is there a very inexpensive DCC power supply out there somewhere?

Tom
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: JJ Crooke on July 20, 2018, 10:05:10 AM
The PWR-56 is not your conventional DC power pack where you increase/decrease the throttle to regulate the current/speed of a DC engine. The PWR-56 regulates the power to provide a steady current output. I'm no expert when it comes to this so others may chime in to give you a better explanation.

You could definitely power your Tam Valley Hex Frog Juicer with a separate DCC power supply but the rest of your layout would also need to be powered by DCC and not DC (like the PWR-56). Tam Valley Frog Juicer will only detect DCC current. DC current will not damage the Frog Juicer (as per their website and I've tried it) but will simply pass-through the juicer and it will not detect a DC short (will not change the polarity). RailPro decoders (like the LM-3S) do support both DC or DCC power but I'm pretty sure that you can't mix both. Again, I'm not an expert on the subject so please correct me if I'm wrong.
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: G8B4Life on July 20, 2018, 10:50:10 AM
...since Ring is pretty emphatic that their modules should not to be used with a power pack set to full throttle.

What Ring means is that you should not use a variable voltage power pack, ie typical train set type of controller as the power source. These can easily output more than the safe voltage than what the LM can take because the voltage is unregulated. The PWR-56 is regulated so it's outputting 14.2v no matter what (within reason). You can even use other regulated power supplies instead of the PWR-56, as long as they are regulated and output between the minimum and maximum voltage of RailPro.

Quote
Based on your description and picture of the SmartFrog, what do you think about powering my Tam Valley Hex Frog Juicer with a separate DCC power supply and then running the single wires to the frogs?  It seems like the Frog Juicer might line up the polarity of the frog with whatever it detects.  If that is something that would work the next question is: is there a very inexpensive DCC power supply out there somewhere?

I think I get what your suggesting but I'm not 100% sure so I'll try to cover all bases. To use the Tam Valley frog juicers without the shutdown problems described previously you'll have to have DCC as the track power, not just the frog. If you tried to have the track DC (as you do currently) and the frog DCC then you'd likely get all sorts of problems when a locomotive runs though the frog as the frog would be alternating between +/- while the closure rails would be a constant + or 0v.

Now, as far as I know DCC and "inexpensive" are words that don't belong in the same sentence. For DCC what you'll need along with the power supply is something to generate the DCC waveform to the track. This something according to my current knowledge of what's out there in the world would be a proper standalone DCC command station (not cheap). If one was smart with electronics (which I am not) it might be possible to design and build a basic DCC waveform generator which should be quite cheap to do but I have never seen one.

- Tim
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: JJ Crooke on July 20, 2018, 11:01:59 AM
Yep... what Tim said.  ;D
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: Alan on July 20, 2018, 11:20:37 AM
Hey Bill,

This discussion sparks a suggestion for a new PDC product - DC to emulated DCC track power converter. There is a simple common circuit called a relaxation oscillator which does exactly that. 24 volts DC in = 12 volts AC square wave out. Add a couple transistors on the output to get whatever current output desired. Presto, PDC has a low cost accessory for people wanting to run on DCC power without having a DCC system!

The basic circuit:

312px-OpAmpHystereticOscillator.svg.png

Read all about them: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relaxation_oscillator (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relaxation_oscillator)
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: G8B4Life on July 20, 2018, 11:45:33 AM
I did some searching after replying earlier and found this waveform generator circuit from Rob Paisley. With some component value changes to get to generate the correct duty cycle (it generates a zero stretched waveform, which probably can be used as is for out application anyway) it should be able to be fed into a commercial booster (cheaper than a command station) or build you own booster (he has a circuit for that too!).

http://www.circuitous.ca/xZeroStretch.html (http://www.circuitous.ca/xZeroStretch.html)

- Tim
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: Alan on July 20, 2018, 12:01:46 PM
Tim, there is no need for zero stretching (with a booster or with the new PDC converter) unless you are operating DC locos. RP modules rectify the track power so all AC frequencies and duty cycles produce the same result inside the LM.
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: Tom on July 20, 2018, 12:37:30 PM
Well, this discussion has rocketed way past my level of electrical competence.  But it raises the question of “why does not Ring fix the PWR-56 to be the more DCC friendly type of output.”  The modules run on DCC anyway and it seems that Ring is trying to make RailPro more accessible to DCC enthusiasts (DCC Enabled) so why not allow potential RailPro users access to more stuff made for DCC?  Maybe Ring could just update the software running the PWR-56.

I think I will go with the SmartFrog V5 or the Caboose 220S ground throws.  Have not found anyone other than ANE website selling the SmartFrog.

Tom
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: Alan on July 20, 2018, 02:09:28 PM
...  But it raises the question of “why does not Ring fix the PWR-56 to be the more DCC friendly type of output.” ...

Tom

Adds unnecessary cost to the PWR56 and potentially detracts from AR1 sales. Ring is sensitive to his power supply price as evidenced by the replacement of the PWR75 with the PWR56 sometime back. The PWR75 was a more robust unit  than the PWR56 (barring the occasional PWR75 China-made fan problems). The PWR56's big advantage was much lower cost. Adding DCC output would defeat the purpose of moving to the PWR56.

I'd suggest Ring seriously consider offering a juicer for 6-8 frogs. And while he is at, also offer an occupancy detector. As it is now, the RailPro-supplied solution for frog juicing is very expensive and there is no RailPro-supplied solution for controlling signals or crossings. Juicing and detection both work on the same fundamental principle (detecting current flow) as the AR1 so its not like he would be starting from scratch.
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: TwinStar on July 20, 2018, 03:09:43 PM
Hey Bill,

This discussion sparks a suggestion for a new PDC product - DC to emulated DCC track power converter. There is a simple common circuit called a relaxation oscillator which does exactly that. 24 volts DC in = 12 volts AC square wave out. Add a couple transistors on the output to get whatever current output desired. Presto, PDC has a low cost accessory for people wanting to run on DCC power without having a DCC system!

The basic circuit:

312px-OpAmpHystereticOscillator.svg.png

Read all about them: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relaxation_oscillator (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Relaxation_oscillator)

Alan:

Is this a new product that is available or are you pitching the idea for a new product?

This could be HUGE for some of us. My Free-mo modules are required to be able to work with the Modular Signal System which has current detection as one of the layers. However, there are only two known current detectors that work with both DC and DCC. The RR Cirkit BOD-1 is a good $12 option but it will not work for Free-mo due to the reversible nature of the modules and the polarity sensitivity of the BOD-1 in DC mode. The Dallee DT is a perfect solution but at $30 a piece gets cost prohibitive for small modules.

If DC could be put on the rails that looked like DCC and worked with the near endless supply of DCC products that would be wonderful.
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: Alan on July 20, 2018, 03:31:29 PM
Alan:

Is this a new product that is available or are you pitching the idea for a new product?

This could be HUGE for some of us. My Free-mo modules are required to be able to work with the Modular Signal System which has current detection as one of the layers. However, there are only two known current detectors that work with both DC and DCC. The RR Cirkit BOD-1 is a good $12 option but it will not work for Free-mo due to the reversible nature of the modules and the polarity sensitivity of the BOD-1 in DC mode. The Dallee DT is a perfect solution but at $30 a piece gets cost prohibitive for small modules.

If DC could be put on the rails that looked like DCC and worked with the near endless supply of DCC products that would be wonderful.

It is nothing more than an idea suggestion to Bill. My point is electrically speaking it would be relatively easy to do. Getting UL and CE approvals for commercial sale of a device is an entirely different matter. That's where PDC comes in.

Yeah, I too think it could be HUGE.

 
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: William Brillinger on July 20, 2018, 04:01:44 PM
Quote
It is nothing more than an idea suggestion to Bill. My point is electrically speaking it would be relatively easy to do. Getting UL and CE approvals for commercial sale of a device is an entirely different matter. That's where PDC comes in.

Yeah, I too think it could be HUGE.

If somebody builds it I'll sell it. Getting it certified, that's not my cup of tea.
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: Alan on July 20, 2018, 04:39:09 PM

If somebody builds it I'll sell it. Getting it certified, that's not my cup of tea.

It won't be me! I am within spitting distance of retirement. After working my entire life retirement means retirement.
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: JJ Crooke on July 20, 2018, 05:14:01 PM
Tom,

I've also ordered my SmartFrog v5 (AP003) (30 of them) directly from ANE Model and it took 3 weeks to receive (Taiwan to Canada). I would suggest buying an extra unit or two while you're at it since ordering only one unit from Taiwan is not very cost efficient in case you need to replace one (which I didn't have to yet).
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: Dean on July 20, 2018, 09:21:05 PM
Why can't you use something like this to power your frogs?   http://www.cabooseind.com/product-page/220s-sprung-w-contacts-165-travel-for-ho-and-n (http://www.cabooseind.com/product-page/220s-sprung-w-contacts-165-travel-for-ho-and-n)
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: TwinStar on July 20, 2018, 11:58:06 PM
Bill and Alan:

Not what I wanted to hear but I can understand. If a design, part numbers, or a kit was ever assembled I'd be all over it and just build my own. The problem is that I'm a very short bus electrical guy. I need lots of part numbers and colored instructions.
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: G8B4Life on July 21, 2018, 03:40:44 AM
Tim, there is no need for zero stretching (with a booster or with the new PDC converter) unless you are operating DC locos. RP modules rectify the track power so all AC frequencies and duty cycles produce the same result inside the LM.

Alan,

If you read my reply again you'll see that I was saying that the circuit design by Rob Paisley generates a zero stretched signal but one would want to change that to the normal DCC signal by changing the component values, but it could possibly work as is anyway.

Continuing on this discussion because it is interesting, Robs design is the closest thing I found to a usable circuit for driving a DCC booster without an actual command station, though there are a few questions that I'd like to ask him about it.

I did some looking at the relaxation oscillator design online and found a few designs that provide the necessary swing from + to - and back again ad infinitum but with all of them they don't provide the opposite phase required for correct output to the track for using directly (see the right hand side of Robs circuit). I don't know how one would make it work without even more circuitry on the oscillator part.

This is a link to some designs on some forum on creating a square wave AC signal, with the relaxation oscillator design given a few times (probably only of interest to Alan): https://www.edaboard.com/showthread.php?292062-Dual-polarity-square-wave-generator (https://www.edaboard.com/showthread.php?292062-Dual-polarity-square-wave-generator)

Edit: Reading the NMRA standard for Power Stations (Boosters) you should be able to drive a booster with a unipolar signal from a relaxation oscillator fairly easily (a bipolar signal would be harder, a bipolar signal has to present to the booster differentially across the inputs of the booster). https://www.nmra.org/sites/default/files/standards/sandrp/pdf/S-9.1.2_2012_07.pdf (https://www.nmra.org/sites/default/files/standards/sandrp/pdf/S-9.1.2_2012_07.pdf)

- Tim
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: Alan on July 21, 2018, 10:09:12 AM
Alan,
If you read my reply again you'll see that I was saying that the circuit design by Rob Paisley generates a zero stretched signal but one would want to change that to the normal DCC signal by changing the component values, but it could possibly work as is anyway.
- Tim

My apologies. Brain saw zero stretching and jumped to a conclusion.

I did some looking at the relaxation oscillator design online and found a few designs that provide the necessary swing from + to - and back again ad infinitum but with all of them they don't provide the opposite phase required for correct output to the track for using directly (see the right hand side of Robs circuit). I don't know how one would make it work without even more circuitry on the oscillator part.
- Tim

The circuit I showed is just a basic oscillator and was included since the message was introducing oscillator into the discussion for the first time. Yes, additional components would be needed in a final design. The inverse output (as you note), output driver transistors, and overload protection are a few obvious needed additions.

Regrading the inverse output, that could be accomplished any number of ways. You could simply add a second oscillator 180 degree out of phase to the first. Or you could add a logic NOT gate (inverter) tied to the oscillator output to get the inverse. Or you could do it in with the output transistors themselves - P channel and N channel outputs similar to audio amplifier output stages although this approach would require fine tuning to manage DC offset but it could be done. Point is the task of creating an AC square wave is not revolutionary. It is quite common in many electrical devices.

[EDIT]
Realized an easy way for everyone to visualize the DCC-simulation power supply - Consider the inverters sold for cars, campers, and boats so people can run 115V AC appliances from the vehicle's 12V DC electrical system. The DCC-simulation power supply would work the same except at different voltages of course and instead of outputting a sine wave it would output a square wave. Otherwise, same same.
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: Alan on July 22, 2018, 06:44:47 AM
Hmmm... inexpensive starting point:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/ICL8038-Function-Signal-Generator-Module-Sine-Square-Triangle-Wave-Output-Kits-S/401386381107?_trkparms=aid%3D111001%26algo%3DREC.SEED%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D20160727114228%26meid%3D61d19766d757442cb4f60dd17abf03e3%26pid%3D100290%26rk%3D3%26rkt%3D4%26sd%3D201835571136%26itm%3D401386381107&_trksid=p2060778.c100290.m3507 (https://www.ebay.com/itm/ICL8038-Function-Signal-Generator-Module-Sine-Square-Triangle-Wave-Output-Kits-S/401386381107?_trkparms=aid%3D111001%26algo%3DREC.SEED%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D20160727114228%26meid%3D61d19766d757442cb4f60dd17abf03e3%26pid%3D100290%26rk%3D3%26rkt%3D4%26sd%3D201835571136%26itm%3D401386381107&_trksid=p2060778.c100290.m3507)
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: BruceRogers on July 22, 2018, 05:49:00 PM
I've been using Ring's AR-1 as a frog juicer. Works perfectly even though it's a little pricy, the frog can be connected to either RT1 or RT2 output.
Tim Ring says the RT1 is the strong output from an electrical point of view.
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: Tom on July 23, 2018, 07:31:10 AM
Bruce,

Have you tried connecting RT1 & RT2 from same AR-1 to two different frogs which would never be crossed simultaneously?  Or for that matter splitting RT1 & RT2 with each output going to two or more frogs all of which would never be crossed simultaneously.  If this is possible and all runs are shorter than 10 feet from AR-1 the cost per frog would be cut drastically.  In any event, what would happen if two connected frogs were touch simultaneously: maybe the PWR-56 would just cut off power for 2 seconds and then one would move on?

Also there would be less wiring more like the Frog Juicer, rather than having 5 wires connected for each SmartFrog V5 which also looks like less expensive decent option.  Though retrofitting a Caboose 220S proved more messy for me than the SmartFrog V5 would be (I wired a SmartFrog V4, but it did not work).

Tom
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: BruceRogers on July 25, 2018, 07:45:10 AM
Tom,
That's a great question. If the train gods are in my favor today I should be able to give you your answer. I'm planning an arrangement just as you describe. I have 3 switches/frogs I'd like to connect to one AR-1 and several I'd like to have 2 frogs to one AR-1.
I see no reason why it won't work.

Update. I tested the the AR-1 to see how it performed switching current for multiple frogs that cannot be crossed simultaneously, in my case I connected 3. The frogs were all attached to one RT output and then both. The AR-1 worked perfectly switching polarity as needed. While one frog was occupied another locomotive was run into one of the other frogs. This caused the PWR-56 to short out as was expected. Removing one of the locomotives restored the power. By being able to switch polarity of one or more frogs will save me using 8 additional AR-1s.
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: TwinStar on July 25, 2018, 10:31:45 AM
Hmmm... inexpensive starting point:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/ICL8038-Function-Signal-Generator-Module-Sine-Square-Triangle-Wave-Output-Kits-S/401386381107?_trkparms=aid%3D111001%26algo%3DREC.SEED%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D20160727114228%26meid%3D61d19766d757442cb4f60dd17abf03e3%26pid%3D100290%26rk%3D3%26rkt%3D4%26sd%3D201835571136%26itm%3D401386381107&_trksid=p2060778.c100290.m3507 (https://www.ebay.com/itm/ICL8038-Function-Signal-Generator-Module-Sine-Square-Triangle-Wave-Output-Kits-S/401386381107?_trkparms=aid%3D111001%26algo%3DREC.SEED%26ao%3D1%26asc%3D20160727114228%26meid%3D61d19766d757442cb4f60dd17abf03e3%26pid%3D100290%26rk%3D3%26rkt%3D4%26sd%3D201835571136%26itm%3D401386381107&_trksid=p2060778.c100290.m3507)

For us electrical morons, is this square wave DC idea attainable? Or is this our perpetual motion machine?
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: Alan on July 25, 2018, 10:54:07 AM
For us electrical morons, is this square wave DC idea attainable? Or is this our perpetual motion machine?
I'm working on it. Few more days please.
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: TwinStar on July 25, 2018, 11:14:14 AM
For us electrical morons, is this square wave DC idea attainable? Or is this our perpetual motion machine?
I'm working on it. Few more days please.

Awesome. And please don't mistake my comment for any form of lack of patience or irritation. This would revolutionize my modeling world and I was just sitting here over morning coffee thinking 'big picture'. I can wait a year or more if the concept works.
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: Dean on July 25, 2018, 06:11:06 PM
I'm really confused. If the OP is using Electrofrog switches, why does he need any extra device to power the frogs?  They are already powered and change polarity when the switch is thrown. The only thing that is necessary is to install them properly. When I install them, neither the main or the diverging route is connected to rails leading from them. Only the throat lead gets powered from the tracks. They work perfectly.
No extra parts needed.
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: Alan on July 25, 2018, 07:02:04 PM
I agree there is no need for juicers with Peco Electrofrogs. I think the discussion wandered from there for the benefit of people using switches other than Peco Electrofrogs.
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: Tom on July 26, 2018, 07:56:22 AM
Bruce,

Thank you for running the experiment, greatly appreciated.  Ring just sold another AR-1.  I have several Caboose 220S throws so my options to fix frog problems are essentially unlimited.

Tom
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: Alan on July 26, 2018, 08:31:53 AM
Update. I tested the the AR-1 to see how it performed switching current for multiple frogs that cannot be crossed simultaneously, in my case I connected 3. The frogs were all attached to one RT output and then both. The AR-1 worked perfectly switching polarity as needed. While one frog was occupied another locomotive was run into one of the other frogs. This caused the PWR-56 to short out as was expected. Removing one of the locomotives restored the power. By being able to switch polarity of one or more frogs will save me using 8 additional AR-1s.

For people considering this application make damned sure your layout passes the quarter test everywhere, especially on the frogs, else you may shorten the life of your AR1s and/or melt feeder wires. The bigger the layout the more concerned you should be. It is one thing to flip polarity of a single frog located close to an AR-1, quite another to flip a power supply circuit breaker because of frogs located at a distance from an AR-1. Make sure your wiring is up to snuff.  Bruce's test confirms his is. Make sure yours is too.
Title: AR-1 to power multiple frogs
Post by: faithie999 on February 15, 2020, 02:23:40 PM
apologies for resurrecting an old thread, but it's easier than going through a summary of the context for my question.

for now, my layout will have a single power block, using a laptop-style 15v/5a power supply protected by a 5A Blue Sea marine/RV circuit breaker.

see post #80, page 6.  Tom installed one AR-1 to power several frogs, which he said worked as long as only one frog was crossed at a time.  has any discovery been made in the following couple of years that reinforces that as a viable solution, or disqualifies it?

I'm doing as much research as possible before starting to build my layout.  I have many atlas custom-line turnouts and shinohara (old version, I believe) curved turnouts and 3-way turnouts that I want to re-use.  the atlas's have isolated metal frogs with wiring connection points, and my Dremel and years ago I converted the shinohara turnouts to isolated frogs.

I think I would rather practice Alan's mantra of "clean track and powered frogs" rather than installing KA's in all my loco's.  I have a couple of LM-1's and LM-3s's on the bench ready to install, and then 20 or so more loco's to convert as the budget permits.

early in this thread (or in another old thread) Bill mentioned his "simple switch solution" but I can't find that on the PDC website so maybe that is lost to history.  my research says that the cheapest solution is Caboose 220S ground throws, although I'm intrigued by the ANE SmartFrog product but especially by the AR-1 solution to power multiple frogs.

please comment and advise.

thanks!!

Ken

edit--and if an AR-1 works with multiple frogs I would thing the SmartFrog ought to, as well. 
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: Alan on February 16, 2020, 11:34:07 AM
The mechanism or electrical scheme used to power the frogs is irrelevant. What matters is absolute assurance no two frogs will be crossed at the same time. Sounds risky to me.
Title: Re: Frog Juicers compatible with RailPro?
Post by: faithie999 on February 16, 2020, 02:32:21 PM
Sounds risky to me.

probably so.  since I need to switch the turnouts with something anyway, I think I'll use the caboose 220s's to switch the points and power the frogs.