Capacitive Discharge Turnout Activation

Brian Eiland

On my first big HO layout I used primarily Atlas

If I recall properly I could throw 5-6 of those atlas turnouts with a single CD unit that I built myself from a book instruction.

I am now building a new layout using all Peco turnouts. I've looked at a number of methods to activate those turnouts, BUT I keep returning to the good old CD idea. Most of my turnouts will be within easy reach for manual operation, But I have a whole mess of those stock PL10 solenoid controls that can be attached for eventual powering-up, or just operated manually.

My question is if I want to make them work with a CD (capacitive discharge) unit, HOW many of the Peco turnouts can I throw with one CD unit??    What sort of current draw are those PL10 solenoids??


Throwing twin coil switch machines with a CD (capacitive discharge) unit depends on the capability of the CD unit.  It also depends on the amount of power required by the twin coil switch machine itself.  So answering your question here isn't possible.  Some of the DCC equipment manufacturers like NCE make a product that is designed to drive twin coil switch machines. Digitrax had one at one time that could do this as well.  They may still do.  Of course, you are not required to use a DCC product to drive switch machines; it's just often convenient to do so.

NCE has a product they call the Q-Snap.  It is designed to control four separate twin coil switch machines.  Whether you can drive multiple Peco twin coil switch machines, I do not know.  I have a Q-Snap, but I don't have any of the Peco units to try for you.

I know there are times when you want to drive multiple turnouts from the same control; like in a cross over when they will always work together.  But aside from that, with DCC you can link together multiple outputs of devices that drive twin coil switch machines.  NCE calls this capability "Macros".  Digitrax calls them "Routes."

Allan Gartner
Wiring for DCC


I am running a Digitrax DS52 that controls 2 Peco PL10 switch machines on a 3 way switch on my layout.
That does require DCC. The DS52 & the DS64 will do slow motion switches or solenoid switches.
Both of them have not met a switch that they can control.
I have experimented with Large Scale switch machines & they work!



I forgot, there is a way to control these switches on DC layouts.
It uses a double throw, double pole, momentary switch.
Basically, run your power to one end. Then wire that to the opposite corner.
Wire your switch to the 2 center contacts.
That's a reversing switch. Using momentary will help from frying the switch machine.
No special circuitry needed.



Hi Jay

I use only Peco PL-10 twin coil solenoid turn-out motors.  May I suggest that you take a look at DCC Concept's ADS4sx 4-channel decoders for use in either DCC or DC systems (they also do 8sx and 2sx, with 8 and 2 channels respectively). They are the "bees". 

With four of these 4sx decoders (16 channels) I control 25 points on my layout which includes passing sections with paired points at each end, several cross-overs each with two opposing points and one double cross-over with four points.  In each case I use a single channel (single DCC address) to operate both, or in the case of the crossover all four, points with one touch of my iphone !  Each channel has its own powerful CDU which provides enough grunt to switch four PL-10's in one hit. Each channel also provides outputs for frog-juicing and a momentary switch for signals, etc.  They are terrific !

As you can tell, I'm a very happy ex-pat Brit living in Melbourne who have been well looked after by DCC Concepts who are based at Settle in the UK, which is also a bonus as I'm modelling (loosely) the Settle to Carlisle Railway.


Robert Morrison

If you only throw one or two switches at one time, the CD circuit will recharge within a few seconds and you can throw another switch.  It is doubtful that you will throw the control switches in rapid succession and overwhelm the CD circuit if you throw one switch at a time and move your hand to the next control switch.

I use the Peco CD circuit (PL-35), Turnout motor (PL-11) and throw lever PL-26B) on my layout. I can throw switches as fast as I can move my hand without losing too much power from the CD. 

So, unless you need to throw 10 turnouts at once, you should be "good to go.”

That’s my experience, for what it is worth.


Robert Morrison