Skill Level: Simple (basic turnout installation) to intermediate (adding relays and DCC control).
The Octopus turnout control system. Left to right - R/C servo and Servo Bracket, Octopus III, Fascia Controller, Remote Aligner connected to Octopus III with 7 foot cable.
Octopus III Eight Servo Driver with Remote Aligner Tool
The Octopus III can drive up to 8 servos to move turnouts or other devices on your layout controlled by a toggle switch, a momentary pushbutton, the output of a signal system or a DCC decoder. There are 8 positions for plugging in R/C type servos and 8 inputs for switches or 5V logic.
The Remote Aligner allows you to stand by the turnout being aligned so you can precisely align the servo endpoints with ease. No more hanging under the layout trying to push buttons. The servo endpoints are found automatically by searching for hard endpoints or you can manually align them with the Remote Aligner. This allows each servo to be adjusted to its optimum range and endpoints and each servo can be independently adjusted. With the Remote Aligner you can set the amount of force used in the automatic alignment to match your rail size and the servos you are using. The board also has jumpers for setting the range from +/-20 degrees around center to +/70 degrees and for centering the servo to simplify installation for applications where there are no hard endpoints or where you are using the same turnouts in all locations. The Octopus III has an on-board high-frequency switching 1.8A power supply that is more efficient than the old linear power supply. This means less heat and a lower power draw. Power input is any power supply from 5.0-24 volts DC.
You can use the same fascia controllers as the Quad. This gives you a simple way to hook up the inputs to the board using servo-style cords and extensions. You can use "Y" cords to use more than one fascia controller to control one servo. You can also use a "Y" to connect two servos to one output (works great for passing sidings!).
This board has no DCC input. If you want DCC control of your servos then see the Quad Servo Decoder or you can add an Octocoder (see below).
Octopus III Board has 8 positions for driving servos between two positions and 8 inputs for fascia controllers (see below) or toggle switches. Octopus III uses the remote board (below) to align the servos and has automated endpoint adjustment as well as full manual control. Ideal for use with miniature servos and the servo mounting kit (available here). Power with 7.5-24V filtered DC (do not use AC and please do not use old "powerpacks" - they are not filtered). Octopus III has a built-in switching power supply for high efficiency and greater range. You should budget 1 Amp per board with 1 Amp overhead (for when the servos are driving to new positions). So 3 octos should have a 4 Amp power supply. Board is 2.5" x 1.9" in size.
Remote Aligner for Octopus III Used with the Octopus III (above) for alignment of servos (cannot be used with the Octopus II). Just one of these needed for all of your Octopus IIIs. Comes with a 7' cable which allows you to stand next to your turnout while aligning the servo - no more acrobatics and hanging upside down below the layout! The cable is a 6-pin straight data cable (not a phone type cable). Board is 2.7" x 1.7" in size.
OCT031 $12.00 USD
DCC Add-on for the Octopus II/III
By adding this DCC stationary/accessory decoder to the Octopus you can control your turnouts with servos and DCC at the lowest possible cost per turnout. No frills just throws the turnouts from your throttle or JMRI.
Octocoder - Stationary DCC decoder Add-on for Octopus II/III
You can control your Octopus II or III with the Octocoder, a simple stationary DCC decoder. The board provides connections os you can also connect fascia controllers and LEDs for local control. (Will not work with toggle switches however.) No CVs to program - just put on the address jumper and issue a turnout command from your throttle to set the address block. Uses 8 consecutive DCC addresses.
OCD001 $19.95 USD
Assembled Switch Machines
The Micro Switch Machine is a small servo-based switch machine with a built-in snap switch. It is 1.25 inches wide and 1.5 inches tall. It is ideal for N scale installations yet has enough torque to throw O scale turnouts. It comes completely assembled.
(Note since this video was made we have updated the mounts for the version with snap switch to blue plastic but it all works the same.)
12V 5A Power Supply for Accessory Bus Use
12V 5A 60W switching power supply. Best for powering the Octo III. This unit will power up to 4 Octo IIIs fully loaded with servos. Plug size is 5.5/2.1 mm. Power supply comes with a US 110V plug. By swapping the power cord can be used with 100-240V~50/60Hz power. If you don't want cut and strip the wire ends use the power jack to screw terminal adapter below.
DPS012 $16.95 USD
Power Jack to Screw Terminal Adapter
This adapter mates with the 12V power supplies to make them easy to hook up to wires using the screw terminals. Jack size is 5.5/2.1 mm. Plus and minus terminals are marked. Price is for one adapter - picture shows two to illustrate both ends.
Using a Y cable a DPDT relay can be added to the Octopus to the fascia controller socket. This can be used at the same time as a fascia controller. This gives you a set of contacts to power a turnout frog and to indicate the turnout state to a external signaling system. The relay is a special low power 5 V version that requires only a 30 mA to activate.
Important note for Elctrofrogs and "live frog" switches - This relay and the Octo III combinatin will not work properly when using turnouts where the point rails power the frog (Electrofrog/live frog). The relay switches immediately upon changing with the Octo III. DCC-friendly switches with isolated frogs will work fine.
*This relay will work on both the Quad and the Octopus controller socket.
Click on image for detailed instructions
Remote 5V DPDT Relay with Y Cable for Controller Socket
A DPDT relay for using on a Y cable in conjunction with a fascia controller. (Will also work without the fascia controller.) Has a 6-pin connector block to simplify wiring. High-sensitivity coil requires 30 mA. The contacts are rated 1 Amp at 24VDC. [Can also be used without the Octopus - red wire, 5V, black wire, ground, white wire, signal (0V = OFF, greater than 1.4V is ON).] Comes with a 12" Y cable - extra length can be added with servo extensions.
DY5001 $7.00 USD
Set of 8 Remote DPDT Relay with Y Cable for Controller Socket
DY5008 $32.00 USD
Roll Your Own Inputs The inputs to the Octopus are very versatile. You can use toggles or momentary switches. A jumper (MTR) is used to tell the Octopus whether you are using momentary or toggled inputs. When the Octopus is not sensing the input it puts out a signal on the same wire that can be used lighting LEDS to indicate turnout position. The wire used is a standard servo extension so you don't need to cut wires.