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Discussion in 'DCC & Electronics' started by taylor_up_bnsf, Jan 13, 2008.
How much track can there be before additional booster/s are needed?
Hi...Boosters required are not so much a function of the amount of track you're powering up, as the number of locomotives you'll be running at any one time. I have nearly 200 feet of track laid and I'm still just using my basic D'trax Zephyr, since I can only operate 2 engines at once (for now...). Boosters will also allow you to set up different "power districts" which will also provide short circuit protection in case there's a short in one district, the others won't be affected.
Most magazine reviews will list the amps a loco pulls - use this to determine how many locos you can operate per booster/command station.
If each loco uses 1/2 amp, you get 2 locos per amp. If your systems is 2 amps, that is 2 amps x 2 locos = 4 total.
Sound decoders take more power as do older motors from the 70's - 80's. Also larger scales may have higher power requirements.
Lastly - ANY length of track would benefit from additional "feeder" wires to help the current to flow to areas further from the command station. Similar to a traditional toy train set - where the train slows down as it reaches the furthest point on a simple oval, then speeds up as it approaches the power pack.
Check out the Wiring For DCC website for a great deal of info (all free).
In addition to the consideration of the number of locomotives you will have on the track, as gcodori has pointed out, another consideration is the wiring system you use to connect the track to the command station/ booster.
Typically, you will run a 2-wire track power buss of a minimum thickness of 14 or 16AWG around your layout - the thicker the wire, the better. One end of this track power buss is connected to your command station/booster. The other end isn't connected to anything.
From this track power buss, you will run track feeders up to the track. The more track feeders you install, the better. This is because there is electrical resistance in the rails which drops the voltage as you get farther out from the track feed - like your traditional toy train set, as gcodori has pointed out.
If you have locomotives that draw a low current, a good track power buss with lots of track feeders, you shouldn't need a booster on your home layout.
For more information, go to this page on my website and scroll down to "Laws of DCC - Law #3"