Track wiring question?

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by bellybomber3, Jan 30, 2006.

  1. bellybomber3

    bellybomber3 New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2005
    Messages:
    29
    Likes Received:
    0
    I am wiring a layout and would like to know if I could run one set of 12 gauge bus wires to power two tracks with 20 gauge feeder wires since I am using DCC? I have two continuous ho tracks running side by side.
    Tom
  2. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2002
    Messages:
    5,135
    Likes Received:
    0
    Yes.
    You can use the sam bus wires to power yards and whatnot.
  3. bellybomber3

    bellybomber3 New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2005
    Messages:
    29
    Likes Received:
    0
    This is the track plan that I am wiring:
    [​IMG]

    So, I can run one set of 12 gauge buss wires to power the track and switches? Do you splice and solder into the buss wires at each connetion (without cutting the buss wire)or do you cut the buss and crimp a tee splice to make the connection?
    Thanks,
    Tom
  4. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2003
    Messages:
    4,707
    Likes Received:
    0
    What I do is use house wiring "Romex" cable with the sheath removed. You will have a black wire, a white wire and a bare copper wire. I use the black wire (+) and the white wire (-). The Romex wire will be solid, not stranded; and it will be my main buss wire. I use my pocket knife or a utility knife to cut off the insulation where ever I want to hook in a drop lead. The drop lead is soldered to the track on the outside of the rail, tucked into the center of the road bed and a hole drilled to allow it to go through the bench work. I also use color coded drop wires to make the wiring easier. Now strip back 1/2 inch or so of the drop wire, and coil it tightly around the stripped section of buss wire. Use a soldering gun and rosin core solder to solder the drop to the buss and you are good to go. For most reliable operation, every piece of rail gets it's own drop soldered at both ends of the drop. Since there are no reverse loops in your plan and you are running dcc, one set of buss wires will do the entire layout. If you were running dc instead, the wiring would be more complicated.
  5. bellybomber3

    bellybomber3 New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2005
    Messages:
    29
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks Russ,
    That helps me understand it so much better.
    Tom
  6. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2002
    Messages:
    5,718
    Likes Received:
    0
    Tom,

    You said:

    Are you talking about delivering power to the rails in the switches (i.e. the track), or powering switch machines that throw the switch?

    If you are intending to power the switch machines from the same bus - caution! Depending on what kind of switch machines you are using, and how you intend to control them, you may need a separate power supply.

    Andrew
  7. bellybomber3

    bellybomber3 New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2005
    Messages:
    29
    Likes Received:
    0
    Mason Jar,
    I have an extra dc power pack from one of my kids train sets. Would I be better running power from those to power the switches, or would I need something different due to dcc?
    Tom
  8. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2002
    Messages:
    5,718
    Likes Received:
    0
    Tom,

    What kind of switch machines are you running?

    Andrew
  9. bellybomber3

    bellybomber3 New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2005
    Messages:
    29
    Likes Received:
    0
    Andrew,
    I am using atlas remote switches.
    Tom
  10. bellybomber3

    bellybomber3 New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2005
    Messages:
    29
    Likes Received:
    0
    Another related question:
    Do I need to install insulated terminals around the atlas switches?
    Thanks,
    Tom
  11. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2003
    Messages:
    4,707
    Likes Received:
    0
    As long as you are running the trains on dcc, you don't need any insulating gaps anywhere with your proposed layout. With the Atlas switch machines, you can control them off the ac terminals or the steady voltage dc terminals of any commercial power pack, but with children, you will probably need to go with a capacitor discharge unit between the power pack and the switch machine to keep the kids from accidently burning out the switch machine coils.
  12. bellybomber3

    bellybomber3 New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2005
    Messages:
    29
    Likes Received:
    0
    Russ,
    This "capacitor discharge unit" would I mount it in the control box or under the layout? How much does it cost and how many would I need for 11 switches?
    Tom
  13. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2005
    Messages:
    1,113
    Likes Received:
    0
    The capacitive discharge unit is wired between your switch machine power (some CD units require DC input, some have their own rectifier built in) and your switch machine controls. They are generally the size of a small power pack. You only need 1 CD unit for most situations. Costs vary depending on the number of turnouts to be thrown at once, and how quickly the unit has to be able to recharge. The simplest units will suffice for your situation. Walters shows one by Miniatronics for $31.95.

    The other nice feature for your layout in particular is that the CD unit will let you throw both turnouts in a crossover situation with one push button or control. I see 4 such crossovers in your track plan (the places where turnouts are back to back to allow a train to go from one loop to the other) where you would always want both turnouts thrown at the same time. So you can reduce the number of controls needed to 7.

    yours in switching
  14. bellybomber3

    bellybomber3 New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2005
    Messages:
    29
    Likes Received:
    0
    Well, it sounds as if I'm in the market for a "Compacitor Discharge Unit". Are these MR specific or can I pick one up at an electrical supply or home improvement store?
    Tom
  15. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2003
    Messages:
    4,707
    Likes Received:
    0
    They would be MR specific, I think. I may be wrong here, but we use 12v d.c. for model railroading, most low voltage applications for home improvement is 24 volt ac. Off hand I can't think of an application that would require a capacitor discharge machine in a home improvement situation. The only other application that I know of for a capacitor discharge is in an automotive ignition system where we want to discharge 30,000-50,000 volts across a spark plug. That is not something we want to do on a model railroad anywhere!
  16. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2002
    Messages:
    5,135
    Likes Received:
    0
    The CDU is a model railroad item. You should be able to get one at your hobby shop, or have them order you one. It's a small electronic item; the biggest bit is the capacitor.
    The size required is determined by how many turnouts are thrown at once. If the most you have is 2, a small one should do. Some people use them to set entire yards with a single button. If you have many operators, you may want one for each operator as the unit requires a few seconds to recharge.
    The commonest use is the flash unit on a camera, but they don't have the power we need.
  17. bellybomber3

    bellybomber3 New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2005
    Messages:
    29
    Likes Received:
    0
    It says on walthers site that the unit is only good for 10 switches. My question is: when I wire it up to control 2 switches at the same time does that take up two spots or one of the 10 avaliable?
    Thanks,
    Tom
  18. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2002
    Messages:
    5,135
    Likes Received:
    0
    Tom: I think that must mean "10 switches at a time" (yes, someone will do that.) If you don't push the button down, there's no way for that switch to put any load on the CDU. (It's a different matter with the motorized machines like Tortoise)
  19. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2005
    Messages:
    1,113
    Likes Received:
    0
    Tom

    David is correct. The unit listed in Walters can throw up to 10 switch machines with one button push. You will never use that much capability, but at least it's there. After a button push, the CDU takes a couple of seconds to recharge before a button can be pushed again.

    yours in throwing switches
  20. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2002
    Messages:
    5,135
    Likes Received:
    0
    We had fun on the Utopia Northern that I used to operate on. We had one monster of a CDU that was running a couple of yards. Because of the size, it took what seemed like half a minute to recharge (probably 10 seconds). Odds were that the other operator would throw a switch a second or two before you did.