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Ok, let me first start off by saying that the layout I am constructing will be 100% protosound 2/3 and dcs. My only previous experience has been with a single loop conventional ac layout. On this new layout I will only be running two trains at the same time with around 5 lighted cars on each. However I plan to have 3 other trains sitting on non-powered sidings that are connected to the rest of the layout. I am also planning on having somewhere between 10-20 lighted buildings, which will be powered by a separate transformer.

Question 1: How many watts will I need to run these two trains and the lighted cars well? I was thinking of the Lionel gw-180, but can this be connected to the dcs tiu? And if so which input would I put it in variable or fixed. As this will be a pure dcs layout I would like to apply a constant fixed voltage to the track, is this possible with the gw-180? Maybe 180 watts is too much or too little power, or simply not a good choice for a dcs setup? If the gw-180 is not ideal, how would you recommend powering this layout?

Question 2: My next question is for powering lighted buildings and such. Basically I just need to know about how large of a transformer I need to power 10-20 lighted buildings? Any recommendation on specific transformers for this? And can I wire a terminal block straight to the transformer and then to the buildings or is there extra equipment needed?

Question 3: Finally how can I wire it so that I can cut power from certain sidings and restore it easily. My understanding is that even idle trains suck up track power, so I plan to have the three trains not in use sit on sidings, and cut the power to those sidings. When I want to change trains I will park one of them onto a siding, turn power off of that siding, turn power on for a siding that has a different train sitting on it, and bring that train onto the main loop. How can I achieve this?

Additionally I will be using mth realtrax if that makes any difference. Thanks for any help or recommendations you can offer.

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One of our 0 gauge gurus will have to answer your questions about the
MTH DCS system and power requirements.

The type and amount of power to light your 20 buildings will depend
on the bulb's amperage draw. Are they LED or incandescent?
What is the rated voltage of the bulbs? What amperage for each bulb?

You would want to run a LIGHTING buss under your layout with drops
from each building to it. Many use the 'suitcase' connectors which
you can get to match the wire size you'll use at Home Depot or Lowes.
Or, you could, as you asked, use a barrier terminal block for them.

To 'turn off' the power on tracks where you'll 'park' idle locos you'll
have to use an insulated pin in the center rail where the track leaves
a turnout. Install a power drop to that isolated center rail
for each track and connect
it through a simple SPST on/off switch to your center rail power buss.
When you want to run a loco on one of those tracks, just flip the
switch to on and use your DCS to control it.


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80 Posts
For lighting, I use LED lights from They have excellent customer service and will answer all your questions, including which LED do I need. I am using no longer needed cell phone chargers as my power source. (FREE) LED Supply even calculated what size resistors I needed, and how many lights the power supply could support. They are a US company. Price was good.

It helps if you can tell them how much light you want. I stuck clear Christmas Tree lights under a building. I wanted the light of 2 lights from a 50 or 100 light incandescent string. I model N Gauge, so I am sure you will need more light than this!

Wiring was very simple. They look GREAT. They were easy to install. They do not even get warm. They use almost no power.

Good Luck and Happy Lighting!
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