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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all,

I posted a different, but similar post below in the beginners part of the forum, but I think I may get more assistance here.

Command confusion

In short I’m new to the digital controller scene. I’m not sure how it works and what I need for it.

If I am running track A and track B with train A on track A and train B on track B, I should be able to just use a ZW transformer, correct? Now, if I wanted to run trains A & B both on just track A, this is where I would need a Legacy controller system, right?

If I wanted to use the ZW to control track A & B, but run both tracks via command, do I need to buy two Legacy control sets? (One for each separate track). Or, can one Legacy control set run both tracks A & B? This is where I am confused and cannot find answers online with Lionel.

More info is in my first link that would explain more but I didn’t want to write it all out again.

I’m deciding between the ZW-C and the ZW-L right now, just to run the two separate tracks from one location. If it is easier to do that with one Legacy controller set then I will consider it. But if I need to buy that transformer and two Legacy controller sets (one for each track), then that is too rich for my blood. I’d rather just buy the ZW and use it to run both tracks normally.

By the way, both of my current train sets are “normal” (conventional?) sets. No LionChief, LC+, Legacy or Bluetooth. I don’t know if that has any difference regarding the above setup.

Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Mat
 

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Since you have no command equipment, it doesn't make a lot of sense jumping into command unless you're planning on upgrading or buying some command locomotives. Personally, I'd avoid the ZW-C as it's unsupported and it's problematic main board is not available. While the ZW-L is more costly, it's a more capable transformer, and you can still get them repaired in the future.

If you have a ZW-L, you can add the Legacy system (or the CAB1L/BASE1L) and have walk-around control of each of the four throttles on the ZW-L.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you, sir. Much appreciated. I did more reading and research after this post and found out, as you mention above, that I can use the ZW-L to run up to 4 tracks (and/or accessories).

Also, if I do decide to go with the Legacy Command, that it will control both of my tracks through the ZW-L.

I’ve been looking into some Command/Legacy engines lately, so I may go that route. Right now I just got a couple of conventional sets and I’m working on the accessories for the layout first. Then I’m going to go with more trains and cars.

I’m also hoping to expand in the future so that is why I was looking at the ZW-L and the Legacy Command in case I go up to 4 tracks. I don’t have a ton of room in the basement but I’d like to setup something nice, if I can.

I also appreciate the info regarding the ZW-C. I think I’ll just bite the bullet and go with the L.

Thanks again for the info,
Mat
 

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I think you'll be happier with the ZW-L over the long run. Since I run almost exclusively command, I actually use the 180W bricks for track power. For MTH stuff, I have the TIU in the picture, and it's variable channels allow me to do any conventional testing I need to do.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
One good thing is if I ever do decide to go with 4 tracks, I can use the ZW-L to control them and use the old school transformers I received (two from the 70s and one CW-80) to run all of the accessories.

Or would it be a good idea from the get go to run all of the accessories (gateman, lamps, signals, beacon, etc) with the CW-80? Wait, I guess I can’t do that since those things mainly run off contactors that hook to the track. So does that mean I shouldn’t be running any accessories off any other transformer but the ZW-L?

Dang this can be confusing. LOL! I guess for things that don’t need to be to be activated by the track/train (street lights, beacon, non-signals, etc) I could figure a way to connect them directly to a line from either the ZW-L or CW-80. Then only dial it up to like 10-12 volts so they don’t have too much power to ruin them (NOT 18V).

I am starting to feel like I don’t know anything.LOL! Maybe I don’t. :-(

Thank you for being so patient!
Mat
 

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You don't have to power accessories that run from track sensors with track power, you can power them with accessory power.

Here's an insulated rail sensor with a SPDT 10A relay that will allow you the flexibility of powering from track power or a separate accessory power supply. It's designed for signals, but it works just as well for accessories, and with a 10A capacity, you can even use it to control track switching.
Insulated Track Signal Driver Rev. 2.pdf
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Sweetness! Thank you so much! That’s cool. Geez, you all know everything here. :). I really appreciate the help.
 
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