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Discussion Starter #1
I have two basic ovals set up and switches from one loop to the other. Problem is that when I switch tracks, there is no power to the inner loop. Do I need to have power to each individual loop or what?
 

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One of the best things you can do from a reliability standpoint is to provide multiple points of power through feeders. This helps to overcome the resistance in the rails, and makes your trains run much more smoothly. It's literally a night and day difference. I just run terminal rail joiners every 4 feet or so, and wire them together. Just make sure that you keep your + rails and your - rails separate.

Depending on what your loops look like, it's possible that you've introduced a reversing loop (the train goes back out on the track in the opposite direction it was traveling before). If that's the case then the wiring gets much more complex with DC, or requires an auto-reversing segment on DCC
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Do you have a picture or drawing of it?
How many switches are you using and what kind?
Here is the basic layout design. I'm going to add a yard later but want to get this running sooner than completing the whole layout.

Thanks,

 

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Dang. You got that thing to run on one feeder and power routing only stops it in one area? That's impressive! I'd have at least four feeders in that if I built it... and people tell me that I don't use enough of them. :D

Nice looking layout. A yard will really make it complete.
 

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as far as power goes it looks like you have 3 reversing loops where the polarity switches if this is dc you'd need to insulate each one of those and provide separate power and use a selector switch to choose polarity on the sections

DCC you'd need auto reversing loop modules and to feed power to each one separetly as well
 

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as far as power goes it looks like you have 3 reversing loops where the polarity switches if this is dc you'd need to insulate each one of those and provide separate power and use a selector switch to choose polarity on the sections

DCC you'd need auto reversing loop modules and to feed power to each one separetly as well
I knew there was something I liked about it! :D

I just glanced over it and saw nice diversity on a small layout. I didn't do an analysis. With three reversing sections I'd say your best bet is the Digitrax PM42. This is a four-block auto-reverser. It's $80, but it's very cost effective when you consider that it's 4 auto-reversers on one board. I have the Digitrax single auto-reverser, the AR1, and I'm very happy with it. But at $30 each, three of them would cost more than the PM42.
 

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Yeah, I really like the layout a lot. I like how initially it was descibed as a small two oval layout, but there is so much going on there. As far as the Digitrax, you're right the 4 auto reverser jobber is the way to go. We have them for $70.92. Normally we sell for more off list, but digitrax barely gives dealers any margin to work with. We don't make much on their equipment but carry it for our customer's convenience.
 

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One other quick critique. Unless I'm missing something (viewing picture on my iphone) It looks like that once you are going counter clockwise around the layout, there's no way to go clockwise again with out reversing through a reversing loop. You may want to consider adding another cross over so that you can reverse from either direction, but once again. Very cool track plan. Lots of possiblities and action.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
One other quick critique. Unless I'm missing something (viewing picture on my iphone) It looks like that once you are going counter clockwise around the layout, there's no way to go clockwise again with out reversing through a reversing loop. You may want to consider adding another cross over so that you can reverse from either direction, but once again. Very cool track plan. Lots of possiblities and action.
Thanks for the input. The initial question was based on the right hand side of the layout which is all that I actually have set up so far. I've since found out about the polarity switching deal but still need to get in there and get some wiring done.

On the other hand, I'm thinking about going DCC right off the bat. I know I'll end up there anyway and can probably save quite a bit of duplication of effort by going that direction to begin with.

Two questions then:

What is a decent controller to use to get this thing up and running two to three locos and all the switches, lights, etc.

Second, how do you get a membership to your site? I've got a few things in the cart but can't find a registration link to save my life.

Thanks again for the advice.
 

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Go to http://www.sptrains.com/member/ and click join now.

Enter member code MTF-15 and hit recalculate, then enter MTF and hit recalculate. You'll get the discounted membership, and then you'll get another 10% off your entire order.

As far as what to get, I use digitrax.

You would probably want to get the Digitrax Super Empire Builder, there are two versions, one is wireless through RF and the other one is tethered. There's a sizable difference in price.

Super Empire Builder
Super Empire Builder wireless

And then you want the 4 port auto reverser

Cheers!
 

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Very interesting plan, Texazc6. Thanks for sharing. I can envisage passenger trains running on it.

However, no sidings for industry so no switching, so it's not for me,

Steve
 

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Discussion Starter #13
One other quick critique. Unless I'm missing something (viewing picture on my iphone) It looks like that once you are going counter clockwise around the layout, there's no way to go clockwise again with out reversing through a reversing loop. You may want to consider adding another cross over so that you can reverse from either direction, but once again. Very cool track plan. Lots of possiblities and action.
Good call. Take a look and make sure this fixes the loop issue. Also, this indicates that I have 5 areas where polarity is an issue.





Is the DCC stuff expandable to handle more than 4 switches?
 

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Yes DCC is completely expandable. Generally if you decide on a system, Digitrax, MRC etc, you'll stick to the same system for boosters, extra controllers etc. I missed the Wye on that one leg. The digitrax base system includes an auto reversing module within it, so adding the 4 way should handle everything. You'll also need a dc transformer to provide power to the digitrax system, or buy their plug separately. But you'll want that transformer anyway to power lights etc. More than likely you already have what you need since you've been running trains.
 

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One other thing to watch for is your cross over segment looks like that curve is a little tight (flex track) and at the swithc you have a portion where you'll have an S curve arrangement. Generally you want a full car length between curves going in opposite directions for smooth running. It's the same issue in the cross over segments, you'll just need to travel through there smoothly, vs. banging away at to speed, but that adds to the fun. Everything looks great you can move around the layout in both directions, going back and forth between clockwise and counterclockwise with ease. Really nice layout. As you build out, you'll probably add sidings and allow trains traveling opposite ways on the track to pass each other. Very very cool..
 

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For your switches, every four turnouts will require one Digitrax DS64 unit. These list for $60. I use two of them with no problem, and anticipate needing a third in the next few months. The output ports which control the turnouts will drive two snap type switches each. So if you don't mind ganging both ends of a siding on one control so that they switch together you can actually control more than four. I have had ten turnouts on my two DS64s.

I personally think the Super Empire Builder is overkill. Unless you specifically want handheld cabs, I'd go with the Zephyr. At 2.5 amps it should be fine for 3 - 4 locos. The beauty of the Zephyr is that you can use two additional DC power packs as cabs, giving you a total of 3 cabs controlling 3 locos without changing any addresses.

I'd be grateful to hear sptrains explain why you need a DC powerpack (transformer) with the Empire Builder. I know that three-rail O scale digital systems like Legacy require a separate AC transformer but in my experience DCC boosters always supply their own power. I can see needing a power pack for accessories however. But, be careful with your accessories; some accessories are 16vac instead of 14vdc.

I'm going to try and find time to look closer at your layout. If I have any more comments I'll post later.

Best!
 

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The empire system includes no power of it's own. I brought the whole thing home, went to hook it up, and BAM no power. You need to hook it up to a 15VAC out on a transformer or buy their power transformer. I was a little ticked, since I thought for $350 or so, you'd be able to run trains out of the box, and that it was a complete starter kit.

The zephyr may very well work for you, I certainly like the style of the controller better with it's big knob.
 

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sptrains;

I know you do this for a living... so do I, in a smaller way. But I am also a teacher, and one thing you learn in teaching is that the group has to be clear on terms and semantics. I don't want to sound like a know-it-all, but please indulge me while I give my understanding of terms.

A "transformer" is an electrical device that uses electromagnetism to induce AC current in one coil from another, and in the process the transformer changes the voltage level. Three-rail systems use AC transformers because their locos are built to run on AC current.

A DC "power pack" is a device that converts AC current to DC. It may use a transformer and a full wave bridge rectifier, but modern ones may be entirely solid state (using silicon "chips"). Two rail systems are all DC (unless someone's doing something I haven't heard of yet).

An excellent tutorial on DCC and its terminology is found on the Armadillo and Western website. Its diagram does show a separate power supply for the command station (which I frequently call a controller by mistake), and the booster.

Super Empire Builder includes the DB150 Command Station/Booster combination, which I now see requires an external power supply. Because the input to the DB150 may be either AC or DC you can use either a transformer or a power pack. I learn something new every day. :)

I find this very curious because the Zephyr does not require an external supply. I guess this is because the Zephyr is intended for use with HO or smaller scales, and the DB150 can drive scales up to G depending on the attached supply. This definitely makes the Zephyr a far better buy unless you are building a larger scale layout, or one which will require more than 2.5 amps, because a good power supply will easily run $50 or more and a cheap one at least 25. I just had a friend of mine pick up a dual supply kit for his kids to build (we're teaching them basic electronics). This dual 15vdc supply kit ran $65. The beauty of it is you can put your booster on one supply output and your accessories on the other.

Thanks for the input. I appreciate your posts.
 

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Lownen,

Excellent points all around. I have to admit that I tend to use transformer, and powerpack interchangeably and that 99% of DC Powerpacks include an AC out for accessories as well as DC for the track. I ended up choosing the empire builder only because I could take my hand held controllers and plug in down at the local train clubs. That reason is also the reason why I use Digitrax, the people who are running DCC around me had already chosen it, so I just bought into the same system for compatibility.

In any case DC or DCC, this is an exciting layout and I really like the way it grew and the possibilities for further expansion.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
One other thing to watch for is your cross over segment looks like that curve is a little tight (flex track) and at the swithc you have a portion where you'll have an S curve arrangement. Generally you want a full car length between curves going in opposite directions for smooth running. It's the same issue in the cross over segments, you'll just need to travel through there smoothly, vs. banging away at to speed, but that adds to the fun. Everything looks great you can move around the layout in both directions, going back and forth between clockwise and counterclockwise with ease. Really nice layout. As you build out, you'll probably add sidings and allow trains traveling opposite ways on the track to pass each other. Very very cool..
Tell me if this works out a little better. I also managed to get the polarity issues down to 2 from 5 the previous time. Let me know what you think.

BTW, is it cheating if I just add more table? :D



 
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