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It's time to buy a power pack or two or three for my new HO layout. I will have three independent trains running at the same time on three dedicated loops of about 35 feet each. My layout will be DC. Any recommendations? Thanks.
 

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MRC always performed well for my DC layouts.
 

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I'll second that. In DCC, you have a choice of several good systems.

In DC, MRC reigns supreme.
 

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Another vote for MRC DC transformers. I have gone DCC but use the DC transformers for lighting on layout.
 

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Personally, I would buy new. You just never know to what sort of abuse a used one might have been subjected to.

New ones aren't that expensive. Their Tech 4 was the go-to model for a long time; those are only about $50-60.

Their newer Railpower 1370 costs about the same, and the now-superceded 1300 less than that if you can find one.

Or you can buy one with more features, for correspondingly more money.
 

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Personally, I would buy new. You just never know to what sort of abuse a used one might have been subjected to.

New ones aren't that expensive. Their Tech 4 was the go-to model for a long time; those are only about $50-60.

Their newer Railpower 1370 costs about the same, and the now-superceded 1300 less than that if you can find one.

Or you can buy one with more features, for correspondingly more money.
I believe you mentioned a rule of thumb for power requirements, i.e., additional power for each 6' of running track. But I'm not sure what power devices to use. This thread seems to favor transformers? Do you do a wire drop from the added power device to the main buss? Power maximum going into main buss at 5 DCV?
 

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Bet you can fine some low priced MRCs on ebay...
If the tracks are in no way connected by switches (TOs) but you want to run 3 trains at the same time and at differing speeds, or stopped sometimes, you will need 3 power packs (transformers are for early, analog AC current trains such as Lionel O scale). But if you do go this way do not ever connect the tracks with crossover switches...

This all sounds familiar...Did we not have this discussion some months back ? M
 

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I will be using Peco Code 83 for all the track and TOs. What's confusing is that the power packs look like transformers as they have the power control and directional control. Do you just set the pack at the highest power level and ignore the direction? I have an MRC
MRC 1414 Prodigy Advance2 "Squared" DCC System for the layout. The layout will be 4' x 16'.
 

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How about more info guys. I agree on MRC, but which ones do you recommend. Are old used ones an ok buy? Or put up the money for a new one? thanks.
Geno;

I have a fifty year old MRC power pack that, except for one burnt out lightbulb in the overload indicator, still works perfectly. My local train store has a box full of old power packs, at low prices. Buying new is fine, but there's a lot of the old copper colored metal cased ones that still work, and don't cost much.

Traction Fan 🙂
 

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rvnmedic Yes the two look alike. It's just that a power pack converts 110v AC in wall socket to 13v DC for DC motored HO trains. A transformer basically just transforms 110v AC down to 12=15v AC for AC motored trains such as O scale 3 rail, Lionel.
I must disagree with TF. Find a nice newer black plastic MRC Tech II or IV. The throttle is smoother than the older copper boxes.
 

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I got into HO a months ago and did a 5 track layout using 5 DC power packs bought on Ebay(MRC 280. MRC 260, 2 Bachmann Spectrum) with each track at about 30'. My son talked me into going DCC and I never looked back. I have since sold off my DC controllers and went with a Digitrax DCS 52 command station which cost $175.00 plus 5 Digitrax DH126 basic encoders at $18.00 a pop and installed them into 2 of my DCC ready locos and hard wired 3 decoders into my other 3 locos. I also switched to Atlas flextrack when I expanded and added crossovers to the existing track which started as Bachmann EZ track.When I started soldering I was the world's worse but know I can solder wires to a pc board and not burn it down. I am 71 years young and my hands are not as steady as they where years ago. Knowing what I now know I would have bit the bullit and gone DCC from the beginning, I am not well versed in electricity and was afraid of DCC but if you follow directions good things happen.
 

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I'm running two 4'x12' ovals with an MRC 1300 and it seems to handle it just fine. No power bus, just a single connection point.

Sent from my Moto Z (2) using Tapatalk
 

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rvnmedic Yes the two look alike. It's just that a power pack converts 110v AC in wall socket to 13v DC for DC motored HO trains. A transformer basically just transforms 110v AC down to 12=15v AC for AC motored trains such as O scale 3 rail, Lionel.
I must disagree with TF. Find a nice newer black plastic MRC Tech II or IV. The throttle is smoother than the older copper boxes.
I'm more confused now than when I started. I understand what the power packs do, but no one answered my question re the packs - are these used for powering/controlling individual tracks and locos or for just adding extra power to large layouts? I'm getting the impression that the power packs are for only controlling locos? My MRC is capable of controlling multiple locos on all the tracks.

Vette Kid mentioned running his large layout with just the single point MRC. Unless I go manual on the TOs, which I don't want to do, I would still need a power buss for the wire drops to it for the electric switches and other accessories. Right?
 

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You need a separate power supply, or the accessory output for the accessories. They will not run from the same output as what power the rails. I plan to just use a wall wart to power my accessories. Got the time being the turnouts are manual.

I think most on here would consider my track to be medium sized at best.

Sent from my Moto Z (2) using Tapatalk
 

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I will be using Peco Code 83 for all the track and TOs. What's confusing is that the power packs look like transformers as they have the power control and directional control. Do you just set the pack at the highest power level and ignore the direction? I have an MRC
MRC 1414 Prodigy Advance2 "Squared" DCC System for the layout. The layout will be 4' x 16'.
I think your problem is that you're confusing a lot of things. Part of the reason for that is that there are several parallel topics running here. I'll try to lay it out straight; please forgive me if I seem to be talking down to you -- that's not my intention.

There are two ways to control your trains (in general; there are some less common methods that I will ignore for simplicity's sake): DC and DCC. They are different animals, and what applies to one does not apply to the other.

DC is direct current. It uses a power pack, which consists of a transformer (to lower the voltage), a rectifier (to convert AC household current to DC for the track), and a rheostat, which controls the amount of voltage supplied to the rails. There is also a switch to reverse the polarity of the rails, thereby reversing the direction of travel of the loco. Trains are run by using the rheostat to increase or decrease voltage, which makes locos speed up or slow down. Every loco on the rails gets the same voltage. MRC is arguably the leader in DC power packs.

However, MRC is also one of the big names in DCC systems. You have a Prodigy Advance2, which is their flagship DCC system, so nothing in the previous paragraph applies to you. Any visual similarity between the systems is incidental. The box contains everything you need to hook it up; no additional power supplies, transformers, or anything.

DCC works by applying a modified AC to the rails at a constant voltage and amperage. The throttle sends coded signals through the rails, addressed to a specific loco. Inside each locomotive, a small PCB called a decoder picks up signals intended for that locomotive and determines how much power and what polarity to send to the motor, as well as to lights and speakers (if equipped). Because track power is constant, each loco can be controlled independently of all others, as long as the total amperage of all locos does not exceed the output of the DCC system (and if it does, you can always add a booster). You control the loco by giving it speed and direction commands through the throttle, and don't have to worry about track power. While each throttle can only issue commands to one loco at a time, a single throttle can toggle between multiple locos in memory (25 for the Advance2), and send commands as fast as you can call them up.

Installing decoders is the hardest part of getting DCC up and running. You can get new locos with a decoder installed at the factory, or so-called DCC-Ready ones. For the latter, it's usually as simple as removing the shell, removing a jumper, and plugging in a decoder that you purchase separately. Older locos will probably require some electrical work and soldering -- harder, but not beyond anyone's abilities with a little practice.

Hope that helps.
 
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Also, for your planned layout size of 4'x 16', you may want to run your DCC system output to a pair of larger gauge bus wires under your layout, and connect that with half a dozen (or so, depending on how much actual track you have) smaller gauge feeders to the track.
 

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I'm more confused now than when I started. I understand what the power packs do, but no one answered my question re the packs - are these used for powering/controlling individual tracks and locos or for just adding extra power to large layouts? I'm getting the impression that the power packs are for only controlling locos? My MRC is capable of controlling multiple locos on all the tracks.

Vette Kid mentioned running his large layout with just the single point MRC. Unless I go manual on the TOs, which I don't want to do, I would still need a power buss for the wire drops to it for the electric switches and other accessories. Right?
rvnmedic;

I can see why you're confused!
So was I, and I think, several others, because your original post is titled "Power for my new HO layout" and in it you say "It's time to buy a power pack, or two, or three", then you mention" three dedicated loops of track", and then say "My layout will be DC." All those things are descriptive of a DC controlled layout.
However, later in the thread, you say you have a DCC system. As CTValley says, in his excellent explanation, DC and DCC are indeed "two different animals." You' are new, and asking for advice, so please don't construe this as "blame" being dumped on you, but it did sidetrack the whole bunch of us into talking about DC power packs , when, it seems. you layout will not be DC at all, but DCC, since you already have that DCC system.
The "power for each 6' of track" idea refers to pieces of wire, not pieces of additional hardware, like power packs. The DCC system will provide power for all the trains on the whole layout. Since you have a fair length of track planned, using large, 14Ga. "Bus wires" run under the layout, and connecting those bus wires up to the rails, with smaller 22Ga. approx. "feeder wires" at approx 6' intervals, will assure power is available throughout the layout.

Your deduction that Power packs are for controlling trains is correct, as to their main function, but most DC power packs also have "accessories" terminals which put out AC power for things like twin-coil switch machines used to operate turnouts, and lights or other accessories. When a layout's trains are powered, and controlled, by a DCC system, (as yours will be) then a leftover power pack is a good source of either AC or DC power, as required by the particular accessories on your layout. As an example, the twin-coil switch machines used on some Atlas, and Peco, turnouts can work on either AC, or DC, power. On the other hand if you are going to use Tortoise switch machines to operate your turnouts they are DC only.
Since you have a DCC system, I'm going to assume that you will be using it to control your trains. Typically, DCC systems do not directly provide power to turnouts. Turnouts, lights, signals, etc. are normally powered by a source separate from the DCC system, like the leftover power pack mentioned, or possibly one of those little black cube "wall wart" devices, like those used to charge cell phones.
Turnouts, & other accessories, can be controlled two ways. Most commonly a traditional control panel and wiring are used. The second method uses devices called "stationary decoders." These receive digital commands from the DCC controller, just as the decoders inside locomotives do.
On command, the stationary decoder then sends the appropriate voltage to the switch machine , which then moves the points of the turnout, sets the semaphore, turns on the light, or whatever.

I have a book recommendation for you. It assumes that you are going to use your DCC system, and not DC power packs, to control your trains. The book is "Basic DCC wiring" by mike Polsgrove. It explains DCC in plain English text and many color photos. I think it might help clear up your confusion. You can order a copy from Kalmbach Hobby Store or www.amazon.com I've also attached some files below that cover a wide variety of model railroad topics. Since you have your layout planned already, much of the info in them may not apply to your particular situation, but if you skim through them you may find some helpful ideas. For instance, part 6, of the "How to build a better first layout" files, covers DCC, and DC, wiring and the differences between how these"two different animals" operate.

Good Luck & Have Fun;

Traction Fan 🙂
 

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Also, for your planned layout size of 4'x 16', you may want to run your DCC system output to a pair of larger gauge bus wires under your layout, and connect that with half a dozen (or so, depending on how much actual track you have) smaller gauge feeders to the track.
From what I saw on a youtube vid, same subject, he used 14 gauge for the larger bus and 22 gauge for the feeder wires. (Ron's Trains and Things channel) Thanks.
 
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