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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm looking into getting a toggle switch to hook up my track and then also a DC power pack and DCC command station so I can switch the layout between DC and DCC. I'm a bit unsure about which kind of toggle switch I need (SPST, DPDT, etc.) for this situation. Anyone know?
 

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I would use a DPDT center OFF locking toggle switch. These are the type that must be pulled before the toggle will move.

These are expensive switches, but if it saves just one sound decoder it will have paid for itself.

But that's just me. Frankly I would not wire two different systems to the same layout, but it can and has been done.

Honeywell DPDT center OFF locking toggle
 

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I thought of doing this myself. In the end I think it might be easier to just use something like a tamiya plug on the lead to your power bus and one each on a lead from the dcc and DC controllers. Then you simply swap the plug from one to the other. Not as elegant, but much easier.

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Important CAUTION:

DC locos sitting idle on a DCC powered track will
be seriously damaged. Before switching your layout power,
via the DPDT toggle, be certain to remove (or park on
an electrically 'dead' spur) any DC locomotive to avoid
serious damage. DCC locomotives, however, can be
safely parked on a DC powered track.

Also, make certain that at no time can the DC power
pack and the DCC controller be connected to the track
at the same time. The DCC controller can be seriously damaged.

Don
 

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On my former N pike I used Ballast connectors. This forced me to disconnect either the DC power pack or the DCC before plugging in the other. Takes 15 seconds but it’s snafu proof. Home Depot sells them in bags. They’re orange 2 wire M/F connectors, often used when replacing fluorescent light fixture ballasts. You’ll find them by the wire nuts if you want to see them. They’re handy for a variety of things actually. Word of the wise, always always always have the female connector on the Line side, not the Load side. That’s why receptacles are all female, no energized prongs sticking out.
I never heard of DC locos being damaged on DCC track. Not saying it isn’t true, just never heard that before. The original MRC Prodigy was designed to operate DC locos on a specific address… either 1, or 3, I forget which. That was an appealing feature back in the day. Actually a great feature for people wary about upgrading 60 DC locos to DCC or something.
 

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A DPTP switch is what you need.

When I first got into DCC, I wired my MRC Prodigy Express into the existing DC wiring that way. Unfortunately, it was wasted effort. I found DCC to be so far superior for what I wanted to do that I just bit the bullet, and within about 6 weeks had converted all my locos to DCC.
 
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Yes, using a switch to toggle between DCC and DC is just asking to inadvertently do significant damage to a DC locomotive! With luck you might hear a little singing from that DC locomotive just before the motor burns up! While you think you have control of the situation, invariable someone will throw the switch just to "help" you out!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I would use a DPDT center OFF locking toggle switch. These are the type that must be pulled before the toggle will move.

These are expensive switches, but if it saves just one sound decoder it will have paid for itself.

But that's just me. Frankly I would not wire two different systems to the same layout, but it can and has been done.

Honeywell DPDT center OFF locking toggle
I've seen the switches online for much cheaper than that, but without the center off position. From watching videos on Youtube it seems like the center off is completely optional. Why would you personally not wire two to the same layout? They would never be on at the same time.
 

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I've seen the switches online for much cheaper than that, but without the center off position. From watching videos on Youtube it seems like the center off is completely optional. Why would you personally not wire two to the same layout? They would never be on at the same time.
Well, you usually get what you pay for, and see Lemonhawk's post above for why not.
 

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It'd be safer if you had 2 separate track systems and not try to integrate analog and digital...You could not have switches (TOs) connecting them. But, you could make it seem integrated via a diamond (crossing) here and there where the 2 different currents cut across one another but don't affect one another; train traffic having an element of danger at this/these places, but no electronic danger..leave alone poss. up and over/down and under one another..
 

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I think vette-kid’s method is the safest over all. Having to physically unplug/plug each power source. Although I know not what an actual “tamiya switch” is. Seems to me any reliable 2 conductor, F to M quick disconnect system, latching or not would suffice...

be-wolf’s contribution from rpc is pretty slick too. Especially @ $12... That interests me for a multitude of other purposes.

I’ll be sure to search up, just out of curiousity, the “ballast connectors” that OilValleyRy mentioned.
 

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No matter what change of power method is used, there is still the chance that a locomotive will be forgotten about on the layout. That is the real danger.

And BTW, if you decide to use an ON-ON switch instead of the recommended three way, make certain is it a break-before-make configuration.
 

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I think vette-kid’s method is the safest over all. Having to physically unplug/plug each power source. Although I know not what an actual “tamiya switch” is. Seems to me any reliable 2 conductor, F to M quick disconnect system, latching or not would suffice...

be-wolf’s contribution from rpc is pretty slick too. Especially @ $12... That interests me for a multitude of other purposes.

I’ll be sure to search up, just out of curiousity, the “ballast connectors” that OilValleyRy mentioned.
Tamiya connector is just a type of plug. Kato uses the mini version for all their connections. I believe they are also widely used in the RC car hobby. They are very easy to create your own cable lengths with. Makes a nice clean install, rather than a bunch of solder joints and cobbled bits and pieces.



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I've seen the switches online for much cheaper than that, but without the center off position. From watching videos on Youtube it seems like the center off is completely optional. Why would you personally not wire two to the same layout? They would never be on at the same time.
Depends on your level of risk tolerance. No matter what, you're human, and can make a mistake.

But as Lemonhawk said, even when you THINK you have control, there is always the chance of some well-meaning but unknowledgeable person getting into the mix.
 

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I'm looking into getting a toggle switch to hook up my track and then also a DC power pack and DCC command station so I can switch the layout between DC and DCC. I'm a bit unsure about which kind of toggle switch I need (SPST, DPDT, etc.) for this situation. Anyone know?
A plain old double pole, double throw, center off toggle switch will do the job just fine. Wire the DCC to one side of the switch, wire the DC to the other side of the switch, then wire the track to the center posts on the switch.

If you have more than one insulated loop on your layout, you can use an additional toggle switch for each one. For instance, our N-Trak club's layout has three lines - the Outer Main, the Inner Main, and the Branch Line. We have 3 toggle switches in our control panel to select DC or DCC power for the 3 lines. I have the exact same set up on my N-scale home layout, also. Both me and my club have had this set up for 10 to 15 years or so now, and never had a problem.

You just have to exercise some caution not leave a DC loco sitting on a track while powering up with DCC. And it's not the end of the world if you do. It's happened to both me and our club members at one time or another. A DC loco will make an audible 'buzzing' sound if exposed to DCC current. That's the motor trying to reverse direction 60 times a second. If you hear a buzzing sound after turning on DCC, simply turn it off, or locate the buzzing locomotive and remove it from the track. It's not going to burn up right away, but it will start to warm up as minutes go past, until it does burn out a winding. And while all of the cautions posted by others are viable and are items to watch for and keep in mind, they are fairly over-hyped in my opinion.

Once again, a simple DPDTCO electrical toggle switch will do the job just fine. There's really nothing to worry about, as both my club and I can attest to. ;)(y)
 
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