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Preparing for DCC: Block wiring with Kato Unitrack

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large.59d4b6267ae51_Shin-Yokohama(9).jpg.5cc14a81f5fd4b1c08891924c23f7564.jpgThis may be a very dumb question with a very straightforward answer:  
I am planning my new lay-out to be DCC ready. So I want all block wiring to be already in place but I intend to start running the trains simply using the standard Kato power pack.
I now realise that I will need a lot of wiring connected to the tracks as I will have some 24 blocks and 10 turnouts that are not in any block. Each block has 3 occupancy detection sections. This brings the wiring to 82 pairs of rail connections, some even to a single track or turnout. 

Kato sells the terminal Uni-joiner. However that does not allow to wire a single track or turn-out, always at least the two tracks connected by the uni-joiner. Moreover, I would need 82 of them! 

I am worried to simply solder wires to the tracks because I am worried to damage the plastic trackbed and the tracks may come loose from its sleepers when the plastic clips melt when soldering. 


Is there a clever way to simply 'clip' a wire to the Kato Unitrack ? How do you guys solve this problem? 

Edited by JanW
added the lay-out plan
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First, welcome to the forum Jan!

What about buying a few of the unijoiners and soldering the wires to that?


I -love- your layout plan! It looks awesome. I do have some small comments about it:


- I'm not sure how the loop on the right (with the connection between the shinkansen and commuter track) will work. It seems to me you'd have very steep slopes or very low clearance.

- I'm not sure how the automatic road crossing is supposed to work for the station? How will you connect the sidings with the sensor track? 

- Having the double crossover in the station area will result in some trains scraping along the platform, when combined with KATO platforms such as 23-107/23-108

- KATO signalling tracks (20-650 and 20-650-1), which I see you are using in one of your pictures, are not compatible for use with DCC. 

- Having a corner, and then an opposing switch right after one another, may result in many derailments. It is recommended you have a straight between a curve and a switch.


Edited by Yavianice

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Hi Yavianice,
Many thanks for your valuable comments. You can tell I am novice here!  Let me try to react to your observations:

  • Yes, I can buy a few unijoiners, however they will still power at least two tracks. If the detection section is to be short (like in the station to get an accurate train stop) you need to install two short track sections. I was hoping to avoid that. 
  • The commuter loop along the edge of the table will run 50mm lower than the station level. It will rise in the purple section at the right hand side to station level. So the clearance between this purple track and the connection loop between the Shinkansen loop and the commuter loop will be around 50mm. The track support will need to be thin plywood at the intersection point or so to allow for enough clearance. 
  • About the road crossing: I actually tested that. The lay-out is intended to be used with left hand driving trains. There will be a detector track in both tracks before the turn-out leading to the dark blue track. The road crossing allows to connect two detectors for each direction.  It turns out to be a busy road crossing! 
  • Good point about the double crossover. I will test that and redesign.
  • Indeed, the signalling tracks are a bit primitive. The one under the viaduct does not even fit there (too cramped). I indeed need to rethink this. Any suggestions? 
  • "Having a corner, and then an opposing switch right after one another, may result in many derailments":  While test-driving, I had no issues with derailment switches in and out of the commuter station. Nevertheless I will try to redesign to include a straight section (e.g. at least 62 mm).  In general, my Nozomi Shinkansen seems a lot more vulnerable to derailments than the commuter trains. 

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For short straight sections, you can use the short straight terminal tracks, as they are pre wired in the middle. Other than that, rolling your own feeders using unijoiners is the most simple way. If you are disabling power routing on any #4 turnouts and go with block wiring in analog too, then it's possible to use the two bridging screws to feed power into a turnout alone while having isolating joiners on every side. For #6, there are power routing bridge points on the circuit boards, that could also be used as feeding points.

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WHat program did you use to make those designs!  Beautiful work!


I really need to do something similar for my new layout, instead of graph paper sketches and trial and error.

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On 10/6/2017 at 10:12 AM, SubwayHypes said:

WHat program did you use to make those designs!  Beautiful work!


I really need to do something similar for my new layout, instead of graph paper sketches and trial and error.

I use RailModeller Pro. It is easy to use has a large database with tracks from various manufacturers and allows 'layers'. However it only seems to be available for OSX (Apple). See http://www.railmodeller.com/home-railmodeller.html

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I second rail modeler, it's a very nice program and has been pretty steadily improved.



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"I am worried to simply solder wires to the tracks because I am worried to damage the plastic trackbed"


kvp provides solutions for both single track and turnouts, but beyond that I wouldn't be so worried about the soldering.  I don't have tons of experience, but have done a fair amount of soldering of power leads to flextrack, which does have a plastic tie base, and I suspect is far less sturdy overall than the Kato track.  I think it's almost impossible for the rail to come loose from the sleepers, although carelessness could disfigure some of them.  If you do tackle any soldering, drill a hole between ties on the outside of the rail, send the wire up through with just the end of it stripped and bent in an L shape.  Tin the wire and the outside of the rail, and a brief touch of the iron should take care of it.  It is important to use a thin tip for this, to provide maximum control over just what the iron touches.  No doubt there are multiple sites and videos addressing this on the web.


A few notes on the trackplan.  I notice you have very few and quite short storage tracks, so I gather your main interest is watching trains run.  Unless you're willing to manually remove and re-rail entire consists when you want to watch different trains, you might reconsider this aspect of your plan.  Given what you've plotted out, there really aren't many options other than possibly enlarging the yard in the top-left corner - possibly having the access switch coming off the yellow track at the top.  Actually - I had initially taken the double-track loop as the Shinkansen line, but see that it's at a lower elevation, so am confused.  The yard should exit whatever track is at ground level.


Another approach would be to have a siding at the edge of the layout that leads to a removable cassette, or perhaps a rolling cart with multiple storage tracks that could be positioned next to the layout in the manner of a traverser.


You might re-evaluate the location of the tunnel portals at the bottom of the layout.  I think having the double track line emerge from the tunnel just where the single track crosses overhead would look rather strange when built.  Is there some reason for bringing the upper line away from the "wall ?" here?  It causes an awkward visual situation with the single track curve crossing over the double track line.  Eliminating the kink in the red-olive track would solve this.


Lastly - one very minor thing.  You have a siding next to what I take to be a canal basin.  However, prototype railways (virtually) never have the main line take the curved route from an industrial siding switch unless there is some dictating circumstance, and I don't see that here.  The dark green track could have a short zig-zag before the canal bridge.  If this is an industrial track of some sort, it's the only one on the layout, but you could fit additional ones inside the end loops.



Edited by velotrain
fix typos

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