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chadbag

Distributing DCC track power to various sections

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chadbag

I am wanting some sort of power distribution "panel" that I can have an input pair form the command center or booster and then send out multiple pairs to various track sections that I want to have have their own individual DCC power feed.  For example, the two sides of a switch.

 

I'd likje a terminal block where side A is all connected to each other, so I can attach a wire from the command station for one wire, and side B is also all connected to each other and can attach a wire for the command station for the other wire.  Then each pair that goes to a track section just attaches one wire to each side of the terminal block.

 

I am not an electronics guru and don't know exactly what to search for.   The terminal blocks I've found aren't two simple busses with lots of connections on each bus.

 

Any suggestions?  Or a better way to do this?

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gavino200
9 minutes ago, chadbag said:

I am wanting some sort of power distribution "panel" that I can have an input pair form the command center or booster and then send out multiple pairs to various track sections that I want to have have their own individual DCC power feed.  For example, the two sides of a switch.

 

I'd likje a terminal block where side A is all connected to each other, so I can attach a wire from the command station for one wire, and side B is also all connected to each other and can attach a wire for the command station for the other wire.  Then each pair that goes to a track section just attaches one wire to each side of the terminal block.

 

I am not an electronics guru and don't know exactly what to search for.   The terminal blocks I've found aren't two simple busses with lots of connections on each bus.

 

Any suggestions?  Or a better way to do this?

 

I think you're looking for Barrier Strips with jumper plates. Radioshack make premade jumpers to fit their barrier strips that are easy to use. 

 

They're features in this article. Though you can also just go "ghetto" and link the positions on one side of the barrier with wire.

 

https://blog.adafruit.com/2011/12/27/new-year’s-disco-ball-powering-the-beast/

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chadbag

I have a set of 4 or so the barrier strips I got on Amazon, but was not sure I wanted to use them.  BUt maybe I will for now.

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gavino200
Just now, chadbag said:

I have a set of 4 or so the barrier strips I got on Amazon, but was not sure I wanted to use them.  BUt maybe I will for now.

 

They work fine. I'm curious, what's your reservation? Safety? That's a reasonable concern as they are live and exposed. It's possible to get strips with a safety plastic cover.

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chadbag
9 minutes ago, gavino200 said:

 

They work fine. I'm curious, what's your reservation? Safety? That's a reasonable concern as they are live and exposed. It's possible to get strips with a safety plastic cover.

 

Mine have plastic covers actually.  My reservation is mostly overkill.  The more extra metal, the more resistance???    I was wondering if you had power issues with the extra metal involved with the heavy duty barrier strips versus the smaller terminal things where you have a screw that pushes down on a wire stuck in the side.

 

 I am a software guy not a hardware guy so be kind if I am messed up 😅

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gavino200
10 minutes ago, chadbag said:

 

Mine have plastic covers actually.  My reservation is mostly overkill.  The more extra metal, the more resistance???    I was wondering if you had power issues with the extra metal involved with the heavy duty barrier strips versus the smaller terminal things where you have a screw that pushes down on a wire stuck in the side.

 

 I am a software guy not a hardware guy so be kind if I am messed up 😅

 

I wouldn't worry about that - at all. Its large size actually lowers the resistance. Think about wire caliber. If you have any reservations, just measure it's resistance with a multimeter. It will be zero.

 

Also, if Ken from Sumida Crossing is fine with them, then I guarantee they're fine.

Edited by gavino200

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gavino200

BTW I'm neither a software nor a hardware guy. The only electrical knowledge I have comes from highschool physics. Everything I know about DCC wiring was learned in this thread below. Basically I got walked through my wiring process by inobu, Jeff , kvp, and Kiha.

 

It's a long thread, but it might be worthwhile to read. Maybe you'll learn from some of my mistakes and errors. At very least, seeing how clueless I was will make you feel better about your current level of knowledge and skill. 

 

 

Edited by gavino200

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EdF

Our club uses barrior strips all over ntrak modules and our permanent layouts, they are fine.  Are you using kato/tomix feeder wire? That would be the weakest point.

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Takahama Trainwatcher

Would the following be of use? The Digitrax PM 42 power distributor (breaks the power into 4 sections, so a short circuit in one section will not cause loss of power in other sections) can, I think, be fitted with a "breakout board" for easy wiring: ACCU-LITES PM42 Breakout board http://acculites.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=574

http://www.digitrax.com/products/power-management/pm42/

 

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gavino200
1 hour ago, Takahama Trainwatcher said:

Would the following be of use? The Digitrax PM 42 power distributor (breaks the power into 4 sections, so a short circuit in one section will not cause loss of power in other sections) can, I think, be fitted with a "breakout board" for easy wiring: ACCU-LITES PM42 Breakout board http://acculites.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=574

http://www.digitrax.com/products/power-management/pm42/

 

 

That's exactly what I have. It's been a couple of years now and I've had zero difficulties with it. 

 

I think Chad has all of his electronics already purchased and is going with a fancy German system. As far as I can tell, he's focusing in on electrical conduit issues, here. I also obsessed about this stuff when wiring my system. What gauge wire for the bus. What gauge for the feeders, etc. When I finally got around to wiring the system I noticed that the wire from the Digitrax power supply to the Digitrax command station was the smallest caliber wire on the whole layout (excepting LEDs). When you removed the insulation from the black cable, there are two super tiny wires inside. Makes me wonder.

Edited by gavino200

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chadbag

Actually, it is a "fancy" Dutch system 😁     It is actually one of the less expensive "do it all" control centers (note it is the HW only and interfaces with other 3rd party software -- I think some of the expensive high end german systems include all the fancy software as well).   (The pic I posted in the "what did you do on your layout" has the command center, a booster, a DIgitrax WiFi module [so I can support WiThrottle/JMRI and also Z21 across the system], 2 hubs for Loconet and XpressNet, 2 feedback  occupancy detector modules with Railcom, and one switch control module).

 

For now, I will use my barrier strips I have.  When I wire in the feedback occupancy modules with Railcom, that will control the distribution since they take track input in and feed each track occupancy section with the track output, they will be my track power distribution.

 

Thanks for the help.  I will slowly wire and re-wire everything up, adding capability on each pass through, to learn about it all...

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gavino200
6 minutes ago, chadbag said:

 I will slowly wire and re-wire everything up, adding capability on each pass through, to learn about it all...

 

Wow! Is this some kind of 'atonement for you sins' ritual, or something? 😲

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chadbag
1 minute ago, gavino200 said:

 

Wow! Is this some kind of 'atonement for you sins' ritual, or something? 😲

 

No, it is a way of learning.  First to get a plain old DCC track running (with both Z21 and WiThrottle/JMRI throttles on WiFi).  Then get some switches added (controlled by DCC).  Then switch into two power districts, one from the command center, one from the booster.  Then add the occupancy detection.  At the end of each phase, I want a working system I can use and run trains on.  If I take it slowly, one phase at a time, I have a better chance of understanding what I did and why it works instead of just getting lucky or not and then having to figure out what is not working.

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gavino200

That's a pity. You would definitely have a ticket to pass through the gates with that kind of piety. Maybe you'll get credit for you suffering anyway!! It took me a couple of days to do my wiring and boy was I happy when it was all over. At least you won't be crouched under a table.

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KenS

The terminal and jumper strips work well (and I had a lot of them on my layout) with no loss of voltage.  As gavino200 noted, the contact area is large.  I used these the same way you're planning, to connect multiple feeders to one source, and also between sections of the layout, so it could be disassembled.  Even through a half-dozen, I saw no significant voltage drop under moderate load (which was all I tested).

 

I did use crimp-on spade lugs on the wires connected to them, to ensure maximum contact area.  But that's not essential, just a bit of polish.  If you do that, get a good crimp tool, the kind with a compound-lever action and rounded and padded grips. Using one of the standard stamped-metal crimpers with a bit of vinyl for a handle my hand was in agony after my first 100 contacts in one weekend.  I ordered the right tool before doing any more.

 

You have more to worry about with wire gauge and length (see Alan Gartner's Wiring for DCC site for lots of info on that).  I'd suggest keeping the wire from the barrier strip to the track short (like a half-meter or less, shorter if you need really small feeder wires) and feeding it from a tap off a track bus that's at least 14 gauge (16 will work for a smaller layout).

 

This all depends a lot on what you have for current.  One or two trains won't cause much voltage drop (the real problem) even with smaller and longer wire.

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