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Sheffie

Does another controller make sense?

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Sheffie
Posted (edited)

The other day while running the trains, it occurred to me that I should maybe get a second controller. I was watching one train go backwards because I wanted the other one to reverse into a siding, and wishing that the two could be controlled independently. I have two loops, and two platforms, and so why not get two controllers so that I can control the two trains independently?

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This is my current layout, approximately. I have two power feeds for the inner loop and two for the outer (plus a fifth feed that isn't connected right now). Electrically, and physically, it won't be difficult to wire up the outer loop to a separate controller. The double crossover keeps them separate. And it seems like it would be great fun to have a separate speed control for each train. I can bring one to a stop at its platform while the other is running, or I can run one around the outer loop while the other is shunting freight cars around, or whatever. The question is... is this pointless? Should I hold off on upgrading until / unless I feel like I need to jump to DCC? Is it a waste of money? Will it be too difficult to make this work?

Edited by Sheffie

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cteno4

Yep this is the classic Japanese dc setup with a controller on each loop. Just connect the powerfeeds for each loop to separate controllers. The double crossover isolates the loops from each other. When you run a train from one loop to the other over the crossover you just have to make sure the throttle are set the same direction and speed and it will run over to the other loop. Easy way to play with two trains. Only cost is a second throttle. Stopgap for more operations until you decide if you want to go the dcc route.

 

cheers

 

jeff

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katoftw
Posted (edited)

The new Kato controllers are so cheap. And easily sellable 2nd hand. Get a second controller.

Edited by katoftw
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Sheffie

I’m seeing controllers on eBay for about $40 without a transformer, or about $60 with. 

 

Is that right? It doesn’t seem at all cheap to me. 

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chadbag

The KATO Power Pack SX is 4,146 JPY delivered to the US from Amazon.co.jp (without transformer).  You should be able to find an applicable local transformer for cheap (not necessarily a KATO brand one).

 

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katoftw

Considering Tomix controllers are $100 plus and DCC controllers are $150-$200.  Then yes $40 is cheap.

 

But you will probably find cheaper again buying away from ebay.

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chadbag

You can also get a US brand.   I have an Athearn power pack I use when in analog DC driving mode.    Out the door I think it was like $35 or so.

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cteno4

You can also roll your own, the old Kato was just a 3 pin power regulator, pot, and I think resistor. Then just supply it with 12vdc from a wall wort. And a dpdt for reversing.

 

could also try one of the little PWM motor controllers on ebay and add a wall wart (like welshbloke’s battery power pack)

jeff

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Sheffie

Thanks, all.

 

I have decided to go with another Kato unit, in the interests of getting two controllers that match in function, performance, and appearance (even if one is labeled in Japanese).

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Welshbloke

Despite having great fun building my own (and producing a couple of useful controllers) I'd still say buy a second Kato one.

 

Why? Well, when you want to swap a train between loops you'll need to set both controllers to the same speed and direction. Easier if they're identical. I also don't know how either the Kato unit or my PWM ones would react to the brief microseconds when they're connected together by a vehicle bridging the insulating sections of the crossover, the steady DC might upset the PWM unit in some way?

 

I've run a similar layout with two Kato controllers and it was absolutely fine, but both were identical examples of the pre-PWM unit. Where the homebrew ones excel is if you want a tiny portable controller to do mad things, like taking a CV1 or Super Mini Rail pack and suitable stock on holiday or work trips. You can build a controller the size of a large matchbox which is powered by your USB phone charger, as opposed to the size of a commercial transformer/controller.

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