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Thread: Wiring Best Practices

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    Default Wiring Best Practices

    HI Folks: Im getting ready to do some more track feeders this weekend, as well as re-working a section of my staging area over the next couple weeks / months. When I started the layout I was not careful about my wire runs etc, and now have a rats nest, so I am going to be re-working all the DCC Feeders etc to make it neat and functional. I'd like input on hows best to do it, in terms of routing wires and keeping them neat. any pics you can post would be appreciated as well
    Thanks
    TIM
    San Luis and Rio Grande

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    My first rule is put together a color code scheme and stick with it. It doesn't matter what colors you use, just be consistent. I use black and white for my regular DCC buss, because I use 12 AWG solid wire stripped out of romex cable, which is cheap. Use different colors for reverse loops. The feeders should be the same color as the buss wire they're attached to. If it's a portable layout, use stranded buss wire rather than solid. Feeders should still be solid.

    I don't like suitcase connectors. I prefer to strip places on the buss wire and solder the feeders. Use terminal blocks for hooking things together. I prefer the twin row barrier strips and I crimp open ended spade connectors to the wires to put under the screws. Euro style terminals work well too, and you don't need the spade connectors, but stranded wire should be twisted tightly and soldered before putting it into the terminal.

    Finally, made a short detector buzzer. This is a 9V battery clip connected to a piezo buzzer with alligator clips on the wire ends. Clip it on your buss wires when you start connecting feeders and it will scream at you if you hook it up wrong.

    Don't have any pictures with me at the moment (well, one of a staging yard, but that's a little overwhelming). Hope this helps.
    Tim Rumph
    Modeling the Southern Railway in N-Scale

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    My rules:

    1) Every segment of track needs a soldered electrical connector. This can be a direct wire, or can be a soldered rail joiner to a segment with a direct wire.

    2) Feeder wires come back to a terminal block no more than 2 feet away. It can collect as many feeders as are in that 2' distance.

    3) Main bus is never cut 12ga wire. I peel back the insulation and solder on a short (1') 20ga wire that goes to the terminal block.

    4) All lines are colored. I do N-Trak, so Red-Yellow-Blue-Green, using colored electrical tape. Tape is at every wire end, plus every 3-4 feet on longer runs.
    --
    Leo Bicknell

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    @Tim R gives good advice (as usual)

    I'm terrible at routing things neatly, and I do use suitcase connectors (I probably shouldn't). For reference, here's my wiring standards:

    Main Bus: 14AWG solid wire, Black and Red. I have four main busses, each marked every foot or so with a specific color electrical tape. The PM42 that feeds them is also marked.
    Sub-Bus: 16AWG stranded wire, Red (I only do sub-busses for detection, and I only need to do one rail for that)
    Feeders: 24AWG solid wire, Black and Red
    Turnout frogs: 24AWG solid wire, Green (of course)
    Accessory power: 16AWG stranded zip wire (black/white) or speaker wire (clear / white stripe)

    Oh, and never ever vary from your color scheme. Every time I've subbed in some other color wire because I ran short, I've regretted it.

    Based on what I've seen the electricians at work do (and they do some beautiful "cable porn") ... right angles everywhere, cables grouped together logically, and lots -- I mean LOTS -- of zip ties.

    Plus, label EVERYTHING. I'm way behind on this, myself. It's already starting to bite me around the yard where I have three different main busses running near each other.
    Never mistake a guy who talks a lot for a guy who has something to say...

    CH&FR Site and Blog: http://www.chfrrailroad.net and http://blog.chfrrailroad.net
    Appalachian Railroad Technology: http://www.apprailtech.com


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    Since I'm running modular railroads with very little track and very easy electrical connections, the wiring also ends up pretty simple...

    I use two bare solid copper wires (made from cheap house wiring, which is approximately AWG15 in Germany) as main bus wires, held in place and at distance to each other by these: https://www.leds.de/luesterklemme-2-...och-32453.html cheap screw clamps. Then I solder the feeder wires directly to the copper and glue them to the underside of the roadbed to take up any excess length. The bus follows the module mainline, so all sidings etc. are connected to it using somewhat longer feeders. I'll try to snatch a picture tonight if I remember to, but you can also see a similar solution underneath a friend's module (scroll down for the last three pictures): http://www.american-st.de/tt-worksho...ichenantriebe/ - they use brass rods as bus run.

    Also, I follow a color scheme too. Doesn't matter which colors (except frogs are green, of course) but there will always be right rail = color 1, left rail = color 2. And I'm with the other guys in the "every piece of rail needs a feeder" camp.

    And check for shorts as you go. This is something that's easy with modules - if there's a short, disconnect them in the middle, the short will be only on one half, so divide and conquer. On a large fixed layout, I can't imagine a worse nightmare than having attached all feeders only to find there's a short somewhere in the last three weeks worth of work.

    YMMV,
    Heiko

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    How big is your layout, Tim?

    Mine is 4' x 9.5', and has a pair of #16 stranded buss wire following the double track mainline around the table. Red for the inside rail and black for the outside rail. Using # 22 phone wire for feeders, soldered to every few feet of track and soldered to the buss wires. Feeders on all sidings, and every few feet on a branch line.

    Due to the extreme temperature variation (110°) in the shop (aka the train room) I have had to cut some expansion joints in some of the longer runs, which necessitated dropping more feeders to newly isolated track.
    Cheers!
    Gordon
    Rheinland Bayern Bahn
    http://www.nscale.net/forums/showthr...4-x-9-5-layout

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    Default Layout size

    Quote Originally Posted by el Gato Gordo View Post
    How big is your layout, Tim?
    My layout is an around the walls double deck in my 10x10 bedroom. Most of it is 1 foot wide, but the south wall is 2 feet wide

    Tim

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