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Thread: Kato Unitrack DCC wiring

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    Default Kato Unitrack DCC wiring

    I am diving into Kato Unitrack for my layout extension, considering my downfails in soldering I believe Unitrack will be a simpler option. My question is I have read different articles and one article I read did all the wiring into terminal strips instead of bus wires. Has anyone done this option? And is it as simple as putting the feeder wires into the strip and have one bus wire going out and into my DCC system?
    Pan Am- Ayer, MA layout

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    Yes it can be . If your feeders are short enough to the central location of the terminal strip . I wouldnt recomend long feeders

    Steve

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    Quote Originally Posted by boomtho View Post
    I am diving into Kato Unitrack for my layout extension, considering my downfails in soldering I believe Unitrack will be a simpler option. My question is I have read different articles and one article I read did all the wiring into terminal strips instead of bus wires. Has anyone done this option? And is it as simple as putting the feeder wires into the strip and have one bus wire going out and into my DCC system?
    You can use suitcase connectors https://www.3m.com/3M/en_US/company-...1661291&rt=rud

    Just make sure you get the correct size for the wire you are using.
    "It's not whats best......It's whats best for you"

    Gary

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    I've used both in my old HO layout. Now, with my small N switching RR I'm using terminal strips/bus bars because I have them on hand but if it was a larger sized layout, room or even 4X8 size, suitcase connectors are an easy alternative.
    Cheers,

    Russ

    CEO of Devil's Gate Mining Co.



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    Our club's modular standard uses Unitrack connected to terminal strips and have not had any issues.

    Like you hinted, my soldering skills are also mediocre, so I like to use a mechanical connection wherever possible. My most recent module is a yard module, so I will be dropping feeders to a terminal strip that the bus passes through.
    Bo D.
    B&O Keyridge Subdivision
    I'm not allowed to run the train, the whistle I can't blow. I'm not allowed to say how fast the Railroad Train can go.
    I'm not allowed to shoot off steam, nor even clang the bell. But let the damned Train jump the track, and see who catches hell!


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    Thank you all for your advice. Being a small small 5x3 layout I believe I will have 4 terminal strips (2 red, 2 black), with a set on the top and bottom of the layout to connect to each turnout and then connect both like terminals with suitcase connectors to run into the DCC system. This will not only allow me to beat my soldering skills but should provide proper power to the whole layout.
    Pan Am- Ayer, MA layout

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    One more question, as I donít want to ruin the layout with my lack of wiring knowledge. From the images I have found they seem to run the single wires from the DCC system into the respective terminal while snaking it into multiple terminal screws. Is this done to fill the empty screws?

    The question I have is do I have to do this style or can I simply run the wire from the DCC system into one terminal screw using a crimp lug? I will have exactly 15 feeders (if all goes well) so one crimp lug would fit perfectly with a 16 screw terminal.

    dummy.jpg
    Pan Am- Ayer, MA layout

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    Not sure what a crimp lug is; however, based on your picture it looks like you have a good set up. I would however cut those cooper jumpers back so they don't touch. Without a circuit breaker, they touch you short out and could fry anything sitting on the rails (decoder wise).

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    Terminal strips like those shown only have a connection between the terminals directly opposite each other. If you want a single bus line to connect to multiple feeders, you need to either run wires from the bus to all of the terminals on that side of the terminal strip, or you can buy a terminal jumper strip which does the job for you without risk of shorts. Jameco and other suppliers have these. Alternatively, you can buy a power distribution block, which is already set up to accept one set of bus wires and lets you connect multiple feeders. Check out Miniatronics.

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    See this post here and the one immediately following it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kalnaren View Post
    See this post here and the one immediately following it.
    Thank you for this link, it was very helpful. Question, based off what I have read/watched and your article, does this look like proper feeder wires for DCC? All switches are #6 and I would run insulated unijoiners on all turnouts that doesn't have wiring. Still deciding if I am going the terminal route or if I will try to find suitcase connectors that will work properly with the Kato unitrack wiring. I can't seem to find the size of the wires, will the #905 work?
    portsmouth.png
    Last edited by boomtho; 22nd Feb 2019 at 02:31 PM.
    Pan Am- Ayer, MA layout

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    A bus wire is just a wire that runs around the underside of the layout that your feeders tap into.

    Is there a reason for running insulated unijoiners? I know I've seen an article or two on doing it for KATO turnouts but it isn't necessary and I'm not sure where the practice came from. My plan is also based on the Carolina Central and I have zero insulted joiners on it.

    KATO wires are 22AWG. If you're going the route I did using the terminal box with 3 connections I'd strip off most of the KATO wire and solder some higher gauge wire in, then use suitcase connectors to join that to the bus line.

    I did the same thing on the rail joiner leads when I put them right into the bus line.

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    I think you are using way too many insulated joiners. And some areas will have no power at all. Take a look at the turnout on top and on the bottom as an example. You are isolating them completely with insulated joiners, all three legs? Once your loco enters those turnout they will just stop. In your diagram above there is no reason to use any insulated joiners at all.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kalnaren View Post
    A bus wire is just a wire that runs around the underside of the layout that your feeders tap into.

    Is there a reason for running insulated unijoiners? I know I've seen an article or two on doing it for KATO turnouts but it isn't necessary and I'm not sure where the practice came from. My plan is also based on the Carolina Central and I have zero insulted joiners on it.

    KATO wires are 22AWG. If you're going the route I did using the terminal box with 3 connections I'd strip off most of the KATO wire and solder some higher gauge wire in, then use suitcase connectors to join that to the bus line.

    I did the same thing on the rail joiner leads when I put them right into the bus line.
    Sorry I meant feeder wires not bus. I was only going to use insulated jointers based on some videos. Unitrack is different because I’m use to atlas turnouts were each part of the turnout has to be wired. I may try to add two more feeders on the top and bottom near the two turnouts that are on top of each other or should they be fine since they have wiring a couple sections down? Regardless I will refrain from putting any track down until I test everything.
    Pan Am- Ayer, MA layout

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    Assuming your layout is all No.6 turnouts, you've got enough feeders. Just be aware that your 3 sidings in the middle and the one at the very top and very bottom will be dead when the turnout is switched against them. KATO No.6 turnouts are power routing and you can't disable it.

    There's nothing special about wiring for DCC vs. DC. In fact its a great deal more simple, especially if you're using something like Unitrack whos turnouts all work fine with DCC.

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    Couple more questions, my first dive into DCC hasn’t been as horrible as I thought but I have hit issues nonetheless. So I wired almost exactly as I had in the picture above, I used terminal stripe to connect everything and running 14 guage wire from the strips to my unit. Besides a few of my engines not running properly (a battle for another day) I seem to have two main issues.

    First off, can you have too much power? My unit seems to shut down and turn back on often when I go over my turnouts, it’s not everyone but whenever it happens it’s normally on or around a turnout. Second, I seem to have one spot on my track that almost hums and is where the train seems to slow the most. I ran a extra feeder hoping this would resolve this matter but no luck. Any ideas on the above issue? Feels good to have gotten this far with my track work but would like to troubleshoot these issues before I do anything like glueing track or proceeding on scenery, etc.

    Thanks
    Pan Am- Ayer, MA layout

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    No such thing as too much power. . Your command station will only put out what is asked of it, to its limit. Your command station shutting off and turning back on, especially when a train goes over a turnout, sounds like some of your loco wheels are shorting on the turnout. I would check your wheels to see if they are out of gauge. More likely they are out of gauge than the Kato turnouts, not saying turnouts can't be out of gauge.

    As for the humming, you'll have to elaborate some more. Tracks usually don't make sounds on their own.

    Don't give up. Just keep plugging away at the issues.

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    Hi I am real new to both DCC and Kato. I am currently building the Scenic Ridge kit I am planing to run it with Dcc since it is pretty a simple layout. I don’t understand about the turnouts working well with DCC? Does this mean I just have to program them so I can set a route or run a train on a siding without all the insulated track and blocks.

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