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Thread: Connecting two separate track loops to one power supply

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    Default Connecting two separate track loops to one power supply

    I am in the process of testing different track arrangements prior to nailing everything down and building scenery.

    As it happens (temporarily), I have two unconnected (to each other), loops with different turnout arrangements etc.
    I have been connecting one at a time to my DCC power pack for testing.

    The question I have is, could I connect both loops at the same time to the power pack without causing a short or something.
    Don't know a lot about electricity and I don't want bugger everything up.

    I have considered inserting the wires from both the tracks into the holes in the power pack and tightening the screws down and just going for it,
    but I don't know if it matters which wire goes with which wire.

    Don't know if I'm making myself clear here. Hard to describe what I mean exactly.
    In other words, the Bachman loop has a red wire and a black wire, the Kato loop has a white wire and a blue wire.
    So if I put the red Bachman wire onto the left screw, which Kato wire should go onto the same post? (Or, does it matter?)
    Last edited by lilleyen; 10th Apr 2019 at 06:38 PM.

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    If both loops DO NOT connect to each other then nothing matters.
    Connect the Bachmann wires, one to each terminal, then connect the KATO wires the same way, one to each terminal. Colors won't make a difference.
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    You didn’t mention which DCC system you have, but most modern ones have good circuit breakers to prevent damage to the system even in the event of a short (which your description suggests will not happen). Even if you accidentally touched a piece of metal across tracks from both loops, you’d just trip the circuit breaker. This is essentially what we do when we do the “quarter test” to purposely short the tracks to test that breaker. Connect up your wires and enjoy running both loops.

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    OK,

    I tried one combination with one wire from both tracks (one oval Kato, one oval Bachman), twisted together, and attached to power supply.
    One oval was fine, the other was reversed polarity (loco ran backwards when set to forward). Both Bachman wires are red.
    Switched the wires around (for that one oval only), and voila everything worked great.
    Thanks for the info, wouldn't have had the nerve to try it without it.
    Turns out the blue Kato wire goes with the other red Bachman wire.
    For future use I marked that red wire with a black marker so I'll know that the blue Kato wire goes with the black Bachman wire.
    Last edited by lilleyen; 10th Apr 2019 at 07:49 PM.

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    If your train is changing its direction based on the rail polarity (ie. changing the wires around) then I don't think you're actually dealing with a DCC controller... did you mean to say DC (I prefer the term "analog")? With actual DCC it doesn't matter which wire goes to which rail, as long as they don't go to the same rail (which would cause a short). The DCC carries a signal that is interpreted by the engine's decoder, as either forward or reverse, and if you pick up the engine and put it back on the tracks flipped the other way, it will go "forward" in the direction it now is facing.

    With DC/Analog though, the direction is entirely determined by the polarity on the rails. So if you pick up an engine going forward, flip it 180, and give it some more throttle, it will continue to move in the same direction while facing backwards.

    If it is the case that you're talking about analog control, I have a suggestion for you:

    Most real railroads have an overall operating paradigm (either for the entire railroad or separately for each division) in which there is one pair of prevailing cardinal directions that traffic moves in. In other words, trains head "East or West" or "North or South", regardless of their actual compass heading. On my layout, trains operate in and out of Winchester Yard as Eastbound (meaning they are heading to the staging yard for Roanoke) or Westbound (meaning they are heading out onto the rest of the layout and potentially as far as Grafton staging tracks). The interesting thing is that an Eastbound technically travels mostly easterly for a few miles until they get to Boyce Junction, where they hang a hard right and start moving south/southwesterly down the Shenandoah Valley! Meanwhile, Westbound trains between Trellisville and Paston are on a compass heading of... wait for it... south/southwest.

    I mention all of this because it is a railroad justification for what I'm gonna suggest, which is that you could actually label the direction toggle on your controller with whatever your preferred paradigm is. "Forward" and "Reverse" are not actually all that meaningful on an analog controller, but "East" and "West" make sense, especially if you post little signs as reminders around the edge of your layout. You could also use "Clockwise" and "AntiClockwise" (CW and ACW) perhaps, since you're talking about mainline loops, but the cardinal directions feel more railroady.

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    Good tips

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