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Thread: Looking for ways to run a DC layout with 12 blocks off 3 independent PP

  1. #1
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    Question Looking for ways to run a DC layout with 12 blocks off 3 independent PP

    Hi All,


    I'm helping a friend build a Pure DC layout. The layout has 12 independent DC power blocks. Each block can be powered off or controlled by one of three power packs. This allows the layout to run up to 3 independent trains. Each power pack controls the direction and speed.


    Due to older steam locos, my friend does not want the layout to be DCC; I've tried to persuade him.


    we can use DCC components to accomplish my goals.


    I'm looking for 2 options.

    1. A good switch or rotary dial to install in the Layout Diagram
    2. A digital circuit that would allow me to do the same thing either via a switch or digital controller; possibly an Arduino or other device.

    Thanks

    Layout
    Layout.jpg

    DC Circuit Example
    DC circuit.jpg
    Jerry

    If you haven't broken something along the way, you haven't learned anything.

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    To go the rotary switch route, look at this: https://www.mouser.com/ProductDetail...eZIRaJc3vi8%3D

    The current rating (300 mA) should be OK for any N-scale steamers. At $4.77 each plus s/h, it's not bad.

    Going to a digital solution will be lots more, and it would probably be cheaper to do DCC.

    I'm not sure you have enough blocks on this layout.
    Tim Rumph
    Modeling the Southern Railway in N-Scale

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    I have been using 12-pole (6-position) rotary switches that I got from Radio Shack back in the day, for my analog layout. I still have a stash, not sure what I'll do when I run out... Anyways, the 6 positions are for OFF, cabs A, B, C, or D, and then another OFF that could also one day become a DCC system feed, if ever I go down that path.

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    I used 5 packs on my last layout. I probably used the same Radio Shack rotary switch that WP used. It worked well, but you had to isolate both rails on each block. It also required A LOT of wire since you had to run from the control panel out to each block. I went to DCC on the new layout because it's much larger and I wanted to simplify the wiring.

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    If I follow the track plan properly it looks like essentially a double track main with a yard/engine facility. This would mean two mainline trains running laps with a 3rd working the yard. But you still want the mainline trains to be able to access the yard.

    If so, you might want to look at Kalmbach's "Easy Model Railroad Wiring". Been around a long time, I bought my copy in the late '90s It explains 'local priority cab control'. Hopefully this link works-

    https://books.google.ca/books?id=bkA...ilroad&f=false

    Basically the layout is wired for dual cab control, but a 3rd cab is wired into the yard section that has 'priority' over the mainline cabs within the yard. This means your mainline cabs can move between your inner & outer loops, and enter/exit the yard. This can all be accomplished with toggle switches, so no need for rotary switches. In fact I believe Atlas' even older wiring book shows how to do this with their Selectors.

    Nothing wrong with rotary switches, but toggles are a bit easier to come by & cheaper I suppose. But IMO local priority makes it easier to keep all your blocks straight in your head. And it works with this track plan. Also works with common rail wiring. More complicated layouts would certainly benefit from rotaries.

    Just something to consider.

    And I agree with @Tim R I think you need more blocks, from what I can see. But I'm DCC now so I'm not as good at block wiring as I used to be.

    Hope this helps.

    Keith
    The Northern Alberta Railways, once the 3rd largest railway in Canada.

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    The Arduino route is not super expensive.

    Briefly, to control M blocks with any of N power packs, you need MxN relays. You can buy these 16 at a time as "relay shields" (here for example) to piggyback on your arduino board. Wiring is simple: run a wire from throttle 1 to relays 1-12, from throttle 2 to relays 13-24, from throttle 3 to relays 25-36; run a wire from relays 1,13,25 to block 1; 2,14,26 to block 2; ...; 12,24,36 to block 12.

    If you want to still control the blocks from an analog control panel, you'll need to make the panel with 36 pushbuttons or toggles, and feed those as inputs to the board. If you envision computer assignment of throttles, that part is all electronic (though you'll need some means to communicate your intentions to the computer still.)

    I am aiming to go this route for my eventual layout - with most of the mainline/through trains and all of the signals operated entirely electronically, and me having a couple of pushbuttons to request access to the main line when I'm done with a switch job - then I wait for a green signal to proceed.

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    Sorry for not responding sooner. I received a great suggestion from a user over in a Facebook Arduino group. https://www.facebook.com/groups/9263...25660364131617

    I am using an Arduino Mega, PCA9685, and Relay modules to test the idea.

    Last year, we wired the underside of the layout using terminal blocks. The Layout is cleanly segmented into 12 power sections.

    61767104_2214583001952809_1218994568523939840_n.jpg20190618_213955930_iOS - Copy.jpg20190618_214004629_iOS - Copy.jpg20190618_214039358_iOS - Copy.jpg20190618_214050098_iOS - Copy.jpg20190618_214111290_iOS - Copy.jpg
    Jerry

    If you haven't broken something along the way, you haven't learned anything.

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    Arduinos, relays, and rotary switches are all good if you the ultimate in flexibility.

    Based on the legend in the lower left corner of the layout diagram, there's a much simpler solution.

    1. The blue track is always connected to Cab 1. No relays needed. Just a Double-Pole-Single-Throw (DPST) switch to turn the power off and on.

    2. The purple track connects to Cabs #1 & #2, but not #3. A Double-Pole-Double-Throw (DPDT) with a center-off position -or- a DPDT without the center off and a DPST to turn the power off and on.

    3. The green track is always connected to Cab #2. Only an on/off switch is needed (similar to the blue track).

    4. The yellow track is connects to Cab #2 & #3, but not #1. Wiring is basically the same as #2.

    Overall, much simpler to set up and operate.



    - Gary

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