DC Wiring Part 2 – Powering the track continued

Well I finally finished the wiring to power all the track. The two separate sections (the branch line and the traction freight line) are controlled from their own SPST switches. The crossovers required a little thought and in the end I came up with a couple of schemes to wire them up. I created a third bus not connected to either of the other two sections. The crossovers will always be on and are directly connected to the throttle. In order to control the frog poles I connected them to a DPDT switch and simply flip the switch to power the correct frogs for either direction.

This diagram demonstrates the general idea of how the crossovers are powered. I used just one DPDT switch to power all three crossovers.

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DC Wiring Part 2 – Powering the track

Having finished isolating track the task was now to start powering the trackwork. There are going to be three independent DC systems:

  1. Powering the sections.
  2. Powering the turnouts.
  3. Powering any lights and accessories around the layout.

Before starting wiring I decided to clean up some of the track. I polished down many of the solder joints but importantly I filled in the gaps in the PCB ties and the gaps in the rails in the crossovers.

I used Woodland Scenics Foam Putty. It was the easiest to control of the three that I tried. I will be using it to build the ballast profile around and between the track so it didn’t matter if some got between the ties. Once hardened I polished the top of the ties and used my Dremel to remove any foam that got in between the rails.

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DC Wiring Part 1 – Lay track and isolate sections – Crossovers

Back to the project afer a short break. I continued to lay missing sections which I then isolated followed by the turnouts and finally the crossovers.

The nice thing about working on small modules is the ability to turn them around and work on them from the back. It allows me to get in very close. This will be particularly important when detailing the track bed. Here I have turned the module so that I could work on the back side.

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DC Wiring Part 1 – Lay track and isolate sections

Now that the control panel has been designed and fitted I have begun the wiring. The steps are basically:

  1. Lay missing sections of track.
  2. Isolate rails .
  3. Connect sections to the control panel.
  4. Wire up the crossovers and connect them to the control panel.
  5. Add the turnout motors and connect them to the control panel.
  6. Add three docks to the exit points for the removable cassettes.
I had previously left several sections to be laid with rail while I focused on the turnouts and the crossovers. I have begun to lay those sections. It sometimes has meant removing rail and adding new ties but the goal is to lay the rail in complete and isolated sections wherever possible. The various tracks that will comprise a single wiring section will be powered by a single bus connected to an on/off (SPST) switch.

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Control Panel

My brackets arrived from Shapeways and I waited no time to fit them. They are made of very tough plastic that called strong white and flexible. From the Shapeways site:

This material is incredibly versatile, and can be used for a wide variety of applications, from iPhone cases to jewelry, remote controlled quadcopters to wearable bikinis. When thin, it’s flexible enough for hinges and springs. When thick, it’s strong enough for structural components.

There was no doubt that the brackets were going to do a good job. My task was to sand them down so that the controller attachment slid nicely and easily into the board attachment.

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AC system

I managed to set up the internal AC electrical system which provides power to the DC adapter/s and the lighting system. I built the lighting system a while ago but had housed the switches in an ugly box that protruded from the front. I removed this and have now located the switches on the control panel.

I’ve covered the lighting system in the past but as a quick reminder here are some pics of the process:

Power comes into the module using this adapter which itself connects to the mains.

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New control box and diagram

I had decided a while ago that I was not going to settle for second best when it came to The Town module. I’m not in a hurry to get things done and I really want to make sure I’m 100 percent happy with each stage before moving on to the next.

I wasn’t happy with the first box that I built. I felt it was unnecessarily bulky for such a small layout. I decided that I wanted to keep the design of the box very simple – just the basics – a firm flat surface for the switches with a couple of angled supports to join it to the main board. I did a new design in SketchUp to get a feel for what I needed and then built a foam board demo.

This is my first attempt. I added a couple of hinges on the inside so that I could pull the cover forward to do maintenance. The biggest issue then became how to join the box to the main board. Continue reading “New control box and diagram”

Control panel box

I spent this weekend building the controller box. This will house the section switches and the toggle switches for the turnouts. I’m not sure how I’m going to wire the layout yet but I want to do it slightly differently from The Depot. The Depot is wired for one engine only and as there are no sections as soon as you turn on the power it powers up the whole layout in one go. As such you can’t have more than one engine on the layout.

For the Town I wanted to get more experience with sections and have the ability to keep numerous locomotives on the layout while only running one at a time. I will add various sections and use SPST switches to turn power on and off. I’m still drawing up the power plan but hopefully I’ll have it nailed down this week. It may be that I figure it all out while I work around the layout.

Here’s the construction process for the controller box:

Using my supply of various board and strips of wood I assembled the controller box.

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