DC controller questions

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Patrick

Well-Known Member
#1
I'm trying to think a little ahead (and that's dangerous) would I be better with a single dual track controller or a couple single controllers?

I am going to need a new controller or pair of them at some point and trying to think which would be easiest to wire. My old electronics days tell me that I have to wire one side of each controller together, but do they get wired at the same polarity?

I know DCC is easier, but it takes some initial funding I don't yet have (KS Lottery refuses to make me a millionaire, but I don't really play it regularly either).
 

Patrick

Well-Known Member
#2
Never mind. I think it all resolves to the way I have the blocks set up, and as long as I wire the common rails together, I'm ok. I have the inner and outer loops completely isolated, which won't matter once I get my selector switches in place. Sometimes you just have to think out loud (or in type) to get it figured out.
 

Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member
#3
Never mind. I think it all resolves to the way I have the blocks set up, and as long as I wire the common rails together, I'm ok. I have the inner and outer loops completely isolated, which won't matter once I get my selector switches in place. Sometimes you just have to think out loud (or in type) to get it figured out.
That is good, however I will still answer your question. The single unit dual controllers always seem to effect the "other" side. That is if you get one train running the perfect speed, and then start up the second train the speed of the first train might slow down. Plus there is the issue if the unit is wired with a "common" wire inside. Then you have to be careful that your common wire on the layout, is the same common wire as is used in the pack.

I highly recommend using a completely separate power pack for each train.
 

Patrick

Well-Known Member
#5
Iron Horseman: The dual in one controller makes sense since the feed is basically off the same internal transformer and was something I hadn't considered when asking.

Toot: I have a couple of options I already own for the dual, however both are pretty old (MRC 501 Throttlepack gold box). I do have a newer unit (still over 20 years old), but the power switch has become a bit flaky. I do have DCC on my wish list, but once the Kansas Lottery decides to make me not a poor (OK I am trying to pay off the car loan and house early), I don't have the ready cash to make that investment. I do know that being frugal can cause its own problems.....
 
#9
Interesting concept.......I started as a Electronics Technician 35+ years ago and fell into computers. You'd think I'd want to play with this stuff....
For me, its the 'nuts and bolts' of it that intrigues me. Also, I like automation and couple this with JMRi and its really intriguing.

Z.
 

trailrider

Well-Known Member
#10
I'm trying to think a little ahead (and that's dangerous) would I be better with a single dual track controller or a couple single controllers?

I am going to need a new controller or pair of them at some point and trying to think which would be easiest to wire. My old electronics days tell me that I have to wire one side of each controller together, but do they get wired at the same polarity?

I know DCC is easier, but it takes some initial funding I don't yet have (KS Lottery refuses to make me a millionaire, but I don't really play it regularly either).
If you have the inner and outer loops totally isolated from each other (insulated on both rails, if you have a crossover from one to the other), is each loop broken up into blocks? If so, what you might do is have each block with a DPDT-Center OFF toggle. Wire the output from the center posts on the toggle switch to its own individual block. Wire one set of contacts (one for each rail in the block) to one individual controller. Wire the other pair of contacts to the second controller. Keep in mind that most of these toggle switches make contact with the right-hand contact when the toggle is thrown to the left, and visa-versa. By doing it this way you can have a choice of which controller is used for each block. That way if you are just running one train on one loop, you just throw all the toggles, say, to the right, and the toggles on the outer loop to the left (second controller). However, if you want to run two trains on the same loop, but want to control each from its own controller, you just throw the toggles in the appropriate direction and you can have one train following the other. Of course, each train, or at least the locomotive must stay in a separate block.
 

Patrick

Well-Known Member
#11
trailrider: Yes the outer and inner loops are totally isolated from each other (except I currently have the tracks tied together on the one controller). I have a 4 switches (2 right and 2 left) tied to make the long crossover. A DPDT switch (center off or not) would resolve the which train\which track issue as that would allow both rails to be powered by an individual controller and choose which one I want when. The inner loop contains all the other blocks. I have 6 internal blocks on the inner loop which have a common between all of them. If I leave the commons tied and make each loop a block, a SPDT switch would allow me to kind of do the same thing. (Thinking the Atlas #215 Selector)

A lot of my initial thinking was done before I did the N-scale canned layout for the grandson. I will say that build helped me figure out a bunch of the wiring on my layout.

I can do either at this point. Although I hadn't thought through the DPDT situation until you mentioned it. Too much time since the electronics tech days. I pulled a lot of small toggle switched out of the control panel from the estate sale layout and still have them. It wouldn't take anything to experiment except my time.
 

Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member
#12
A DPDT switch (center off or not) would resolve the which train\which track issue as that would allow both rails to be powered by an individual controller and choose which one I want when.
If one is mixing DCC and DC on the two sides of the switch, the center-off is essential, otherwise there is a chance each time the switch is flipped of power from the DC feeding backwards into the DCC and ruining it.
 

MHinLA

Active Member
#15
I agree with tootnkumin (Toots) above. All this and that and that and this. To have your DC 'power packs' (AC controllers are referred to as 'transformers') wired in in some fashion, for a few $s more you can probably find an NCE PowerCab (I use, too) at a decent price and go right in to enjoying the state of the art train control and not look back...Just 2 little wires to the track; and 94% no blocks, insulators, toggles,Et Al..The monetary diff is probably $35-$50 and you're done..(of course requiring DCC locos which, with no sound/lighting, can be quite cheap)..
 

Patrick

Well-Known Member
#18
I looked through the salvaged switches switches and found I had 2 DPDT and 3 SPDT switches along with about 12-15 SPST switches. No center off.

As far as my locomotive fleet:

My 2 Proto 2000 E7's are DCC ready. I think that means I would need to just change the board inside to have them be DCC.
Everything else I prefer is Blue Box, although I do have a little MOW car I bought that would need a z-scale decoder. I saw a YouTube video on how to do just that years ago.

Sometimes think it would have been better to keep the old Lionels! Although they do have DCC for those as well now.....
 

Patrick

Well-Known Member
#19
Looking online for a "New" controller and there's a digitrax starter set on the MTS website that has me rethinking the whole wiring issue.. Are all engine decoders interchangeable between the brands?
 

Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member
#20
Looking online for a "New" controller and there's a digitrax starter set on the MTS website that has me rethinking the whole wiring issue.. Are all engine decoders interchangeable between the brands?
Yes, for all the major engine control items, that was the whole point of DCC.

Any differences will come in "extra" things like sound control. For example, what sound comes on when one presses F15 is not standarized.
 



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