Sunday, November 1, 2009

Twas the Month before Xmas

Well, as the month of November 2008 began, we had the three mainlines up and running. Temporary wood bridges were in place over the river and everyone was ready and able to have a run.

So we all loaded up the main yard ready for a spin on the layout under DC control.

In fact, we had gone out and purchased a 5 amp NCE DCC system as well and had that in place under the layout too and ready for use.

To protect the DCC system we put a couple of tail-light bulbs in parallel with each other and placed this inline with the output to the track. This would give us about 1 amp per bulb, so about 2 amps protection. Hence we were way safe on our system and in no chance of blowing the DCC system should a short occur.

In the long term we will get nice tail-light holders and wire 2 bulbs in parallel and place inline on EACH of the 3 mainlines in such a way that whether we use DC or DCC, it will be protected and not able to draw more than 2 Amps on a mainline if a short happens.

Every passing loop and track in the yard had a switch wired in so we could turn off a track if required. This of course is very handy in DC mode and not required in DCC. At the far right of the switch panel there are 3 large switches. These control each of the 3 mainlines and switch between DC and DCC on each line. This way we can have any combination of DC and DCC running on the layout at the same time - we just make sure we don't cross over from one mainline to another if we are on disparate systems.

For the DC use, we built some simple controllers. These are cheap to build and we can build more of the same any time and easily. It's just a simple controller circuit that has 2 transistors some diodes, resistors and the usual dollop of black and white magic smoke inside.

We have wired up a 14.4 volt AC circuit around the layout to supply power for DC controllers and wired these at a few locations to simple 5 pin DIN sockets in the front facia of the layout. This is driven from an old large printer power supply we had kicking around. A light bulb or two is also in this system to protect it too. From each of the 5 pin DIN sockets we then wire the output of each controller back to the main control panel and into the three tracks.

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