I would appreciate advice on track power distribution for Fastrack w/Legacy. I only plan for one transformer, and right now have only one power terminal track for my 5 X 4 loop, but I'll be expanding in the near future. The recommended practice for DCC is one power drop for every ~6' of track, and a fairly heavy (12-14 gauge) power buss. Is there a recommended best practices along these lines for a Legacy controlled layout?
I just use one 180w brick with 14 gauge wire at one spot, and no problems yet. My layout is 6'x12'. Some people have another power drop on the opposite side.
Multiple power drops are always recommended as the track connections may not be able to transfer all the amperage the locomotives need.
WRT to "big wire", it is appropriate for large layouts. My modular club settled on 12G power and ground pairs for each main line, and power drops on each 4 ft. module. Works fine for our large layouts where the farthest module may be up to 100 ft from the power source. We typically run two long trains per track drawing up the the 10 amp limit of our Z4000s.
DCS recommends a star configuration for good signal propogation where power is distributed by power and ground pairs from a single point (at or near the TIU outputs) out to the track. Nothing wrong with that power topology for DCS and Legacy signal distribution. The Legacy signal distribution is not sensitive to the power wiring topology (there may be exceptions, I've seen some notable rat's nests under layouts).
For a layout where you are not drawing a lot of amps, you don't need 12G wire. 16G speaker wire will probably do, the wire is less expensive and easier to run. For long runs (> 15 ft), you might want to use 14G. Other threads have recommended a crimp connector that plugs into the underside of FastTrack so you don't have to buy terminal sections.
Thank you for the information - it's always better to plan ahead than to re-engineer.
I think you are confusing two things here when you compare Legacy to DCC. The TMCC/Legacy command signal has nothing to do with track power. A single connection from the base terminal to the outside (ground) rails is the only thing you need for signal.
Track power requirements are based on the number of trains you plan to run. Track feeders and wire gauge are based on the size of the layout.
If you are planning to use DCS, that is a whole different animal, one with which I zero experience (on purpose).
I have a 10x16' layout powered by one 180w brick with 14 GA buss and 14 GA feeders soldered to the tabs underneath the fastrack every 10'.
Power delivery is consistent through the layout, and voltage at the track is the same as it is coming out of the brick.