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Ok, I have finished weathering my Ross track and switches. I have a MTH Z4000,  MTH TIU and MTH remote. Multiple connecting loops and switches. Suddenly, I am uncertain in how to wire the layout. My current layout is approximately a "L" shape and is 96' square feet.

What type of wire and wire gauge is recommended ? Where should I place the connections?

What is a "bus" line?

Thanking you all in advance for any advice!

Richard

#Duffyscut57

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Bus wiring is wires run parallel to the track with short feeder connections. This method is not recommended for DCS. Divide your loops into power blocks by inserting insulating pins in the center rail. Four power districts per loop would probably be adequate. Connect a pair of wires near the insulator pin, not in the center of the power district. Run all wires back to your power source. This is Star wiring. You can connect all wires to a distribution terminal block. Use at least #16 AWG. Many recommend #14 AWG.

It's also highly recommended to jumper the 2 outside rails together at each power connection.

Thank you Keith for responding to my question.

I have never had a layout of this size and I'm slowly learning as I go...trail and error, with more mistakes than I care to admit.

I have heard of the Star System. I do have a power block.

Unfortunately, I am not familiar with insulating pins, nor a power district.

I also do not understand your last recommendation " to jumper the 2 outside rails together at each power connection."

I really appreciate any information and knowledge you could share with me.

Attached are 2 photos of my layout, currenty.

Thank you,

Richard







IMG_8698IMG_8703

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Images (2)
  • Duffy's Cut 57
  • Duffy's Cut 57

Insulating pins are plastic and are used so power can’t go from one piece of track to the others.  Ross sells them.  I use nothing but Ross track and they replace the normal metal pins.

By jumping the two outside rails together, he means to connect them together.  The reason some people do this is because with Ross track the two outside rails are not tied together, since the ties are wood.  I personally did not do this and have no issues.  I did not do this so i could use the other rail as an insulated rail to trigger accessories.  My layout is around the room, 26x18.

@Oman posted:

Bus wiring is wires run parallel to the track with short feeder connections. This method is not recommended for DCS. Divide your loops into power blocks by inserting insulating pins in the center rail. Four power districts per loop would probably be adequate. Connect a pair of wires near the insulator pin, not in the center of the power district. Run all wires back to your power source. This is Star wiring. You can connect all wires to a distribution terminal block. Use at least #16 AWG. Many recommend #14 AWG.

It's also highly recommended to jumper the 2 outside rails together at each power connection.

Why is bus wiring not recommended for DCS? I did the star arrangement on my last layout but did not have insulator pins installed in the layout except at turnouts.

@RJT posted:

Why is bus wiring not recommended for DCS? I did the star arrangement on my last layout but did not have insulator pins installed in the layout except at turnouts.

I've built 2 temporary layouts without insulating pins and had no problems, However, there are many posts on this forum of DCS signal problems. Currently there's a member experiencing a locomotive that responds twice to a command. Example, crossing signal repeats. Those most in the know believe this is due to the signal reflecting back. You have to be educated in high frequency communication to understand this concept. If you had a TIU prior to version L, you'd be familiar with the magic light bulb trick. The light bulb reduced the signal reflections. I have no idea why version L is different.

The recommendation is to not have any power loops, so the DCS signal doesn't leave the TIU in 2 different directions and crash into itself.

If building a temporary layout, I wouldn't worry about. You can change it if there are problems. It's not so easy with a permanent layout.

Oman  Thank you for the reply and Bill I have both of the DCS books but had not ever had or heard of this issue before and I have never had any problems with my DCS system like was described. Currently I have a 40 x 18 layout with only two drops both coming off the TIU and have no issues with any of the locomotives I currently have installed. I have on PS3 that will not install and keep getting No Engine Found, but only on this one locomotive.

There's lost of variations on how to set it up, but here's what I would probably do:

1. Buy two of the 12 port terminal/distribution blocks and mount underneath.

2. I would not bother with dividing your track into power blocks/districts at this stage until you see if you have any DCS communication issues once up and running. If you do, you can easily separate the loops into blocks by using a Dremel and thin cut-off wheel to cut the center rail and create your blocks. If you don not (and many do not) no need to do anything.

3. Run one handle of your Z4K to Fixed 1 IN on the TIU and then from Fixed 1 Out to the input leads of one terminal block with 14 gauge stranded wire.

4. Run the other handle to Fixed 2 IN on the TIU and then from Fixed 2 Out to the input leads of the other terminal block with 14 gauge wire.

5. Run four sets of wires from ports 1-4 from terminal block 1 to your outside loop with 16 gauge wire to the track at 4 different locations - one at each end of the oval loop and one in the middle of the front and back straights, so you've "carved" your loop into 8 about equal sections.

6. Run 8 sets of wires from terminal block 2 to the two inner loops (four wires per loop) in the same fashion as the outside loop.

7. You can make your connections from the terminal blocks to the track in different methods such as soldering directly to the track or using the male spades below. Because the outer ground rails are not tied together with your track, many people tie them together to get a solid ground connection - you're basically creating a "Y" connection. If you use the male spades, you can solder a wire to each spade, insert the spade into the bottom of each outside rail and then each wire down through the layout and join the ends together with the ground wire coming from the terminal block port to this particular connection - you can solder all the ends together, use a wire nut, connector, etc.

That set up should get you sufficient power and DCS signal strength to all of your loops, but if you find that you need more power, you can run more connections from your terminal block ports to the track or if you put your sidings on separate toggle switches.

I'm not sure if you plan to isolate your loops from one another.

You can then use the 10v and 14v taps on the back of the Z4k to power your accessories.

MTH 12 PORTSPADE CONNECTOR

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Images (2)
  • MTH 12 PORT
  • SPADE CONNECTOR

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