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Hi folks, below is a scarm file of my layout redo. I was hoping I could get some of you smart folk to help me out as I want to make sure I properly wire this layout for the best performance!

Everything I have is MTH, MTH Engines most are PS2 or PS3 I do have a couple conventional engines, MTH Z4000, MTH Full DCS System. I will be using a mix of MTH switch motors and tortoise switch motors.

I have 2 loops with a small yard.

Any help would be great! Just one thing you all should know, I am really slow when it comes to electrical! LOLNew Layout Plan


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Good morning , thanks for answering.

The transformer and TIU are located center of the yard along the lower wall in the drawing. The longest wire run is between 36-40' in both directions.

I just want to make sure I put blocks where I should for best results. Also I want to be able to turn off 2 of the sidings in the yard.

Mike, I'd like to be able to help you, but I have no experience with DCS wiring.   Hopefully, this post will bump up your topic.

I'm guessing you already know that with DCS that there's more to consider compared to wiring other command control systems, and it's why you're asking for help.  The DCS Companion Book by Barry Broskowitz is often mentioned as the main go to resource.

For this topic to get more attention, you might consider Editing the Topic Title to indicate that you're Looking for Help with DCS Layout wiring.  I hope this is at least somewhat helpful.

'morning Mike,

Glad you chose that location, seemed centrally located to me. I assume your drawing is scaled and so I don't see any reason for 36-40 feet wire runs. I see two runs, one up to the siding in front and one to the adjacent track, that could be 17 feet or so.

It starts with how you configure your track into isolated blocks. I believe I read once on the Ross website that switches often make a good place for isolation. For example, if you consider the large loop on the right side bounded by two switches. That loop could be configured as two blocks. Your wiring to reach them only has to get as far as the track coming out of the first switch closest to power. It is possible to put the single DCS drop at either end or in the middle of a block, you just have to honor the recommendation for number of joints the signal will pass through in each block. It is number of track joints, not length of the block, that is important.

I also want sidings that can be powered up and down so I've been studying the different approaches to the watchdog issue. An easy way to handle the watchdog issue with sidings is to dedicate a TIU channel (if possible) to the sidings. Then you want to switch power to those sidings before the TIU channel. The TIU sends watchdogs for a short time when a channel is first powered.  I have not tried this method so I can't comment on how DCS behaves. I don't know that this will scale if you have more than a few sidings, but there are more sophisticated ways if this doesn't do it for you.

The opening in your benchwork can also define a block boundary since the tracks need to be cut. A block on the right hand side could be extended through the switch and power the right side, the left side is obviously picked up from the left side block. Seems like most of your wiring runs can be limited to the back half. That one short piece of track on the siding that extends beyond the opening may be a little tricky to run wires to because it needs to be on the same block as the rest of the siding for the watchdog scheme, or you could leave that piece unpowered if you don't think you would run an engine that far down that siding.


While I'm no electrical wizard, other than your two sidings being cut from layout operating power, I'm not sure why you think you need "blocks?"  Seems to me, you could start your star wiring pattern with terminal strip under the layout right next to the transformer / TIU, and then run a series of multiple length wires from that terminal to well spaced locations around the layout where you make track connections.  The longest wires would have to make the run all the way from your start location by the yard to the track on the opposite side of your center opening.  Do you have, and, have you looked at, Barry's DCS book?

I've also noted a slight operational problem with your track plan.  Once a train starts running counter-clockwise on your yellow loop, there is no way to reverse it without traversing the green loop which has 2 reversing loops included.  However, if you include another connection from the topside of the yellow loop on the left into your yard area, now your yellow loop will also have 2 (instead of 1) reversing loops, although one will be a little convoluted.  This would allow trains to reverse directions on both the yellow and green loops without interfering with each other.


Last edited by PRR1950

Hi Chuck, thanks for responding, as for the blocks from what I read its the best way to share the power, also my layout has limited blocks and I have found if I put blocks in and document where they are it makes it easier for trouble shooting electrical problems most of the time.

I am just not good enough with electrical as some of the folks here will tell you I am a little slow when it comes to that. That's why I am asking help wiring this redo of my layout so I can get the best of the equipment I have. I hear people using all 4 channels of there Z4000 to power track and I only use 1& 2. I haven't figured out how to use the 2 center ones yet.

I do have Barry's DCS Book but sometimes reading that I still get lost, sometimes I have to read things 3 or 4 times before I get it.

In closing lets just say I am not the brightest bulb around! LOL

"The longest wires would have to make the run all the way from your start location by the yard to the track on the opposite side of your center opening. "

Not really, he just needs to connect a pair of wires to the part of that track closest to the TIU, on both sides of the opening. The track will conduct the signal the rest of the way around. Those locations are just past the switch on either end of the layout that lead to the opening.

I would not wire DCS without using blocks.

One of the top things on my list was the ability to be able to turn trains around and run in either direction.  As a rule, I have a "standard" direction to run, but sometimes the way they come from the yards or turntable, it's nice to turn them around.

I agree, part of the new plan was to add excitement and also so I could run trains while I was working on other projects at the same time!

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