Hi David,

Your concerns are real, but unfounded. The switch operates on low voltage DC. The AC is converted internally. The voltage actually traveling to the switch controller is +5vDC and a -5vDC to light the colored LED indicator lamps via the yellow wire.

The switching motor power (a small DC motor) is controlled by the board. The board controller is switched by the red, green and black wires. The controller lever only changes which circuit on the board is activated by mechanically momentarily contacting the green/black and red/black.

Finally, there is only milliamps of current flowing, which would be what one would have concerns about when considering wire size.

Yes, there is 18vAC on the track at 10amp potential on the track. The internal switch boards are designed to handle that and convert it to only the small DC power that is needed.

They do not require anything close to the amperage required by coil motored turnouts(switches)

You can email forum members CJack, gunrunnerjohn or SantaFeFan if you want more detail. They are a few of the forum's electrical experts.

Carl

Arctic Railroad

What Carl said.   Fastrack switches only have a small DC motor to activate the switch, they draw less than 100ma maximum during the switch operation, even less at other times.  Since I run command pretty exclusively, I run the switches from track power to minimize the wiring issues.  I use the command Fastrack switches, that way I don't really have to wire extra control wires either, just plug them in and go.

Moonman posted:

Hi David,

Your concerns are real, but unfounded. The switch operates on low voltage DC. The AC is converted internally. The voltage actually traveling to the switch controller is +5vDC and a -5vDC to light the colored LED indicator lamps via the yellow wire.

The switching motor power (a small DC motor) is controlled by the board. The board controller is switched by the red, green and black wires. The controller lever only changes which circuit on the board is activated by mechanically momentarily contacting the green/black and red/black.

Finally, there is only milliamps of current flowing, which would be what one would have concerns about when considering wire size.

Yes, there is 18vAC on the track at 10amp potential on the track. The internal switch boards are designed to handle that and convert it to only the small DC power that is needed.

They do not require anything close to the amperage required by coil motored turnouts(switches)

You can email forum members CJack, gunrunnerjohn or SantaFeFan if you want more detail. They are a few of the forum's electrical experts.

Moonman

  Thank you for your time and answer. I do have another question regarding the switches, I need to extend the wires from the switch to the controller about 15 feet, would I use the same gauge wires or go larger.

  Thanks, Dave

David Pearsall

gunrunnerjohn posted:

What Carl said.   Fastrack switches only have a small DC motor to activate the switch, they draw less than 100ma maximum during the switch operation, even less at other times.  Since I run command pretty exclusively, I run the switches from track power to minimize the wiring issues.  I use the command Fastrack switches, that way I don't really have to wire extra control wires either, just plug them in and go.

Gunrunnerjohn,

  Thank you for your time and answer.

  Take care, Dave

David Pearsall

It is much easier to disconnect the wires from the switch. I extend the wires with 4 conductor phone cable using terminal strips in between. I have short pigtails of phone wire with a phone connector on each switch and use a double female phone coupler to connect to the extension wire. If the switch needs to come out I can just unplug it under the layout. The phone cable wire colors match the controller wire to make it simpler.

John

Located in the real Upstate NY

Gentlemen,

   Both Carl and Guns advise is absolutely true, I run my FasTrack Command Control switches off Track power as many as 99 of them.  Low Voltage Switches,  AC covered to DC at the switch, and it works like a dream.  No need to worry about the Lionel wiring and you can run them in tandem if you like.  IMO these low voltage FTCC Switches are one of Lionel greatest modern engineering accomplishments, and they can be controlled from either the Legacy Cab2 or the TMCC Cab1.  A world class piece of engineering, wireless Lionel Command Control Switches in reality have no equals on the market today.  Now if the foreign builders would just quit playing games with Lionel's engineering and supply the correct parts and test every FTCC Switch before it's shipped, all the switches would work perfectly when purchased.  

PCRR/Dave

The Construction  on the new Donovan's Reef Bar layout,  is progressing and all the FTCC Switches work perfectly, with more to come on the lower level which will feature our 18' Bar as a Big Train Tunnel.  

DSCN2404

Lionel FasTrack Command Control Switches, simply Great Modern Engineering for Remote Control Trains.

DSCN2403

 

Never worry about what other people think, be strong and walk in the way of the Lord.

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John H posted:

It is much easier to disconnect the wires from the switch. I extend the wires with 4 conductor phone cable using terminal strips in between. I have short pigtails of phone wire with a phone connector on each switch and use a double female phone coupler to connect to the extension wire. If the switch needs to come out I can just unplug it under the layout. The phone cable wire colors match the controller wire to make it simpler.

John H,

  I like your way of wiring and will use your method in the future, simple and easy 

Thanks, Dave

David Pearsall

I also have used a flat 4 conductor phone cable to replace the cable between the switch and the remote, to provide some additional length.  I'm not sure what the wire gauge is for each of the individual wires, but they are quite small.  Works perfect for me with no issues controlling the switch.

It helps to "tin" the wire leads with some solder before making the connections to the switch and the remote... to ensure a solid connection.

- Joe

 

Pittsburgh, PA

gunrunnerjohn posted:

What Carl said.   Fastrack switches only have a small DC motor to activate the switch, they draw less than 100ma maximum during the switch operation, even less at other times.  Since I run command pretty exclusively, I run the switches from track power to minimize the wiring issues.  I use the command Fastrack switches, that way I don't really have to wire extra control wires either, just plug them in and go.

GRJ,

Do you run DCS as well as Legacy on your layout ? Reason I ask is I always understood that when running DCS it is recommended to power the Fastrack switches with accessory/external power and not track power ?

Well, I use a little trick for mine.  Yes, I have DCS, and so I use a 22uh choke to jumper the power to the switch power input instead of the jumper that Lionel supplies.  DCS issues all fixed!

DAVID PEARSALL 010218 posted:
Moonman posted:

Hi David,

Your concerns are real, but unfounded. The switch operates on low voltage DC. The AC is converted internally. The voltage actually traveling to the switch controller is +5vDC and a -5vDC to light the colored LED indicator lamps via the yellow wire.

The switching motor power (a small DC motor) is controlled by the board. The board controller is switched by the red, green and black wires. The controller lever only changes which circuit on the board is activated by mechanically momentarily contacting the green/black and red/black.

Finally, there is only milliamps of current flowing, which would be what one would have concerns about when considering wire size.

Yes, there is 18vAC on the track at 10amp potential on the track. The internal switch boards are designed to handle that and convert it to only the small DC power that is needed.

They do not require anything close to the amperage required by coil motored turnouts(switches)

You can email forum members CJack, gunrunnerjohn or SantaFeFan if you want more detail. They are a few of the forum's electrical experts.

Moonman

  Thank you for your time and answer. I do have another question regarding the switches, I need to extend the wires from the switch to the controller about 15 feet, would I use the same gauge wires or go larger.

  Thanks, Dave

I believe that you received the info that needed. I saw those replies before I could respond.

The flat in the matching colors is easier to find than the old 4 wire phone cable. Most phone cable today is Cat5 cable, which works. It is just a little small in gauge and one has to be careful stripping it. It also doesn't tolerate a lot of bending. Something in a 20awg handles easier.

Carl

Arctic Railroad

Richie C. posted:
gunrunnerjohn posted:

What Carl said.   Fastrack switches only have a small DC motor to activate the switch, they draw less than 100ma maximum during the switch operation, even less at other times.  Since I run command pretty exclusively, I run the switches from track power to minimize the wiring issues.  I use the command Fastrack switches, that way I don't really have to wire extra control wires either, just plug them in and go.

GRJ,

Do you run DCS as well as Legacy on your layout ? Reason I ask is I always understood that when running DCS it is recommended to power the Fastrack switches with accessory/external power and not track power ?

I run DCS and I have not heard that before, using accessory/external power. What is the reason for that 

David Pearsall

DAVID PEARSALL 010218 posted:
Richie C. posted:
gunrunnerjohn posted:

What Carl said.   Fastrack switches only have a small DC motor to activate the switch, they draw less than 100ma maximum during the switch operation, even less at other times.  Since I run command pretty exclusively, I run the switches from track power to minimize the wiring issues.  I use the command Fastrack switches, that way I don't really have to wire extra control wires either, just plug them in and go.

GRJ,

Do you run DCS as well as Legacy on your layout ? Reason I ask is I always understood that when running DCS it is recommended to power the Fastrack switches with accessory/external power and not track power ?

I run DCS and I have not heard that before, using accessory/external power. What is the reason for that 

One would assume that it is to avoid the DCS signal interference created by the control electronics in the FasTrack switch. I am not sure that a separate power source would help. The center rail would still be connected to the rest of the track.

Using the 22uh choke on the track power terminals is the solution. MTH RealTrax switches use coil motors to avoid the signal interference.

Carl

Arctic Railroad

This is where I saw the original post about not using track power to power FT Switches when using DCS (and GRJ's RF choke suggestion) and I'm sure there have been other posts as well.

Barry, has anyone ever tried adding RF chokes to the Fastrack switches to eliminate this issue?  Just wondering if you've ever heard of a fix.  With the command switches, it's very handy to just plop them into the layout and not have to wire anything, that's the reason I ask.

 

Nothing is so easy as the job you imagine someone else doing.
()

John,

 

Running the DCS signal through a magnet coil or the coil of a motor is a different source of interference than that caused by a CV board. I don't know if an RF choke would nullify that particular form of interference.

Barry

 

DCS Ambassador & author of The DCS Companion series of books

Train-Ca-Teers - All For O and O For All!

 

()

I guess it just has to be tested.   However, Fastrack switches have a very small DC motor to activate the switch tracks, so there are no "magnet coils".  If you can run a locomotive around with a motor, it would seem these would be similar.

 

Nothing is so easy as the job you imagine someone else doing.
()

I like the idea of track power, but I suspect adding a choke may be necessary to solve the DCS compatibility issues.  Note that many Legacy and even some TMCC locomotives require an RF choke to avoid interference with DCS locomotives.  I suspect Barry's comment is based on experience with folks having issues with them on track power, so something would probably have to be done.

 

Gentlemen,

   I will let you know if I have any problems with my FTCC Switches on the larger layout, in the new Train Room/Bar.  So far absolutely none.  Switches powered from track power and controlled from the Legacy HHRC.  Right now I only have about 10 switches in use, probably about 15 more will be added as we continue building the multi-level layout.  Actually I do not look for any FTCC Switch problems.  I do recommend running Legacy drops from the opposite outside Rail of the DCS connections, for some reason it helps when it comes to FTCC Switch operations.

PCRR/Dave

 

Never worry about what other people think, be strong and walk in the way of the Lord.

Can I put two Fastrack switches back to back with center rail jumpers removed on all 4 open ends? I am using auxiliary power on both. I have a friend with learning disabilities and he cannot operate the handhelds. He was using DCS / TIU and wants to go conventional all the way. I have removed the TIU and added switched block sidings but am not sure how to carry track power through the turnouts.  (I may not have posted this in right place, but did not see a place to start a new topic, so if I need to move this post, please let me know.) 

 

Bill

Bill, if you isolate all 4 center rails you will have no power through the switches.  Using auxiliary only powers the switch motors.  If you have to isolate all 4 rails you will need to bring a power line directly from the track power supply to the center rail at the junction of the two back to back switches.

Dan

Just break the center rail right after the switch for the siding.  You can use the 1 3/8 fitter or just hack any track piece with a Dremel to break the center rail.

Thank you John. I am using all 4 extensions (2 per turnout) and have removed the jumper, and have confirmed isolation. Control power is auxiliary (connected from mainline to the aux control input with track jumper removed. Problem is center rail power which is removed due to isolation. I soldered train power to center rail (on the retainer that is on underside of turnout after confirming electrical integrity to the center rail and I confirmed that center rail was hot on both turnouts -- it is, as they are connected back to back by the rail joiner. Train powers through first switch and stops on second one. I quickly checked voltage and it is present on rail. I did not give too many details because I did not want to "lead" any of the replies, because the situation made no electrical sense to me. I was interrupted by layout visitors and had to quit, but I will check center roller on loco versus switch transition to be sure it remains in contact. I did not check that, because it seemed logical that loco passed through one switch so should pass through the next one. I will be on location later this week or early next week and will check further and let you guys know. Meantime, any suggestions are welcome.

Bill

Danr posted:

Bill, if you isolate all 4 center rails you will have no power through the switches.  Using auxiliary only powers the switch motors.  If you have to isolate all 4 rails you will need to bring a power line directly from the track power supply to the center rail at the junction of the two back to back switches.

Thank you Danr. I am using all 4 extensions (2 per turnout) and have removed the jumper, and have confirmed isolation. Control power is auxiliary (connected from mainline to the aux control input with track jumper removed. Problem is center rail power which is removed due to isolation. I soldered train power to center rail (on the retainer that is on underside of turnout after confirming electrical integrity to the center rail and I confirmed that center rail was hot on both turnouts -- it is, as they are connected back to back by the rail joiner. Train powers through first switch and stops on second one. I quickly checked voltage and it is present on rail. I did not give too many details because I did not want to "lead" any of the replies, because the situation made no electrical sense to me. I was interrupted by layout visitors and had to quit, but I will check center roller on loco versus switch transition to be sure it remains in contact. I did not check that, because it seemed logical that loco passed through one switch so should pass through the next one. I will be on location later this week or early next week and will check further and let you guys know. Meantime, any suggestions are welcome.

Bill

A couple points.

Supplying track power to the terminal marked "track jumper" (on the back of the track switch) will supply that power to the center rail. Thus there is no need to solder an additional wire to the center rail.

         IMG_3494

 

If you have power through the first switch but not the second you have a no-contact issue with the center rail pins. Fastrack switches are known for this and the simple fix is to bend each center rail pin (sideways) a bit to insure a friction fit against the next track pin. Lionel came up with this recommendation several years ago. Additionally, I put a SLIGHT crimp in the hollow outside rails at the end of each track piece so that the track pin from the connecting track piece has a friction fit.

Lew

Lew

 

Operator of the Plywood Empire Route in the Beautiful Berkshires

Growing old is so much more fun than the only alternative.

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Lew, thank you. I will go on record as being very unhappy with this track. I was asked to help this man after he had installed about 200 or 300 feet of track. I had to break his apart and start looking for open circuit sections (after rewiring his entire layout with heavier gauge -- he was using 22 AWG) . I have found that I needed to test 6 to 10 foot sections and squeeze the connectors on every piece while watching the ohm meter for improvement. When I had a good section, I screwed it down while watching the meter because even the slightest re-position would add to the resistance. I was indeed hurried because the room became chaotic when a family of several adults and kids piled in and I needed to cease working. I should have thought about using the track voltage post provided, so thank you for that. I have not tried bending the center rail pin slightly but will do so. By the way, I do the squeezing with smooth, parallel jaw pliers which is similar to water pump pliers except for the smooth jaw and more precise control. Brand is Knipex -- love them!  I found out the hard way that tighter is not better when squeezing this track -- there is a "just right" which can be seen when watching the resistance while squeezing. Track laying should not be this tedious. I think he must have purchased a defective lot, because I see that the track is very popular and most people are apparently having better luck.  He even had an insulated section that had the standard strap installed across the outer rails -- someone goofed on that assembly and it took me a while to find it because I was in denial -- removed track, inspected it and bingo!   Many thanks to all of you!

 

Bill

Which Lionel brick are you using for power?  When I used the 18 volt DC bricks that come with Lionchief sets, my FasTrack control lights on the lever modules were either on green or off - no red.  I switched to the 18 volt AC 180 watt Powermaster and was surprised to see the lights are now either green or red, but there is always a light on.

Fastrack switches were designed for AC power.  Lionel isn't very specific in their manuals about the power requirements.  The only reference to the required power is buried in the document under aux power.  Obviously, powering from track power would have similar requirements.

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John H posted:

It is much easier to disconnect the wires from the switch. I extend the wires with 4 conductor phone cable using terminal strips in between. I have short pigtails of phone wire with a phone connector on each switch and use a double female phone coupler to connect to the extension wire. If the switch needs to come out I can just unplug it under the layout. The phone cable wire colors match the controller wire to make it simpler.

I'm going to store this trick in memory. In future if I need to lift a track switch I will install short phone cable leads with plugs to facilitate any repeat maintenance.

Lew

Lew

 

Operator of the Plywood Empire Route in the Beautiful Berkshires

Growing old is so much more fun than the only alternative.

gunrunnerjohn posted:

Fastrack switches were designed for AC power.  Lionel isn't very specific in their manuals about the power requirements.  The only reference to the required power is buried in the document under aux power.  Obviously, powering from track power would have similar requirements.

I've often wondered about that considering they sell all their lionchief sets with DC power supplies..

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