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There was a good thread a few weeks ago about powering sidings. Several suggested small switches installed in fast track and similar toggle switches on the fascia. Has anyone tried something like this for tubular track? I have been looking for something like a small junction box to fit between yard tracks but everything I have found is too big to fit between the small distances separating the tracks.  Any ideas?



Picture from ADCXRob:

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Are you mounting it on a wood surface (eg. train table)? or is it just temporary on the floor?

If using a train table, you could just drill and bring the switch up from the underside and it would easily fit between adjacent tracks.

On our 4x8 Christmas layout, we have 3 sidings with on-off capability. I  just ran the buttons back to the control panel, near the transformer in one corner of the 4x8.

They are low enough profile that they wouldn't even reach the top of the rails if they were mounted alongside any of the tracks.

You could use an Atlas Connector.   Mine is on my control panel.  But, if you want to place it between tracks, I placed one between my yard tracks to show how it would fit.  The Atlas Connector is 2 inches wide, and spacing between track ties is approximately 4-3/4"   The yard track spacing is based on your basic Lionel O-22 switches butted together.

IMG_7197

Steve

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Maybe use a seperate transformer for the sidings mounted near the sidings. . You can use  switches for the sidings and also for a block before and after the sidings. Use 2 sets of switches for the entry/exit blocks; 1 set of switches for each transformer. That way you can run a train using your existing transformer location; bring the running train to the "entry" siding and stop it. Then go to the siding transformer; turn on the siding power you desire and "exit" block; and run out the train from the siding stopping it on the "exit" block; turn on the "entry" switch from siding transformer; run that train onto siding; then go back to main transformer to run new train.

@Rod Stewart posted:

You may want to consider a 6 or 12 position rotary switch, located in or near your yard, or at your panel. These work great for yard ot turntable tracks where you only need one at a time powered up.

Rod

BOOM!  Thanks Rod!

I'm starting the thought process on building my *first* control panel.  Time to start looking at some control panels threads.

dennis

Thanks all for the responses and ideas. Finally getting serious on this part of the new layout and had one more question.  I run Lionchief and DCS locos.  In configuring the switches like Rod and Steve show above, is there any "best practice" or pitfall  to avoid messing up the DCS signal?  On my previous layout, I used buss wiring and did not have a yard- never had a DCS issue.  On this one I plan to use the proverbial star approach so the yard, siding, or turntable switches will be a extensions of a block or added to a track connection.  Any thoughts are appreciated.

@hokie71 posted:

Thanks all for the responses and ideas. Finally getting serious on this part of the new layout and had one more question.  I run Lionchief and DCS locos.  In configuring the switches like Rod and Steve show above, is there any "best practice" or pitfall  to avoid messing up the DCS signal?  On my previous layout, I used buss wiring and did not have a yard- never had a DCS issue.  On this one I plan to use the proverbial star approach so the yard, siding, or turntable switches will be a extensions of a block or added to a track connection.  Any thoughts are appreciated.

Take heart, your DCS signal will likely be just fine. My layout was initially built back in '98, and it was not wired with any regard to future DCS parameters, because DCS was unheard of at the time. My mainline track runs are all switched through Atlas 215 4 pole double throw blocks. And the yards and turntable are all switched using 12 position rotary switches. My mainline blocks are all interconnected center rails; no isolation points at all. In some cases there are at least two or three track power drops wired from the same supply run; an absolute DCS no-no. No thought was given to star wiring. I would have used MTH 12 and 24 circuit block terminal boards, but of course they didn't exist at the time either.

When I first added TMCC and DCS in about 2008, it was with an I3a rev TIU. Initially I had some signal issues in a few places, but by adding so-called "magic bulbs" to the TIU outputs those mostly went away. The other problem that arose was some sidings where I had used connector #3 of UCS tracks to power the siding. Some of these sidings had DCS issues, I believe because of the coupler coil in the UCS. These problems mostly went away by adding a 260 lit bumper to the siding. If building from scratch today, I would omit all of the siding UCS's; simply not needed. Anyway the layout is operating just the same today 13 years later, even better, likely because of replacing the original TIU with a rev L. If I had it to do over, there would be some changes for sure, but mostly it works quite well. Last time I did a signal check around the layout there were a few areas of 4-6 strength, but most were in the 8-10 range. Generally any signal above about 3 seems to provide pretty reliable operation.

Hope that helps, Rod

Using a Radio Shack plastic project box, I installed four ON/OFF toggle switches to it with a "hot" wire from the main transformer to a terminal block, then to each switch, and then to the isolated center rail of each siding.  I placed a lighted bumper at the end of each siding as an "indicator light" to show whether a siding was powered (or not) according to the position of the switch.  Low tech, but it works for me!

Mike Mottler    LCCA 12394

Using a Radio Shack plastic project box, I installed four ON/OFF toggle switches to it with a "hot" wire from the main transformer to a terminal block, then to each switch, and then to the isolated center rail of each siding.  I placed a lighted bumper at the end of each siding as an "indicator light" to show whether a siding was powered (or not) according to the position of the switch.  Low tech, but it works for me!

Mike Mottler    LCCA 12394

WORKS FOR ME!! Thankee

Rod, Nice description and looks like DCS is more robust than I thought. I pretty much did what you describe on my previous layout and I had no issues either (bus wires with multiple drops, etc. etc.).  I also added DCS after the layout was built. As I studied more in preparation for this layout, lo and behold, I found I had made a ton of "mistakes." Do I understand that you would eliminate the RCS tracks all together? How do you separate cars in the middle of  a group?  I had planned to use them but simplify the wiring so I ignore the actuating tracks and use a momentary PB for the coil only. I plan to use an independent 14v zw (non DCS bus) for accessories and RCS connections too. 

Mike, the idea from you and Rod on the bumpers at the end of the yard spurs sounds good too. Your low tech approach on the project box is basically what I have been planning too- good to hear you had no DCS issues with that also.....and Miggy votes positive too!

@hokie71 posted:

Rod, Nice description and looks like DCS is more robust than I thought. I pretty much did what you describe on my previous layout and I had no issues either (bus wires with multiple drops, etc. etc.).  I also added DCS after the layout was built. As I studied more in preparation for this layout, lo and behold, I found I had made a ton of "mistakes." Do I understand that you would eliminate the RCS tracks all together? How do you separate cars in the middle of  a group?  I had planned to use them but simplify the wiring so I ignore the actuating tracks and use a momentary PB for the coil only. I plan to use an independent 14v zw (non DCS bus) for accessories and RCS connections too.

Mike, the idea from you and Rod on the bumpers at the end of the yard spurs sounds good too. Your low tech approach on the project box is basically what I have been planning too- good to hear you had no DCS issues with that also.....and Miggy votes positive too!

Yes it all worked way better than I thought it would, right out of the gate. At the time I think it might have been Marty Fitzhenry who said words to the effect "Hey go ahead and hook it up and give it a try. You can't wreck anything, and you have nothing to lose." So I did.

Yes I would get rid of all the uncoupler tracks on sidings. They are of very little value, at least to me. I have about 4 UCS's out in my switching area that I use for making up/breaking up trains, and they are quite useful. I would leave them as is for sure, in fact I would maybe add one or two more. I also read a while back that you can wire more than one UCS to an actuator switch panel, so that the switches don't take up so much panel space. Seems like a good idea.

Rod

I used my AIU to control the sidings. Since the AIU cannot handle the current needed to power track I installed relays to switch on track power to the sidings. I then installed watchdog signal generators for all the track. When the siding is turned on the engines sees the signal and will start up when commanded. This all allows me to control power to the sidings from my remote.

I use Fascia mounted switches to energize sidings.  Many of them are just controlling relays back on the power panel so I don't have to pipe power all the way to the switch and back to the siding.  The bezel has an inside diameter of around 1.3", and two or three mini toggles fit in with indicator lights for the power status.  I use different colors so I can tell at a glance which siding is energized.

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I used my AIU to control the sidings. Since the AIU cannot handle the current needed to power track I installed relays to switch on track power to the sidings. I then installed watchdog signal generators for all the track. When the siding is turned on the engines sees the signal and will start up when commanded. This all allows me to control power to the sidings from my remote.

oh boy, another rabbit hole that I need to discover.. wow, over my pay scale <salute>

I used my AIU to control the sidings. Since the AIU cannot handle the current needed to power track I installed relays to switch on track power to the sidings. I then installed watchdog signal generators for all the track. When the siding is turned on the engines sees the signal and will start up when commanded. This all allows me to control power to the sidings from my remote.

Ummm; the relays in an AIU are all rated at 10A 250V. How is that not enough to power track all by itself? Or did I miss something?

And look at the size of those traces!

RodIMG_1427

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hokie71; It's worth mentioning that my operation is all DCS, TMCC, Legacy. So in this scenario the siding UCS's are useless as all yard car placement is done with an, umm, uh, switcher(?). In a non-command scenario they would likely be very handy, and of course in 1998 I was all conventional operation. If there is ever a need or reason to tear up track in my yards, the USC's will be gone for sure. The ones out in the switching/make up area will remain because they get used quite a bit, and there are several dump cars that the grandkids like to operate in that area also. Well, ok, so do I.

Rod

OK, some are quoting my post asking where I was coming from with the relay use. It has been a couple of years but there was a thread on here regarding using the AIU ACC ports to power sidings and yard tracks. At the time someone pointed out that ACC ports could not handle the amperage the tracks may draw so they should be turned on using relays. I was very new to command control so while I was only a reading participant to the thread I took what was said as gospel and went with it. I tried to find the thread but no joy. It may hay been because the ACC ports are only momentary and non latching. All of my sw ports are used. Correct me if that is incorrect.   

...

It may hay been because the ACC ports are only momentary and non latching. All of my sw ports are used. Correct me if that is incorrect.   

The AIU ACC ports can be either momentary OR latching.  For momentary action an AIU ACC relay is triggered only for as long as you press and hold down the "ACT" button on the DCS remote.  For latching action, the AIU relay is triggered when you press the "ON" button...and stays triggered until you press the "OFF" button.

The AIU SW ports are only momentary and non-latching.  There are two relays inside the AIU for each SW port.  One relay fires for exactly 1/2 second when you press the "DIVERGE" button on the remote.  The other relay fires for exactly 1/2 second when you press the "STRAIGHT" button.  There have been OGR threads on how to add an external latching relay to an SW port so that the SW port becomes latching...for example to drive a Tortoise or similar "slow speed" switch machine that requires continuous power.  And if you run out of AIU ACC ports...but have a few unused SW ports, the same method of an external latching relay could be used to effect ACC port functionality ... albeit you activate the external relay ON and OFF using the "DIVERGE" and "STRAIGHT" buttons which may be awkward!  Or just buy another AIU and get 10 additional genuine ACC ports since a TIU can support 5 AIUs.

Last edited by stan2004
@Bruce Brown posted:

All my sidings are automatically powered on using a Triac relay that is controlled by the position of the turnout to that siding. That eliminates the need for additional controls and also prevents an engine on the siding from joining the main track if the turnout is in the "wrong" position.

So throwing the turnout to the siding turns power on to the siding as well? That seems like a nifty idea and quite foolproof too. Can you provide any details for the "Triac relay" please?

Rod

Rod,

Here is a schematic of the Triac schematic I've used for all my sidings. It's important to use it with a thermal circuit breaker in series with the "hot" (non-common) output of your transformer or TIU for protection of the Triac. (It's always good practice to use a circuit breaker for protection of all your electronics.) Note that you need to use switch contacts that are built into many turnout switch motors. You can also do siding block control with a SPDT mechanical relay but that typically requires a separate fixed power source to energize the relay. I can also provide you a schematic of that approach. The advantage of the solid state approach is that no separate power source is needed but the minor disadvantage is that you get a voltage drop/loss of about 1 volt AC (i.e., an output of 18 VAC from the transformer results in about 17 VAC delivered to the track.) This has never caused a problem on the sidings using conventional, DCS or Legacy/TMCC operation.)

For people using the DZ series switch machines, a DZ-1008 Relay Module can simply be used to apply power to the siding making things very easy!

Bruce

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