Star or home run wiring?

Hi All, thanks to Pine Creek Dave I bought the OGR DCS Video that Rich did a wonderful job in. Sure made things easy to understand. But after watching the video I have a question for now. I know there will be a lot more down the road.

If I am doing a around the room layout how do you star wire with all wires the same length? Might be a silly question, but that is one thing I do not get!

Please explain it to me! LOL

Mike

5/11 Battalion Oscar Battery 155 Big Guns!

Semper Fi !

Menards addiction Meeting member! /  LCCA# 41824

Original Post

I think wires being the same length is a myth, but blocks are essential. I can say that about blocks from first hand experience.  I would also recommend Barry's book. On my layout I used the OGR wire and MTH terminal strips. The OGR wire is in pairs so you have a red & black in the same jacket. The wires going to each of my blocks are close to the same length, but the lengths going to each block are different. I have not had a problem in close to 4 years (since I got it all running).

Big Mike G,

   No need to have the wires the same length, that was a fallacy and proven incorrect a long time ago.  Just remember to set up your DCS layout in blocks, no more than 13 Track joins to any one block, in fact I limit most of mine to 10 Joins.  Use as many long track pieces in your layout as you possibly can, its the Track joins that degrade your DCS signal, not the actual length of the track.  Your DCS TIU Red Channel wire goes to the mid rail, DCS TIU Black drops to the outside rail.  If you are running Legacy, run one Legacy drop from the outside Black DCS TIU Black Post, to a outside Track Rail.  Then run a Legacy Drop directly from the Legacy Base unit, to the opposite outside rail, from the original DCS/Legacy Drop.  This gives you a strong double sided Legacy signal.   In this manner your DCS should also have nearly a 10 signal all around your layout.  Pay no attention to the signal strength at your switches. 

PCRR/Dave

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

Thanks guys, RTR I do have Barry's book on my computer, wish I would have got the hard copy. I bought the DCS video cause I learn better from watching and seeing what is really going on!

I know I am going to have many more questions when the time comes! Thanks again!

Mike

5/11 Battalion Oscar Battery 155 Big Guns!

Semper Fi !

Menards addiction Meeting member! /  LCCA# 41824

Pine Creek Railroad posted:

Big Mike G,

   No need to have the wires the same length, that was a fallacy and proven incorrect a long time ago.  Just remember to set up your DCS layout in blocks, no more than 13 Track joins to any one block, in fact I limit most of mine to 10 Joins.  Use as many long track pieces in your layout as you possibly can, its the Track joins that degrade your DCS signal, not the actual length of the track.  Your DCS TIU Red Channel wire goes to the mid rail, DCS TIU Black drops to the outside rail.  If you are running Legacy, run one Legacy drop from the outside Black DCS TIU Black Post, to a outside Track Rail.  Then run a Legacy Drop directly from the Legacy Base unit, to the opposite outside rail, from the original DCS/Legacy Drop.  This gives you a strong double sided Legacy signal.   In this manner your DCS should also have nearly a 10 signal all around your layout.  Pay no attention to the signal strength at your switches. 

PCRR/Dave

Would it help if one was to solder track sections together?

I also started out with the digital version of Barry's book. Soon after I ordered the printed copy and have been buying/using those ever since. You can take them to the layout or where ever you need them and I just like the books better for reading as well. The digital copy is nice for finding things faster using the search. I now usually purchase both whe a new version comes out. Lots of good info in those books! The DCS video is good, I got it in 2011 or so, but it is a bit outdated now. The book is more current and Barry usually updates it as new features are added.

As John P explained above, I did the same as he says. One pair of wires from one TIU channel to each MTH terminal strip and from there as many pairs as I needed for my blocks being fed from that terminal strip.

Mike G,

   Although the OGR Video Guide to DCS is a might dated, there is still a wealth of great information visually presented and you can re-watch it any time you want.  Rich Melvin did a great job with this educational DCS video.

John P Jr,

  I do hope you and Barry are good friends.

PCRR/Dave

 

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

There is a debate whether soldering track sections together will make it count as one section. I was told by one knowledgeable person that soldering eliminates the joint and another knowledgeable person said every time there is connection it counts as one joint. solder or pin its the same. Soldering track joints did not help my pike with signal, but electricity likes it. Would be nice to get the latest information on this?

Mike G

I do hope you and Barry are good friends.

Barry is one of my favorite guys to give a hard time to. He reminds me of friend who I love giving it to a long time ago. Barry is a good guy.

Me not so much. 

I know where I have been, I know where I am at, I am hopeful I know where I am going.(The devil and God are talking it over).

clem k posted:

There is a debate whether soldering track sections together will make it count as one section. I was told by one knowledgeable person that soldering eliminates the joint and another knowledgeable person said every time there is connection it counts as one joint. solder or pin its the same. Soldering track joints did not help my pike with signal, but electricity likes it. Would be nice to get the latest information on this?

Clem,

There track section count approach is an easy way to arrive at a length without measuring. The length of rail that the DCS signal must travel is the limiting factor.

So, with track sections ~ 12" one can estimate the length for a block. The mileage on this can vary, meaning some operate DCS with longer blocks than others and have no problems.

Soldering provides a good electrical connection, but doesn't reduce the length of the block. I don't see why there would be a debate, as it is not about track joints.

Carl

Arctic Railroad

As PCRR/Dave has pointed out, dispelling myth one of DCS wiring is equal length wires.

Myth 2 is having to use a distribution block. I have worked on layout rebuilds where the owner's used bus wiring with feeds and have no problems with DCS signal.

I have spoken with professional layout builders that use bus wiring and the customer wants DCS.

Ask Marty Fitz, his layout has not changed in twenty years. He operates DCS and Legacy with bus wiring. Check out National Capital Trackers and the North Penn O Gaugers that operate DCS and TMCC/Legacy on a huge modular layout, which is definitely bus wiring with blocks.

So, to Mike G., I say run bus wiring for your around the wall layout. Divide each loop into four blocks for the main and one for the reversing loop island. Then you can run any system that you like.

I can't say that I have dispelled Myth 2, but there is a lot experience that proves otherwise.

Carl

Arctic Railroad

Thanks for the information everyone.

Carl, please tell me if I am right or wrong. I have a Z4000, I plan on running the inner loop off one handle to a MTH Terminal strip and then as you said make 4 blocks. Then for the outer loop I plan on using the other handle and doing the same thing. Just wondering if this is a good way to go?

Thanks again for all the help!

Mike

5/11 Battalion Oscar Battery 155 Big Guns!

Semper Fi !

Menards addiction Meeting member! /  LCCA# 41824

The National Capital Trackers, and other modular clubs, cannot use star wiring due to the nature of show setup and operations.  We use bus wiring.  The layout configuration changes with each show so the total length of the bus cannot be controlled.  We do not dictate the type of track and the number of track joints per module (and bridge tracks between modules cannot be soldered).  We went through several iterations of DCS signal improvement schemes - blocks, filters, bulbs, magic incantations, cursing the DCS demons, etc.  What finally worked was demanding the bus wiring be standardized with 12g pairs (hot and ground) for each main line.   No common ground except tying all the grounds together at the TIU. Each main line is fully isolated from other tracks.  Crossing tracks between main lines have the ground rails fully isolated.  Yards and sidings are fully isolated.  No accessories draw main line power.  Legacy signal is fed with a single wire to the common ground. 

Our approach works for big layouts (i.e., the 120 ft. long York layout).

If you have an around-the-room layout, DCS will work fine on bus wiring - but keep each track's power bus (that carries the DCS signal) separate from all the other powered devices.

Tom, that sure is some great looking work! I must say my last layout was a mess, I am going to try and keep it neat like you and others have shown!

Mike

5/11 Battalion Oscar Battery 155 Big Guns!

Semper Fi !

Menards addiction Meeting member! /  LCCA# 41824

Big Mike G,

  IMO if you are setting up a new layout, use the the star type wiring, if you already have a Buss type layout, add the DCS and see what happens.  You may not even have to alter your wiring except for setting up blocks and even then, you maybe able to cheat a little to accomplish what you want.  IMO engineering a new layout is quite different than adding to an existing one.

BALIDAS,

Soldering is not really the full answer as to blocks and track joints.  IMO the DCS signal is altered by the pin joins in each section of track no matter the length, soldering track together does not alter the DCS signal degradation, because the Track pins are still setting up a DCS signal resistance, in fact soldering might be like adding another single track pin to the signal flow, not helping it at all, we are talking signal here not power.   Remember DCS signals flow both ways thru out your layout. The object is to attain as close to a 10 signal strength thru out your layout as possible, assuring great DCS running operations. Do not confuse DCS signal with power on the tracks, two different engineering criteria.

IMO trouble shooting a layout when you use terminal blocks is a lot easier to accomplish most time, of course this also depends the size of the layout.

PCRR/Dave

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

Dave, I haven't even started yet, I just started building the building for the train room. It will be a little while before I even ge3t to wiring. I am just trying to understand for when the time comes. I figure if I start studding now I will have a grasp on it when the time comes! 

So I was thinking about a star wiring, just did know enough for around the room layout!

Mike

5/11 Battalion Oscar Battery 155 Big Guns!

Semper Fi !

Menards addiction Meeting member! /  LCCA# 41824

Mike G,

   Remember I have star wiring for my around the room, ceiling shelf layout.  It's just a matter of running the high quality 14 Gauge stranded wiring back to a terminal block location.  Remember also you use more wire with this engineering method than with Buss wiring.  It does work quite well however.  I am meeting Mark & Bob for breakfast tomorrow morning to get to know them better and to pick up some additional, MTH Terminal Blocks that I will need to continue building the DCS/Legacy layout, thru out our new Train Room.  Which is all in the planning stages right now, similar to yours.

PCRR/Dave

DSCN2434

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

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Pine Creek Railroad posted:

Mike G,

   Remember I have star wiring for my around the room, ceiling shelf layout.  It's just a matter of running the high quality 14 Gauge stranded wiring back to a terminal block location.  Remember also you use more wire with this engineering method than with Buss wiring.  It does work quite well however.  I am meeting Mark & Bob for breakfast tomorrow morning to get to know them better and to pick up some additional, MTH Terminal Blocks that I will need to continue building the DCS/Legacy layout, thru out our new Train Room.  Which is all in the planning stages right now, similar to yours.

PCRR/Dave

DSCN2434

I will keep that all in mind. Maybe when the time comes I can send you a layout drawing and you can help me with the wiring?

Mike

5/11 Battalion Oscar Battery 155 Big Guns!

Semper Fi !

Menards addiction Meeting member! /  LCCA# 41824

Pine Creek Railroad posted:
BALIDAS,

Soldering is not really the full answer as to blocks and track joints.  IMO the DCS signal is altered by the pin joins in each section of track no matter the length, soldering track together does not alter the DCS signal degradation, because the Track pins are still setting up a DCS signal resistance, in fact soldering might be like adding another single track pin to the signal flow, not helping it at all, we are talking signal here not power.   Remember DCS signals flow both ways thru out your layout. The object is to attain as close to a 10 signal strength thru out your layout as possible, assuring great DCS running operations. Do not confuse DCS signal with power on the tracks, two different engineering criteria.

IMO trouble shooting a layout when you use terminal blocks is a lot easier to accomplish most time, of course this also depends the size of the layout.

PCRR/Dave

Understood. Thank you.

Dave Zucal posted:

Can solid copper wire be used as a "buss bar" and then the drops from the tracks be stranded and soldered to the buss bar? Isn't it true that AC prefers solid wire and will travel farther and better through it then stranded? 

Dave 

Actually just the opposite

Stranded conductors have a lower impedance than solid conductors due to an effect called hysteresis.  At higher frequency's current flows on the out side diameter of a conductor and not in the center of the conductor causing increased impedance.  By adding more strands current has more surface area to flow on.  Fortunately in the application of model trains our 60Hz system this is not a factor.  Nor are the currents and voltages and distances  we operate out trains at.  just use a minimum of 12 AWG or 10 AWG   (gauge) wire for your bus and you will be fine.  Hope this helps (:

Thank You Bill. When I went to Votech back in the 70's, we were taught that AC used the whole copper mass and DC ran the outer edge. Keeping up with electronics and new theories requires constant schooling to stay up to date. This forum really helps. Since I'm in the process of bench work and laying track, the thought of using solid for a buss bar, was because I thought it would be easier to strip where a drop would be attached. I always seem to nick or break a strand or two cutting into stranded buss wire. Can you provide any tricks to avoid wire damage when stripping along the length?

Dave Z

Bill_R posted:
Dave Zucal posted:

Can solid copper wire be used as a "buss bar" and then the drops from the tracks be stranded and soldered to the buss bar? Isn't it true that AC prefers solid wire and will travel farther and better through it then stranded? 

Dave 

Actually just the opposite

Stranded conductors have a lower impedance than solid conductors due to an effect called hysteresis.  At higher frequency's current flows on the out side diameter of a conductor and not in the center of the conductor causing increased impedance.  By adding more strands current has more surface area to flow on.  Fortunately in the application of model trains our 60Hz system this is not a factor.  Nor are the currents and voltages and distances  we operate out trains at.  just use a minimum of 12 AWG or 10 AWG   (gauge) wire for your bus and you will be fine.  Hope this helps (:

Dave 

The link below may do a better job of explaining skin effect than i can LOL

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skin_effect

Very interesting link BILL. Especially the use of pipe for a conductor. It pretty much is saying AC conducts through the mass but is forced to the edge by frequency. So, the more strands in a wire gauge, the more surface area it contains. It would be nice to see the surface measurement per inch calculated and stated when selecting  a specific gauge and brand. I know some do give a strand count.

Dave Z

Dave Zucal posted:

Thank You Bill. When I went to Votech back in the 70's, we were taught that AC used the whole copper mass and DC ran the outer edge. Keeping up with electronics and new theories requires constant schooling to stay up to date. This forum really helps. Since I'm in the process of bench work and laying track, the thought of using solid for a buss bar, was because I thought it would be easier to strip where a drop would be attached. I always seem to nick or break a strand or two cutting into stranded buss wire. Can you provide any tricks to avoid wire damage when stripping along the length?

Dave

If you use wire strippers that are  per gauged for specific  wire sizes you will never again nick of cut a wire when stripping off the insulation. 

https://www.amazon.com/Ideal-I...ideal+wire+strippers

Bill_R posted:
Dave Zucal posted:

Thank You Bill. When I went to Votech back in the 70's, we were taught that AC used the whole copper mass and DC ran the outer edge. Keeping up with electronics and new theories requires constant schooling to stay up to date. This forum really helps. Since I'm in the process of bench work and laying track, the thought of using solid for a buss bar, was because I thought it would be easier to strip where a drop would be attached. I always seem to nick or break a strand or two cutting into stranded buss wire. Can you provide any tricks to avoid wire damage when stripping along the length?

Dave

If you use wire strippers that are  per gauged for specific  wire sizes you will never again nick of cut a wire when stripping off the insulation. 

https://www.amazon.com/Ideal-I...ideal+wire+strippers

Ideal makes about 4 or 5 different strippers to cover all the wire sizes you would be working with.  I have two pait , one for larger conductors 14,12 and 10 AWG. and one pair for low voltage conductors 16 through 24 gauge.

Gentlemen,

   Anyone who builds a Train layout should definitely own a couple good pair of wire strippers.  Can't imagine building Train layouts without them.  

Remember also the multi Stranded wire we are talking about is mostly used for the DCS signal flow, not power flow.  If you like to use Single Strand wiring for your total Legacy Layout, no problem.  I use the stranded wire because I purchase enough for all my layout wiring needs, I am running both DCS and Legacy.

PCRR/Dave

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

Just this week I took my older (pre Rev L) TIU to the club's layout to try out DCS for the first time. The layout was built with no consideration for future DCS use (much to my chagrin) and uses a bus as it is quite large at 25' x 42' with 5 loops. I hooked up the TIU in passive mode (a first for me) with alligator clips to the rails of a siding expecting the worse. 

Much to my surprise, the locomotive started right up and seemed to have a solid connection as I ran it around one end of the outer loop - about 150' in each direction. We were doing some switch work adding Tortoise machines so part of the main line was closed down. Granted, I wasn't able to test all the track in the brief time I was there but I'm surprised and optimistic that we will have decent connection going forward.

Only two of us run MTH at present but one of the 'other' fellas has ordered a RK engine...

C Sam,

   Yes it is possible for a buss wired layout to run DCS,.  Yes people add DCS to older layout all the time in may cases it works very well.  However IMO when setting up a new DCS layout, go with the proven engineering and use the star wiring, and high quality 14 Gauge Stranded wire.

PCRR/Dave

 

 

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

BILL, thanks for the link. I too have just about every wire type stripper made. When stripping the end of a wire, you only have to get close to cutting all the way through and pull the coating off in order to avoid damage to the strands and if damage does occur, you can just try again. I was referring to stripping in the length, where you have make two cuts and a slice all the way through in order to expose a section of wire to solder to.  If you have a buss of 20 strands and goof at 10 drops, you could be left with only 10 undamaged strands at the end of the line.  Just thought maybe you knew of a fool proof way or tool specifically for this type of work.

Dave Z

Dave Zucal posted:

BILL, thanks for the link. I too have just about every wire type stripper made. When stripping the end of a wire, you only have to get close to cutting all the way through and pull the coating off in order to avoid damage to the strands and if damage does occur, you can just try again. I was referring to stripping in the length, where you have make two cuts and a slice all the way through in order to expose a section of wire to solder to.  If you have a buss of 20 strands and goof at 10 drops, you could be left with only 10 undamaged strands at the end of the line.  Just thought maybe you knew of a fool proof way or tool specifically for this type of work.

ok now i understand

use the correct wire stripper to make the circular cuts than use a razor knife to slice between the two cuts than peel off insulation.  i also have a buss type distribution  system. But i used  a connector that bites through the insulation so no stripping necessary.  attached is a link for the connector.  the main buss wire passes straight through the connector and the tap lays in the back of the connector.  you than close the cover and squeeze  it with pliers,  the blade bites through the insulation to make the permanent connection.

 

 

 https://www.amazon.com/dp/B004...gid=pla-353543313353

Well we successfully signaled 1,600' of brass 2 rail track using DC power with only 3 power drops on one Rev.L TIU channel and no blocks...just one big continuous loop and via passive mode. DCS was banging 10's & 9's with 15 locomotives mixed in with 600+ cars...That showed us just how powerful the Rev. L signal generators are.

 

   

 

 

C. Jones

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