BUS connector?

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by Chad, Mar 28, 2007.

  1. Chad

    Chad Member

    I am building a small layout with 8 separately powered sections and 8 switches. I am considering how to build a control panel. Since it is a small layout I'd like to be able to disconnect it for relocation. The thought I was having was to use IDE (hard drive) cable and connectors as a bus between the layout and the power and switch controllers.

    Obviously i did not go DCC sign1 So i am going to have 40+ wires!
  2. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Figure about 1/2 to 1 amp per powered locomotive, unless you have one of the older Athearn dd40x models with 2 motors in which case you can figure 1 1/2-2 amps for it. How much power will the cable you want to use handle before power losses or meltdown?
  3. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    Boy, going with an IDE cable is going to be a nightmare, in my opinion that is. That's a lot of wires to solder in close quarters, plus you're limited by the wire size to power your track sections. I'd opt for more connectors with fewer wires each where you can use heavier gauge wire. Something like a Molex-type that you could find at most electronic or auto parts stores, where you can crimp individual wires on either end. I've yet to build my control panel, but when I do, that's probably the route I'm going to take.
  4. Torpedo

    Torpedo Member

    Soldering 40+ pin connectors is not what I would call fun, and that is for connectors that are actually designed to have wires soldered to them. You would have to solder wires to connectors that are designed to be soldered into printed circuit boards, which means you would have to solder a wire to the side of each pin, instead of into a cup. You would also have to place heat shrink tubing over each wire/pin combo.

    I've done all that. I don't recommend trying it, unless you have more than a little bit of soldering experience and own a very small 8-15 watt iron.

    Molex connectors, as suggested, is a much better solution.
  5. Chad

    Chad Member

    Molex is still 10 + connections I would have to keep sorted out unless they make a BIG one :)

    This requires no solder http://www.emtel.com/images/products/15-m40f.JPG

    I'll have to see about 40 conductor ribbon that can handle 1500mA just in case. I could double up and pair 2 wires for one + and 2 wires for the -...
  6. Torpedo

    Torpedo Member

    At some point you are going to have to transition from ribbon cable to your control panel and pike wiring. How do you plan on doing that without soldering? That connector you posted has to mate to something. You will have to solder wires to that something. I think you will find the only thing that you can find will be a mating connector with PCB pins, or do you plan on stripping back the ribbon cable and soldering each wire to some sort of terminal strip. Might work, but Molex would be easier.

    You can simply number Molex connectors using a permanent marker.
  7. nolatron

    nolatron Member

  8. Chad

    Chad Member

    :cry: I like soldering sign1

    Thanks for pointing me at Radio shack! DUH! :oops:
  9. Torpedo

    Torpedo Member

    You can get up to 24 pin Molex connectors from http://www.jameco.com. They can handle four or five amps per circuit, depending on which size you get. Jameco has all the shells and pins, and any tools you would need. They also have PDF spec sheets you can download. You may be able to get Molex items for less elsewhere, if you do a web search.

    I suggest buying an extraction tool, if you go the Molex route.

    I avoid buying anything from Rat Shack, if at all possible. In fact, I will go out of my way to obtain electronic items elsewhere. It almost always pays dividends to do that.

    Be aware there are Molex look alikes. If you happen to need a new pin down the road, you may not be able to find one. I have learned the hard way not to buy the imitation versions.
  10. beamish

    beamish HO & Steam Engineer

    I just recently had to do this at work, (solder all the connections to a ribbon cable), it was not as hard as i expected but there definately are easier ways to do it, especially if you are not so good at soldering. Typically ribbon cables are used to connect one header to another. I could see using them when there are many connections that you need to run to one place but not when you need to goo to many locations. Another thing to consider is the current rating for a ribbon cable, typically the wires in a ribbon cable are 28 AWG or so. I just check a catalog for ribbon cables and they state a max current of 1 Amp per line. For trains that could be an issue. However if you were to use multiple lines to carry the current you could make it work. And if it doesn't work then you will get a nice cloud of grey smoke that smells like burnt plastic, been there, done that. My recomendation is to find a different wiring system that will be easier to use.
    I reccomend getting a digikey catalog (available free at digikey.com) they have many options that will allow you to find what you need. And they are much cheaper than radioshack. :)

    Good luck
  11. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way

    You're talking about 28 to 26 ga wire in a ribbon cable, not what I'd use for rail power. You can get some pretty good sized Molex connectors, I know I've got a bunch of 9-wire connectors that could handle an 18 ga wire. There are other manufacturers that make similar connectors that can handle more than that, AMP is one that I used to use a lot of. They make one that is flat and can go to 20 or more pins. My thought is to use multiple connectors, works great for isolating problems as well.
  12. billgee-n-scale

    billgee-n-scale New Member

    Molex works best. Different pin combinations help in keying.
  13. Great Post

    Wow Torpedo, I just checked out Jameco, and Radio Shack, and Jameco was nearly 1/2 the price that Radio Shack would have charged, Thank's for the heads-up, Jameco already got my order...:wave:

  14. Torpedo

    Torpedo Member

    Thanks. It's nice to hear a post did someone some good. :)
  15. Chad

    Chad Member

    Great! Post a link to the item so I can be lazy sign1

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