Cab selector ?

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by stanC, Jun 27, 2007.

  1. stanC

    stanC Member

    Please excuse my ignorance but what is meant be a cab selector in connection with blocking. I want to have two circuits and I was intending to have to have each connected to a power supply. I was wondering where the cab selector would be used

  2. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    The cab selector allows any block (a part of the track that is wired in isolation from other parts of the track) to be assigned to either power pack. This allows the loco under the control of that powerpack to traverse any part of the layout uninterrupted.

    DCC has rendered this concept relatively obsolete.

  3. woodone

    woodone Member

    Mumm- DC is not dead yet.sign1 You need to have a DPDT( double pole double through) switch to select cab A or cab B. The switch will have 6 terminals on the back for the wires. You take the power wires from cab A and attach to the terminals at one end of the switch- cab B power wires, goes on the other end, the two terminals in the center will go to the track for your track power. Now when you have the switch selected to one side or the other, it will select cab A or B that will control the power to the track. You can even use a center off swithc and turn off the power to the rails from either cab if you want.
  4. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    I said "relatively"... ;) :D sign1

    Maybe I should have said "you now have an alternative"... :thumb:

  5. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    DC guy here! Stan, are you talking about Atlas components for block wiring?
  6. stanC

    stanC Member

    Thanks all for the helpful information. Ralph I was not thinking specifically of any make. I was going to try to have the two circuits with a insulator placed at a point to be decided and then have two controls. It seemed the simplest thing and means two people can operate the layout at the same time.
    I was reading a lot about the DCC but it seems it will be quite fiddly as it seems that you have to first put the loc address in before you can operate any loco.
  7. woodone

    woodone Member

    Stan, I don't know how large your layout is. Dcc is a big jump, I know has I just got into DCC. If you have 10 or more blocks or less DC might be OK. I was a DC fan ( user) for many years. The DCC gives you so much freedom you will not belive it. You can operate trains, not a control panel. Once you use DCC you will not go back to DC. The blocks are never where you need them.:curse: You can run trains in differant directions and speeds and still have the trains close to each other. DCC freedom will let you run trains the way you would like.:thumb:
    $$ are a factor. But you can go a little at a time. Get used to the DCC as you learn.
    I did not think that I would ever make the move, now I am glad that I did.:mrgreen:
  8. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    Hi...I operated my previous 2 layouts with DC block control, back in the days when DCC was just a gleam in someone's eyes....There is no doubt that DCC is the way to go if you like running trains more than flicking switches back & forth. Although I do miss setting up a train's route by throwing all its block switches to one side...Kinda' reminded myself that I knew what I was doing...which is not always the case with DCC. :mrgreen:

    As for the wiring, there is no comparison. You'll need several times the wiring for DC block control than you'll need for DCC. Although the block selector switches don't need to be DPDT, a SPST will do as nicely with only half the wiring going to each block. It's known as "common wire" wiring. Check it out in one of the many wiring books available. (I presume people still publish wiring for DC...)

    Good luck..!! :thumb:
  9. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Stan: for cab control you would want more blocks than just one on each loop. For effectiveness, you need to have enough to run both trains on the same loop or to isolate one as you move the other onto its loop. Having one control for each loop just lets you run two trains without really needing a crossover.
    (This is what the DCC boys are trying to eliminate.)
  10. rogerw

    rogerw Active Member

    Stan to put the address in only takes about 5 or six key strokes. It then takes about the same number of key strokes to assign the address to a throttle. then your off and running.:thumb:
  11. stanC

    stanC Member

    Thanks everyone for the information. Woodone you summarised the position very well. After reading your response I really think I will have no choice but to switch to DCC You wrote " $$ are a factor. But you can go a little at a time."
    As you recently made the change I would really be interested to know what you had to buy for the first stages and the cost involved
    Once again thanks to you and all the other people who took the time and trouble to reply
  12. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    DCC is an initial investment of less than $100 to several hundred for a "controller" that usually includes a power supply, a command station and a throttle.

    Then you will need to add a decoder for each loco you want to run. Depending on features you choose (number of lights and functions, sound, etc) this can be anywhere from about $20 or less to $100+ each.

    You should also consider that if you want to have more than one loco running at a time, controlled by different people, you might want to have additional throttles. These also range form under $100 to a couple of hundred each.

    I will use what I have so you can see how one person got started, but if you do a search, you will find that many different people have started with different combinations, and have also been happy with their setups.

    I have a Digitrax Zephyr. This is Digitrax's "entry level" system that looks and operates much like a traditional DC powerpack. It has a forward/reverse knob, as well as a large speed knob that goes from "stop" to 100, just like a DC controller.

    The Zephyr has enough power to run 4 or 5 locos simultaneously, which sounds like more than enough for your setup.

    It has the added advantage that you can hook up DC powerpacks as additional throttles (up to two) negating the (immediate) need to purchase additional throttles. However, I have a UT-4R, which is a handheld radio throttle, for use at the club. They use the same system, and have radio receivers.

    The current price of the Zephyr is well under $200. Common, basic decoders can be had for less than $20, so you are looking at a relatively small investment. It may be comparable to what you were thinking of spending to set up a 2-cab DC system.

  13. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    I suggest that you adopt DCC while you only have a few locomotives to convert. Then each additional loco will have a small extra cost, but you won't suddenly be spending $1000 to convert.
    (I say this as a long-timer in the hobby with a number of heritage locos that can't be converted conveniently. I use DC and I like and understand the wiring.)
  14. stanC

    stanC Member

    Andrew firstly thanks very much for the comprehensive reply. It was very helpful.
    I would certainly suggest anyone thinking about DCC to read it
    Is the Digitrax Zephyr a complete starter pack (apart from the decoder ) or will it need other components before it can be used. I ask because I looked at other controllers and then found out that they require the purchase of a power unit.
    Is there an AC outlet or will this have to be purchased as an additional item
    Best wishes Stan
  15. stanC

    stanC Member

    Good suggestion. I was interested in your reply. Have you resisted the pressure to change to the DCC or do you have both DC and DCC.


  16. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    The Zephyr is complete in the sense that you do not need a power pack or booster, or whatever other manufacturers call the power unit for the COMMAND STATION. It comes with a wall wart to power the unit and the track. i.e. it is complete and ready to run trains.

    It DOES NOT have an accessory terminal (is this what you mean by "AC outlet"?) to run things like lights and so on. However, SOME accessories can be powered from the track bus, but remember that this counts towards your total power requirement. The Zephyr runs about 2.5 amps max.

    However, I recommend that you look into this further with the specifics of the accessories you want to use. I only use my Zephyr to power the trains. I have an older MRC DC powerpack that I can use to run accessories. I also use it as a "jump throttle" as I noted above.

  17. MadHatter

    MadHatter Charging at full tilt.

    I bought my Zephyr a few months back (still don't have a layout but anyway) and have just received a loco back with sound- once you hear that diesel pop you just won't stop.

    Like any hobby or aspect of a hobby DCC can be as expensive or as cheap as you want to make it. I eventually want to upgrade my Digitrax to the Radio controlled version (when I'm making more money).

    There will also be a section of the layout that I will connect to my laptop so the section can be controlled like CTC. But the rest of the layout will be controlled by individual panels for each yard.

    I don't know if it's like this in the US, but the agent for Digitrax here in S. Africa sold me my Zephyr and included a free decoder with the system. I personally never thought I would be able to afford DCC but now I swear by it and try to encourage every new comer to the hobby to go for it.

    You can even try buying a digital starter train set as these are cheap and normally come with evrything you need including track and a train although the system might only initialy be able to operate one or two locos.
  18. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    I was browsing through the responsed here to see what was going on & noted I made a boo-boo on my previous post. Even though the thread has drifted towards DCC (which is what I use, BTW - D'trax Zephyr) I should have said that a SPDT switch would work as well for block control....
    There, I straightened that out...

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