DCC blocks

Discussion in 'DCC & Electronics' started by CAS, Dec 23, 2006.

  1. CAS

    CAS Member

    I had just purchased the Digitrax Zephyr Basic Set
    DCS50 Command, for a 4' x 10' HO layout. The original plan was for 4' x 8'.

    I have been reading from http://tonystrains.com/tonystips/dccprimer/index.htm. I will be ordering DCC made easy, and the big red book, or something along those lines.

    I will be running 2 or 3 locos. Im not sure if i need to put blocks for this size of a layout. Can someone please help me with this one. I would really appreciate it if someone can suggest where to put the blocks if i have too. And would i need another power source for this size layout?

    The 25 degree crossing on the bottom left corner will lead to a 2' x 6' yard.
  2. UP SD40-2

    UP SD40-2 Senior Member

    CAS:wave:, i see no need to block your DCC layout;)...HOWEVER, all my engines are DCC with sound, and there are a few of them that you cant turn the sound off when the power is on. so what i have done is blocked off my engine holding tracks, this way only the engines i am running have the sound on, and the engines on the holding tracks are silent:thumb:.

    :D -Deano
  3. EngineerKyle

    EngineerKyle Member

    I would not bother to black that layout. imho
  4. CAS

    CAS Member

    Thanks for the replys. So no blocks for me.

    But will i have to put feeder wires every so often feet?

  5. UP SD40-2

    UP SD40-2 Senior Member

    CAS, i don't know about others, but i drop feeders down to the buss lines about every three feet:thumb:. :D -Deano
  6. LoudMusic

    LoudMusic Member

    Hey that's smart. I wonder if there is any benefit to doing this even without sound aided units. I guess it could help keep you from selecting the wrong loco, or if there's some random power surge it won't fry the locos in the shed. Also keeping the engines "off" might increase life span of the decoders. Do decoders go bad?
  7. CAS

    CAS Member

    Thanks Deano,

    Thats what i will do then.

  8. NYNH&H

    NYNH&H Member

    On a layout that size, you should only need one connection to the Zephyr. I am running a Zephyr on a partially completed layout that is twice that size with only one pair of wires going to it. Just do the quarter test. This is assuming you solder your joints, as joiners are not a very good way to conduct electricity. I am also using code 100, code 83 would have more resistance. I doubt decoders would go bad from sitting there, but if you are not running, turn the system off and disconnect the power. For a surge, get a surge protector. Some big clubs even use UPS type surge protectors to protect against brown-outs.
  9. railwaybob

    railwaybob Member

    While you don't need to block your layout, given the small size that you have, you might want to consider dropping a whole bunch of track feeders down to a 2-wire buss that can run beneath your layout. Follow the instructions in the book that came with your command station.

    Depending on the layout and the position of your turnouts, you may not get power to some of the track. This is where a couple of track feeds help. You should be able to program your sound decoders so that they shut off the sound after they haven't been used for a certain length of time.
  10. NYNH&H

    NYNH&H Member

    If you are using DCC friendly turnouts (ones that do not route power), then you will not have a problem with feeding power. If you use power routing turouts, you will need to quadruple gap, and feed each section of track.

    EDIT: Fat fingers.
  11. MilesWestern

    MilesWestern Active Member

    What's all this about quadruple gapping? I plan to use older shinohara and atlas switches (code 70 and 83, respectively) do I still have to quad-gap those? And how would you do that?
  12. CAS

    CAS Member

    I will be useing non insulated Atlas code 83 turnouts. So i shouldn't have a problem there then.

  13. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    The older Shinohara turnouts are power routing. At a minimum, gaps are needed in the 2 frog rails between the frog and the next power feed in that rail. This is true regardless of whether you use DC or DCC. If you have no power feeds in the frog rails beyond the frog, no gap is needed, and the turnout automatically routes power down the correct leg - hence the term power-routing.

    In DC, power-routing offered control of dead-end yard tracks and spurs without installing block toggles. In DCC, having the power in a spur or yard track turned off by throwing the turnout against it offers no advantages, and will turn off the lights and sounds of a parked locomotive - whether you want it or not.

    If you encounter short circuits at the points or stalls once past the points of a power-routing turnout, additional wiring and gapping may be needed. Again, this is true regardless of DC or DCC. It's just that the momentary shorts are usually not noticed with DC, but are with DCC. The fix involves some serious surgery on the turnout, but is doable.

    My best information from those who have switched to DCC with older Shinohara turnouts is that they may encounter the short circuits at the points in about 5%-20% of their turnouts. How accurately your metal wheel sets are gauged is also a factor.

    Atlas uses a different wiring scheme with insulated frogs and points that are insulated from each other. No gapping of the frog rail is required, but power-routing is not an option. The only short circuits in an insulated frog turnout is where a wheel bridges the insulation between the 2 rails at the V of the frog. Peco Insulfrog turnouts have a higher rate of this problem than Atlas, but some of the older Atlas Custom Line turnouts were susceptible. A temporary fix is an application of clear nail polish at the offending location.

    Hope this is clearer than mud!
  14. prodigy2k7

    prodigy2k7 Member

    Lots of people say put feeders on ever piece of track, and since flex track comes in 3 foot section, they say about 3 feet, but often you cut them shorter for sidings and what not... But yes, every few feet place a feeder, maybe even a few more if you have a bunch of smaller pieces of track.
  15. railwaybob

    railwaybob Member

    If you are using an older Shinohara turnout, you will have to insulate the frog from the two rails that diverge from the frog. Otherwise, you will have installed a short on your layout.
    View attachment 33644

    For some basic principles on this, check this page on my website.

    It's always best not to depend on the rails for carrying track power over long distances, and particularly through "electrical switches" such as the points on a turnout. This is why you will see the recommendation to drop track power feeds every three feet down to a 14 - 16AWG track power buss of stranded or solid copper wire.

    While this might be a bit of overkill, you certainly don't want long stretches of track that don't have any track feeds. By long stretches, you can interpret that as being anything over 5 - 6 feet. This is a case where more track feeds are better. If you follow the general rule that you should drop track feeds before and after your turnouts, you will automatically have track feeds into every siding and almost every three feet of your main lines.

    In the case of the turnout track feeds into the sidings, place the track feed in the middle of the siding. For the turnout track feeds on the main line, place them in between the two turnouts. If you wire the layout this way, you will have more than enough track feeds which you find will, on average, be feeding almost every 3' section of track.

    Have fun. (I am!)

    Bob M.

    Attached Files:

  16. railwaybob

    railwaybob Member

    The short on the older Shinohara turnouts is caused in two places - at the frog, and at the points. The newer Shinohara turnouts have fixed this problem and are advertised as being DCC friendly. (The newer Walthers turnouts are also made by Shinohara and are advertised as being DCC friendly.)

    The short at the point is caused by the two copper wiper strips on the underside of the points. As you move the points from one position to the other, the wiper strips momentarily contact with both outside rails which causes a short. The easy and quick way to fix this is to very carefully trim/ file the copper wiper strips so that there isn't this momentary contact with both outside rails.

    The short at the frog end is due to the fact that the two diverging rails from the frog are electrically connected to the frog. The way to fix this is to cut an insulating gap at a point just beyond the frog on the two diverging rails.

    Some websites suggest a complete disassembly and rebuild of these types of turnouts. IMHO this isn't necessary and, if you are going to do this, you should consider buying another brand of turnouts.

    Have fun. (I am!)

    Bob M.

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