New layout in the works.

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by nolatron, Feb 22, 2007.

  1. nolatron

    nolatron Member

    Here's the latest panoramic of the room:
    Click for larger view
  2. rogerw

    rogerw Active Member

    Shaun what are you using for punch down blocks, 66 blocks or 110 blocks?
  3. nolatron

    nolatron Member

    I'm going to be using the 66 punch down blocks. 4 Wires from the Tortoise (Via 4pair RJ11) with terminate to one side of the block. 3 Wires then go to the DAC10 Turnout controller. 2 wires to the turnout terminals, and 1 wire into an input terminal (for feedback). The remaining wire will connect into a low voltage power bus for the feedback power.
  4. MadHatter

    MadHatter Charging at full tilt.

  5. nolatron

    nolatron Member

    A little info on the DAC10 & SIGM20.

    After researching various hardware and software options for controlling turnouts and signals, I settled on using CML Electronics' DAC10 and SIGM20 components.

    The DAC10 is a 8 turnout DCC decorder card. It can control "snap" type switches, along with slow-motion ones like a Tortoise. It also has 8 input terminals, which you can use with a toggle switch for local turnout control or as a feedback input line, which is what I'll be doing. This will give a known turnout state back to the Loconet network.

    From the website:
    • The features of the DAC10 include:
      • 8 high current multi-purpose outputs; each may be programmed to control solenoid type point motors (e.g. Peco) or continuously powered motors (e.g. Tortoise). Output type and timing is individually programmable for each output. An integral capacitor discharge unit is provided for momentary action motors. One output can throw two solenoid point motors allowing control of two points at crossings etc.
      • 10 sensor / switch inputs may be individually configured for controlling the 8 local outputs, or for generating Loconet sensor or point position feedback messages.
      • Each output may be controlled by DCC commands or by local sensor / switch inputs.
      • Each output may be programmed to follow another output (e.g. for crossings).
      • Operating power is derived from the DCC track input, with an auxiliary AC / DC power feed available if required;
      • Full operator configuration available by programming Configuration Variables (CVs);
      • An interface is provided for point position feedback and/or sensor input.
      • Display of the 8 output states is available via an optional add-on board, the DTX8.
      • NEW - screw terminals! We have been asked to improve output connections by a few customers
    The SIGM20 is an 8 signal head controller, controlling 3 LEDs per head. The main selling point for using the SIGM20 for my signals is that all signal logic is programmed using CML's software using real basic commands (block 2-14 is occupied, switch 12 is thrown, etc...) and the logic all resides on the SIGM20 memory. So no external hardware (ie: a computer) is required. Of course if you wanted a CTC like setup you'll want a computer with dispatching panels, but I'm using ABS.
    • The SIGM20 drives either eight, 3-aspect signals or six, 4-aspect signals
    • LED signals: these can be 2, 3 or 4 aspect, or "searchlight" type;
    • NEW - simulation of "soft" lighting & dimming of lights: brightness ramps up or down over approximately half a second for more realistic looking signal lamps.
    • Automatic signal logic, controlled in response to DCC and LocoNet activity:
      • The signals go red when the block ahead of them is occupied - sensed by LocoNet messages from block detectors (e.g. BDL168);
      • Signals will be amber if the next signal ahead is red;
      • Signals go red if the trackwork is set against them (e.g. if a point is not set correctly);
      • Track can be set for running in both directions; signal state is then sensitive to the running direction active at the time;
      • Running direction can be set automatically by train movements, or by operator control
      • ......and many other functions.
    I also plan on incorporating Railroad & Co's Train Controller software down the road for automatic train operation. This application, while pricey, is one of the best software packages I've seen for model railroad operation. I tried using JMRI but had issues with it "freaking out" on throttles and causing headaches. I'll post more in the coming year about Train Controller when I get around to start creating schedules and what not.
  6. nolatron

    nolatron Member

    I'm close to finishing up the first of two wiring panels. This panel will house the BDL168, two DAC10's, and the Digitrax Zephyr unit. The 2nd one will eventually house the SIGM20 models that'll control signals.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  7. nolatron

    nolatron Member

    Yesterday my Athearn UP 4-8-8-4 Big Boy arrived. It looks fantastic. I'm still hooking up my new wiring panel (see above) so haven't been able to give it a test run. It'll post a video as soon as I do.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  8. nolatron

    nolatron Member

    Just wanted to give a brief look at how my tortoise turnouts are being hooked up. I'm using 4-conductor RJ-11 cable, aka telephone cable, and some RJ-11 Surface Mount boxes. I picked up a 1,000 foot roll of RJ-11 cable at I probably won't need 1,000 feet, but it was cheap :)

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    So first I solder up my 4 leads to the tortoise boards. Yellow to Pin 1 and Black to Pin 8. These wires control the motor itself. The red wire goes to pin 4, which is a constant voltage input for the internal switch. The Green wire is then connected to either Pin 2 or 3 depending on orientation. Pin 2 and 3 complete a circuit with pin 4, so it's hooked up to ensure that when the turnout is closed, the internal switch is closed accordingly. This will provide real feedback of the turnout position back to the DCC system for future use.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Once installed, an RJ-11 cable is run from the surface mount box to the wiring cabinet where it'll be connected to the punchdown block (and to the DAC10).

  9. TrainNut

    TrainNut Ditat Deus

    So you've had your Big Boy almost a week now. Have you had a chance to test it out yet or still staring at it in the box while wiring up the new panel?
  10. nolatron

    nolatron Member

    Still staring at in the box. I'm waiting for my 2nd DAC10 card to arrive from the UK (I'm hoping any day now), so I can get the panel totally wired up. This way I won't end up installing the panel, then having to remove it in a few days to install the card.

    But it's killing me!!
  11. MadHatter

    MadHatter Charging at full tilt.

    I love those athearn Big Boys!!!! The sound is GREAT on them!
  12. nolatron

    nolatron Member

    Here's my partially completed Dominos kit from summit custom cuts. I seem to have misplaced the windows and some door frames. Also need to paint roof and awnings and later had some details.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  13. nolatron

    nolatron Member

    Last week a sold a bunch of old HO scale stuff on ebay so I splurged a little and got a radio equipped DT400 throttle and receiver.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  14. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    Hi Shaun...A little late, but...Congratulations on the baby...!!! :thumb: (I mean the little one that cries....:mrgreen:). This is some impressive work you're doing. Looking forward to seeing your progress...
  15. nolatron

    nolatron Member

    Completed the wiring on Panel #1. Just need to get it back installed under the layout and wire up the turnouts I have installed so far.

    Here's a (not so great) photoshop of the panel up close before going back under the layout.

    Top to bottom we have

    - BDL168 for block detection
    - 2 66-Type Punchdown blocks for Turnout wiring
    - 2 DAC10 Turnout Controller boards
    - 1 Digitrax Zephyr Unit.
  16. nolatron

    nolatron Member

    Just to give an idea of where the wiring panel is actually going.

    I first mounted a 1x4 to the wall studs underneath the helix, then screwed in some 1/4" screws into that. The panel then simply hangs on those two screws. It actually touches the floor, so the mounting screws primarily just keep it attached to the wall without having to support all the weight.

    The space to the right of the panel will be where Panel #2 goes eventually. This one will house SIGM20 boards for Signal Operations, and a CTI Sentry board or two for photocell sensors (these will be used for automatic train operations)

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  17. nolatron

    nolatron Member

    Came across a minor problem last night.

    Last night I hooked up the first turnout to the punchdown block in the new wiring panel, went to throw a switch and....nothing. So, the troubleshooting began.

    I eventually discovered that Controller Board #1 wasn't even getting any current to the punchdown block, while Board #2 was. The difference between the two is the wiring used. For Board #1 I used the cable from RJ11 telephone cable I have, while Board #2 I used 26AWG wire I bought in individual spools.

    Turns out the Telephone cable wiring has this plastic type shielding on it, and when punched down in the block all it does it get smooshed, instead of getting pierced and making contact like the other wire did.

    My initial thought was to simply replace the telephone wire with another kind 4-pair wire that will punchdown correctly. I also have to replace the wiring from Board #1 to the punchdown block as well. To do this (easily) I have to remove the panel from the wall.

    That's when I started thinking. If I have to remove this panel later on *after* I punchdown all these turnout cables, it's going to be a major PITA because when you punchdown a wire, it trims it. So there is a lot of slack for multiple removals and punchdowns. Not to mention it takes a while to punchdown 64 tiny wires.

    So... my new solution?

    I'm going to remove the punchdown blocks and replace them with 16 RJ11-Keystone jacks. I'll wire the boards directly to RJ11 jacks inside a dual-jack housing, this way I can simply plug in a turnout like I was plugging in a phone. This will make connections a lot easier to deal with, especially if I need to remove the panel in the future.


    Before I go all gung-ho with this idea, I only ordered one set to test this out. I'll be using my "good" cable for the Board to jack connection, and then the regular telephone cable for the panel-jack to turnout-jack connection. This should work out pretty well. ​
  18. nolatron

    nolatron Member

    About two weeks ago I finally got myself a table saw (sold stuff on ebay and Sears just happened to have one sale). Having one of these makes making long straight cuts so freaking easy! I was able to finally make use of 3 sheets of masonite a friend gave me.So here's the view of the upper level with the "sky fascia" installed. I'll eventually spackle up the corners and over the screws and then paint it this flat midnight black color I got.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Work on the Wiring Panel is almost done. I'll have the new turnout jacks all wired up and and the panel reinstalled by the end of the weekend.

  19. MadHatter

    MadHatter Charging at full tilt.

    Wow, wish I was getting this far with my layout, anyway keep the pics coming!
  20. nolatron

    nolatron Member

    It all takes time.

    I started the layout February 2007 and I've only got one small section with actually down in place so far, along with the helix.

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