Plenty of Auxiliary Power for your Layout

Discussion in 'Tips & Tricks' started by jwmurrayjr, Feb 25, 2006.

  1. jwmurrayjr

    jwmurrayjr Member

    Here's a link showing how to convert an old (or new...they don't cost much.) PC power supply to provide 3.3, 5 and 12VDC with plenty of amps for accessories like switch machines, block detectors, lights and etc.

    It's not a difficult or expensive project. Sometimes you can get an ATX PC power supply free with rebates or for $10-$20.

    Be sure to click on the "original link" at the bottom of the page for even more detail.
  2. GeorgeHO

    GeorgeHO Member

    This looks like a super idea, especially for people using underpowered DCC for their trains. The Bachmann EZCommand DCC system I boight to test out is only 1 amp. Powering anything other than trains is out of the question. The ATX power supplies are readily available and this looks like a simple project for anyone who has some knowledge of electricity (you don't even need electronics knowledge). The only question I would have is are there any considerations if you use a Dell power supply instead? Dell has some connections on their mother board that are incompatible with the rest of the universe. If you plug standard daughter boards (modems, drive controllers, etc) they can start a fire, and the computer can burn up, and the house can burn down. I wouldn't think the problems (idiosychracies) go all the way back to the power supply, but I don't know.
  3. jwmurrayjr

    jwmurrayjr Member


    I wouldn't think that a Dell power supply would be different from any generic PC power supply. But I don't really know. I think the power cabling is pretty much standardized and of the color coding is the same the PS would be OK. And of course you could double check with a meter...a good idea in any case.

    See this link for the connector definition:

    And you might find this interesting:
  4. hooknlad

    hooknlad Member

    Power distribution

    So i guess my 120volt /12volt -80 amp supply would be a lil excessive. price was right free. there are 4 -20 amp/12 volt taps that are all circuit breakers at 20 amps. I know i know still excessive. But it you were to Get your hands on a automotive fuse plug strip you could allow for a more mangeble safer layout. I have several hardwired smoke detectors under my layout with intiates and EPO button ( Emergency Power off ) relay. It shuts down the transformer and i have an LED tell me the location of the smoke head locations that went off. So far so good. I need to get the wireless webcams installed inside the buikdings and train room. Demolition / construction has begun on the shelve layout from my 12 by 12 room. About 60 foot of shelving ending with a 8 by 8 turn about complete with yards, turntables. Separate gauge set aside just for trolleys and their necessary stops so that the passengers can get to work. I just seems like a ghosttown with no lil people on it yet. The election of government needs to be ratified to see how much this town is willing to kick in to the towns assetts. The "basement Empire" has several fire districts equipted with the lastest OSHA gear and training, So where was I, 80 amps under the current supervision and enginnering is more than ample supply, by the was I have a 2000va UPS system backing up this town in case a levee breaks or stors ripps though. More on the technical aspects down the gauge, if anyone needs advice on power distribution.
  5. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    A seminar on DCC recommended a 5 amp maximum for O gauge and smaller. They felt that a derailment or such with more than that could turn into a welding session or a metal-recycling event.
    12V 80amp is 960 watts! Lionel's big transformer only went to 275, and I think they've had to tone that down for safety.
  6. cidchase

    cidchase Active Member

    I think David's on track, Michael, you could have a dangerous set-up. :wave:
  7. hooknlad

    hooknlad Member

    Just because i have 80 amps available, I wouldn't ever feasibly utilize the entire 80 amps. The Power supply itself would be sufficient as to not create a voltage drop on the layout, ( dimming lights, slow acting activators etc.. Just because a transformer has a rating of 1000 watts for example, you shouldnt exceed of 80% of the manufacturers rating. Proper fusing and wire size should also be taken into consideration as well. I may only be using 5 amp fuses, but I will be using 10 gauge wiring under the layout ( which is good for 30 amps ) no fear of further voltage drops or overheating of the transformer. Transformer with internal cutouts sometime have a way of failing when when they get overheated. I just mentioned what I have for my layouts' accessories etc. To each is own.
  8. GeorgeHO

    GeorgeHO Member

    Maybe I'm out in left field, but I don't understand some of the points being raised. If you use DCC, you use whatever power source they have to control the trains, and to send power to the tracks. But if you also use that power source for the lighting in your scenery, or for any animation you have, the power source may not be enough to power both your trains and the other stuff. In that event, you need a source of 12v or 16v electricity (DC or AC) to power all the other stuff. You can buy toy train transformers to do the job, but you're throwing away half of the transformer unless you are using the throttles for something that needs variable power. You can buy 200watt or 300watt ATX power sources for $20 or $30. The transformer is only going to put out the wattage you need to power your other stuff.
    I have a Bachmann 1watt E-Z command DCC controller for the TRAINS. The disclaimer in the instructions even tells you not to use it for anything else but the trains. What do you guys think is better than an ATX power source (say 300watts @ $30) to light my scenery?????
  9. webmaster

    webmaster Member

    I agree with George. I have been using PC power supplies for lots of different projects over the years. As long as it has a low rated fuse, there's not a problem. All you need to do is put the fuse in-line between the wires and the posts. Simple.:D

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