Discussion in 'FAQs' started by kf4jqd, Apr 16, 2001.

  1. kf4jqd

    kf4jqd Active Member


    I have read Shamus article on wiring but he forgot to mention wiring accorries. I suppose I can give you some ideas.

    I have found out by experimenting there are 3 main voltages for model railroading. They are:
    12 volts dc
    5 volts dc
    3 volts dc

    Why these you ask? Of course, 12v is standard. 5v are for digital electronics. 3v are for items such as LED's. I do not reconmend using the trains power pack. I personally use an old note book computers power supply. It produces a nifty 13.8 at 6.5amps. More than enough to run hundreds of lights and other accorries. I reconmend an Astron powersupply. Advaible at any ham radio store or at Radio Shack.

    You can get the 5v and 3v from the 12v source. How can you do it? You can use your electronic and math skills and figure it out and then build the curcit. Or better yet use a voltage regulator. They are 7805 and 7803. They look like over grown transitors. Don't let them scare you. They are very easy to work with. They have an input that can handle up to 18vdc. The middle is ground. The last one is the output. They can only handle about 1 amp of power being drawed by them. You can and is reconmended that you use a heatsink.

    Under my table. I ran an uninstallated wire that is used for hanging pictures. This is my common ground. Around the premitor of my table I use bus strips. This is what I connect my power to. If I need to use a voltage regulator. I put that there too.

    Remember safty first! Put a fuse on the power supplies positive side!

    I know that Shamus has talked about using fiber optics with a 60 watt bulb. I find there is a safty concern about this. If he has it set up simular to a movie or overhead projector? There is alot of heat build up. He would need a fan to cool it off. Another thing I hear is using mechanical mechnisms to change the color of signal lights. These need alot of maintance to keep them running.
    I like the use of low dc voltages. They are safe for children to be around. Don't get hot. Unless you overload them.

    Over all. I hope this helps new people thinking about making a layout. Also for those of us who are experience. And remember: SAFTY FIRST!!!!!!!

  2. kf4jqd

    kf4jqd Active Member

    I forgot one more thing. Put a .01 microfarad ceramic disk capasitor across the ground and positive side. This prevents surges to your lights and accorries. It lengthens the life of them! [​IMG]

  3. shamus

    shamus Registered Member

    "Quote"I know that Shamus has talked about using fiber optics with a 60 watt bulb. I find there is a safety concern about this. If he has it set up similar to a movie or overhead projector? "un-quote"

    First of all I have never used a 60watt bulb with fibre optics, only ever use a 16v DC bulb.

    Quote "Shamus article on wiring but he forgot to mention wiring accessories"--un-quote
    Secondly, I didn't forget to mention accessories because it didn't in my mind come under wiring tracks and making a control panel.

    However since you brought this up, there really are only two voltages, 16vAC and 12volt DC. The 3volt and 5volt that you mention are not standard voltage supplies on controllers and would confuse the new starter to the hobby.

    Now since you also brought up the subject of using LED's, I use 24volt LED's (with resistor of course) to power each line on my control panel. These LED's are powered using a standard 16volt AC transformer. I know there are on the market many LED's which run on 1 and a 1/2 volt. (With resistor) but again, 12volt supply can run these, that's what the resistor is for.

    [This message has been edited by shamus (edited 04-16-2001).]
  4. LC

    LC Member

    Shamus, thanks for clearing this up, I was about to throw the new book I bought yesterday on wiring out the window.

    [This message has been edited by LC (edited 04-18-2001).]
  5. Shay2

    Shay2 Member

    Actually Andy, in your opinion, 12,5 and 3 volts are the best one’s for "your" model railroading.
    Although I’ve only been modeling HO for about 8 months now, I prefer a variable voltage supply for accessories. Specifically, I use a Universal 300ma power supply for my LED’s not, 3v. Radio Shack part number 273-1662A, About $15.00. It’s range is from 1.5 to 12vdc. I also use the Radio Shack series of colored LED’s, like #276-272 orange in color, $1.29, nice for camp fires. These have a built-in resistor and are 12vdc, 15ma. Makes everything simpler, don’t you think?
    As for under table wiring, the thought of using a non-insulated wire, anyplace, bothers me. But that’s just my opinion. I’d be afraid of telling a novice to run one bare wire. What are the odds he would know a ground from a regulator or where to find a buss strip?
    I guess all of us here spend time browsing other train forms. Reading what others have posted, some of your suggestions even sound familiar! But, as you say, "to be safe", for “new people thinking about making a layout “I’d advise sticking with the more traditional wiring approach.

    Andy, You might want to reread Shamus’s comments about fiber optics.
    I think if someone’s going to offer an opinion, well, that’s one thing, if they are going to start quoting people, then they had better get their facts straight.

    Shamus, your words are way to kind after being misquoted!


    Rush Run River Logging Co.
  6. LC

    LC Member

    I agree with Rich,
    Shamus, you really contained yourself in the mannor of the true professional we all know you are!! You have proven it once again, well written my friend.
  7. Virginian

    Virginian Member

    Hi Andy, and all 'gaugers'
    I'll add my little bit...
    I'm not an electrician, but I've known the basics since I was a kid...and, I was taught more, in the past 15 years, by a true Master Electrician (35+ years with California Electric of Oakland) My Dad-in-law knew more about electricity and machinery than all of us plus all members of all other train boards and a few 'modern electrical engineers' put together...on his worst day...the only thing he'd have to say is ..."PICTURE HANGING WIRE AS A COMMON GROUND???? [​IMG] [​IMG] .'Nuf said"! I'm sorry Andy, but you seem to have some wires
    crossed in this department.
    From all I've read of your posts here, I'd say your heart's in the right place, but maybe you might take a refresher course in basic Electrical Wiring before offering any more advice in this department. "Remember, Safty First!" I know it's only 14 volts (max)...but even at low voltage, a fire is a fire, if you cause an arc with that uninsulated wire (Accidents happen)...
    So ... the last thing I have to say is: If shamus leaves something out of an article or a post..he's got a darn good reason...I suspect he's running a close third to my 'Dad' as far as his knowledge of wiring is concerned.(Edison is #2...though Edison is famous and in spite of all the patents, I'd still rate Guido A. Schwarz # 1 in the pratical application department!)
    Hope you can benefit by this 'lecture', Andy;
    I have no ill feelings toward you..just concern for your's and others' safety.
    All the Best

    [This message has been edited by Virginian (edited 04-18-2001).]
  8. shamus

    shamus Registered Member

    Hi Guys, Had a happy Easter? thanks for the kind remarks, always glad to help, anytime.
    Just to clear up the matter regarding the use of Fibre Optics, here is my original post

    Posts: 505

    posted 01-18-2001 02:07 PM

    The way I have used fibre optics in the past to light up street lamps, was to put all fibres together in a bundle and encase them inside a small wooden box approx 2" square, by 1".
    One 16volt grain of wheat was used to light up a couple of dozen street lamps. The cost, should the bulb blow, 60p (UK).

    I wouldn't go this way again, it just about drove me nuts handling all those fibres optics and trying to keep them still. Like talking to a horse, or watching paint dry.


    [This message has been edited by shamus (edited 04-19-2001).]
  9. George

    George Member

    God, just when I'm feeling a little better after several days with a high fever, when I read this one I really thought I was in a full blown relapse!

    I'm no electrician or master tech. For these reasons in my line of work, I've learned that the best thing you can do is keep EVERYTHING by the book. If you experiment, develop your own "standard" and deploy it, you will find out how quickly that old line about "No man is an island" is a pure lie!

    I've seen technicians wire a job that they swore by. Bottom line, it worked. Great? WRONG! The guy leaves for greener pastures and the next tech comes in, opens the panel and totally FREAKS. The home office sends two more techs to assist in sorting out the mess. They all scratch their heads and angrily demand to know where we found a Soviet trained tech that messed this thing up?

    Then the trouble really begins with the next quandary;

    "What on earth was this guy thinking about when he did this??"

    Result? Days of frustration and confusion to get into another individuals mindset, just to begin tracing things. Poor documentation always seems to exist in these situations as well.

    Professionally, this costs a fortune. At home on the layout, it's precious time wasted when one asks for outside help, and still worse in a club.

    Stick by the book and standardize, you will be glad you did. And Shamus, add another THANK YOU to the list for clearing this confusion up! [​IMG] [​IMG]


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