Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

DCC Throttle Bus Connectors

2130 views
13 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    July 2006
  • From: Southern California
  • 47 posts
DCC Throttle Bus Connectors
Posted by BurbankAV on Wednesday, April 9, 2008 3:31 PM

For those who are wiser and more DCC-experienced than myself (yeah, okay, so that's everybody...Dunce [D)]):

I've finally decided to take the plunge and go DCC with my layout.  I'm still in the benchwork stage, so there's no existing wiring.  I keep flopping back and forth between a PowerCab and a Zephyr (10x10 foot, N scale, three trains max) with one additional walkaround throttle.

My question: has anyone had issues with the RJ connectors on the walkaround throttles?  In my networking experience (more than most, less than many) the tangs that latch the plug into the socket don't withstand a ton of use.  Has anyone replaced these with another type of connector?

I've been thinking that I could switch to NC4 jacks (4-pin XLR, for those who do audio-speak) as these will last through years of wear and tear (plus I've got plenty of them to work with.)

If the RJ-12's are an issue, and I go to the NC4's, I'm basically committed to the NCE system, as the Zephyr wants six conductors.  If the RJ-12's aren't an issue, then I'm still in tossup mode. (And then my question becomes: am I correct that this decision will just boil down to personal preference, as both systems will serve me basically the same?)

Sorry for the long-windedness...

Thanks in advance for any and all replies!

Peter 

  • Member since
    February 2007
  • From: Christiana, TN
  • 1,652 posts
Posted by CSX Robert on Wednesday, April 9, 2008 4:37 PM
I'm not crazy about the RJ connectors either, but so far I have not had any trouble with them. If you really want to go to a 4 pin connector you can do that even with Digitrax. The yellow and black(pins 2 and 5) can be wired together and the red and green(pins 3 and 4) can be wired together. You could even go to a three pin connector if you wanted to,with blue and white(pins 1 and 6) wired together on the throttle, but on the Loconet side you can NOT wire blue and white directly together. You can either wire them through diodes, or not connect them and use a seperate 12 volt power supply for the throttle bus. In fact, Digitrax used to sell a plug in panel that had a 1/4" stereo plug socket for the throttle as well as the RJ sockets(the UP1 - it also has a 5 pin Din socket)
  • Member since
    July 2006
  • From: Southern California
  • 47 posts
Posted by BurbankAV on Wednesday, April 9, 2008 5:10 PM

Thanks for the info!

Rebuilding the cables with RJ12s isn't a problem -- I'd just like to avoid having to do it on a regular basis.

But if I can run either system on the NC4 jacks, that really seems to be the preferred solution for me: a durable connector with (to my eye) a cleaner panel installation.

Thanks again!

Peter 

  • Member since
    July 2006
  • From: Colorado
  • 707 posts
Posted by joe-daddy on Wednesday, April 9, 2008 5:24 PM

I think you make a good case for wireless!  I am using Lenz with 5 pin DIN but would rather use RJ45.  I do all my non DCC bus wiring with cat 5 and rj45 connectors.  I use a female wall connector from levitron et all as a mini 110 block and use my punch down tool to do the connections.  I have my DCC & CTI system hardware in a drawer with a 48 port patch panel to connect all the wires to it.  My DCC drawer is on its 3rd layout, takes me 4 bolts and about 30 minutes to move it.

 

 

 

This picture was taken during construction of my first layout, more recent pictures of my DCC equipment drawer and the Cat 5 set up can be found at this LINK on my blog.

A more important item IMHO, if your layout is around the room, NMRA Scale Rails pub had an article about using 2 1X2 on set edge behind the facia to make a wiring trough(channel to you since you are a network geek). Wires run directly from track/sensor/lamp etc to the channel and all wiring connections are then in your face, so you can do your troubleshooting in a chair, rather than on your back.  One of the genuine best ideas I have ever, ever seen for model railroading.  

Just my 2 cents. 

My website and blog are now at http://www.joe-daddy.com
Moderator
  • Member since
    June 2003
  • From: Northeast OH
  • 15,227 posts
Posted by tstage on Wednesday, April 9, 2008 6:01 PM

Peter,

I have the Power Cab and have never had a problem or issue with any of the RJ-12 connectors whatsoever.

Tom 

http://www.newyorkcentralmodeling.com

Time...It marches on...without ever turning around to see if anyone is even keeping in step.

  • Member since
    December 2001
  • 1,932 posts
Posted by Stevert on Wednesday, April 9, 2008 8:49 PM
 tstage wrote:

Peter,

I have the Power Cab and have never had a problem or issue with any of the RJ-12 connectors whatsoever.

Tom 

  Ditto on my Digitrax walkaround layout with multiple UP5's scattered around.  I think you're making a bigger deal out of the RJ's than they really are.  As long as you exercise a reasonable amount of care when you plug/unplug them, you'll be fine.

  As for your second question, either will probably suit your needs but I think the Zephyr is the better of the two.  Of course, Tom may disagree.  Wink [;)]

Steve

  • Member since
    February 2002
  • From: Westchester NY
  • 1,745 posts
Posted by retsignalmtr on Wednesday, April 9, 2008 9:40 PM
there's nothing wrong with them.the rj connectors are ok but they do eventually break off. i've just replaced them on both of my throttles yesterday. they are cheap and easy to put on. bought them at radio shack. several years ago i bought the crimper there and have made my loconet cables to custom lengths as well as some extension cords so i can still move around if my battery dies and have to operate while theathered. the tool was $10 and the rj plugs are about $6 for 10. don't try to modify the plugs as someone has suggested. thats a quick way to get into trouble. use the right part with the right tool.
  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: SE Michigan
  • 877 posts
Posted by fmilhaupt on Thursday, April 10, 2008 6:01 AM

Just as a data point, I've just passed the ten year mark using 15 throttles with the "stock" RJ12 connectors. In that time, I've had to replace only one RJ12 plug.

 

-Fritz Milhaupt, Publications Editor, Pere Marquette Historical Society, Inc.
http://www.pmhistsoc.org

  • Member since
    December 2004
  • From: Bedford, MA, USA
  • 19,080 posts
Posted by MisterBeasley on Thursday, April 10, 2008 7:13 AM

If you replace the plug on your throttle with a different type, then you will have a "non-standard" throttle.  It's not important if you only use it on your layout, but if you join a club you probably won't be able to use the throttle there.

You might consider making up a conversion cable to go from one plug type to another, rather than modifying your original throttle.

I've been using the 5-pin Lenz connectors for close to 3 years now with no problems.  I bought the connectors online (www.oselectronics.com) and mounted them myself directly to the fascia.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

  • Member since
    September 2006
  • 565 posts
Posted by Bapou on Thursday, April 10, 2008 9:25 AM

I have the Powercab and my club also uses NCE (the Powerhouse Pro), I have never heard of any problems with the RJ-12s till now.

Also some of the people that work at Tony's train exchange operate at my club. I know one person that also has NCE, and he dosn't complain about it. 

Go NJT, NJ Transit, New Jersey Transit. Whatever you call it its good. See my pictures and videos here: http://s239.photobucket.com/albums/ff20/Bapouthetrainman/
  • Member since
    January 2006
  • From: Northeast OH
  • 2,260 posts
Posted by NeO6874 on Thursday, April 10, 2008 12:04 PM

I do networking work, and the clips on *good* RJ-45 or RJ-12 connectors take a ton of work to get them to snap off.  Occasionally I have to rip off the clip, so that when I'm testing a ton of ports (like in the dorms over Summer Break) I can move rather quickly. 

 

That said, I'm not sure about the quality (or lack thereof) of the factory-installed ends for the throttles, though I would assume that they are of relatively decent quality. 

-Dan

Builder of Bowser steam! Railimages Site

  • Member since
    July 2006
  • From: Southern California
  • 47 posts
Posted by BurbankAV on Thursday, April 10, 2008 1:07 PM

Thanks for all the great responses, everyone!

At this point, I've settled on the Zephyr (for several reasons which I won't go into here) with a UT4 walkaround throttle.  I'm still inclined to switch everything to NC4's -- not for reliability, since that doesn't appear to be an issue, but for look and feel: I'm primarily an A/V guy, and an XLR-class connector feels better to work with, and I prefer the look of an NC4 jack to an RJ12 jack.

I'm not worried about interoperability with a club -- I'm a lone wolf modeler, as my schedule doesn't allow me any regular meeting times.

As for the issue of building/rebuilding the cables, that's not an issue: I've built just about everything under the sun (RJ, RG, XLR, Dsub, NL, ....., though I haven't done fibre termination yet...), and yes, I agree, a good set of crimpers is invaluable, as is a good soldering iron!

Thanks again for all the great input!

Peter 

 

  • Member since
    January 2006
  • From: Northeast OH
  • 2,260 posts
Posted by NeO6874 on Thursday, April 10, 2008 1:22 PM

 BurbankAV wrote:
...though I haven't done fibre termination yet...

 

Don't ever do it if you don't have to....it is a *PAIN* to get right (yes, I've done it, twice...) 

-Dan

Builder of Bowser steam! Railimages Site

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Search the Community

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Model Railroader Newsletter See all
Sign up for our FREE e-newsletter and get model railroad news in your inbox!