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Dual Controller

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  • Member since
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Posted by PC101 on Saturday, October 26, 2019 7:21 PM

WelcomeGunny, If I was starting out with DC and DCC was not a twinkle in my eye, and want to run two trains, this is what I would do. I would get two separate but alike power packs. I would look for the highest outputs (TOTAL VOLTS/AMPERAGE=more power to run more trains and accessories). xx-VDC=variable DC (first set of terminials) runs the trains, xx-VAC=accessories (second set of terminials) powers AC items, xx-VDC=fixed DC (third set of terminials) powers DC items. I do not know if the terminials are always in a standard order, (first set=variable DC, second set=fixed AC, third set=fixed DC).

I like the two power pack idea, if one goes bad you can still run trains. I see most twin throttle packs have less output then signal thottle packs.

I see in my old Walthers catalogs that TECH II's (1989) have the "fixed DC" and the TECH 4's (2008), (all but one, #9500) do not have "fixed DC''. Was there ever a TECH III? I see it looks like we are up to TECH 6's at this time.

Everytime I clean up the train room and run across my old "How to" books (dating back to '68) on Model Railroading wiring (DC) and layout building, etc. and try to dispose of them, it seems like I can't do it. 

Maybe you will not want all the power packs at the same immediate location.

If you go with the two separate power packs, or even the one power pack with two throttles, check the output and polarity of all the pack's terminials. You just never know the output till you verify it.

In my early days of model railroading I used DC for power consisting of, two hand held Aurora slot car throttles (modified with a drag screw to hold the trigger at speed) for a few years, then a gray box, with the name of ''Allstate'', then I went big time railroading and upgraded to a MRC TECH II 1500 locomotion with a MRC J55 cab control with plug in's around the layout (yes the train only stopped when I unplugged to move but I was walking with the train). Next on line was a TECH II 2400 Railmaster and later on a TECH II 2500 Loco-motion then still added a TECH II 2800 Dual power. Yes I had a lot of those Atlas slide switches (I had a brain then and could remember what switch went where), and miles of wire.

I now have two large boxs of those Atlas switches #205, 210, 215, 220 and miles of wire that have been removed from the DC layout when I went DCC with a Lentz system on 1/15/01.        

 

  • Member since
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  • From: Central Vermont
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Posted by cowman on Saturday, October 26, 2019 6:10 PM

Not an answer to your questions, but a suggestion if you are thinking of going DCC.  

There are several brands of DCC equipment available, most have a starter system and some of those can be expanded at a later date as your layout grows.  Though systems will all play with different brands of decoders, they do not allow mixing of brands in your system.

What was suggested to me by the dealer was to find out what others in your area (local club or individuals) have.  That way if you have questions, the answers may be close at hand and can be easily demonstrated to you.  Also, if you want to join on local operating sesssions you can take your own hand held with you to the layout you are visiting.

Just something to think about.

Good luck,

Richard

  • Member since
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  • From: Boise, Idaho
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Posted by E-L man tom on Saturday, October 26, 2019 11:16 AM

Nothing wrong with DC. In fact, the big deterrent to me going DCC is the cost (and effort) of installing decoders in my 40 or so locomotives.

My new layout will have three cabs with three power packs. I will be using seperate hand-held throttles for each cab so I can move around the layout with any of the trains, if needed. In such a case, the power pack needs to be connected to the "constant DC" terminals, not the "variable DC" terminals. The individual throttles will control the speed of the trains. MRC (and probably other companies), have throttles for DC available. I will probably have a dozen or so blocks for maximum control of the trackage. I will have a central panel with rotary switches that select the cab I want to run in that particular block. My last layout only had two cabs, so the switches on the control panel were double pole double throw toggles. And, by the way, I may decide to go DCC sometime. In that event, the conversion with the wiring is easy, so I'm told.

Tom Modeling the free-lanced Toledo Erie Central switching layout.
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Posted by jjdamnit on Wednesday, October 23, 2019 5:42 PM

Hello All,

BRAKIE
DCC is not the cure all to end wiring.. Some large layouts require boosters and power blocks...

I agree whole heartedly!

The OP did not mention a size of the pike, only the scale he is modeling.

BRAKIE
...-a power block offers the ability to isolate any electrical problem that might come up.

If you have been a member of these forums for any amount of time you will soon realize that the electrical gremlins can live and prosper in any system- -DC or DCC.

The OP was seeking clarification on...

Ole Gunny
...blocks, multiple cabs with one controller.

DCC is not an end all be all solution for many modelers. But DC can have it's pitfalls too.

Hope this helps.

"Uhh...I didn’t know it was 'impossible' I just made it work...sorry"

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  • From: OH
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Posted by BRAKIE on Wednesday, October 23, 2019 5:04 PM

A word about DCC.. You can start simple with a Digitrax DSC52 Zephyr Express starter set.. Then you will need to buy and install decoders a easy job if you already have DCC Ready engines. As far as older locomotives  might be more complicated in decoder installation..

The good news is all you need two wires from the Zephyr to the track.No bocks needed to run two or more trains..

However..

DCC is not the cure all to end wiring.. Some large layouts require boosters and power blocks-a power block offers the ability to isolate any electrical problem that might come up.

I use a MRC Tech 6 for my switching layouts since I use one engine at a time and the T-6 offers DC/DCC operation by a simple push of a button which means I don't need to buy decoders for all of my engines and that's a win/win for me.

DC/DCC  is a choice only you can make.

In all truth I enjoy DC operation as much as I  do DCC.. 

Larry

Conductor.

Summerset Ry.


"Stay Alert, Don't get hurt  Safety First!"

  • Member since
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  • From: 10,430’ (3,179 m)
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Posted by jjdamnit on Wednesday, October 23, 2019 3:52 PM

Hello All,

Ole Gunny
Still a little confused on blocks, multiple cabs with one controller.

So there are a few things to clarify...

  • In DC a "cab" is the controller or power pack.
  • A "block" is a section of track.
    The entire pike (layout) can be one block or there can be several blocks that make up a pike.
    An entire yard area could be a single block or the same area could be broken up into multiple blocks.

Before converting to DC I had 16 blocks controlled by two cabs. There was an array of switches that energized each block and controlled the polarity or direction; more on that later.

With a DC system if there is more than one locomotive in a block they will all move when the power from the cab is applied.

The "direction" of the movement of the locomotive(s) is dependent on the polarity of the track and the DC motor in the locomotive(s).

On the cab there is a direction switch. This controls the polarity coming out of the cab.

If there are two locomotives in the same block, and they are both facing in the same "direction" when the power is applied they will both move in the same direction.

When one locomotive is facing in the opposite "direction" when the power is applied they will move away or towards each other depending on which way the directional switch is thrown.

If you hook up the cab and apply power, if the locomotive runs in the opposite direction of the directional switch the polarity needs to be switched at the controller or the track.

Without a background in electronics these concepts can get confusing.

I highly recommend the book "Complete Atlas Wiring Book". This deals primarily with DC wiring but some of these concepts can be applicable to DCC wiring.

Yes, this book promotes Atlas products but also gives diagrams of multi-cab, reverse loops and schematics of the actual controllers- -in case you want to DIY.

For less than $10.00 it is a great investment.

Keep the questions coming and as usual...

Hope this helps.

Post Script: I completely agree with Hornblower on the advantages of DCC.
Had I began with DCC I would have saved money on controllers and wire.
To have multiple blocks; even if you use a common negative, you are still looking at a lot of copper.

H.T.H.

"Uhh...I didn’t know it was 'impossible' I just made it work...sorry"

  • Member since
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  • From: Fullerton, California
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Posted by hornblower on Wednesday, October 23, 2019 2:28 PM

If you're just starting out and have yet to buy any power packs, I would HIGHLY recommend going with Digital Command Control (DCC).  Instead of running the track and constantly throwing switches to power the "next" block as you must do with cab control, DCC allows you to run the trains!  You can run your trains in any direction, at any speed, on any track and as many trains as your power supply will manage.  The wiring is much simpler, too!  Yes, the up front costs may be a little higher and each loco requires a DCC decoder be installed, but the operating rewards are too great to ignore.  Having switched to DCC after building several cab controlled layouts, I will NEVER go back to DC cab control.  

Hornblower

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Wednesday, October 23, 2019 6:01 AM

It makes no difference which you select. Either a dual cab contoller, or two seperate power packs will work as you wish.

.

Advantage to dual cab controller: Smaller footprint and possibly lower purchase cost.

.

Advantage to two individual cabs: If one fails, you just need to replace that one.

.

I am using old Troller Transpack 2.5 controllers for my layout. I will need three, I have about a dozen of them so I can swap them out as they fail.

.

-Kevin

.

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

  • Member since
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Posted by BRAKIE on Wednesday, October 23, 2019 3:59 AM

Ole Gunny
Still a little confused on blocks, multiple cabs with one controller.

First since I know very little about wiring I used Atlas selectors on my N scale  double track main line back in the '80s since all that is required is insulated rail joiner at the begining and ending of each block and the best part one possitive(+) wire per block with the negitive(-) wire hook to the continuous rail.

I also used a Atlas controller for my two MRC Tech II 1400s. IIRC I used it because I thought it made everything easier in wiring the cabs to the blocks-2 wires from the 1400s to the Contoller and the selectors was hook in line to the controller.

I would use the Tech II dual power with Atlas controller and selectors.

Larry

Conductor.

Summerset Ry.


"Stay Alert, Don't get hurt  Safety First!"

  • Member since
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  • From: Western, MA
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Posted by richg1998 on Tuesday, October 22, 2019 6:10 PM

It will work. Just mark your boundaries.

Our club started in the 1980's with fourteen blocks and four throttles. and a dispatcher panel. Drivers had to call out the block they wanted.

Much easier when we went to DCC. We could then run as many as eight or nine locos.

Not trying to change you.

Rich

If you ever fall over in public, pick yourself up and say “sorry it’s been a while since I inhabited a body.” And just walk away.

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Posted by BigDaddy on Tuesday, October 22, 2019 6:07 PM

The MRC 2800 is two packs in one box.  Looks like $40 on ebay with shipping and you have a smaller footprint than with 2 separate power pack. 

MRC's are considered bulletproof, but they can die of old age.  I am going to use my 35 year old 2400 to power my turn table.  It is still kicking.

If you think you like sound, you should consider DCC.  Not everyone does, but it would simplify the block dilemma. 

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

By the Chesapeake Bay

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Posted by mbinsewi on Tuesday, October 22, 2019 5:40 PM

My first thought is, if your going to run DC cab control, with two cabs, you'll still need two power packs, or the dual controller, if you plan on running both trains at the same time.

Mike.

  • Member since
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  • From: New Bern, North Carolina
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Dual Controller
Posted by Ole Gunny on Tuesday, October 22, 2019 10:58 AM

Just starting out in N scale. I have 2 sets of trains (freighter, passenger) with track, still working on design & theme. Been reading on Easy Model Railroad Wiring.Still a little confused on blocks, multiple cabs with one controller. My question is: Should I use a dual controller for this type of set-up (Tech II dual power) or stay with the single controller for each cab?

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