Topics

Buss wire

PennsyNut
 

I am new to this group. Just have a simple question. If a buss wire "should" be AWG14. Would two AWG 20's twisted/soldered together be sufficient. All the stuff I see is so complicated and overwhelming to me that I don't understand wires. I note that two AWG 20 gauge wires are the same size as AWG 14. And when I test with a meter, see no voltage drop with the "double twisted soldered" wires. In fact, the DC voltage and amperage is the same when tested with loco on track. I hope I'm clear, and just want clarification on wire size.
Morgan Bilbo, new to DCC

David McBrayer
 

Morgan, 
re doubling up wire. 
If you parallel two no. 20 AWG conductors, the resulting combined cross-sectional area would be approximately the same as a no. 17 AWG conductor.  
To get the approximate equivalent of a no. 14 AWG conductor you would need to parallel four no. 20 AWG conductors.  Paralleling conductors is fraught with long term reliability issues.  The issues can be managed but they are not the least expensive way to go.  

I suggest you do a web search for “wire table” to see the bigger picture of how AWG wire sizes are related.  AWG numbers have no direct relationship to cross-sectional area, which does relate to current carrying rating.  See also “metric wire table” to see how they relate.  

Yes, you can do it but be sure to notice how much hair you have (or don’t have 😉) when start troubleshooting some day down the road. 

Dave McBrayer 
Castro Valley, CA 


On Mar 26, 2019, at 12:24, PennsyNut <pennsynut@...> wrote:

I am new to this group. Just have a simple question. If a buss wire "should" be AWG14. Would two AWG 20's twisted/soldered together be sufficient. All the stuff I see is so complicated and overwhelming to me that I don't understand wires. I note that two AWG 20 gauge wires are the same size as AWG 14. And when I test with a meter, see no voltage drop with the "double twisted soldered" wires. In fact, the DC voltage and amperage is the same when tested with loco on track. I hope I'm clear, and just want clarification on wire size.
Morgan Bilbo, new to DCC

Carl
 

Hello Gang:

I wouldn't say parallel conductors is "fraught with long term reliability issues". It is done in industrial wiring when they don't want to buy or string OOO wire.  There are rules though:

1) don't put all the same conductor in one metal conduit ( induced currents )

2) each conductor needs its own circuit protection ( fuse or breaker )

3) clearly mark each conductor ( we should be doing this anyway )

The main reason for the heavy wire is for fault protection. I use heavy industrial wire, Oilflex and similar, 2mm dia.

Carl.

On 3/26/2019 5:16 PM, David McBrayer wrote:
Morgan, 
re doubling up wire. 
If you parallel two no. 20 AWG conductors, the resulting combined cross-sectional area would be approximately the same as a no. 17 AWG conductor.  
To get the approximate equivalent of a no. 14 AWG conductor you would need to parallel four no. 20 AWG conductors.  Paralleling conductors is fraught with long term reliability issues.  The issues can be managed but they are not the least expensive way to go.  

I suggest you do a web search for “wire table” to see the bigger picture of how AWG wire sizes are related.  AWG numbers have no direct relationship to cross-sectional area, which does relate to current carrying rating.  See also “metric wire table” to see how they relate.  

Yes, you can do it but be sure to notice how much hair you have (or don’t have 😉) when start troubleshooting some day down the road. 

Dave McBrayer 
Castro Valley, CA 


On Mar 26, 2019, at 12:24, PennsyNut <pennsynut@...> wrote:

I am new to this group. Just have a simple question. If a buss wire "should" be AWG14. Would two AWG 20's twisted/soldered together be sufficient. All the stuff I see is so complicated and overwhelming to me that I don't understand wires. I note that two AWG 20 gauge wires are the same size as AWG 14. And when I test with a meter, see no voltage drop with the "double twisted soldered" wires. In fact, the DC voltage and amperage is the same when tested with loco on track. I hope I'm clear, and just want clarification on wire size.
Morgan Bilbo, new to DCC

Virus-free. www.avast.com

David McBrayer
 

Carl, 
I take your point.  However, this is about a low voltage tabletop model railroad not the Northeast Corridor. 

Dave McBrayer


On Mar 26, 2019, at 20:18, Carl <carl.blum@...> wrote:

Hello Gang:

I wouldn't say parallel conductors is "fraught with long term reliability issues". It is done in industrial wiring when they don't want to buy or string OOO wire.  There are rules though:

1) don't put all the same conductor in one metal conduit ( induced currents )

2) each conductor needs its own circuit protection ( fuse or breaker )

3) clearly mark each conductor ( we should be doing this anyway )

The main reason for the heavy wire is for fault protection. I use heavy industrial wire, Oilflex and similar, 2mm dia.

Carl.

On 3/26/2019 5:16 PM, David McBrayer wrote:
Morgan, 
re doubling up wire. 
If you parallel two no. 20 AWG conductors, the resulting combined cross-sectional area would be approximately the same as a no. 17 AWG conductor.  
To get the approximate equivalent of a no. 14 AWG conductor you would need to parallel four no. 20 AWG conductors.  Paralleling conductors is fraught with long term reliability issues.  The issues can be managed but they are not the least expensive way to go.  

I suggest you do a web search for “wire table” to see the bigger picture of how AWG wire sizes are related.  AWG numbers have no direct relationship to cross-sectional area, which does relate to current carrying rating.  See also “metric wire table” to see how they relate.  

Yes, you can do it but be sure to notice how much hair you have (or don’t have 😉) when start troubleshooting some day down the road. 

Dave McBrayer 
Castro Valley, CA 


On Mar 26, 2019, at 12:24, PennsyNut <pennsynut@...> wrote:

I am new to this group. Just have a simple question. If a buss wire "should" be AWG14. Would two AWG 20's twisted/soldered together be sufficient. All the stuff I see is so complicated and overwhelming to me that I don't understand wires. I note that two AWG 20 gauge wires are the same size as AWG 14. And when I test with a meter, see no voltage drop with the "double twisted soldered" wires. In fact, the DC voltage and amperage is the same when tested with loco on track. I hope I'm clear, and just want clarification on wire size.
Morgan Bilbo, new to DCC

Virus-free. www.avast.com

Mark Gurries
 

Yes using a large enough gauge wire will satisfy fault protection.  Doing a coin short circuit test will verify if a given section of track is wire sufficiently to allow fault protection.   But the very next reason above fault protection  is to make sure trains maintain a given speed consistently when you run long wires..

A 1.2V drop at 120V represents a 1% voltage drop.  No problem.  But the same 1.2V drop at 12V, is a 10% drop.  That will translate in a 10% drop in train speed.

On Mar 26, 2019, at 9:21 PM, David McBrayer <d_mcbrayer@...> wrote:

Carl, 
I take your point.  However, this is about a low voltage tabletop model railroad not the Northeast Corridor. 

Dave McBrayer


On Mar 26, 2019, at 20:18, Carl <carl.blum@...> wrote:

Hello Gang:

I wouldn't say parallel conductors is "fraught with long term reliability issues". It is done in industrial wiring when they don't want to buy or string OOO wire.  There are rules though:

1) don't put all the same conductor in one metal conduit ( induced currents )

2) each conductor needs its own circuit protection ( fuse or breaker )

3) clearly mark each conductor ( we should be doing this anyway )

The main reason for the heavy wire is for fault protection. I use heavy industrial wire, Oilflex and similar, 2mm dia.

Carl.

On 3/26/2019 5:16 PM, David McBrayer wrote:
Morgan, 
re doubling up wire. 
If you parallel two no. 20 AWG conductors, the resulting combined cross-sectional area would be approximately the same as a no. 17 AWG conductor.  
To get the approximate equivalent of a no. 14 AWG conductor you would need to parallel four no. 20 AWG conductors.  Paralleling conductors is fraught with long term reliability issues.  The issues can be managed but they are not the least expensive way to go.  

I suggest you do a web search for “wire table” to see the bigger picture of how AWG wire sizes are related.  AWG numbers have no direct relationship to cross-sectional area, which does relate to current carrying rating.  See also “metric wire table” to see how they relate.  

Yes, you can do it but be sure to notice how much hair you have (or don’t have 😉) when start troubleshooting some day down the road. 

Dave McBrayer 
Castro Valley, CA 


On Mar 26, 2019, at 12:24, PennsyNut <pennsynut@...> wrote:

I am new to this group. Just have a simple question. If a buss wire "should" be AWG14. Would two AWG 20's twisted/soldered together be sufficient. All the stuff I see is so complicated and overwhelming to me that I don't understand wires. I note that two AWG 20 gauge wires are the same size as AWG 14. And when I test with a meter, see no voltage drop with the "double twisted soldered" wires. In fact, the DC voltage and amperage is the same when tested with loco on track. I hope I'm clear, and just want clarification on wire size.
Morgan Bilbo, new to DCC

Virus-free. www.avast.com

Best Regards,

Mark Gurries
Electrical Engineer
DCC Website & NMRA DCC Clinics: www.markgurries.com



Jerry Michels
 

It seems to me that unless you have a large supply of 20-gauge wire, it is cheaper time-wise to simply buy the correct size to begin with.  You can go to Best Buy or Lowes or other big box stores and buy a 100' 14-gauge extension cord very cheaply and either strip off the cover or just use as is.  You get the bonus of having a good ground wire.

Jerry Michels
Amarillo Railroad Museum

Mark Cartwright
 

Morgan....
I am in a project to run an N Scale Train around the perimeter of much of my 2900 square foot house on a perch (above the cats) then drop it down via an oblong Helix (closet) to my sit down table height of 30 inches in the back Family Room (main layout).
> I like to hear trains off in the distance....even Model Railroad Trains around my house.
========
>>> I bought three gigantic rolls of old time Door Bell Wire from a local Habitat for Humanity Restore for $5.
So...If such wire was good enough for 12 volt transformers back in the day?
No....I am not going there.
===> DCC with Sound is a whole other level of Model Railroading.
============
I won't tell you what to do with YOUR LAYOUT...except do the best you can with what you got.
If this was 1959...I would be very happy with the Bell Door Wire for my then 5x9 HO Scale Table.
Cause I was 6 years old in 1959, when I began my first layout with nearly no money.
I did the best I could and had a lot of fun in creating it with only one Lionel  4-6-2 locomotive, a few train set cars and a Varney Two Dollar Kits.
I made my own trees, the Silo was an Oatmeal Box...and dirt?
I used dirt
....  and found my own tree moss.
> To this day; I can tell you which way North is.
So....Find your own direction.
=============
BTW....
At the age of 6...
I had actually witnessed Steam Locomotives in action !!!! and knew then their very distinctive sounds.
============
For me however...and I am not 100% sure my AWG is sufficient enough for the long trek of track I am submitting it to.....
I am using 12 AWG, stranded copper wire...Color Coded to Kato Standards of Blue with a White Stripe and White with a Blue Stripe as my main buss wire.
Then using Kato Drop down plug in leads from the track itself, to every 18 inch soldered section.
In locomotives themselves...I am using combinations of 24 to 36 AWG Decoder Wiring.
Yes, in model railroading >>> I am mixing gauges.
====
Cause 12 Gauge AWG simply will not fit inside an N Scale Locomotive.
The Z Scale Guys worry about 30 vs 36 AWG.
====
In house/home wiring however ...I do not mix gauges to the outlets.
So all outlets are 12 gauge, some overhead lighting is 14 gauge and all panels are 6/3.
What's my house wiring having to do with my Model Railroad?
Perhaps nothing ...but many of the outlets around my home were out of Phase with other worser problems too.
For me however...
I am looking from the PG&E Pole outside, through my house to my ESU ECoS and then all the way to the Speaker wire in my locomotives.
If my ECoS (DCC Controller) was expecting 240 volts European...Can it adjust well with 120 volts American ?
I don't know !
I often do the math and then measure anyway. (and I am not happy about that tree so close to the PG&E Transformer either)
> a 10% Drop is unacceptable, at least i like to think it is....but I won't really know till i finish running the track around my house.
======
If your layout is say under 4x8 feet...Do what every you want...with what ever you got.
And don't fret all the mistakes you are about to make.
Cause...
You will have the opportunity to make different ones for your next layout.
:)) Mark

If a model train leaves your layout's passenger station in your family room...
Can you hear it when it arrives in your bedroom on the far side of the house?
At 65 years old...I don't know.
When I was 6.....I could tell the differences in sounds of locomotives all over this town.

Tom G.
 

The extension cord is a great idea! Another option would be to use bus bars. I bought them for around $2 a piece from a warehouse. I can provide a link if you want to go that route. 

Thanks.
Tom

On Mar 27, 2019, at 9:30 AM, Jerry Michels <gjmichels53@...> wrote:

It seems to me that unless you have a large supply of 20-gauge wire, it is cheaper time-wise to simply buy the correct size to begin with.  You can go to Best Buy or Lowes or other big box stores and buy a 100' 14-gauge extension cord very cheaply and either strip off the cover or just use as is.  You get the bonus of having a good ground wire.

Jerry Michels
Amarillo Railroad Museum

Jay
 

Hi,
For my N Scale layout I used 14G Kitchen & Bath Romex.
It is very flexible & worked great for the buss on my layout.
I have 5 36x80 "Modules" plus a 60x24 bridge between them.
That's almost 40' of bench work.
I did have to run a jumper across the middle.
There was a noticeable loss of power furthest from the command station.
But now it works fine.

Jay

Tom G.
 

https://www.adafruit.com/product/737

Great site for electronics parts as well. 

Bus bars $1.95


-----Original Message-----
From: Jay <jayfmn@q.com>
To: w4dccqa <w4dccqa@groups.io>
Sent: Wed, Mar 27, 2019 10:37 am
Subject: Re: [w4dccqa] Buss wire

Hi,
For my N Scale layout I used 14G Kitchen & Bath Romex.
It is very flexible & worked great for the buss on my layout.
I have 5 36x80 "Modules" plus a 60x24 bridge between them.
That's almost 40' of bench work.
I did have to run a jumper across the middle.
There was a noticeable loss of power furthest from the command station.
But now it works fine.

Jay

PennsyNut
 

I didn't mean to start any arguments. I was only trying to understand. What I am in the beginning of doing is a shelf layout 24' long. That means a buss of ? 22'. I have a nice run of 25' of a cable that was blue insulation. Inside were/are 8 wires. Each from what I can tell by using a simple wire stripper is 20 AWG. All this is free, each wire is good stranded copper wire. I took 2 of the wires, twisted them together. Stripped them where needed for feeders, and connected the feeder to both wires. I know it looks like smaller than AWG`14, but in a chart, saw that 2 x 20 = 14. Now you say it's 4 x. Well, that I can do too. 22' of good copper wire that is a relatively new cable is what I have and it's free. I am only trying to be frugal and not have to purchase wire. I suppose if I wanted too, could just buy 14 AWG at H-D. But I am just trying to avoid spending money on wire. The cost of the PECO track is enough to hurt. I made my own roadbed instead of buying cork. I am trying to keep costs within my budget. I could have bought cheaper track, but felt that as long as the quality is there, to use it. I've seen wire installations that scare me. This is just a simple shelf with all these wires on top. The buss is along the front edge and will be hidden by fascia and scenery. I fail to understand what you mean by "problems in the future". Once all this wire is fastened in place, all connections soldered, what can happen? I once lived in a house that had wiring from the 1920's. As late as 1970, there was no problem. Other than not enough outlets. But the basic wiring was still conducting 120 volts with a lot of appliances. Yes, if A/C was added, there would be trouble. But that never happened. The only major trouble with that house was it had fuses. LOL Nowadays we use circuit breakers. And on a simple 24' shelf layout, a light bulb will suffice. Now tell me a circuit breaker is a necessity? Aren't there ways to do things inexpensively without sacrificing quality? Now don't take this as an argument. I'm simply trying to understand. I have 20 AWG in quantity. Hoping to keep it in a quality use. Copper is the best. So from what y'all are telling me is that I can use it. Just 4 instead of 2. That is doable and feasible and should provide the quality sufficient for my needs. OK??????
--
Morgan Bilbo, new to DCC

David Klemm
 

Morgan,

Sounds like you have Cat5/6 wiring. That is a great LocoNet cable and can also be used for the wire drops from the track to the buss. 

For the buss get 12 or 14 gauge wire. For that small amount it won’t cost much and will be better for you. 

David Klemm
Xs Max
 


From: w4dccqa@groups.io on behalf of PennsyNut <pennsynut@...>
Sent: Wednesday, March 27, 2019 10:51
To: w4dccqa@groups.io
Subject: Re: [w4dccqa] Buss wire
 
I didn't mean to start any arguments. I was only trying to understand. What I am in the beginning of doing is a shelf layout 24' long. That means a buss of ? 22'. I have a nice run of 25' of a cable that was blue insulation. Inside were/are 8 wires. Each from what I can tell by using a simple wire stripper is 20 AWG. All this is free, each wire is good stranded copper wire. I took 2 of the wires, twisted them together. Stripped them where needed for feeders, and connected the feeder to both wires. I know it looks like smaller than AWG`14, but in a chart, saw that 2 x 20 = 14. Now you say it's 4 x. Well, that I can do too. 22' of good copper wire that is a relatively new cable is what I have and it's free. I am only trying to be frugal and not have to purchase wire. I suppose if I wanted too, could just buy 14 AWG at H-D. But I am just trying to avoid spending money on wire. The cost of the PECO track is enough to hurt. I made my own roadbed instead of buying cork. I am trying to keep costs within my budget. I could have bought cheaper track, but felt that as long as the quality is there, to use it. I've seen wire installations that scare me. This is just a simple shelf with all these wires on top. The buss is along the front edge and will be hidden by fascia and scenery. I fail to understand what you mean by "problems in the future". Once all this wire is fastened in place, all connections soldered, what can happen? I once lived in a house that had wiring from the 1920's. As late as 1970, there was no problem. Other than not enough outlets. But the basic wiring was still conducting 120 volts with a lot of appliances. Yes, if A/C was added, there would be trouble. But that never happened. The only major trouble with that house was it had fuses. LOL Nowadays we use circuit breakers. And on a simple 24' shelf layout, a light bulb will suffice. Now tell me a circuit breaker is a necessity? Aren't there ways to do things inexpensively without sacrificing quality? Now don't take this as an argument. I'm simply trying to understand. I have 20 AWG in quantity. Hoping to keep it in a quality use. Copper is the best. So from what y'all are telling me is that I can use it. Just 4 instead of 2. That is doable and feasible and should provide the quality sufficient for my needs. OK??????
--
Morgan Bilbo, new to DCC

Carl
 

Hi Gang:

Heavy wire does help avoid excessive voltage drop. Voltage drop is a factor of current, not the starting voltage. So take a long run, at the end with NO load there should be almost no voltage drop. As you add loads the current will go up, and at an earlier point Light wire will start acting as a heater and will drop the voltage available at the end. Heavy wire no so much.

So at 12 volts we have fewer volts to give up that at 120v.

Since you have tons of 20 AWG wire, why not just make each track drop a home run to a common terminal strip? Every section of track can draw from its own drop, but the drops on each side. Plus fewer connections " in the field ".

If you go the extension cord route, check the trash this spring when home owners clip the ends off there cords trimming the bushes!

Carl.

On 3/27/2019 11:51 AM, PennsyNut wrote:
I didn't mean to start any arguments. I was only trying to understand. What I am in the beginning of doing is a shelf layout 24' long. That means a buss of ? 22'. I have a nice run of 25' of a cable that was blue insulation. Inside were/are 8 wires. Each from what I can tell by using a simple wire stripper is 20 AWG. All this is free, each wire is good stranded copper wire. I took 2 of the wires, twisted them together. Stripped them where needed for feeders, and connected the feeder to both wires. I know it looks like smaller than AWG`14, but in a chart, saw that 2 x 20 = 14. Now you say it's 4 x. Well, that I can do too. 22' of good copper wire that is a relatively new cable is what I have and it's free. I am only trying to be frugal and not have to purchase wire. I suppose if I wanted too, could just buy 14 AWG at H-D. But I am just trying to avoid spending money on wire. The cost of the PECO track is enough to hurt. I made my own roadbed instead of buying cork. I am trying to keep costs within my budget. I could have bought cheaper track, but felt that as long as the quality is there, to use it. I've seen wire installations that scare me. This is just a simple shelf with all these wires on top. The buss is along the front edge and will be hidden by fascia and scenery. I fail to understand what you mean by "problems in the future". Once all this wire is fastened in place, all connections soldered, what can happen? I once lived in a house that had wiring from the 1920's. As late as 1970, there was no problem. Other than not enough outlets. But the basic wiring was still conducting 120 volts with a lot of appliances. Yes, if A/C was added, there would be trouble. But that never happened. The only major trouble with that house was it had fuses. LOL Nowadays we use circuit breakers. And on a simple 24' shelf layout, a light bulb will suffice. Now tell me a circuit breaker is a necessity? Aren't there ways to do things inexpensively without sacrificing quality? Now don't take this as an argument. I'm simply trying to understand. I have 20 AWG in quantity. Hoping to keep it in a quality use. Copper is the best. So from what y'all are telling me is that I can use it. Just 4 instead of 2. That is doable and feasible and should provide the quality sufficient for my needs. OK??????
--
Morgan Bilbo, new to DCC

Virus-free. www.avast.com

JB
 

Better yet, look in you're area for an electrical supply distributor and you should be able to purchase a 500' roll of #14 THHN stranded wire for about the same price as what the big box stores charge for a 100' roll. Just pay cash and you should get a better deal.

JB
Licensed CT. Master Electrician

Gary Chudzinski
 

I have a perimeter layout that is almost 120'.  I split the layout evenly into two 5 Amp power districts, connected the boosters in the middle of each district.  I twisted red and black 12 ga stranded wires (from Home Depot) per recommended, ran 18 ga. feeders every six feet and have a voltage drop of only a few tens, under load, at the extremes.  I found, however, I had to PROGRAM my desired maximum trip current on the RRCircuits circuit breaker as the jumper selections were not compatible with my desired tripping current.  I have had no power problems whatsoever!  As a precautionary measure, since this was a new layout, I installed snubbers (4 total) at the ends of each power district.  Allan and Mark have written much excellent guidance about DCC power installations! 

Gary Chudzinski

Al Silverstein
 

There are many solutions to the creation of a rail bus. If the command station or booster is centrally located in the area of coverage then 14 awg wire can easily reach 20’ with very little voltage loss and 12 awg can easily reach 40’ with very little voltage loss.
 
I am helping a friend convert his, HO scale, DC controlled layout to DCC. So far he has only used 14 awg zip wire and loves how easy it is to work with. His layout only required a command station and one add on booster. His command station feeds a quad circuit breaker device where each of the four legs feeds a rail bus about 20’ long. His booster feeds a quad circuit breaker device where he uses only three of the breakers where each of the three legs are less than 20’ long. He plans on having operating sessions with 4-5 of his friends operating trains.
 
Now what is my friend using for his rail bus? He is using 14 awg Red/Black Zip wire. Zip wire generally comes in the form of one red wire and one black wire. It can easily be separated into two wires, one red and one black. He is wiring his layout where the Red wire is the rail A feed and the Black wire is the rail B feed. This makes rail phasing easy. He will have two auto phasing sections of track to which he plans on using one of the simple reverse control devices.
 
On eBay earlier today, before my reply, I looked up the selling price of Zip wire in 100’ lengths. 14 awg Red/Black zip wire can be found for as little as $19.95 with free shipping from US vendors. 12 awg Red/Black zip wire can be found for as little as $38.95 with free shipping from US vendors.
 
My friend received both of his separate 14 awg orders in under a week from the date of purchase.
 
Al Silverstein
 

PennsyNut
 

I have solved my problem in another way. Since I had tons of AWG 20. I simply ran a separate wire from the rail to the command station. At the C.S. end, used terminal blocks. Connected two wires to each screw and all screws wired to the C.S. with AWG 18. That's only about a foot. The longest wire from a rail to the C.S. is just shy of 12 feet. All others are shorter. There are now a total of 19 wires at the C.S. 10 blue and 9 red. All easy to wire, all connected to the C.S. with screws. And all have feeders of less than 12" connected to the same AWG wires as a buss. I hope this is clear. I tested with 3 different H.F. meters. Measured AC volts, DC volts, resistance and continuity of all tracks at various places/each end and in between the ends and the C.S. and all readings are consistent. Loco runs fine with no slowdown or change in speed. Not sure how to measure amps. (Am not about to spend money on a RRamp).But what works, works. Thanks to all for your suggestions. And since I'm such a contrarian. All wires are on top of the foam and all run from the rails to the front edge of the layout and run along that front to the place where the terminal blocks are and the C.S./a Zephyr also on top. Everything easy to reach, easy to work with, easy to check for shorts, etc. All wires soldered or with screw connectors. No sloppy. All color coded. All just the way I wanted. But because of all your suggestions and advice, I am now a happily wired up. LOL
Morgan Bilbo, new to DCC