Topics

Small N Scale DCC Layout

Scott
 

Hello all new to the forum –

 

After years of being out of the hobby and never having used DCC, my son and I decided to build a small N scale set. With a foot print of only roughly 3’ x 4’ we are planning to have 4-5 separate tracks and loco’s running. I wanted to set it up for DCC control but am having a little difficulty finding an answer to my main question, which is, can we power the entire layout from one NCE Power Cab? According to information I found on NCE’s website, I should be able to control up to 8 loco’s so I think we are good, my real question is on the wiring to make this happen. Each track will be no more than 12’ in total length, so my thought is to run my main bus wire of probably 16 or 18 gauge and then run two feeders to each track at opposite ends off the bus using 22 gauge. There will only be one turn out off one track with return to same track. With such limited space we are keeping it somewhat simple in that respect. Any suggestions or am I totally off base with what I am planning? Do I need more than the 2 amps the power cab supplies because of number of separate tracks or overall rail length? Should I break the layout into blocks and have circuit protection off the main bus for each track?

 

Thanks

 

Scott

 

 

 

 

Tim Bowser
 

Track length or complexity really doesn't play into the power needs, it's what runs on it that'll determine the amp budget.  Given that N-scale locos have low power draw, I could see it working within the limits of the power supply.  With any additional draw, such as grain-of-wheat lit passenger cars, you'd be pushing it pretty close on 2 amps.

RONALD ST.LAURENT
 

Scott,

It seems to me you would be good to go.  This would be no different than a large layout sectioned into blocks.

Ron


On Friday, September 14, 2018 8:07 AM, Scott <sesimon@...> wrote:


Hello all new to the forum –
 
After years of being out of the hobby and never having used DCC, my son and I decided to build a small N scale set. With a foot print of only roughly 3’ x 4’ we are planning to have 4-5 separate tracks and loco’s running. I wanted to set it up for DCC control but am having a little difficulty finding an answer to my main question, which is, can we power the entire layout from one NCE Power Cab? According to information I found on NCE’s website, I should be able to control up to 8 loco’s so I think we are good, my real question is on the wiring to make this happen. Each track will be no more than 12’ in total length, so my thought is to run my main bus wire of probably 16 or 18 gauge and then run two feeders to each track at opposite ends off the bus using 22 gauge. There will only be one turn out off one track with return to same track. With such limited space we are keeping it somewhat simple in that respect. Any suggestions or am I totally off base with what I am planning? Do I need more than the 2 amps the power cab supplies because of number of separate tracks or overall rail length? Should I break the layout into blocks and have circuit protection off the main bus for each track?
 
Thanks
 
Scott
 
 
 
 


Al Silverstein
 

Scott,
 
Your planned 3’ x 4’ layout with multi ovals is rather small. You will be limited in the type of engines and rolling stock that will transverse the curved portion of the track.
 
The ability of the command station to power your layout will depend upon the engines and rolling stock. Engines with sound require a lot more current than those with just a motor and lights. Even the type of lighting in the engine has an minor effect on the total current demand on the DCC command system. As a last note on powering the rails older engines often require more current than the new ones.
 
As one who has built a small N scale layout, 30” x 60” for display purposes for the local model railroad club I can testify to the following:
 
1) The feeders that I used in the construction of the above layout were 22 awg sold wires, color coded for red as rail A and black as rail B. I found, in my case, solid wire to N scale rails easier than stranded. Beware of heat which can warp or damage rail ties. I suggest you use some sort of heat absorbing clamps near were the feeders are to be installed. You should use any color code you feel comfortable with. I used to purchase my feeder wire from Radio Shack. Now I purchase it online from eBay. There are many sources to choose from no matter where you obtain the feeder wire.
 
2) I ran 14 awg stranded wire for rail bus down the center of the length of the layout using the same color code as that of the rails (red to red and black to black. Some modelers prefer to solder the feeders to the rail buss while others indicate using a wire tap. I have used both over the years. If access to the wiring is easy then either work sell. If access to the wiring is difficult then  you may want to use the wire tap.
 
3) Too many feeders does not hurt. Not enough feeds may cause problems. You can always add feeders if more are needed. 
 
The above layout has been electrically problem free for over 6 years.
 
The NCE Power cab is a great starter DCC command system for the small layout and single operator. You may want to consider a more powerful DCC command system that allows for easy multiple operators. Note here that the Power Cab can be used in conjunction with the NCE Power Pro system.
 
Al Silverstein
Model Railroader 53 years
N scale model railroader 30 years

Scott
 

Ron,

Thanks for the reply. So do you think I should separate the tracks into different blocks with separate circuit protection or with such a small layout would you not bother and just protect the main bus feed?

Scott

Scott
 

Tim,

Thanks for the response. Yes I have considered that and figured I could always add the SB5 for more power while also gaining the ability to unplug the Power Cab  and walk around. I may opt to add that now - just haven't decided if I want to spend the extra money!!

Scott
 

Al,

Thanks for the great reply. I am pretty familiar with basic electrical work and have been doing a lot of reading on DCC. I think based on the size of my layout a 16 awg stranded bus wire will be sufficient. I think I am going to bite the bullet and get the SB-5 which will give me 5 amps of power and the ability to unplug the Power Cab and also add other controllers if I want to. I think with such a small layout one will be plenty.

Access to wiring will be similar to what you described for your layout. I will most likely use taps for the feeders. Plan was to have two feeders for each track at opposite ends of the layout. 

The outermost oval will be 11 1/4 radius which I think should allow for our planned passenger train. The inner smaller loops will use shorter loco's and rolling stock. We have nothing smaller than 9." Obviously with this small of a layout we are a bit limited but the plan is to have 2 or 3 tracks at table height with one having a small incline and decline. The other two will be at levels 2 and 3 above the table. 

We will probably do some tweaking as we start actually laying things out but that is the initial plan. If things go well, we may look to do a larger set up (or at least I might) at some point in the future. 

The only unanswered question is with regard to circuit protection. Should I separate each track with its own protection or is one on the main bus sufficient for layout this small.

Thanks

Scott

Glenn
 

Scott,

Your wiring is sound.

The basic power supply should be enough for four loco's.

If you get a booster, get the DB5 Smart Booster Part # 05240027, not the standard booster. This booster is made to be used with the PowerCab, the standard booster is not.

Glenn










-----Original Message-----
From: Scott
Sent: Sep 14, 2018 7:48 AM
To: w4dccqa@groups.io
Subject: [w4dccqa] Small N Scale DCC Layout

Hello all new to the forum –

 

After years of being out of the hobby and never having used DCC, my son and I decided to build a small N scale set. With a foot print of only roughly 3’ x 4’ we are planning to have 4-5 separate tracks and loco’s running. I wanted to set it up for DCC control but am having a little difficulty finding an answer to my main question, which is, can we power the entire layout from one NCE Power Cab? According to information I found on NCE’s website, I should be able to control up to 8 loco’s so I think we are good, my real question is on the wiring to make this happen. Each track will be no more than 12’ in total length, so my thought is to run my main bus wire of probably 16 or 18 gauge and then run two feeders to each track at opposite ends off the bus using 22 gauge. There will only be one turn out off one track with return to same track. With such limited space we are keeping it somewhat simple in that respect. Any suggestions or am I totally off base with what I am planning? Do I need more than the 2 amps the power cab supplies because of number of separate tracks or overall rail length? Should I break the layout into blocks and have circuit protection off the main bus for each track?

 

Thanks

 

Scott

 

 

 

 

Jay
 

Scott,
Just an FYI, I have a large N Scale layout.
It is one big block. No isolators.
I run 2 double headed trains at a time.
The layout barely pulls 1 Amp.
Maybe 1.2 Amps when the engines are cold.
This is what my RRamp Meter is telling me.
It is wired between the Command Station & the track.
My base load is about .75 Amp at idle.
That is because I have over 30 engines on sidings ready to go.
So, 4 engines pulling trains are barely pulling over .5 Amps.

Jay

Glenn
 

Scott,

Since your tracks are not connected to each other, you have blocks. I suggest getting two terminal strips and running feeders to each track. 18ga wire (lamp cord) should be adequate for this.

Use one strip for each side of the polarity. You could also use half of an 8 or 10 position strip. That way you can separate a single track if needed.

You may want to have some protection in the main feed.

Glenn

-----Original Message-----
From: Scott
Sent: Sep 14, 2018 10:11 AM
To: w4dccqa@groups.io
Subject: Re: [w4dccqa] Small N Scale DCC Layout

Ron,

Thanks for the reply. So do you think I should separate the tracks into different blocks with separate circuit protection or with such a small layout would you not bother and just protect the main bus feed?

Scott

RONALD ST.LAURENT
 

Scott,

If you want the other trains to continue to run then you should use circuit breakers.  If you don't mind everything stopping then you need do nothing.  Your main unit contains circuit protection.

Ron


On Friday, September 14, 2018 10:23 AM, Scott <sesimon@...> wrote:


Ron,

Thanks for the reply. So do you think I should separate the tracks into different blocks with separate circuit protection or with such a small layout would you not bother and just protect the main bus feed?

Scott


Mark Cartwright
 

On Fri, Sep 14, 2018 at 07:30 AM, Scott wrote:
The outermost oval will be 11 1/4 radius which I think should allow for our planned passenger train.
Scott, I was not going to say anything till I began to read Planned Passenger Train.
Which One?
Please, I do not believe you can get any Passenger Train, even short 1880's types on a 11 1/4 Radius; to work effectively even with truck mounted couplers. What I mean by effective, is that you won't end up frustrated by the whole process of Surviving Your First Layout.
====
https://www.nmra.org/rp-11-curvature-rolling-stock
Yes, but are those specifications with single rolling stock or in an ever increasing length of train upwards of a Prototype; along with Prototype Details ?
Let me figure out how to say this...
Human Nature should be applied to understanding the creation of NMRA's RP-11; (even the dynamics/politics of any organization with opposing committees) and further in how the specifications are already minimized, not optimized nor maximized, hence are not quite up to what may actually be needed. Then further, how N Scalers in particular, are seemingly always constrained for space.
That is ...
Even if you write it down...
P
All Diesel locos. All
Electric locos.
All passenger cars. All freight cars

and hence state the P Minimum Radius is 21.5" = Your typical (even best) N Scaler will attempt a layout at a 19 inch radius. This 19 inches then becomes their specific reality (mindset), where all things measured and operated are at that level. (In Old Psychology, this was called Hysteria.)
You then accept your minimal radius, as is; yet struggle against it.
What might happen however...Beyond the Minimal Radius of 21.5 inches...Say begin again with a Minimal Radius of 22 inches?
====
As read, I believe you are describing a layout which should be set to NMRA Specifications N/O; with this specification, I know you can begin to run Passenger Trains. 
====
For other comments, I chime in with Al Silverstein and Others....
Well nearly, I would suggest if at all possible to go to a length of 60 inches for your first layout. (There is a Test Layout as I call it, leaning up against the wall just outside this room and it's 32 x 56 inches which I increased from 30x56. It would have greatly benefitted by just a few inches in both length and width. Three days ago I began a 50" x 88" Test Layout; rectangular in nature but could be extended into an L Shape.
Good Luck in Surviving Your First Layout...and then you can be just like us...Still not 100% sure of what we are trying to do.
Mark

Also for your first layout, stay away from DCC with Sound, lighted passenger trains, steam locomotives and perhaps seriously consider Kato Unitrack.
Do not try to Hand-Lay track for your first layout.