Main Power Drawer

The power for the layout is located in a pull out drawer. In the drawer is the 10 amp power supply, fuse block, voltage and current meters, Digitrax Zephyr command station, a track booster and an accessory booster.
In the previous configuration the power supply was set for 17.5 volts and powered both boosters and the Zephyr. The boosters were 5 amp NCE PB105 units with built in voltage regulators. The Zephyr also has a built in regulator, thus the need for 17.5 volts.
The accessory booster has just been replaced with a Team Digital DCCBoost unit. It does not have a built in regulator so the power supply voltage was reduced to 13.6 volts. The Zephyr is now powered by its own 13.5 VDC power supply. The NCE PB105 is powered by the internal transformer of the power supply.
There are 10 Team Digital DCCBreak circuit breakers which are located on two different panels.

First operating session

Today I have the first operating session. In general things went fairly well. There were 6 people including myself. Simple type switch lists were used. Three in total. Each required the use of a switcher and main line engine.

Even with a lot of effect put in to making sure everything worked before hand, there were still a few problems. Mostly with the turnout control. There were some track areas that engines lost power including some frogs (ones that I did not know needed power).

Certainly a learning experience. It is nice to have people attend that know more than I do.

Program track wiring

I spend the afternoon wiring the two program tracks. They are side by side and are used for “Team” tracks when not programming. The reason there are two tracks for programming is I forgot to insulate one of them. So it was just easier this way. Amazing how long certain things take. The three position switch for the program track had already been installed. It controls what the program track is electrically connected too. Center position is off - no power to the track. Right position connects the track to the main power and left position connects it to the programmer.

There is a little aluminum plate with “PROG” and “MAIN” to indicate which position to move the switch. Since the switch is somewhat hidden under the facia I put a three leaded bi-color LED between PROG and MAIN . Red indicates program track is connected to the programmer and green indicates it is connected to the main.

Hidden yard reverse loop

I have finished the wiring for the hidden yard reverse loop. This includes the automatic control of the reverse loop turnout and the electrical polarity of the reverse loop track. A DBD22 was used to detect two short sections of track next to the turnout. Based on which section is occupied the DBD22 controls a Servette which in turn drives a servo to correctly move the turnout. The relay on the Servette is used to reverse the polarity of the track.

With this done I run the first train (two locos and two cleaning cars) down through the hidden yard around the reverse loop and back out on the main.

Turnout control

One of the things I have spend a lot of time trying to decide on is turnout control. I first planed on the Atlas code 83 solenoid machines. There are very easy to install anywhere on the layout (much easier than any under track solution). They provide easy manual control as well as remote control. Also I think there are small enough that they do not detract from the visual aspect of the layout.  I had designed a scheme so that manual movement of the turnout could be reported to JMRI. I want to have the capability of automatic control. Unfortunately, the small Atlas machines do not put enough force on the turnout points for consistent reliable operation.

I do not like the tortoise solution for a couple of reasons: their size makes locating them under a table like mine very difficult is some cases and the relativity large hole required under the turnout. It is hard to install the tortoise after the turnout is in place. "I know install the tortoise before the turnout!" Good idea if you planned it that way up front. The tortoise does have some nice features that are hard to achieve with other solutions.

At this point I am planing on using small servos. They are small and inexpensive. They are not convenient switching power to the frog (which I do in some cases). I have done various experiments on how best to mount the servo, install linkage to the points and switch frog power. At this point I plan on using the Motrak Models mounting bracket. To switch frog power I plan on putting a microswitch on the side of the servo with glue or double sided tape.