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Author Topic: Running separate tracks  (Read 261 times)

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Offline Tonee

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Running separate tracks
« on: May 17, 2018, 10:50:36 am »
 :helpneededsign: Is it possible two run two separate DCC trains on two separate tracks on the same layout using one Prodigy Advance 2 controller.
Trying to do it without using points.

Offline dannyboy

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Re: Running separate tracks
« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2018, 11:00:09 am »
My first thoughts are that if you have two independent tracks and one controller, you can only power one track at once. It would be easy enough to switch power between the tracks. If you fed both tracks from the one controller, I am guessing that you would halve the power to each track, which I don't think would be enough for each loco'. However,  somebody will be along who would know whether what you propose could be done and, if so, how.
David.
I used to be indecisive - now I'm not - I don't think.

Offline njee20

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Re: Running separate tracks
« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2018, 11:12:40 am »
Yes, as long as they're wired together then you certainly can. That's the point of DCC. You don't need multiple controllers for multiple tracks.

You could run 10 different trains on different tracks as long as they're all wired into the controller. Whether they're mechanically connected (ie via points) is totally irrelevant in that, whilst points can electrically connect loops it's very poor design.

Offline Nick

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Re: Running separate tracks
« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2018, 11:44:00 am »
You can run as many trains as you like, on as many tracks as you like, providing that the total current draw of the locos doesn't exceed the capacity of the controller. I think the Advance can supply 3.5A, and a N Gauge loco typically draws a quarter of an amp, so you're miles in. (Someone jump in if I'm hopelessly adrift.)

Bear in mind though that you can only actually control one train at a time.You need to be able to leave the others to their own devices, carrying on at whatever speed you last set them to, while you select the loco you want to control, do whatever you want with it, and reselect one of the others. Not a problem on a continuous run, presumably, but potentially on an end-to-end.

(Sorry, that latter is probably blindingly obvious, but I just thought I'd flag it. It takes a finite time to swap from one loco to another.)

Nick

The perfect is the enemy of the good - Voltaire

Offline dannyboy

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Re: Running separate tracks
« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2018, 11:50:59 am »
However,  somebody will be along who would know whether what you propose could be done and, if so, how.

Told you somebody would know, (just shows how much I know!  ;)). Thank you Nick and njee  :thumbsup:
David.
I used to be indecisive - now I'm not - I don't think.

Offline njee20

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Re: Running separate tracks
« Reply #5 on: May 17, 2018, 12:17:54 pm »
I recall there's an 8 Amp booster for the Prodigy too, so you could have upwards of 30 locos running simultaneously if you so desired...

I think there's now a WiFi adapter for the Prodigy, which should make it easy to interface with other software which allow you to have an onscreen (either PC or phone) throttle too for little extra cost. I've not investigated how it works, as I've not got a Prodigy! That's what I usually do - have a few devices controlling things so it's easier to recall a specific one if I need to adjust it.

Offline Caz

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Re: Running separate tracks
« Reply #6 on: May 17, 2018, 07:38:52 pm »
a N Gauge loco typically draws a quarter of an amp, so you're miles in. (Someone jump in if I'm hopelessly adrift.)


The modern locos draw considerably less, most of my locos (current production steam) only draw 30mA (quarter amp is 250mA).  I run a Digitrax Zephyr DCS51 (3.0 amp) system and often run 12 -14 sound equipped locos and lighted carriages and even then only draw just over 1 amp.

Offline Nick

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Re: Running separate tracks
« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2018, 11:11:58 am »
The modern locos draw considerably less, most of my locos (current production steam) only draw 30mA (quarter amp is 250mA).  I run a Digitrax Zephyr DCS51 (3.0 amp) system and often run 12 -14 sound equipped locos and lighted carriages and even then only draw just over 1 amp.
That's interesting. Thanks. I've never actually tried to measure it - just picked up that (obviously erroneous) nugget somewhere along the way.

Incidentally, how did you measure it? I have occasionally wondered whether a common or garden multimeter would report a DCC current waveform accurately.
Nick

The perfect is the enemy of the good - Voltaire

Offline ntpntpntp

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Re: Running separate tracks
« Reply #8 on: May 18, 2018, 12:08:02 pm »
Incidentally, how did you measure it? I have occasionally wondered whether a common or garden multimeter would report a DCC current waveform accurately.

Some DCC systems can display total current usage.    Also there is a gadget called RRampMeter which accurately displays DCC current and voltage.  I have one of those.

Just run the loco on DC with a standard multimeter in circuit if you want to measure its current draw in isolation.
« Last Edit: May 18, 2018, 12:12:21 pm by ntpntpntp »
Nick.   2016 celebrating the 20th anniversary of "Königshafen" exhibition layout!

Offline Caz

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Re: Running separate tracks
« Reply #9 on: May 18, 2018, 07:04:48 pm »
I'm no electricity wizard, I just use one of the small digital volt/ammeters from eBay. I've fitted 3 of them, 1 measures the voltage, the other 2 the amps being used by the command station and the booster.  May not be 100% accurate but gives a good guide.  The voltmeter uses a simple bridge to combine the 2 halves of the DCC track voltage.


Offline Nick

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Re: Running separate tracks
« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2018, 07:58:05 pm »
Some DCC systems can display total current usage.    Also there is a gadget called RRampMeter which accurately displays DCC current and voltage.  I have one of those.
Yes, mine does. And there's a bar display... But, as you say, it's total current draw, and only to one decimal place of amps, so extracting a loco's performance isn't really on, especially given the numbers Caz is seeing.

I hadn't heard of the RRampmeter. I might put it on my wishlist, although I'm not really sure what I'd need it for!

Do you have any other DCC diagnostic kit? It bothers me slightly that when something starts playing up, I have no means of measuring anything to see what is actually being out put from the controller. I just assume that's OK and troubleshoot downstream more or less by trial and error. Which has, admittedly, worked so far.
Nick

The perfect is the enemy of the good - Voltaire

Offline Nick

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Re: Running separate tracks
« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2018, 07:58:58 pm »
I'm no electricity wizard, I just use one of the small digital volt/ammeters from eBay. I've fitted 3 of them, 1 measures the voltage, the other 2 the amps being used by the command station and the booster.  May not be 100% accurate but gives a good guide.  The voltmeter uses a simple bridge to combine the 2 halves of the DCC track voltage.
Well, they certainly make the panel look cool, if nothing else!  :D
Nick

The perfect is the enemy of the good - Voltaire

 

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