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Author Topic: Layout wiring and portability  (Read 295 times)

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Offline springwood

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Layout wiring and portability
« on: March 17, 2019, 03:41:28 PM »
As I've mentioned on previous posts, I'm about to start my debut layout on a 6' 8" x 2' 6" baseboard. (BR blue era, late 70s/early 80s). There will be up and down main lines, a branch line, a multi-road MPD and 5 road fiddle yard. I am going dc and will operate via mutiple cabs and will electrify all points (18 of).
Through a number of small-scale practise runs, I am all too aware that the wiring requirements can very quickly result in masses of wires running in all directions - to and from control panel. Obviously I will label everything as I go along (keeping it as neat as possible underneath) and indeed make sure paper diagrams are kept in synch with whats happening on the layout itself.
Quite deliberately, I have constructed the framework for the baseboard so the legs and strengthening braces are all collapsable. Thinking of a few what ifs - i.e. I had to move it from the room it is currently in (if only temporarliy) or - and this may be really wishful thinking(!) - it reaches a stage where I exhibit, the nightmare comes if the control panel has to be separated from the table itself. I'm sure I've seen at exhibitions, the use of muti-pin cable adapters, like the below example, which could potentially simplify things?

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/283307103555?ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT&fromMakeTrack=true

Would this sort of thing do the job? I guess I would need a female coming in at the other end.

Any comments/assistance appreciated - thank you

Online Bealman

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Re: Layout wiring and portability
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2019, 04:36:12 PM »
That would do the job. Sure as heck better than the difficult and cuss-inducing job of soldering directly to the pins!!

Instead of the usual "don't ask me how I know". I'll tell you how I know..... that's exactly what I did!  :worried:
Vision over visibility. Bono, U2.

Offline ntpntpntp

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Re: Layout wiring and portability
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2019, 04:54:14 PM »
Yes those would be easier than wiring to the D-SUB pins if you're not confident about that.  They can get quite expensive though those don't seen too bad for the convenience they provide. 

I've been wiring to soldered D-SUBs since I was a teenager in the 70s so I don't find it a problem.  I use D-SUB 37 pin as my standard plug and socket.

This was the wiring in progress on one of my boards several months ago.  I was in the middle of wiring up the D-SUBs to tag boards, having already run the wiring from the tags out to the track and point motors etc.




I prefer to use a "star" wiring configuration, i.e cable(s) from the control panel go out to each baseboard. That way I can work on and test each board in isolation.   On these boards, because they are designed to join in with a modular system, there is also a main "daisy chain" bus running through each board to the next.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2019, 04:58:26 PM by ntpntpntp »
Nick.   2016 celebrating the 20th anniversary of "Königshafen" exhibition layout!

Online Bealman

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Re: Layout wiring and portability
« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2019, 05:19:49 PM »
That's a neat job. :thumbsup:

They're pretty hefty capacitors on those CDUs! Can I ask their value, please?
Vision over visibility. Bono, U2.

Offline ntpntpntp

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Re: Layout wiring and portability
« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2019, 05:38:26 PM »
They're pretty hefty capacitors on those CDUs! Can I ask their value, please?

Not particularly hefty, they're 2200 microFarrad  35V.    I've been making my own individual CDUs since the mid 1990s, I must have made getting on for 100 of them by now. I run them at around 24V.   The idea being the wiring from the control panel buttons doesn't have to be heavy gauge, plus as it's an exhibition layout with 2 or 3 operators we can fire a whole bunch of points at a time without waiting for a central CDU to recharge, and I can use diode-matrix routing via simple low power signal diodes where desired.

Here's a photo of the mk2 version (rear) as used on that baseboard, plus the prototype of Mk3 where I rearranged the circuit and the output terminal block to suit DCC Concepts' 3-wire to 2-wire adapters - just in case I should ever want to drive a 2-wire reversible DC point motor such as LGB or Kato.  (mk3 only needs 7 terminals but I only had an 8-terminal block to hand when constructing the prototype)


Nick.   2016 celebrating the 20th anniversary of "Königshafen" exhibition layout!

Offline LAandNQFan

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Re: Layout wiring and portability
« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2019, 08:29:57 AM »
Back to topic, Springwood!  Sorry, Bealman!  :P
I used pluggable chocblocks (these are where the board with the points needs to be removable to get to the tracks underneath):

pro - easy to place wires as they went in one at a time;
        simple to unplug when the board needs to be removed;
        quick as no soldering is involved;

anti - expensive;
         take up a lot of space.

Perhaps the proof that there is intelligent life in outer space is that they haven't contacted us.
Layout thread: http://www.ngaugeforum.co.uk/SMFN/index.php?topic=23416

Offline ntpntpntp

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Re: Layout wiring and portability
« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2019, 09:01:43 AM »
Back to topic, Springwood!  Sorry, Bealman!  :P
I used pluggable chocblocks...

They are simple to use but I'd have to add another anti-   there's no strain relief at all on the flying leads with this method.  It depends how often you actually dismantle and move the layout, but for a truly portable exhibition layout you need proper interconnection cables which can stand up to being plugged and unplugged, pulled around by different people and chucked in a box etc.

To be honest I'm not 100% convinced that D-SUB are the absolute best choice either as they're not rated for particularly high current nor really intended for frequent plugging/unplugging, but they are readily available and convenient to use. My D-SUBs have lasted fine since the 80s (many of the interconnecting cables I use now were made for my previous layout).
Nick.   2016 celebrating the 20th anniversary of "Königshafen" exhibition layout!

Online Bealman

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Re: Layout wiring and portability
« Reply #7 on: March 18, 2019, 09:28:22 AM »
Couldn't some sort of stress relief be provided by adding some slack then channelling them through a cable gland or something similar?  :hmmm:
Vision over visibility. Bono, U2.

Offline springwood

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Re: Layout wiring and portability
« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2019, 10:13:12 AM »
Some intersting thoughts so far, thank you. I have been looking at the wiring requirements for the planned layout and, in particular, the number of wires that are going to 'cross the divide' between panel and layout itself. At the moment I have considered it in two areas, i.e. track feeds (including isolated dead-ends) and points control. Station, depot and street lighting will need to be considered but that's a fair way off yet!!
Points control is, not surprisingly, the most complex and looks like I will have 30ish wires involved. Considering whether to purchase something like this:

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Valueline-Serial-Cable-D-SUB-37-Pin-Male-to-D-SUB-37-Pin-Female-1m-Ivory/283224853816

The obvious gotcha here is that the plug ends are sealed so even if you cut the cable you will see 37 strands of wire, but I will not know which wire leads to which pin..correct?

Alternatively I could purchase a DB9/15/25/37 Pin Female and Male D-Sub Plug Solder Connector (with hood shells) and build them myself using my layout wire. I can imagine there's a lot fiddly soldering but that doesn't concern me as I'm pretty competent in this skill.

What do you think?

Offline LAandNQFan

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Re: Layout wiring and portability
« Reply #9 on: March 18, 2019, 10:54:03 AM »
Very brave, Springwood, but it will be neat if you can group all the wires into a suitable loom.  I would be scared of the size needed in those tiny solder joints.  These would have been my amateurish way to do it!  :-[

https://www.reichelt.com/gb/en/terminal-block-plug-in-12-piece-6-0-mm-ls-6-p11025.html?CTYPE=0&MWSTFREE=0&PROVID=2788&wt_guka=54951066715_263550072920&PROVID=2788&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI5rztwcGL4QIV6rXtCh0tGA61EAQYBSABEgIyWfD_BwE&&r=1

 Let's know how you get on!
Perhaps the proof that there is intelligent life in outer space is that they haven't contacted us.
Layout thread: http://www.ngaugeforum.co.uk/SMFN/index.php?topic=23416

Offline sprogman

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Re: Layout wiring and portability
« Reply #10 on: March 18, 2019, 12:48:35 PM »
Back to topic, Springwood!  Sorry, Bealman!  :P
I used pluggable chocblocks...

They are simple to use but I'd have to add another anti-   there's no strain relief at all on the flying leads with this method.

Simply use some spare ways to take loops of wire that you can pull on.

Online themadhippy

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Re: Layout wiring and portability
« Reply #11 on: March 18, 2019, 01:06:58 PM »
Quote
The obvious gotcha here is that the plug ends are sealed so even if you cut the cable you will see 37 strands of wire, but I will not know which wire leads to which pin..correct?
you might get lucky and find the wires are all diffrent colours,or a quick test with a multi meter will soon identify whats wot.

Offline ntpntpntp

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Re: Layout wiring and portability
« Reply #12 on: March 18, 2019, 01:10:26 PM »
Considering whether to purchase something like this:

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Valueline-Serial-Cable-D-SUB-37-Pin-Male-to-D-SUB-37-Pin-Female-1m-Ivory/283224853816

just because it's got D-SUB 37s on it doesn't mean all pins are actually connected through - it is labelled as a "serial cable" not a "parallel cable" and it's a "value line" cable so I'd be doubtful to be honest. The cable looks a bit thin to be 36/37 core, or if it is then they're fine data cores.   

My original cables made up in the 1980s used Maplin 36 core which is actually too thin, probably only rated at less than 0.5A. They work but there can be voltage drop in the longer runs so nowadays I use two runs of thicker 18 core cable to give more current headroom per core.  I'm gradually replacing the older cables.

Quote
The obvious gotcha here is that the plug ends are sealed so even if you cut the cable you will see 37 strands of wire, but I will not know which wire leads to which pin..correct?

Alternatively I could purchase a DB9/15/25/37 Pin Female and Male D-Sub Plug Solder Connector (with hood shells) and build them myself using my layout wire. I can imagine there's a lot fiddly soldering but that doesn't concern me as I'm pretty competent in this skill.
If you're lucky the cable will follow one of the multi-core colour charts that can be found online, but you'll have to buzz each pin to make sure! 

I quite enjoy soldering up D-SUBs, it's dead easy once you get into the swing of things and you do end up memorizing the colour codes  :D    Strip and pre-tin the wires (keep the bare wire short, a couple of mm is plenty), pre-tin the pin solder buckets on the D-SUB and then just work your way along connecting them up. I hold the D-SUB in a end of a vice.
Nick.   2016 celebrating the 20th anniversary of "Königshafen" exhibition layout!

Offline springwood

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Re: Layout wiring and portability
« Reply #13 on: March 18, 2019, 06:08:25 PM »
Taking heed of ntpntpntp's (Nick) latest comment about the D-SUB 37 cable in that it may not be complete internally and others who have said that soldering from sctratch these multi-pins is tricky (albeit with a bit of practise I'm sure I could master it!), I think I'm going to go some of the solderless DB25s, as below:

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/DB25-Male-Female-Screw-D-SUB-25Pin-Plug-Breakout-Terminal-Solderless-Connector/362100877709?var=631317671864

Got some on order!
« Last Edit: March 18, 2019, 06:10:10 PM by springwood, Reason: Posted in error before finishing! »

Offline ntpntpntp

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Re: Layout wiring and portability
« Reply #14 on: March 18, 2019, 06:37:43 PM »
I did buy four DB37 breakout boards a while ago, I use them for temporary wiring to link together the various track sections in place of a control panel (which I still need to construct for my latest project!) Slightly easier than fiddling around underneath with a bunch of croc-clip leads!






You never know, I might even use them in place of a control panel.  For one exhibition back in 2004 I somehow managed NOT to put the panel in the car, so we operated the whole weekend with the controllers wired into one end of each of the connecting cables. It worked, no-one noticed we had no operating pointwork!


Nick.   2016 celebrating the 20th anniversary of "Königshafen" exhibition layout!

 

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