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Author Topic: required amps for layout system  (Read 133 times)

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Online bluedepot

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required amps for layout system
« on: August 14, 2019, 11:51:47 PM »
hi everyone

i have an nce powercab. i believe it is 2 or 3 amps.

will that be enough to power a 10 ft by 4 ft layout with up to 15 locos on it, a few with sound, plus up to 25 points and a few signals?

i am considering using dcc point motors for the first time and powered off the normal bus wires, just wondering if that will be ok with a relatively low powered system.

any advice gratefully received!


tim



Online ntpntpntp

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Re: required amps for layout system
« Reply #1 on: August 15, 2019, 07:49:33 AM »
Size of the layout isn't significant to the power requirement. 

The number of locos actually moving at the same time or which have lights on, plus coach lighting and anything other accessories you're powering from the same track bus,are the major factors for the continuous total current draw.   Points will draw a burst of current whilst in action, plus stall motor types of point motor use a little current continuously.  Each decoder which is live and listening for commands is also drawing a very small amount of current continuously.  It all adds up!

It sounds like you may get to the point where getting something like a 5 amp booster might be sensible.  Don't power accessories from the DCC bus if they don't need to be be (eg. keep street lights etc. separate on a plain AC or DC supply).   

It's also a good idea to consider running accessory decoders (points, signal decoders etc.) from a separate DCC power district/bus with its own booster. That way if a track short circuit occurs it doesn't take out the points as well, should you need to throw them as part of resolving the short. It also means you have the option of switching the track power to plain DC to test non-DC locos whilst retaining point control under DCC.

« Last Edit: August 15, 2019, 07:51:16 AM by ntpntpntp »
Nick.   2016 celebrating the 20th anniversary of "Königshafen" exhibition layout!

Offline LASteve

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Re: required amps for layout system
« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2019, 08:29:35 AM »
Hi Tim

I have the same setup, maybe fewer locos, but the same mix of sound/lights. One thing you might like to look at is buried in the depth of the NCE Powercab manual is an option to switch on the display of the current being drawn from the layout. That's a good indication of what you're getting.

I have a couple of macros set which switch five point motors (DCConcepts) and set three signals at one time, and I never see anything over 0.5 amps. The Powercab system delivers 3 amps, so I'm well below the max, even with locos sitting idle with sound, or active. I can only drive one at a time on my layout, but I've never seen a spike even close ton 1 amp, so I think you'll be fine.

I do have one loco which shuts down the layout when I drive it, but I think that's an anomaly. It's a right bugger, because it's the best locomotive I have in terms of looks and sound. I think I'll probably upgrade to the 5 amp Power booster when I can justify the $$$, but for now, the CL 52 sits around looking scenic! I think it's drawing a power spike when it sets off.

You're only drawing current when the locos or the point motors/signals are active. Sitting around idle, even though the sound is on, draws very little. You could easily drive five or six locos with your basic Powercab setup, and I'd say that's beyond the ability of most mortals :)

I have a few buildings lit, some street lights and I'm still sitting around 0.2 amps on the Powercab display when I have a loco active, so I've got plenty in reserve.

Hope this helps.

Online bluedepot

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Re: required amps for layout system
« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2019, 12:48:29 PM »
hi

thanks for the replies!

I'll only have 3-4 trains moving at a time max

its difficult to weigh up and decide what to do esp as a booster if needed would cost a lot (about 180 pounds) and the dcc point motors are a lot more expensive too. cobalt dcc motors i looked at are about 20 pounds.

the main advantage that attracts me is being able to change points and signals when i am not near the switch levers - so i can operate from the front of the layout for a change.

what would be the simplest way to set up a seperate power district or separate bus for points and signals?

cheers


tim


Online ntpntpntp

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Re: required amps for layout system
« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2019, 01:07:27 PM »

what would be the simplest way to set up a seperate power district or separate bus for points and signals?


When I did it for my garden line it wasn't actually a separate district, just a separate pair of bus wires that were joined in parallel with the track bus at the booster outputs (I have a 10 amp NCE system for the garden - too powerful for a small scale layout so I use a PowerCab for that!)  It gave me the option to swap just the track bus to DC, or turn it off altogether for running live steam etc., whilst still being able to throw the points. I *could* have supplied the accessory bus via its own lower power booster if I wanted the full benefits of separate districts as mentioned earlier.

As I understand it, to have a properly separate power district you have a second booster for that district, fed with the same DCC output signal as the first booster. The booster has its own short-circuit protection.   If you want one district to remain alive if another shorts, then the boosters need to be fed by a "control bus" from the command station (there are some boosters which can be connected to an existing power bus and duplicate the signal to a new bus, but of course then if that first bus shorts out you lose the other district too).

So, I'd suggest at least creating a separate DCC power bus for all your accessories, even if you end up doing what I did and simply joining the two buses at source. It's better for fault-finding too, for example if a point frog is shorting out it's handy to be able to separate the track bus while you throw points and find the problem :-)
Nick.   2016 celebrating the 20th anniversary of "Königshafen" exhibition layout!

Online bluedepot

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Re: required amps for layout system
« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2019, 02:38:24 PM »
thanks for detailed reply

that makes sense now

ive looked at some power management circuit boards on sale that create blocks and various short circuit protection items too

i think its going to be too expensive for now but maybe in the next few years i may convert to dcc completely. i will probably just re-use some old seep motors for now plus some manually operated points in fiddle yard

many thanks for helpful advice

tim


Offline lil chris

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Re: required amps for layout system
« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2019, 08:04:46 PM »
Hi there, on my layout I am using the NCE  Powercab system with a smart booster. What you could do is the same as I have done, I have 4 power districts from the one booster using 4x PSX circuit breakers. The system works well if one circuit gets a short the other three keep working. Check my layout page for more details.
Lil Chris
My layout here East Lancashire Lines
http://www.ngaugeforum.co.uk/SMFN/index.php?topic=29492.0

 

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