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DCC control connecting a series of modular layouts


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Hi,

 

I have two small layouts wired for DCC control and was wondering if I could run them as one if I was to connect them together and wire them as shown in the image below? 

 

I have seen videos of modular railway meets (freemo?) and I imagine they have to do something similar when linking layouts together? It’s a shame that it only seems to be popular in America/ mainland Europe.

 

If I can get the power and control to work, I would like to create even more layouts to run in series.

I have long term ambition to create multiple small sections of the former Matlock to Buxton line and piece them to form one larger layout.

I plan to put a non-scenic section with a sidings between each of the scenic sections. That way the trains can wait in the off scene section making the timings seem more realistic from each scenic sections.

 

I think it would give a good sense of journey and enjoyment to layout(s).

 

Dan

 

 

 

Modular DCC Control.JPG

Modular DCC Control 2.JPG

Modular DCC Control 3.JPG

Edited by Jackson3592
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Potentially yes this should be viable, your image would be clearer if we could see what the units are on each layout, a key or text instead of or as well as the images of devices.

 

Andi

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LocoNet B transmits all of the DCC signals from the Command Station to the booster which simply restates those signals into the section controlled by the booster. A command to move a turnout will be transmitted to all boosters and connected sections and any turnout with that number will react.

 

Your challenges are that each board must have unique turnout IDs and also as you are using occupancy feedbacks it would suggest that you plan to have some form of computerised control which again means that each feedback must be unique across the entirety of the connected layout.

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I don't see any reason why you couldn't arrange to operate multiple layouts from a single command station in the way you suggest.

 

However, your image only shows the feedback through Loconet.  In addition, I think you need a track output connection from the DR5000 to the DCC Power Bus on each layout (probably via a separate circuit breaker for each layout), which is how the DCC signal would get to each DR4018 and DR5033.

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24 minutes ago, Dungrange said:

I don't see any reason why you couldn't arrange to operate multiple layouts from a single command station in the way you suggest.

 

However, your image only shows the feedback through Loconet.  In addition, I think you need a track output connection from the DR5000 to the DCC Power Bus on each layout (probably via a separate circuit breaker for each layout), which is how the DCC signal would get to each DR4018 and DR5033.


The sections controlled by the dr5033 are completely isolated (and must be) from the section controlled by the dr5000 - the only connection between the sections is made using LocoNet T  for this scenario.

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Thanks for the responses.

 

Yes plan to control the layout(s) through train controller which is why I have block detection modules (as you pointed out)

I want to keep the connections to each of the layouts simple which is why I ideally only want 2 loconet cables connecting them all together (loconet T and loconet B).

I did look into the idea of running from a single command station but I feared the power supply may not be enough to power multiple layouts/ locos.  By each layout having its own supply the possibilities of adding more layouts in the series in endless (until I run our of CV's or max out the dr5000 capabilities)

 

For now I only have 2 small layouts so that defiantly won’t be a problem but it’s good to know if this wiring diagram would work for when I look to expand. 

 

I do wonder if any UK model railway clubs have attempted something similar in putting a series of layouts together to form a “journey”. I can’t say I have seen anything like it in any of exhibitions I have attended. 

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I doubt you need both LocoNet T and LocoNet B across the boundaries.  

I believe it can be done with just LocoNet B.

 

The difference between them is that "B" has the DCC track signal, whereas "T" has some DC volts for throttles needing a power supply.   

One can convert from B to T trivially by breaking two wires in the LocoNet connection and powering those two downstream (now T") using a DC power supply.  Or by using an off-the-shelf Digitrax UP5 "panel" with a DC power supply into its power socket - the UP5 has B on the rear, and T on the front.  (Documentation for the side-socket on the UP5 is likely to be wrong.  Digitrax changed the internal design of the UP5 about 15 years ago, but didn't change their manual to match  (doh!).  I think current UP5's have B on the side socket, but would have to check. ). 
 

 

Using Digikeijs only for command station and boosters, and sticking to their wiring guides and their fairly close limits on voltage differences at the track, and all will be OK.  However, there are ways of getting it wrong and putting a lot of current over the LocoNet wires when a fault occurs (burns out LocoNet cables, can damage devices attached).  Note Digikeijs warnings about some other systems having different levels at the track (example in manual of not mixing Uhlenbrock track output with Digikeijs). 

 

I'd use power supplies which have a 2-pin mains input wire, not 3-pin.  On quite a lot of 3-pin power supplies, the 0v DC is tied to the Earth wire.   With 3-pin, if you get any mis-match between the DC of two power supplies on your system, and connect them (eg. train crossing between modules, or a wiring error), they are also connected via mains earth which is a bad thing to do.  

 

 

- Nigel

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When I first read this I thought you had the ideas, Dan, that different builders could hook their layout section up to yours. That would be ambitious requiring a lot of prior co-operation among participants including an agreement about common hardware, addressing, etc. If you do it yourself you won't have that problem, it will be like having a layout broken up into districts

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17 hours ago, Nigelcliffe said:

I doubt you need both LocoNet T and LocoNet B across the boundaries.  

I believe it can be done with just LocoNet B.

 

The difference between them is that "B" has the DCC track signal, whereas "T" has some DC volts for throttles needing a power supply.   

One can convert from B to T trivially by breaking two wires in the LocoNet connection and powering those two downstream (now T") using a DC power supply.  Or by using an off-the-shelf Digitrax UP5 "panel" with a DC power supply into its power socket - the UP5 has B on the rear, and T on the front.  (Documentation for the side-socket on the UP5 is likely to be wrong.  Digitrax changed the internal design of the UP5 about 15 years ago, but didn't change their manual to match  (doh!).  I think current UP5's have B on the side socket, but would have to check. ). 
 

 

Using Digikeijs only for command station and boosters, and sticking to their wiring guides and their fairly close limits on voltage differences at the track, and all will be OK.  However, there are ways of getting it wrong and putting a lot of current over the LocoNet wires when a fault occurs (burns out LocoNet cables, can damage devices attached).  Note Digikeijs warnings about some other systems having different levels at the track (example in manual of not mixing Uhlenbrock track output with Digikeijs). 

 

I'd use power supplies which have a 2-pin mains input wire, not 3-pin.  On quite a lot of 3-pin power supplies, the 0v DC is tied to the Earth wire.   With 3-pin, if you get any mis-match between the DC of two power supplies on your system, and connect them (eg. train crossing between modules, or a wiring error), they are also connected via mains earth which is a bad thing to do.  

 

 

- Nigel

Thanks for the response Nigel. 
 

Your electronics/DCC knowledge clearly outweighs mine. I think to play safe I will try and stick with dijikeijs products and use a simple wiring diagram as is possible. I will keep your comments in mind if I run into issues down line. 
 

Dan 

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Hi Dan. What you've shown is pretty much what is used at many UK Freemo meets. I've done the DCC and control for a few of them. You can safely drop the loconet T if you aren't using connected throttles. There is a fairly large Freemo (note yet another spelling) contingent in the UK, however the meets are all North American outline. 

 

As Nigel says:

LnetB for everything apart from throttles (assuming you are using Digitrax throttles). the B contains rail-synch which is a low current track power. (outermost 2 pins on the RJ12 connector) This ensures the track signal reaches your boosters. You don't need to muck about with sniffers or anything else. 

 

Mixing boosters is slightly risky but can and is done. The trick is to ensure the output voltage of each booster is +-1v from the neighbouring booster. Digikeijs makes this easy with their boosters all being very close. (well the dozen or so I've had to hook up so far) Digitrax boosters allow for some tinkering with the HO/N/O switch and most have a trim pot inside the case. The other thing to consider is using optpo isolated boosters if possible. 

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16 hours ago, RobinofLoxley said:

When I first read this I thought you had the ideas, Dan, that different builders could hook their layout section up to yours. That would be ambitious requiring a lot of prior co-operation among participants including an agreement about common hardware, addressing, etc. If you do it yourself you won't have that problem, it will be like having a layout broken up into districts

Yes I plan to just do it as in house thing.
 

My original thinking was that when I had completed one scenic section I could simply remove the modular baseboards and replace them with new blank baseboards to start a new scenic section. I could then swap them round as and when I want to depending which layout I want to run trains on with little fuss. 
 

I then got thinking that by doing this  I could run the scenic sections in series so trains could pass through both (space permitted). As mentioned in my original post this would give a good sense of journey as it travels up/down the line.

 

It would be good if a group/society could be formed to do something like this. Each person having a layout they run at home but could come together at a meet (post COVID) to run them all in series. Connecting them all by an off scene sidings between each layout. 
 

It could be ran though computer control to sit back and enjoy or in “driver” mode where people drive an individual train and conform to signals and routes set by a signalman. 
 

I know this is very much like what they do in America and Europe with Freemo. I think the additional of offscene sidings between each layout could make it more attractive to the UK  modellers. I guess the hard part is getting people buy into a system to allow this to happen.

 

Dan 


 

 

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36 minutes ago, Jackson3592 said:

 

It would be good if a group/society could be formed to do something like this. Each person having a layout they run at home but could come together at a meet (post COVID) to run them all in series. Connecting them all by an off scene sidings between each layout. 

I know this is very much like what they do in America and Europe with Freemo. I think the additional of offscene sidings between each layout could make it more attractive to the UK  modellers. I guess the hard part is getting people buy into a system to allow this to happen.

Dan 

Dan, trust me on this, you don't want to go down that particular rabbit hole. The subject comes up every so often and gets clubbed to death. 

 was probably the closest anyone came to creating something that would work in the UK for UK modellers. 

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There is a challenge with automation in mixing and matching boards because each time you connect a new board it has to be added into the program logic, and then when you disconnect it needs to be removed.

 

automation using pre-defined routes then becomes a problem as you will need to amend those routes when you mix and match the boards 

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3 hours ago, AndrewC said:

Hi Dan. What you've shown is pretty much what is used at many UK Freemo meets. I've done the DCC and control for a few of them. You can safely drop the loconet T if you aren't using connected throttles. There is a fairly large Freemo (note yet another spelling) contingent in the UK, however the meets are all North American outline. 

 

As Nigel says:

LnetB for everything apart from throttles (assuming you are using Digitrax throttles). the B contains rail-synch which is a low current track power. (outermost 2 pins on the RJ12 connector) This ensures the track signal reaches your boosters. You don't need to muck about with sniffers or anything else. 

 

Mixing boosters is slightly risky but can and is done. The trick is to ensure the output voltage of each booster is +-1v from the neighbouring booster. Digikeijs makes this easy with their boosters all being very close. (well the dozen or so I've had to hook up so far) Digitrax boosters allow for some tinkering with the HO/N/O switch and most have a trim pot inside the case. The other thing to consider is using optpo isolated boosters if possible. 

 

Sorry if i understood this wrong but are you saying the DR4088 can be connected into the DR5033 Lnet port instead of going back to the DR5000 Lnet T port? (as shown below)?
 

 

3 hours ago, AndrewC said:

Dan, trust me on this, you don't want to go down that particular rabbit hole. The subject comes up every so often and gets clubbed to death. 

 was probably the closest anyone came to creating something that would work in the UK for UK modellers. 

 

I have seen it been discussed in length on multiple threads. Its clearly something people want to do if its brought up so much. Just a shame nothing materialises.

 

I can see the added challenges of freemo because it seems like its structured so that endless amount of layouts/board can be attached. Also each scenic sections attaches directly to each other which I don’t think lends itself to the way British railways run. 

I was thinking was more of a fixed series of up to say 3-8 layouts which are set up to look independent but trains run all the way through from one end to the other. If its pre-determined how many layouts/sections there will be surely it becomes a lot simpler to plan and set up. (see example image below)

 

Greens = custom scenic section (on scene)
Purple = custom scenic to off scene transition (off scene)
Blues = standard curved sections (off scene)

Pale Yellow = standard straight sections (off scene)

Yellow = standard sidings sections (off scene)

Orange = standard sidings transition sections (off scene)

 

I am going off topic from original thread. It is very over ambitious that I will ever own 3 or 4 large layouts to connect together myself but 3 or 4 small layouts in a loft may be possible. 

 

Dan

Modular DCC Control 6.JPG

Modular DCC Control 4.JPG

Modular DCC Control 5.JPG

Modular Concept.JPG

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5 minutes ago, Jackson3592 said:

 

Sorry if i understood this wrong but are you saying the DR4088 can be connected into the DR5033 Lnet port instead of going back to the DR5000 Lnet T port? (as shown below)?

 

 

Correct. You only need one loconet feed (B) from the DR5000. The rest can be daisy chained via your Diginet hub. 

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2 hours ago, WIMorrison said:

There is a challenge with automation in mixing and matching boards because each time you connect a new board it has to be added into the program logic, and then when you disconnect it needs to be removed.

 

automation using pre-defined routes then becomes a problem as you will need to amend those routes when you mix and match the boards 

 

Yes I agree programme logic is abit of an issue. Hopefully one day the software/hardware becomes more inteligent to work out its route from A-B and what things are connected. 
 

A current fix for this could be to have mutiple train controller files depending on what layouts/sections are connected. If you know there is only 4 layouts/sections to be connected then it will only be handful of files which need to be set up. Plus it only needs to be done once and then the logic is done forever. 

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