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Controller and power source questions


Ruston

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To work all of my layout at the same time I am going to need up to 4 controllers (i.e. I could run up to 4 trains at one go). At the moment I have 2 Gaugemaster hand held (not feedback) units and one of the little fixed things (same size as hand held, can't remember the model). I'm running two of the hand helds off one transformer, the fixed one off another and have no permanent power source for a 4th controller as I've run out of sockets. I could fit a 4 gang extension lead but I'd like to keep the number of flex trailing on the floor to a minmum. Eventually I want to run everything off handhelds so how many of these can be run off a single transformer (240v - 16v, I think it was a Gaugemaster one that I bought as a bare transformer and made a box for it myself)?

 

I'm on N gauge if it has any bearing on the amps consumed (I've no idea how many amps a loco draws or what the out put of the transformer is).

 

Also, I've got two point control panels, each with it's own CDU. Can I run two CDUs off one transformer (and how does that affect the amount of controllers - question above)?

 

Please help, people, because this is making my head hurt. :huh:

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It depends on the amps that the transformer can supply.

Each of the controllers will have a maximum amp rating, so add them together to see what is needed. Usually they will support at least an amp, sometimes 3 or more.

You can get away with less, probably, as N scale locos probably won't consume an amp apiece if you don't run more than one per controller. Modern locos should consume under half an amp. This should br contained in the magazine reviews of the model.

I don't know about CDUs. Mine don't seem to affect running but I have some hefty old Lionel transformers. If you are the sole operator, you probably won't be recharging both at the same time. If you have half-a-dozen friends operating, there is a good chance both will be recharging at once.

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It is best to run only one controller off each winding of the transformer, so you'll need another of the gaugemaster transformers to power your 2 extra hand-held controllers.

 

The point controllers can be run off the same transformers as the controllers (the current draw of a CDU is not that high, and only when charging), though you may find they work better with a higher voltage transformer.

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DCC is out of the question. I'd have to get all the locos chipped for a start and I'm sure that many of them simply won't be possible to do. Then there's a complete rewire needed, not to mention the expense...

 

I guess I could build a new box with more than one transformer inside and a 16v AC output for each controller but with only one mains cable going in from a single socket? That would work, wouldn't it? If each loco takes less than 1 amp then even with 4 transformers taking their power from a single mains socket it's nowhere near the 13 amps that a socket can take. Or is there some reason why I'd burn the house down with that set up? :blink:

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Transformers are pretty efficient devices, so the power output is almost as high as the power input. Power is (roughly) volts x amps, so any reduction in voltage is accompanied by an increase in current of the same ratio. A 240 volt mains transformer with a 16 volt output has a "reduction ratio" in voltage of 15:1. Therefore, it has a "step-up ratio" in current of 1:15. If each of the four transformers is outputting 1 amp then its input current will be (slightly over) 1/15 amp. The four of them together will draw 4/15 amp, call it a quarter amp plus a bit. When power is switched on there will be a short surge in current as magnetic fields build up, capacitors (in the controllers) charge up and so on. This might be enough to blow, say, a half-amp quick-acting fuse. It will certainly not trip a breaker on a 13-amp circuit! I think your house would be safe.

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build a bigger box ,mount transformers allowing a decent air gap around each .connect all to one mains lead as suggested a 3-5 amp fuse in your plug should do.Run your 16v up to your layout boards.(If your box does seem to get too hot in use you can fit a computer fan to assist in keeping it cool).I mounted a fuse box on my transformer housing and fused all my 16v leads, but that is down to personal choice phil

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DCC is out of the question. I'd have to get all the locos chipped for a start and I'm sure that many of them simply won't be possible to do. Then there's a complete rewire needed, not to mention the expense...

 

..........

 

 

One of the many fallacies re converting to DCC - unless one has dozens of locos & they all get run in the same session, just get chipped those that are needed for the first operating session & in time, the rest will follow. Those that cannot be chipped, sell them on. My first session, I only needed 7 locos chipped to complete the 2.5 hour sequence.

 

Rewiring - if it works OK on DC, rewire only as needed, the layout will still work under DCC if all section/cab switches are connected together

 

Expense - start off with a basic system like Powercab that allows expansion - a need to compare costs of obtaining additional DC transformers & controllers to a DCC system.

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