New Layout - need DCC help
Hey Folks,

I'm building my home layout now and getting excited as I see the bench work going up. When I was researching before I read that it's best to wire as much as you can before you cover the top with your plywood. This got me thinking about what I need to wire a DCC layout. Being I've only run DCC layouts with modular groups I've never done the entire DCC system myself. So here I am lost on what I need to get in place before I cover the easy access to the lower bench.
Some Background: I have used Digitrax for all other work with modular groups so I have a throttle (Duplex Radio) and I have the Digitrax Zephyr (older non plus) starter set. I know the Zephyr will not power the entire layout so I was thinking I could use that for a section of the layout like the yard and buy what I need from there. My issue is what do I really need to get this layout powered correctly. I need to learn about what I need to get done now. Like I need to run wires for power (done that), need to run a loconet for digitrax and what about extra wires for other accessories on the layout like lights or whatever. Should the loconet not be run along side the power wires? Should I drill new holes for the loconet? Do I need the loconet to just run along the layout or will it be best to follow the tracks like I did with the power wires?

I know this is a loaded post with a lot asked but I'm trying to show what I know of DCC at this point and learn what I can now before I make more work for myself later.

I can post a picture of the layout if you would like or you can see a work in progress of the layout in my other post (

For now I know I'm not placing the reverse track (in green on top of layout) so I'm thinking I'm not needing a reverse loop controller on this layout. I could be wrong, that's why I'm starting this post. I will get a new layout design done over this holiday if I can.

Please ask questions and post any ideas you may thing will help me get this correct.

Thank you and Happy Thanks Giving all!

Some answers...

1) Bus wire should be large® gauge, and roughly follow the track so that the smaller gauge feeders can be short(er).

2) The loco net is simply an extension cord for your plug in throttles, so put plugs where you will need them. The loconet wiring does not have to follow the track.

3) A Zephyr can power a larger layout - it's the number of trains that will be running simultaneously that is the limiting factor, as the Zephyr is not rated with as many amps as the others (3A vs 5A I believe).

4) The Zephyr should feed power in to the middle of the bus, so that the length to each end is approximately the same. For a large layout, avoid plugging it in one end (this goes for any power supply really).

5) The Digitrax stuff can all work together, and you can simply add as you go (e.g. add reverser when needed, or extra power). Some other components can come from other suppliers too (e.g. RR-Cir-kits makes a computer interface, and possibly a reverser too IIRC).

6) You may wish to wire the layout in sections so that it is easier to troubleshoot in the event of something going wrong. This is not strictly necessary though.

Looking at your track plan in the other thread, I have to say that there is an awful lot of track in there. I am not sure what your goals are (sometimes called "givens 'n' druthers Wink) for it. How do you want it to operate? What besides the cement focus would you like to have? It looks like the empties go to the quarry, and the loads go to the cement plant - is there any other traffic on this line? How do the red and blue tracks intersect with the yard and quarry areas?

Hope that helps,

A bit more:
you have a wye in the quarry area. This counts as a reversing section, but you could get away with wiring this through a switch machine.
The loconet should follow the outside of the layout, as that's where you'll plug in the throttles. This will be carrying only signals, so small wire will work. The power bus will be carrying a lot of current. The layouts I've seen used the wire that goes in the wall -- solid but mostly still insulated.
If you are going to run switch machines and lights and accessories from DCC, go for a second bus. Someone will know how this is done. Otherwise, a short in the track incapacitates your switch machines.
How many locos will you run at a time? If you have reasonably modern ones, they will consume between .5 and 1.0 amps each. If you leave a bunch of sound equipped units idling in an engine yard, that will also have to be added in.

Will your switches have plastic or metal frogs? That makes another difference.
Moderato ma non troppo
Perth & Exeter Railway Company
Esquesing & Chinguacousy Radial Railway
In model railroading, there are between six and two hundred ways of performing a given task.
Most modellers can get two of them to work.
I would suggest you check out a local mrring club so that you can get hands on help .....must be something in your area .

To err is human, to blame it on somebody else shows management potential.
Here is my 2 cents worth. First, I use MRC-DCC with external jacks around the pike, which is what Andrew says the Loconet is. (It is wired to the base station, not the track. As for track wiring it is exactly the same as what you would do with DC, but you don't need a lot of dead sidings etc because locomotives can sit anywhere without running, with or without sound and lights on. I have taken my system to 3 other DC only layouts and using the 2 track wire from their power hooked it to their layouts and ran DCC without any problems. One of these layouts was in a 40 foo diameter basement of a dome house, so don't be afraid of it.
I used 12 gauge bus wire for my current layout and I am in the process of adding some extra feed wires . I also have 4 different power districts that use 1156 bulbs for current protection.
You won't have any problems just make sure there are no shorts. and I reccommend a reverser for wyes and loops.

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