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Track wiring - what gauge wire to use?


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#1 Paul Lindewall

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Posted 07 October 2018 - 07:05 AM

Still in the planning stage of my track. I'm going to be using commercial drivers stations from Viper Racing, and plan on soldering wires to the rails (going to practice on a non-needed section of track first) for track feeds. 
Here's my question: I'm going to be using 14ga wires for the main wiring, up to terminal blocks beneath the track feeds, and at each of the drivers stations. Can I use 18ga wire for the short connections to the track? It's going to be a lot easier soldering 18ga to the rails, and the voltage drop for a few inches of wire should be negligible. Also, would it be better to wire the individual drivers stations with 14ga, or can I use 18ga there as well?






#2 SpeedyNH

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Posted 07 October 2018 - 07:59 AM

good on ya, Paul!

I actually use 20AWG to go up through the table to the track from the t-blocks, as that size is easier to run underneath out to the side of the feed track sections with a little judicious cutting and still have the sections sit flat. (rather than drilling many holes under each piece.)  fortunately I found sixteen different colors of it! (including white with a colored stripe.)

I run the big wire everywhere else (14 is fine here), and try to minimize current sharing between lanes by running as much as I can directly back to the supply.  the returns from all the individual lane feeds and power and brakes posts do that, for example. the only wires from the drivers' panels that go directly to the track are the black, or 'track' wires, but then again I'm pretty anal about it- the power and return could just as well chain through the panels.

I've wired so many tracks this way ("star wiring"), from HO through big commercial ones that I've lost count.

to solder to those darn track rails, I use acid flux and judicious heat with a quick hot iron, thoroughly washing and scrubbing afterwards.

speedy  


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#3 sidejobjon

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Posted 07 October 2018 - 10:28 AM

Add some jumpers, depending on lenth of track at lease one set half way. Helps so for power loss.
Good luck
SJJ
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#4 Paul Lindewall

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Posted 07 October 2018 - 10:47 AM

Add some jumpers, depending on lenth of track at lease one set half way. Helps so for power loss.
Good luck
SJJ

That's in the plan. 

Everything is going to be wired up with terminal blocks for easy maintenance (if needed) and future upgrades. Eventually I want to go with a TrackMate lap counter/timer system. I'm going to be installing the sensors in the track before I need them, so I won't have to rip any track up later. Designed my own light bridge in CAD, and going to have the pieces laser cut so it looks like a walkway over the track (complete with steps.) 



#5 Ramcatlarry

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Posted 07 October 2018 - 11:24 AM

Also - use STRANDED wire for all DC power applications.  Check the amp capacity for wire sizes.

 

A trick I use with Carrera 1/32-24 plastic track is use a metal heat sink to keep the plastic from melting.  Wire the tap section upside down on the plate. Solder 12 - 24 inch leads to the rails.  You can then feed the leads to your terminal strip.


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#6 Paul Lindewall

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Posted 07 October 2018 - 12:27 PM

Also - use STRANDED wire for all DC power applications.  Check the amp capacity for wire sizes.

 

A trick I use with Carrera 1/32-24 plastic track is use a metal heat sink to keep the plastic from melting.  Wire the tap section upside down on the plate. Solder 12 - 24 inch leads to the rails.  You can then feed the leads to your terminal strip.

Absolutely. 14ga stranded PURE COPPER wire (AWG), not that 'copper clad aluminum' stuff you'll see on sale - cheap - on Amazon. Have to be very careful reading the product description. It looks very tempting, since it has all the wire colors you need for a 4 lane setup (red, white, blue, yellow, as well as black and green.) 


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#7 Paul Lindewall

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Posted 07 October 2018 - 06:43 PM

I think I have my wiring diagram figured out - but, just in case, I wouldn't mind having it looked over, either! Nothing like hooking things up and enjoying smoke! (NOTE: the Viper Racing drivers stations are fused, but the fuses aren't shown on the diagram.)

 

This is for two lanes. I will be using two power packs (one for red/white lanes, one for blue/yellow lanes) and the red/white lane wiring will connect to the other four terminals of the lane feed blocks, which will be under the track at two spots around the track and connected to the rails with 20ga wires. 

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#8 SpeedyNH

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Posted 08 October 2018 - 04:36 PM

I like that very much.

I'd use a heavy a wire as I could fit, between the supply and the adjacent term blocks. I run three parallel #10's that have big crimp fork lugs at the supply end.

 

(btw, a good rule of thumb is that tripling up wires in any given gauge will effectively buy you two AWG sizes, e.g. triple #14 is equivalent to AWG 12.  so my 3x10 is pretty much AWG 8.)  


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#9 Ramcatlarry

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Posted 09 October 2018 - 11:54 AM

Diagram looks right, but - add circuit breakers to the white and red wire paths to protect your controllers from erroneous hookups.  Since the red load is directed by the common terminal block, that line only needs about 5 amps near the controller hookup post.  Each controller white line should have a circuit breaker also rated at your max load (+10%) between the power supply and the controller post.

 

Professor Motor or similar breakers are fine for HO and 1/32 applications.  I like to use the automotive breakers for over 10 amp loads - little metal cans.


Larry D. Kelley, MA
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#10 Paul Lindewall

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Posted 09 October 2018 - 01:32 PM

Diagram looks right, but - add circuit breakers to the white and red wire paths to protect your controllers from erroneous hookups.  Since the red load is directed by the common terminal block, that line only needs about 5 amps near the controller hookup post.  Each controller white line should have a circuit breaker also rated at your max load (+10%) between the power supply and the controller post.

 

Professor Motor or similar breakers are fine for HO and 1/32 applications.  I like to use the automotive breakers for over 10 amp loads - little metal cans.

I am going to be using the "commercial drivers stations" from Viper Racing. They have a fuse, just didn't show it in the diagram. 



#11 Ramcatlarry

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Posted 09 October 2018 - 04:18 PM

Good circuit breakers rarely need to be replaced.  Be sure to get extra pacs of fuses - or the circuit breakers that plug into the fuse blocks.

https://www.professo...-p/pmtr1071.htm


Larry D. Kelley, MA
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#12 Paul Lindewall

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Posted 14 October 2018 - 10:23 AM

Got a pretty good deal on some wire from (where else?) Amazon. Green, Black, White, Red, Blue, and Yellow rolls of 14ga AWG stranded copper wire. Perfect for wiring a four lane track, I think. I also ordered two distribution blocks (black and red) which will simplify wiring greatly. Two 8-pole terminal blocks for connections to the two power drops from the track are also coming. 

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#13 MattD

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Posted 14 October 2018 - 12:08 PM

Professor Motor sells a nice lane wiring setup that is a terminal strip with breakers installed and all wiring connections marked.   For years I always made all my own wiring setups, but I got a 4 lane module from ebay and man it makes it easy and neat.

 

P1010009.JPG


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