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A good source for layout wire is old printer cables. Strip off the outer sheath and you have lots of different coloured insulated cores. Not all that long but very useful. I wired my control panel with it. You sometimes see boxes full of them at car boot sales.

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I'm making use of computer network cables on my layout. I'm fortunate enough to have a drum of the stuff they use to wire up a building, which is 8 wire solid core and I can make the wires as long as I need them. In a couple of places I'm using the "fly leads" to plug into network ports culled from old computer bits.

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For longer runs to remote point motors and signals I have used six core alarm cable. You can get a 100 metre drum from Screwfix for nineteen quid. It is also available with eight cores. The cores of alarm cable are stranded and are the same size as the usual 'layout wire'.

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  • 1 year later...

Perhaps I've asked/mentioned this previously but I'm virtually clueless when it comes to understanding the electrical requirements for a model railway and after reading a number of online articles I'm still unsure as to what size/gauge wire we should be using to wire our layouts. It doesn't help that several of the articles refer to the wires in completely differing units/sizes.

It seems the consensus is on using 0.2mm stranded wire of sometimes 7 and sometimes 16 strands as 'droppers' when connecting to a power bus. Ideally I guess it should be the larger 16 strand. Yes, I know there'll be a 'formula' to use to gauge the exact size of wire required for a particular application but isn't there just a simple yardstick that we can work to? What size wire are each of you using to connect power your track?

7 strand 0.2mm would be much easier to conceal at the side of the sleepers on an outdoor layout if it was capable of supplying the required power. It's a pity that we can't go directly through the baseboards close to ground level without a lot of additional work.

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This may be where I have the upper hand of electial wiring. My suggestion would be, go to you electrical wholesaler and ask for 2 drum's 4mm squared copper core ( I think its 16 strand). 1 drum of Brown and the other of blue.<- that is for the bus wire. And then for the droppers, buy some 2.5mm squared 8 strand copper core. Again, blue and brown. Then if you run the 4mm cables under your boards. Where you want the droppers to connect to the track, simply cut a ring of insulation off the bus wire and solder the droppers on to them. Be sure to cover the solder joints with something like hot glue just to protect them. Solder the other ends to the rails. That's just my thaughts on it.

Tom

P.S

Because of the size of the cables, there will be very little voltage drop round your rather large railway.

P.P.S

As your using DCC you will only need 2 bus wires and just take the droppers of it to feed both tracks.

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Why pay for something when its freely available. Old electrical items normally find there way to the local recycling centre. On your next trip there, dumping you next load of tat, ask them nicely if they have any electrical leads from old electrical equipment knocking around gathering dust. That is my main sorce of cable that I use for the GGR. Normally end up with the plug still attached as well, and a fuse. Okay its mainly used for 240v electrical items and normally comes in about metre lengths and as flexi track is normally 36 inches in length its ideal for purpose and saves lots of measuring up and cutting to length. Colours are only the main three, blue, brown and yellow/green and as I run only DC is simple as this; brown for UP power, blue for DOWN power and yellow/green common earth, nice and simple, a bit like me...... :lol:

Ian

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SouthernTom said:

This may be where I have the upper hand of electial wiring. My suggestion would be....

Thank you very much for taking the time to reply Tom. I have a supply of 2.5mm ring-main cable that I had intended to use for the bus wire and I thought that would be suitable but the way I read your post are you suggesting that I need something of that size simply for the droppers from the track and that a heavier gauge is required for the bus wire?

On my old layout I had 2 'standard' bits of layout wire connecting the controller to one point on the track with no additional power feeds anywhere. This 'standard' gauge layout wire was then also used to bond across all the rail joins and I experienced no notable problems - nothing that gave me any concerns. This time I thought I'd try to make a better job of it to ensure reliability but I'd like to be able to do it as discreetly as possible and some of the heavier gauge wires connecting to the track are going to be difficult to conceal when you can't go directly down through the baseboards. In your opinion is using 16x0.2mm as droppers connecting to a 2.5mm ring-main bus likely to give rise to any problems considering that I'll be operating no more than 3-4 trains at any one time?

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As you say you had one point of power going to the layout at Selby? my concern of that is that you could loose power to half of the layout if a problem arrives. but, i would suggest using at least 4 because then if something goes wrong, you can locate it to a smaller area. the more droppers you have the current & voltage will be more constant. if you where running just DC then that would have been more of a problem.

instead of 4mm cable you could use 2.5mm as a BUS and 1.5mm copper core ( used for lighting circuits) as the droppers. up to you really though. but as your using DCC at a constant voltage, the less voltage drop the better and as you are running a long line, a large BUS would give less drop in voltage. 2.5mm would be much cheaper too. and as you say, easier to hide. i dont think having larger BUS wires will cause problems. as for my Railway, i will use 2.5mm for BUS and 1.5mm for droppers, as it isn't that large. but as another example, on Roys layout, i would use 4mm for bus and 2.5mm for droppers as the line is so long.

in your case, for hiding wires, i would run them on the underside of the board next to the concrete foundations. then run 2 wires up to one track then a meter futher do the same for the other line. and repeat where you want more droppers. i would suggest drilling a whole next to the first track and connecting the line power to one rail and run the neutral under the sleepers to the other rail. that will keep the wires visable for the shortest distance possible.

and you will still bond the rail's right?

Tom

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SouthernTom said:

...and you will still bond the rail's right? ...

I'm still undecided about bonding the rail joins as and where required or going the whole hog and feeding each individual section of track directly from the bus rail. As I've just laid the plywood base and fixed it permanently on top of the concrete/aerated block base, it's not really possible to drill and run wires through it. I'm okay with the idea of running the bus wire alongside the plywood base it's the droppers that I wanted to disguise if, as it seems likely, they're going to need to be larger than I had first envisaged.

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well, i dont quite know how to get the droppers to the rails without having them to visible. i'd still bond all the joints as it is a tried and tested method on the forum. as george has mentioned about how he is going to wire his (i think it's george who said this) but solder droppers to every length of track. that would involve half as much soldering. but, you still have to solder to the track, and to the bus. so your not saving much time by doing that but it will still work just as well, it is just the method in which other people will choose to do it one way or another.

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  • 3 years later...

I know this is an old thread but just thought this may be of help. The formula is watts divided volts equals amps. Therefore if you are drawing 6 watts on a 12 volt system for example then you would divide 6 by 12 which gives you 0.5 amps. just to be safe you would use 1 amp cable for the droppers and 2.5 amp would be fine for your bus wires. As I said I know it's an old thread but hopefully this may be of use to someone. Mark

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That's all very well Mark, but I still need to know two parts of that formula learnt far too long ago in Physics. How do I know the amperage that a motor draws, or the wattage available from a given transformer? The only thing that I know for sure is 12volts, yet I'm sure it's only 12 volts when the transformer is wound right up, otherwise it's whatever voltage that a given motor will start to turn at. :?

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Hi Roddy. Yes perhaps thar formula is a little vague!! I was just working on the presumption that all values were known mate! Not trying to teach anyone to such eggs or owt!! Just thought it my be of use to someone. ;);) just another thinking out loud moment but is the current draw not available from the manufacturer?

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No it's not vague Mark. It's Faraday's Law or something. As you know, I'm making a tram layout. The tram bogies are made by a one man comany using unmarked motors. Don't even know the manufacturer. The other thing is, that I shall be running up to 8 trams on the one circuit, so I really need to know what a transformer is giving. It doesn't really matter because I'm sure that I can double up, or more the transformers, all on the same pair of rails. That's if I knew how because I always get mixed up with series and parallel and watts and amps etc. I was born into the pencil and paper age and never needed to use computers in industry, so I have been left far behind with techy stuff. It's all a case of suck it and see with me.

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Hi Roddy. Series and parallel always flumps me too! ;);) i don't know which is series and which is parallel but if you have 2 transformers of say 12 volts if you connect the positive from one to the negative from the other you then use the remaining positive and negatives as your power wires. This way will double voltage to 24 volts. If you connect your 2 positives to each other and your 2 negatives to each other the result will still be 12 volts but the amperage will be double. As I said I don't know which description is series and which is parallel but I hope this makes sense? :D:D or have I just told you something you already know again?? :oops::oops::oops: regards Mark

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No Mark, I remember that one of them doubles the voltage (series?) and the other remains the same. It's like end to end AA batteries in a torch. Four 1.5 volt batteries end to end light a 6volt bulb. Or even the cells in a car battery, Six 2volt cells give 12 volts. I'm pushing my brain back more than 50 years and although I can remember bits of the principles, I'm stuck if someone just says "Oh join them all together in parallel." It's only because the commenter assumes a certain level of knowledge. Same on the car forums when someone says that my problem is with the AFM. If they had said Air flow meter I would stand a better chance of finding it. I'm sure that we are all guilty of it at times in our own fields.

You have inadvertently answered my question about multiple transformers. If one doesn't do it, just add another connected the same as the first, and a third etc. Back to the old suck it and see principle. I am actually surprised that a Hornby train set transformer performs better than an H&M Clipper. I would have expected the opposite, but I'm thinking now, that if I fit all 6 outlets from the Clipper to the tracks, I will get to where I want to be, and all on the one control wheel. But then we come back to a little knowledge being a dangerous thing. :o:o:o

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