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4321  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: Cheapest Scale/Gauge? on: April 17, 2009, 07:56:12 PM
HO used to be the cheapest, but in the past 10 years or so, N scale has them beat.
4322  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: train wheeles on: April 16, 2009, 06:18:56 PM
to clarify the above posts. rp25 is the standard set by the NMRA for wheelsets. 33" and 36" are the wheel diameters, in scale inches. they correspond to the wheel sizes of the prototype wheels.
4323  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: I Think That I May Not Have Enough Power for My Layout on: April 15, 2009, 08:21:05 PM
to answer your questions:

1. yes, the two main bus wires are connected to your power supply

2. i have always soldered my feeders to both the rails, and to the bus.  soldered connections are less liable to corrode, if done properly, than mechanical connections like terminal strips. and if you wrap the joints where your feeders are soldered to the bus wires, they won't accidentally short out either.

terminal strips are readily available at radio shack. as bob said, they have screw type terminals similar to your power supply. you may also want to use bus bars, which jumper the adjacent terminals on a terminal strip together. that way, you can use only one wire per screw which gives a much better connection.

note that the bus bar jumpers can be trimmed to whatever size you need with a set of cutting pliers.

two things to watch for when wiring. first of all, make sure you are connecting all the feeders from the same rail to the same bus wire. if you get your wires crossed you have a dead short and can fry your power supply. a paint marker or a piece of tape is a good way to mark things to ensure that you don't get your wires crossed. second, for safety's sake, i'd recommend each bus wire have its own seperate terminal strip.

3. it doesn't matter whether your locomotives are dc or dcc they still draw power on a dcc system.

4. by all means go ahead and order your parts. do not be afraid to tackle this job.  you don't have to bae an electirician to wire your layout. i've been doing it since i was about 12. as long as you mark all your wires and don't get them crossed you will be fine. in fact, i'd hook up one set of feeders at a time them run your train on that track to make sure everything works.
4324  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Digitrax and Sound on: April 15, 2009, 04:59:22 PM
how do you listen to the sound files on the digitrax site?
4325  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: I Think That I May Not Have Enough Power for My Layout on: April 15, 2009, 08:25:56 AM
i second bob's opinion that you have more than enough power for the layout.

i had a similar layout, 13.5 feet per side, l shaped, 3 or 3 track mainline with branches and 2 yards. my wiring was all 18 guage, including all feeders. i had at least one set of feeders to each track, every 6 feet or so. and i was using the zephyr as my command station, it put out 2.5 amps, hlaf what you have. i experienced no degradation of performance running multiple trains, even though my layout was wired below recommendations (smaller wire equals more resistance and in theory less power on the rails) and a lower powered dcc system.

power feeders weren't as much of an issue with the older dc packs, because each train would be drawing it's power from a seperate power supply. with dcc all are drawing power from the same source.

my question for you concerns your locomotives. you mentioned athearn< how old are these? older athearn motors, those used before 1980 for sure, were notorious power hogs. some drew up to an amp apiece under normal circumstances, and up to 3 amps stalled. these ywould be the ones with the big wraparound magnet than were somewhat round in shape, not the later flat sided motors.....

another question, do you have locomtives parked on live tracks when running your trains? on dcc every locomotive draws power whether it is running or not. if you have alot of locomotives sitting around a turntable area, for example, you may want to add a seperate booster supply for that area......
4326  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Can this be done? on: April 13, 2009, 01:39:19 AM
lighting for locomotives is drawn from the track power. it is possible usiing dcc to turn the headlights on and off, but they are still using track power.
4327  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: sound for diesels on: April 13, 2009, 01:36:43 AM
the mrc sound decoder marketed for the atlas s2 is a very good rendition of an alco 244 engine, which unfortunately wasnt used in the s2/s4. it is, however, an excellent choice for rs2, rs3, rsd5, fa1 or fa2.
4328  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: sound for diesels on: April 12, 2009, 11:30:51 PM
one of the sound decoder manufacturers, i think it is QSI, offers downloadable sound files for their decoders. from the samples i heard, they are quite accurate.

soundtraxx offers an EMD 567 decoder that is dead on for any of the f series units, and gp7s and gp9s as well. they also have an EMD 645 decoder which is close but sounds a little off to me. it would be appropriate for gp40 and sd40-2.
4329  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: sound for diesels on: April 12, 2009, 12:09:23 PM
for reference, here are the sounds you are looking for:
gp40 & sd40-2 use the same engine block and thus sound the same. they both use an EMD 645, 16 cylinders, turbocharged.
the ft uses an EMD 567, 16 cylinder, non turbocharged, also sometimes called normally aspirated or roots blower.
4330  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Can this be done? on: April 12, 2009, 12:05:18 PM
rectifiers will only change ac to dc, not dc to ac. an inverter is needed to change dc to ac.
4331  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Locomotive problems on: April 12, 2009, 10:07:52 AM
it sounds like you may have a bind in the drive somewhere, to find it you must take the locomotive apart.
start by removing the body shell and turning the motor by hand. if it hangs up anywhere you have a bind. often this will be caused by something getting into the gears. remove the trucks from the frame, and remove the worm gear from the top of the truck. the truck should roll freely at this point, if it doesn't you've isolated the problem. completely disassemble the truck and check each gear for foreign material in the teeth. remove any you find, put it all back together and lightly lube the worm gears. running the locomotive will ensure that the lube is psread through all the gears.
4332  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Can this be done? on: April 12, 2009, 09:58:57 AM
your lighting should work on dc as well as ac. and you'd have the added advantage of being able to dim your lights.
4333  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Crossover Track for DCC and DC Runs Together on: April 12, 2009, 12:31:05 AM
the big problem here is not that the rails on the two routes through the crossing are not electrically seperate. they are i am 99% sure, as not having them seperate greatly complicates wiring the crossing. it wouldn't be EZ then would it?

the problem, which was common on earlier makes of switches, is that there may not be enough insulation where the rails cross to keep the wheels from bridging the gap. like i said, this causes a momentary short which is not noticable on dc but wreaks havoc on dcc. and dc and dcc do not play well together.

this problem is not one that an ohmmeter will detect. the only sure way to detect it is to carefully watch the wheels of your trains as they slowly run through the crossing. if the wheels even LOOK like they are touching the metal rails on the opposing route, do NOT use the crossing unless you are running either all dc or all dcc.
4334  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Crossover Track for DCC and DC Runs Together on: April 11, 2009, 09:18:12 AM
i think a much better solution would be to convert the entire layout to run either dc or dcc with the flip of a switch. remember, if the two systems accidentally are shorted together their power outputs add. if your dc pack puts out 3 amps and your dcc 5 amps, there is enough power to weld wheels to the track, not to mention the damage to both of your control systems. Play it safe, it is not that hard to wire a dpdt switch to flip back and forth between the two.

remember, tiny shorts you don't notice when running on dc will trip circuit breakers on dcc.....
4335  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Good Idea or No? on: April 11, 2009, 09:12:18 AM
yes the z scale decoders will work for HO locomotives.
notice, that the digitrax recommends a Z scale decoder for use in an Atlas HO AEM7......I don't know about other manufacturers, but the digitrax decoders have a high enough power rating to handle most HO locomotives.
So in theory, ANY HO locomotive regardless of size, could be equipped with DCC. That said, some of the older brass locos might draw too much current. Some of the motors used in the 1960s and 1970s were power hogs.

The best sound i have heard in MSTS is the GP38-2. I got to run a real one once. On MSTS, put the GP38-2 in full throttle and it is a truly realistic experience.

I do know some of the sound decoders are off quite a bit for the locomotives they are marketed for. Take the MRC decoder for an Alco S2/S4 for example. The manufacturer admits it is a @$$ engine block, and i have to admit it sounds pretty good FOR AN RS3.....The S2/4 however used an entirely different engine with an odd whistling chug to it. If somebody would release the proper sound decoder for one, i might bite.....
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