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DCC Equipment Drawer

 2005 the Original Version (1)
Lenz Set SI with LH100 & LH90

 
 DCCdrawer-08  DCCdrawer-11  DCCdrawer-07
   

Version 1 of this drawer stated out with the following equipment. Over the past eightyears, it has gone through some pretty major changes.

DCC equipment drawer contents

  • Lenz Set SI (Discontinued long ago)
  • 2 each LR101,
  • 8 each LB101
  • 2 each LS150
  • RRamp Meter
  • 48 Port RJ45 Patch Panel

My experience with the Lenz LR101Feedback encoder module and the Lenz LB101 occupancy detector shows they work reliably with wire lengths of 30-50 feet.  I have the LR101 and the LB101 within 3 feet of the LZV100.

Since this is an area of great interest, let me elaborate on what I have done.  There are a number of significant differences with using feedback vs. regular DCC.  Some that I have discovered include:

  1. The wiring for DCC with feedback is perhaps even more complicated that DC with elaborate block control.
  2. Using a standard two wire buss (JK) for distribution all DCC is possible ONLY you:
  • distribute your feedback hardware (LR101/LB101) around the layout
  • provide distributed RS wiring around the layout as well.  RS is used to digitally control the LR101
  • a series of wires are then required to be connected between the LR101 and the LB101 and the DCC wiring buss (JK)
  1. Distributing the Feedback Hardware around the layout caused me a lot of problems troubleshooting and getting it to work correctly.
  2. Moving or relocating a layout with distributed feedback hardware would be a real challenge.

I speak only from personal experience, as I have not yet seen or visited anyone who is using feedback except one very large layout using Bruce Chubb’s devices, and it is complicated certainly as much or more than what I am talking about here.

My first attempt at block detection was with the distributed hardware mounted close to the block.  It kept bothering me that almost all of us use 18-24 gauge wire from the DCC Buss to the track.  While the wire lengths are typically short, small wire-size is still small wire size.  The numbers of wires for each block detector quickly becomes a bird’s next, something I try to avoid.  All of this and not even started signaling!

 

To overcome these issues, I wondered if Cat 3/5 24 gauge wire was sufficient to run my railroad so after a few tests with the wire and my RRamp meter I decided that it was worth a shot.  What I did was to put all my DCC electronics in a drawer on slides with a 48 port patch panel out the back. This means I only have the cat 3/5 wires which plug into my panel plus a couple of AC wires to power supplies and my equipment bay is portable.  This fact was reinforces when I abandoned my first railroad shortly after finishing the rewiring.  Actually the fact that I could leverage that work on the new layout helped me make the decision to start over with an around the wall layout instead of a middle of the room configuration.

 

Concern over the current carrying capability of Cat 3/5 (.5 amps for 24 gauge) bothered me so I decided to use 4 sets of parallel wires to drive each segment of track.  I solder most of my track as the temperature control of my layout is quite good, 70 +/- 3 degrees so I am not concerned much about expansion.

 Lenz LR101    Lenz LB101

 

 

 

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