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             our conversion to DCC
             the wiring of our layout
             wiring diagrams
             how to unstick stalled trains
             how to wire up points
             software to control trains using DCC
             our new fiddle yard
             why we have gremlins
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Although we are installing complete digital control, I have elected to retain conventional control panels as well to allow for failure. Wiring is minimised by using self adhesive copper tape. We do epoxy the ends to prevent the tapes peeling off at a later date. Nevertheless, the double operation option involves miles of wire, numerous plugs and plenty of hard work!

Digital control or manual is selected by swapping multi pins plugs. Once tested, the soldered terminals of the plugs are set in epoxy to prevent breakages. The wires will be protected with spiral wrap.

jumper lead at the back of the station section. Centre socket connects to board

The control panels are made using 2mm clear acrylic sheets sandwiching the graphics, printed on glossy photo paper. The panels are attached to the baseboard using M10 bolts set into the timber and wingnuts, to make removal easy.

new DCC viaduct panel (still missing LEDs) - click image to enlarge

ultimate rats' nest - the station panel wired up

the viaduct panel

Connections are made using 50 and 37 multi-pin D plugs/sockets and 8 pin DIN plugs/sockets. The circuit boards are attached to 1/4" ply boards which hinge down from under the station and viaduct baseboards. This allows easier adjustment.

The hard wiring of the drop-down board complete - click to enlarge

The hard wiring of the station nearly complete - click to enlarge

The hard wiring of the viaduct nearly complete - click to enlarge

We had been unhappy with the operation of the front loading traverser which had a habit of slightly changing dimensions through temperature changes and tripping up trains. We also found that visitors at exhibitions hated us obscuring the hotel when changing trains. The traverser has now been removed.

Having converted to DCC we realised that we could automate the main line running for exhibitions. This needed a six road fiddle yard.

The first fiddle yard was supported on two steel brackets from the display stands. Sadly, operation showed up some flaws which has now resulted in the construction of a new unit.

The problems were:

1.  The fiddle table could be distorted if a person leant on it. This resulted in the derailment of trains at the baseboard joint.

2.  Despite being 7'6" long, some of the loops were too short for comfort and restricted the choice of trains to be run.

3.  The Peco 12" Crazytrack turnouts caused a number of derailments.

the old fiddle yard

the new yard nears completion

As a consequence, a new fiddle yard has been built which extends the full length of the layout and is much narrower. This uses N gauge points of 18" radius.