Sydney STA

Sydney STA
Sydney STA fleet for layout

Monday, 15 December 2014

The Sparky in me.....

The last couple of weeks I have spent on the next phase of the Petersham station module of the layout - Wiring up the track and point motors.

My youth comes haunting back to me
When I was a young teenage, my nerdy school friends use to take me to visit the electronic hobby stores in York street, Sydney such as Tandy and Dick Smith. They understood wiring circuit diagrams, resistors, capacitors and making those electronic kits with the plastic circuit boards. For me, I had no interest or understanding of how it works.

Unfortunately my ignorance has caught up with me with my interest in model railways that learning fundamental electronics is essential for a functional working model railway. 

I spent the first couple of days trying to solder the wiring for the track and the peco point motors under the baseboard with access and light limited. This was slow and painful and I decided to turn the benchwork on its side which aided the job of wiring immensely. Below is my first go at wiring the track and the point motors.

Forum Groups
I rarely use the internet forum groups for advice but wanted to get some idea of the best wiring size for the power bus (main track wiring) and drop feeders (track feeders) as the most of the internet sites suggested wiring size referred to AWG which is not used much in Australia. People on the forum were helpful and I settled for heavy duty speaker wire for the power bus which is connected at intervals with untwisted 5 Cat wire for drop feeders by yellow splice connector clips.

Below is my dummies guide to my track wiring. I have decided to not only include drop feeders at each piece of rail but also at the each end of the baseboard module so that it will make it easier to dismantle the layout as the track will also be cut at each baseboard end.
Powering the point motors
The last layout I built, Bilby Beach, I tried powering the point motors with much failure. I used Peco point motors as they are relatively not too expensive and seem simple to wire up. However, I used on/off switches which was wrong. This time I bought a Peco Capacity discharge unit which provides that short burst of power for the point motor and also a number of momentary on-off-on switches so the point motor does not burn out.

Below is the much neater arrangement of the wiring. The wiring for the points is shown with orange wire and purple wiring leading to the switch. The green wire is to power the point motor using the Peco instructions provided.

Lessons learnt
  • Even though we have the ability to search the Internet for advice on how to do things, until this is put into practice there is no way for me to learn a skill- this is done through trial and error and developing the skill. I only learnt through the fact that something doesn't work.  
  • Cutting corners doesn't work
    • I tried this with not cleaning the soldering iron before working - Solder doesn't stick
    • Not using the use my helping hands tool - There is no way to hold the wire, soldering iron and solder steady making this task slower.

The next challenge
I have started to incorporate point indicators with LEDs to the point motors to show which way the point is in use which is to be displayed on a control panel in front of the module.

Below is my soldering work with the LEDs and 1K resistor attached to the Helping Hand tool. More in the next post.