N Gauge Controllers

Discussion of N gauge model railway specific products and related model railway topics (problems and solutions). (Graham Farish, Dapol, Peco)
JamesNewbie
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Joined: Sat Aug 11, 2018 5:36 pm

N Gauge Controllers

Postby JamesNewbie » Sat Aug 11, 2018 11:53 pm

Hi guys,

Im new to the world of railway modelling particularly N gauge, my question is this: if i want to run 2 trains, will i need 2 controllers?

ANy helpful advice would be greatly welcomed,
Thanks

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Mountain
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Location: Somewhere in Wales, UK.

Re: N Gauge Controllers

Postby Mountain » Sun Aug 12, 2018 1:06 am

Though it depends on the track plan, as a simple answer "If you intend to use DC then yes. If you are thinking of DCC, then no".
With DC, it is cheaper to get a double controller, though if you are planning on having more then one person operating the trains then two single controllers is better as one can space out where you put them to give each other some room.
In N gauge the normal recommendation is that it is easier to use DC, but DCC is very much available to those who want to use it. The only reason for this is that fitting DCC decoders to N gauge trains... Well, let's say the larger 00 gauge trains one can struggle at times! Having said that, today's DCC decoders are available in tiny neat packages so it is now more then possible to convert many N gauge locos to run on DCC. In fact many can be bought with DCC decoders ready fitted.

DC saves you the hastle of thinking of decoders, but one needs more thought to how one is going to go about wiring the layout. One of the best ways is to wire using the cab control method, and for reducing the amount of wiring needed, one adopts the common return principle, but only if the controller/controllers one is using are suitable for common return wiring. Cab control can still be used if not, but it will take a little more wiring.
I hope this helps answer you're question.
DCC also needs quite a bit of wiring at times but usually not so much, and the wiring method is simpler. It does tend to be a more expensive option though, as each loco needs a decoder fitted, and if one has many locos then then price can be quite a lot! Having said that, the benefits of having DCC operated sound and lights operated from the controller have made many long term DCC enthusiasts. One can still have lights with DC, but the lights are not independently switchable. When the train goes, the lights are on and when the train stops the lights are off. With DCC one can turn lights on or off independently to the movement of the locomotive.

The majority of N gauge users (And about half the 00 gauge users) run their trains on plain and simple DC, mostly for economy reasons, but sometimes for traditional reasons or for saving themselves extra complications of fitting decoders and the programming needed etc. DC has simplicity on its side once one has learnt how to master the wiring.

It is a case of swings and roundabouts here regarding DC or DCC. Both have plus and minus sides.
A good DC controller for running two trains (One normally has a double track to run two at the same time on either DCC or DC) is the Gaugemaster model D. Shop around for the best prices. Someone is selling an old twin controller on this site I believe. It is a feedback version which is technically slightly more advanced then the standard version (It works by sending various pulses of DC current rather then straight DC). However, it can't be used to run locos with DCC decoders while with the ordinary non feedback DC controllers you can (So if any visiting DCC train comes along, if you have a normal DC controller they can join in regardless). Feedback DC controllers give more of a constant speed up and down hills and I found gave a slightly more boost of power to the locomotive when used. It wasn't a lot but it was noticeable, especially pulling heavy trains up as down gradients. Mind you, with a normal DC controller you just turn the speed knob up a bit more to compensate so its not an issue. (With DCC decoders, quite a lot of them have the feedback feature built in, and its usually programmable as well. The more expensive DCC controllers have the options to program a wider range of things while the budget DCC controllers often dont, so if DCC is your goal, then it is worth looking into this option. I've found that normally the budget DCC controlers can be easier to use as they are less complicated, but they miss out on programmable options that also tend to have more features etc).
Enjoying 7mm narrow gauge.

JamesNewbie
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Joined: Sat Aug 11, 2018 5:36 pm

Re: N Gauge Controllers

Postby JamesNewbie » Sun Aug 12, 2018 10:47 am

Hi,

thank you for your answer. I'll be the only person using my controller(s). Im not interested in the DCC stuff. Just to clarify, if i use multiple locos, one at a time, i only need 1 controller?

If it helps, my "track plan" will be a Half Oval. The plan will be as follows: on the top left there will be 4 sidings with coaches, all of these sidings will narrow to 1 line ( to make what im saying easier to understand that say all 4 sidings we can call the siding 1,2,3, and 4, siding 2 will join siding 1 with the help of of points and sidings 3 and 4 will join siding 2) siding 1, will be the the half oval.

My overall plan for this is that if i have if i want to "move" the train thats in siding 2 round the half, oval, then i can manually change the point and set it to siding 3, then reverse the train into siding 3. my plan for the right hand side of the half oval will be to get a left hand point where then i can add 2-3 right hand points where i can "store" 2-3 locos.

I hope this makes sense but this is the best way i can explain it;

thank you

abenn
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Joined: Thu Jun 05, 2008 11:03 am

Re: N Gauge Controllers

Postby abenn » Sun Aug 12, 2018 12:29 pm

Although I use DCC on my N-gauge layout, I have to agree that for your layout analogue (DC) is quite sufficient. And, yes, you only need one controller if you only wish to run one loco at a time.

But if you're going to have other locos sitting in the sidings, you'll have to have switches to isolate each siding, so that only one siding (and, hence, one loco) gets power from the controller at a time.

JamesNewbie
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Joined: Sat Aug 11, 2018 5:36 pm

Re: N Gauge Controllers

Postby JamesNewbie » Sun Aug 12, 2018 1:47 pm

thanks for your answer it's really helpful. i think for simplicity, i'll just stick with one loco for now.

In the future what improvements do you think that i can make to my layout?

abenn
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Joined: Thu Jun 05, 2008 11:03 am

Re: N Gauge Controllers

Postby abenn » Mon Aug 13, 2018 8:33 am

Even if you have only one loco now, I would recommend that you insert isolating rail joiners at the start of each siding. For the moment you can simply connect them all to the main power feed without switches, so that they're all live all the time, but it then makes it simple to make them switchable if you need to do so later. Unless, of course, you think you'll be rebuilding the layout anyway when more locos come along.

JamesNewbie
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Joined: Sat Aug 11, 2018 5:36 pm

Re: N Gauge Controllers

Postby JamesNewbie » Mon Aug 13, 2018 9:29 am

would the insert isolating rail joiners be easy to fit / connect

abenn
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Re: N Gauge Controllers

Postby abenn » Mon Aug 13, 2018 7:46 pm

The insulated isolating rail joiners are just like the regular metal ones, except they're made out of plastic (nylon?) and have a spacer built into them so that the ends of the rails can't quite touch each other. You can see three of them still attached to their sprue here https://www.track-shack.com/acatalog/Peco-N-Gauge-Streamline-SL-311-Insulating-Rail-Joiners-Peco-SL-311.html?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIna6oytfq3AIVgbHtCh0EkgNyEAQYAyABEgK8q_D_BwE

JamesNewbie
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Joined: Sat Aug 11, 2018 5:36 pm

Re: N Gauge Controllers

Postby JamesNewbie » Fri Aug 17, 2018 9:15 pm

where would be the best place for me to put the power "thing" that goes from the controller and connects to the track?

cheers

Bramshot
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Re: N Gauge Controllers

Postby Bramshot » Sat Aug 18, 2018 1:42 pm

If you have used isolated joiners at points as discussed earlier in the thread, you will need to make power connections to all sections of your track that could be isolated, either with or without the switches also discussed earlier.

It is better to solder direct to the track, ( try it, it’s easy), than to use the ‘thing’.

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Artisan
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Re: N Gauge Controllers

Postby Artisan » Wed Oct 10, 2018 3:10 pm

I am also new to railway modelling and also operating on a budget. I am planning to build a 4 or 5ft x 18 inches end to end N gauge layout from pre-owned track, locos, rolling stock and accessories. I have, over the past few days, got an idea concerning the costs I am likely to pay for track etc. but I’m not sure what controller I will need to runner the layout. As I am building the layout on a budget I don’t want to waste money and purchase a second hand controller that is not suitable for my needs so could anybody please give me some advice on what I need to look for?
Best regards,
Greg


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