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DCC Wiring – Separate Bus Lines for Turnouts

HO railroader Dan posted this question:

“I’m new to DCC and I’m building a new layout 12’ x 12’ with 3 levels. I understand Bus Wiring and Track Feeders and how to run the feeder wires to the bus line. I will only be running 4 to 5 engines at most. I plan on using a MRC system (not sure which one yet, however wireless seems the way to go) want to put the track on the MRC system and power the turnouts on a separate system. With my DCC wiring do I need to run a separate bus line for the turn outs?”

If you would like to supply an answer to Dan’s DDC wiring question, or just view the answers, then click on the ‘comments’ link below.


8 Responses to DCC Wiring – Separate Bus Lines for Turnouts

  • Billsays:

    When you say “power the turnouts” do you mean throw the turnouts? If so and you want to do this with a separate DCC system then yes you will need a dedicated bus line for this. I am not familiar with MRC’s system but on my digitrax system I run a separate bus by running power from my booster to a number of circuit breakers. One circuit breaker supplies all my power to my tortoise switch machines. If I get a short I can still throw the turnouts (most shorts are due to misaligned turnouts) even if the trains are not moving due to a short on the track (again usually due to a loco entering a turnout that is not aligned to receive it.

  • Morgan F Bilbosays:

    Dan. I agree with Bill. You can also power turnout motors with a totally separate line, even regular DC, to power the motors. Not sure about AC. Just depends on the machine. But I do recommend using the same machines on the layout. Don’t mix them. Some do with no trouble. But when one goes bad, it’s nice to know exactly how to replace it. Using simple plug in or such. And a separate power supply. Do not run turnout motors with any loco power. Hope this helps.

  • David Broadsays:

    Yes always best to use separate wiring for turnouts. That way a turnout fault / short doesn’t stop the trains as well

  • Kevin Chingsays:

    I use NCE system and run the turnouts from the same bus si that when i use the turnout function all I need is the decoders between the bus and turnout then use the accessory and number button to change the turnout all these decoders use the tortoise machines not the twin coil machines


    There are several tutorials on how to build a panel and throw tortoise machines with double pole double throw switches that are “crossed over” to allow for throwing in both directions.

  • David Stokessays:

    Look to Peco, Tortoise and Circitron literature when powering points (switches). They are all different, and it looks confusing, but as in all model building, you are only ever joining two wires at the one time, but many times over. Make sure the first one works before moving on to the next.

  • Dansays:

    Thanks for the responses. I now realize that the bus line feeds the turnout and I need a separate power source for the DPDT switches. Another question my layout will have approximately 500 ft of track, 30 turnouts. Still a toss up on using MRC or Diigitrax, how many amps do I need from the command station ? . ,

  • Morgan Bilbo, PRR fansays:

    Dan: That last question is a dinger. What system? NCE and Digitrax are the two most used. Then there’s “others”. About 8 months ago when I came back into the hobby & DCC, my choice was made by visiting other layouts to see which system they used and why and how. Also depends on size of layout, etc. From what you describe in your original post. The Digitrax Zephyr DCS52 might be a good choice. It provides 3 amps and running 6 locos would be OK. (Assuming all locos are DCC with good decoders, using less than .5 amps per.) The Z can be “boosted” for more power if needed and is a fairly commonly used system. It’s what I use. I’m not familiar with MRC, but I do remember when they brought out decoders a few years ago, they were not good quality. Obviously, this is your choice. And I hope I help some.

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