Layout Wiring

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Summary: The wiring will be determined by the size of the layout. The larger it is the more complex it will be.

The approach you'll take will depend on what type of project you are attempting. This page is intended to steer you in the right direction.

Layout Wiring for DCC

Wiring Small Layouts

Small layouts, such as simple tail-chaser table-top layouts, can be wired in much the same way as a traditional analog layout. You should still read the various wiring articles, but fundamentally, if you can wire up an analog DC controller to some track, then you can wire up a DCC starter set to some track!

"Small" in this sense means small in size, small in complexity, and small in terms of the number of locomotives you intend to have on the layout. If you have multiple running lines, more than a handful of turnouts or want to have several locomotives in a motive power depot then you are really getting into "medium-size" territory.

Wiring Medium Size Layouts

If you've made it this far you're probably embarking on a slightly larger project and you're looking for a bit more advice. You're not intending to build a great railroad empire but you want a fairly substantial layout with lots of operating potential and good running reliability.

As the layout gets larger you may want to consider additional options like Power Districts to better manage the layout. The throttle network will also be larger and more complex.

Wiring Large Layouts

Main article: Wiring Large Layouts

Wiring a large permanent layout is definitely a challenge and not for the faint-hearted. You should research as much as possible before you get started.

Careful planning is a must, as you must consider Booster Districts, and other features such as Occupancy Detection may be necessary. The throttle network will also be more complex, and you may consider using radio throttles.

Wiring Portable Layouts

Portable layouts, whether large or small, have their own set of issues.

If you can contribute additional ideas and content, please do.

Wiring NTRAK Layouts

There is no doubt that, when it comes to large layouts, the unchallenged champion is NTRAK. A typical NTRAK layout can consist of 30 to 50 four foot modules. Larger regional gatherings can be over 100 modules. A national convention such as that at Chantilly, VA in 2004 can be over 500 modules. The tried and true techniques they use for large layouts are an excellent starting point for anyone planning a large layout.

Further Reading