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Discussion Starter #1
Hi: I’m brand new to this site, and to the garden railroad hobby as well. I haven’t actually starting my layout yet, but I’ve been reading pretty much everything I can, trying to understand what’s proving to be a somewhat complicated hobby (or maybe that’s just me!). I think I’ve decided on brass sectional track as being the best way to get started, and I plan to use track power for now. I also plan on using DCC.

But where I’m still completely lost is with the issue of power packs. I simply don’t understand what I need, and I’m not sure I can even ask a proper question here. I’m looking for advice on where to start: Components I need; reputable brands/models; anything anyone wants to offer. Sorry this isn’t a more coherent question, but I guess the only stupid one is the one that isn’t asked, right? Thanks, Paul
 

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You need to pick your locos first, how many, what general type or brand, how many cars you want to pull and what kind of grades...


basically, decide this AFTER you have made other decisions.



Some people can get by with a 2 amp transformer, some need 10 amps.


Make your other decisions first... also if you want one that can be used for DCC later, then get a fixed 24-27 volt 10 amp regulated switching supply and a separate throttle.


Greg
 

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Paul, in your profile at least give us the state/country you live in as there may be someone with lots of knowledge near you or even a club to join.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I'm in Central Oregon. Don't know of any groups here, and of course with the COVID crisis I'm not really joining anything anyway.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you Greg, I'll definitely read this over before I start buying anything. Much appreciated! Paul
 

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Paul. If Medford is close at hand they have a very knowledgeable group. They run a large outdoor railway park usually open to the public one weekend a month. If Portland is closer they have a very active club with a wealth of knowledge. They put on the garden railroad convention last year and there membership covers a large geographical area. Both organizations membership are very willing to provide recommendations specific to your needs.
Mike
 

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piko has a nice 5 amp power supply that has a remote key fob to operate it. that amp will should run any train. to run may be 2 or 3 engines you will need more power , usat has a nice 10 amp setup to, but for a start both are nice power supply's that come with a controller. the 2 amp power units that come with starter sets probably won't have enough power for any thing other than what came in the set and will over heat with bigger engines with 2 motor blocks . some brands engines use use more power than others but 4 to 5 amps will get you started. building your own is not a bad idea and cheaper but may be to much to start with . that just my 2 cents
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thank you for that. I'm continuing to read and work my way thru what I can find on the web. I think I'm finally getting a better handle on what the basic components are that I'll need. Looks like I might as well plan on 10 amps to handle what I need now and into the future. I'm currently looking at the NCE Pro-10R. A little more than I wanted to spend, and probably more than I need starting out, but seems to get good reviews and should handle everything I want to do. Any comments or suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks again everyone!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thank you Greg - great to know!. By the way, your site has quickly become one of my favorite "go-to" spots on the web for information. I think it's wonderful that people like you take the time to put together the kind of information you have and make it available to others, especially those just starting out in the hobby!
 

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It was initially notes to myself, but I was inspired by the great George Schryer, and have tried to continue on with things he has not gotten to yet.


It's basically there to help others, glad it can be of service.


Greg
 

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Paul

I'm with a company that makes traditional track power power packs. We have a thing on our website which discusses some of the things that you should be thinking about:
https://bridgewerks.com/tech-corner/how-to-choose-a-power-controller/

We are located in Newberg OR. The Rose City Garden Railroad society is a very active club, with most activity around the Portland area - you might want to join them just to read all of the e-mail traffic which talks about what is going on with garden railroads locally. If it's exciting enough, it might entice you to take a drive to check something out.


Mark
 

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Just my two cents. I purchased a Bridgewerks 10amp and it worked really nice. Where I am going with this is while I was building my layout, I got so tired of lugging that 20 lb power pack around, I found myself reaching for my MRC 6200 (2 amps). You could start with a smaller pack just to get you started then progress as needed. Keep in mind I was running mostly LGB single and two motor locomotives with smoke & sound. Usually one at a time on a small to medium sized layout. The MRC control master 20 (5 amps) works good two. I was able to double head twin motor locomotives with that one. Still, if building a medium to large layout, you will need a 10amp or larger pack eventually.
 

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Many of us in my club with wireless DC and DCC keep our receivers inside. I had the 27mhz users double the antenna length and the range increased a lot. My older Zimo MX1 and newer MX10 are in my basement (raised ranch) and I have never had a range isue.

The point of this is I do not have to lug power supplies around, they are in a permanent place and protected from weather, and my latest DCC has 12 amps to the track and my older Aristo has 10 amps to the track. Just have to carry the remotes.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks everyone. I'm scared of making an expensive mistake here. I'm a retired contractor, and I fully understand all the construction aspects of this hobby. But so much of this seems to revolve around electronics - not at all something I'm comfortable with - that I feel like I'm in WAY over my head sometimes. Throw in the track power versus battery power debate, and I get completely lost!!
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Not quite clear on that answer, so to simplify (for me) let me put this another way. I'm planning on having two, perhaps three locos. I'm comfortable with regular 110V AC wiring. I know next to nothing about computers and electronics. I'd like to keep things simple to start, at least while I'm getting going. So are you saying DCC is the best choice until I get to around four locos? Or are you saying battery is the best choice until I get to four locos?

My apologies for being so dense on this, and I appreciate the clarification!
 

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Battery for less than 4 locos, DCC track power for over 4 locos. And now there is DCC for battery powered locos by several vendors.



My friend has the DCC version revolution, receiver in the engine with a Zimo decoder, track powered so he does not need the batteries. Since it is the USA Trains GG1, should not have a power pickup problem and the MX699KV has super caps to keep the decoder alive.
 
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