When is a booster required for DCC

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I am currently building a DCC layout (my first venture in model railroad). I have already purchased a Roco digital system, and as far as I have tested works well. As I extend my track will I need a booster for the amplifier I already have? My first stage of track will be 30 metres long. Or do I need the booster for running a number of loco's at the same time? Or is the booster needed for a combination of length of track and number of loco's operating? Can any one help me with this?


-- Denis Bunbury (dbunbury@pl.net), December 09, 2004


Track length does not affect the number of boosters you need, only the number of locomotives that you plan to run.


-- Dale Gloer (dale.gloer@telus.net), December 10, 2004.

What Dale means is "the number of locos you plan to run simultaneously". The need for additional boosters is prompted by the total number of amperes draw by train equipment at any given time. A 5 amp booster can easily support 3 trains with modern loco draw of 1 amp each. But if you have several older locos that may demand 1.5-2 amps each, more for larger scales, you may need several (or larger) boosters to be able to operate more than one train at the same time.


-- Don Vollrath (dvollrath@magnetek.com), December 10, 2004.

Another way to determine when a second booster is required for your layout is to install an ammeter to monitor current demands of the layout and this takes all the guess work out of the equation.

Make an ammeter from Allan's notes here at this site or at http://www.wiringfordcc.com/track.htm#a4 This is very easy and requires only a cheap digital meter or as I use a panel meter and a bridge rectifier. This arrangement will reduce track voltage by approx 1.5 volts. Wire in a switch to bypass meter when not using, so as full voltage to track.

Having a voltmeter and an ammeter to see what is "electrically" happening to layout is a great assett.


-- Marcus Ammann (mammann@optusnet.com.au), December 13, 2004.

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