Technically and assuming all Hornby track, the simplest track power arrangement is a SINGLE DCC power track / power clip attached to ANY convenient track piece on the layout. Then fit Hornby R8232 DCC point clips to ALL the points on your layout. The R8232 DCC point clips pass the DCC power through all the points to all extremes of the layout. This assumes that your three ovals (loops) have points that form cross-overs between them.
The downside to this approach is that long term electrical reliability of the layout is totally dependant upon the physical resilience of the mechanical track joiners and the R8232 point clips. Over time, the track joiners can work loose due in part to the vibration of rolling stock running over them. The movement of the rails inside the track joiners due to seasonal heat variations causing expansion and contraction. Plus a certain amount of tarnishing that will build up over time. Tarnishing and corrosion has been known to cause R8232 DCC point clips to heat up and glow red hot, melting the plastic on the points around them (an extreme scenario I grant you, but one that does get reported on the forum).
It is these longer term effects and issues that most layout builders want to eliminate by installing a DCC power bus system. A simple DCC power bus does not need to be complicated. It is basically a pair of thick wires running in a strategic route under the layout baseboard, to which thinner dropper wires are attached. These thin dropper wires then get soldered directly to either the outside or underside of the rails. Some people just put in a few strategic droppers so that each side of every point has at least one power feed (this eliminates the need to fit the R8232 DCC point clips). Or the other extreme is to fit a dropper to each and every individual track piece so that the track joiner has no function to pass DCC power through it, and is relegated to just performing the physical / mechanical track joining function.
You can implement a BUS strategy as simple or as complicated as you want. Or limit its complication to your skill set capability.
Some things to note:
- Modern Nickle Silver rails solder really easily. It is near impossible to neatly solder the much older Hornby steel rails (magnets do not stick to Nickle Silver rails). You need a soldering iron that is appropriately sized for the job. I would suggest a fairly small iron no more than 20 watts. Use 60/40 Lead/Tin solder. This is more expensive than the 'Lead Free' solder, but far more easy to use by a novice. Even if the 60/40 solder is Multi-core (that is to say contains flux), still use a separate flux product as part of the soldering kit you put together.
- The thicker BUS wires are typically 32/0.2mm wire (32 strands of 0.2mm diameter wire in a common PVC insulation).
- The thinner dropper wires should be kept short, less than 300mm and are typically 7/0.2mm wires.
- Use wires with two different colours. If a dropper wire is crossed with another you will create a short circuit, so it is important to test for a short using a multi-meter after connecting each individual dropper pair as trying to find a short circuit later is near impossible. Cheap multi-meters (less than £6) can be bought on ebay. Using different colours helps prevent mis-wiring inadvertent shorts. Personal opinion here, but I recommend stranded wire rather than solid wire, so avoid recycling electrical domestic Twin & Earth solid conductor cables.
- If you use a BUS system, then you don't need a traditional Hornby power track / power clip connection from your Elite controller. Just attach the end of the BUS directly to the 'TRACK A&B' terminals on the Elite.
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