May 11, 2009

Still wiring

I've been slowly continuing wiring efforts on the layout, as I've found time for it (only a few hours per week, in this current season of life). I've got a Keller Onboard control system, and current work is wiring the remote jacks for the controls - running a bus around the layout, and wiring the jacks.

Keller's system comes with 3-circuit 1/4" stereo jacks on their keypads, but I don't like these for a number of reasons - they're hard to pull out, cause a momentary short when plugged in, and the stress from pulling seems like a bad idea for long-term durability. So, I replaced them with - borrowing from my theatre experiences - 3-pin metal XLR jacks, commonly use for microphones. The receptacles are male, while the plugs on the keypads are all female. If you're not familar w/ this type of connector, it's got a spring-loaded locking tab on it - so when you insert the plug it locks into place, and to remove you depress the tab and them pull out - not much stress at all because of this, but very durable.

Because I might someday upgrade to DCC, I researched the control bus requirements for a number of vendors, and decided to use a shielded network cable for my Keller control bus - the idea being that if I upgrade to DCC, I won't want to have to replace the bus wiring. I found - are you ready for this - 1100 feet of just the right cable on eBay a couple years ago, for maybe $60. It's #20 wire, with 2 sets of individually shielded pairs, plus a mesh metal shield around the whole thing.

Probably the only downside is that this wire is solid, and because my control panels drop down, I'm running this wire to terminal blocks near the panels, then switching to stranded wire into the panels themselves. I don't want the wire breaking because of the panel movement.

My usual comment... yes, I should get around to posting pictures, and I will try.