KB90: Wire Bus Standards - Copper Tape?

This article was last updated on Sept. 4, 2011, 12:28 p.m. | Print Article | Leave Feedback

Needs to be investigated  Z.

I am looking at buying one of your Super Chief systems. My question is :- Do you have to carry a bus under the boards or could you use an adhesive copper tape on the top of the board .  My system will be totally new; layout size 10 foot 6 inches x 8 foot.  Model Rail DVD showed this.

The core power bus of the railroad is an important component.  Remember, the Super Chief will be delivering either 5 Amps or 8 Amps of electrical power.  Your interest is to make sure that sufficient power readily reaches all portions of your trackage.  This insures not only reliable train power but also reliable delivery of the command control signals.  In addition to making the bus itself reliable, many operators place a feeder connection from the bus to every segment of track, no matter how long, or short.

We recommend that a heavier wire be used, typically 12 - 14 Gauge, by AWG standards; not sure what the European equivalent is.  The reason for the heavier wire is because of the amperage involved and voltage drop; the smaller the wire, the greater the voltage drop over distances.  Using the 12 - 14 gauge standard, the typical maximum bus length for the Super Chief would be 50 feet, about 15 meters.  Since your railroad is smaller, it might be possible to use a smaller wire size for the power bus such as what you describe, but doing so also raises the possibility of impaired system performance.  

We can't make a recommendation because we have no experience with such tape.  But in looking at some of the online information on "adhesive copper tape", this approach seems to be better suited for doll house lighting and electronic applications where there is low amperage flow, which is decidedly not the case with model railroad command control applications.

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