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Using both lanes with one controller

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  • Using both lanes with one controller

    Hey –

    So, I have a small layout designed using Ultimate racer – Carrera track – average of 27 feet per lane.

    Plan to run solo now with one PM controller – wanted to use both lanes (mostly for the curves) via a single crossover section.

    The Carrera power supply has two separate leads (14.8v each I think) – one for each lane. I thought read somewhere that more power drops may be needed over 20 feet? Do you think that feeding both lanes is overkill or is just using the single tap from the power supply enough?


  • #2
    If the power supplies really go power each lane independently, and you link them together with a single crossover, you'll be shorting the power supplies together whenever you pull the trigger, and will likely fry something.
    If you want more consistent power, the solution is not more power, but more links back to the power base itself. They called power taps, or jumpers. You take a pair of wires for each lane, stuff them into the rail underneath (this is for Carrera track, others you'd solder the wire to the rail underneath) near the power base track, and then to somewhere else on the layout, usually the half-way point. If you need more, then keep doing that to the half way point between each jumper. Or plan it out in advance. You can do a sunburst or a daisy chain. What you're doing is bypassing the resistance introduced by all the track joins, to bring cleaner power to distant points of the layout. Note that far away on the layout isn't necessarily far away as the crow flies. ;-)


    • #3
      Greg is correct about the shorting, and the way to run jumpers. To add to that, by using 1 crossover you are essentially creating roughly a one lane 54' long track [electrically]. A general rule of thumb on jumper spacing is 15'-20' apart, but I would just try it without jumpers first and see if you notice any loss of power anywhere first.
      Some thing you can do with a track like that is run 2 cars at once on the same controller and see how many laps you can do before they meet at the crossover. Since it is a short analog track I would start one car half way around the track.
      I have a digital track and I do this a lot when running by myself. Lots of fun. On my track, if the cars are closely matched they will run close together for 5- 10 laps or so and trade the lead back and forth on different sections of the track if I don't use the lane changers.


      • #4
        Thanks for the help - I was under the impression that the rails of crossovers were insulated (i.e. the power feeds underneath) from each other - if they weren't (and even if you used two) wouldn't that short the track regardless? If the power feeds each lane independently and the track is effectively 54 ft wouldn't using both power feeds from the power supply to each lane (i.e. plugging into the black box) just assist with power (i.e. like adding another power tap)? Perhaps I'm missing something - for now I'll just use one power feed along with a single controller (unless I have to use two controllers).



        • #5
          The wires in the X track transfer the power from L1 to L2 [and L2 to L1] at the crossover. When you come to the 2nd X track the power from L2 transfers back to L1 and the separate power from each lane NEVER meets.
          By using only 1 X track you are just rerouting the power path into 1 lane so just use 1 controller.
          On your second question, I'm going to say no. Jumpers spread power around from the SAME source. In the case of 1 X track, it would be through the L1 controller.
          If you hook up the other power wire to the terminal track it would have to go through the L2 controller with the throttle pushed, to get that power to the track. Different voltages would be going to the same place [effectively L1] from 2 DIFFERENT sources [even though the power is technically originally coming from the same power supply] resulting in a short.

          Last edited by 32lbking; November 22, 2019, 06:18 PM. Reason: left out a couple words


          • #6
            Thanks for the help. I was planning to use just one controller anyway so sounds like one x track should be fine? Does the use of an electronic vs. traditional resistance controller make a difference with the single x track scenario? Does power only get supplied to the track when a controller is hooked up and used?

            Appreciate the help - been a long time since I ran slots; don't want to fry anything!!


            • #7
              only way could use a single cross over would be if you are running Digital setup

              THE other Vancouver aka Vancouver Washington across the river from keep Portland weird....
              Member NASTE (Northwest Association of Slot Track Enthusiasts)


              • #8
                I appreciate all the feedback - learning so much about this hobby. I ran the setup today with one controller and power supply plugged in with a single crossing and it ran fine. I will say the cars are not a good match for the mechanical Carrera controllers.

                The PM 2123 arrives Monday and I'm looking forward to trying it.

                Got to say - still a bit baffled about positive vs. negative polarity track wiring and how it relates to electronic controllers. The PM website tech area states that Carrera track is positive polarity yet the recommended controllers are negative?


                • #9
                  Doc got me thinking since I haven't had an analog setup in a while. I put together a small 14' oval from spare track and ran a bunch of laps using a slot it brand car with stock orange end bell motor.
                  I ran 4 tests of 150 laps each with 1 X track installed, and the same without the crossover track.
                  Here is what I found;
                  With X track- with using stock BLACK 20709 Carrera Mechanical controller. No issues except after about 100 laps the controller getting a little warm. No heat or hot smell from the connection track.
                  Standard analog setup with no X track. Same results [BLACK controller got warm]. I let the controllers cool down between tests. I seem to remember that when I had an analog track years ago that the BLACK controllers got warm.

                  With X track and using stock RED Carrera Electronic controller. No issues and the red controller did not get warm at all.
                  No heat or hot smell from the connection track.
                  Same results without the single X track installed.

                  I used 2 different BLACK controllers and the results were the same with both. I only hooked the power [stock Carrera wall wart power supply] and controller up to lane 1 [NO POWER to lane 2]

                  My analog sets are from around 2004 so they have the older connection or power track. I don't know if the newer power track is wired any different [I wouldn't think so, but I don't have one to look inside. Inside mine there is some kind of resister [I think] that connects both rails in each lane together [+ rail to - rail in the same lane] not from L1-L2.

                  Since this was such a short track I obviously couldn't get to full throttle for more than a split second burst so that has to be taken into consideration.
                  I don't know a lot about electricity. These are just my results with the parts mentioned and your results may be different so you do it at your own risk. I don't want to give any incorrect information, so if anyone knows a good reason not to do this please post it in this thread.


                  • #10
                    Awesome - thanks Randy for the thorough reply and taking the time to do different tests (very cool).


                    • #11
                      No problem. I'm retired