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DC and DCC TURNOUT WIRING GUIDE

These animated diagrams illustrate the basic wiring methods you can use to wire your turnouts. Even if you aren't technical, you can see which ways are highly reliable and also DCC safe, whether you are using DCC or DC now or perhaps going to DCC in the future!

SLIDESHOW GALLERY IS NOW LOADING...

Basic electric sections of a model railroad switch



DIAGRAM 1: All the rails are conductive and normally should be powered, with the possible exception of the frog. The frog can be non-conductive, isolated or powered depending on the wiring method used.

Stock rails

DIAGRAM 2: The outer Stock Rails are always powered, but the various inner rails may be wired in various ways.

Isolated frog (DCC SAFE)

DIAGRAM 3: The Isolated (gapped) or "insulated" (dead) frog method. This, the most simple method of all, is to permanently wire all the remaining inner rails to their matching polarity outer (stock) rail. This works well for both DC and DCC. However, the "dead" frog is a Potential Stalling point for a short wheelbase locomotive, or one with poor electrical pick up

Power routing

DIAGRAM 4: The Traditional Power Routing or "Electrofrog" method relies on the switch points "touching" the stock rails reliably to automatically pass the correct power polarity to the inner rails and the frog. However, Metal locomotive wheels can potentially cause momentary "short circuits" at X which will normally cause a DCC booster to shut down.

Switched frog

DIAGRAM 5: Simple Frog Power Switching overcomes the "stalling" of the Insulated frog method and the "possible switch point shorting" disadvantage of the "power routing" method. Now the only place metal wheels may still cause "short circuits" is at Y, and then only if a train approaches to closely while the switch is "set" wrongly by an operator.

Frog and dead zone switching

DIAGRAM 6: Finally, adding an optional "Dead Zone" to the switched frog method, makes even the wrong locomotive path as potentially short-free as possible for DCC and may even prevent some derailments caused by an operator mistakenly trying to run the switch the wrong way. An ideal "Dead Zone" should be at least as long as the longest locomotive in use.

Relay connection for switched frog









DIAGRAM 7: Here we see how an auxiliary power relay kit, added to a "Stall" switch machine, can very simply and inexpensively provide frog power switching

Relay connection frog and dead zone switching









DIAGRAM 8: By changing the relay kit to the DPDT version, we can easily add the "Safety Dead Zone" with only two more wires