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Just another modeller
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
***Hi all

A problem has been solved for many owners / brands of DCC!

I've been doing some testing on a neat little product, the NCE Auto-SW.

it is a simple device that can be added to the output of many DCC systems. This is an item that I think will be a big help to owners of systems without dedicated programming track outputs - no more programming all by accident, no more need to take other loco's off the track to read CV's or do programming!

Connection is simple:

It has input on one side from the DCC system (track outputs)
It has two sets of outputs on the other side, for programme track and connections to track.
I have attached an image of it at the bottom of this post.

Its really easy and convenient, as there is no need for a programming track switch at all.

connect to the main track as normal
and
connect the programming track outputs to a convenient isolated siding that you will use as a programming track

Now when you want to do service mode or programming track mode programming, you just:

(1) drive the loco into the siding and stop it.
(2) Put the system into programming track mode (service mode). The Auto Switch will then automatically disconnect the DCC system from the main track track and remain connected only to the programming track so you do not risk reprogramming everything on your layout.

(3) When you finish programming, it will automatically reconnect to the main track so you can just drive the loco away!

NCE say this about it:

Prevents accidental programming of ALL locos on your track when using Program Track mode. Automatically disconnects your main line when in Program Track mode (does not affect Program on Main). Compatible with ALL DCC systems such as DigitraxTM Big Boy, Empire Builder and Bachmann EZ-CommandTM.

I have now tested it with Dynamis, Digitrax empire builder and of course the NCE Powercab. I am pretty sure that it will work just as well with Roco and others!

It is very easy to understand and set up, and isn't dear at all... quite low cost in fact (appx GBP13, $AUD 29).

An accessory with real value to many DCC users!

regards

Richard
 

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DT
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I was going to say that is sound like a relay with a little circuitry, and looking at the pic I see it is a relay with a little circuitry.

Great idea though and it would be useful for those with DCC systems that don't have a separate programming track. The price is right too. Well worth it.

I have a switched programming track allowing me to drive a loco on or off the track or programming and I would have done a similar thing switching power off the main track on a DCC system that only have PoM if I had such a system. I have too many locos on the layout in sheds to do otherwise.
 

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QUOTE (Doug @ 3 Sep 2008, 14:12) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I was going to say that is sound like a relay with a little circuitry, and looking at the pic I see it is a relay with a little circuitry.
Needs to be a little more than that, and I would guess that it decides when to switch in by detecting the extended preamble bits which are a feature of Service Mode packets. As there are specific sequences and numbers of packets required to enter Service Mode there ought to be time for the relay to switch before that sequence is completed, so locos on the main get switched off before the Service Mode entry criteria are satisfied and thus avoid being programmed.
It would also explain why 'Programming on the Main' is unaffected, as those packets use standard length preambles.
 

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Just another modeller
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
QUOTE (Gordon H @ 5 Sep 2008, 07:04) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Needs to be a little more than that, and I would guess that it decides when to switch in by detecting the extended preamble bits which are a feature of Service Mode packets. As there are specific sequences and numbers of packets required to enter Service Mode there ought to be time for the relay to switch before that sequence is completed, so locos on the main get switched off before the Service Mode entry criteria are satisfied and thus avoid being programmed.
It would also explain why 'Programming on the Main' is unaffected, as those packets use standard length preambles.

***Exactly. That is the purpose of one of the two small chips on the PCB.
 

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QUOTE (Richard Johnson @ 5 Sep 2008, 04:44) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>***Exactly. That is the purpose of one of the two small chips on the PCB.
Can't really see the detail on the picture, but it looks likely to be a PIC12F series device, going purely by the pin count.
Also can't quite make out the current rating on the relay. Is it 3A? That might be an important factor if people are using high current boosters - though I guess the idea is that you are expected to stop the main line trains before starting any Service mode activities, so the switched current will be reasonably low. However, the relay ought to be capable of carrying the full booster current for normal operation.
 

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Excellent piece of kit Richard,

Thanks for bringing it to our notice
i have the programme track on a DPDT switch and am going to get a unit after having a start reading the decoder and going back to selecting the loco and nothing
only to find i havnt thrown the switch over back to main track running
 

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QUOTE (Gordon H @ 5 Sep 2008, 23:44) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Is it 3A? That might be an important factor if people are using high current boosters - though I guess the idea is that you are expected to stop the main line trains before starting any Service mode activities, so the switched current will be reasonably low. However, the relay ought to be capable of carrying the full booster current for normal operation.

though most system with over 3amps will properly have a programing track output so it wont be needed
 

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Just another modeller
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
QUOTE (Gordon H @ 6 Sep 2008, 07:44) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Can't really see the detail on the picture, but it looks likely to be a PIC12F series device, going purely by the pin count.
Also can't quite make out the current rating on the relay. Is it 3A? That might be an important factor if people are using high current boosters - though I guess the idea is that you are expected to stop the main line trains before starting any Service mode activities, so the switched current will be reasonably low. However, the relay ought to be capable of carrying the full booster current for normal operation.

***Gordon, the relay is more than comfortably rated. It is quite comfortable and has been thoroughly tested with 5 amp systems such as the Digitrax Empire builder.

redrgb, 3 amps is Gordons guess not its specification. There are actually several devices out there that need programming track separation and are higher than 3 amps, plus earlier products that are no longer sold but are still in use

Richard
 

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QUOTE (Richard Johnson @ 7 Sep 2008, 08:19) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>***Gordon, the relay is more than comfortably rated. It is quite comfortable and has been thoroughly tested with 5 amp systems such as the Digitrax Empire builder.

redrgb, 3 amps is Gordons guess not its specification. There are actually several devices out there that need programming track separation and are higher than 3 amps, plus earlier products that are no longer sold but are still in use

Richard
Out of interest, what is the rating actually printed on the relay?
The fact that it has been tested in practice is no guarantee of longevity. If I have to specify a relay, a proper derating process has to be applied, such that the relay cannot be over stressed outside of its specified limits for a worst case loading, however unlikely it may seem. For example, relays are typically derated at 75%, so you would have to select a 4A type for switching 3A with a resistive load. Inductive loads are even worse (40%).
This is one aspect of commercial product where you should always expect to see a rating given. If nothing is quoted, you have no comeback if it goes wrong. I'm not suggesting any particular issue in this case, but as a matter of principle the capabilities of such items should be clearly indicated.
 

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Ian Wigglesworth
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Gordon,

Not being funny here, but the auto switcher is made by NCE, and on their web site it does say it can be used with most systems that don't have a separate programming track.

I know, as you have said before electronics is your job, but in the last few weeks every time Richard has written a post or responded to a question, you seem to jump down his throat and try to prove him wrong or question everything he says, even when it's not his product!

Ok so your an electronics whizz, if you want to know the ins and outs of a product and all its specifications hows about contacting the manufacturer direct or using PM's?
Which I think would have been much better than trying to basically say Richard built his opto isolator board wrong or could have made it better/cheaper in open forum!

I'm not trying to cause a problem but DCC is confusing enough for many people, without you now trying to second guess if the manufacturers of equipment have actually designed and built it correctly(or to your standards) and if its fit for purpose.
To question Richard AGAIN though when it's not even his product seems to be a little unfair


Please can you just give some very knowledgeable people who give a great amount of USEFUL input to this forum a break?
 

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Well said Wiggy.

I have just become noticed that after reading your post and you are correct! Gordan if you have something really constructive to add, do so but this forum is about helping others and enjoying our hobby.

After reading some of the posts it is apparent that Gordan in my opinion has an axe to grind. My advice just enjoy it on here because if this continues you will find yourself in limbo. I can confidantly make that statement as Richard has helped just about everyone on here.

How much has Richard contributed to this site and not just in DCC. How many people has he gone the extra mile for, me included.

Not the place to tell stories but if you only knew how far he goes for some of the forum members, most would be shocked!

So if you want to build your "rep" as a DCC expert don't attack Richard, support him.

m
 

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I agree Richard helps all of us here, and has taken time out to bring this NCE Auto - SW to our attention and extensivley tested it

'' I have now tested it with Dynamis, Digitrax empire builder and of course the NCE Powercab. I am pretty sure that it will work just as well with Roco and others! ''

not like other retailers stock it and tell the customer whats wrtten on the packet ... the only true way to know about the products you sell is to either use them or put them on test, and what does Richard get for his troubles a grilling for an item no doubt NCE themselves have every confidence in providing excellent service after all they have a big customer following who want an item to look after their expensive systems and locos.

I intend to purchase one once the powercab is back to ensure the programming facility on the layout and have no doubts about it.

Like all of us here i want to enjoy the hobby and not get to bogged down in technicalities which should not concern us too much, these things have a time and place to be aired.
 

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QUOTE (Martin71 @ 8 Sep 2008, 15:59) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Gordan if you have something really constructive to add, do so but this forum is about helping others and enjoying our hobby.
It might help if you could at least spell my name correctly, but no matter...
If you recall the previous thread regarding Richard's additional opto board for his Masterswitch, I think you will find that my aim was to actually help Richard out by pointing to a possibly simpler and cheaper solution that might have saved him money. Sorry if this upsets anyone, but that is just my way.
I have no particular axe to grind, and certainly not against Richard himself or his products, but where I can see potential for problems with products, or where an alternative approach might be taken, surely it is acceptable to be allowed to point these out?

QUOTE So if you want to build your "rep" as a DCC expert don't attack Richard, support him.
My 'rep', as you call it, in the field of model railway electronics is well established enough for me not to worry about such matters here. If I choose to take a particular standpoint is is usually when I can see only one point of view being presented. As is evident, most readers on this kind of forum are not in a position to question things on a technical level, so someone needs to ask the things that aren't necessarily apparent to the majority at face value. Unfortunately, this may make it look as if the person doing it is always 'having a go', when this is (almost) never the intention. Playing the Devil's Advocate is never easy...
 

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Just another modeller
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
QUOTE (Gordon H @ 9 Sep 2008, 20:18) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>It might help if you could at least spell my name correctly, but no matter...
If you recall the previous thread regarding Richard's additional opto board for his Masterswitch, I think you will find that my aim was to actually help Richard out by pointing to a possibly simpler and cheaper solution that might have saved him money. Sorry if this upsets anyone, but that is just my way.
I have no particular axe to grind, and certainly not against Richard himself or his products, but where I can see potential for problems with products, or where an alternative approach might be taken, surely it is acceptable to be allowed to point these out?

My 'rep', as you call it, in the field of model railway electronics is well established enough for me not to worry about such matters here. If I choose to take a particular standpoint is is usually when I can see only one point of view being presented. As is evident, most readers on this kind of forum are not in a position to question things on a technical level, so someone needs to ask the things that aren't necessarily apparent to the majority at face value. Unfortunately, this may make it look as if the person doing it is always 'having a go', when this is (almost) never the intention. Playing the Devil's Advocate is never easy...

***With sincere thanks to those who commented, can we leave this part of the thread alone now.... points have been made, taken and responded to.

Gordon, I do appreciate your perspective.... but:

You should realise that I also have a very long history in consumer products and electronics of various types, most far, far more sophisticated than the subjects and products related to this forum,... To keep this comment on subject, many of which were also high power devices that operated with extremely high currents at low voltages...

I am also active every day in advising and helping modelers to make sure they keep enjoying their hobby by making good decisions and doing things the right way, and as both a wholesaler and retailer of my own electronics products I am also very aware of the issues surrounding consumer products and the need to look after users by making sure that things do as they should.

In such issues I see absolutely no need for any "devils advocate" and I will never debate such issues as you have raised on the forum recently, as they simply distract from the purpose of the varous threads and overcomplicate issues that should remain direct and simple.

I note your comment re "one point of view" however in this case in paricular, there was no "point of view" involved... only the presentation of a quality, well designed product that had been well tested and does as it says it will - one that would assist modellers by taking away a problem that many have, which is the sole reason I raised the subject on the forum in the first place.

As to the reason for your comment, in this case as no questionable point of view existed because there is no doubt about the quality of build your questions were simply not relevant, which is why I didn't bother answering your last post in the first place...

I take this approach for a very pragmatic reason:

From my perspective, having seen the confusion and dismay so often created by overcomplication of technical issues when simple direct advice would give confidence and good results for the average modeller, I will not involve myself in unnecessarily detailed technical debate where I see no important or direct benefit to forum readers.

kind regards

Richard
 
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