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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello, having just joined MRF and posted on the introduction thread, I thought that I might follow up with a more technical note.

Starting from scratch I decided that DCC was the way to go. I bought Bachmanns diesel starter EZ-Command set plus a Central Trains DMU which I had chipped. Both run well. My layout is fitted permanently in a commandeered bedroom (with permission from "she who must be obeyed"), there is only 2.4 X 1.5 metres available with an extended corner which is on an upper level to create more track space, so multiple carriage trains are not really practical. I had considered N gauge but my old eyes and banana fingers can just manipulate 00 gauge stock.

I was very fortunate that a friend gave me three old (30 years plus) hornby train sets plus 25 metres of flexi track. Unfortunately I have not had a great deal of success in chipping the Flying scotsman or one of the 0-4-0 GWR locos. The wiring/soldering is not a problem, getting them to work smoothly is, I suspect the old 3 pole moters may have some bearing on this.

The EZ gets quite hot even with one loco running, I have plans to replace it with something more up market (Gaugemaster prodigy or wait to see what Hornby are bringing out)

Anyway thats enough of my problems for now, I am on holiday for the next two weeks but be warned, "I'll be back"


Branchy
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for quick response Doug, I contacted Hornby, there are no replacement motors, whether a new 3 pole would serve is another option or get into major surgery and adapt a 5 pole, probably beyond my skills. Incidentally they don't run perfectly on DC either. Looks like they may be consigned to the sidings or sold on.

Branchy
 

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your 30 yr old Hornby isn't really suitable for DCC. They have primative motors and drive systems. They run to train set standards. You've already found out that good stock
will run well with DCC. It gives more control and features than a conventional anolgue system. Another no no is traction tyres. They leave a coating on the track. Tender drive loco's have traction tyres and the very dated Ringfield motor, try if you can to avoid this. Your DCC system relies on a good contact between the loco and the track.
I think once you have a taster of DCC you might just look at a better DCC setup.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Back from holiday (No trains on small Greek island). Reading all the replies it appears that my old freeby trainsets will be consigned to the scrap sidings, perhaps include a preservation society yard or something. At least I can use the simple controllers as power supplies for points/lights etc and someday all that track may come in useful.

I bought a Hornby 0-4-0 class 06 shunter DCC ready chipped 'professionally'? , as it ran extremely erratically I decided to have a shufty inside, the capaciter was still in place but more curiously one of the brush contacts had been connected via a soldered wire to the body of the motor. So to boldly go etc
....... I snipped out the capaciter and removed the soldered connection to the body. Voila! it works quite well now considering it only has a three pole motor.

Branchy
 

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Triang/Hornby XO4 motors can be replaced by 5 pole versions.I believe no longer in production but MRRC produced one as did another maker but I cannot remember the name.Have seen them at train fairs occasionally.
Homeofoo
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Here's an interesting problem, I fitted a TCS M1 decoder to my Hornby A3 and had it programmed via an NCE set up by the supplier. I had 10% accell/decell programmed in and 128 speed steps. It worked fine on the suppliers track but back at the ranch on my EZ-Command set up it was quirky to put it mildly. Initially it ran correctly but within two circuits stopped uncommanded, switching off/on and re-assigning the channel got it working but not for long, it decided to run slowly round my circuit regardless of the control position (off or full) eventually stopping by itself. At one stage it stopped, reversed and continued forward again all by itself.

It is going back for a check tomorrow, either I have a duff decoder or there is a clash between the NCE set up and my 14 step EZ. I have tried a larger spare decoder which works correctly but will not fit in the loco body.

Maybe it's time to bite the bullet and get a better contol system, NCE looks good.

Branchy
 

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Please give us your feedback on the NCE system.

Take a Look at LisaP4's DCC chart. Remember that there is no need to run hundreds and thousands of locos, rather buy a system that has a simple interface and is comfortable to use. Test it in the shop if possible. Ask them to show you how to run 3 or 4 locos at once with it as well as switching some points. If those tasks are simple and enjoyable, then go for it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
OK, I took the loco with the fitted decoder back to the supplier, it ran perfectly. So I decided to upgrade on the control, I was able to compare the Gaugemaster and NCE systems side by side, on balance the Gaugemaster is probably better value but the NCE has a better quality feel to it and more flexibility, upgrades are also possible. Anyway, I got carried away and bought the NCE, got it home, set up, whacked the offending loco on the track and .........Nothing, dead as a Turkish parrot. I put the loco on a programming track and went through the system looking at all the CVs, everything checked out. So back onto the EZ, train ran for half a circuit and stopped (out of my reach unless I performed some gymnastics). When this happens I have to send the Bachmann Class 25 out to drag the dead donkey back, I reckon that 25 will pull anything I ask it to.

After playing around for a while including converting back to DC (runs superbly) I refitted the Offending decoder, this time the NCE screen just displayed "can not read cv", tried wiggling a few bits, no joy.

Finally managed to squeeze the larger decoder into the space just below the chimney stack, voila! the loco now runs OK on DCC but with a slight buzz.

I have put all my stock on the programming track and produced a matrix of decoder manufacturer, version and the CV29 setting to see if there is a trend to the problem. the decoder is a TCS M1-UK.

All this activity has familiarised me quite well with the NCE system, it seems quite easy but unless I had long term access to the others I could not make a comparison. One thing though, the NCE will not operate an analogue (DC) loco, there is a setting part of CV29 which permits the chosen DCC equiped loco to run on DC (at least that is my interpretation of the instructions), why would you want to? But no way can I make my old Flying Scotsman move, sing? Yes. Move? not on your nellie.

The process to change loco control requires three separate button pushes, not easy if you are watching your track at the time. If you want to control two locos simultaneously it might be better to get another controller.

There you have it for now.

Branchy
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Things have moved on since my last posting, I bought a new class 08 shunter plus decoder, placed it on the track, nothing, completely dead. So I took this and the dead decoder fitted loco to my local guru. I also took my NCE system along in case there was a problem. The bad decoder was identified and changed, both locos ran perfectly. I took them home once more, placed them on my track with no change to decoder, frustratingly no action once again. Checked my other DCC locos, they all worked as designed.

The next step was to connect up the programming track to run the two offending items, this time they worked perfectly.

So, whats the difference? My programming track is a metre of flexitrack connected at one end. The main layout is a double circuit plus joining point systems, supply is connected at 5 points on the track, there are no short circuits or leaks anywhere, readings at all places on the track are 14.25 volts nevertheless three locos will work and the latest two will not. The common denominater in the non operating ones is the TCS M1 decoder and 5 pole motor. All locos work on the short length of track. It would seem to be a wiring deficiency, perhaps I should rip it all out and start again.

Any advice or help would be appreciated to save me tearing my hair out.


Branchy
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks for suggestions Doug

I can not check the current, no ammeter, NCE state up to 5 Amps

No inconpatibility problem, both locos run (superbly) on the programme track when I connect it direct to the NCE.

Yes both locos ran in the shop on their track, I also asked them to run it using my NCE set up, again no problems.

I have just tried running on an isolated piece of track on the far side of the layout, no results although measured supply voltage is the same as the programme track set up, the only difference is the wire run and connections between, however my other three DCC locos run perfectly.

I wonder if the combination of 5 pole motor and these particular decoders are trying to draw more current than my wiring harness can supply, but surely parking right above the nearest connection to the NCE would work.

Baffled Branchy
 

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Right I'm probably going to tell you what you already know, but with fault finding and DCC it will pay you to have a structured method of fault finding. From what you say you have eliminated the DCC command unit and the decoder/loco it's self. If you hav'nt run a couple of checks and assure yourself that both are functioning properly. If in doupt try another loco/decoder. Is your command unit giving you any indication of a short ?
IE does it give you a buzzing signal ?. If it does when does it do it ?, IE what triggers the short.
IF the short is not the decoder/loco or the command unit, what happens when you power up the layout ?. Have you checked the connections from command unit to track bus ?.
I am assuming you have a track bus. Use a simple light 12v car light with a couple of leads soldered to it to check track power, it will give you an indication if you have track power round the layout. Do you use a wiring convention. I use RED to the A front rail and BLACK to the rear rail. ALWAYS use this convention regarless of what others may tell you. It makes checking connection easy and simple.
I always wire up with the command unit on, why if I make a mistake it tells me, with a buzz. It's simply a question of eliminating all the variables 1 x 1 in a logical sequence, to determine where your problem is.
Finally have you checked the cab bus, check the cable, the plugs can be cripped poorly try another cable, they can give problems. finally change the socket that you plug your trottle into.
If you still have problems I'm available for a small fee if your around Somerset
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
MMaD, Sorry too late, I was passing through Somerset last weekend, if only I had known. But seriously folks I think I am getting to the nub of the problem.

I disconnected all the connections and simply clamped the terminals from the NCE directly to the track using crocodile clips. This meant that the input would have to travel round the outer circuit and then the inner via the points and using just the track connecters for continuity. Both of the offending locos worked perfectly all the way round the track. Obviously there was something wrong with my bus system, the puzzling thing is, why did three locos work but not the the last purchased two? Anyway its back to basics with a new bus main, add some, test it and move on if all is well.


Branchy (much happier now)
 

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excellent progress
. Normally I allow 65-70mm between bus wires, and I like to make them as tight as possible. One my last layout I used bare copper earth wire
about 7mm in dia. A refinement on my mates layout was to use shackles to really make the bus wires as tight as possible. I have some photo's somewhere I'll post them tomorrow if they would be of intrest.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Doug, 7mm bus? You probably robbed your local power station.

I have just remembered I have a load of mains twin core + earth in the garage. just miked it up at 1.36mm. NCE recommend AWG #14 (1.62mm) I looked up Wire guage on the internet and there is a comparison table which converts AWG to British SWG and shows equivalent core diameters. Anyway, to give it the best shot I will get some more mains cable of the max' diameter which will connect to the NCE power output plug and connect to a ring power bus using at least 2 mm solid core wire. I doubt if I have sufficient strength to bend 7mm
I think a connection every metre or so should be enough, I have seen a recommendation to connect every individual track piece, I think that is massive overkill but I may be wrong.

Branchy
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Finally got to the bottom of the problem. As my layout is largely experimental at this stage I was using Hornby track connectors at strategic locations.

As the successful connection at the moment is via crodile clips straight to the nearest rail it blocked the track loop. I fitted a Hornby connector and connected the crocodile clips to it, the original problem returned so I moved the clips back to the track, still no joy. Removing the Hornby connector cured the problem. I repeated the test several times with all my stock and several connectors.

The bottom line is that the combination of NCE and TCS M1 decoder(possibly 5 pole motor also) will not work if a Hornby track connector (not even wired up) is added to the track. I can only think that there is a field set up between the two brass contacts which blocks the decoder instructions. I have checked the connectors for insulation but only with a low powered meter.

Maybe someone else has encountered this or certainly will in the future

Branchy
 
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