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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I like the Zephyr, but I have a big issue when programming on the programming track. I can program the decoders in operation mod, but you can't read from the decoder, which I have found to be a problem. When I place the loco on the track and try to read or write to the decoder I get an open circuit error message and when it looks like it has written to the decoder it hasn't. I have had it read the decoder after many hours of playing but all the setting on the decoder were 255 which in some setting is impossible as I know the address to be 3?? I have done many things to try fix this fault here is the list:
Checked it was wired and connected right from the controller to the track.
Changed the wire from the controller to the track, tried many diffrent types and thickness of wire.
Checked it was wired and connected right from the controller to the track again.
Added a resistor (recommended by Digitrax)
Tried steel track instead of nickel.
Checked it was wired and connected right from the controller to the track again.
Tried pretty much all the decoders on the market (still no joy)
Then sent it back to Digitrax. "A new board was fitted and checked and OK" but it still didn't work.
Checked it was wired and connected right from the controller to the track again for the hell of it.
The thing is, it worked OK when I first got it, for 10 months. but now it isn't. The guts of the controller have been replaced and tested at Digitrax. When I sent it of I left out the power pack, which I believe could be the fault with it. I don't want to shell out more cash to possible find out it isn't, unless I'm 85% sure it is.
Is there anything else I could try??? or anyone local that would like to give it a try??? It is upsetting as I sold many loco's (some that I had from my Childhood) to pay for this controller and can't afford to keep throwing money it to try and get it working or to find out I need to buy a new one. It is out of its guarantee and Digitrax will not extend the guarantee as it was working for them when it was sent back, which I can understand. I am open for Ideas and great full for all help and advise, I will be eternally great full to anyone that gets it working.

Thanks
Martin Levin
 

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For what it is worth Martin, I too have a zephyr and have experienced the same problems with programming.

From what I have read I believe the power output to the programming track is too low and really needs a booster. I have had some success using a little gadget called the 'decoder tester' from www.loystoys.com

The decoder can be plugged into the tester and the tester attaches to the programming track with alligator clips. You can then set up the decoder before ever installing it into the loco. The point of this is that the alligator clips seem to make much more positive contact with the rails of the programming track than the loco wheels do.

There is also a power booster available I believe - I'll check into this and report back, but I must say that so far the tester has solved my immediate problems of not being able to program the decoders at all.

Hope this helps
Norm
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Well I think I have nearly sorted it. I placed a 1k resistor across the two lines, not sure what to expect and not sure why, but I managed to read and write to the decoder. It still took a few attempts with some of the "cheaper" decoders, but still managed to read and right to them, unlike before where the controller wouldn't acknowledge them. I'm feeling a lot better now that all but one, with the Hornby decoder, has been programmed in with its running number. I'm going to have a play about with diffrent valued resistors to see if I get any improvment. when I put my multi meter across the two lines I got 31V which has worried me a little, after adding the resistor it dropped down to 22V.
 

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I've had this problem using a variety of decoders in a variety of locos using a FLM Twin-Centre (AKA Uhlenbrook Intellibox), Lenz LH100 & the GM Prodidgy Advance.
Often overcome by using croc' clips to "power" the wheels and/or small 24volt lamp across the programming track output.
Extra good contact between the programming track & the wheels is essential.
 

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Hi Martin :^)
The decoder communicates it's CVs to the programming device by presenting a load on the programming track (that's why the loco makes little jumps when you program it). It's called an "Acknowledgment" or ACK, for short. It's kind of like morse code only it's binary of course. The programmer detects the string of ACKs tapped out by the decoder and translates it into a value.
You cannot read CVs back in OPs mode programming because that happens on the full powered track. The programming track is usually a low power output that can be easily loaded down by the decoder's ACK. I made a DIY DCC system once and I never did get the ack detection working.

It sounds to me like your Zephyr's programming track is actually too powerful, rather than not powerful enough. Putting a 1k resistor across the programming track seems to have loaded it down enough for the decoder to have a noticable effect. That would be why Digitrax suggested adding a resistor.
I've never had this problem with my Zephyr but I've only ever used Digitrax brand decoders. Perhaps they have a more detectable ack signal than other brands of decoder.
 

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I haven't had my Zephyr long (3 months) but I too haven't had a problem. I have Digitrax decoders througout and I have often used OPS mode programming, so perhaps it was easy on me.

Rick
 
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