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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A fairly serious 1st post. As I'm quite new to DCC I expect to have a few mishaps, I wasn't quite sure if I'd fried a Decoder, so I thought I'd try it in a newly wired train that I had just tested with a different Decoder. After plugging it in (a Digitrax DH163D Decoder) and applying forward drive, the Decoder burst into flames in literally a second. I didn't have the body on, so I put out the fire nearly as fast. Is this a common occurrence or was I just unlucky.
 

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you don't say which DCC set-up you have. I normally test all my decoders before installation and afterwards on my programming track ,BEFORE GIVING THEM A TEST RUN.


You could be entering an expensive stage of the hobby if you just plonk things on the main, select 03 and go for it
Many things can cause a problem even your DCC plug can be faulty I've had quite a few from Hornby and some Heljan across my work bench. I've seen a few smoke, but never flames what size of voltage did you apply ?. The DH163D has a rating of 2amps peak load and 1.50 amps max normal so it must have been some short !
Key things to look out for:
buy a continuity tester to help you with your installations
a decoder tester
check and check again your installation
buy a good book and read it ( DCC for Beginners is good and so is DCC project and Aspects of Modelling Digital Command control )
have a seperate programming track the book will tell you how
buy a fire extinguisher for your installation !
It's advisable to operate your layout on a reasonably low voltage "if possible" this reduces wear and tare on components and helps them to last longer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
It's the Digitrax Super Empire Builder, power supply was a PS515 transformer plugged into a 240v- 120v reducing plug the test track was a metre of Peco code 100. I had used the LT1 Decoder tester on it, giving it the address of 01. Only one light showed when I put it through its paces on the the tester, that's why I thought I'd give it a try in a newly wired train that had just been proved, lights as well, with a different Decoder.

buy a fire extinguisher for your installation !

I was in the kitchen, so it went under the tap, train dried out OK.


On reflection I should have set the command station to N scale.
 

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Have you read the write up on the Digitrax site regarding the PS515 transformer PS515 I don't think it's intended for 240volts. I have a stand alone 5 amp cased transformer. Such transformers are readily available All Components stock them for example.
this might explain why you got flames. The Yanks operate on 110volts domestic supply. If this was the unit supplied with your Digitrax kit, please examine it before trying it again.
Although it was over seven years ago that I bought my DCS100 I do remember binning the transformer that came with it in the box. I'd also have a good look at your DB150 and make sure it's functioning OK

I think running your empire builder at the N settingg is a good idea that's where mine is set that should give you 12.4 volts. Have you set up a programming track ?. However this isn't the solution to your problem did the loco run OK on DC, and what loco was it ?.
You normally can't fail with a plug-in decoder the worst that can happen is the loco will run the wrong way. I use the Loys Toys decoder tester, but I know that John at Bromsgrove models also stocks a tester that is far cheaper. It's a good idea to test every decoder your going to use, that way you remove one potential question mark before you begin. You know that 100% of new decoders should read 03 as the address, anything else indicates a problem. The nice thing with the decoder tester is you can see immediately all the functions are working IE forward & reverse and the lighting functions. From your description are you sure you have the transformer set up the right voltage, I have never heard of a decoder bursting into flames before.
Read your manual for the DB150 as you need to set-up a programming track. This is a good ideal as the programming tack operates at a much lower voltage protecting your decoder if you do make a mistake.
I have a DCS100 and a DB150 as a booster, I've never had to use the DB150 a command modual.
 

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Crabby,

Do not attempt to use the transformer if it is a 110V US unit, for the reason that Makemineadouble has already explained. It will be the next thing to catch fire if you put much load on it, and is not something you can carry to the kitchen tap to extinguish. I have never heard of a 240V to 120V reducing plug (but then there are lots of things I have not heard of!), the only satisfactory device for this task is a transformer; and to be 'man enough for the job' it will need to weigh as at least as much as the DCC set transformer. If it is a light piece of plastic with pins and socket, it is an adaptor intended to allow small multi voltage appliances with switched mode power supplies (electric shavers and the like) to be operated when people travel.

If you have connected a 110V transformer to UK mains, then the output voltage will have been at least double what is intended. That will have driven a larger than designed current through the decoder, and is the likely cause of the ignition.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Sorry a typo, I meant 240v-110v AC-AC convertor, see image below. I would never dream of plugging a 110v unit into a 240v socket.




The label on the PS515 actually says;

Input: AC120V 60Hz.

My main track is a roughly 75ft double circuit of the garden double isolated from each other at the only set of crossover points. Last year I wired one circuit with a Bus-bar to run Hornby live steam (great fun
) the other circuit I left wired for Cab control. This year as I was doing some track alterations and money permitted (the BOW, Bank of Wife said OK) I wired a Bus-bar to the other circuit and bought the Digitrax.
So everything in the garden's been rosy, apart from this one Decoder, and the recent weather.

 

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All good stuff ! We are relieved ! How have you managed about your loconet connection in the garden ? or do you only have the one UP5 ?. I really like the DT400 I have four of them, and a couple of UT4's for when I travelled to another layout, or had visitors. With my previous layout I used a couple of modified Roco Cleans with hardboard inserts to keep the track clean. They work well but you need a very powerful loco to pull them around. Radio control for Digitrax is on the way in the UK you'll find that useful in the garden.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Radio control for Digitrax is on the way in the UK you'll find that useful in the garden.

I daren't have any more major outlays for a while.
But is their a list of compatible Decoders anywhere?

 

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For Digitrax users the TCS (train control Systems) is a perfect decoder, of course I do have other makes of decoder including Digitrax, ESU, but no Lenz
as I prefer my decoders to have a wrapper on the outside. Lenz decoders run hot and have to have a method of dissipating heat that's why they don't use insulation. Their good decoders, I've installed a lot for clients who run the Lenz system.
If you running 00 like it seems you are then I prefer TCS decoders.
I like the TCS M1 decoder for your type of installation and in the garden smoke can be used to effect.
Like Digitrax decoders they have an insulated wrapped on the outside
They have a 2amp peak load for short periods and 1amp normal loading
They are cheaper
There is a goof proof warranty
and provided you use CV56 and CV57 as directed they give superb low speed running. This is called Dither by TCS
The Web site gives a host of installations in British loco's
they are readily available in the UK
they can be programmed on the main (ops mode) remember with your DT400 if you press the program button you can cycle through the programming modes
you have four of them po is ops mode programming or programming on the main use this to set up the running characteristics that you want on your loco's but not the critical CV's like CV1 and CV29 these you should program on your programming track as they are unique to that loco.
have a look at:
TCS

TCS M1 decoder

Bromsgrove Models Stock TCS Bromsgrove

In order for you to use Radio Control you have a UP91 and a DT400 R

 

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QUOTE (Crabby @ 16 Jun 2007, 11:36) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Sorry a typo, I meant 240v-110v AC-AC convertor, see image below. I would never dream of plugging a 110v unit into a 240v socket.




The label on the PS515 actually says;

Input: AC120V 60Hz.

Your transformer rating of 45 watts looks a little low for a device that can put out 2 amps at around 16 volts. Probably not a safety issue but it could shut down when your output demand gets a bit high. The frequency may also be an issue, because the American transformer will be designed for 60Hz but fed from 50Hz in the UK. All in all, you might consider getting a UK power supply with the same output voltage and rating as the Digitrax - cased version likely to be £30-40 from various suppliers.

None of this explains your exploding decoder though!
 

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QUOTE (Edwin @ 18 Jun 2007, 09:33) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Your transformer rating of 45 watts looks a little low for a device that can put out 2 amps at around 16 volts. Probably not a safety issue but it could shut down when your output demand gets a bit high. The frequency may also be an issue, because the American transformer will be designed for 60Hz but fed from 50Hz in the UK. All in all, you might consider getting a UK power supply with the same output voltage and rating as the Digitrax - cased version likely to be £30-40 from various suppliers.

Sound advice - one thing to watch when checking outputs & such is that the Americans have a habit of expressing wattages (Va) in the maximum/short term rather that continuous, therefore the "transformer" (which is probably a switchmode power supply) is more like 20 watts continuous output & you require at least 32 !

Just be careful when saving the pennies by buying from other markets - it's not always the most cost-effective in the longer term. cheapest.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I only use that on the test track, the transformer I use outside is supplying enough power for the Digitrax booster.

 
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