01 June, 2010

When In Doubt, Test It Out

Well, I believe we can never go forward, without us sometimes taking a couple of steps back.  Just not sure how to get around this challenge.  Let me fill you in...
I am building this layout with Digital Command Control (DCC) to start with, for ease of wiring and to run individually controllable, sound-equipped locomotives.  This will allow a more realistic experience with operations.

Background: Layout - in progress (11'x13' around-the-walls). Currently, the first "Loop" is being wired, with all solid wire - 14 ga for the bus wires and 22 ga for the feeders. I'm using 3m Scotchlok "Suitcase" connectors. I have the Super Chief plugged in to the end of the bus wires (approximately 40') with adequate # of feeders.

Problem: For some reason, recently, the Super Chief has decided to no longer work. I have unplugged the power source (Digitrax PS515 from Traintek LLC) and reset the power strip, so power to unit is confirmed. Both toggles are set properly (one to 'HO', the other to 'Run'). I get response from the DT400 Throttle when I power up the layout. Two locos are on the tracks (one with a Tsunami, one with a factory-installed Quantum). However, when I power up, I hear one loco's decoder 'click' as if it's receiving signal, the headlights come on, but no sound or response to commands.

Investigation & Testing: To ensure it wasn't a wiring issue, I tested the layout's wiring with my Zephyr (2.5A?) plugged in the same way I do the Super Chief and it's able to power 4-5 sound-equipped DCC locos (one S-2 with an MRC decoder, two P2K Quantum-equipped decoders, and two locos with Soundtraxx Tsunamis). All ran fine, had sound, and responded to commands.

I then took the Super Chief to a 4' long piece of test track, attached it with Atlas pre-wired rail joiners, and put an Atlas loco with a Tsunami DSD installed (by Traintek). Same problem. I changed the toggle from "HO" to "O/G" and it worked intermitently... so, is this an Amperage problem with the DCS100, or am I doing something wrong?  These are the questions posed to the folks on the Digitrax Yahoo Group (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Digitrax/).  Hopefully, an answer will come soon.

Otherwise, a somewhat productive long weekend (at least, in little ways).  I changed some of the lighting in the room, from standard screw-in flourescents to daylight flourescents.  A big change.  Will install a couple more to see what happens later this week.  Also, still working on the Glacier Gravel Kit - assembled the conveyors, still need to re-weather.  Three in-progress shots are below (click on images to see larger).

Finally, I had a great visit with my wife to see Bernie Kempinski's USMRR Layout.  His backdrop painting is incredible and really impressed both my wife & me.  Check it out  for yourself, at http://usmrr.blogspot.com/.

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