Bachmann Message Board

Discussion Boards => General Discussion => Topic started by: scrimshaw on February 23, 2009, 09:22:54 AM



Title: Leaving Digital engines on track idling
Post by: scrimshaw on February 23, 2009, 09:22:54 AM
Is there any harm in leaving a digital engine on track idling while running other engines?  If so, how long is it safe to allow engine to idle?  I am currently running 3 Bachmann Spectrum DCC engines with Tsunami sound.


Title: Re: Leaving Digital engines on track idling
Post by: Tim on February 23, 2009, 09:30:10 AM
Scrimshaw

No harm at all, let them idle as long as you like.

Tim Anders
Souderton, PA


Title: Re: Leaving Digital engines on track idling
Post by: Nathan on February 23, 2009, 10:19:35 AM
There is no problem with a unit just sitting there.

You did not tell us which DCC system you use.  If you end up with several more locomotives then you need to look at how much idle current they all draw at one time and how much current the trains you are running draw.

A lot of us have way more locomotives then we can run at one time.  If this is where you end up as your roster grows, you may want to have a 'Locomotive Service Area' with tracks you can turn off when a group of locomotives are not in use.

Remember that car lighting and DCC controlled turnouts also use some current.


Title: Re: Leaving Digital engines on track idling
Post by: GN.2-6-8-0 on February 23, 2009, 10:26:37 AM
Not true....just last night while running for the public ,this on a large layout with plenty of power the we found our yards were kicking off the breakers and the breakers would not reset as they should have, on checking found we had 4 or 5 sound equipted engines had been left idling while several other trains were still  being run and they were popping the breakers.
On removing several of the engines the breakers reset as they were suppose to. keep in mind that sound equipted locos do draw substanial power even when just sitting idling.
Best to either shut them down or remove them from trackage when your not running them .


Title: Re: Leaving Digital engines on track idling
Post by: Jim Banner on February 23, 2009, 11:35:09 AM
Letting the locomotives idle in a yard is a nice sound effect, but there is a price to pay in terms of power.  As GN.2... points out, an underpowered yard can cause problems, including the usual start up problem.  One alternative is to provide that power with an extra booster.  Another is to shut down the locomotives and use a fixed sound system for the idling sounds.


Title: Re: Leaving Digital engines on track idling
Post by: SteamGene on February 23, 2009, 12:10:30 PM
My locomotive storage tracks and the visible yard are all wired so the track can be powered or dead - to reduce noise and to reduce start up "shock." 
Gene


Title: Re: Leaving Digital engines on track idling
Post by: scrimshaw on February 23, 2009, 12:40:24 PM
Thanks for all the replys!!!  I am running the Bachmann EZ Command system.  So, if I am understanding correctly, there will be no harm to the Engines themselves if left idling such as overheating etc...?  The only problems may be power drain for other engines that may be running on the track!   Correct?????


Title: Re: Leaving Digital engines on track idling
Post by: Nathan on February 23, 2009, 12:50:44 PM
Yes, as long as your system can supply the power needed by all the trains you are okay.

In the future as you add locomotives, lit cars and DCC controled turnouts, this will change.  There are several sources of DCC current meters that you may want to look at for the future to keep track of the current needs of your system.

One source is tonysdcc.com , they have the RRamp series of meters.  I have several of them.  I use one on the output of each of the boosters, and use one for general trouble shooting, since they also have a volt meter built in.


Title: Re: Leaving Digital engines on track idling
Post by: scrimshaw on February 23, 2009, 02:56:37 PM
Thanks.  All of my turnouts are powered on a different system, so only my trains are running through the EZ Command controller


Title: Re: Leaving Digital engines on track idling
Post by: Yampa Bob on February 23, 2009, 04:49:27 PM
Gene,
You mentioned "start up shock".  When I first turn on the master switch to the layout, any sound loco is defaulted to "sound off". I only get sound if I select the address and throttle up.

When I park a sound loco, I never leave it "idling", I turn the sound and lights off.

Are you saying that when you power up the track, all sound locos start idling?

Anyway, I usually have 10 DCC locos on the layout but only run one at a time. Like Scrimshaw, my EZ Command only runs my trains, the turnouts are remote with the usual selector switches. 


Title: Re: Leaving Digital engines on track idling
Post by: pdlethbridge on February 23, 2009, 05:04:15 PM
The most I keep on my layout is five. 4 of those on the roundhouse storage tracks that have their own power on/off switch. The turntable is decoder equipped as well and has its own on/off switch. This makes for an easy system that allows for operating 2 locos on the main line if my brother comes over with his power cab. Alone, I only run 1. 


Title: Re: Leaving Digital engines on track idling
Post by: SteamGene on February 23, 2009, 05:11:44 PM
Bob, No I added the switches to prevent drain from locomotives on powered track which aren't going anywhere soon. 
I have a couple of sound locomotives which have active sound if the track under them is powered.  When I'm not running/cleaning/testing, all power is off.
Gene


Title: Re: Leaving Digital engines on track idling
Post by: Yampa Bob on February 23, 2009, 09:37:22 PM
OIC....thanks.  8)

Since I don't as yet have a RRAmpmeter, I only run current tests while on DC power.  Therefore I have a question.....

When I first power the layout, it is my understanding that a communication "packet" is sent to any DCC locos on the tracks. Basically the decoder recognizes the packet and says "Ok, I'm awake and ready to receive commands".   My question is, do the decoders draw current when not addressed to maintain the packet information?

My theory is they do, since if I inadvertenly place or remove a loco with the track powered, I hear the decoder make a slight "click".  Actually, I have heard these subtle clicks from several locos on the tracks when I power up the layout.

If this is true, then all DCC locos on the tracks would be "idling", whether sound equipped or not.  Hmmmm?  8)


Title: Re: Leaving Digital engines on track idling
Post by: Nathan on February 23, 2009, 11:31:12 PM
Bob,

Yes the do draw some current.  There is a some 'start up current' untill it can get it self orginized.  This will be a larger then the 'stand by' current.  The click you here may be a small pulse to the motor.  They will then go to a 'listen' state looking for their address in a packet from the system.

Sound decoders will draw more current then a non sound unit because of the audio amp in them.  The amount of current depends on if they can be set to 'no sound' at power up or not.


Title: Re: Leaving Digital engines on track idling
Post by: Yampa Bob on February 23, 2009, 11:48:25 PM
Nathan,
I have asked several times if anyone has measured the current draw of a sound equipped locomotive, at "idle" sound off and on, at creep, mid and top speed, sound off and on, with no cars.  To date, I have not received an answer from anyone.

Since my EZ Command will run two sound locos at a good speed, I am just theorizing the current draw to be on the order of .5 to .6 amp, about double that of my non-sound locos.

I think you mentioned having a RRAmpmeter, if so could you run some current tests and report the findings? I'm mostly just curious and for future reference.

I would also like to know the "idle" current of a non-sound DCC loco in both non-addressed and addressed modes, zero throttle just sitting on the tracks, and at full throttle.

Even at 70 years, my inquisitive mind never rests.  :D

Thanks


Title: Re: Leaving Digital engines on track idling
Post by: Nathan on February 24, 2009, 01:08:25 AM
Bob,

I will see what I can do with the the equipment I can get my hands on.  Although there are a number of DCC Sound Locomotives in our club, at this time I only have one, so I will need to borrow the others, as we do not have a train show for several months and that is when we have them all in one place at one time.   Also, all our locomotives are Large Scale.

I will check with the HO scale club at TTM where our large scale club is located and see if they have any measurments avaliable.

At the last train show I did notice the following which will give some idea of what you can expect:

NCE Power Pro 10 amp system with one booster for each loop.  An RRamp on the ourput of each booster.

Loop 1:  Bachmann 55 ton Shay with factory sound, Bachmann Big Hauler Porter with non sound NCE DS-408, Aristo RDC with QSI sound that was turned off at power down.  The idle current was around 0.1 amp.  If you turn on the QSI sound it went up to about 0.2 amps.  With the 3 of them running at about the mid speed range, lights on and both sound units operating the current draw was about 2 amps.

Loop2:  Two Aristo Diesels, both QSI sound decoders.  I do not remember the idle current with both sound units off.  Running the one unit and the other idle on the siding with sound on, and both units with lights on was between 2.5 and three amps at about mid speed.  Both units running mid speed ran between 4 and 5 amps.

One note, you asked about the idle current in non addressed verses addressed mode at zero speed.  There is no differance if a decoder is addressed or not.  It is 'reading' the data being sent out and 'looking' for its address.  The only change will be if you change something like turn on the head light.

I will have to remember to make sure that all the lights and other itmes are turned off when I start the measurments.  Some locomotives have some itmes that are not controled by the decoder but are 'on' all the time.  I will try and let you know if I find any of these.


Title: Re: Leaving Digital engines on track idling
Post by: Yampa Bob on February 24, 2009, 01:40:17 AM
I didn't think there would be any difference in non-address or address modes, glad you confirmed that.

Please don't go to a whole lot of trouble with this. Members often ask "How many sound locos can I run at the same time with EZ Command".  My honest answer is "I don't know, try several and see". Some have reported only being able to run two, I think three but at reduced speeds.

As an experiment, I recently put 8 DCC non-sound locos on the main, (not in consist) , and got them all moving, quite a trick on my small layout. The breaker never tripped, but the locos all ran very slow.  In theory, and according to Kirchhoff's law, one could run 20 locos at full throttle, but they just wouldn't move at all.

My point being, if I can run 3 or 4 DCC locos and maintain realistic speeds, say 35 to 45 mph, I certainly wouldn't consider a booster.


Title: Re: Leaving Digital engines on track idling
Post by: Nathan on February 24, 2009, 12:26:32 PM
Bob,

Just did a quick and dirty test with a small loop of track.  Using my NCE system and the RRAmpIV large scale meter.  It only reads to 0.1 amp.

Test unit #1: an NCE decoder tester with an NCE DS-408
Test unit #2: an NCE decoder tester with an NCE D-808

With both units hooked to the loop, four functions on, and both speeds set to max 0.1 amp.

added Test uint #3: Bachmann Big Hauler Porter with NCE DS-408.  No change with headlight on.  At max speed, no cars attached 0.6 amp.

added Test uint #4: Bachmann Large Scale 55 ton Shay with factory sound and fire box flicker.  With headlight on and base sound working 0.2 amp.  At max speed, no cars attached 1.0 amp.

Coupled the two locos back to back, wit the Porter at speed 0 and the Shay pulling it at max speed 1.4 to 1.5 amp.

With the Shay still pulling the Porter set the Porter to max speed trying to go the other way 2.3 to 2.4 amps.

Turning on the bell and whistle at most saw a 0.1 amp differance.  I know the QSI and Pheonix units draw more idle current.


Title: Re: Leaving Digital engines on track idling
Post by: Yampa Bob on February 24, 2009, 01:27:46 PM
I recently did a current test on a DC powered track, with 4 Bachmann GP40 DCC equipped.  I started with one loco pulling 10 cars, then added locos in consist.

Power was a Spectrum Magnum, rated output .7 ampere.

With one loco, current draw was .29 amp, top speed perceived as normal
With two locos, current draw was .42 amp, no perceived reduction in speed
With three locos, current draw was .56 amp, perceived about 3/4 speed
With four locos, current draw was .70 amp, perceived about 1/2 to 3/4 speed

Yeah I know, got too much free time on my hands. I mostly do it to dispel complaints (rumors) of a certain locomotive only being able to pull 3 or 4 cars, or only being able to run 2 non-sound locomotives on EZ Command.

I tune all my cars for .08 to .1 ounce required pulling force, even my little GE 44 ton can pull 10 cars with no problem.

Apparently the DCC decoders are very efficient. My main interest now is current draw of one HO sound equipped loco on DCC power, pulling about 10-15 cars at full throttle.


Title: Re: Leaving Digital engines on track idling
Post by: grumpy on February 25, 2009, 12:56:35 AM
Bob
I have 2 Athern F7s with DCC and sound if I run both of then of them in consist  They will kick out the breakers . If I run 1 with sound and 1 without sound  it is okay. That is the max that I was able to run with the 1 amp power supply. The sound decoder draws al ot of amps.
Don


Title: Re: Leaving Digital engines on track idling
Post by: Yampa Bob on February 25, 2009, 05:04:32 AM
Apparently so, it sorta confirms my WAG of .6 to .7 amp for a single sound decoder.