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1  Discussion Boards / N / Thank you, Bachmann! on: September 28, 2012, 10:46:37 AM
I bought a "J" N gage steam locomotive to run on my grandson's little layout and had problems. It seems there is a difference in the turn radius specs between the product page on the web page and the 2012 Catalog as downloaded from this web site. The catalog says 11.25 inches and the web product page says 19 inches. It would not run on my grandson's Bachman track 11.25 inch turns and switches without derailing.

I pointed this out to Bachmann by email, showing them copies of the specs from their site and the catalog. They called immediately stating that the loco should negotiate the turns but maybe not the switches. They offered a different replacement suggesting that a diesel would be a better choice for my grandson's small layout (I sent a picture of it so they could see that it was basically done and not big enough for larger radius switches and track). All the track and switches are Bachmann.

Bachmann's Laura was very nice and offered to send out a diesel, the GM DASH 8-40C which I picked out. Laura insisted that I not send back the "J" until we verify that the diesel works fine on my grandson's layout. I was happy with their response and Laura's attitude about the whole matter. She and Bachmann came through for my grandson!

Thank you Laura and Bachmann!

2  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: DC (only) Power Pak problem (??) on: August 08, 2012, 09:05:08 AM

I have two of the Bachmann power packs. One will be used for trolley speed control through the Crest Control Pack Adapter #55401. it will be set for full throttle and the Crest unit will have the pot for throttle control. On this I'll not connect the AC power out at all. I'll use my spare Bachmann power pak for the five switch operation on the expansion part of the layout and only for that purpose. I have a wall plug 12VDC power supply that I'll use for the microcontroller and photodetectors. I'm using it currently for the Circuitron photodetector board and auto reversing board (which will go away with the install of the micro controller). The new associated relay board will have its own 5VDC wall plug power supply.

The accessory load is the Miller Engineering illuminated signs (three signs powered through the Miller Engr. converter to 4.5 VDC) and one illuminated structure. All of that is now tagged onto the 12VDC power supply used for the Circuitron boards. Just moving the accessory load off the power pak fixed my problem for now but with the entire control system changing with the addition of a microcontroller I may have to add still another power supply (??). Time will tell.

It would be nice to have a cleaner plan for getting power to the various users but wall power supplies are so cheap and easy. I already have what I need such that the bit of kludgyness is easy to over look. There is enough of the right power to do the job and I think I have allocated well enough for now and in the future (??). Moving the sign load/structure light load off the AC power pak output saved the day.

Thanks for your input.

3  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: DC (only) Power Pak problem (??) on: August 07, 2012, 12:12:27 PM

I have pulled out the DCC boards from the Peter Witt and the Birney  and replaced them with the provided dummy plug that bypasses all the DCC stuff. I've seen the schematic for the dummy plugs and as best I could tell everything is hooked up internally directly. The other engines have no DCC.

My aim is to have the operation be automatic. DCC control makes no sense for that. It is a point to point setup. My concept is to have a set of sidings where I'll park each trolley (I have six). The siding will each be a block. So I can run them in and turn off the power to that block. I'll only energize one block at a time to get the trolley out on the mainline. Once out there, it will run automatically from end to end with variations of stop times and occasionally randomly missing one of the two intermediate stations. I might then walk away and let it run for hours. Now, what in the world would I do with DCC in that scenario? Anyway, No DCC .

Thanks for the input.


4  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: DC (only) Power Pak problem (??) on: August 06, 2012, 03:24:03 PM
This is a trolley layout. All trolleys are DC only with no sound. I intend on adding a stationary sound module (double bell) that will be triggered by the Microcontroller (after a stop restart cycle) I am devising to control the trolleys individually (one on the mainline at a time).

But thanks for the warning. Maybe some day I'll have DCC for another layout but that is highly unlikely.

5  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: DC (only) Power Pak problem (??) on: August 06, 2012, 09:29:17 AM
I came across a power source (actually a modifier of the DC voltage you input which could be from another throttle or from an off the shelf power supply of 15VDC) that turns the power source output into Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) to the track. I thought I'd give it a try. It will fit into my concept of computer control. My expectations are smoother running, especially at lower speeds, like the PWM gives DCC.

It is the Crest Control Pack Adapter #55401. It appears to be out of stock most places (including at Crest??) but I found one (I think?) at Train Sets Only. We'll see if they deliver.

With the accessories I have now connected to my auxiliary 12VDC supply, and the new switches powered by the small Bachmann's AC output, I think I have it all covered. I can later add a 15VDC 4+ AMP utilitarian power supply to replace the throttle part of the Bachmann power pak as the Crest unit includes a throttle control of its own. I think I got it figured out.

6  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Point-to-point reversing track set won't work! HELP! on: August 05, 2012, 10:39:15 AM

While I can't offer you help on your current parts I can tell you of my success with the Circuitron auto reversing module.

It uses tiny photo detector in the ties (you drill a tiny hole and insert the photodetectors at the ends of the run. You can use them for intermediate stops too if you add the photodetector board. The photo detector board allows up to four intermediate stops and the auto reversing board adds the end points. The auto reversing board allows for a settable delay period (the same for all stops).

The only problem I have is illumination of the layout. My illumination changes throughout the day as it is only window light. That means I am having to change the photo detector sensitivity pots every few hours as the illumination changes. I am in the process of adding a permanent overhead series of lights that will fix that problem. You situation may differ if the only illumination is room lights.

Here are the parts and the web page:

AR-2 Auto reversing module
DT-4 Four photo detector interface module  Download the catalog...It explains it all

I recommend the Circuitron modules.

As an aside I am in the process of replacing the auto reverse module with a microcontroller system with custom programming. It will use the DT-4 and the photodetectors as inputs. It will randomly vary the stop times, miss the intermediate stops randomly, and ring a bell (stationary sound module digital sound) before the trolley starts up again. I am in the design process and it is only for me but doable by any electronically enable person.

7  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: DC (only) Power Pak problem (??) on: August 05, 2012, 10:16:22 AM
 Joe Satnik:

Thanks for the input but nowhere can I find a max limit for the AC output. There must be one as I am definitely seeing a shutdown at about 50 ma after about a minute or so. There is no hope of using the AC output of the Bachmann small throttle for my situation. 50 ma is nothing even at 16VAC. It blows my mind at how under powered these throttles are.

In searching for a better example, 30KVA seems to be a "big" throttle but at 15 volts that is only 2 amps and again no spec on the max AC power out.

The throttle is adequate for my uses. I have an wall power supply I use for my current Circuitron photo detector sensing and auto reverse modules. I'll just piggyback the signs and the structure load onto that supply. Fortunately the sign power converter and structure light care not about the voltage or type (AC or DC) and can run off this under utilized 12VDC wall power supply.

When I think back on my power system of my early 1950's layout, I remember that I dumped the tiny power packs and used a surplus military transformer and rectifier along with a pair of huge levered throttle potentiometers (I had a reversing track and need two throttles). I also used a hugh transformer I wound in my junior high school electricity class as an accessory power supply. I must of had tons of amps capacity. I almost wonder if I should make my own throttle and accessory power supply(??). It would be easy today.

8  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: DC (only) Power Pak problem (??) on: August 04, 2012, 04:33:46 PM
Here's more info:

I pulled the accessories off the trolley throttle pak and used the spare Bachmann supply to run the accessories only. Same problem. It clicks off after about a minute or so. Let  it cool down and it comes back on for a minute or so. Both Bachmann supplies do it so I am exceeding the potential for the AC output of the Bachmann Power pak.

I reduced the load, hooked up  the remaining accessories to the spare supply and it runs endlessly.

I must explain that the "accessory load" is the Miller Engineering electronic sings using their converter for 16 V Ac to the required 4.5 volts DC. The signs blink and offer about a continuous 50 ma load when they are all three in sync but can changer instantaneously  to a couple of milliamps. In addition I have one lighted building.

I have an under utilized 12 VDC supply that I can use as the source for this load of three signs and one lighted building and use the Bachmann AC output for switch motors only.

But I would like to get a better power pak, one with at least 30VA output total. But no one lists the AC output of these power pacs. My amp meter says my load is 16 VAC at 50 ma and it is tripping off. I need more than that but maybe the 12 VDC power supply will be able to do the job( Huh?).

I'd appreciate some recommendations for a better DC power pak (at least 30VA total capacity). Is there anyone else out there besides MRC?

9  Discussion Boards / HO / DC (only) Power Pak problem (??) on: August 04, 2012, 11:48:14 AM
I have the small HO Bachmann power pak and it is doing weird things. I may be over taxing it. I am running the large Con-Cor MU mP54 interurban powered car and trying to run accessories off of the AC accessories output at the same time. The accessories are taking 50 MA at 16 VAC. The car runs fine but the AC accessories turn off. Turning off the power pak, waiting for a few seconds, and turning it back on again revives the accessories but only briefly. I actually have two of these (a spare) and they both do exactly the same thing. Smaller trolleys don't seem to do this.

What is the AC out max for this power pak? Am I tripping an internal AC accessories circuit breaker?

Can anyone suggest a much bigger DC only throttle with both DC for the HO trolleys and 16VAC for the accessories. Price is no consideration but there will never be any load bigger than one or two trolleys but many accessories. There is no requirement for any other features as I am incorporating Microcontroller operation with auto reverse. The throttle setting pretty much will be adjusted once for the particular trolley's desired speed and left there (no momentum required or wanted).

I have considered splitting the load between the two little Power paks but I am anticipating adding six switches to the AC load besides the current almost continuous 50 ma AC accessory load so a bigger throttle set up may be called for (??).

Anyone got some thoughts on this?

10  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Cheap Momentum??? on: August 01, 2012, 09:41:23 AM
There are six different trolleys that I have and most of them have an interior that probably limits adding an effective flywheel.

But one is a Bachmann PCC with a Bowser motor conversion (no interior) that I added a A-Line flywheel to. I was not impressed. I think the flywheel rim mass is not large enough to make a significant difference. It might help with carrying the trolley through rough spots on the track but it does not give a realistic slowdown for stopping or gradual speed increase for startups. There is just not enough room in these little trolleys to get a big enough flywheel in there. The science behind an effective flywheel says that the mass has to be on the rim and far from the shaft. There is not room in any of my trolleys to do that.

I am currently working on a microcomputer control system for my little point to point trolley layout. I hope to include the large capacitors to give me the effect of gradual slowing down and gradual speeding up. The point of the microcontroller for me is to randomize the automatic stops in duration and to randomly skip stations along the way. Hopefully it will trigger an external sound module to get a double bell ring at startup, too. Unfortunately I have to learn some C++ programming for the Arduino UNO which so far is an uphill battle even though I know some rudimentary programming, but I'm getting there. I have pretty much finished the original layout and only adding a few small details at this point so my efforts are now aimed at this microcontroller and thinking on how to add more running track (I have 8 feet and can add 12 feet more but that is for later).

11  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Cheap Momentum??? on: July 28, 2012, 08:06:21 AM
I think a common solution is to use two capacitors in series with opposite polarity connections but the diode added would not hurt one bit. The connection would then be the diode in series with a cap and then the two cap/diode assemblies in parallel with reversed polarities.

My biggest fear is that the outrush from the power pak may tax the power pak too much over time but I intend to try it none the less. i'm working on a new control system other than the Circuitron auto reversing module using  an microcontroller  and a desecrete relay card. I'll be able to put the caps between the on/off relay and the reversing relay. The effect is the track always sees the capacitor (except when the reversing relay transition which is milliseconds) and always is powered by the same polarity. Just to be safe I'll protect the capacitors by using two with the diodes in case the reversing switch on the power pak is changed. This was not possible with the Circuitron module because the connection between the on/off relay and the reversing relay was inside the module.

I'll let you know how well this all works out but it will be awhile as I still have to implement the hardware and write the program and debug the results. But I'm working on it.

12  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: DCC Ready on DC power on: July 23, 2012, 06:05:53 PM
OK, so I monitored the track voltage for the Con-Cor PCC and it works exactly as Con-Cor says it should. It does not move until the voltage on the track is above 4 volts whereas my Spectrum Peter Witt starts moving at around 3 volts or even a bit less.

I have no idea about the differences but it is part of the Con-Cor design. I give them that their operation is extremely smooth compared to the Spectrum and the Bowser trolleys at close to these startup voltage.

The good news is nothing is wrong with the the Con-Cor.

Another good thing is that with every day I learn something new about today's model railroading. I have only been at this a couple of months and my knowledge has increase by leaps and bounds through asking questions and lots of reading. My little point to point (8 feet long town scene) layout is in the final details stage with additions in the wings. I'll try to put it all under microcontroller control (Arduino UNO) and add about 12 feet of track (a loop with a yard) with an emphasis this time on more running track and not the scenics as I did on the original little layout.

Good times!!

Thank you all for participating in my threads here. You have helped a lot !

13  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: DCC Ready on DC power on: July 23, 2012, 09:01:58 AM
Con-Cor told me via email that they use gearing in the Con-Cor PCC's that is biased towards slow running. I am not sure if my slower running Con-Cor PCC is caused by this or if there is a decoder in it that was not suppose to be there. Con-Cor PCC is "DCC Ready" with a DCC decoder NOT installed, according to them. They also claim the trolley will not move until the track DC voltage is in excess of 4 volts. I may have to take some voltage data on the Spectrum and Browser trolleys, as well as the Con-Cor to understand this issue. I guess to be sure I'll have to look inside.

But you know, the Con-Cor PCC actually runs excellently, both slow and faster and will absolutely creep along smoothly if you desire. it is hard to feel in any way cheated by Con-Cor. In fact, I just bought and am awaiting delivery of another of their trolleys (Pennsylvania MUmP54).

14  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Trolley Bell Sound? on: July 22, 2012, 09:06:08 AM
Found it!

Innovative Train Technologies in California:

They make exactly what I wanted, bell and all. Walthers sells some of their products but they deal direct too.

My only question is can I trigger it directly from a Arduino Micro controller? It appears I may have to use a relay between the sound board and the microcontroller. But that's OK.

I've done a flow chart for the program in the Ardunio but now I have to learn C++ programming language (or have my grandson learn it so he can do it). It will have random stop intervals and randomly skip stations. It will detect the ends of track and reverse direction and stop randomly at intermediate stations, ringing the bell twice at each startup. I many also have figured out a way to add momentum too (crude but it may work). With the layout nearly completed (I'm now adding details like people and cars and stop light, etc.). The micro controller is the next project I under take and I'll eventually be adding 12 feet more of track to the 8 feet I now have. This could go on forever but isn't that the way model railroading works? This project has ballooned!

15  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: DCC Ready on DC power on: July 22, 2012, 08:51:49 AM
You know, the dummy plug must be in there or the trolley would not run.

I found the schematic for the dummy plug and without it the motor gets no power, as best as I can tell.

And to be clear this is a DCC Ready trolley with no decoder in it, or so it says on the box (??). Is it possible there is a decode installed? Would a train with a decoder act this way when operated on DC only?

There is something else going on here. I emailed Con-Cor. We'll see if they respond. They already sent a robo letter claiming to be a small manufacturer who has to meter out time to address emails and expect delays for answers.

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