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Author Topic: Speed Controller  (Read 9708 times)
aramirez87120

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« on: June 15, 2013, 02:23:40 PM »

Hello,

We have an HO scale train set and have been having issues with our speed controller burning out.  We bought a second one and within a few weeks of very light use it burned out as well.  I want buy a third, but before I do, I want to see if anyone had any thoughts to why this keeps happening?

Thank you in advance for any help you may be able to provide.
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JerryB

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« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2013, 02:38:24 PM »

You need to tell us what you mean by "burning out."

Bachmann power packs have an internal 'circuit breaker' that trips on overload, then automatically resets a short time after the electrical overload is removed. Is this breaker tripping? Is it not resetting?

Have you checked for a short circuit (or at least a low resistance path) across the track? A really cheap (less than $10) volt-ohm meter from Harbor Freight will prove to be a useful tool in troubleshooting your trains.

Additionally, the power packs that come with starter sets are usually pretty marginal. They supply just enough power to run the set they are packaged with. After the breaker has tripped a few times, it will start tripping at lower and lower outputs. Are you running more than the engine and train that came with the set? If so, you probably need a larger power pack.

The above are just some basics. If you give us more information, we can probably give you more focused help.

Happy RRing,

Jerry
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aramirez87120

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« Reply #2 on: June 15, 2013, 03:07:24 PM »

Thank you Jerry.  We are using the train with the cars that came in the set.  We bought additional rails and set the train up on shelf that runs around the roof of my sons room.  The track is clear with no obstructions or possible shorts.  The controller gets extremely hot...almost too hot to handle and gives off that burning circuit smell.  Thatís usually when we notice something is wrong and shut it down.  After we shut it down and it cools it will operate but the train runs slow and after a few tries slows to a crawl at best and usually will go only in one direction.  If I am near the train, I can hear it get power, but the movement is minimal.  I am not sure if the internal breaker switches and I do not see any type of reset button on the controller.

Thank you again for your help.
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richg
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« Reply #3 on: June 15, 2013, 05:44:51 PM »

Sound like a fairly low resistance on the layout  but mot a dead short that is loading down the controller.

With nothing on the track, use an ohm meter and see what the resistance is. With  digital ohm meter, the display should show max resistance. If there is some low resistance, the meter will show you. With a pointer type meter, that pointer should not move if there is no short or shoe low resistance on the layout.

If there is enough track, a short way down the track will be seen as a low resistance and not trip the circuit breaker.

I would suggest trying a controller with nothing on the track and see if it does get warm. It should not but it sounds like you do not have a usable controller right now.

With no controller, use a 9 volt battery and a couple pieces if wire and touch the rails connections with the lights out in the room. If you see a little spark, there is a short or heavy load somewhere.
With HO track, probably no wires needed. Use the battery terminals. Crude trouble shooting but it does work sometimes if no electronics are part of the test.

Rich
« Last Edit: June 15, 2013, 05:52:12 PM by richg » Logged
phillyreading

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« Reply #4 on: June 15, 2013, 06:22:29 PM »

Along with what Rich says, measure the rails with an ohm meter setting and see if both rails give any reading othe then an open circuit. You may have to remove some tracks and see if the problem continues or not. Sometimes a problem happens with using switches or doing a figuire 8.

Lee F.
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Doneldon

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« Reply #5 on: June 15, 2013, 06:29:56 PM »

ara-

Once you have done the testing suggested by the previous posters, check your existing controllers to see if they now work. That will be the case if they merely shut down due to popping their circuit breakers, which I suspect is the case. If they don't, and you have removed any short or high resistance item from your circuitry, check your LHS or eBay for a power pack (if HO) or transformer from Model Rectifier Corporation. Their products are well made and reliable. Good luck!
                                                                                                             -- D
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aramirez87120

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« Reply #6 on: June 16, 2013, 08:36:28 PM »

Thank you all for the help.  I am going to pick up an ohm meter in the coming days and do the suggested tests.  I will keep you posted.
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jbrock27

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« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2013, 07:34:12 AM »

aramirez is this a DC or DCC power source you are referring to?
If DC, I 2nd Doneldon's suggestion of an MRC power pack.
Re: multi meters-I saw SEARS had CRAFTSMMAN meters for sale during Father's Day for about $16.00. I do see them on sale all the time.  JerryB's suggestion to get a meter is excellent as it will have many uses for the hobby as well as other household things.  But in my experience, I have been disappointed with anything mechanical or electrical from HARBOR FREIGHT outside of zip ties or stick on weights.  If it were me, I would spend a few dollars more and get a quality meter from a store like SEARS, HOME DEPOT, LOWE'S or TRUE VALUE (hardware store) that will last a long time and be reliable.   
 
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Keep Calm and Carry On
AGSB
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« Reply #8 on: June 17, 2013, 10:36:30 AM »

You state that the track runs around the room. How long a track are you running? Are you using a feeder buss with connections to the track every 3 to 5 feet? Have you soldered the track connections? The length of track may be just too long for the transformer you are using and is overheating when trying to supply the amperage required by the engine if you haven't done the proper set up.
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richg
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« Reply #9 on: June 17, 2013, 10:38:57 AM »

You state that the track runs around the room. How long a track are you running? Are you using a feeder buss with connections to the track every 3 to 5 feet? Have you soldered the track connections? The length of track may be just too long for the transformer you are using and is overheating when trying to supply the amperage required by the engine if you haven't done the proper set up.

There is no way too long a track will burn out a power pack.

A low resistance load or short will burn out a power pack.

Rich
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richg
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« Reply #10 on: June 17, 2013, 10:41:28 AM »

The below meter is excellent. I have had three for sometime. These meters are made in China by probably one company and sold in the USA by different suppliers. Sometimes the case has a different color or slightly different design.
The only weak link you might say is the fuse if the meter is mis-used. But most meters have a fuse to protect the electronics. I bought a five pack of spare fuses at Radio Shack.
I have an expensive meter but rarely ever use it.

http://www.harborfreight.com/7-function-multimeter-98025.html

Useful links for testing with a meter.

http://www.trainelectronics.com/Meter_Workshop/index.htm

http://www.trainelectronics.com/Meter_HF/index.htm

These meters read about 13.6 VAC when checking a DCC controller.

Others in our club use these meters.

Rich.
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Doneldon

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« Reply #11 on: June 17, 2013, 05:11:17 PM »

I also recommend the inexpensive (or often free with a coupon) meters from Harbor Freight. We aren't working on a space
shot here so we don't require equisite meters and perfect accuracy. The cheap meters will get the job done and we can toss
them out if they break or burn up.
                                                       -- D
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ChrisS

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« Reply #12 on: June 17, 2013, 10:10:11 PM »

Is it possible that the track is hooked up to accessory terminals?
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utdave

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« Reply #13 on: June 17, 2013, 10:57:09 PM »

if it has screw terminals  .   has dc power to track and a ac accessory  might also have a small wire touching across  med resistance short .   also with the harbor freight  volt meter you can check and see how many amps you are pulling .    most power packs are around 1 amp for dc train sets   if you run close to that you have maxed out the transformer .    some power packs are bigger  and smaller you have to check and see what the amp rating is .     DAve
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Joe323

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« Reply #14 on: June 18, 2013, 11:25:48 AM »

It has been my experience with train set power packs that you cannot run forever they will overheat and shut down as a protection.  I second the idea of replacing it with an MRC power pack.
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