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Author Topic: EZ COmmand for Large Scale  (Read 11494 times)
StanAmes


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« on: February 25, 2007, 04:32:30 PM »

Since the other EZ Command for large scale thread seems to have digressed into  another radio vrs DCC debate I thought I would start a new thread to answer the question of what one might expect in using the EZ Command with 5 amp booster for large Scale.

Today I shoveled off a section of the layout to try it out.

I ran out of locomotives at the low addresses before I ran out of power.

I had three trains running.

On the plow train I had a Heisler, a 3 truck Shay with DCC Sound on Board, and  2 truck Shay.  The second train had a unconverted 45 ton loco and the third was a 4-4-0 passenger train.  The grade was 2%.  That's 10 motors.

Using a Tonys meter the amp draw  was around 6.7 and the voltage dropped from 18 to around 13.

To increase the amperage draw I reversed the direction of the three truck shay and ran all the locos at full speed.  This caused wheel slippage. The practical limit for this system is the voltage drop which under such a high load is a little low for Large Scale.

Stan Ames
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Nathan

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« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2007, 08:30:55 PM »

Stan,

Thanks for the great information.

Did you happen to get a reading on the 3-truck shay by itself as far as power draw?

Nathan
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Jim Banner

Enjoying electric model railroading since 1950.


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« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2007, 09:56:11 PM »

Thanks, Stan for running the tests and giving us some real numbers.  That is great performance for a "5 amp" booster.  I am not sure if any of my "8 amp" boosters would do as well. 
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Curmudgeon
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« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2007, 10:33:27 PM »

You still want some "worn-in" wheels to see what that Shay really draws?

I guess one could also say since the original question somehow got derailed to 3-truck Shays, grades, and factory-equipped on-boards, good idea to start a new thread where it can happen all  over again! Shocked
« Last Edit: February 25, 2007, 10:55:06 PM by Curmudgeon » Logged
Curmudgeon
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« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2007, 01:07:01 AM »

"what one might expect in using the EZ Command with 5 amp booster for large Scale."

Just for clarification, is this using the EZ Command or the system you use?
If the 5 amp is driving the trains, and you're drawing 6.7 amps, maybe this is some of that "special" amps we've heard about.


"Using a Tonys meter the amp draw  was around 6.7 and the voltage dropped from 18 to around 13"
Okay, less voltage into a given load, less amps, unless of course we have a new dcc-friendly Ohm's Law.
Looks like the system is somewhat self-protecting.
Good!
That 4-4-0 must be a real rocketship on 13v.
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StanAmes


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« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2007, 01:26:41 PM »

Dave

I will try to answer your questions.
Quote
Just for clarification, is this using the EZ Command or the system you use?
If the 5 amp is driving the trains, and you're drawing 6.7 amps, maybe this is some of that "special" amps we've heard about.
For this test I used pure Bachmann power.  I used an  E-Z Command System connected to an E-Z Command 5 Amp Power Booster set for 18 volts DCC.  Both items come with their own power supplies which I also used.  I was using a section of the layout that has Stainless Steel rail and I have found that wheels will slip much easier on this rail then the softer Aluminum rail.

There is no standard for how a manufacturer rates the power output of a device.  The Bachmann 5 amp booster compares well in power output to what some systems call an 8 amp booster.  The real limit in the setup appears to be the Switching power supply they use.  I have not tried to hook up a more powerful switching supply to see what the real limiting factor is.  A very key aspect of any power station (booster) is how well it handles short term surge currents (such as sometimes found in startup of locomotives) and some do a lot better then others in this regard.

Quote
Okay, less voltage into a given load, less amps, unless of course we have a new dcc-friendly Ohm's Law.
Looks like the system is somewhat self-protecting.
Good!
That 4-4-0 must be a real rocketship on 13v.

I prefer a power station that can maintain its voltage at the load I intend to use it at.  I was clearly intentionally stressing the Bachmann unit beyond its specified design limits to make a point. One less locomotive and the voltage was acceptable.  I have a large railroad and 4 power districts (only really need 2 or 3 at present but I am still growing).  I run my layout at 21-22 volts DCC which is a higher voltage then the Bachmann unit can supply.

The 4-4-0 performed well at the low voltage as I do not run the locomotives fast anyway.

For most users who have up to 9 DCC Bachmann Locomotives and want to run 3 or 4 max at a time the Bachmann system will perform just fine.

For those that want more power, a good 10 amp booster is in my opinion better and for those that want to run a lot more locomotives at a time a higher end system is likely useful as well.

Stan
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Curmudgeon
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« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2007, 04:24:45 PM »

Here is some actual-factual, real-life current draw readings.
Bachmann original 2-truck Shay (Ely-Thomas), NO sound, NO smoke, flicker and headlight ON, worn wheels (through the copper, most places), on old aluminum track.
2.8 amps.
Full slip.
Now, just for a drill, let's take half of that (1.4 amps) and add it to the 2.8 (like, maybe, another powered truck?), and we get 4.2 amps.

Now, on another forum, someone posted the data from Soundtraxx on the Quasinami, which they told him is 3.5 amps max.

I don't know if you use a different kind of voltage, current and maybe math, but that sure looks to me like it exceeds the 3.5 amp max current by a BUNCH, and falls right in line with my earlier post of tripping a 4 amp on-board breaker but not a 5 amp with a 3-truck Shay, which we did about 7 years ago.

And that is without sound, which can, depending on brand and settings (like volume), draw an amp.

That makes 5.2 amps.

And the EZ Command with booster is 5.0 amps, right?

So, there you have the differences.
One of my 3-truck units (reviewed) draws 1.6 amps full slip, but that's shiny wheels. The other, 2.4 amps.

2 truck Shays with shiny wheels (in review) drew 1.6 amps, or .8 per truck.
If the current jumps from 1.6 amp to 2.8 amp, with no sound or smoke, you might just be able to comprehend the increase in current draw with tractive effort increase due to wheels and track.
If the two truck doubled, and let's say the 3-truck I measured with 2.4 amp draw doubles, well......

I guess one of the needed components of dcc must be the slipperiest tracks available, right?
And clean?

Maybe if you oil the tracks lightly you can increase the slip factor and get away with it.

So, with that empirical data, we exceed the capabilities of the Quasinami by a bunch, and get close on the EZ Command with booster.

Not that anybody will actually read or comprehend this data, especially when they think I have e vested interest and don't think you do in the type of control system used.
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Curmudgeon
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« Reply #7 on: February 26, 2007, 04:31:37 PM »

In reply to your reply to my reply to your reply, "guessing" as to current output of the EZ Command station is not good.
You have no way to place your ammeter in-line between the control station and trck and add load until it smokes or shuts down?

Sayig that the 5 amp unit acts like 8 amp units is somewhat misleading.
Does the EZ Command put out more than 5 amps or does the "other" unit put out less than 8 amps, or both?

When I do reviews, I try to give voltage and current readings measured on the review sample, not guesswork, which is why these readings do not show up in reviews.
A) the 2.4A draw 3-truck Shay was not being reviewed, and B) none of them have plating worn enough to get the readings I show on those with worn plating.

But, I do have the data, and so posted.

TOC
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StanAmes


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« Reply #8 on: February 26, 2007, 10:44:12 PM »

Quote
In reply to your reply to my reply to your reply, "guessing" as to current output of the EZ Command station is not good.
You have no way to place your ammeter in-line between the control station and trck and add load until it smokes or shuts down?
Dave

Tonys Train Exchange produces what they refer to as a Ramp Meter which is both a amp meter and a volt meter that is used with DCC.

This device was inserted between the output of the E-Z Command booster and the track.  The measured results are as reported in my first message on this thread. 

I actually have some experience with measuring the output of this unit using both resistive loads and actual track loads.  Its limit is indeed the switching power supply.  I could build an adaptor and hook the power station up to a 15 amp switching power supply to determine exactly its limits but using it as intended from the manufacturer is better for this type of discussion.

The AMP ratings the manufacturers provide mean very different things and with no defined and consistent definition and testing environment it is somewhat difficult to compare them.  One needs to define both average long term current, peak current, and shutdown current with the time for shutdown.  Also the type and characters of the load also come into play.

And no I do not oil my track  and no I also have no need to clean my track either.  Stainless Steel track only needs to be wiped down to avoid getting the grit into the motor drives and with the conversion I am doing to Hybrid Drive (DCC with Battery Backup) the Brass track will not need cleaning as well.

And yes your Amp draw calculations are accurate as are my reported actual use. If the voltage did not drop the amp reading would likely have been very similar.

Stan
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Curmudgeon
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« Reply #9 on: February 26, 2007, 11:17:18 PM »

Okay, somehow we didn't answer the question.
"You have no way to place your ammeter in-line between the control station and track and add load until it smokes or shuts down?"

Power supply, yes, nothing else?
If the manufacturer states 5 amps, well, does the output devices and the wire have the ability to handle more?

"The AMP ratings the manufacturers provide mean very different things and with no defined and consistent definition and testing environment it is somewhat difficult to compare them.  One needs to define both average long term current, peak current, and shutdown current with the time for shutdown.  Also the type and characters of the load also come into play."

So, the next question is, why isn't the nmra jumping in on this?
Why aren't reviews written with load-to-smoke to see if the unit will actually DO what it says and so report?
They were quite successful in shutting down several outfits over the years, all 17/64ths manufacturers springs readily to mind.
We used to see that as a line in reviews "meets or does not meet nmra standards".

With my short experience in electronics, if something continues to put out current but fails to maintain voltage, it is NOT doing "as advertised".

The output voltage needs to stay within limits. If it drops below said limits prior to reaching the stated current limit, it's not good.
If you overload it by continuing to draw current so that the voltage drops and does not recover, you are operating well outside the safe envelope.

One should be very careful in recomending a product, and product, to do a job that it is not designed for.

When the output voltage drops by almost 1/3 of what it should be, the device is not suitable for the purpose for which one is attempting to use it.


Period.

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Jim Banner

Enjoying electric model railroading since 1950.


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« Reply #10 on: February 27, 2007, 02:19:29 AM »


When the output voltage drops by almost 1/3 of what it should be, the device is not suitable for the purpose for which one is attempting to use it.

Period.

And what should the voltage be?  Certainly not the 18 volts open circuit voltage.  More likely the 15 volts or so that it produces into a 5 amp load.  In my books, 13 volts is only 2 volts (13%) below "what it should be," not 5 volts (33%.)

And why would anyone want to load something down until it smoked?  A fixed, constant load is nothing like the load a model railroad imposes on a power supply.  Would you load down an outlet in your house to see when your house burned down?  I know I would not.  Yet I routinely draw 30 or 40 amps out of a 15 amps circuit many times a day.  The secret is the length of time.

Similarly, DCC boosters can run what the uninitiated might consider "overloads" and still be within their operating parameters.  Normally it is the output transistors that overload.  But overload here has two distinctly different meanings, one an absolute maximum above which the current density inside the transistor exceeds a safe value.  But there is a lower maximum, based on safe temperature of the transistor, above which the silicon melts.  The temperature of the transistors depends on many more things than load, things like ambient temperature, thermal mass of any attached heat sinks, air flow over the heat sinks, thermal resistance of the transistor cases, and so forth.  An honest designer takes all these into consideration when he decides on a "worst case" current rating.  Changing any of the factors of course changes the current rating up or down.  The most common one is ambient temperature.  A booster rated for a maximum of 5 amps at 100 F. will shut itself down at about 5 amps on a 100 degree day.  On a 20 degree day, it will take more current to heat the output transistors up to the shutdown temperature.  Take it to the north pole on a cold day and you might be able to pull 10 amps out of it continuously before the over temperature circuit shuts it down.  This same principle applies to on board controllers, be they DCC decoders or r/c power modules.  If it gets too hot inside a locomotive, you use a fan to blow out the heat.  Even better, you use it to increase the airflow over the critical components at the same time.

In simpler terms, lets think of a flat heat V-8.  Above some temperature, it siezes up.  Yet in a drag race, you can run it with no water pump and no radiator.  That is because of thermal mass - it absorbs the heat.  But there is a limit - take it on a Sunday drive with the same set up, you had better take your walking shoes for the return trip.  Likewise if you take that engine out of a car and put it in a large truck.  What do you do?  You install a larger radiator and a bigger fan for better cooling in the hot weather.  But if you ran it only in winter, you could use the smaller car radiator and fan.  That is the effect of ambient temperature.  Would putting it in a truck overload the crankshaft?  Probably not - the designer engineered the crank shaft based on the maximum possible output power of the engine, or at least you hope he did.  Same with the booster - the wires and traces on the circuit board were not designed for the worst case minimum output current, they were designed for maximum best case output current.  For a 5 amp booster, that would likely be 10 amps or more.

Bottom line with the booster is that loading it down until the smoke comes out probably cannot be done.  Keep in mind that DCC booster are designed to operated into dead shorts continuously.  Lesser loading can only cause heating until the thermal overload detection circuit shuts off the output.
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Curmudgeon
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« Reply #11 on: February 27, 2007, 03:47:59 AM »

"And why would anyone want to load something down until it smoked?"

If he keeps making statements about one companies 5 amps isn't what another companies is, the only way to now for sure is to run it until it smokes.
Do you know what most large-scale engines run like at 13 volts?

Hmmmm.

Maybe you don't, and maybe folks who run track power are used to some kind of regulated suply.

So, on top of all of this, we now know dcc isn't regulated, and the voltage drops to surpisingly low levels when you run the system well outside the advertised parameters.

Good information to have for the newbie coming into the hobby.

What would you consider acceptable voltage drop in a control system under load?
In the load range?
Ouside of the load range?

"Normally it is the output transistors that overload.  But overload here has two distinctly different meanings, one an absolute maximum above which the current density inside the transistor exceeds a safe value.  But there is a lower maximum, based on safe temperature of the transistor, above which the silicon melts.  The temperature of the transistors depends on many more things than load, things like ambient temperature, thermal mass of any attached heat sinks, air flow over the heat sinks, thermal resistance of the transistor cases, and so forth.  An honest designer takes all these into consideration when he decides on a "worst case" current rating.  Changing any of the factors of course changes the current rating up or down.  The most common one is ambient temperature.  A booster rated for a maximum of 5 amps at 100 F. will shut itself down at about 5 amps on a 100 degree day.  On a 20 degree day, it will take more current to heat the output transistors up to the shutdown temperature.  Take it to the north pole on a cold day and you might be able to pull 10 amps out of it continuously before the over temperature circuit shuts it down.  This same principle applies to on board controllers, be they DCC decoders or r/c power modules.  If it gets too hot inside a locomotive, you use a fan to blow out the heat.  Even better, you use it to increase the airflow over the critical components at the same time."

Yes, the parameters set up for EZ Command were for Half-Zero, Nano-scale and 0n30.

We know they stated 5 amp booster, yet he measured 6.7 amps.
Without sound or smoke, I am getting 4.2.
With sound, bets are one unit exceeds the rating.
Why tell folks they can use it then?

Even Stan tells us there are no standards to it, every manufacturer seems to count the ratings differently.

This is so much fun.

I've not seen anything like this in a long, long time.

If ever there was a primer for NOT using it, this might just qualify.

Surge loads are a totally different animal than constant.
That 6.7 amps was pretty constant, from what I read.
That means the overload on the published factory spec was 1.7 amps.

Good enough.

So, let's say a newbie to this type of control buys said contol station.
He (or she) has one (1) each, control station.

Following the statements made, they place it into service and it smokes.
Since you have effectively argued against any kind of test to see how long said unit would operate at said overload without smoking, no-one has any idea, and that person now has no operable railroad, as they "bought into" the entire package, and the one control station just fried.

I learned in model railroading never to rely on one of anything important in about.....1954 or 1955.

That's why everything I run outdoors is totally inependent of all other units, the only commonality being the rails.

And you're serious, aren't you?


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Jim Banner

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« Reply #12 on: February 27, 2007, 12:40:52 PM »

Things have changed quite a bit since 1954 or 1955.  Back in those days you could load down a transformer until it did smoke.  These days, power packs and command stations are either current limited or have protective breakers.  You can load them down and down and down, right down to a dead short, and they still don't smoke.

Incidentally, by 1960, those old transformers were replaced by the new ones with built in circuit breakers.  No more smoke.
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Curmudgeon
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« Reply #13 on: February 27, 2007, 01:48:46 PM »

"Things have changed quite a bit since 1954 or 1955.  Back in those days you could load down a transformer until it did smoke.  These days, power packs and command stations are either current limited or have protective breakers.  You can load them down and down and down, right down to a dead short, and they still don't smoke."

Pre-freaking-cisely!

Thank-you!

This is just to freaking easy.

THAT is what I've asked, that he load it until it shuts down (o smokes).
If 6.7 amps drops the voltage by almost 1/3, now I see that you consider that to be "normal".
What point does it shut iteslf down?
How far can the consumer overload the manufacturer-stated specs and for how long before what happens?

Trying to change the subject as seems to be the wont of proponents of this stuff is NOT going to fix anything.

The EZ Command was not built for large-scale, right?
You ever find anything in print from the manufacturer that says it is?
The title of THIS attempt to convince the masses thread is "EZ COmmand for large scale".

I do appreciate you honesty and willingness to share......something.

Still wondering why someone would consider a 1/3 drop in output is normal.....
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Noah Effingway

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« Reply #14 on: February 27, 2007, 04:08:23 PM »

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
An EZ-DCC.

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
Two sound decoders, for my EZ- DCC.

On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
Three five amp boosters, two sound decoders for my EZ-DCC.

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me
Four bags of railclamps, three five amp boosters, two sound decoders for my EZ-DCC.

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
Five friggn’ amps!
Four bags of railclamps, three five amp boosters two sound decoders
For my EZ-DCC.

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
Six powered axles drawing
Five friggin’ amps!
Four bags of railclamps, three five amp boosters, two sound decoders
For my EZ-DCC

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
Seven breakers blowing
Six Powered axles drawing
Five friggin’ amps!
Four bags of railclamps three five amp boosters two sound decoders
For my EZ-DCC.

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
Eight amps that were five amps
Seven breakers blowing
Six powered axles drawing
Five friggin’ amps!
Four bags of railclamps, three five amp boosters two sound decoders
For my EZ-DCC.

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
Nine mis-programmed CV’s
Eight amps that were five amps
Seven breakers blowing
Six powered axles drawing
Five friggin’ amps!
Four bags of railclamps, three five amp boosters two sound decoders
For my EZ-DCC.
On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
Ten books explaining
Nine mi-sprogrammed CV’s
Eight amps that were five amps
Seven breakers blowing
Six powered axles drawing
Five Friggin’ Amps!
Four bags of railclamps, three five amp boosters, two sound decoders
For my EZ-DCC.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
Eleven miles of wiring
Ten books explaining
Nine mis-programmed CV”s
Eight amps that were five amps
Seven breakers blowing
Six powered axles drawing
FIVE FRIGGIN AMPS!
Four bags of railclamps, three five amp boosters, two sound decoders
For my EZ-DCC.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
Twelve track cleaning methods
Eleven miles of wiring
Ten books explaining
Nine mis-programmed CV’s
Eight amps that were five amps
Seven breakers blowing
Six powered axles drawing
FIVE FRIGGIN’ AMPS
Four bags of railclamps, three five amp boosters,  two sound decoders
For my EZ-DCC.
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