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Everything posted by AndrueC

  1. So what have I been doing recently? Mostly just scenery work. I have finally completed the ballasting of the North Yard and it's looking quite good. The trains are all stored off-track at the moment but that means you can see the tracking painting: And a barrow crossing: I've also added some random trees here and there. Only plastic trees but the effect isn't too bad I think:
  2. So, what I need (if it exists) is the easiest, simplest and cheapest way for me to get to the point where I can start to do the things I might enjoy on the layout. Oh well, this is cheapest, easiest https://photos.app.goo.gl/J9tScGjFRqRRYWt89 No bus, two droppers and a 9v battery Mind you that diamond crossing did eventually turn out to be a bit of a nuisance.
  3. For what it's worth the reason I only put droppers 'here and there' is because I was nervous about soldering. I'd practiced it on spare track for a week and just couldn't get the hang of it. But I persevered. I found a technique that worked for me. And now I love it. I've even repaired a cheap electric clock more because I wanted to do some soldering than to save myself £10. For me soldering is now something I like because it's almost as good as meditation. I can spend an hour pretty much zoned out not thinking of anything other than the task at hand. No decisions to make . Just keep introducing solder to wire and rail I almost don't mind having to add droppers when a fishplate fails
  4. ..and further food for thought on fishplates. Parts of my track are in tunnels. All of it has access for picking up derailed trains and cleaning. But if any of the fishplates on the curves in the tunnels go silly I'm going to have a devil of time fixing it. If I'm lucky conductive paste will work but I can only easily get to one side of rail so not sure how to put paste on the inside of a curve facing away from you unless someone makes a hook shaped paint brush. Given I used Setrack and have a lot of such joints I really hope I don't have to deal with this
  5. How is each section of track getting power? If most are getting it through fishplates then that's not a good idea. Over the last eight months since I first completed my track laying I've had over half a dozen fishplates either stop carrying current or else not carry it very well. Now I did already have a bus in place so fixing the issue is usually easy - either solder a fishplate join or just drill two more holes in the baseboard and drop wires down to meet the bus. But originally I only put droppers in 'here and there' and now I regret it. It's a nuisance and annoying to have to fix something when all you want to do is run trains. So I have vowed that for my next layout every single individual piece of track is going to have its own supply and the easiest way to do that is with a bus and droppers. Your layout looks about the same size as mine. Mine is N scale and the size of a double bed with two loops.
  6. A non-standard cable can also reduce the power available to your layout. I'd replaced mine earlier in the year with one that was nearly double the length. When I started adding lighting I experienced a significant drop in track voltage to the point where one loco began to noticeably struggle. My multimeter was reporting 17VAC with the original cable back in place my MM reports 22VAC. Now granted we can't trust an MM with DCC signals(*) but I think we can trust a relative difference. And the loco that was struggling is now back to normal. It's still not very fast but that appears to be the way Dapol have engineered their class 53. (*)Mine seems to be reporting roughly double the track voltage which is either surprisingly clever for a cheap MM or typical crap reading from a cheap MM
  7. Ah! Thank you! Yes, I suppose that makes sense re putting the decoder into the powered car. As for the 'blown' decoder I think I still have it somewhere so maybe will find it one day to investigate. Having to reprogram it on every derail (something the class 43 used to do a lot) always seemed a bit weird. Sometimes I could reset it by just removing it from the track then putting it back down. I actually still have the loco (I call her Miss Behaviour, lol) at address 3 because I got fed up of having to reprogram it all the time.
  8. So earlier this year (like March or April) I was backing my class 43 and I backed her against a turnout. Something started buzzing. I was new to this lark back then and thought it was the motor but now I think it was my NCE PowerCab fuse. Anyway after that the train wouldn't respond to commands. I'd had the problem before when the loco derailed and I had to reprogram the Imperium decoder. This time even that didn't work - apparently I'd fried the decoder. Luckily I had another decoder in the unpowered rear engine where all it was doing was flipping the lights according to the train direction so I put that in the power car and all was fine. She's run happily ever since. Anyway today as I was doing some scenery work on the yard I had to remove the train from the tracks so decided that now was the time to install a decoder I'd bought to replace the blown one. So plugged the new decoder into the unpowered car and put it on the programming track. 'Cannot read CV'. I had a second spare decoder so tried that 'Cannot read CV'. Now when I took the body off the unpowered loco there was already a decoder in there. I think it was a blank decoder but I'm not sure. What I can see is that with this third decoder inserted I do at least have lights at the rear (two red and one white). So it looks to me like when I backed the train against a turnout two things happened: The decoder in the powered unit blew. The decoder slot in the unpowered loco blew. Does any of this seem reasonable? I always felt it was strange that backing a train against a turnout could blow the decoder at the other end. I'm now also surprised that there is anything much in the slot PCB that can blow, especially since with what I think is a blanking decoder inserted the lights do at least work. The train is now back running again so all is good there - I just don't have correct lighting a the rear. But I'm a bit puzzled.
  9. How about Anderson Connectors? Most golf trolleys use them and from my own experience they are reliable and pretty tough. They have to be because no golfer wants to fiddle about for half an hour gently assembling their trolley. Power connectors on golf trolleys have to be a 'slam together, stay connected for hours' solution and even tolerate rain, vibration and a little mud. https://www.12voltplanet.co.uk/anderson-power-connectors.html
  10. First off, do not use Settrack for straights. Use Streamline for those. Far more cost effective and they are entirely compatible with each other. Otherwise Setrack worked well for me but my layout is barely a year old. Only criticisms I'd have is that for N scale: * Turnouts are first radius. My 4-6-2 Queen Elizabeth can negotiate them but only one at a time. * Turnouts - over centre spring can only be removed from underneath and Cobalt-SS motors at least won't budge a turnout with it in place. So plan ahead. I did plan ahead but my plan was 'I'll never get to the point where I want to install turnout motors on this layout' and I was wrong :-/ Other than that I can say that laying the track out was a breeze and working to the fixed geometry of Settrack helped a lot. My next layout will be Streamline however. It's just more realistic. But the curves are going to be interesting
  11. I always have to be careful with videos on my Samsung S10. It has an annoying habit of sometimes flagging the video as being in portrait mode when it was in fact recorded in landscape. The only way to fix it is on the phone and it applies the fix to every frame so it can take ten minutes to correct a video.
  12. Mine are similar to the unit 57xx posted but a bit cheaper and lower magnification. https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B075QDTK8K/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1 It does sometimes take my eyes a couple of seconds to refocus/realign but I think that's me not the headset
  13. I think alignment matters most. I've developed a few rough spots since my track was fixed down due to various projects. Even with N-scale it's surprising quite what you can get away with. The trains might click/clunk a bit but they keep on rolling
  14. I used it on mine (N-scale) apart from the straights. It's not 'exhibition quality' but I think it looks okay for a first layout. https://photos.app.goo.gl/UyU3hD3iJLa8oQYJA
  15. Yeah, I know some people love 'em, some people hate 'em. Me I like them. As long as you ensure that the single cable is fully inserted they work fine. I have nearly two dozen on my layout connecting droppers (22 gauge) to bus (14 gauge). I was a novice last year so spent quite some time trying to work out which ones to use. I eventually chose blue and they worked fine. Later on I wanted to connect a single bus wire to the main bus and discovered I needed red for that. All good. I've recently had a few electrical issues (traced to the cable I was using with my controller rather than my layout wiring) but it inspired me to go over my layout with a multimeter making sure everywhere was well catered for. Found a few weak spots and either soldered the joint or installed a drop wire. Toward the end I finally exhausted my black wire spool so opened a spare pack. And then things went a bit..odd. One turnout steadfastly refused to give me full track voltage. Now I'm a DCC chap and my multimeter is thus never going to be very accurate. But it is at least consistently wrong - it reports 22VAC. Except for this damn' turnout that kept being reported as 16VAC. Even when I soldered all the joints. Then I realised that because it's an Insulfrog and one of the joints goes to a disused siding I needed to add a dropper. No problem - I'll solder the dropper to the joint and kill two birds with one stone. No go. Further and further testing eventually led me to conclude that the dropper wasn't electrically connected to the bus. I redid the Scotchlok and..still no go. Hmm. Maybe as it was the first wire from a spool it's broken. Check that - nope the wire conducts just fine. I don't want to keep attach Scotchloks to the bus so I'm almost at the point of soldering the dropper to another part of the track when I happen to knock the spool onto the floor. I scrabble around and when I pick it up I happen to notice that it's not 22 gauge, it's 24. Looking at the spec for the blue Scotchlok again it appears that I was lucky that 22 gauge worked since blue is apparently only rated down to 18 gauge. Apparently 24 gauge is (to misquote from Monty Python) 'right out'. Anyway I've ordered some more 22 gauge wire and soon the errant turnout will be carrying full voltage.
  16. I've found the answer. It's the cable between the PCP and Powercab. I replaced it with a longer one I bought from Amazon. With the original cable in place my multimeter now reports 22 VAC between the rails and even with two locos + acc. bus everything seems fine. Curiously the Powercab is now reporting higher currents than it ever has before - at one point it was showing just over .6A. The track voltage still drops but even with two locos it was being reported as 20 VAC. https://ncedcc.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/201799499-NCE-DCC-Cables-Explained I'm still mildly curious about why my multimeter - a Rapidtest DM25 - appears to report double the actual voltage whereas all the comments I've found on the web imply MMs are just be 'a bit inaccurate' but it doesn't really matter
  17. I just tried an experiment. I found a spare PSU rated at 12v, 1.5 A and connected that. The trains I tried ran slower than 'normal' which is to be expected. But interestingly I didn't see a huge difference between their speed with/without the acc. bus attached. For what's worth the voltages reported by my MM with the 12v supply were: * No acc. bus: 19.7 * With acc. bus: 16.4 Not really sure what that tells me but it sounds like a proportional change (13.8 -> 12 = 14% lower). Also it looks like that PSU didn't drop its voltage quite as much. But from what I've been reading PSUs should drop their voltage at all unless you pull too much from them. Do you think it worthwhile measuring the current supplied to track+acc. bus using the multimeter rather than relying on the PowerCab? I do know that the 13.8v PSU never gets warm.
  18. Yes I'm measuring using VAC on my multimeter. I'm aware that the absolute values will therefore be inaccurate but I'd have thought they are at least correctly proportional to each other. Thus if the MM reports a drop from 22 to 17 I can fairly safely say that the track voltage has dropped by about 20%. My PSU is providing 13.8v and apparently the PowerCab 'costs' .5v so it seems to me that we can say that my track is going from 13.3v to 10.6v. I don't think the track has serious problems. As I mentioned previously running two metre-long N-scale trains has never pushed the PowerCab above .3A which seems reasonable. Trains seem to run at a constant speed on all parts of the track and I only clean the track if I've been doing scenery work in an area. Oh and although I use settrack curves and turnouts the straights are streamline. There is no change in loco speed while they are traversing a straight that has its own droppers which I assume rules out dodgy joints..or does it?
  19. .3A for the acc. bus doesn't sound too bad to me either. Five decoders (four for the turnout controllers, one for the mimic), numerous LEDs (four signals + LEDs on the PCBs) and whatever current the turnout motors use when idle.
  20. I leave the PowerCab set to show amps and I have two separate loops so can operate two at a time easily and from what I remember the current got closer to .3A but the trains didn't seem to run any slower. For reference all my trains are a bit less than a metre long and I have one approximately 2% incline that one of the trains would have to negotiate.
  21. That's what I'm beginning to suspect. I've measured the DC output and it's 13.79v so bang on but of course putting it under load is another matter. Whether the draw from the acc. bus or track is excessive is one thing but it doesn't seem right that a device that claims to be able to provide 2A struggles when asked for .5A.
  22. I soldered my own droppers on but initially only did 'a few here and there'. Over the summer I've soldered three or four 'failed' joints and added two more pairs of droppers. I'm probably averaging one pair of droppers every couple of metres but I'm using settrack and none of my curve sections initially had droppers. Given that the PowerCab reports less than .3A with the acc. bus disconnected when running one loco and with six others idle (no lighting other than what the locos come with) it doesn't sound to me like the track is a problem. From what I've read that's about right for N scale locos. Nonethless I'm reviewing the track in the light of this. I've already decided that my next layout (in the design phase, lol) will have droppers on every single piece of track.
  23. I have had to fix up a few fishplates over the summer but I had assumed that if the voltage drop goes away (or at least trains return to what seems normal speed) when I disconnect the acc. bus it was safe to lay to the blame there. Could it instead be the case that the acc. bus draw is just the final straw?
  24. The controllers and mimic don't have separate signal and power inputs so how do I wire up a separate PSU for them?
  25. Yeah I don't mind doing that but out of an abundance of caution I'm just wondering if this 'sounds right'. I know my PowerCab is a starter system but it seems a bit drastic that an extra .3A draw results in a 20% reduction in track voltage. One my locos - a class 56 - which never was particularly fast crawls pitifully with the accessories connected. The other locos also become fairly pedestrian which is how I first noticed the issue. The PSU claims 1.8A output but my layout currently seems to suggest that pulling .5A renders the track voltage almost unusably slow.
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