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Lenz computer interface fault - best way forward


melmerby
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Hi all

I have been running TrainController for more than 10 years and originally used just a Lenz 100 set for both Train Control & Occupancy Feedback.

More recently I have moved the Train Control over to a Z21 which has run flawlessly since it was first installed along with a WLANmaus as a hand throttle.

 

Originally I used a Lenz LI-USB to connect to the PC for the occupancy control but the USB occasionally dropped out causing system stop, a few years ago I changed the Lenz computer interface to the LAN/USB version so I could connect via LAN and hopefully stop the occasionally USB drop outs.

It has been fine until a couple of weeks ago when I started getting the odd drop out whilst using the LAN connection, so I changed it over to USB but I am still getting drop outs.

I assume the Lenz interface has gone faulty and it is out of guarantee.

 

Question: Do I buy another Lenz computer interface unit ? It was not far over £100 when I bought it, they are now £166!

Do I buy another DCC system (not Lenz)?

The problem is the occupancy feedback system which is on the RS bus, I have around 100 feedback blocks using 13xLDT RS-8s. changing the Lenz system requires another one with a RS bus (which the Z21 doesn't have) or do I change all those units for somthing else e.g. with a Loconet bus at considerable cost. That could also mean an awful lot of re-wiring and I don't really have the time.

 

I also have a DR5000 that has an RS bus & LAN port but in the past have found that it's not particularly stable, so don't want to use that.

 

Any ideas?

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Or have a look at Digikeijs's DR4088RB.  The DR4088RB is a feedback module designed for the Roco™ MultiZentrale-Pro™, Z21™ (black), z21™ (white) and is compatible with the Roco™ 10787. The DR4088RB is available in two versions: the OPTO and CS.

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6 hours ago, melmerby said:

DR5000 that has an RS bus & LAN port but in the past have found that it's not particularly stable,

That's not my experience with a DR5000 - have you upgraded to the latest firmware etc?

 

What stability issues have you encountered?

 

Yours, Mike.

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I converted from Lenz to the Z21. I was originally using the LZV200 to drive the trains and the LZV100 for turnouts and feedback using LDT RS8s, and the Z21 replaced the LZV200. Eventually I decided to go all the way and replaced the RS8s with DR4088RBs directly connected to the Z21. I was then able to dispose of the LZV100, LAN/USB, and 11 RS8s on Ebay which significantly offset the cost. I sold the RS8s for between £20-30. Change-over was a gradual process with RS8s being replaced over a few weeks so the layout was always operable. 

 

The DR4088RB can have up to 4 DR4088s chained to it and you can have a maximum of 2 DR4088RBs connected to the RBUS.  I'm very happy with the outcome. I purchased the units directly from Dijikeijs. 

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1 hour ago, KingEdwardII said:

That's not my experience with a DR5000 - have you upgraded to the latest firmware etc?

 

What stability issues have you encountered?

 

Yours, Mike.

I started with version 1.1.1, ended up with 1.5.5 (maybe later?). I had two, they were bought years apart the later arrived with ver 1.4.8, the second was bought to replace the "faulty" first one

They have exactly the same problem when using TrainController in that during an operating session, after a period of time they would occasionally stop communicating with TC (note, the connection doesn't drop out). It was the same with LAN or USB, resulting in trains running uncontrolled on the layout. (I know someone else that had the exact same problem.) I had several crashes because of it, so using a DR5000 is a definite no.

 

Any likelyhood it is a PC fault is unlikely as I had two different computers and it was the same with both.

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7 hours ago, peach james said:

Can you divide the layout into 2 segments, and use the ability of RR&Co to run 2 (+) systems at the same time?

The total # of items may be exceeding the ability of the RS bus.

 

James

It has separate busses for feedback and turnouts and as described is using two systems on TC.

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4 hours ago, KingEdwardII said:

OK. I've never experienced that with my DR5000. I am using JMRI rather than TrainController.

 

Yours, Mike.

It seems to be something that some find and others not, depending on setup.

The problem is IMHO the DR5000 was built down to a price not up to a specification and wasn't properly sorted when first released (some of the advertised features weren't available) and it's been playing catch up ever since, hence the number of firmware updates, some to add the features, others to sort the bugs.

 

As I said earlier my first came with 1.1.1 (The initial release?), which was updated to 1.1.2, which was by then latest firmware. (downloaded april 2016)

I checked the downloaded firmware packages and I have done most since then and the latest I have is 1.6.1 which I downloaded in July this year.

 

 

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Are you aware that there are two different versions of patch 1.6.1? 
 

the released the first version which broke a lot of machines and after a period released a new patch but used the old release number!

 

worth downloading and repapplyong to ensure that you do have the correct version and not the broken version.

 

I have to say that this is a classic example of the lack of quality control in DK. They have also acknowledged that the power supply which was provided was poor quality and you now have to buy a separate one which is better quality. When you see the DCC signal on the old power supply it is definitely not a square wave!

 

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Just coming at this from another point of view, could it be a PC update that is causing this. 
 

If it’s Windows updates try stepping back in time to a date before the problem started to show itself. 
 

Just a thought, could save a few bob. 

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7 hours ago, WIMorrison said:

Are you aware that there are two different versions of patch 1.6.1? 

 

They have also acknowledged that the power supply which was provided was poor quality and you now have to buy a separate one which is better quality. When you see the DCC signal on the old power supply it is definitely not a square wave!

 

Is there a specific date for that?

I see that some have got a new "beta" release recently from Digikeijs (noted In a TrainController Forum thread) to cure some more problems that have arisen.

 

However I don't intend using the DR5000 for my layout as it still seems it hasn't been properly sorted nearly 6 years after first release.:(

 

Which PSU? I had two different ones with the two I bought. they supplied a fixed 19v laptop supply with the first and an adjustable laptop supply with the second. They were from different Chinese makers.

Apart from an "unsquare wave" the DR5000 also jitters badly.

Edited by melmerby
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2 hours ago, two tone green said:

Just coming at this from another point of view, could it be a PC update that is causing this. 
 

If it’s Windows updates try stepping back in time to a date before the problem started to show itself. 
 

Just a thought, could save a few bob. 

Hi TTG

Long time no hear.

 

It's on Win 11 but it I had problems with Lenz & USB on a couple of other PCs on Win 10 and occasionally more recently using  Lenz & LAN with Win 10 on the current PC (which has how it has been connected since I got the Z21)

The upgrade to Win 11 doesn't seem to have made it better or worse.

The Z21 which is also on the same LAN hub hasn't faltered, it's always the Lenz connection that stops Train Controller. (......... Processing has Continued Offline..........etc)

It appears to be a very short duration drop out as after TC has stopped "Setting Up Digital Systems" always restores it, until the next drop out 10 mins or 2 hours or whatever later.

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18 minutes ago, melmerby said:

Hi TTG

Long time no hear.

 

It's on Win 11 but it I had problems with Lenz & USB on a couple of other PCs on Win 10 and occasionally more recently using  Lenz & LAN with Win 10 on the current PC (which has how it has been connected since I got the Z21)

The upgrade to Win 11 doesn't seem to have made it better or worse.

The Z21 which is also on the same LAN hub hasn't faltered, it's always the Lenz connection that stops Train Controller. (......... Processing has Continued Offline..........etc)

It appears to be a very short duration drop out as after TC has stopped "Setting Up Digital Systems" always restores it, until the next drop out 10 mins or 2 hours or whatever later.

 

Could the issue be as simple as windows power-management ?   Windows (and I think its been a default setting for a while) tries to minimise power to various things, including USB devices.   This can cause USB stuff to go "off line" and a piece of software using the device finds its connection has failed.   I have my computers set to not power-save any peripheral devices when running on mains. 

 

The LAN connections are not likely to be affected by this failure.    

 

- Nigel

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Its just done it again about 10mins after starting the layout.

 

1775084248_Screenshot2021-12-04170528.jpg.3451e0e865b23433240e5c1b73ed903e.jpg

 

 

It's only the Lenz interface that stops operating, the power to the track is still on and you can control locos with the onscreen throttle or the WLANmaus so the Z21 is still connected fine.

The Lenz system itself is still working, the occupancy is still showing on the handset, it's just the communication with the rest of the LAN network that is lost.

 

N.B. this is a desktop and pwer setting is "best performance"

It was on "balanced" but changing to best perfomance makes no difference.

Edited by melmerby
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If  (and I emphasise if)   it is power-saving, you need to dig deeper in the Power settings... 

 

From the power settings, go to "change plan settings" and then "change advanced power settings".   That brings up an "old-style" windows dialogue box called "power options" with a lot of stuff in it.   Scroll down to USB, and look for "USB suspend". That might be enabled, and it might be the cause of problems....

 

 

- Nigel

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4 hours ago, melmerby said:

Is there a specific date for that?

I see that some have got a new "beta" release recently from Digikeijs (noted In a TrainController Forum thread) to cure some more problems that have arisen.

 

However I don't intend using the DR5000 for my layout as it still seems it hasn't been properly sorted nearly 6 years after first release.:(

 

Which PSU? I had two different ones with the two I bought. they supplied a fixed 19v laptop supply with the first and an adjustable laptop supply with the second. They were from different Chinese makers.

Apart from an "unsquare wave" the DR5000 also jitters badly.

 

Keith

 

I can't recall exactly when they were screwing around with 1.6.0 nor exactly when 1.6.1 came out, but I do know that they screwed up both releases and reissued and in the case of 1.6.1 used the same release number - very bad practice.

 

As far as PSU the recommendation I got from the designer of the DR5000 (no longer employed by DK, but that is another story)  was not to use any DK supplied SMPS and buy a decent one, such as a Meanwell SMPS. He showed me the difference in waveform, and it was chalk and cheese. The DR5000 was almost as good as Z21 with a good power supply! He had complained many times to DK about the SMPS the used and was always told his job was just to design ...

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21 minutes ago, Nigelcliffe said:

If  (and I emphasise if)   it is power-saving, you need to dig deeper in the Power settings... 

 

From the power settings, go to "change plan settings" and then "change advanced power settings".   That brings up an "old-style" windows dialogue box called "power options" with a lot of stuff in it.   Scroll down to USB, and look for "USB suspend". That might be enabled, and it might be the cause of problems....

 

 

- Nigel

Hi Nigel

I'm using Windows 11 and the settings layout is different to 10, there's no further menus on the power setting page like in 10 so you have to search.

I found it under "selective suspend" for USB ports. It was already turned off.

 

However it shouldn't affect it as the model railway is on it's own LAN network, there's nothing on USB, although I did drop back to that for the Lenz to see whether it was better but it seems just as random in going off. It only seems to be a brief dropout as straight after the message from TC and disconnecting of the Lenz connection everything is fine and can be re-connected.

 

I wonder if there is a way of monitoring LAN traffic so any losses of connection might be spotted?

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How old is your LAN/USB device? Lenz warranty is 6 years so it might be worth contacting A&H Models to see if they can help.

 

When you say "drop out" what exactly happens? When I had problems with the LI-USB, the problem was that it would intermittently not report changes of occupancy to TC and hence trains would not stop in blocks where they were due to resulting in crashes.

 

I replaced with a LAN/USB that I bought S/H from Hatton's but it didn't work properly and became too hot to touch. A&H Models replaced it under warranty. Does yours get hot when you get drop outs? 

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1 hour ago, RFS said:

How old is your LAN/USB device? Lenz warranty is 6 years so it might be worth contacting A&H Models to see if they can help.

 

When you say "drop out" what exactly happens? When I had problems with the LI-USB, the problem was that it would intermittently not report changes of occupancy to TC and hence trains would not stop in blocks where they were due to resulting in crashes.

 

I replaced with a LAN/USB that I bought S/H from Hatton's but it didn't work properly and became too hot to touch. A&H Models replaced it under warranty. Does yours get hot when you get drop outs? 

I think it's about 3 years old but I can't find any purchase record.

Checking back to the likely suppliers online, my order pages all say "no orders" even though I have ordered several items over the years.

 

The problem is the computer connection between the Lenz system & the program, either LAN or USB, is lost for a brief period.

It it is working fine until that window pops up, at that point all comms have been lost between the Lenz LAN & TC and TC drops the Lenz connection (but not the Z21)

Unfortunately TC does not do an auto re-connect and I have to go back through "Set Up Digital Systems" to get it back online, although it is always working immediately after the message

 

 

 

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Thinking laterally, when the connection drops can TC not detect this drop out automatically because feedback has dropped out, or is the feedback status maintained at the last reported state?

 

If it can detect the dropout, then could you create an action or macro to automatically reconnect?

 

I think that TAMS, or perhaps LDT used to make a Watchdog, but which bus it was for I can't recall.

 

EDIT - it is LDT that make it Littfinski 010013 WD-DEC-G WatchDog Decoder Motorola and DCC New

Edited by WIMorrison
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OK, never had that problem myself - my problems were just missing updates with the LI-USB (23150). The 23151 is powered via the Xpressnet connection to the LZV100 so I wonder if that's where the issue might be? A brief power interruption could cause the 23151 to reset itself. Is the cable to the LZV100 good? Mine used to be connected to the LA152 panel. 

Edited by RFS
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9 hours ago, RFS said:

OK, never had that problem myself - my problems were just missing updates with the LI-USB (23150). The 23151 is powered via the Xpressnet connection to the LZV100 so I wonder if that's where the issue might be? A brief power interruption could cause the 23151 to reset itself. Is the cable to the LZV100 good? Mine used to be connected to the LA152 panel. 

The cable is about 30cm terminated in a 4 way connector on the LZV100, which sit next to each other.

It is properly terminated as per Lenz's diagram and checked the terminations.

I've changed the LAN cable for a better quality one and have now fixed the WiFi/LAN hub & the Lenz 23151 interface to a panel so they can't move around, just in case that is causing connection problems.

 

I've now got another fault now, totally unrelated!

I have an NCE EB-1 circuit breaker in the track feed from the Z21, set to trip before the Z21, this stops totally losing control, because if the Z21 TC shuts down the Lenz system does as well.

It means I can still operate turnouts with the Lenz if something e.g. a wrong turnout setting has caused the trip.

 

Unfortunately the EB 1 has taken to either not switching on for ages when power is first supplied or even dropping the voltage to the track, yesterday it dropped from 14v to 11v!, there was only 900mA flowing and the trip is set to 4A.

I wondered why a train stopped well short of where it should.:scratchhead:

I have checked all the components that I can and nothing is obvious. so it looks like a replacement is needed.

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