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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Two months ago I decided to go DCC on my layout. BAD IDEA !!!! I spent a bunch of money on the Digitrax 602D system and have yet to run a locomotive ! And against the advice I got on this forum, I got rid of all my block switches & rewired the layout without them ! Stupid Me !!!! I've watched a few videos on programing locos & put decoders in two of them. From what I've read, I should get a reading of about 14 volts from the combined voltage of each rail to ground. I only get 4.9 on one and 2.5 on the other !!! Even at the terminals of the DCS 210+. What I need is a Digitrax for Dummies book cause this 76 year guy just don't get it even after reading the instructions & watching videos ! All I know for sure is it's going to take a lot of work to switch back to DC !!!!!
 

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Instead of trying to power your whole layout, maybe make a simple straight test track to see if you can get that working properly.

The only locos you have with DCC, you installed the encoders yourself?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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Hmmmm....

When I was getting started with dcc (a complete novice), I chose the Roco z21 system.

It ran beautifully from the beginning, and never a problem after 3 years.
Adding engines is a snap.
Programming is super-easy (and if it wasn't "easy" I couldn't do it!).

I'll bet when you were "asking for advice", I suggested the z21 to you, right here.

These days, the "white box" z21start is getting a little harder to find at decent prices (though it still can be found on ebay, usually for sale in Europe, where I bought from).

The "black box" Z21 (large "Z") is too expensive, I wouldn't recommend it.

Rather, I'd suggest the Digikeijs DR5000.
Not expensive ($200 US) and it works with almost all handhelds there.
AND... it works with the FREE z21 control app, as well.

That means you can use it with ANY smartphone or tablet (Android or iOS).

It's not only one of the best systems out there... it's also one of the cheapest!
 

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disconnect the layout, connect to a 36" piece of rail as ecmdrw5 suggested.
 

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I am not an expert, but seems to me that I remember reading that DCC voltage is more Ac-ish than DC-ish. Try using your multimeter on the AC voltage scale. And I am fairly confident that it takes a special equipment to read the amperage. I'll go test with my Zephyr system when I get home. And I have a DCC book by Kalmbach that talks about measuring V and A.

I agree with the troubleshooting by connecting the command station to a short piece of totally independent test track.

Finally, I have heard lots good about their tech support.

Sorry for your pain and frustration! I hope it gets resolved quickly!

From a Digitrax users forum:

Wil,

Use a DC setting with a scale of 7 to 12 volts or so. Then measure from
LocoNet common, this can be a booster case, green wire, or ground connector.
Place the neg lead here, and measure to one rail, this will be approx one
half the digital voltage across the rails, so you can just double it. Or if
you like to double check your booster output, then measure the other rail,
should be almost if not the same as the first rail. Add the two reading
together and you will have it.

If you like you can build the active circuit at:
http://www.geocities.com/ResearchTriangle/Lab/8859/awrrhome.html
Fred's circuit will give you a True RMS reading capable of handling the high
speed 10k variable-duty-cycle, non-sinusoidal AC of DCC, and you only need a
1 volt or so DC meter to read it. Really not needed for Digitrax or any
system that will supply a - connection at the internal H bridge as Digitrax
does. But for systems that do not supply it, it works fine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I am not an expert, but seems to me that I remember reading that DCC voltage is more Ac-ish than DC-ish. Try using your multimeter on the AC voltage scale. And I am fairly confident that it takes a special equipment to read the amperage. I'll go test with my Zephyr system when I get home. And I have a DCC book by Kalmbach that talks about measuring V and A.

I agree with the troubleshooting by connecting the command station to a short piece of totally independent test track.

Finally, I have heard lots good about their tech support.

Sorry for your pain and frustration! I hope it gets resolved quickly!

From a Digitrax users forum:

Wil,

Use a DC setting with a scale of 7 to 12 volts or so. Then measure from
LocoNet common, this can be a booster case, green wire, or ground connector.
Place the neg lead here, and measure to one rail, this will be approx one
half the digital voltage across the rails, so you can just double it. Or if
you like to double check your booster output, then measure the other rail,
should be almost if not the same as the first rail. Add the two reading
together and you will have it.

If you like you can build the active circuit at:
http://www.geocities.com/ResearchTriangle/Lab/8859/awrrhome.html
Fred's circuit will give you a True RMS reading capable of handling the high
speed 10k variable-duty-cycle, non-sinusoidal AC of DCC, and you only need a
1 volt or so DC meter to read it. Really not needed for Digitrax or any
system that will supply a - connection at the internal H bridge as Digitrax
does. But for systems that do not supply it, it works fine.
With the layout unhooked from DSC 210+ I get 6.5 volts between the center (grd terminal) and the A terminal and only .5 volts between the grd and terminal B
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Instead of trying to power your whole layout, maybe make a simple straight test track to see if you can get that working properly.

The only locos you have with DCC, you installed the encoders yourself?


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Yes, I installed them !
 

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DCC is a very siimple train system to set up and
operate. Unfortunately you have purchased an advanced
and very complex model.

The Digitrax 602D is an accessory dual control that
plugs into the DCS 210+ Digitrax DCC control system using
a loco net cable. You also must connect the PS615 power supply
and 614 unit to the 210*. The track is connected to the marked terminals on the 210.

Here is the operating manual:


Review your 210+ operating manual pages 26,27 & 28.

The output of a DCC digital control system to the track is approximately
14 volts rail to rail modified AC. To measure DCC track voltage, set
your meter to AC, one probe on left rail, other on right rail. The voltage
does not vary as you operate speed control.

If you have further trouble do contact Digitrax directly. They will
guide your installation.

Don
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
DCC is a very siimple train system to set up and
operate. Unfortunately you have purchased an advanced
and very complex model.

The Digitrax 602D is an accessory dual control that
plugs into the DCS 210+ Digitrax DCC control system using
a loco net cable. You also must connect the PS615 power supply
and 614 unit to the 210*. The track is connected to the marked terminals on the 210.

Here is the operating manual:


Review your 210+ operating manual pages 26,27 & 28.

The output of a DCC digital control system to the track is approximately
14 volts rail to rail modified AC. To measure DCC track voltage, set
your meter to AC, one probe on left rail, other on right rail. The voltage
does not vary as you operate speed control.

If you have further trouble do contact Digitrax directly. They will
guide your installation.

Don
Shouldn't I have 14 volts at the terminals on the DCS 210+ with nothing hooked to it ?
 

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Yes, approximately 14 AC across rail A (RA on the booster) to rail B (RB) terminals. You will most likely have to turn on the track voltage from the throttle. You have a really nice DCC system, but like anything new you just need to keep plugging away at it and as mentioned above call Digitrax for help, they will help!
 

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You will need a VOM that reads true RMS AC voltage to get an accurate reading at the rail for DCC.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Yes, approximately 14 AC across rail A (RA on the booster) to rail B (RB) terminals. You will most likely have to turn on the track voltage from the throttle. You have a really nice DCC system, but like anything new you just need to keep plugging away at it and as mentioned above call Digitrax for help, they will help!
Thanks for all the help !!!!
 

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Thanks J.Albert......It's a little late for that !!!!!!
Yes, he's good at that. He also conveniently overlooks the fact that wiring you track correctly isna huge part of the issue, and the z21 is no better at this than any other system. The "simplicity" is in the set-up, and again, while it makes sense to him, it isn't the dream system he makes it out to be. He also never acknowledges that there are significant drawbacks to using smartphones and tablets as controllers. So don't kick yourself. You bought a good system (although perhaps you bought one that was too much for your needs). If Roco /Digikeis really were the answer to everyone's prayers, it would dominate the market, rather than being a bit player.
 
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Two months ago I decided to go DCC on my layout. BAD IDEA !!!! I spent a bunch of money on the Digitrax 602D system and have yet to run a locomotive ! And against the advice I got on this forum, I got rid of all my block switches & rewired the layout without them ! Stupid Me !!!! I've watched a few videos on programing locos & put decoders in two of them. From what I've read, I should get a reading of about 14 volts from the combined voltage of each rail to ground. I only get 4.9 on one and 2.5 on the other !!! Even at the terminals of the DCS 210+. What I need is a Digitrax for Dummies book cause this 76 year guy just don't get it even after reading the instructions & watching videos ! All I know for sure is it's going to take a lot of work to switch back to DC !!!!!
Kind of continuing the theme of my last post, I'm not sure why you selected this particular system -- which is probably way more than you needed, but you have it now, so what you need is patience and perseverance. Digitrax is not known for it's user-friendly documentation, but they are known for their excellent tech support. Going DCC was not a bad idea, nor was removing all of your block switches. However, I think it is distinctly possible that with multiple blocks to run DC, because you had to manually match the polarity in each block for trains to cross into them, you didn't need to worry about consistent feeder polarity. Now you do. Presumably, the blocks are still isolated electrically. Have you tried hooking up each one independently and seeing if they work?

Also, you installed your decoders yourself. You may have made a mistake while doing so. Do you have a known-good DCC loco (even a borrower one) that you can use to test, or conversely can you take your locos somewhere with an already functioning system (from any manufacturer) and see if they work properly?

Again, going DCC wasn't a mistake, but unless you have a very simple layout (and it doesn't sound like you do), it's not as easy as simply connecting your bus wires to the base station. But between this forum and Digitrax, we'll get you up and running.
 
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Can you recommend a reasonably priced VOM that does that ?
If you don't want to pay Fluke prices, then Amprobe might be easier on your budget.

I like the accuracy, response time, and lifetime warranty of USA made Fluke meters.

Whichever you choose it must say True RMS in the spec or it isn't.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Kind of continuing the theme of my last post, I'm not sure why you selected this particular system -- which is probably way more than you needed, but you have it now, so what you need is patience and perseverance. Digitrax is not known for it's user-friendly documentation, but they are known for their excellent tech support. Going DCC was not a bad idea, nor was removing all of your block switches. However, I think it is distinctly possible that with multiple blocks to run DC, because you had to manually match the polarity in each block for trains to cross into them, you didn't need to worry about consistent feeder polarity. Now you do. Presumably, the blocks are still isolated electrically. Have you tried hooking up each one independently and seeing if they work?

Also, you installed your decoders yourself. You may have made a mistake while doing so. Do you have a known-good DCC loco (even a borrower one) that you can use to test, or conversely can you take your locos somewhere with an already functioning system (from any manufacturer) and see if they work properly?

Again, going DCC wasn't a mistake, but unless you have a very simple layout (and it doesn't sound like you do), it's not as easy as simply connecting your bus wires to the base station. But between this forum and Digitrax, we'll get you up and running.
Thanks CTV.....I really appreciate your help ! I'm a retired electrician so I have 48 years of control wiring so I don't have any issues when it comes to wiring anything. I'm still laying under my layout rewiring for DCC. I left the isolated rail joiners in and ran more drops down to a buss. I have to install the reversing loop module & get it hooked up as well. I'm building a new control panel without all the block switches. Just going to have turnout switches & green & red LEDs to show turnout positions. Got some DPDT momentary mini toggles for the switch machines & some mini latching relays for the LEDS. Seems to work fine on my bread board mock up !!!! I'm quite confident that I installed my decoders in 2 locos....it's the programing I don't seem to get !!! What I don't understand is why I don't get 14 volts at the terminals of the DCS 210+ with nothing hooked to it ! I get 7 volts from A to ground & 2 volts from B to ground. Also, if I set a loco on the track it starts moving very slow ???? What's up with that ? Once again, you've been the most helpful & i really appreciate that !!!!
 

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The locomotive will only begin to move when the decoder gets information packets that says it is to move....OR....because the throttle or command station still has information about the last throttle commands stored and is continuously re-issuing that command. It's like placing a locomotive on unpowered rails, putting power through to the rails, and the locomotive either takes off like a jackrabbit or the bells rings...or the horn/whistle won't stop. Those are all indications that the throttle still has those commands working from the last session. If one looks at the throttle display, it should show the active locomotive and will probably show one or two functions in action. The jackrabbit start problem is well documented for some decoders who, when the power gets applied to the rails initially, sense the inrush as maximum DC voltage and take off accordingly, too often with horrible consequences. That's a simple CV29 fix.

I can't help with the voltage disparity...I think Digitrax will help you to trouble-shoot whatever is the issue, but that's only if there isn't a simple explanation. Many years ago, they took my call and held my hand for a few minutes over the long reaches of wires to help me through a crisis with my brand new DB150. Once it all clicked, it has become second nature and that Super Empire Builder has never given me a whiff of a problem, now 15 years.

To put yourself at ease, both with your enjoyment of your trains and to keep your days happy as we move into summer, give them a call and explain your circumstances. It may take a day or two for them to call back, or someone might have you up and running inside of five minutes. Life's too short to be pondering a complex problem, or a simple one that seems intractable, when there's no shortage of help at the other end of a phone line.

That'll be two cents, please. :p
 
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