Electrical Woes Resolved (Almost)

I recently shared a number of electrical woes with my readers. Nothing like short circuit puzzles to figure out to keep the hobby fun!

To summarize, a DB150 booster that was indicating "zero stretching" and use of an analog locomotive when nothing was on the track. Moved the booster to another power district and the problem followed the booster. LocoNet shorts. A short on my upper deck.

I received the new Digitrax DB220 and replaced the DB150 (see above). Nice unit! Immediately resolved the "zero stretching" error.

I have multiple legs of LocoNet. Many worked fine on their own, but certain combinations caused track power shutdowns, or throttles went dim and did not work. Multiple solution here...

I found that the LocoNet cable connecting my RRCirKits LocoBuffer went bad, somehow. Replaced the cable and it was happy. Easy fix; hard to find.

The rest of the LocoNet is not fixed yet, but I have a pretty good idea. Although I am nowhere near the max length for LocoNet, I do have more than 30 devices connected... before throttles. I have ordered a Digitrax LNRPXTRA LocoNet Repeater Module. It will create a "protected" backbone for the command station and boosters and allow branching to other legs of LocoNet. If a problem exists on one of the legs, it won't bring down the system. Should arrive in a few days.

Now, the short on the upper level... I found a few spots on the layout where I could easily slip a rail connector back to disconnect the track. I already had wire disconnects in place under the layout. I split the layout into four sections and still had the problem. Should have mentioned, I had already removed all locomotives and rolling stock from the layout and vacuumed the track.

On my Tortoise switch machines, I have been using Accu-Lites SNAPS! card edge connectors with screw terminals. They allow quick connect/disconnect from the switch machines. They work great! But before they came along, I was using another product which had solder terminals. The benefit was that you could solder your leads on at the work bench and then quick connect/disconnect them from the switch machine. 

Turns out, on one switch machine, one of the solder pads had gotten bent and was shorting. Well, there went eight weeks of my life that I won't get back! Needless to say, I am going to replace the three dozen or so of these with the SNAPS! product.

I also installed two more DCC Specialties' RRampMeters. I already had one on my main level and had pre-wired my system to easily accept two more for the middle and upper levels. They are now in place (see below).

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Report of the Chief Engineer: Second Quarter 2017