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June 10th- We were not where we thougt we were....

posted Jun 13, 2010, 5:31 AM by Sue Line RailRoad   [ updated Jun 13, 2010, 9:47 AM ]
Yes, we thought we were pretty well done with everything, but now we know we were not.

Last week we thought we had the last of the problems mastered, but we found out how wrong we can be. When David Colvin (above) arrived,

we anticipated a quick session on the Sprog-II to change the decodes chanels in the locomotives Paul Harwell (above) had supplied last week. How wrong we were, after an hours struggle and have gotten no where we decided to use the programming track and the EasyDCC command station. After another 45 minutes, still no luck. Deciding to "try again later" we moved to let the programming track "cool off".

Last week, we had discovered that everything in the ORANGE BOOK From CVP Products has a purpose and one of those was that the cable needed to be properly oriented. John Arnold (above) began to correct several of our cables which were not "in compliance". This led to us finding that only two Zone Masters were now functioning. One step forward and two steps back?

Taking the oscilloscope out of mothballs and checking the output of Zone Master #2, we found the following on the track (above, left) and when the Zone Master #2 was disconnected, we still found trouble (above right). In one of those situation where I would rather be lucky than smart, as I was dialing for help I noticed a "funny" thing about Zone Master #2 which sits on Zone Master #1 and is connected by a 6 inch "telco" cable, the cable was plugged into the opto-isolater port not the data port. After moving the cable things were much smoother and all but one of the Zone Master units came "on-line"

Next Mose Crews (above) began to run a unit around the layout only to find that as the units moved from one zone to the other there was a brief short circuit. After much speculation, we began to learn about "phasing" of A/C circuits which is much like the polarity problem in good old "D/C land".

Thanks to Rob Robins (above), a physics teacher, we were able to learn more about A/C circuits than we really wanted to know. Now how did we learn about these shorts? We found that the DCC sound decoders have a special "built-in" smoke generator when they find a short.

Danny Garland (above) then began to flag ahead of Mose Crews with "Mr. Blinky" an old Atlas locomotive wheel set modified with diodes and a resistor. It appears that "Mr. Blinky" takes shorts better than a DCC decoder. Live and learn.

Rodney Dixon (above left) and Charlie DeVilbiss (above right) joints in to help look for and protect the DCC decoder equiped locomotive from any more shorts. By the end of the evening (a/k/a- 10 o'clock) we felt we had greatly improved the layout, only to find that two zones had not been tested at all and we had planned to operate. After a few minutes discussion, it was agreed that we would continue working.

The first thing was finding that none of the turnouts worked in South Alex or the Alex Diesel facility.

After about 30 minutes of searching for the cause of the problem, it was discovered that the power supply to the turnouts was not shorted, but merely not plugged in.

Not discouraged, the group moved on to testing the Printer after re-installing the USB printer network for the five HP LaserJet printers. This went as the rest of the eveing had, a not a single printer worked.

The evening ended (about midnight) on a high note---
Danny Garland brought over a couple of his locomotives with DCC decoders. Hopefully they do not have the "smoke generator" short finding circuits.