Image above captured on the upper deck of the layout where scenery has progressed to some extent...
Shot with Olympus C-750

Welcome to the SP Oregon Division!

An N Scale RR depicting the good old days along "The Friendly".

Friday, June 28, 2013

Athearn F45 Tsunami Programming and CVs

I finally got the Atherarn F45 with Tsunami sound decoder programmed, which had not been listening to the programmer.  Use of an 18 V power supply feeding the Dgtrx PR3 allowed Decoder Pro to read and load all the needed CVs here.  Later I read that using the HO switch setting on the front of the Digitrax command station also works to give it that extra nudge for users programming via the DCS in N scale.  I am leery of excess voltage being applied to any of my units with custom lighting, so am careful to keep other locos isolated while using the higher voltage.  The Tsunami uses a number of different configuration values different from Digitrax decoders, so took some time to get the CVs remapped to match my other functions / sounds on existing decoders, as well as setting the speed curve to match existing locos.  Real happy with how this unit performs here now.  Almost every train now has at least one sound unit in consist, but hoping at this point for a next generation release of a PnP sound units pre-programmed with similar (F45) quality sound files before I spend more (now I am spoiled)....
I do not like the color of the headlight, so this unit is in the middle of a consist till the LED gets changed out (and a working rotary beacon gets added).  This placement in the middle of a consist is typical here anyhow.  Since I typically only have one sound unit so far per consist, the sound coming from the second unit seems to be the best compromise to create the proper illusion.  The Digitrax system here is configured for Universal Consisting.  That originally caused a problem because only the lead unit number can blow the horn and ring the bell.  So currently I have the first two locos assigned with the same lead unit number, and configure the CVs so that each loco position gets the proper lighting / sound effects as needed.  This actually works pretty good. 

Here is a list of the CVs that I changed to get this unit to run with my other (Digitrax) power on the layout.

  03-05 (accl)
  04-05 (decel)
*14-00 (?)
  17-217 (loco addy 66) or  + 17-XXX (to match lead)
  18-228 (loco addy 28) or  + 18-XXX (to match lead)
  25-16 (spd table)
  29-54 (config reg)
*30-00 (shifts function map)
+33-00 headlight
+34-00 rear light
*38-00 (move dynmcs)
*39-08 (move dynmcs)
*49 thru 52 @128 (?)
 67 thru 94 @ 03-100 (spd table)
 209-100 helps slow speed response
 210-05  helps slow speed response

With Decoder Pro, check the "use speed table", "user defined speed table", and "match ends" using 03-100
* denotes settings after changes, that were used to match sound Function keys on Digitrax decoders
+ denotes settings configured to use as middle unit utilizing lead unit eng #

Hope the above saves someone prog time, as this is another hobby in itself at times...

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

SD9's back in service

After inquiring with Digitrax on the stall issue (see last post), they got back to my email in less than an hour!  What was confusing me was the fact that one loco would stay running while the other stalled, even though they were MUed together...  So they recommended resetting Ops Sw 36 and 38 on the DCS100.  I thought that would do nothing, but after resetting they appeared to be back to normal?  Thinking that it was just coincidence, I kept running the locos MUed together for an extended period.  Never stalled when hooked together again.  So then moved to running them independently, but then each was stalling again.  I tore them both down again and re-cleaned the wheels and needle bearings.  After inspecting closer with a 10x magnifier, it appeared there was maybe oxidation or residue that the alcohol missed last time around.  This time I used brake cleaner and burnished the contacts followed by alcohol.  There is a heavier current draw for the sound decoders, and it looks like they are way more prone to drop-out as compared to conventional decoders.  For now, they are running much better, but still a bit temperamental (more testing needed).  I suspect for these two units that meticulous cleaning on regular intervals is going to be necessary, but have not found the need to do so on any of my other sound units...  I have the nod of approval to return these decoders for exchange if needed, as they mentioned it is possible for a weak spot on the decoder.
Final Analysis at this time:  inconclusive

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Digitrax Sound Decoders with Stalling Issue?

Trying to troubleshoot what is taking place with a couple locos I have on the layout that are equipped with Digitrax sound decoders..Here is a vid I took last night showing what I am combating here:

These chassis are both N Atlas SD9's MUed together via jumpers in an effort to diagnose why the sound decoders (SDN144AO) fail even with a combined 12 axles for electrical pick-up. Are these sound decoder boards in need of replacement?  I have a number of these decoders in use on the layout (in various locomotives), and none exhibit the same characteristics as these latest two that I purchased together.  They worked fine for a few opp sessions and now are both completely useless running solo, stalling every one to two feet on clean track with clean wheels.One would assume that both units would stall at the same time since electrically MUed, but obviously not the case. Watching the vid one can see the headlight drop out as well as sound reset when locos stall.  We have tried wiggling the decoder boards to check for loose fit while MUed, but there is No evidence of that being a possible cause for decoder dropping out. Of note is that SD9's with conventional non sound decoders (DN163AO) perform flawlessly through this track section even when running solo (as well as above mentioned other units using this same SDN144IO decoder operate fine)....
I will contact Digitrax and see what their recommendation is next.  I am thinking something is internally wrong with one of the components on the board regarding this particular run of decoders that I purchased together.
Anyone else seen this, have ideas / feedback?
Ya I know the sound file is in need of help, but that will follow...