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Dear All,

First, if this is the wrong forum, please forgive me.

I am constructing a layout to just run some trains.  Single track main with a long passing siding and a couple spurs off the main.  I am currently using a DCS Explorer with a WTIU on order.  I have MTH DCS engines and a few Lionel with Bluetooth.  The MTH are running fine.  So are the Lionel.  But, with Legacy, the engines always seem to stay powered on in Bluetooth, and I am not sure if there is a way to “shut down” like an MTH engine.

I have begun to add toggle switches on a couple sidings so that I can park the Legacy locos and power them down rather then have constantly making sounds.  This works.  When I add power back to the sidings, they power right back up.

2 Questions:

One, Will this harm the engines when I power them back up.  Is there something I need to do or add to the switched block to ensure reliability?

Second, will this work fine with DCS engines also.  I have tried it, and it seems to be good, but I want some info from those of you who have done something similar to offer suggestions.

I should not that at the moment, the Bluetooth on the Lionel engines works fine, so I have not immediate plans to buy a Legacy system.

Thanks,

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Simplest thing is yes legacy and TMCC locomotives can be “shut down” that is key 5 on the Cab-1 or 2. On the Cab-2 you can also hit ENG where you would select the ENG number and on the bottom right you’ll see the power button and stop sign button. That also gives you the ability to restart the locomotives. Keep in mind that in TMCC and early Legacy all this really does is shut down the sounds all the lights stay on. Newer Legacy the only thing that Will stay on is the number boards. Toggle switches on sidings is a very typical thing most add to their layout. While there isn’t anything “wrong” with leaving locomotives powered the more time the electronics are active the sooner there’s a possibility of something failing. And if there’s a row of passenger cars they can pull some power 😉.

Lionel locomotives won’t know a difference when power is shut off and comes back on. As long as there is a command signal they will be silent until addressed. DCS locomotives on the other hand will only be silent if they see the Watch dog signal from a TIU or explorer. This is only put out when power of first applied to that output so in this case sounds will immediately come on in your siding scenario. The smart people on here found how to take a RC commander and make it continuously send out the watch dog signal so that all DCS locomotives stay silent. Just look up PWD (Perpetual Watch Dog) signal generator on the forum

Thanks, Zachariah, for the info.

As my Lionel engines are currently being run through Bluetooth, the app doesn’t seem to have any power down feature that I can see.  I’m not ruling a Legacy system down the road, but at the moment I waiting for the WTIU as a first step to a full-featured system.  And a vast majority of my engines are DCS.

So then using the toggle switches and powering down sidings and powering them up again won’t harm anything even though it sends all the power back to the trains at once?  Maybe I am just being paranoid.

 

Actually, I'd probably consider a more staged approach to powering the sidings.  I have power switching to each of my sidings and maintenance track, so I only power them on when I plan on running the locomotive.  Having all the engines power up at once could end up causing issues, depending on exactly how many we're talking about.

I am using the Perpetual Watchdog board that Zachariah mentioned.  Of course, I'm also the guy that made the PCB's, so I have an inside source.

The WD board uses the DCS Remote Commander box as a base and just constantly resets it to generate continuous watchdog signals.

Socket installed on DCS-RC board

WD Board Plugged In on DCS-RC board

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I did find the posts on the PWD board and it sounds like a must for the future. Right now, running the DCS Explorer, I am limited to 3 DCS locos. I only have one loco currently on layout that is DCS. The other loco is a Bluetooth Legacy Lionel. Both run fine together, even simultaneously.  When I have the legacy loco on the blocked siding, I just want to make sure that when I flip that toggle, the engine is good.
Of course all these suggestions are very helpful for the future - future being less then 12 months.

Thanks, Zachariah, for the info.

As my Lionel engines are currently being run through Bluetooth, the app doesn’t seem to have any power down feature that I can see.  I’m not ruling a Legacy system down the road, but at the moment I waiting for the WTIU as a first step to a full-featured system.  And a vast majority of my engines are DCS. 

Whoops must’ve missed that part sorry.

That I know of there’s no way to get legacy locomotives to shut down with Bluetooth.

Not to go too in depth because there are number of threads on the information but I think it’s best to remove power from a locomotive that isn’t being operated. In normal operation of the trains as there’s derailments and others small sparks from the rollers and wheels going down the track, there are small Transient voltages that can damage the locomotive electronics. The fix is TVS (transient voltage suppressor) diode. The TIU has one on each output and that keeps the high voltages down. The TIU is a long way from the source of the spark and it’s really there to protect the TIU so there can still be a high voltage that the electronics have to take and can eventually make things fail. Please keep in mind that a locomotive isn’t going to die in a year because it sat on a powered siding but it can lessen the risk of (accumulative) damage.

Thanks, Zachariah, for the info.

As my Lionel engines are currently being run through Bluetooth, the app doesn’t seem to have any power down feature that I can see.  I’m not ruling a Legacy system down the road, but at the moment I waiting for the WTIU as a first step to a full-featured system.  And a vast majority of my engines are DCS.



So then using the toggle switches and powering down sidings and powering them up again won’t harm anything even though it sends all the power back to the trains at once?  Maybe I am just being paranoid.



If you have toggle switches, how does it send "all the power back to the trains at once" ?

A switch should just be powering up one train/siding at a time, as you flip them on, which is no worse for wear than powering up a train while sits on a main.

Subject, of course, to the DCS watchdog signal issue discussed above.

I was just watching my NYC Fire Car running around the layout and noticing the sparking at the rollers and wheels.  This is happening on very clean track, but the design of this rig and it's AC motor just give you more "action" at the contact point. I do notice that the Lionel Phantom with the AC motors also has some sparking.  Oddly, I don't see that with any of the modern can motored locomotives, at least it's not noticeable like it is with these two.  I plopped one of the little AC motor powered

My point is this, every time you see a spark, you can be fairly sure that it's generating some kind of electrical spike along the rails.  Having all the engines sitting on powered track with that action can't be as good as having them powered off without any possibility of transient spike damage.

I decided to do a quick test, I have the TMCC #42 Picatinny Arsenal Switcher, and sure enough, it also has visible sparks running around the layout.  I repeated the same test with a similar sized locomotive, one of the RMT BEEP's I've converted to TMCC, I didn't see any visible sparks.  In the last half of this short clip, you can clearly see the sparking rollers.   That's what all your trains on the siding are seeing as well.

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@Richie C. posted:

If you have toggle switches, how does it send "all the power back to the trains at once" ?

A switch should just be powering up one train/siding at a time, as you flip them on, which is no worse for wear than powering up a train while sits on a main.

Subject, of course, to the DCS watchdog signal issue discussed above.

I believe I meant the sudden powering up of the loco, and this occurs mainly with the Lionel locos, when all the sound and lights come on. It’s really no different then turning on a light.
My apologies. I am diving into this and learning as I go.

I believe I meant the sudden powering up of the loco, and this occurs mainly with the Lionel locos, when all the sound and lights come on. It’s really no different then turning on a light.
My apologies. I am diving into this and learning as I go.

Actually, when you power up a DCS locomotive and it doesn't see a watchdog signal (which only happens when you first power the TIU channel), it comes up in conventional mode.  Sound, Lights, smoke, the whole shooting match.  That's why all the conversations about the watchdog generator.

Legacy/ TMCC  locos powered up via a toggle is just fine. Its no different that flipping the switch on a Lionel 180w powerhouse. I've been doing it for 16 years, haven't had an issue yet.

I have toggles going to isolated tracks anywhere a locomotive might be parked, i.e. siding, yard, etc.

This also prevents trains from entering blocks that are powered down in the event the turnout is accidentally set to diverge.

Likewise you won't have a train sneaking out of a siding if accidentally addressed either.

Last edited by RickO
@zhubl posted:

Simplest thing is yes legacy and TMCC locomotives can be “shut down” that is key 5 on the Cab-1 or 2. On the Cab-2 you can also hit ENG where you would select the ENG number and on the bottom right you’ll see the power button and stop sign button. That also gives you the ability to restart the locomotives. Keep in mind that in TMCC and early Legacy all this really does is shut down the sounds all the lights stay on. Newer Legacy the only thing that Will stay on is the number boards.

In either case there is still power reaching the locomotive. Turn the throttle of an addressed newer Legacy locomotive after it has been shutdown and it will begin moving.

Last edited by RickO

So much to learn. I do appreciate the help from all. Thank you.
As far as the watchdog, I would need to procure an older an older remote commander first, correct?  Just one?  Or one per switched block?

Just one for each channel of a TIU (when you get a TIU).  I have all four channels of the TIU in use, and I use the WD generator on all but my long mainline.  It keeps everyone quiet until I talk to them.

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Last edited by gunrunnerjohn

Actually, when you power up a DCS locomotive and it doesn't see a watchdog signal (which only happens when you first power the TIU channel), it comes up in conventional mode.  Sound, Lights, smoke, the whole shooting match.  That's why all the conversations about the watchdog generator.

Can’t most of that be remedied by just turning the smoke and volume pots to the zero position? Once you “start up” the volume and smoke are controlled by the remote.

Last edited by rplst8

My point is this, every time you see a spark, you can be fairly sure that it's generating some kind of electrical spike along the rails.  Having all the engines sitting on powered track with that action can't be as good as having them powered off without any possibility of transient spike damage.

That is an excellent point.  Hadn’t thought of that.

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