ERR "upgrade" questions

Hey guys, I've been reading over the forum posts trying to soak up as much information as possible, but I've still got a few questions. Came across a "deal" on ebay on an MTH PS1 Camelback. It was supposedly missing some "boards" and a few other things. After a bit of research, I figured I could replace the missing electronics with an ERR DC commander and at least get it running again.

Wasn't very familiar with modern train electronics previously, but I've (hopefully) learned a lot in a short time. The motor's in there, but obviously doesn't run at the moment. From what I can figure out, the engine had a 4 pin tether to the tender. The outer wires hook to the yellow and white ones on the motor, so I'm assuming these would go to the DC motor out wires on the DC commander. The inner ones show AC voltage, so I'm assuming one of these come from the center rail pickup rollers on the engine, and would go via tether back to the tender, and there also hook up to the DC commander board. Everything else in the engine (smoke unit, lights) seems to be wired to the AC, so it looks like the 4 wire tether will do just fine in this case.

While there's a speaker in the tender, and a volume pot, there's no other sound equipment anymore. I assume at a later date if all goes well, I can add an ERR Railsounds commander board if I want sound. There's also an electric coupler on the tender. This should work hooked up to the DC commander, right?

It sounds like the DC commander can be used with either TMCC or conventional, but after reading the manual, it isn't clear how to switch between them. There's a program/run switch, but nothing to switch between TMCC and conventional. Anyone know how this works? Antenna location is going to be another issue with the die-cast tender, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. 

Original Post
It will decide which mode to use automatically, set it to run as programing is used for setting cmd. perameters. I forget if it is by the signal or the low voltage aspect of conventional that it decides what it uses.

"Still trying to not shoot my eye out"

 

"Nursing insomnia one railcar at a time"

My aroma therapy? Smoke Pellets.

 





You could also use a rectifier or diodes to run it FWD (or rev) only if you wanted to.

You just need to turn the ac to dc to get motion only; a couple of bucks and you'd know if the motor was still good   (general purpose diodes or a bridge rectifier, 6a or larger, dirt cheap)

A 9v battery could likely test the motor if there was no weight on the weels.

 

"Still trying to not shoot my eye out"

 

"Nursing insomnia one railcar at a time"

My aroma therapy? Smoke Pellets.

 





The DC commander should work fine but this board does not have cruise control.  If you get the Cruise Commander instead, you will get cruise control (the board does cost 40 more).  Both boards control lights, couplers, and smoke.  I do not know much about MTH smoke units so I do not  know if anything extra needs to be done to connect it to either board.

Either board works on both conventional or command.  The board will auto detect the command signal when it powers up.  If the Legacy/TMCC command base is on, powering up the engine it will go into command mode.  If the command base is off, the engine will power up in conventional mode.

The program run switch is used to program the engine so it knows its ID and feature set.

Adriatic posted:

You could also use a rectifier or diodes to run it FWD (or rev) only if you wanted to.

You just need to turn the ac to dc to get motion only; a couple of bucks and you'd know if the motor was still good   (general purpose diodes or a bridge rectifier, 6a or larger, dirt cheap)

A 9v battery could likely test the motor if there was no weight on the weels.

 

I realize this (and if we still had a radio shack locally I might have gone the rectifier route, at least temporarily), but by the time I tossed in an electronic E-unit to run it conventionally with reversing capabilities, I'd be over halfway to an ERR DC commander anyway, so figured it was the best route.

Testing with a 9v battery sounds like a great idea, and I'll probably give that a try tonight! 

Joe Fermani posted:

The DC commander should work fine but this board does not have cruise control.  If you get the Cruise Commander instead, you will get cruise control (the board does cost 40 more).  Both boards control lights, couplers, and smoke.  I do not know much about MTH smoke units so I do not  know if anything extra needs to be done to connect it to either board.

Either board works on both conventional or command.  The board will auto detect the command signal when it powers up.  If the Legacy/TMCC command base is on, powering up the engine it will go into command mode.  If the command base is off, the engine will power up in conventional mode.

The program run switch is used to program the engine so it knows its ID and feature set.

I contemplated the Cruise Commander, but since I don't actually have a static layout, and it'll rarely be ran with any other trains, the added cruise capability didn't add anything for me to justify the additional cost. I can certainly understand its appeal under other operating circumstances. 

The smoke unit seems to be wired in to the AC wiring in the engine, and has an on/off switch underneath the cab edge, so I'm assuming there's no need to actually wire it to the DC commander as long as I don't want to control it remotely (saving running an extra pair of wires back to the tender). 

That's really neat that it'll automatically configure between command/conventional. At the moment, I don't have a command base hooked up to my "test track", but do have one and will probably use it when I set the trains up for Christmas. 

I do need to see if I can source a replacement "backup light" for the tender, as it was one of the items that was missing when I got it. 

Yea, I get the cost factor. But as a $5 temp. vs a new board set, etc. it could be useful for some folk. (these components are far cheaper online that they were at RS)

  You knowing was my only concern.  It's more of a temp. fix unless you are a looper. Better in a long range train vs a camelback too.

   If you have trouble with finding the light, consider one of the aftermarket detail offerings for adaption. (careful, detailing is very addictive and uniquely satisfying once you get over the unintuitive reluctance involved in changing the "as delivered" look; then they become your "babies"  )

Another idea; add a switch to a motor lead so you could keep it on a shelf and power it up for lights, sound, etc. without fear of a sudden "launch" if it changes modes unexpectedly.  You wouldn't be the first, and imo, a camelback is interesting enough to always be shelf worthy.

"Still trying to not shoot my eye out"

 

"Nursing insomnia one railcar at a time"

My aroma therapy? Smoke Pellets.

 





All of these are geared like "toy trains" (fast!)  That little motor isn't very powerful.  The longish wheelbase and rubber tires on both sides of the axle mean a rapid increase in friction when entering home layout-sized curves.  You will notice binding and slowing on anything less than about O54, especially if you're running the loco alone without a train.

Bottom line- yes "cruise control" is a gimmick and a band-aid, but it's kind of necessary to give these locos smooth performance at slower speeds.  Get the Cruise Commander.  My $.02.

Creep, coast, and pull.  We're not talking about cold fusion here.

Okay, finally got in the tether that I ordered (one of the several things missing when I got it), so it was off to the races to install the board tonight. Knew the motor worked thanks to Adriatic's 9v battery suggestion above, and the rest was fairly simple. 4 wires off the tether, 2 for the program/run switch, hook on the antenna (which will eventually present a bigger issue, as the entire tender shell is die cast, but that's a problem for another day), biggest issue was finding a connector that'd fit to wire the tender coupler to the board.

Powered up, twisted the knob on the Cab 1, and off she went. In reverse, of course, but that was a simple enough fix. Salvage operation (phase 1) complete! As I mentioned, permanently mounting the antenna will be a challenge. It's probably either isolate the body (anyone know a good source for nylon screws?), or dremel off the cast coal load and replace it with an actual one (with the antenna mounted below).  

The (original MTH) electric coupler on the back of the tender, does polarity matter (both wires from it were black)? And can in only be triggered in TMCC mode? Thanks for all the help and suggestions so far, guys!

20190323_211130

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No polarity for couplers and yes, you need to be running in command mode to have access to the coupler operation for TMCC.

Great, thanks!

Now I still need to find a source to replace the backup light for the tender. Anyone know what voltage, and if AC or DC (I'm assuming DC) the front and rear lamp outputs from the DC Commander board are? I only need the rear (the front headlight is still wired to the original engine wiring). Also, since there are 2 different outputs, I assume this lighting is directional? Prototypically, if the backup light was in use, would the front headlight be turned off, or just the backup light turned on when moving in reverse?

The lamp outputs from most TMCC stuff, including anything that uses the R2LC or R4LC are half-wave track power in command mode and full-wave track power in conventional mode.  Typically, for incandescent bulbs, a 12-14V bulb is used.  If you want to use an LED, a series 470 ohm resistor is a good choice.

The headlight on the steamer should be on all the time, the tender reverse light comes on in reverse.  That is accomplished by using the AUX1/4 configuration code, steamer with smoke.

gunrunnerjohn posted:

The lamp outputs from most TMCC stuff, including anything that uses the R2LC or R4LC are half-wave track power in command mode and full-wave track power in conventional mode.  Typically, for incandescent bulbs, a 12-14V bulb is used.  If you want to use an LED, a series 470 ohm resistor is a good choice.

The headlight on the steamer should be on all the time, the tender reverse light comes on in reverse.  That is accomplished by using the AUX1/4 configuration code, steamer with smoke.

I think I'm going to go the LED route, and just make my own housing for it. From the pictures of units with the backup light in place, it appears identical to the front headlight, and is basically a cylinder with number boards (non-lighted) on the sides, and a clear "lens" on the front. 

GRJ -- at the risk of hijacking this thread - about two years ago I posted a question about 'real' steam engine headlights, here:

steam engine headlights

and, as one might expect, got lots of answers - not all consistent (my question was whether the headlight was off when running in reverse...).  At least one opinion held that since the headlight and rear tender light were controlled by a single double throw toggle switch (center off) that one could not have both on at the same time.  The context of my question was whether to use directional lighting on a steam engine - i.e. LED(s) wired up to the DC motor leads - or to a dedicated output from an ERR or other board or to go with AC track power, in which case the front headlight would remain on regardless of direction...

Well, since you can have either option with programming the R2LC properly, there's no reason to use track power directly.  Program it like a diesel and the lights will be directional, program it like a steamer and the front light will remain on all the time.  If you're controlling the lights through the R2LC, you can also use AUX2 to toggle them on and off.

As far as insulating the tender body from the frame (for the antenna) -, i use Kapton tape available from Crusader Rail Services for about $14 for what will be a lifetime supply for all of us except maybe GRJ

jackson, CEO, Not-So-Great Eastern RR, aka The Never Done Line

          Division of the Southern Adirondack Railway Cartel

 

 

Here's the grab-bag of Kapton tape, four rolls of different sizes, each 36 yards of tape.

Hxtape Multi Size Choices High Temperature Kapton Tape,Polyimide Film Tape, $11.15 shipped free.  You can have it tomorrow if you order quick.

1/4 inch,1/2 inch,3/4 inch,1 inch, 36yds/roll, Pack of 4

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Haven't gotten the tape yet (did save it in my Amazon wish list), any idea if it'll work taped to the tender bottom? Have to dig out the base and give it a try. Making progress with the light, still a bit of work to do, but it's working (accidentally put the Lionel running number on it instead of the MTH, have to switch that).

20190401_174652

 

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If you're talking about the antenna, taping it to the bottom of the tender is a very poor location, it probably will not work well, if at all.

Float the tender shell, that's the most effective way.

Guess i'll have to track down some nylon screws that fit an MTH tender. And now that I've actually got it up and running, I guess it's time to consider throwing in a railsounds commander too. I see the steam comes in small, medium and large, would medium be the appropriate one for a camelback?

Probably medium or small, it's really your choice.   The screws are #6-32, Digikey has them.

#6-32 Nylon Screw at Digikey

I buy the longer ones as I can simply snip them to length for any application.

I use MTH tethers for my builds.

  • Straight tether: BC-2000000 Tender Harness, Universal Diesel
  • Angle tether: BC-1000002 Tender Harness, PS2 Universal
  • Matching Locomotive Connector: AG-0000039 PC Board

Lionel has tons of different styles of electrocouplers.

gunrunnerjohn posted:

Probably medium or small, it's really your choice.   The screws are #6-32, Digikey has them.

#6-32 Nylon Screw at Digikey

I buy the longer ones as I can simply snip them to length for any application.

Great, thanks, wasn't sure what size they were. I'll have to look and see if they have anything else I can use... Wish 3rd Rail had samples of what the different sounds sound like. Never heard a camelback in real life to compare though, but in my mind, at least, with 6 drivers, that'd put it in the "medium" category, even if on the smaller side.

Art Lites posted:

What is your source for tether wires?  ERR used to carry along with elctro couplers.  Also Lionel or MTH carries elctro does anyone have part #s.

I'd imagine it'd depend on how many wires you want in your tether. I went with an MTH BC-0000028 (4 pin, since that's what was already in the engine and was all I needed), if you need 10, BC-1000002. Both of those are with the angled ends. I got mine from Brasseur (traindoctor.com). 

You can get either straight or angle tethers in 10-pin configuration from MTH.  You can also get matching engine 10-pin connector boards.

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