GRJs Lighting Boards

Recently I converted 3 MTH UP Passenger Cars (20-3229-1) to LED lighting. I wired them directly to track power (with a 330 ohm resistor) and I don't like that and want to change it. One time I was running the cars and one of them derailed and I could smell burning electronics. I want to use GRJs board. Since I already have the lights in the car, would I just solder the wires from the lights and the track power to the board and that's it? Or is there more to it? @gunrunnerjohn Also, I was looking on Hennings trains and there out of stock. 

Matt 

Original Post

Matt, Hennings should correct the stock situation soon, they have the boards.

As for the burning, the most likely suspect is the wire between the two pickups.  If your car derails and a pickup sits on an outside rail, you'll have a direct short through that fairly small wire between the trucks.  I've had a number of passenger cars come in with that wire smoked.

The lighting module is indeed a drop-in if you already have the lighting strips.  You wire the DC output to the lighting strip, and wire the track power to the AC input of the lighting module, job done.  I stick the module to the ceiling of the car in many cases with DS foam tape.

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gunrunnerjohn posted:

Matt, Hennings should correct the stock situation soon, they have the boards.

As for the burning, the most likely suspect is the wire between the two pickups.  If your car derails and a pickup sits on an outside rail, you'll have a direct short through that fairly small wire between the trucks.  I've had a number of passenger cars come in with that wire smoked.

The lighting module is indeed a drop-in if you already have the lighting strips.  You wire the DC output to the lighting strip, and wire the track power to the AC input of the lighting module, job done.  I stick the module to the ceiling of the car in many cases with DS foam tape.

Thank you. 

Matt 

Well, it's WAY overkill!  I use #30 to wire the LED strips, and typically stranded #26 or #28 for the AC power to the board.  Obviously, bigger wire will work, but it's also harder to hide.

GRJ,

I bought 4 of your boards from Hennings.  I've installed them and everything is working.  I would like have the lights slightly less bright.  There is an item that looked like a phillips head screw (to these old eyes) but on closer inspection the "plus shaped" opening does not move.  What tool do I need to adjust the current?  Thanks.

Craig

I use a PTC to protect against a derailment taking out the wiring, I never had any issue with the board, it's really pretty bulletproof.  I use a 1/4a trip one for LED lighting, it's more than enough.

In re the PTC, if you're in no particular hurry you can get them for a dime a piece (free shipping from Asia) on eBay.  Some suitable parts:

pptc for a dime free shipping

As GRJ says, the lighting board can take care of itself. The PTC protects the roller wiring independent of the LED lighting function.  That is, a passenger car with stock incandescent bulbs and no "electronics" can benefit from a PTC to protect the roller wiring during a derailment short circuit. I think the logic goes something like: if you are going to open up the car anyway to convert to LED lighting, why not add the PTC.  Otherwise, leave well enough alone.

 

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How to wire a PTC in that application? Can you just put one leg of the PTC to the end of the wire coming from Roller A and the other leg to the end of the wire coming from Roller B? Then wire the AC inputs to the lighting module to frame ground and the other to either leg of the PTC?

GRJ, I just ordered 8 of your lighting regulators (some for current project and some to keep on hand). I have 4 of my S scale passenger cars that I just can't beat the flicker out of.  So time for a capacitor, and your module looks like the easy way to do it from what I have read in various OGR posts. Looking forward to installing them.

gunrunnerjohn posted:

They should do the trick, however note that they do require around 11-12 volts on the track to function.  They're really designed for command operation with constant track voltage.

John here’s a screen shot of a thread last year reporting a test you did which revealed lower voltage operation for conventional. So it should be good unless your design has changed.

A0929373-2EF8-4D4B-A6EB-3BD7133951EA

 

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gunrunnerjohn posted:

They should do the trick, however note that they do require around 11-12 volts on the track to function.  They're really designed for command operation with constant track voltage.

I run command (Legacy and DCS) so they'll work just right for me.

GRJ, I installed a regulator tonight, but I am getting lots of flicker. In fact the capacitor seems to store no energy at all.  As soon as power is off, the lights are off as well. Could it be a defective capacitor?  Could I have damaged it with too much solder heat?  I bought 8 in total, but I did not have time to test any of the others.

Inspect the board closely and see if any leads on components have become unsoldered.  They're all tested on the bench before being packed, and specifically the capacitor storage is checked to make sure it works for each module.  However, I have had one come back that a lead on the capacitor was loose from the board.  The result is it has flicker as you observe.

gunrunnerjohn posted:

Inspect the board closely and see if any leads on components have become unsoldered.  They're all tested on the bench before being packed, and specifically the capacitor storage is checked to make sure it works for each module.  However, I have had one come back that a lead on the capacitor was loose from the board.  The result is it has flicker as you observe.

I inspected it but didn't find anything. Not sure I could repair it if I did!  I've never attempted repairing a board. Soldering wires to the regulator contacts is probably the limit of my microsurgery skills.

So I connected up a second one from the batch that I purchased. The second one does hold a charge, but for a very brief period.  I am still getting plenty of flicker. However, I am going to turn my efforts to modifying the trucks and pick-up wires. I have other passenger cars of the same size and weight which do not have the flicker problem that this particular set has. I am convinced that I need to achieve more constant contact somewhere on the path from the rails to the regulator. That plus using these regulators should eliminate the problem.

Chuck,

How many LEDs are you driving - presumably a standard LED strip with some multiple of 3?

Assuming you adjusted brightness using the tiny screwdriver adjustment, do you recall roughly where it's set in the range of adjustment?  I think it turns about 3/4 of a rev or so.

I suspect that really poor track contact is a likely source of the problem.  The cap will compensate for brief power drops, but obviously it would have to be a lot larger to take care of really large power drops.

I'm with Stan, I'm wondering what kind of and how many LED's you're driving.

stan2004 posted:

Chuck,

How many LEDs are you driving - presumably a standard LED strip with some multiple of 3?

Assuming you adjusted brightness using the tiny screwdriver adjustment, do you recall roughly where it's set in the range of adjustment?  I think it turns about 3/4 of a rev or so.

It's a 13" section of this light strip (ie 13 sets of 3 lights)....

https://rover.ebay.com/rover/0...2Fitm%2F401224166798

I tested at multiple levels but ultimately did the most testing at about 75% - 80% of max.

I cracked the problem. On these cars the current passes from the pickup wires through the truck screws.

20180613_225835

However, the pickup wires are loosely coiled around the screws, so the screws need to be in pretty tight to make contact consistently. But when you screw it in tight enough to compress the pickup wire coil, that presses the top of the truck against the flat bolster

20180613_230156

Therefore, the truck becomes rigid and loses the ability to "wobble."  Its wheels cannot stay in contact when starting up a grade or going through curves. 

My solution: Don't use the screw to carry current which allows you to back the truck screw out.  This gives the truck enough degrees of freedom for the wheels to stay in contact with the rails. For power to the light regulator, I drilled holes in the chassis floor and truck so I could feed a superflex wire through and solder it to the pickup wires.

20180613_230252

Working beautifully now, ie no flicker. Now to do the same to the other three cars in this set.

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That's kinda' what I figured.  While the capacitor doesn't bridge long power outages, you should see no flicker just rolling down the tracks.  I've seen a few where I had to add a wire to get reliable contact from the wheels.

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