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Since starting out in this hobby last summer I have continuously tweaked my small layout; which sits on my living room floor.

For the first nine months I only ran MTH DCS engines (on Fastrack) and very rarely had control issues.

Changes since:

  • 3 weeks ago: Added Lionel Legacy engines after paying a king's ransom for a Cab-2.
  • 2 weeks ago: Added MTH DCS WIFI module (only person in 2024?).
  • 10 days ago: Added the section shown within the green rectangle to use for storage.


Problem: starting a couple days ago I lose control of MTH/Atlas locomotives that enter the red rectangle; I can't reverse, shutdown, change speed or anything else. It doesn't make a difference which of the two track I go into..

Initially I thought it was one specific locomotive but tested three different ones and had the same experience with all of them.

Any thoughts?

Ali

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A few things:

Legacy or TMCC signal CAN interfere with DCS signal, when DCS signal is not optimal.

Your diagram lacks showing how you did blocks or used the TIU channels. Point being, are you just using one channel to feed the entire layout?

The problem area is ALSO a dead end section of track subject to signal reflections. Double problem of low or weak signal, reflections, and Legacy radio signal as interference.

#1 unplug your legacy base, does problem go away?

#2 use different TIU channel output- to validate that channel is not damaged the ACT244 signal driver.

I agree with Vernon as far as the layout needing to be blocked if not so already. First thing I would do is a track signal test. Remove all lighted cars if you have any on the layout. Get it in signal mode at a slow speed. Say 5 smph. Run it through all your trackage and see what you have. If the signal goes south in your added new section. Isolate that area and run it off the other fixed channel and see if it improves. On a layout such as this. You pretty much should be seeing all 10’s. The fact that you added just a small new section could have pushed the limits of just using 1 channel. But usually with to much trackage. It suffers everywhere. Not just the newly added section.

No mention of track being used. Not sure how you wired your turnouts. But it’s a good idea to power your switch machines from a different power source. Not track voltage with the signal involved.

With DCS, your layout is effectively an IT network with the rails as the medium.  Assuming that the dead-end spur tracks aren't electrically isolated and are getting AC power along with the rest of the layout, does Mr. Maleki need some kind of "terminator" at the end of each one?

Vernon's tips on troubleshooting are good ones.  Gradually undo each change one at a time and see which, if any, restore the signal to your problem area.

Last edited by Ted S

Some additional info:

  • I'm using Fastrack
  • No blocks; one channel feeding the whole track.
  • TIU output connection is shown by the yellow box.

As suggested I disconnected Legacy and removed everything except a single locomotive to do a signal test.

  • The majority of the track was a 10
  • The blue area was 7-9
  • The first red area quickly dropped to 4
  • Once I passed the O-36 switch it was down to 2-4

With a single locomotive I didn't have any control issues anywhere but that's not a realistic situation.

Please explain how I do this:

"Another option is make the siding and switch a separate block, use one of the TIU channels for signal and power to it."

Ali

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@Ali Maleki posted:

Please explain how I do this:

"Another option is make the siding and switch a separate block, use one of the TIU channels for signal and power to it."

Ali

  • I'm using Fastrack
  • No blocks; one channel feeding the whole track. ??? Only one input location- not multiple feeds and bus or star wiring from distribution block?
  • TIU output connection is shown by the yellow box.

You are using fastrack and on the larger switches, there is a short insulating piece with a jumper- remove the jumper. You are only isolating the center rail and leaving outer rail common throughout your entire track plan

Best way to isolate Fastrack

Typical expected usage of TIU and Legacy.

Z4000-Fuse-TIU

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Again, my concern now that we have a drawing, you might need proper feeder sections distributed around the layout for power and signal reasons.

Yellow blocks would all be tied to channel1, the red blocks are suggested on channel 2

You didn't mention your transformer power source. Again, it's possible to either feed both input channels of the TIU from one power source, or they can be separate power sources. I've added color to the distribution terminal blocks to show what track sections they would feed.

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Progress, Vernon, Progress!

I added a 1.374" with the jumper removed (blue box) and followed your recommendations by connecting the second yellow box to Fixed2 output and added jumper between fixed1 and fixed2 input (Z1000 power supply).

Now I get 10s all around. Eventually added a second Atlas engine and a Lionel Vison Line Class-A with all of it's lighted cars.

I tried running all three together and still got 10s.

Thanks to you and everyone else who replied!

Ali

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