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(re-named topic from "Resolving some DCS Weirdness")

Was going to run a train and make a video for New Years' since it's been more than a 1.5 years since my last 'test track' video. Long story short--it didn't happen.

For those who don't know, my "test track" is an 11x17 loop of mixed Lionel and K-Line 027-height tubular track--mostly 3' sections and 072 curves-- equipped with DCS (V 4.20, TIU Rev 13B) and TMCC,  connected at two points, with a roughly equal amount of track between them. There is a lift-out module in one corner so I can enter/exit the room. Electrical connections here were in the form of a pair of brass strips on the landing blocks and corresponding strips on the underside of the module. As these aged, I started getting substantial voltage losses here, so I replaced the contacts with a banana-plug/jack arrangement to power the lift-out.

Now on to the issues I encountered this weekend. A timeline of events follows:

--20-20596-1 (NS SD60E, PS3): Long-term resident of the test track loop. Been on-track for the better part of a year. It's the only active engine in my remote (half-dozen others are in 'inactive' status. Starts and runs, all functions OK. Was pulling a dummy unit (20-2944-3, NS C40-8W) and about a 20-car train of mostly Premier and AtlasO freight.

I wanted to MU it with another unit of mine, a 20-2944-2 (NS C40-8W, PS2) one of the 'inactive' engines in my remote. Set it on the track, powered up to 17-18V and attempted to address it:

"Engine Not On Track"

I remembered trying several months ago to run my 30-2938-1 (MP15, PS2) with the same result, but not attempting any further troubleshooting, thinking it was something off with that particular loco.

Set aside that unit and placed my 20-2958-1 (CSX SD70MAC, PS2) , also in my remote as an inactive loco.

"Engine Not On Track"

Tried my recently-acquired NKP 759 (20-3032-1), a PS1 unit upgraded with what I believe is a 3v PS2 board (it has a 2-pin rectangular charging port). It performed admirably under DCS on its last trip around it's former owner's layout before its dismantling, after sitting on it for more than a year during his illness/after his passing, but I have not had a chance to run it on my loop. Not being in my remote, I attempted to add it. With it's lights lit (so it saw the watchdog signal), I attempted to add it and got a no-engine- found message.

During repeated attempts to get DCS to recognize this loco, my remote shut off twice while attempting to add. Checking the batteries, I found all at 1.2 volts except for one that read 0.8 volts. I replaced them all with a matched set all testing a full 1.5v.

Wondering if there was a dirty track/wheel/roller issue I accessed and moved the functioning NS unit to the other side of the layout, unboxed one of my newest additions, a 20-21272-1 (UP SD70M, PS3) and attempted to add it. It added, but with an incomplete name--just a "UP" all the way at the right side of the display. I successfully started the loco and while it was sitting there idling attempted to edit the loco's name and it seemed to take. Sounded two short horn blasts with the SFS function key, started the bell, and started notching up the thumbwheel and....

It performed a shut-down instead. Subsequent attempts to address it came back with "Check Track".

I was able to start-up the NS SD60E, but subsequent attempts to move it also resulted in 'Check Track'.

Using the Read button consistently shows the TIU, and one engine (the NS) detected.

Just before posting I went back and tried again:

--Selected the UP SD70M: "Check Track--Engine Not on Track"

--Selected the NS SD60E: Started, rang bell, initiated shut down OK.

--Selected the UP unit again: "Check Track" (the loco is now in the active list)

--I noticed the Dash 8 mentioned previously was now in the active list, so I removed the UP unit, placed the Dash 8 on-track, powered up (heard the relay click) and attempted to select it: "Check Track", and "Engine Not On Track" with any subsequent function call.

--The SD60E, sitting in the same spot where DCS claimed not to see it a few minutes ago, starts and responds normally. I should probably try an isolated programming track for the recaitrant locos but had not since that first SD60E that's been on the loop all this time acts 99% normal.

--Removed the SD60E, leaving the Dash 8 and performed a Read: "TIU 1 detected, No Active DCS Engines"

--Placed the UP SD70M and performed a Read: "TIU 1 detected" and it switches to the SD70M. Attempted start-up , it responds. Start bell, and notch up: I see the loco nudge forward a little, and I add a few more notches with no further movement. At 10SMPH, the unit performs a shut-down and "Check Track" appears on the remote.

Anyone seeing a pattern here?

---PCJ

Last edited by RailRide
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Sounds like poor DCS signal strength. Most likely from just dirty track and/or wheels.

Magnified by other things like possible low batteries in the engines? So when they encounter quick losses of power they stall more.

I always suggest taking everything off the rails that draws power. Sometimes it's easier to use a spare piece of track.

DCS engines that move and then shutdown unexpectedly  usually are just losing power. Possibly shorting but not so many?

Try running an engine without the TIU and see if it makes it around your loop. If it doesn't, this is not about DCS at all.

One more thing, Are your Lionel TMCC/Legacy engines on the rails? Tried disconnecting their base from the layout?

Last edited by Engineer-Joe
@RailRide posted:


--20-20596-1 (NS SD60E, PS3): Long-term resident of the test track loop. Been on-track for the better part of a year. It's the only active engine in my remote (half-dozen others are in 'inactive' status. Starts and runs, all functions OK. Was pulling a dummy unit (20-2944-3, NS C40-8W) and about a 20-car train of mostly Premier and AtlasO freight.



I was able to start-up the NS SD60E, but subsequent attempts to move it also resulted in 'Check Track'.



--The SD60E, sitting in the same spot where DCS claimed not to see it a few minutes ago, starts and responds normally. I should probably try an isolated programming track for the recaitrant locos but had not since that first SD60E that's been on the loop all this time acts 99% normal.



@RailRide posted:


The UP unit shut down on the same length of track that the SD60E runs with no problems. I'll try bypassing the TIU to see if it runs conventionally. Responses will be slow this week owing to work hours..

---PCJ

You lost me somewhere in here. You got one engine that runs but then, doesn't run???

You lost me somewhere in here. You got one engine that runs but then, doesn't run???

The NS SD60E has been on the layout most of the year. It runs 99% normal under DCS.

The UP SD70M, a 2020-release unit purchased within the last few months, managed to add to the remote with an incomplete name, will start up, but has yet to move, performing a shut-down sequence both times I tried to move it under DCS.

The other units are PS2, had been running (and as such were in my remote), but were "on the shelf" for a couple of years or so, and none of them are currently reach-able in command. I haven't tried to run them conventionally yet.

---PCJ

@Joe Allen posted:

I attempted to add it. With it's lights lit (so it saw the watchdog signal), I attempted to add it and got a no-engine- found message.

Apparently it did miss the watchdog!  A PS2 engine should stay dark and silent when it sees the watchdog signal and lights up with sound on STARTUP from the remote.

The NKP Berk was on-track with power off. I powered up the Z4000, raising it to 17-18V, the loco clicked, the lights came on, but did not make any sounds. On one occasion when I lifted the unit and broke contact with the third rail, it performed a conventional start-up. I didn't attempt to run it that way since I had already run it on it's former owner's layout and so assumed that mode was A-OK.

At all times during this session, I had power off when placing any unit on the rails.

---PCJ

Hard to say what is going on here,

( raising it to 17-18V, the loco clicked, the lights came on, but did not make any sounds. )

Well if that is the case, this engine upgrade must have the lights working off of track power instead of the PS2 board and they can't be controlled by the remote.

I would try to run the engine in conventional mode for a while as Engineer Joe says and see if it runs. If so, let it run for a while before trying it in DCS. Sometimes  the pickup rollers or track gets a film on it causing the DCS signal to be low making it hard to load an rngine into the remote .  You can try scothbrite on the track to clean it also. If it was mine I would upgrade the TIU and remote to 6.10.  You could also try a different channel on tyour TIU. Make sure all wire connections are tight.

Good Luck

Rail,   

       The first thing you need to do is charge up the batteries if you haven't ran them in a while. A couple of years and I'm sure they are too low. The best way to charge them up is with a MTH charger. Did you try to run them in conventional mode? If the battery is dead then the engine won't move in conventional at all as the PS2 board shuts down before it can move and starts all over. If so when you cut track power did the engine sounds continue for 6 to 7  seconds? If they don't then your battery needs charging or replaced to run right. Also any attempt to save any engine ID or other will fail as the PS2 board doesn't stay powered long enough to save it. Usually you can add an engine to the remote without a battery even in the engine as long as it is getting a high DCS signal. I think it takes a strong signal to add an engine anyway.  But just a slight interruption of power and the engine will drop out and lose it newly added ID and revert to a previous ID with a low or dead battery.

If you don't run your engines often, then a BCR capacitor instead of a battery is the best way to IMHO.

I bypassed the TIU with a cutoff switch that isolated the layout till after the watchdog signal went out. The PS3 SD70 started up and ran in conventional mode, as as well as the PS2 Dash-8. Both locos performed an extended shutdown after power was removed, after moving back and forth for less than a minute each.

I did have to wiggle the SD70 a little to get it to start up at first (a K-Line voltmeter car coupled to it confirms the track isn't spotless, then again it has only one pickup roller), but it had no trouble moving over that same stretch of track once running.

With the SD70 idling, I attempted to access it thru the remote (start-up) and received the same 'Check Track', Engine Not on Track' messages. I'm starting to wonder if my TIU is getting flaky in some manner. How old is Revision 13B again?

(I have a newer DCS kit that I had been using at "first night" train displays  I used to help out with, I may have to dig it out and try a swap)

---PCJ

(renamed topic title for clarity while I'm at it)

Last edited by RailRide

This issue, which had bedeviled me for so long, someone on YouTube asked if I was alright, being I hadn't posted anything in a year. While I said nothing of it here, my test track had been inactive since January of this year, when I first posted this thread.

Said message, which prompted me to make a Community post on my channel reassuring whatever subscribers were still paying attention, that I was indeed OK. also got me to thinking about this problem again,

Why was it that only one locomotive that was already on the layout, would respond to DCS and all others while seeing the watchdog signal, were always "Not on Track"?

Something I hadn't mentioned earlier on in this thread was the addition of a switchbox that allowed me to bypass the TIU for direct transformer operation of some conventional engines. It also controlled track power to the three sidings on my "test track". It never occurred to me to check the integrity of my wiring because that one diesel ran without issue, and I never thought to test any others because of that.

The thoughts associated with that "Are you OK?" comment led me to suspect that switchbox, although it didn't make sense that it could be killing the DCS signal. So, today, while waiting for something in a new (to me) "factory sim" game (Shapez io) to work itself out, I went to the test-track, and disconnected the switchbox, connecting my TIU directly to the lockon.

CSX 4563 still saw the watchdog signal, but DCS couldn't find it. I sat my dearly departed friend's NKP 765 Berk, the one locomotive  I was able to buy from his estate before the collection was sold off, on the track. Then, although it still didn't make sense, I swapped the wires at the lockon, restored power and tried to  add it...

Oh, and the aforementioned diesel is operating as if nothing was ever amiss, as well.

I'll deal with re-powering the yard tracks after the euphoria wears off.

---PCJ

Last edited by RailRide
@Joe Allen posted:

( I swapped the wires at the lockon, restored power and tried to  add it...)

Ps3 isn't polarity sensitive vs PS2  which is.

That's exactly what I thought after swapping the wires and getting the 765 to load into the remote

The UP SD70 seen on the windowsill was also a PS3 unit. It's hit-or-miss performance noted back in January is still a bit of a mystery, but it was never in the remote before that troubleshooting session. I suspect it'll perform much better this time around.

---PCJ

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