Running DCS engines on a currently-TMCC layout

I got the itch to add some Imperial Rail King engines after seeing my brother-in-law's MTH engines around Christmas. Gives me some options I don't have in semi-scale with TMCC 1.0 or LC+.

I'm using mostly postwar transformers with Lionel Powermasters which allow me to run conventional engines with my CAB1 while also acting as fast-acting circuit breakers.

My plan is to add a TIU and cable to connect to the command base as my brother-in-law has done. But he has a Z4000 tranformer.  Am I going to have any issues with DCS given my power sources?  I've read that MTH engines might not like chopped sine waves, and I believe the powermasters convert the transformers' full sine wave to chopped. 

For now, I'm just looking to run engines. Down the road, I may add a Legacy/TMCC or DCS controller to control switches or accessories but, for now, I'd just like to run my TMCC 1.0, my one LC+, and conventional with some new MTH RKs on the same layout.

Original Post

It will work, but where are you getting Fast acting breaker in your power source?  Normally it is the Power House Brick that feeds the Power Master that has the fast acting breaker.

You should have no issues running PS-2 and PS-3 engine off the TMCC set up.  G

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Lionel Independent Repair Tech

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raising4daughters posted:

I got the itch to add some Imperial Rail King engines after seeing my brother-in-law's MTH engines around Christmas. Gives me some options I don't have in semi-scale with TMCC 1.0 or LC+.

I'm using mostly postwar transformers with Lionel Powermasters which allow me to run conventional engines with my CAB1 while also acting as fast-acting circuit breakers.

My plan is to add a TIU and cable to connect to the command base as my brother-in-law has done. But he has a Z4000 tranformer.  Am I going to have any issues with DCS given my power sources?  I've read that MTH engines might not like chopped sine waves, and I believe the powermasters convert the transformers' full sine wave to chopped. 

For now, I'm just looking to run engines. Down the road, I may add a Legacy/TMCC or DCS controller to control switches or accessories but, for now, I'd just like to run my TMCC 1.0, my one LC+, and conventional with some new MTH RKs on the same layout.

Hey my friend,

If you plan on adding the TIU as stated above, you will NOT need the powermaster, the TIU has both fixed voltage outputs as well as variable voltage outputs. Your PM is simulating a "variable output" in this case, for your conventional trains. You will gain TMCC support by connecting the serial out of the TMCC base to the serial input on the TIU with the MTH cable (Part # 50-1032).

To reiterate, when you add the TIU to the mix, the PowerMaster will NOT be needed (it will be redundant) as the TIU can control DCS/TMCC/Conventional engines ALL under one platform.

What GGG, is asking/warning you about is that in your current setup. you run the risk of burning up modern electronic controlled trains as you don't have an "up to date" circuit breaker setup in PW power sources. It is DEFINITELY good advice to take into account when you get your TIU.

I hope this helps!

Daniel Gonzalez

Thanks Daniel. I didn't realize that about a TIU. I was originally going to put my toe in the water and just use DCS Remote Commander for basic DCS on my first MTH/DCS engine. But, if a TIU replaces the powermasters, then I'm happy to use it and scuttle the power masters (or save them for Christmas layouts).

Daniel and GGG, here's a quote from ADCX Rob on one of my threads in 2015 regarding the power masters having fast-acting circuit breakers when I asked if they eliminated the need for circuit breakers.

"Yes. They have fast acting 7 or 10 amp breakers built in."

He's a much smarter guy than me on these things.

I can only speak for the Legacy Powermasters that I'm running and they do indeed have a fast acting internal circuit breaker.  This would not eliminate the need to place some kind of circuit protection after the PW Transformer in my opinion.  I have 10 amp fuses between the transformer and the Powermasters and anything that happens on the track trips the Powermaster. The Powermasters seem to trip very quickly when there is an issue!

Charlie a.k.a MichiganRailRoad714  D3R - NMRRC

 

Here's my recommendation/what I have. Get a TIU, an external power supply for the TIU (plugs into the AUX power port on the TIU), and the MTH cable that connects it to a TMCC base. If you have two separate loops wire your transformer/transformers into the variable 1 and 2 input. If you are using Postwar Lionel transformers (like I am, a Postwar ZW) you MUST run a fast blow fuse in between the transformer and the TIU input side on the hot wire. I use 10 amp fast blow automotive blade fuses. Now connect the outputs of variable 1 and 2 to your track. Connect the TMCC base to the TIU using MTH's cable. 

What this will do is allow you to run everything from the MTH remote or DCS app. You can run conventional locomotives using the variable channels to adjust track voltage (like with a Powermaster). Just scroll the variable channel up to max voltage and you can then use it to run TMCC or DCS locomotives from the same MTH remote. Easy peasy. 

Santa Fe, All the Way

I won't speak to the newer Legacy PM.  But I do not believe the original PM have protection.  And if they do it is not fast acting.  When PM were sold separately to be used with PW transformers, the connection harness had an external fuse in the harness.  Typical old style car fuse type.  When it was sold as a set with the Power House.  It is the Power House that has the circuit breaker built in, and the one that pops.  You press back in to reset.  Even my ZW-C bricks trip first.

So I am fairly certain you are not protected.  Not sure what MR is stating, but he may be talking about the combination set up.  G

MTH Authorized Service Center

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Lionel Independent Repair Tech

Virginia Train Collectors Member

Thanks guys, I really do appreciate the input and advice. It could be good advice, but it's not what I'm looking for. I should've mentioned what I have in more detail.  I have 6 loops/blocks (2 loops around-the-ceiling/shelf, 2 table-top mainline loops, 1 yard on its own, and 1 elevated off the table top).  Each loop/block has a PW transformer (except one with a modern Williams) and a powermaster. 

It all works, and I don't want to start over. I'd give up on MTH before re-doing my power sources (other than maybe the fuse suggestions).

I just want to run some MTH engines since MTH offers some options I can't seem to get from Big L.  For example, I don't like Lionel's semi-scale Berks. The Jr. Berk is just too small, and the 726 style, while a classic, looks nothing like the real thing.

I was going to buy the inexpensive Remote Commander as a simple no-muss/no-fuss way of putting my toe in the water of MTH/DCS, but I was able to get a TIU and DCS handheld for a pretty good price on a whim. If using the TIU and DCS handheld means I've got to tear out the powermasters or maybe even add multiple TIUs to accommodate 6 power loops/blocks, I'll just sell the TIU andDCS remote and go back to the Remote Commander option.

Is there a way I could just use the TIU and DCS remote to control MTH engines while continuing to use my CAB-1 for my TMCC and conventional engines on this setup?

Well you've got a couple options:

Set up the TIU on only a couple loops. Make those loops the only ones you can run DCS locomotives on.

Run the DCS locomotives using the Powermaster like you would any other conventional locomotive.

Santa Fe, All the Way

Lou1985 posted:

Well you've got a couple options:

Set up the TIU on only a couple loops. Make those loops the only ones you can run DCS locomotives on.

Run the DCS locomotives using the Powermaster like you would any other conventional locomotive.

Lou, thanks, that sounds like less of an effort and more to my liking.  I don't want to spend money on DCS and run them conventionally; that set up is just for my PW engines that were my grandfathers. I have no modern conventional.

But, I love your suggestion about limiting the TIU to a couple of loops.  Sounds a lot easier compared to the alternatives above (for my case).  Couple of questions on that.

1. Does that option mean each loop is exclusively TMCC/Powermaster or exclusively DCS? That might not be bad, but knowing that would help me pick which loops to dedicate to DCS. For example, it'd be easy to make the elevated loop or the shelf loops exclusively DCS since they aren't connected to others. The table top loops and yards are all connected and would be my TMCC loops/blocks.

2. Does the TIU have a limit to the number of power blocks it can connect to (like a Lionel Power master can only connect to one) or does it broadcast a signal like TMCC that any TMCC engine on any block can receive it.  I guess I'm asking if I can use the TIU like a TMCC command base to broadcast a DCS signal to all 6 loops/blocks while leaving the power masters in place for conventional.  I can live with either scenario but am hoping for the latter.

raising4daughters posted:
Lou1985 posted:

Well you've got a couple options:

Set up the TIU on only a couple loops. Make those loops the only ones you can run DCS locomotives on.

Run the DCS locomotives using the Powermaster like you would any other conventional locomotive.

Lou, thanks, that sounds like less of an effort and more to my liking.  I don't want to spend money on DCS and run them conventionally; that set up is just for my PW engines that were my grandfathers. I have no modern conventional.

But, I love your suggestion about limiting the TIU to a couple of loops.  Sounds a lot easier compared to the alternatives above (for my case).  Couple of questions on that.

1. Does that option mean each loop is exclusively TMCC/Powermaster or exclusively DCS? That might not be bad, but knowing that would help me pick which loops to dedicate to DCS. For example, it'd be easy to make the elevated loop or the shelf loops exclusively DCS since they aren't connected to others. The table top loops and yards are all connected and would be my TMCC loops/blocks.

No. The loop/loops you connect the TIU to will be able to DCS/TMCC locomotives if you connect to one of the fixed channels, or DCS/TMCC/Conventional locomotives if you connect to a variable channel. Any loop you connect to a variable channel does not require a Powermaster. With multiple loops and multiple transformers it would be a good idea to make sure that all of your transformers are in phase with each other.  

2. Does the TIU have a limit to the number of power blocks it can connect to (like a Lionel Power master can only connect to one) or does it broadcast a signal like TMCC that any TMCC engine on any block can receive it.  I guess I'm asking if I can use the TIU like a TMCC command base to broadcast a DCS signal to all 6 loops/blocks while leaving the power masters in place for conventional.  I can live with either scenario but am hoping for the latter.

DCS signals are broadcast through the track, like TMCC. TMCC sends signals through the outside rails to the locomotive. DCS sends signals through the middle rail and receives a confirmation the locomotive received the signal through the outside rails. You could connect the TIU in passive mode to reach multiple loops but 6 might be too many.

I'd suggest reading this: https://mthtrains.com/sites/de...ction/20as14017i.pdf

It should answer most of your questions on setting up DCS. 

Santa Fe, All the Way

Lou, thanks. I'm definitely going to read the PDF. Just downloaded it. I wanted to be sure what I want to do is feasible, and it sounds like it is. I know my brother-in-law runs TMCC 1.0 and DCS, but he has a Z4000 transformer.  I just didn't have the heart to get rid of my grandpa's old PW transformers. I still think of him when I turn them on. 

All of my transformers are in phase. No worries there. I learned about that 2 layouts ago, but thanks for keeping me in check.

I think I'll go fixed and leave the powermasters in place which I presume means I can only run conventional with my CAB-1 but that's OK.  I have two CAB-1s, so no big deal with the DCS remote sits on conventional days.

So, it sounds like with one TIU, I use DCS on all of the loops/blocks my TMCC command base, right? 

Guess I'll to read up on why there are 2 variable and 2 fixed inputs and 2 variable and 2 fixed outputs. ****, 145 pages is a lot of reading!

Thanks everyone. Just trying to keep this successful. I've been reasonably successful with TMCC and don't want to do a wholesale change to DCS (even if it's better, no time for the effort). Too much invested in TMCC.

GGG posted:

I won't speak to the newer Legacy PM.  But I do not believe the original PM have protection.  And if they do it is not fast acting.  When PM were sold separately to be used with PW transformers, the connection harness had an external fuse in the harness.  Typical old style car fuse type.  When it was sold as a set with the Power House.  It is the Power House that has the circuit breaker built in, and the one that pops.  You press back in to reset.  Even my ZW-C bricks trip first.

So I am fairly certain you are not protected.  Not sure what MR is stating, but he may be talking about the combination set up.  G

@GGG thought you'd find this event interesting.  I had what I believe was a voltage spike or such happen this past Sunday.  I noticed after the fact that I had not insulated my new yard (on separate block) from the mainline but had, like a dummy, put a metal pin in the center rail of the switch leading to the yard.

The engine on the mainline wouldn't move. Heard a pop over by the transformers. Moved the engine to another loop and it was fine. Phew!

Checked the transformer and it was OK, but no light on the power master, so I'm thinking it's dead. Connected it to another transformer and found it was fine.

So what popped? The fuse in the harness connecting the transformer to the power master popped.  I had forgotten to mention in our discussion above that there were fuses already in the harnesses connecting the PMs to the transformers . Sure, perhaps Mike R. is right that there's a fast acting circuit breaker in the power master, but  you were also right in that those fuses are valuable items. I had 'em, just forgot to mention.

There ARE other harnesses available without the fuses. I received one with one of the power masters I purchased, but it looked odd to me. Someone else here advised me not to use them (likely for the reasons you cited above).

So, in the end, you were right!  Glad I'm only out $18 for a replacement harness!

Get yourself a ATC fuse holder like this from your local auto parts store: https://www.amazon.com/Invinci...gid=pla-569584425010

Get a pack of 10 AMP fuses to go with it. Run them between the transformer hot output and the power master hot input. These are much cheaper/easier to replace that the inline fuse in the Lionel adapter cable. I run this setup between my Postwar ZW outputs and TIU inputs, along with TVS diodes on the outputs of the ZW.

20190226_201409

Santa Fe, All the Way

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Have you considered wiring the TIU to the tracks in passive mode?  Power up the layout as if you were running a TMCC locomotive but then turn on the DCS remote and run the MTH stuff that way.  You also need power for the TIU.  I used the power unit that came with an MTH starter set, I believe.  This is probably the simplest way to get up and running with DCS.  Granted you lose the ability to run TMCC locos and conventional locos via the MTH remote, but frankly that is not much of a loss from my perspective.  If you like DCS you can make that your primary layout operating system, but you can test the waters first in passive mode.

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