I have made a new fourm post because I discovered it it something with my Lionel engines, because the problem is so much different than what I thought

https://ogrforum.ogaugerr.com/...ng-dcs-engine-signal

New post

 

I have about a 35 foot long layout with my TIU placed around the center of it and 2 large wires going off to each ends where there is 2 terminal blocks that go off to the tracks. I am scoring 1-4 on the Track Signal test that Ps2 and Ps3 engines have, I am pretty sure this has something to do with my wiring of the terminal blocks. I have check the individual wires and am pretty sure the problem is the long wires from the main terminal and the terminals themselves not distributing the connection properly.

Photos of the terminals are attached, they have few wires in them because i currently only have a single track down but I plan to have 3 main lines once I figure out my wiring connection problems.

Also, My Lionel engines work fine with no connection issues, and I am planning to try and get MTH terminal blocks and see if they distribute the connection properly.

I use Atlas O track.

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Last edited by acrking76
Original Post

How often do you have feeders to the tracks?  I think they recommend one about every 10 track joints, or so.  I know that is what I did when I wired mine.  I went from TIU to one terminal block, then all my feeders to the track.

 

Tony H posted:

How often do you have feeders to the tracks?  I think they recommend one about every 10 track joints, or so.  I know that is what I did when I wired mine.  I went from TIU to one terminal block, then all my feeders to the track.

 

I drop a power feed every 8 ft except in my corners where I put a feed at the start middle and end of the curve so my older lionel engines with no speed control have consistent speed around corners. I also should say I use Atlas O track

Not sure if having multiple terminal blocks for just one TIU output is an issue.  I used one terminal block for the hot and one for the common, that way I could have 19 feeders, not and common go to the tracks.  My layout is about 26x18.  I get 9 or 10s all around the layout.   

Not sure if you have Barry’s B DCS companion book, it is a tremendous resource.  

Tony H posted:

Not sure if having multiple terminal blocks for just one TIU output is an issue.  I used one terminal block for the hot and one for the common, that way I could have 19 feeders, not and common go to the tracks.  My layout is about 26x18.  I get 9 or 10s all around the layout.   

Not sure if you have Barry’s B DCS companion book, it is a tremendous resource.  

I will look into getting the book thank you

Do you have your center rails isolated with each block?   You should use an output from the tiu to each terminal block and jumper the transformer input to two tiu inputs

Each pair of wires going from your terminal block to your track should go to one isolated section of track (block).  If you are running multiple pairs of wires to track that is connected to each other you will have signal issues.

bluelinec4 posted:

Do you have your center rails isolated with each block?   You should use an output from the tiu to each terminal block and jumper the transformer input to two tiu inputs

WHAT bluelinec4 SAID - isolate/insulated the center rails about every 10-12 feet.

Use Atlas#6093 on the center rail joint at the start and end of each block. 

I am a fan of placing the drop at the start of one end of block and keeping the pattern all the around.

How are you connecting the power feeds to the rails?

Carl

Arctic Railroad

Moonman posted:
bluelinec4 posted:

Do you have your center rails isolated with each block?   You should use an output from the tiu to each terminal block and jumper the transformer input to two tiu inputs

WHAT bluelinec4 SAID - isolate/insulated the center rails about every 10-12 feet.

Use Atlas#6093 on the center rail joint at the start and end of each block. 

I am a fan of placing the drop at the start of one end of block and keeping the pattern all the around.

How are you connecting the power feeds to the rails?

I use the plastic joiners already and I use the atlas terminal joiners to feed the rails

Are there any switches? I have not used Atlas track, are the two outer rails both connected to common? What engines?

Last edited by BobbyD
BobbyD posted:

Are there any switches? I have not used Atlas track, are the two outer rails both connected to common? What engines?

I do not have any switches on the short line I have right now, and only 1 outer rail is connected to common which is standard for atlas. I make sure to always use the same outer rail when dropping feeders. 

acrking76 posted:

I have about a 35 foot long layout with my TIU placed around the center of it and 2 large wires going off to each ends where there is 2 terminal blocks that go off to the tracks. I am scoring 1-4 on the Track Signal test that Ps2 and Ps3 engines have, I am pretty sure this has something to do with my wiring of the terminal blocks. I have check the individual wires and am pretty sure the problem is the long wires from the main terminal and the terminals themselves not distributing the connection properly.

Photos of the terminals are attached, they have few wires in them because i currently only have a single track down but I plan to have 3 main lines once I figure out my wiring connection problems.

Also, My Lionel engines work fine with no connection issues, and I am planning to try and get MTH terminal blocks and see if they distribute the connection properly.

I use Atlas O track.

Even without individual track blocks, your signal strength should be higher than 1-4, if the track is wired properly.

Based on your own comments, the terminal strips you have may, indeed, be wired incorrectly. I find using the MTH terminal blocks to be very easy to use. Just run your TIU output to the black and red posts on the MTH terminal block and then run pairs of wires from each numbered port to your track drops. Hopefully, this will straighten it out and you can then create individual track blocks, if you find it is necessary. Unless you have a very large run, I would use 14 gauge wire from the TIU to the MTH block and then 16 gauge to the track.

The MTH terminal blocks come in both 12 and 24 port models.MTH 12 PORT

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Last edited by Richie C.

So, I am thinking if you have a loop with O72 curves and straights on a 35' long table it is about 75 feet of track.

You should have about 10 pairs of feeders.

Run the transformer to a terminal block at 11 feet from end. From the run 5 pair of feeder to five blocks for half of the loop. 

So much for distribution plans - try this for me - with a jumper connect both outside rails and test the signal strength on the engine that you have using.

What kind of readings do you get?

Carl

Arctic Railroad

So a bit of an update I rewired the terminal and still the same horrible track signal but now my DCS remote freezes when I try to run an engine on the low connection area(which is 95% of the track I have layed atm) it completely freezes up and the engine loops the command like if I blow the horn the remote completely freezes and the horn continues to blow I have honestly not a single clue how low connection could do that to the remote, the remote runs perfectly fine on the area where the trains have good connection though

They make jumpers for the barrier terminals - in lieu of those just jumper a group - say 5 and tap with TXFMR leads on one side and tracks feeds out the other.

You can use a piece 16 awg or 18 awg to loop from screw to screw.

It appears that you have a 10 position terminal from the photo

10_position_terminal

The hot TXFMR feed should have been red for illustrative purposes and been labeled TIU OUT

Carl

Arctic Railroad

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Maybe I missed something here?

What version is your TIU? Version L or older? If older do you have lights or filters attached to the blocks?

Are you removing all TMCC products and any lighted cars from the rails for the signal test?

Have you tested your TIU on a single piece of short track with a single engine for signal strength?

It sounds like your are jumping in too deep all at once and not troubleshooting correctly. I do not know your history though.

" on Sour mash and cheap wine " ??

Why go back to DCC when I have DCS!

If your connections at the rails aren't perfect, you can loose power. Generally speaking, if the power dips enough, the DCS signal will suffer. I did read about your Lionel engines running. I'm thinking it maybe your track connections still. Maybe you could try soldering at least one connection as a test to see if things improve.

What gauge wire is at the rail connection?

How many DCS engines are on the same TIU channel?

What is your power supply?

" on Sour mash and cheap wine " ??

Why go back to DCC when I have DCS!

 You have got a lot of good suggestions. If the track signal is that bad. I would start with the basics. Breaking down the layout into blocks and getting one block working with at least a 9 for a signal. Then move on to another one by reattaching the wires.  The outside rail is important for a return path for the signal. I believe in connecting the rails with a jumper wire or alternating the outside rail in every other block. No insulating pins needed  on the outside rails between blocks.

 Not familiar with the Atlas pre wire rail joiners. I believe in 12 gauge wire from the TIU and at least 16 gauge going from the terminal strip to the track. I use Gargraves track. If I went Atlas. I’d solder feeder wires directly to the rails and probably solder smaller jumper wires from one rail to another. I do tend to overbuild things. My layout is fairly large and uses Buss wiring. Works just fine even though it’s not recommended. Every 3 ft. section is wired with feeders going to a buss wire. The layout is blocked. 

Just how old is your Atlas track ?  Is it a recent purchase or have you been buying it over the years and stockpiling it. The earlier track had a thick coating of blackening on the center rail that really effected the DCS signal. The recommended method was using a Scotchbrite pad to remove it.

Dave_C posted:

 No insulating pins needed  on the outside rails between blocks.

I had a disagreement with Barry B over this. On a larger layout (my 2 rail G scale) I found that the outer (-) rails also needed to be broken up. It was on a certain DCS release and the remote would slow down and wait for engine's replies in large consists outback on my RR. It's cause, I am not certain of. It may even have been from wet ballast, corroded wiring, etc., messing things up?

 I can't say for certain that this is needed on 3 rail. It's such an easy wiring difference that I just do it on any large layout I build now. I am thinking it was a work around for a certain fault in the DCS software in that particular release.

 I bet Ben who posted above would have the best experience on this for 3 rail.

" on Sour mash and cheap wine " ??

Why go back to DCC when I have DCS!

Last edited by Engineer-Joe
Engineer-Joe posted:

Maybe I missed something here?

What version is your TIU? Version L or older? If older do you have lights or filters attached to the blocks?

Are you removing all TMCC products and any lighted cars from the rails for the signal test?

Have you tested your TIU on a single piece of short track with a single engine for signal strength?

It sounds like your are jumping in too deep all at once and not troubleshooting correctly. I do not know your history though.

Okay so this right here, I have a lionel Vision Line Big Boy that I like to keep on the tracks just cause it looks cool and its fun to run on the short line I have in between working on the layout. I took the Big Boy off and am now getting 10s and 9s on the entire line of track. I am not sure what this means, can I not run my lionel engines or have them on the track when running DCS? My TIU is a rev L, and I have tested it on a single piece of track, my power comes from a single Lionel Powerhouse 180 but I am getting a Z4000. The gauge wire is the regular atlas terminal track joiners 

 these ones

I have been testing the signal with 3 different engines, A PS3 Veranda Turbine, a Ps2 Rs-3, and a Ps2 Gp38-2, I have tested max 2 at once but usually use the Veranda.

 

I didn’t see mentioned here is that Lionel engines operated at the same time as mth on the same track can reduce the signal.  Same with constant voltage lighting (like from cabooses). 

Are you running either one on the same track with the mth items?  If so, while you are doing your testing you might want to remove them.

Have the tracks been cleaned recently?

I use gar graves, but remember atlas track used in the past needing to be cleaned more frequently.  

 

Mike

Others could explain it to you in technical terms, but, some electronic devices with capacitors can interfere with the DCS signal. The Big Boy has a lot of features being powered.

Alternating the common connection is good idea mentioned earlier. The DCS is carried on the Hot or center rail.  Some have questioned the Atlas terminal joiners for good connection. I can't say for sure. The "SCREW IT" method is definitely solid. 

Many are able to operate both systems and equipment without issue. Proper wiring schemes and distribution using 14 or 12 for main bus and 16 for feeders is known stable.

I don't think that you should be isolating any common rails. That's more of a power district thing for conventional running. The PH 180 should operate the layout just fine. Get another rather than a Z4000, just my opinion. 

Wire the layout for DCS and anything else should be ok.

May want to post the question to the forum on the Lionel Big Boy causing DCS issues.

Carl

Arctic Railroad

I run both Lionel and Mth at the same time with out adding the inductor chokes to the Lionel engines.  My track length sounds similar to yours and have 4 track feeders in a star pattern, where the middle rail is isolated between the blocks.  My track signal is definitely reduced when running Lionel engines, but the mth engines work assuming the engine is already in the remote.    If I am adding an mth engine to the remote for the first time, I usually half to remove the Lionel engines or it won’t find it.

I would not recommend using the microphone through the dcs remote though as it seems to get stuck on when the dcs signal is weaker.

 

acrking76 posted:
Engineer-Joe posted:

Maybe I missed something here?

What version is your TIU? Version L or older? If older do you have lights or filters attached to the blocks?

Are you removing all TMCC products and any lighted cars from the rails for the signal test?

Have you tested your TIU on a single piece of short track with a single engine for signal strength?

It sounds like your are jumping in too deep all at once and not troubleshooting correctly. I do not know your history though.

Okay so this right here, I have a lionel Vision Line Big Boy that I like to keep on the tracks just cause it looks cool and its fun to run on the short line I have in between working on the layout. I took the Big Boy off and am now getting 10s and 9s on the entire line of track. I am not sure what this means, can I not run my lionel engines or have them on the track when running DCS? My TIU is a rev L, and I have tested it on a single piece of track, my power comes from a single Lionel Powerhouse 180 but I am getting a Z4000. The gauge wire is the regular atlas terminal track joiners 

 these ones

I have been testing the signal with 3 different engines, A PS3 Veranda Turbine, a Ps2 Rs-3, and a Ps2 Gp38-2, I have tested max 2 at once but usually use the Veranda.

 

Your Lionel/TMCC equipment should be on it's own channels. You can install chokes inside the equipment if you wish to run them on the same power supply. I read of people having them parked on powered sidings and I advise them to add kill switches to those sidings. Many don't wish to open up each piece and/or solder in chokes so I suggested to keep them separate. 

 The power dip thing is or can be caused by drawing too many amps thru smaller wires or weak connections and can also cause the DCS signal to suffer. Your issue appears to be just interference caused by the Lionel equipment and not your wiring. However your wiring may tie the TMCC/Legacy signal to the DCS rails by the way you have it wired. I have seen this draw the signal down.

 So..... the simple thing to do is take the Lionel off the rails (or on an electrically turned off siding) when running MTH, or.... rewire and have totally separate loops, or.... add chokes to any equipment causing issues, or..... ???? ( I can go on and on here but I'm just throwing stuff out there). It's all about knowing the issue, and maintaining a work around.

Most here may have power dip issues if they start running large consists of engines and most would never know of issues until that occurs. An average layout with just one or two engines running won't have these issues show up usually, unless they get very bad.

 I run five or more engines per consist on a loop of track. Power issues become apparent right away. Signal may also suffer until it's resolved.

If I use ten amp wire, I need ten amp connections as well. I can get that in different ways like having more drops to shorter blocks so the engines aren't all on the same connections at once.

 I read of people's complaints of the DCS signal being weak or finicky. I find that's not really true. It's more a power distribution problem that shows up with a loss of DCS signal. If the power is good, the signal will be good. Then there's always the exceptions to keep me humble. A single signal killer might not ruin everything until it's joined with another issue and then I start pulling my hair out looking for an issue that's really 2 or 3 things at once.

 I never installed chokes in my Vision line tank cars for example. They usually only drop the signal just a bit. If there's another problem and the tank cars are also on the rails, the combination magnifies the loss of signal.

 I can't have my TMCC brick tied to my 2 rail layout in any way without some DCS signal loss. It can be tied thru the power supplies (my Z4000), TIU's wiring, etc. I unplug it from the wall when not in use. Sounds like a pain but I don't have a lot of TMCC engines.

 I added many lines to this post and haven't proof read it. I say this incase it's incoherent! 

" on Sour mash and cheap wine " ??

Why go back to DCC when I have DCS!

At my club's shows, we run DCS and Legacy/TMCC locos on the same loop with no problem so Lionel vs. MTH compatibility is not an issue.  Your symptoms are Deja Vu ... my club spent years trying to make DCS reliable on our modular layouts.  We tried all of the insulated block/choke/filter/lighted terminals suggestions with inconsistent results.  My observation of our DCS testing efforts suggested (to me) is that impedance changes and signal reflection in the layout wiring can weaken the DCS signal.  I noted a lot of similarities with trying to balance ArcNet (remember those days?) with 50 Ohm resistors and attempting to balance DCS signal strength with lights, insulators, etc.  Impedance and resistance will change with wire junctions, resistance loads (lights, locos) etc.  Couple that with electrical loads that roll around the layout and you have an environment that will frustrate balancing efforts.

We found that providing (a) consistent power and ground wire gauges (12G in our case) and (b) providing discreet ground and power PAIRs (the ground is NOT common except at the TIU output) for each loop provides the best possible signal to the tracks.  We have drops in every module (4 ft.) connected with terminal blocks.  We minimize the length of small gauge wire feeds to the track and solder 12 or 14G feeds directly to the track where possible.  We removed all filters, insulators, accessories drawing track power from the main lines, and we are able to reliably operate DCS.

Finally, a TIU may have a weak output.  If your TIU cannot achieve a 9 or 10 on a test track, get it repaired or replaced.

Maybe I missed something - are you running stranded or solid wires?  You need stranded wire, the DCS signal travels on the outside of the wire.. Stranded wire has more surface area than solid core wires.  Also - do yourself a BIG favor:  Number each wire that comes off the terminal block and have the corresponding  number located near the track connection.  This is a tremendous advantage when troubleshooting your connections.

Bruce

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