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Been using them for almost 8 years now along with PH-180s for track power (purchased them a couple years before building a more permanent layout). They always trip before the PH-180s (but to be fair I'm using their 8 amp setting).  8 amps was my initial trial setting when first powering up the track. Nothing has ever exceeded the 8 amps during use so far and I've just left them as first installed.

My layout is command only (DCS and Legacy).  I used most of the PSX's optional features, remote LEDs, alarm, manual reset button, etc. Those are all mounted in the fascia of the layout table near the power cart.  They work quite well and as advertised like GRJ said above. No  electronic failures so far.

I have 4 connected to a ZW postwar for accessories. Three of them on 4 amps and one on 8. I removed D11 since I shorted a couple with a CW 80. In general I use the 36 volt transorbs that GRJ recommends. Maybe the 33s. I have both.

I have the sonic alerts but not installed, seems pointless and noisy since I can see if something goes dark. I forget what reset switch but they are on the boards.

Haven't actually tried the PSX AC circuit protectors, but they do seem like a great product based on forum comments like above from those who know of what they speak.  That being said, I decided to go a different, less expensive route, that by all accounts seems to offer comparable protection at a fraction of the price.  I'm talking about Airpax Instant Hydraulic-Magnetic Breakers paired with TVS Diodes.  One set of each is about $15 - 20 plus shipping.

They work equally well in conventional and command operations.  These breakers trip within 0.1 seconds of overload, have a visual trip indicator, and manual reset.

Here's a link to a recent topic about these Breakers: Airpax Snapac Hydraulic-Magnetic Circuit Breaker

If anyone has done any side by side comparisons between the PSX-AC and the Airpax Instant breakers, I'd really like to know more about your observations.

Last edited by SteveH
@SteveH posted:

If anyone has done any side by side comparisons between the PSX-AC and the Airpax Instant breakers, I'd really like to know more about your observations.

I have not done any comparisons, but the Airpax is reacting in 100 milliseconds. The PSC is microprocessor controlled, it can react in microseconds. Not even close. That's not to say 100 milliseconds isn't fast enough for us.

Last edited by turkey_hollow_rr

I don't have a PSX1-AC to measure but have measured 180 w bricks as well as TMCC Lock Ons. Both open in just over 8 milliseconds which is the time of one half of the 60 hz sine wave. Thats about as fast any breaker can open at 60hz. I would expect the PSX1-AC to be comparable.

That said 100 ms is also likely fast enough since breakers protect the transformer. TVS diodes are what protect the engine and they are much faster.

Pete

Dan, thank you for your insight.  That's kinda what I was thinking, that with TVS protection and 100ms disconnect time, there seems to be little chance of any electronics overheating and failing with the Airpax Instant & TVS combo.

[Edit: Norton posted while I was typing] I would also add that if using the PH180 bricks, my understanding is that they also have a very fast built-in microprocessor controlled overload disconnect and would also benefit from supplementary TVS.

With my 2 PW ZWs and a mix of other smaller MPC transformers, choosing the Airpax Instant breakers was a matter of sufficient protection value vs cost.  A savings of over $300.

Anyone else have any side by side comparisons?

Last edited by SteveH

I use a 5 amp resettable breaker in series with 10 amp Airpax on each TIU channel. In a derailment or other short, the Airpax trips first virtually instantly. An overload, such as in my PS 3 MUs when one engine starts in conventional and is a boat anchor, the 5 amp trips first. The Airpax will trip by shorting a 24 awg wire, where the the 5 amp thermal will just melt the wire. Works for me.

Last edited by John H

My PH180 bricks trip instantly on almost any derailment, I'm sure the one or two they didn't trip was simply because I didn't get a short that time.  Although the PSX1-AC looks good, I truthfully don't see the need in my case.

Well you are probably right for your situation but for us with home built power supplies or post war transformers this is the way to go

Last edited by superwarp1

@Windy City

that would be my handy work for the PCB. It was made to hold the 22uh choke that has been recommended for DCS signal when the TIU is used in passive mode. Of course it’s all rated for a full 20A (welding power to some people)

417AC945-9DA6-43C4-80A6-33F2EB5D768C

This second Rev I wasn’t impressed with the banana jacks and found some through hole terminals for a decent price and then also soldered the 33.3V TVS diode to the PCB.

BCB8314B-4A4C-4A92-A757-C369BD11CFE8

Attachments

Images (2)
  • BCB8314B-4A4C-4A92-A757-C369BD11CFE8
  • 417AC945-9DA6-43C4-80A6-33F2EB5D768C

If you watch my video you will see when I short out the tracks no spark, no arching, no nothing other than the buzzer sounding. I have mine set to 12 amps due to the combo of passenger cars (since converted to LED) and EOB engines which draw lots of current at slow speeds, tends to trip the PSX are lower current settings. When I was using fuses, it would get arch welding all over the place.  With the PSX no more.

Also remember you can get these in one, two, three, or four channel outputs.

Last edited by superwarp1
@superwarp1 posted:

Well you are probably right for your situation but for us with home built power supplies or post war transformers this is the way to go

Even with store-bought power, I think some form of fast-acting protection makes sense, especially if you are running an MTH Z4K. The track power breakers on that transformer are very slow, not even close to the Lionel 180 bricks, which I don't understand since this is a "modern" transformer.

I'm encouraged by those who have installed a PSX-1 AC in their track power circuit(s).  I bought one, but haven't installed it yet because I'm figuring out how to "hide" it inside a trackside building.

To do that, I'll need to extend the LED indicators on the circuit board to an appropriate location on the trackside building within view of the control panel. I bought LEDs from TONY'S TRAINS; one is a steady ON to show that the device is ON, and the other one is a flashing red LED to show a short.  I'll need a reset button too. I'll "pass" on the add-on buzzer.

I intend to install the PSX-1 AC in the track power circuit of my MTH Z1000 "brick," which has a built-in fast-acting circuit breaker; however, I want the extra layer protection for the onboard circuit boards inside a MTH Aerotrain loco.

Has anyone already done this "hidden PSX-1 AC" project? If so, your advice welcome! My e-mail address is in my OGR FORUM profile.

With thanks in advance,
Mike Mottler   LCCA 12394

@rtr12 posted:

Mine are hidden, but on the back of my transformer cart and not on the layout.  But the LEDs and reset buttons are mounted in the fascia of my layout table, remotely from the PSX-ACs.

If you are using a TIU for your MTH Aerotrain you want the PSX-ACs before the TIU (between the Z-1000 and the TIU).

Excellent point. The PSX will not pass the DCS signal. Besides, you want this as close to the power source(s) as possible. Sort of takes care of the "hiding" part.

Are you sure it won't pass the DCS signal?  I have 4 of them (4 loops) installed between the track and the TIU and the DCS signal on each loop works perfectly: 10/10.  I installed them after past  derailments killed a TIU. :-(    Does anybody know for a fact that there is a choke or filter in the PSX-1AC design that should be killing the DCS signal?

Zhubl--rtr12 maintains a forum archive of board layouts and build info for the forum with lots of useful stuff in it. Is there any way that your board design could be added to the archive?

Don

I'd be happy to add this to the list. It's best if the project could be posted in it's own thread with details about it and a few pictures. Then let me know it's ok (preferably from the original poster) to share the information in the list and I'll add it. Please include a link to the thread so I can easily find it. Also, my email is in my profile.

With each project having it's own thread, any discussions, changes, updates, etc. to the project can be posted there and the list will link back to the original thread. That way the projects will always be current.

Hopefully some are getting some good from that list, thanks for the plug.

@Porschev posted:

Are you sure it won't pass the DCS signal?  I have 4 of them (4 loops) installed between the track and the TIU and the DCS signal on each loop works perfectly: 10/10.  I installed them after past  derailments killed a TIU. :-(    Does anybody know for a fact that there is a choke or filter in the PSX-1AC design that should be killing the DCS signal?

I believe they will pass the DCS signal, but as I recall some folks here were having problems with the PSX-ACs between the TIU and track. I'm thinking some could have added chokes? Been quite a while and I don't remember the exact outcome of the folks having problems?  My PSX-ACs are pretty old (9-10 years) and the discussions I recall were all some time ago as well.

As far as I know there are no filters or chokes on my older PSX-ACs.  I have no knowledge of this, but it's possible the PSX-ACs could have been updated to correct for the DCS signal interference?

Last edited by rtr12

Well, good or rather EXCELLENT discussion. I am going ahead with the PSX-1AC on my 8 block railroad. I'll put them ahead of the TIU, between transformer and TIU. Until some brave soul does thorough testing to see if these degrade the DCS signal (and for that matter TMCC and legacy), I think the protection will have to be on "the wrong side of the tracks".

What a friggin hobby! My trains drag me into every corner of the known hobbyverse!

Don

I apologize if my information is dated about PSX and the DCS signal. Still, however, if the PSX is that much faster than the ph 180 breaker I can't see any advantage to having one after the TIU. It will protect just as well placed before the TIU I would think.

I don’t see any way the PSX AC can be any faster than a 180 watt brick. This is for AC not DC. AC passes through zero 120 times a second. You can’t sense a short circuit when there is no current. Only as it approaches max voltage can it sense a change in current.
On a DC layout it can respond faster than 8 ms but not AC.

Folks using these after a modern transformer, they are really only useful if you want to limit the current on a section to less than ten amps which is what a modern higher power transformer of at least 180 watts trips at.

Want to turn your Post War ZW into a modern transformer? Use a PSX1-AC.

Pete

Last edited by Norton

If there is a generous SME on the forum willing to take on such a study;  (pretty please! )  I suggest the study must answer at least these two questions:

1.) Which position offers the better protection for the TIU; between the track and the TIU or between the TIU and the Power Source.... and WHY?

2.) If installed between the track and the TIU, does the PSX-1AC degrade the DCS signal?  If so, can it be measured?   

I am running PH135 bricks.  In all cases the PSX-1AC trips first and without a visible spark/arc.  I have yet to have a PH135 breaker trip before or with the PSX-1AC.  Before I installed the PSX-1AC's it would take quite a short to trip the PH135 breakers and through the years I damaged 2 TIUs.  While it's only been a year, there has been NO damage to the TIUs since install of the PSX-1AC's.

@Porschev posted:

I am running PH135 bricks.  In all cases the PSX-1AC trips first and without a visible spark/arc.  I have yet to have a PH135 breaker trip before or with the PSX-1AC.  Before I installed the PSX-1AC's it would take quite a short to trip the PH135 breakers and through the years I damaged 2 TIUs.  While it's only been a year, there has been NO damage to the TIUs since install of the PSX-1AC's.

What are your PSXs set at? The bricks set point is fixed, the PSXs are adjustable.

Pete

Norton, I just don't trust Lionel's Chinese contractors to build the PH180s consistently as designed. Heck, when I set up my layout, 5 of the 12 PH180's were out of phase with the other 7!! If they can't get the doggone things in phase consistently (I mean--flip a coin!), what makes you so confident they are building the rest of that transformer to a superior standard?

The PSX-1AC is a cheap defense. We can discuss whether it's the first line or the second, but it's good insurance for me--saving just one loco repair repays the entire investment!

Don

gunrunnerjohn...it's a very fine line...I was just put off by the phasing fiasco. Those are NEW transformers. I was expecting them all to be in phase (yes, I know--please pass the cheese to go with my whine...). But then too, I liked the sonalert addition to the PSX-1AC. That was actually what sold me on the thing.

The PSX-1AC does a good job of notifying me that there is a problem. It has lights, sounds and dancing girls--what more could you ask for? The PH180 just sits there and says "hah! good luck finding that short sucker!"

So yes, I like the PSX-1AC's Chinese contractors better... <grin>

Don

Good point!  My PSX-1AC's are set for 8 amps which probably explains why they trip before the PH135's.   Interesting that I don't get a nasty spark/arc with the PSX-1AC like I do with just the PH135.  Perhaps the PSX-1AC opening at lower amperage is the reason for no spark/arc?    I have tested the DCS signal on my layout and without the PSX-1AC (between track and TIU) and I can't determine a difference. 

Mike, I guess I mis-spoke...what I meant is that the PSX-1AC is FAR FAR SUPERIOR to the PH180 in the manner of notification that a short exists--sound and light. I find that valuable since my blocks are many and pretty carefully assigned, the PSX-1AC generally gets me awfully close to the problem. It works for me anyway. As has been stated several times in his thread, these things are not for everyone.

Don

While some folks do not like the buzzer, I find it very useful.  No matter what I am doing, if there is a short the sound immediately lets me know there is a problem.  I also like the fact that when using the PSX's reset circuit, the power will not come back on until I'm ready, and the reset switch is easy to get at.  One press, power is back.

I don't have to worry about doing anything with the PowerMaster or PH180.

I know there will be some who will come back and say how they don't need it, as with previous pro-PSX posts, but I say try it and you will like it.

Last edited by CAPPilot

Somewhat related here, QSI used to offer something called a Power Guard. It was a box with some TVS diodes and some LEDs that flashed when it sensed a spike. We used them on the clubs modular layout. If you have any doubts that TVS diodes are worth the trouble, think again. The LEDS would be flashing almost continually. The most common reason is dirty track coupled with worn pickup rollers bouncing up and down on the rails. They show up on the auction sites occasionally though really not more effective than a TVS diode, they could be a good tool for keeping track of the condition of your motive power and rails.

Pete

@Norton posted:

Somewhat related here, QSI used to offer something called a Power Guard. It was a box with some TVS diodes and some LEDs that flashed when it sensed a spike. We used them on the clubs modular layout. If you have any doubts that TVS diodes are worth the trouble, think again. The LEDS would be flashing almost continually. The most common reason is dirty track coupled with worn pickup rollers bouncing up and down on the rails. They show up on the auction sites occasionally though really not more effective than a TVS diode, they could be a good tool for keeping track of the condition of your motive power and rails.

Pete

For anyone interested, the first project in the 'OGR Electronics Projects List' is a spike detector that Stan2004 posted. Just below the spike detector is a neat little project forum member Rod Stewart made installing one of these in the roof of a caboose. Links to the original project postings are included for more details.

Last edited by rtr12
@Norton posted:

I don’t see any way the PSX AC can be any faster than a 180 watt brick. This is for AC not DC. AC passes through zero 120 times a second. You can’t sense a short circuit when there is no current. Only as it approaches max voltage can it sense a change in current.
On a DC layout it can respond faster than 8 ms but not AC.

Folks are reporting no spark when shorting the circuit to test the PSX regardless of what the amp setting is. I like and depend on the PH 180 breaker too, but it can't shut of current that fast. How do explain that?

Last edited by turkey_hollow_rr

Folks are reporting no spark when shorting the circuit to test the PSX regardless of what the amp setting is. I like and depend on the PH 180 breaker too, but it can't shut of current that fast. How do explain that?

Simple, the PSX1-AC uses solid state switching to interrupt the current, the PH180, at least the older version, uses a relay to interrupt the current.  So, think microseconds or less for the PSX and milliseconds for the PH180.

@Norton posted:

I don’t see any way the PSX AC can be any faster than a 180 watt brick. This is for AC not DC. AC passes through zero 120 times a second. You can’t sense a short circuit when there is no current. Only as it approaches max voltage can it sense a change in current.
On a DC layout it can respond faster than 8 ms but not AC.

Folks using these after a modern transformer, they are really only useful if you want to limit the current on a section to less than ten amps which is what a modern higher power transformer of at least 180 watts trips at.

Want to turn your Post War ZW into a modern transformer? Use a PSX1-AC.

Pete

Thinking about this, I don’e see a 8 ms issue for AC. True if a derailment occurs when there is no current, but then as the current rises and reaches the set current limit of the PSX, then the PSX will trip faster at that moment than a PH180 which has a relay in it. So yes, the PSX can respond faster than 8 ms…but not until it has to.

@Norton posted:

I don’t see any way the PSX AC can be any faster than a 180 watt brick. This is for AC not DC. AC passes through zero 120 times a second. You can’t sense a short circuit when there is no current. Only as it approaches max voltage can it sense a change in current.

There is no current flowing only during those zero crossings, the rest of the time, the current is proportional to the load and voltage.  During a short, the resistance drops to near zero, and current will rise to infinity.  Obviously, thats not possible, but it does rise well above the trip point.

My guess is that the PSX-AC can trip about as fast as the sample rate allows it.  Assuming the device is sampling the current somehow.

@zhubl posted:

Ok I HAVE to ask what and where did you get those panel meters for voltage and amperage?

Not to mention the Atlas switch controls. I understood there was a relatively easy-to-fix issue with those controls.  I wish Atlas would do the fix and put them back on the market.  They are much nicer than the standard Atlas #56 switch control box.

Simple, the PSX1-AC uses solid state switching to interrupt the current, the PH180, at least the older version, uses a relay to interrupt the current.  So, think microseconds or less for the PSX and milliseconds for the PH180.

Exactly. I know you know, I know I know, and I'm sure some others know. But there seems to be reluctance by still another group to believe that is it possible for a micro processor to sense and cut current in sub-millisecond time intervals.

Those panel meters are RRAmpMeters, another product from the makers of the PSX-AC, DCC Specialties. Unfortunately for us in O gauge, we need the RRAmpMeter model IV for the higher current and the most expensive.  Haven't done it yet, but I'll probably end up with one (maybe more?) someday. For some time now, I've been curious as to what they are like (in person) and how well they work.

Last edited by rtr12
@zhubl posted:

Ok I HAVE to ask what and where did you get those panel meters for voltage and amperage?

rtr12 was correct. The panel meters are RRAmpMeters, another product from the makers of the PSX-AC, DCC Specialties.  I purchased them from Tonys Train Exchange more than a few years ago, along with the PSX-1-AC.  They work great as well.

@PGentieu posted:

Not to mention the Atlas switch controls. I understood there was a relatively easy-to-fix issue with those controls.  I wish Atlas would do the fix and put them back on the market.  They are much nicer than the standard Atlas #56 switch control box.

I purchased the Atlas switch controls long before the recall on those.  Since most of the Atlas switches on my layout are kind of long, #5, #7.5 and the Double slips, each one is using an Atlas 6924 relay along with the #57 switch controller.  I hooked all this up many years ago with the help of Steve Horvath.  Steve is a great guy and a great help to me in learning how wire all the Atlas switches and hook them up.  I met him at York back around 2014.  When he came out to Jersey, (from Montana) to visit family he spent some time with me here at my house.       

Turkey hollow and train friends, I am going ahead with the PSX-1AC units. I got 4 of them and the sonalerts for them. I am currently working on 2 tunnel entrances and don't want to stop to go back to wiring right now. But I should get to them in a week. They sure don't protect anything if they're not hooked up!

I am probably the clumsiest person you'd ever know and I expect to have plenty of problems with shorts and "doing the stupid" thing. So I need a system that looks out for me. I think these will be a good addition to the toolbox.

Thanks for everyone's replies and contributions to this thread. This has been very valuable.

Don

Have two boards.  Work perfectly trips on real shorts not the annoying momentary ones   Worth the money since I use a ZW as my "brute force" supply, but still have a set of fuses, just in case worst case (but electronics have never been known to fail, ever, right? (just ask those Hubble Telescope people ))

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