Sunday, November 3, 2013

Fixing up the Electronics

One of the issues that I found last weekend was that when I threw some buttons on my Acacia Ridge Panel, points in Clapham Yard fired.  So yesterday, point by point I entered the accessory address of the various points in both yards and they all fired at their correct address - all except one point in Acacia Ridge Yard.  As I threw that point, the light on the DS64 signifying that it received a valid address did not light.  So from that deduction, it looked like one of my DS64’s had lost the address of point number one.  So I recoded that DS64 to the 4 correct point motor addresses and all was then OK, except my hitting buttons in my Acacia Ridge panel caused points at Clapham to fire as well. 
I scratched my head as to how to figure out what had happened.  So to debug this further I plugged my Procab into the Mini Panel and started reviewing the commands.  The commands that were showing as entered for the first 11 triggers were correct, but slots 12 through 16 were wrong.  Somehow they had incorrect instructions in them.  Oh I remember, I overwrote them.  Doh!  I then realised that when I plugged the push button wires from the Clapham Yard into the Mini Panel, I plugged them into 5 free trigger inputs in the Mini Panel.  I forgot that I had commands associated with the Acacia Ridge Yard already entered in them that I linked to from 7 other triggers to throw common points in a cascading fashion.  That was a prime stuff up - even if I do say so myself.
Luckily I had recorded the original commands for slots 12 through 16 in a spreadsheet.  Upon closer examination, instead of using a large number of links, I could have just entered the common accessory commands into the slots for 7 slots that linked to slots 12 through 16.  That allowed the freeing up of those original slots for use by the Clapham Panel.  I was just a major dork by over writing the original commands.  So I reprogrammed the Mini Panel and everything is now working correctly.  I can't believe that I actually did that!
I also checked out the block boundary between power districts 1 and 3 with my trusty Multimeter set to AC volts.  The track feeds at that location were as I surmised, the wrong polarity existed.  So I rewired the outputs of power district 1 and 2 by swapping the wires coming out of the NCE EB1's and ran a train over that block boundary again, and all was now OK.
I then fitted 4 point motors to some of the points in the northern end of Clapham Yard.  I still have to fit all the wires back to a currently spare DS64, that will control the first 4 point motors.  I think I will need at least another one DS64 to allow completion of Clapham Yard and most of Loco Pilly.  The wiring of the point motors at the northern end of Clapham Yard is probably a job for next Sunday.
Some of the other major work required before the next running session is that I need to find the power feedback between power districts 3 and 4 and also install the various wire droppers to the power bus in those districts.  There is no use installing an NCE EB1 for short circuit protection and having a power bus running the length of the track section - maybe 20 metres of track and only having a single connection to the track from the power bus and having the rails as the only conductor for the whole layout.  It has worked satisfactorily up until now, but it really needs to be wired correctly.
Today I went to our Club's Buy and Sell and sold a few wagons and strangely for me, I did not purchase another loco or wagon or even a building.  How was that for self control.  There were a good number of sellers and quite a few buyers.  I think everyone left happy.
Upon return home, I went down to the shed for about one hour and re-attached a KD coupler that had fallen off a wagon.  I then set about enhancing my railset train.  This permanently attached 8 car train has KD's for the ends and between the middle wagons.  The rest of the wagons have dummy knuckle couplings.  I removed the dummy knuckle couplers that were between all other wagons and replaced them with standard KD's.  That should make this train a bit more reliable.
Next week I will be spending some time at Clapham North wiring up another four point motors and creating the control panel for that area.  I will also work on droppers from the power buses for power districts 3 and 4, as well as trying to find that troublesome cross connection. 

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