New to DCC. Power to track issues

 
Topic moved from Help For Beginners by dthead on 17 Jul 2017 11:34
  Alan R Beginner

Hi train people.
Had N gauge in 70's. Just getting back into it with grand kids.
Tech has change a lot. Just bought a big pile off HO stuff from an old guy. 2 x DCC Hornby controls and a prodigy advance 2 elite. Down loaded the operation manual for elite. Hand console operates. Can't get track power from any of them. Not sure if it's operator error or there all the track outputs are fried.
Is there test I can do?
Haven't opened up controllers yet. Do they burn tracks on the PCD's if over loaded?
So much stuff out there. Can't wait to get it running.
Cheers guys

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  dthead Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
We have to get  on the same page with this, as the MRC prodigy advance 2 elite is a little used system here in Australia. We have to be certain what you have.

First of is the prodigy unit which I normally think is a MRC brand. Is this  picture like the unit ?



If it is or not let us know.

You mention  2  Hornby DCC controls, again look at this pic and tell us :



So with both units, there would be a transformer to plug into our power outlet, correct?
You say there is no power, that will be worked out by the system, so the information above is important, so others and me can try to nut this out - its a DCC system I have never seen, and little used - MRC or Hornby.

Let us know and we'l continue to assist. If you could mention roughly where you live we might have more suggestins as well.

Regards,
David Head
  greendiesel Station Master

Location: Hobart
Hi Alan R, been through this one myself last couple of years so I know what a leap it is going to DCC after a long hiatus. My local modelling group gave me a huge amount of support which gave me the confidence to tackle wiring, installation and decoder installations etc. so I'd highly recommend getting in touch with your local club. As a starting point I'd look through the Trouble Shooting section of your downloaded manual, making sure you have all the components you need.
Good luck trouble shooting – it's all part of the fun!
  Alan R Beginner

Hi guys thanks for help.
That's prodigy is close but couple of the buttons are different. Have worked out how to post photo yet.
Hornby ones only have one dial on them.
All have power packs.
With more reading I now know it's AC not DC. I have just bought a new multimeter because mine not working properly. It's 10 years old  had hard life lol. I have opened up the varlious trains I have 3 with decoders n 2 with out.
Nothing helpful in the trouble shooting section of manual.
Seems to try n program but unable to read the trains.
Cheers
Alan
  David Peters Dr Beeching

Location: "With Hey Boy".
Now if the Hornby unit has been used to program the decoders or if the locomotives have Hornby decoders in them then the MRC prodigy will have problems reading and trying to get the locomotives to work. Hornby DCC and decoders are just rubbish and not worth getting. Hornby maintain that their system is NMRA compliant, but actual use shows otherwise. NMRA compliant means that practically any decoder will work on any system. But Hornby decoders go crazy when used on another system, if they work at all.

If you connect it up and there is voltage on the rails testing the unit, then so far so good, it might just be the decoders that are the problem though and are either cheap and nasty Hornby ones or else better quality ones that have simply died on you. This dying does happen though on some of the bottom end quality decoders from years ago. Also worth checking out are the decoders actually working at all it does not take much to fry a decoder unfortunately and if that happens replacement is the only way to fix it. A simple thing like a wire in the wrong place can kill a decoder very easily.

It might be an idea to take a chipped loco one that has a decoder already in it to a reputable DCC supplier or shop and ask them to test the locomotive first up, and if they have problems then test the decoder for you, and if it is fried or something then ask them to install a DCC decoder in the loco for you and take it home and test it out on your track, get the shop to test it out though after the decoder install to show you that it does actually work.
  Alan R Beginner

Thanks mate.
I got a few things to look at.
I let u know what I find tonight.
I searched for the prodigy online. The one I have comes up as the advanced n the elite that's comes up looks different so not sure there but it was bought from toy world in Springwood awhile ago.
Cheers
Alan
  Alan R Beginner

Hi guys
Update.
Hornby select is the model off the other 2 controllers.
Got 13.6 volts AC from each controller Hornby ones and the same on the prodigy advance to decoder PCD. On all the trains.
Looking like it's the decoders I am guessing.

Cheers
Alan
  David Peters Dr Beeching

Location: "With Hey Boy".
You will find as on all consumer type of things that colours, shape and specifications can be different as over the years, as things are upgraded and faults fixed in them. By faults I mean inbuilt things that can affect operation or something. Like a computer operating system not one that is available does not have some kind of faults in it! So what you have is simply a older version of it and it should still work for you though. But if it is pushing out that voltage then it maybe either the decoders are crook or you might have a dislodged wire or two on the decoders or in the loco's, like I said it does not take much these days in anything electronic to make it not work.

I had a Trainorama 930 class just stop dead on me years back and I could not figure out why, in the end I pulled the internal PCB out and hot wired the motor direct to the pickups and away it went again good as new. Well sort of it no longer had headlights and other lights working but it still went though. This was on DC by the way not DCC.  Something on the internal PCB gave up the ghost but what is was could not be seen or traced, so I just junked it. It actually ran a bit faster as well as it did not have to power up all the electronic bits and pieces on the board. It still goes though as far as I know.
  dthead Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Hi guys
Update.
Hornby select is the model off the other 2 controllers.
Got 13.6 volts AC from each controller Hornby ones and the same on the prodigy advance to decoder PCD. On all the trains.
Looking like it's the decoders I am guessing.

Cheers
Alan
Alan R
1. Do not use and connect the Hornby units  to each other OR to the Prodigy.

(I hope it's not too late for that) - you may have blown all of them.....

I think you will need someone local to you, as David Peters has also said, you setup needs looking at. If you can take photos of all units front, top and back, and supply what locos you have. Then a photo of the front page of any manuals. Then as I Pm'ed you send them to me and I'll  show them here.

Regards,
David Head
  miktrain Deputy Commissioner

Location: Adelaide SA
As this is all old, used bits, start with a good clean of all wheels/pickups and track plus any wiring connections BEFORE assuming anything about what is, or is not working. Keep you money in the wallet until something is actually proven bad.

Voltage on the track is a good sign that the system is probably working.

You say that it attempts to program/read but fails, bad/dirty connections, track or wheels/pickups will give the same result.

Having said all that Hornby DCC is not on my "systems for consideration list"

Tony
  Alan R Beginner

Hi guys.
The prodigy advance seems to be working properly I think.
I have the same voltage at the PCB no voltage drop. Got one train working sort of. Stop n start but not full steam. I am 99% sure the issues decoders or motor.
Thinks for the help.
Cheers
  miktrain Deputy Commissioner

Location: Adelaide SA
Hi guys.
The prodigy advance seems to be working properly I think.
I have the same voltage at the PCB no voltage drop. Got one train working sort of. Stop n start but not full steam. I am 99% sure the issues decoders or motor.
Thinks for the help.
Cheers
Alan R
Sounds just like dirty track/pickups. It is a lot cheaper and less frustration to clean than buy and find you still need to clean.

If it is a plug in decoder then remove it and plug in a connecting block (shorting block) to try it on DC, if it is still jerky then the problem is not the decoder. The connectors usually come in locos that are DCC ready, there may be on in the box if your locos have one.

A little info on the connectors http://www.dccwiki.com/Locomotive_Interface so that you could also make your own, you just need to connect the left rail to left motor and right rail to right motor, it will give you a go/no go answer.

Tony
  SA_trains Deputy Commissioner

Location: ACT
Hi guys.
The prodigy advance seems to be working properly I think.
I have the same voltage at the PCB no voltage drop. Got one train working sort of. Stop n start but not full steam. I am 99% sure the issues decoders or motor.
Thinks for the help.
Cheers
Alan R

I think that it is probably dirty track and/or dirty wheels.

For reliable operation, track needs to be very clean and wheels need to be very clean. Stop and start/stuttering operation is a classic symptom of dirty track and dirty wheels.

Get a track rubber and polish the track. If you don't have a rubber, use metho and paper towel and polish the track. The rails should be "bright" when clean. Once the track is clean, examine the wheels. Each wheel should be "bright" and shiny across the wheel tread. If there is dark crusty material on the wheel treads and onto the flange, carefully remove it. Metho and paper towel is best. Avoid using something sharp to scrape crud off. The small scratches then become a place for crud to build up.

A good method is to apply power to the track. Apply Metho to make a paper towel damp and place on the track. Place the loco with half of the powered wheels on the paper towel and the other half on the rails. Hold the loco in place and let the wheels revolve on the metho/paper towel. Clean half the wheels, then clean the other half.

For any DCC setup, you should also have a DC test track. If a loco doesn't work well on DC, it won't work any better on DCC! I always test on DC first before doing DCC work. The paper towel on track is probably best done on a DC test track.

An important thing is to not run rolling stock with plastic wheels on your layout. Plastic wheels leads to crud on your loco driving wheels. All of my rollingstock have metal wheels, any plastic wheels get removed and cast aside.

Good luck, clean as best you can and see what happens then. The MRC is probably the pick of the controllers.

Good luck!

Dan
  David Peters Dr Beeching

Location: "With Hey Boy".
Yes plastic wheels will very quickly make you track dirty again as most hold crud on them sometimes it is very hard to see and other times it is easy here is a link to my website showing a pair of plastic wheels that where next to useless dirty and covered in that much crud they would not even stay on the track at all. One side shows the dirty wheel and the other side shows it cleaned up. It was not mine though to replace the plastic wheels with metal he simply said he wanted the wheels cleaned. This was on a carriage by the way not a locomotive! There are two photographs to shock you though!

https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/southozrail/keep-your-rollingstock-wheels-clean-as-well-as-you-t2522.html
  Alan R Beginner

Hi guys
Very helpful info.
Working on my layout ATM.
Bought a magnifying glass set up of eBay. The old eyes not quite good enough to work on the locos. It should be here soon.
Going over the tracks I got off the old guy they have a lot of paint on them. Got new track to lay.
I will set some new track set up for the next test and clean the rolling stock.
Good advice never gave cleaning the wheels as something I would have to do but makes perfect sense.
Learning heaps ATM.
I will also test the locos on some DC track.
I have the blank plugs replace the decoders.

Again thanks for all the help.
Cheers
Alan

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