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Sunday, September 16, 2012

CPU on DCS100 Blown?!

I sent the DCS100 to Digitrax for service.  I called and spoke to Dave and we discussed the situation and the fact that I have another DCS100 with similar unusal actions.  He was surprised and said he would get with repair dept to expediate the repair and determine what was wrong and then call me.

Well, no calls for a week so I called him.  Unfortunately Dave had NO CLUE what we spoke of and the commitment he gave to me!  Seriously?  He said repairs weren't his department and that he would pass me there.  I stopped him and had to remind him of our conversation and his commitment.  Still no clue!  He said he would check with the repair dept and call me back.

He finally called about 1/2 hour later and said the unit was done and being shipped back to me.  The issue was the CPU was bad.

When I shipped the unit I made it very clear in the description that I would like some input as to how and why whatever was wrong went wrong.  He told me he didn't know and that I should be happy because the repair was exedited.

I tried to explain to him that speed is not what I was looking for but information regarding the issue.  Still, he tried to get out of this by pushing the speed issue.  Really Dave...NO CLUE!  I advised him that as a customer I wasn't happy with his avoidance of the issue and lack of follow-thru.  He said he can't remember every phone call.  I reminded him that he could simply write a note to himself.  How hard could that be.  He said he would never write a note.  Wow!  This guy needs to work somewhere where customer service doesn't matter...or is he already?

Anyway, supposedly the DCS is on the way back.  I'll start testing by disconnecting all TC areas, test for heating and issues, then connect one throat (of 4) at a time to see which area is causing issues.  

Last comment to Dave...When you say you are going to do something...stand by your word!

I wonder what is up with the 2nd DCS100.

More later!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Updates to the Traffic Center, BDL's, DS64's, DCS100 blowouts, etc.

Yep, it's been a while since I've posted.  And unfortunately it seems like two steps forward and 1 step backward...and then another step backward!

I was on a mission to get all the BDL's, DS64's, Torti, etc. connected and working in the Traffic Center (TC Room).  Worked dilligently like a dog.  Was to get it all done in a couple of days.  Well, you know how things electrical go so I'll spare you the details and just tell you that I actually took a couple weeks off of work at the end of July and beginning of August to get it completed and the TC room organized and cleaned.  Darn, I wish I had a picture to post here.  Think tornado in the train room!  It was so darn hot (a normal hot day in my neighborhood would be 75 degrees) but it was about 85-90 degrees and humid, so working on the RR was just not happening on my vacation.  I did manage to get a couple days in toward the end of my vacation however.

During those couple days I smelled smoke while I was working on the RR, then saw smoke.  Not a lot of it but some.  So shut the whole thing down and walked out until "another day" when I had more patience and it was cooler.

This past weekend was that opportunity so I dilligently worked for a couple days to get everything completed.   A friend of mine, Lloyd Lehrer came over and we spent several hours trying to figure out what was burning (if anything) and why certain functions would not work on the layout.  Of course, just like when you take your car to the shop, everything worked fine!  Damn!!!

This could go on forever so I'll cut to the chase.  As of tonight, I have the (spare) DCS100 connected and sent the other one to Digitrax for repair...whatever that may mean and I hope they can give me a clue as to what was wrong.

As of this past Sunday evening, all worked fine.  The system turned on fine on Monday morning, however, I was unable to select any turnouts to throw them.  No clue why, rebooted, opsw39, etc. and no changes.

I didn't notice this on Monday, but as of today I still cannot select a turnout...we sort of.  Pressing the SWCH key doesn't do anything except change the Fn notation to Sw.  So to throw a turnout, I press the SWCH key, enter a SW number (which I cannot see the numbers as I enter them), press either t or c to throw or close the turnout (the direction does not show) and watch to see if the turnout has moved.  No clue as to why.  To get out of this mode, I need to press Exit.

If you have suggestions, please e-mail me at or call me at 310-344-9145.

Another issue that has come up is that 6 of my Atlas #7 code 55 turnouts have broken a switch point about 1/4 in from the actual point.  Just snapped right off.  All of them have been in a while, and all are right hand turnouts.  Could have been a bad batch?  I plan to send them to Atlas for replacements. Fortunately I've had spares to replace them.

The good news in all this is that all Torti, DS64's, and BDL's are installed and operable.  I spent about 5 hours on Monday hauling everything out of the TC room, dusting, tossing, cleaning, vacuuming and so now the room looks awesome!  I love being in here.

The next project, other than addressing the DCC system issues, is to re-clean the main train room.  I've been selling off things I don't need so things are a little messed up in there, empty boxes, etc.  But I'll get to that soon.

My goal is to have all this done and the DCC system issues sorted out so I can host the Belmont Shore RR Club guys on Oct.9th.  We'll see!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Updates for May and the Test Ops Session

While I was on vacation a couple weeks ago, I chose to stay home and complete a major project,
that is getting all the Torti installed and connected to BDL's on all 4 Traffic Center (main staging)
throats. That's over 40 turnouts! While this has been a major project, I've
completed 99% of it...yaaaa. Since I have the room torn up, I now have decided
to install the BDL's for detection in this area too and they just arrived this week. Therefore I will not be doing the test ops as planned.

During my vacation I also completed the following:
Speed matched all locos (Way too many...I should sell some of these!)
Cleaned crap out of the Traffic Center room (there's always more!)
Labeled all tracks in the Traffic Center areas
Created a Clerk board to be used by the clerk (almost finished)
Created operator positions
Created train activity sheets (instructions for individual trains)
Made an industry chart with cars in/cars out
Did extensive research on prototype industries (still working on that and that's fun!)

Yep, been a busy week and made lots of progress. I've also regretably decided to skip the
NMRA convention this year (I have a great hotel room booked in Grand Rapits if you know someone who wants it) and focus on another major work session during that
time. Who knows. I just might have the RR completed by the end of the year and then I can tear it dow and start all over again!

I'll let you know when it's safe to run trains and we'll do that test op session
with all the new changes. Perhaps around late June or 4th of July timeframes.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Train Schedules in Process & a Tentative Train Test Day

I've been working on trains and their schedules and their movement across the layout recently.  It's pretty fun to imagine all this coming together.  I am planning a Train Test Day for May 26th.  If you're interested in being a guinnea pig for the train guinnea pigs on the 26th let me know.  We'll run some of the trains planned and see how things come together.  I can be reached at or via phone at 310-344-9145.

Crazy Stuff this DCC!

I hosted a client appreciation party at my house on St. Patrick's day and the railroad ran without a hitch.  Two weeks later, I turn it on and the DCS100 goes haywire!  Tried same for several days and same thing.  What's up with this.  This is the second time this has happened in a year.  The last time I sent it back to Digitrax for repair.  When asked what happened so I could avoid the same thing happening in the future, they "didn't know" why.  As a result, I just purchased a 2nd DCS100 for the RR so when one is down, at least I have a back up!  I had to do the same with a DT400 and now I have two of them.  Guess we need to have two DCC systems, one for the RR and one for the shop!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A Most Productive Work Day!

Yesterday was the best work day in a long time!  Among other things accomplished by others, Wayne Lawson and I were able to fix what I call a few "soft shorts".  It took the better part of the day but was well worth it!

One area was at the south Bakersfield throat.  There were a couple of turnouts there that when the loco went over them, they sung and hindered train movement.  Turns out that the connector for the Tortoise was slightly askew, soft-shorting the power from the Tortoise and the rail.  Simple fix!

The second area was at the lower staging throat.  Similar situation with the soft-short, however this one was caused by not enough rail power around the staging loop to throw the auto reverser.  Therefore, a soft-short occurred and in one instance melted a loco truck!  The solution was to run additional bus wire around to the oposite side of the loop where there are feeders to the tracks.  Problem solved!

Everything runs as advertised now and I am so grateful to Wayne for helping me with these!  They certainly tested our brain cells!

On the 17th I'm hosting a client appreciation party and will have trains up and running for the guests.

Next up on "The List", getting the UR92 software updated and adding power to a couple dead spots that cropped up with I cut track for the BDL's.  I gave up on the DT402D and sent it to Digitrax!  This stuff should be easy huh.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Test Ops Sessions and a Trip to Op Sig Event in San Jose

I did another test op session a couple weeks ago and flushed out some additional trouble spots.  Those I am working on now.  More on that later and some pix.

Mark Lestico and I went to the Op Sig event in San Jose this past weekend and we had a great time.  Got to operate on Seth Neumans' UP Niles Canyon layout and that was a blast.  I worked a job I have never worked before, the Clerk.  This position handles all the car cards (these are not given to the crew) and creates switch lists from the cards.  Very interesting job and I loved it!  More on that and photos too.