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Thread: Rash of bad luck with DCC conversions.

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    Default Rash of bad luck with DCC conversions.

    Oh what a day I've had. My decoders came in today and I'm 0 for 2 on installation.

    On the Micro Trains SW1500, I managed to break the decoder board in half when trying to seat it all the way. It was a snug fit into the frame and I evidently pushed up while pushing back and "SNAP" went the board.

    I don't know what happened with my Model Power 4-6-2. It ran fine the other day on DC and I double and triple checked my work when installing the SDN136PS decoder. Every thing was spot on. Then I put it on the track to test and set my throttle to address 0003 and NOTHING. The only thing that the loco did was turn on the light (which was not wired into the decoder). I even tried address 0000 and still nothing. So back to the work bench I go. I disassembled the thing and triple checked all of the wiring and my solder job....good to go or so I thought.

    I had a short in the locomotive which ended up being the light bulb itself causing a short. I pulled the bulb wipers off the wheels and the short went away. So back to the track again. And nothing. Well after looking at things yet again, I evidently ruined the decoder. I taped up the capacitor but missed a spot and the case shorted against the tender weight. So I don't know if that had anything to do with the light or not. The build still worked when applying DC to it but checking with my multimeter, it was causing a short between pos and neg. Murphy loves me today.

    On the positive note, I didn't ruin the loco totally. I removed the decoder wiring and set it back up for DC and tested it. It still works on DC but without a light. I might go ahead and try yet again with converting it.

    And I can't blame them evil little tree rats today. I made sure they were no where around.

    Mods, feel free to move this in needed.
    Just an old gandy dancer.


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    Hmmmm that is a bit discouraging I agree. Can the broken board be saved? Can you just solder connections to jump the break? I have not done a DCC conversion yet, but have a board to put into my Kato Silver Streak. I am however a long time ham radio operator and have solder many a board....

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    Quote Originally Posted by bigfoot21075 View Post
    Can you just solder connections to jump the break?
    Most decoder manufacturers have excellent return policies and will replace a board even if you damage it on install. Digitrax (who makes the board @Army-Gandydancer mentioned for the 4-6-2) has a one year warranty that covers "accidental customer damage:" https://www.digitrax.com/support/returns/. TCS has something similar.

    That is an interesting idea soldering the board back together. Beyond my soldering skills, but that's not saying much.

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    If the board is multi-layer, you can not do it. Depend by complexity. Look under powefull light and see if have traces also inside, not only on both faces. If it have, you can not solder that.
    Last edited by gamitzu; 29th Nov 2022 at 03:58 PM.
    I LIKE TO WORK WITH BIG SHIP ENGINES BUT I SPEND MY FREE TIME AROUND N SCALE TRAIN MODELS.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Army-Gandydancer View Post
    Oh what a day I've had. My decoders came in today and I'm 0 for 2 on installation.
    ...
    I had a short in the locomotive which ended up being the light bulb itself causing a short. I pulled the bulb wipers off the wheels and the short went away. So back to the track again. And nothing. Well after looking at things yet again, I evidently ruined the decoder. I taped up the capacitor but missed a spot and the case shorted against the tender weight. So I don't know if that had anything to do with the light or not. The build still worked when applying DC to it but checking with my multimeter, it was causing a short between pos and neg. Murphy loves me today.
    ...
    FYI - The lightbulb actually was not causing a short. It just has so little resistance (especially when cold, when a bulb is lit it heats up and its resistance increases) that it appears as a short to the multimeter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CSXRobert View Post
    FYI - The lightbulb actually was not causing a short. It just has so little resistance (especially when cold, when a bulb is lit it heats up and its resistance increases) that it appears as a short to the multimeter.
    I can see that, especially with how sensitive my Fluke is. Either way I am going to try again with the 4-6-2. I did run two wires from the light to connect to the decoder this time. And I will make darn sure that the capacitor can't ground out on anything. I'm pretty sure it was the capacitor touching the weight (wear I missed taping it) that caused my issues. I'll see what Digitrax says.


    I mostly made the original post to vent since I was so upset at myself for messing up two decoders. And for those that asked, there is no repairing the small decoder board for the SW1500.
    Just an old gandy dancer.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Army-Gandydancer View Post
    I mostly made the original post to vent since I was so upset at myself for messing up two decoders.
    Chit happens.
    Hopefully Digitrax will replace at no cost.

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    On the bright side of this, Boris, Natalia and them evil squirrels were no where in sight yesterday.

    I'm waiting to see if Digitrax will replaced the the SDN136 decoder or not. I'm eating the cost on the other decoder since it was obviously my own fault for breaking it. I'll chalk that one as an expensive lesson not to be a knucklehead.
    Just an old gandy dancer.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Army-Gandydancer View Post
    On the bright side of this, Boris, Natalia and them evil squirrels were no where in sight yesterday.

    I'm waiting to see if Digitrax will replaced the the SDN136 decoder or not. I'm eating the cost on the other decoder since it was obviously my own fault for breaking it. I'll chalk that one as an expensive lesson not to be a knucklehead.
    Don't under estimate the Digitrax no worries warranty. The board itself may have had micro fractures causing a weak spot allowing it to break. Can't hurt to send it in since you're already paying for the stamp.
    Grant.

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    I've been doing DCC for nearly 10 years now. I completed my first wired sound decoder install with custom lights just last week.

    I've discovered DCC is a hobby within a hobby. Breaking/damaging decoders is part of the game (and as long as it doesn't start a fire that burns your house down, part of the fun). I didn't challenge myself to do the wired sound install until I accidentally fried the stock Tsunami sound decoder on the loco. Just keep at it, learn from your mistakes, set realistic goals and you'll get the hang of it eventually.

    Metro Red Ln (Metro Red Line)
    Under the streets of Los Angeles

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    Quote Originally Posted by Army-Gandydancer View Post
    I'm waiting to see if Digitrax will replaced the the SDN136 decoder or not. I'm eating the cost on the other decoder since it was obviously my own fault for breaking it. I'll chalk that one as an expensive lesson not to be a knucklehead.
    What @Silent1961 said. If you're up front with them about the broken board and simply ask if their warranty covers it I suspect they will replace that one too. As long as nobody is deceiving anybody, that warranty is part of what you buy when you pay for the decoder.

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    I fry 2 Zimo and one Esu till now. Sent them back and fix it. Was 15-20$. My mistake, that its. MRC i fry one and one was dead from box, just put in garbage, not anyone normal want even to look. One with a cold solder in one voltage regulator i do it myself. DCC&sound its funny. I have +150 loco, steam and diesel.
    I LIKE TO WORK WITH BIG SHIP ENGINES BUT I SPEND MY FREE TIME AROUND N SCALE TRAIN MODELS.

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    The light bulb, by definition is a short and could read as a short depending on the setting on the meter. JMHO Respectfully. Q.

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    Kudos for attempting the mod in the first place. That is how we learn.
    Q.

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    I ended up figuring out what was wrong with the SDN136PS decoder and the MP 4-6-2. It was the old light bulb causing all of the issues. I totally removed the bulb from the loco to include the copper tabs and everything works now. Again once I removed it and the bulb pickup tabs, the shorts went away.

    I will say that I am definitely disappointed in the sound and volume levels. I also forgot how bad the loco was as far as pulling anything since it doesn't have any traction tires. I'll have to address that later. For now it will just stay connected to the 5 50" troop sleeper cars, it pulls them okay.

    I did contact Digitrax about the SW1500 decoder, I'm just waiting to hear back from them.
    Just an old gandy dancer.


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    Double Tap, delete please
    Just an old gandy dancer.


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    Well the replacement decoder for the SW1500 came in today. IT IS ALIIIIIIIIIVE

    While the Micro Trains/Life Like SW1500 isn't the best runner, it at least runs on DCC now. I might look at trying to run wires from the trucks to the frame. Those little wipers attached to the body were one of the worse ideas EVER! The little switcher did pull 4 40' box cars, a 40' caboose and 4 50' flat cars around the track. The flat cars have a bit of a load on them too. Each has 1:144 scale armored vehicles on them which are on the heavy side for N scale.

    I'm just letting the switcher run by itself around my test track to get the cobwebs out. I am finding that it doesn't like my Atlas Code 80 switches But that was to be expected since I don't have any of the track secured to the workbench and only one set of leads from the command center to the track. I will definitely run plenty of feeders when I get around to building a permanent layout.
    Just an old gandy dancer.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Army-Gandydancer View Post
    Well the replacement decoder for the SW1500 came in today.
    Was it replaced by Digitrax or did you just go ahead and purchase another one?
    Grant.

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    I had 6 of the Lifelike's and never could get them to run well even after I wired the the trucks to the frame. I became very frustrated with them after I went to all the work of stripping the paint, then painting and decaling them. I ended up putting the shells on Kato NW2 chassis, and they run very well now. The problem with the Lifelike ones, is the plating on the wheels is garbage.
    Rodney

    Here is my build of my n-scale railroad
    https://www.nscale.net/forums/showthr...-50-8-quot-%29

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    Quote Originally Posted by Silent1961 View Post
    Was it replaced by Digitrax or did you just go ahead and purchase another one?
    I went ahead and bought a replacement myself. I might still contact Digitrax and ask about the one I broke.
    Just an old gandy dancer.


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