MTH DCS Tips

(Updated 9/10/14)

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

General Comments:

I've created this page to share my experiences and best practices on deploying G scale DCS layouts and maximizing DCS signal strength.  When reading, it is important to note that 'lower track signal' and even 'track signal issues' does not necessarily mean you will have control problems, it just means signal levels will show up as reduced in a track signal check.  My intent is to help you focus on the few important key items to greatly save time in any troubleshooting.  Even ignoring most of these suggestions, most will just plug their equipment up and start playing without issue.  It is also important to note that everything documented here is based on my personal experience of deploying DCS on my 700ft layout (which may be larger than many may plan to build) and is far more linear feet than most typically attempt to provide digital signal to with a single TIU like I've done.  This page also includes a bit of discussion that compares the established norms in O gauge to what I've found in the typical G environment.  This is provided because many expect that their experiences in G will mimic what they've seen or read about in O gauge...which I've found to not always be the case.

A recent new development (03/1/11) is MTH has released an updated and improved TIU (Rev L).  My testing has shown it has significantly better track signal performance compared to the older TIU revisions and has changed what you can expect in terms of performance.  With the Rev L TIU, I successfully signaled a 1600ft loop for the World's Longest Train attempt in 2011.  See this page for more info and videos:  Worlds Longest Train - 2011

Also see Rev L TIU: Review & Impacts  for more info on my testing results. 

Remember, if you follow the few simple rules for deploying a reliable track powered layout, then you will have no problems with running your trains under DCS.  If you do happen to encounter an issue the solution should be somewhere on this page.  As always you are welcome to email me directly if you have questions.    Email:

Good luck and enjoy.

 

 

Raymond

 

 

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

General information & Considerations: 

 

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Contents:

 

I.      Signal Strength:  (Track signal)

II.     Engine / Remote / System operation and related issues:

III.    Tips and Other Information: 

IV.    AIU items:

V.      DCS Software - (How to upgrade your TIU and Remote software or Change Sound file on engine): 

VI.     DCS engine board manuals/wiring diagrams:

VII.   DCS Users Manual:

VIII.  Modification, repairs and tips on MTH & other mfg engines:

IX.     MTH Parts:

 

 

 

 

 

I.   Signal Strength:  (Track signal)

 

 

    Power Supply:  (Updated 03/06/11)

 

    Track/Layout:

 

    TIU:

 

 

    Tips & Tricks:

 

 

     Passenger or freight cars with lights:

 

    

    General Considerations:

 

 

 

II.  Engine / Remote / System operation and related issues:

 

III.  Tips and Other Information: 

 

IV.  AIU items:

 

V.   DCS Software - (How to upgrade your TIU and Remote software or Change Sound file on engine): 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VI.   DCS engine board manuals/wiring diagrams:

 

 

VII.   DCS Users Manual:

 

 

VIII.   Modification, repairs and tips on MTH & other mfg engines:

 

 

IX.   MTH Parts:

 

 

 

 

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

I.   Signal Strength:

 

 

Quick Summary / Checklist on quickly resolving track signal issues:

This entire Signal Strength Section (section I) has a complete detail of ways to improve track signal.  Here is a bulletized list things you can do to quickly resolve track signal/communication issues.

 

Equipment/Layout

 

 

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Power Supply:

 

 

Type of Power Supply: (Linear vs Switching Mode / Throttle vs Regulated / Unregulated)

The type of power supply you select can have a significant impact on the resulting DCS signal strength and operational problems.  It is likely that there are more power supplies that deliver solid track signal and are safe to use with your DCS engines than are listed on the MTH approved list, but it is important to understand not all will give the same level of performance.  There is a wide range in performance with regards to resulting overall DCS signal on the track depending on what type of the power supply you use and the number of feet of track you have on your layout.  For most users the vast majority of power supplies will work sufficiently, but as the size of your layout grows with more feet of track along with the number of amps output the weaknesses of some cheaper power supplies can start to show.  If you have 120ft of track total then just about anything will do, if you have a 1000ft, then the power supply you choose becomes more critical.  The bottom line is, this is the one area that trying to save a little bit of money by purchasing an inexpensive power supply can lead to more headaches than it's worth.  As they say, you get what you pay for.. and that holds true here as well.

I prefer the Bridgewerks line of power supplies over all others because of their:  High quality, Ability for their throttle type supplies to provide 24v+ to the track (all others on the market only output 18v under a load) and the fact they make high amp versions for big power needs.  (See Power Supplies for photos and info on the power supplies I use as well as 'Why do I use Bridgewerks over other power supplies?' for more info on why I use Bridgewerks.)

 

 

Linear (non-switching mode) Power supplies - (DC power supplies)

Using a Linear power supply will generally give you the cleanest power output which will result in the best overall track signal levels.  (Note: Linear power supplies can be identified (aside from labels saying it is) by it's weight and are much heavier than the standard switching mode type because of the large copper wound transformer inside.)  It is important to note however that not all linear power supplies are created equal, and just because the power supply uses a large copper wound transformer doesn't mean you will get the same performance as the top performing Bridgewerks.  Based on my experience, the Bridgewerks line of power supplies provide the most solid track signal levels when compared to the others.  ('Solid' means you will get higher signal levels to more linear feet of track at higher amperage levels with fewer problem areas.)  I believe the key is the use of the linear regulator that provide the actual voltage output and are between the transformer output and the output actually provided to the track.  If your transformer uses these types of linear regulators then I would expect you would get similar performance as a Bridgewerks.   Example of linear regulator: Linear Regulator

 

Switching Mode Power supplies - (DC power supplies)

These will be characterized by being relatively low cost and very light weight.  You will get decent track signal levels but as the number of feet you attempt to provide signal to increases, so will your issues with track signal.  You will also likely have increasing track signal problems as the total overall amperage levels increase.  This is all due to the increasing amount of 'hash' the switching power supply is outputting coupled with the fact the DC wave form isn't really pure.  It is for these reasons I strongly recommend a Linear (non-switching mode) power supply.

 

Examples of Switching Mode Power Supplies:

 

AC Power supplies: (vs DC)

Because DCS was mainly operated under AC power by the O gauge community, it is assumed that AC power will result in the best track signal levels.  My personal tests have shown this to not be true and that your overall track signal level results can vary greatly under AC power all depending on the power supply.  The AC power supplies I've tested are noted below, but in every test I've conducted with an AC power supply I have gotten significantly lower track signal levels.  Because of this I strongly recommend using DC power.  

 

Throttle type vs Regulated

I've found no distinct difference in resulting signal quality between my throttle type supplies such as the Bridgewerks Magnum SR 15amp ( http://www.bridgewerks.com/Pages/MagnumSRSeries.html ) and the regulated Bridgewerks Power Mag ( http://www.bridgewerks.com/Pages/PowerSupplies.html )  Both yield excellent results and I like and use the Power Mag for my own personal layout. 

 

Unregulated: (Caution!!!!!)

If you have an unregulated power supply, it will be safe to use as long as the max voltage output is 24v.  If you have one of these power supplies and are not sure, verify the voltage output with a voltmeter.  Never assume any power supply is putting out voltage at safe levels!

One particular WARNING:  DO NOT USE the Bridgewerks Mag 15 by themselves to power the track.  The Mag 15 (not to be confused with the Magnum S-15 or regulated Power Mag) is an unregulated & non-throttle type power supply and will output 35+ Volts DC EVEN UNDER A LOAD!  DO NOT use these by themselves to power the track to run an engine under DCS under any circumstances, regardless what you are told.  There is no way to regulate or adjust the output power on the Mag 15 itself.  I understand these power supplies were made with the intention of  powering the Bridgewerks line of unpowered throttles.  If the Mag 15 is used with an unpowered throttle it will be safe to use as you can limit/adjust the voltage to the track with the throttle.

 

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:  Best power supplies to use

Best:  Throttle (linear) type (I strongly recommend any Bridgewerks throttle or regulated supply under DC for the strongest signal strength)

 

Better: 

 

 

Ok: (but maybe not recommended) 

Bad/Avoid: 

 

 

 

Note:  If you use AC power it will allow you to use and vary the track voltage outputs on the 2 TIU Variable ports (Var 1 and Var 2) with the handheld remote

Note:  Protosound 2 equipped engines are not designed to work powered from a DCC booster/power source.  The new Protosound 3 boards in O and G are capable of running in a DCC environment.

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Track/Layout:

 

 

 

Block / Feeder wire configuration:  (Important - UPDATED 03/04/11)

 

Outside of the Power Supply type, this is the single most important thing you will do to easily get perfect track signaling. 

 

 

There are three general feeder-wire/block configuration types: 

 

 

 

 

 

Single point (single continuous block) configuration:  **Overall best, may need additional light/SSBRD deployed**

 

This is the method I have used since the beginning and still do as it provides the most rock-solid performance.  With this configuration you take the output from the TIU and run one wire pair to a single point on the track and keep the oval itself as one continuous electrical block with no insulator clamps (can be configured to use additional feeder wires or not).  (If you attempt to use this method and want to use feeder wires, I recommend using daisy-chained power feeder wires.)  This configuration is far better than the 'Star' configuration (below) and does work well but it might require an additional light/SSBRD be deployed around the layout (at the track level).  If you go with this method and have an area that you want to try and improve, I recommend parking the engine in the area with the reduced signal or control issue, start the track signal test, and then test deploy lights/SSBRDs one at a time.  Start by deploying one at the opposite side of the oval from where the engine is, then proceed to other points halfway between there and the engine on either side of that point.  If you see improvement with one deployed try a adding another to see if you get additional improvement.  Move to the other points only if you have reached the max improvement but still want more.  While this configuration might require an additional light/SSBRD, once they're deployed you won't see reductions in track signal test levels when running long lit passenger trains (5+ cars) or long multi-train consists. 

 

Many not see the need to deploy any lights/SSBRDs on their layout, but those that do that are running simple ovals will likely only deploy one SSBRD/light possibly two if your ovals are large enough and you're running long multi-consist or long lit passenger trains.  (If you have a long spur line added as one continuous electrical block you may want to add a 3rd.) 

 

I would note that if you are looking at exceptionally large ovals say 1000ft in length or more, you may want to run additional power drops from the primary TIU output to other locations on the track.  (This is similar to the 'Star' configuration but without track insulators)  While this goes against the conventional wisdom in the O gauge community, my experience in deploying the 1600ft oval for the World's Longest Train attempt has proven this out.

 

 

Example: (with Daisy Chain additional feeder wires) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Straight line (linear) configuration:   *limits light/SSBRD use*

 

In this method you select a track joint closest to where you want to connect your TIU/power supply feeder wire and add an insulator clamp to both rails at that point.  On one side of the insulator clamp attach your TIU/power supply wire (preferably to a dedicated all metal clamp) and on the other side (the end of the electrical block) add one light or an SSBRD.  (For more info on light/SSRBDs see:  Lights/SSBRDs(Solid State Bulb Replacement Device))

 

That's it.  You will have perfect track signaling in all locations and any areas that might have lower levels (as may be the case if you're using a pre-Rev L TIU), you will still have perfect engine response.  If you've already deployed your layout and want to try this setup, simply add insulator clamps to the closest rail joints near the where you have power connected to the oval, then on the side opposite the insulator clamp add your light/SSBRD.

 

 

 

Caveats: There is one main caveat with this method (and a second technical observation): 

  1. Long multi-engine consists can result in control issues.  If you plan on running these types of consists, I recommend going with the Single Point(single continuous block configuration) (noted above) are running multi-engine consists (particularly with pusher engines).  If you're only running one engine at a time this setup works very well.   

  2. Running long lit passenger trains (5+ cars, even with inductors installed - see: Inductors for passenger cars) that you may start to see track signal level reductions during signal tests.  Despite the reduced track signal results, you won't see issues with control in any areas, so it's just a technical observation.

 

 

 

Outside of the Caveats noted above, I have found this method provides excellent signal results and an order of magnitude increase in performance over the other wiring methods that have been written about and that I've tested.  However, because of the multi-engine consist control issue it may limit it's appeal to some users.

 

 

 

 

Example: (without additional feeder wires) 

 

Click picture to enlarge

 

 

 

 

 

Note:

 

 

Additional Example: (with spur line - without additional feeder wires) 

 

Click picture to enlarge

 

 

 

 

 

 

Example: (with additional feeder wires)  **As might be used with larger ovals of Stainless Steel track**

 

Click picture to enlarge

 

 

 

 

Note:

 

 

Additional Example: (with spur line - with additional feeder wires) 

 

Click picture to enlarge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

'Star' configuration: - **Not Recommended** (but generally used by the O gauge community)

 

This is the configuration method generally recommended by the O gauge community.  In this method you, break up your ovals in to sections of no more than about 100 linear feet of track (100ft if using Pre-Rev L TIU) and then run the output from the TIU (TIU either in Passive or Normal mode) to a central distribution point.  From that central distribution point you run one feeder wire to the middle of each isolated block. (Isolated means that at the ends of each block you have rail insulators (insulator clamps) on both rails.  The feeder wires are to be as close in length as possible.  

 

It is important to note that the 100ft limit is a general rule for O gauge and doesn't seem to apply to the G scale environment when using DC power.  We can provide signal to many more linear feet of track successfully.  (see Max linear feet for more info) 

 

At any rate I have found from testing that this method yields the worst track signal levels and thus do not recommend it's use.  It uses more wire and is more difficult to implement especially outdoors. 

 

I will note that if you are trying to run exceptionally large ovals say 1000ft or larger, you may want to run additional power connections from the TIU output to other parts of the oval.  This is similar to the 'Star' configuration in the O gauge world except without the track insulators.  While this goes against the conventional wisdom in the O gauge community, my experience in deploying the 1600ft oval for the World's Longest Train attempt has proven this out.

 

 

The reason the O gauge community has a more restrictive max ft limit is most likely due to:  

            1)  Most users having relatively poor electrical connections between O gauge track sections

            2)  Using AC power instead of good quality DC. 

 

Using a 'Star' configuration method is essentially a work around to compensate for these three general conditions/issues being present without actually fixing the problems.  With G scale you have good strong track connections with direct to rail clamps, big rail to carry the current and use good quality DC power.   (More detail/discussion here)

 

 

 

Photos of track power wire connection points:

 

Feeder jumper connection point

 

 

The feeder jumper connection point above photo includes:

 

 

 

 

If Daisy Chain feeder jumper connection point is where you are wanting to provide the main power to the oval from the power supply just add those power connections to the clamp as well.  (Example connection as would be used for Single Point (single continuous block) configuration)

 

 

The feeder jumper connection point above photo includes:

  • One set of jumper wires going ~24ft to the left - (1 pair)

  • One set of jumper wires going ~24ft to the right - (1 pair)

  • One set of wires from the power supply - (1 pair)

 

 

 

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

Type of feeder wire and connections: Large vs. Small stranded, Gauge & Type:

 

Wire selection is an important consideration when planning to run DCS (or even a track powered) layout.  It is generally recommended is to use a finely stranded wire for optimal signal transmission but the finely stranded wire also has the added benefit of reducing voltage drop over longer wire runs.  Because of the higher amp levels that can be pulled in G scale I generally recommend going with 12 gauge wire.  It's large enough to handle any amperage need you are likely to encounter but is still small enough to work with.  Also because G scale is typically outside, a good durable insulation type is best to hold up to the moisture and breakdown caused by the UV radiation from the sun. 

 

I've used this 12 gauge wire with great success.  It's low voltage (finely stranded) outdoor landscape wire and can be purchased in 50-100ft bundles at Lowe's or in 500ft rolls at Home Depot.  This wire has a thick rubber insulation and has held up well on my layout.

 

 

To connect the wire to the track, I've found these ring terminals (from Ace Hardware) to work great outdoors.  They seem be resistant to corrosion that would lead to electrical conductivity problems.  Another idea to ensure you don't have corrosion problems is to completely cover the entire ring terminal with lead solder.

 

Example of feeder wire connection points on layout.

 

 

So in short: 

  • Use finely stranded wire:  This will be better at carrying the DCS signal.

  • Use a 12-14 gauge wire:  The 12 gauge low voltage outdoor wire I've used has worked for even the highest amp draws with multiple lighted passenger trains.

  • Solder (thoroughly) the ring terminals you use to connect the wire to the track.

  • Use the right type of ring terminal that won't corrode outside and/or completely cover the entire ring terminal with lead solder to prevent any corrosion.

 

 

 

 

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Type of rail joiners: Clamp vs Slide joiner

This is an area more about having a reliable track powered layout as opposed to reliable track signal.  Poor track connections can lead to reduced levels of track signal but this will only happen in cases when you have connections that start to become barely able to pass electrical current.  The bottom line rule here is, if you have a reliable and solid foundation for a track powered layout, then you will have a solid foundation for running DCS.  If you run with only slide-joiners, over time you will run into electrical conductivity issues at those joints and that can possibly lead to DCS signal issues.  When this happens your primary problem will be from the engine not getting proper electrical current to run, but it may also show up as reduced levels of track signal.  I learned early on that Split-jaw direct-to-rail clamps are really the best way to go in order to have a reliable and maintenance-free track powered layout (indoors and out).  While they do increase the cost of deploying the layout you really save yourself headaches in the long run. 

I personally ran a 120ft loop of all Stainless Steel track with SS slider joiners for two years and never had signal issues, even when I started encountering electrical conductivity problems with some joiners. (Example: joiners getting hot from trying to pass current when the joiner connection was not snug and dirty.)  So the DCS signaling isn't that sensitive, but to save yourself trouble in the long term, I recommend rail clamps.

 

 

 

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

Maximum number of linear feet of track to provide track signal to per TIU port

 

The maximum number of feet you are able to successfully provide solid track signal to will depend on a few factors.

 

 

Greatest impact:

 

Lesser impact:

 

 

 

If you are using the recommended setup and equipment noted as having the greatest impact, the total number of linear feet should not be a factor that you will need to be concerned with.  My experience in deploying the 1600ft for the World's Longest Train attempt in 2011 has shown that a single TIU can successfully signal a 1600ft oval (under DC power) which should be far more than the vast majority of users will ever deploy. 

 

 

For more information, see Brass and Stainless Steel rail.

 

 

 

 

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

Brass track vs. Stainless Steel:  (Updated 03/04/11)

 

This is one area that will impact how you deploy your layout regardless of the control system you plan to use.  Compared to Brass track, Stainless Steel rail has a much higher electrical resistance which means that as you try to pass an electrical current through it, you will see a greater drop in the voltage at points: 1) the further away from the nearest power feeder wire connection and 2) the more current (higher amperage) that you try to pass.  Because of this I've found that ovals using Stainless Steel rail much longer than 75ft will benefit from the use of daisy-chained power feeder wires originating from the main track power connection point (See daisy chain feeder example in Straight line (linear) configurationThe feeders eliminate the voltage drop and any corresponding track signal/communication degradation.  With ovals using Brass rail, I've found exceptionally long ovals can be deployed with no need for feeders. (assuming all brass direct-to-rail clamps are used at all connections)

 

 

With either type of track I recommend using:

 

        - Stainless Steel/Brass direct-to-rail clamps on all track joint connections 

        - use the recommended block/wiring configuration (see: Straight line (linear) configuration )

       

 

 

 

 

Pros/Cons of Brass & Stainless Steel Rail:

        -  If you are using the older pre-Rev L TIU, using brass can result in fewer areas of lower track signal levels but may need to be cleaned periodically to remove

            oxidation on the top of the rail. 

                - Note:  If you are using the new Rev L or newer TIU you should see no difference in signal levels between Brass and Stainless Steel rail.

        -  Brass track results in excess amounts of carbon dust being created from the engine / passenger car power pickup/power draw which can dirty your

            wheels resulting in power pickup issues.

        -  Stainless Steel does not result in carbon dust being generated and thus your wheels say clean.

        -  Stainless Steel rail never needs to be cleaned but may require more effort to deploy (i.e. feeder wires) over longer runs of 75ft+ or more.

 

 

 

I personally use Stainless steel rail, and while it was more effort to deploy because of the need for additional power feeder wires, I don't regret the decision as I never need to worry about rail oxidation.  I do feel that for indoor and temporary layouts for train shows, Brass track with all brass direct to rail-rail clamps is a good option because you don't need to run power feed wires... however the issue of carbon dust created from the use of brass track is enough of an issue that I would stick with Stainless where ever possible.

 

 

 

 

Conclusions:

 

 

- Brass track:

        - Expect to use all direct to rail brass clamps at all rail joint connections for good results.

        - Will need to periodically clean the top of the rails as the brass oxidation can lower your ability to reliably pickup track power and in extreme cases possibly affect DCS signal strength.

             (frequency of cleaning will depend on general moisture/humidity levels.)

        - Good choice for indoor and temporary layouts as additional power feeder wires aren't needed.

        -  Brass track results in excess amounts of carbon dust being created from the engine / passenger car power pickup/power draw which can dirty your

            wheels resulting in power pickup issues and require periodic wheel cleaning.

        - Remember a good power supply and the right block/wiring configuration is key to getting good signal strength  (see: Type of Power supply and Block / Feeder wire configuration for more info)

 

 

 

- Stainless Steel track:

        - Is a good choice for never needing to clean your track or worry about oxidation. (indoors and outdoors)

        - Will likely need to run power feeder wires over longer runs of track. (greater than ~150ft of track)

        - Expect to use all direct to rail Stainless Steel rail clamps at all rail joint connections for good results.

        - Stainless Steel does not result in carbon dust being generated and thus your wheels say clean and don't require cleaning.

        - Good choice for outdoor layouts

        - Remember a good power supply and the right block/wiring configuration is key to getting good signal strength  (see: Type of Power supply and Block / Feeder wire configuration for more info)

 

 

 

 

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

TIU (Track Interface Unit):

 

 

 

 

'Rev L' TIU:  Review & Impacts: (Added 03/01/11)     *Updated 05/20/11*

 

Out of all of the recent and very interesting developments with DCS & Protosound 2 and 3, one of the more exciting ones has been the release of the new 'Rev L' (Revision L) TIU.  This new TIU has an enhanced signal processor, faster system processor and now includes a USB port for connectivity to your personal computer.  In addition to providing connectivity to the PC, the USB port now also powers the TIU for performing functions such as firmware upgrades to the TIU and remote or upgrading sound files in engines.  (The original 9 pin Serial port is still provided if you want to continue to use it.) 

 

 

With the exception of the USB port, the TIU looks identical to the previous TIUs.

 

 

 

 

Testing of the TIU's Enhanced Signal capability:

 

The enhanced signal processor has made a significant impact in raising overall track signal levels and increasing the total number of linear feet of track a single port can signal.  The results of my tests (using DC power with TIU in Passive mode) showed a 2x improvement in signal strength with no lights or SSBRDs deployed and at least a 4x improvement (potentially significantly more) in the number of linear feet one TIU can provide signal to.  Based on my experience in deploying a 1600ft oval for the World's Longest Train attempt in 2011, the number of liner feet a single TIU channel can successfully signal is in excess of 1600ft under DC power.  When you add the second Fixed channel that puts the total linear feet in excess of 3200ft. 

 

 

 

Actual test results:

 

(Click to image to enlarge)

 

 

 

 

As you can see from the above image, the original pre-Rev L TIU provided acceptable signal even without the need for lights/SSBRDs (Solid State Bulb Replacement Devices), but the new Rev L gave near perfect results.  Since my preference is to see perfect 10s on a signal test (even in cases like this where there is no operational need), the next step was to re-deploy lights/SSBRDs with the new TIU in place and check the results.  With only 2 lights/SSBRDs deployed at the track level perfect 10 signaling was achieved everywhere.  This represented a reduction of 4 (67%) on just this one loop (eliminated were: one at the TIU output port and three at the track level). 

 

Tests on the second inner oval gave even better initial no light/SSBRD results and ended up with 2 lights/SSBRDs deployed at the track level.

 

With these results the testing was taken a step further with signaling both the 300ft oval+spur and the second 235ft loop on one TIU port in passive mode.  Results remained constant with no reduction in signal. 

 

These tests showed that even with Stainless Steel track, 600ft of track can be signaled with one TIU port with minimal provisions. 

 

For the World's Longest Train attempt in 2011, I was able to successfully signal a 1600ft oval with the TIU in Passive mode:  WLT - DCS Signal Test

 

General WLT page:  Worlds Longest Train - 2011

 

 

Based on these results the signaling capability of the TIU has been increased by at least 4x times.  The new TIU provides near perfect signaling without the need for lights/SSBRDs on large ovals (even with Stainless Steel rail) and the ability to clear any areas with lower levels requires far fewer lights/SSBRDs (~67% less). 

 

What this means for the user is that with the introduction of the new Rev L TIU, a single $160 TIU can signal more track than most users in the hobby have on their layouts and when running the TIU in Passive mode (unlimited amperage mode) users can run/control as many locomotives and lighted passenger cars as their power supply allows because there are no amperage limitations with the TIU. 

 

 

**BUY A REV L TIU HERE**

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

Use of TIU to provide signal to track:  Normal vs Passive mode:

While not commonly discussed or documented, there are two ways to provide DCS signal to the track, Normal mode and Passive Mode.

 

 

Normal mode:

Using your TIU in normal mode is simply running the + & - outputs from your power supply to the input terminals of the TIU and connecting the wires from the track to the TIU output terminals.   Running in this configuration can generally provide a little better signal strength as opposed to passive mode (noted below).

But, running in normal mode does impose limitations.  Each TIU channel is rated at 10amps (24v max), so for us in G scale, we can use 10amps quickly with a single 11 car lighted passenger train.  And if you have a loop large enough to run more than one lit passenger train, you will either need to break your loop into blocks and use more than one channel or come up with another solution...and that's where running the TIU in passive mode comes in.

 

 

 

Passive mode:

Passive mode means running the + and - outputs from your power supply to the OUTPUT terminals (NOT the input) of the TIU, then running your wires to the track from where the wires meet on the output side of the TIU.  By running in this configuration, you aren't running power through the TIU and therefore have no limits on the amount of amps you can provide to the track for a given TIU port.  Compared to Normal mode you may or may not see any changes in track signal levels.  Do note that this does mean that you can provide power to the track with your power supply from one location and connect the TIU output terminals to the track in a completely different location (The TIU connection does not have to be tapped into the wires going from the power supply to the track). 

Also note that you do not need to provide power to the TIU via the Fixed 1 INPUT port OR via an aux power supply as long as you apply power to the OUTPUT terminals on the Fixed 1 port.  The TIU will still get the power it needs to function when power is applied to either the INPUT or OUTPUT terminals on the Fixed 1 port.

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

Tips and Tricks:

 

 

 

 

 

Use of light bulbs/SSBRDs (Solid State Bulb Replacement Devices) at the TIU outputs (or at the block distribution block):  (Applicable only for the older pre-'Rev L' TIUs)

 

This is a suggestion documented my MTH and involves the use of a single light bulb (or SSBRD) on each output of the TIU.  (see Lights/SSBRDs for bulb types to use.)   This simple application makes a significant improvement in the overall signal effectiveness.    (See section below for more information on type of lights.) 

 

 

Note:  There has also been suggestion to use a 'filter' which comprises placing a 0.1uF(100v) capacitor and 221ohm resistor in series across the rails at the terminating point.  In my testing using the Straight line (linear) configuration setup as recommended, I found these filters do not work as well as the light or SSBRD and do not recommend their use.  I also found they provided no benefit in when using other non-recommended wiring configurations.  While some may have found benefit from their application, there is no replacement for the rock-solid performance of the light/SSBRD.

 

 

 

** Please note that with the newer Rev L TIU, lights/SSBRD on the TIU outputs or distribution block no longer provide benefit and are no longer recommended **

 

 

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Lights/SSBRDs(Solid State Bulb Replacement Devices):

This use of lights/SSBRDs was originally recommended at various points on the track to resolve any areas that might have a signal and communication issue.  (For info on new SSBRD see: Solid State Bulb Replacement Device)

 

 

Light/SSBRD at either various points at the track level or termination point on layout:

 

If you are needing a bulb to place at the track level use the below chart to help determine what you might need:

 

 

Bulb# - Volt - Amp - MSCD - Life(hrs) - Qty
1818  -   24  -  .17  -    3.3    -  250       -  1
1873  -   28  -  .20  -    3.0    -  7000     -  1      (Avail from: 
http://www.mcmelectronics.com/product/25-2665   - MCM Order # 25-2665  /  Eiko Part # 1873  --  (~$0.36 / each)
1819  -   28  -  .04  -    .34    -  2500     -  3      (The 1819 is what Radio Shack stocks)

 

 

 

 

Note:  There has also been suggestion to use a 'filter' which comprises placing a 0.1uF(100v) capacitor and 221ohm resistor in series across the rails at the terminating point.  In my testing using the Straight line (linear) configuration setup as recommended, I found these filters do not work as well as the light or SSBRD and do not recommend their use.  I also found they provided no benefit in when using other wiring configurations I have noted on this page.  While some may have found benefit from their application, I have found no replacement for the rock-solid performance of the light/SSBRD.

 

 

 

 

Light/SSBRD on Output Ports of TIU:

 

If you are using an older pre-Rev L TIU and need a light/SSBRD for each output port, I recommend using the #1873 bulb.

 

 

 

 

 

Photos of the bulb and and holder:  (Note:  these are a T-3 1/4 miniature bayonet base type bulb and holder.)
 

 

 

How to use/deploy:

If have an area of track that you want to try and improve signal test levels, I recommend parking the engine in the area with the reduced signal or control issue, start the track signal test, and then test deploy lights/SSBRDs one at a time.  Start by deploying one at the opposite side of the oval from where the engine is, then proceed to other points halfway between there and the engine on either side of that point.  If you see improvement with one deployed try a adding another to see if you get additional improvement.  Move to the other half way points only if you have reached the max improvement but still want more.  Otherwise, stop the signal test, start the engine moving, them restart the signal test and check signal around the track.  If you have a second area of lower signal you want to improve.  Note the location, stop the test, then stop the engine there.  Restart the test with the engine in place and test deploy the lights/SSBRDs in the already noted way.  Once you gotten the signal where you want it, you will never have to change the deploy locations again. 

 

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

SSBRDs - (Solid State Bulb Replacement Devices):

A replacement for the light bulb is now available and have them available in two forms, one for G scale and one for O gauge.  They are fully water/weather-proof, have an unlimited life and are easily placed between the rails with no special tools.  They are black in color so as not to stand out and can be mounted so they can be covered in ballast so they can't be seen.

 

Each pair is the equivalent of one light and in most cases for a simple oval you would only need one pair but you might want to get a couple just to be sure.

 

 

Sold in pairs:

 

$5.00 - per pair for G scale and O gauge 

 

 

To order - email:

 

 

How to use/deploy:

If have an area of track that you want to try and improve signal test levels, I recommend parking the engine in the area with the reduced signal or control issue, start the track signal test, and then test deploy lights/SSBRDs one at a time.  Start by deploying one at the opposite side of the oval from where the engine is, then proceed to other points halfway between there and the engine on either side of that point.  If you see improvement with one deployed try a adding another to see if you get additional improvement.  Move to the other half way points only if you have reached the max improvement but still want more.  Otherwise, stop the signal test, start the engine moving, them restart the signal test and check signal around the track.  If you have a second area of lower signal you want to improve.  Note the location, stop the test, then stop the engine there.  Restart the test with the engine in place and test deploy the lights/SSBRDs in the already noted way.  Once you gotten the signal where you want it, you will never have to change the deploy locations again. 

 

 

 

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

Passenger or Freight cars with lights:

 

 

 

 

 

Track signal reduction when running long passenger trains fully lit with incandescent bulbs and the use of inductors:

 

I have found that longer runs of fully lit passenger train (over 6 to 8 cars) can result in reduced signal levels when a signal test is run on the lead engine.  I've found that adding a small inductor (Choke Coil) on the positive and neg lead wires going to the lights on each car eliminated any change/reduction in signal levels. (Suggest using a 100uh or greater)  I have since added them to all my passenger cars.

 

Here is a write-up on how I installed them in my Aristocraft Heavyweight & MTH passenger cars: 

 

Comments in the O gauge community after the Rev L TIU release seems to show little to no benefit in the use of inductors for lighted passenger cars.  Some preliminary testing in G scale under DC power have shown that there can still be a benefit to adding them.  Again, most may not see any need to add them to their passenger cars, but be aware if you start seeing an effect with long lighted trains then this is something to consider implementing.

 

 

 

 

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

General Considerations:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Differences in O gauge and G gauge ability to provide signal to track

 

 

As noted before, I've noticed that our fellow DCS users in O gauge seem to have much greater problems with their DCS signal strength then us in G scale.  Even using the older pre-Rev L TIUs I have been able to power TWO separate loops totaling 600feet (one 235ft and the other 300ft+) with a SINGLE TIU output port running in passive mode.  From what I read, attempting this in O gauge and expecting it to work well is virtually impossible.  

 

 

This begs the question as to why is this so?

 

 

Based on what I have seen from O gauge layouts along with my testing I've come to believe the differences are primarily due to two factors:

 

    - Most O gauge users having relatively poor electrical connections between O gauge track sections

    - The use of AC power as opposed to DC (see Power Supply for more info)

 

 

I've found O gauge rail connections to be relatively poor on most layouts I've seen and that using a 'Star' wiring configuration method (as is generally recommended in the O gauge community) is essentially an attempt to mitigate the generally poor rail joint connections and compensate for the lower signal levels you generally get under AC power.  With G scale you can have good strong track connections with direct to rail clamps, big rail to carry the current and use good quality DC power.  (Using good quality DC power supplies like the Bridgewerks line result in significantly better track signal to a lot more linear feet of track as opposed to when run under AC.) 

 

 

The bottom line is, if you follow the recommendations I have noted on this page, you will get significantly better results that what you may have read about in the past.

 

 

 

 

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

II.   Engine / Remote / System operation problems:

 

 

Quick Checklist: (Before you get started)   

 

- Determine which TIU Ports you want to use.  (see Which TIU ports to use for more info)

- Determine how you plan to power the TIU.  (see How to provide power to the TIU for more info)

- Check DCS remote and TIU software versions.  Make sure you are using 3.11, 4.10 or greater.  (If using 4.00, 4.01 or 4.02 upgrading the TIU and remote to 4.10 or greater is recommended)

- If using a TIU older than 'Rev L' (i.e. with lower letter) connect an incandescent light bulb to the output of the TIU Fixed 1 port(s) (and Fixed 2 if you are using it).

            - If you're using a 'Rev L' or newer TIU incandescent lights are not needed on the output ports.

- Ensure you have a Fuse inline on the positive wire between the transformer and TIU. (10 amp max per port if running TIU in normal mode)

- Do not use:

            - Power supplies with Pulse Width Modulation/Pulse Width Control (PWM/PWC)

            - Bridgewerks Mag 15 direct connected to the track or TIU

- Check voltage with voltmeter to ensure your DC or AC power supply is putting out between 18-24v.  (Too high a voltage can result in faulty operation and possible damage to system.)

            - Note:  Regardless what voltage you decide to apply to the track, it will not affect (help or hurt) track signal levels in any way.

            - Note:  The only effect of running a DCS equipped engine (with the TIU & Remote) on track voltage levels lower than 24v will be to limit it's top speed.

- If your power supply has a momentum button, turn it off.

- Preset the power supply throttle to 18-24v, then turn the power on.  (I don't recommend you turn the power supply on and increase the throttle to operating voltage)

- Do not turn the transformer on then turn the voltage up from 0-18/24v too slowly.

- Ensure you have polarity correct between the:  1) Power supply and TIU  & 2) the TIU and engine. (see Polarity to TIU & Engine for more info)

        -  Power supply and TIU polarity can be corrected by flipping the direction button on your transformer.

        -  TIU to engine polarity can be corrected by flipping the polarity switch.  (If engine does not have a polarity switch then flip the wires on the TIU output terminals

            or put the engine on the track the other direction.)

- If you have the polarity wrong and have to correct by either flipping the direction button on your transformer or polarity switch on the engine, you need

       to turn the power off, change the polarity, then turn the power back on.  Failing to cycle the power on the power supply will result in the engine not responding.

- If you have track signal issues in some areas and have delays in the remote response time due to error messages ('Check track' / 'Out of RF range'), set your remote to 'Speed'

     operation.  (Go to MENU -> SYSTEM -> REMOTE SETUP -> OPERATING MODE -> Select 'SPEED')

        -  You may also want to turn-off remote messages to further speed remote operation:  (Go to MENU -> SYSTEM -> REMOTE SETUP ->

            REMOTE MESSAGES -> Select 'OFF'.

- Once you have an engine running, do a 'Track Signal' check with the engine running around the layout to see if you have areas of reduced track signal that you might want to try and improve.

- Make sure the DCS signal is turned on for each of the TIU ports you are using.  (Go to MENU -> SYSTEM -> DCS SETUP)

- Remember, you press the thumbwheel down to select a highlighted option.

- If you go to upgrade the software in your TIU, Remote or change the sound file in your engine make sure you use the correct version of the DCS Loader for your computer.  Use 32bit for 32bit PC Operating Systems and 64bit for 64bit OSs.

    (The 32bit DCS Loader software will not function reliably under 64bit PC Operating Systems)

- Remember if you have a reliable and solid foundation for a track powered layout, then you will have a solid foundation for running DCS.

 

 

Error messages: (Quick reference)

    - 'CHECK TRACK' = Engine on the track has not returned the confirmation that you just gave it a command. (Track signal issue or faulty equipment)

    - 'OUT OF RF RANGE' = The remote is out of range of the TIU.  The remote has not received a confirmation from the TIU you have issued a command to it/an engine. 

                (Can also be displayed because an engine did not respond to a command given by the remote.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

BASIC STEPS IN TROUBLESHOOTING operational/communication/control issues:

 

Polarity to TIU & polarity to the engine:

By far one of the biggest issues when first getting familiar with operating the system is making sure you have (first) the power polarity set correctly going from the power supply to the TIU and (second) having the engine polarity switch set correctly.  So if you are having problems, the very first thing you should do is confirm you have both correct, starting with the TIU.  Do this even if you think you already have it setup correctly.

Incorrect polarity to either the TIU or engine can lead to all kinds of issues:

  • Not able to 'start-up' your engine

  • Not able to add an engine to the remote

  • Getting Out of RF range errors on your remote (even with you standing right next to the TIU)

 

 

Polarity from power supply to TIU:  (Step 1 of 2)

The first step is to ensure you have polarity between the power supply and TIU set correctly.  Make sure you have the + output from the transformer going to the red port terminal on the TIU port and the - to the black TIU port terminal.  (See: Running TIU in Normal vs Passive mode for more information on wiring your TIU to the layout)  If you have a Bridgewerks power supply, make sure you have direction switch on the power supply set to "FORWARD" (in the up position), then confirm the Red terminal on the "To Track" outputs on the power supply runs to the Red terminal on the TIU and the Black terminal on the power supply to the black terminal on the TIU.  (See:  Which TIU ports to use for more information)

 

Polarity to the engine (i.e. correctly set engine polarity switch):  (Step 2 of 2)

Once you've confirmed you have the polarity from the power supply to the TIU correct (Step 1 of 2 above), you will then want to ensure the engine is getting the correct power polarity.  If you're using DC power, the easiest way to tell if the engine has the power polarity switch (see Polarity switch location on engine) set correctly is to listen to the number of clicks in the engine when you first apply power (you may need to put your ear down near the engine to hear it)  If you hear 2 clicks (may sound like just one), then you know you have polarity to the engine correct and are ready to go.  If you hear a series of clicks (3 or more) then the power polarity switch on the engine needs to be flipped to the other direction.  (Note:  If you find that you need to change the polarity switch direction be sure to power down the power supply and power back up after changing...  I usually power down, change the polarity switch, then turn power back on.

Note:  A very few original production run One Gauge Challengers did not come with polarity switches which will require that you flip the wires going from the TIU to the track (if running TIU in Normal mode) in order to get the engine polarity correct.  Remember if you are running the TIU in Passive mode (unlimited amperage mode), you will need change the polarity from the power supply to the track AND change the wires going to the TIU output ports. 

If you are running under AC power, you will hear only two relay clicks in both correct and incorrect polarity.  So if you have Power supply to TIU polarity confirmed to be correct and you are having problems starting up or adding the engine to your remote you will need to flip the polarity switch on the engine and try again.

 

 

Ensure TIU setup is correct in remote:

(Please note: Most users will be using just one TIU and out of the box your TIU and remote are set to work correctly.  Just power up and go.  If you are running more than one TIU or think you may have changed your TIU configuration by mistake then read on.)

Having the TIU(s) identified and setup incorrectly in the remote can also cause operational issues and unexplained error messages.  Each TIU has an address number assigned to it. (by default it's set = 1)  This TIU addressing allows the remote to know and properly communicate with multiple TIUs by allowing them to each have a unique number.  (You can also choose to have multiple TIUs with the same address if they are all set in 'Super TIU mode'.)

 

 

Depending on how you setup your layout you can either:

 

1)  Have each of your TIUs with a separate and unique address (max 5 TIUs)

or

2)  Have multiple TIUs set to the same address and set each of them to run in 'Super TIU'.  Most multi-TIU users will want this option. (This allows an unlimited number of TIUs as long as no AIUs are connected to the TIUs in 'Super TIU' mode.)

 

 

 

How to check your configuration settings and perform setup:  (remember you need to press the thumbwheel down to 'select' an entry)

  1. Check that all TIUs have a unique address number assigned to them OR which ones have the same address and that are to be set as a 'Super TIU' 

    • Confirm a TIU's address number

      • Turn the power on to the Fixed 1 port on the TIU with the top of the TIU visible.  Note the Red LED that lights up.  After about 3 seconds of being lit solid, it will blink.  The number of blinks will indicate the TIU address.  One blink = TIU address 1, Two blinks = TIU address 2, etc

      • Repeat this for each TIU you have.  Each TIU should have a unique address   OR   if you plan to run with more than one with the same address you need to set all with the same address to 'Super TIU'. 

       

    • Change the address # stored in the TIU:  (If needed)

      • Power down all TIUs.

      • Turn on power only to the Fixed 1 port of the TIU you want change.

      • Turn on the remote and select:  MENU -->  TIU SETUP -->  EDIT TIU ADDRESS

      • Select the current address number for this TIU then press the thumbwheel.

      • Select the new address number you want this TIU to be and press the thumbwheel. 

      • Power down the TIU and turn back on.  Confirm the Red LED on that TIU blinks with the correct TIU Address count now. 

      • Repeat this for each of the other TIUs you want to change.

        • (Note:  If you have more than one TIU with the same starting address (say two with address=1) and you want to change both to another address, you will need to re-add the TIU address 1 in the remote in order to change the address on the second one.)   Select:  MENU -->  TIU SETUP -->  ADD TIU -->  Then the current TIU address of next one you want to change (say TIU 1 in this example.)  Now you can repeat the change TIU procedure.

         

  2. Check that all TIU address numbers are identified/setup in the remote: (using the TIU address you confirmed from step 1 above)

    • To confirm the TIU(s) setup in the remote is correct:

      • Turn the power on to the Fixed 1 port on the TIU

      • Turn your remote on

      • With the remote, select:  MENU --> SYSTEM -->  TIU SETUP  -->  EDIT TIU ADDRESS:     (Note which TIU address # entries you have listed on the remote screen.) 

        • If you have an extra TIU listed in the remote:

          • Hit the MENU button again to go back a screen and select TIU SETUP --> DELETE TIU  --> Select the extra TIU to delete 

           

        • If you are missing a TIU address in the remote: 

          • Hit the MENU button again to go back a screen and select TIU SETUP --> ADD TIU  --> Select from the remaining TIU addresses left available that match the address of the missing TIU:  "TIU 1, TIU 2, TIU 3, TIU 4 or TIU 5."

          • Repeat this for each TIU address number that you need to add.  (Note:  You can only have one TIU entry in the remote per address number and only need one, even when running multiple TIUs under Super TIU mode.)

           

        • Setting TIUs to Super TIU: (Once you have all TIUs identified in the remote)

          • Cut power to all TIUs on the layout

          • Note which TIUs you plan to assign as 'Super TIU'

          • Start by powering the first TIU and with your remote select: MENU -->  TIU SETUP -->  SUPER TIU -->  Select the TIU address of that TIU and press soft-key S2 'SPR'.

          • Repeat for each of the other TIUs with that same address and you're done.

         

 

 

 

'Out of RF Range' Errors - (even after proper polarity to TIU and engines have been confirmed):

This can be caused by at least five situations:

1)  Have the remote too far away from the TIU

2)  The RF board is loose in the TIU or remote

3)  Engine did not respond to a command given by the remote

4)  You have the TIU configuration setup incorrectly in the remote

5)  You have the DCS signal turned off for that port

 

 

#1 - Have the remote too far away from the TIU:

This can be corrected by simply moving closer or moving the TIU to a better location.  (If you need longer range, see the info on extending the TIU and remote range on this page.)

 

 

#2 - The RF board loose in the TIU:

This can mean you have an RF board loose in either the TIU or Remote.  The TIU is easier to check and can be opened up by turning it over and unscrewing the six screws on the bottom.  Lift the top of the TIU carefully up.  Ensure the board in the second photo is pushed all the way down onto the main TIU motherboard.

 

If you suspect the remote board has come loose (which is not likely as it is adhered to the main remote board), see my TIU mods page for how to get the remote apart.

 

http://www.rayman4449.com/MTH_TIU_Mods.htm

 

 

 

 

 

#3 - Engine did not respond to a command given by the remote:

 

You may get this message ('Out of RF Range') when you've given an engine a command (via the remote) and the remote did not receive the confirmation response from the engine that it actually received the command.   You can correct by resolving the underlying cause of the poor track signal or if you want to stop seeing these messages just set your remote to 'SPEED' Operation. (see  Eliminate delays in remote response time and improve engine response/control in areas of bad track signal   for more information)

 

 

 

 

 

#4 - You have the TIU configuration setup incorrectly in the remote:

 

If you have the TIU configuration setup incorrectly in the remote the remote could be attempting to communicate with a TIU address that doesn't exist.  This can cause intermittent 'Out of RF range' errors and result in poor remote response time with the engine.  (See the TIU configuration section above on this page.)   (If you just have one TIU and one remote, you can just do a factory reset on the TIU and the remote and this should get you back to the default configuration.)

 

 

 

 

 

#5 - You have the DCS signal turned off for that port:

 

This is situation will not occur unless you've changed the settings in the remote as by default all ports will have DCS signal set to 'ON'.   If you have a situation where you enter a dedicated 'block of track' that is supplied by a separate port on the TIU and you lose all control of the engine and get "OUT OF RF RANGE" errors, then check to make sure you have the DCS signal turned on for all ports.  Go to MENU -> SYSTEM -> DCS SETUP    and select each of the ports that you are using and press the S1 soft key for ON.  (I would go in and ensure all ports have the DCS signal set to on while you are there.)

 

 

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

Which TIU ports to use:

 

 

The DCS manual that comes with your TIU and remote can help provide guidance on which ports to use.  (You may also want to see: DCS Overview Video series on the DCS Overview page for more information) 

 

 

Each TIU has four ports:

 

- Variable 1 (Input & Output)  --  For use with AC power only, does not function under DC power

- Fixed 1 (Input & Output)  --  For use with either DC or AC power

- Fixed 2 (Input & Output)  --  For use with either DC or AC power

- Variable 2 (Input & Output)  --  For use with AC power only, does not function under DC power

 

 

 

Fixed ports 1 & 2:

 

If you're using DC power, these are the ports you have to use.  If you are only going to use one port (and aren't using a separate Aux power supply to power the TIU), then be sure to use the Fixed 1 port.  If you don't have an Aux power supply for the TIU you must have power going to the Fixed 1 ports (If running in Normal mode run power to the Input port terminals, if running in Passive mode, run power to the Output port terminals...  See Running TIU in Normal vs Passive mode for more information.) 

 

If you plan to run a separate oval or track then you will want to run separate feeds from the power supply to the Fixed 2 ports.  (See Running TIU in Normal vs Passive mode for more information.)

 

 

Variable ports 1 & 2:

 

As noted above the Variable ports can only be used if you're using AC power.  Since most of us running Largescale engines use DC power supplies you will not be using these ports.  If you do run AC power and chose to use these ports, you will have one additional capability that you don't have with the Fixed ports which is the ability to vary the track power voltage to the Variable output terminals with the remote.  You will want to make sure that your engines are able to run on AC power before doing this.  I would not attempt to use a standard non-MTH Largescale engine and control it under AC power, damage to the engine may result. 

 

If you plan to only run AC power and only use the Variable ports, you will need to ensure you either have an Aux power supply to power the TIU or run a set of wires from the power supply to the Fixed 1 input port terminals.

 

 

 

 

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

How to provide power to the TIU:

 

 

The first thing to know about the TIU is that it needs power to function and must be powered via one of two ways: 

 

1) Providing power to the Fixed 1 ports   (See:  Running TIU in Normal vs Passive mode  for more information on how to wire/run the TIU in Normal or Passive mode.  This determines whether power is run to the input or the output side of the TIU.)  -- ***THIS IS HOW I PROVIDE POWER TO MY TIU***

 

OR

 

2) Provide power via an Aux power supply that connects into the side of the TIU.  The Aux power supply can be either AC or DC power, should provide between 12v-24v and provide at least 1 amp.  I recommend using a power supply between 18-24v.  You can also use an MTH Z-500 or Z-750 brick.

 

 

 

 

 

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

Polarity switch location on engine:

 

 

The polarity switch on MTH One Gauge engines will be located either under the cab or inside the smoke box accessible by opening the smoke box door. 

 

 

Locations on various MTH One Gauge engines:

 

Big Boy

GS-4

Hudson

Triplex

 

 

 

 

Note:  Early run Challengers may not have a factory polarity switch installed.

 

 

 

 

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 


Problems controlling engine ('Check track' message when giving engine command)

This may be something you will encounter depending on how your layout is deployed.  DCS uses a 2-way communication between the TIU and engine.  If you give the engine a command and you get "CHECK TRACK", the engine did not respond back to the TIU that a command was given.  (Do note that the engine may still have received the given command.)

 

Some steps to perform if you are having control problems:

1)  Perform a 'Track Signal' check with the engine running around the layout:

        -  Start the engine running at the desired speed

        -  Use the remote and press MENU -> SYSTEM -> TRACK SIGNAL

                -  Note the track signal levels as it goes around the track.  You will see anything from '10'(best) to '1'(worst) to

                   "CHECK TRACK" which means the engine's return signal isn't making it back to the TIU.

                   NOTE:  If you encounter low track signal levels or get "CHECK TRACK" during the test, please read through Section I (Signal Strength)

                               at the top of this web page.  Read through all of it to get an idea on how to improve areas of trouble.

 

 

2)  Ensure you have the DCS signal turned on for all TIU ports you are using:

 

        -  To confirm, with your remote select:  MENU -> SYSTEM -> DCS SETUP.    Then select each of the ports that you are using

            and press the S1 soft key for 'ON'.  (I would go in and ensure all ports have the DCS signal set to on while you are there.)  Note

            that by default all ports should have DCS signal set to 'ON'.

 

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 


Engine powers up and starts running when track power is applied, but you have the TIU in place and want to use the remote to control

When the TIU is first powered up, it sends out a 'watchdog' signal to the track to tell all just powered up engines that the TIU is in place and to await commands from the wireless remote.  But sometimes you may actually have a DCS equipped engine that automatically powers up just starts running on it's own.  When this happens the engine is not seeing the startup 'watchdog' signal the TIU is sending out.  The vast majority of these cases occur because the engine is located in a spot on the layout where there is poor track signal.  (Causes and fixes for poor track signal can be read up on in other sections of this page.)

 

In most cases it will most likely be because of:

1) Poor tack / Power conditions: (caused by)

  • Using switching mode power supply (this reduces the number of feet of track you can signal without issues)

  • Trying to power too many linear feet of rail per TIU port (may need to deploy lights/SSBRDS.   Avoid using switching mode power supplies on larger layouts)

  • Slider joiners used instead of direct to rail track clamps that are making very poor electrical contact due to bad oxidation over time or is loosely fit

  • Heavy corrosion/oxidation at track joints

  • Very dirty or very corroded brass track

 

2) Very poor power pickup on an engine: (caused by)

  • Very dirty wheels / power pickups

  • Combination of owner having removed sliders and some other track or power pickup issue

  • Some other issue with the power pickup circuit paths on the engine.  (broken wire, etc)  (Unlikely)

 

3) Possible hardware problem with either the TIU or DCS board in the engine.  (Unlikely)

 

 

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 


Loss of all lights and sound on engine while still being able to control it:

This is an issue that I've only experienced twice in close to 500 hours of DCS operation (when running switching power supplies), and that is where the engine you are running will complete loose all lights and sound.  The only times I've ever seen this happen is when you are trying to send a command to an engine over an area of track with very poor signal strength.  The engine lights and sound will cut out, but stay running and still allows you control speed.

The way to fix this problem is to perform a reset of the engine (feature or factory) via the DCS remote.  First, make sure you have the engine 'Started up' by stopping the engine then pressing #3 on the remote.  Next attempt a 'Feature Reset' by going to MENU -->  ADVANCED  -->  RESET ENGINE --> FEATURE RESET.  Next, cut power to the engine and let it sit for about 60 seconds.  Turn power back on and attempt to start-up the engine.  If you still do not have sound or lights attempt to do the Feature reset again.  If that does not fix it, do a 'Factory Reset' on the engine by going to MENU -->  ADVANCED  -->  RESET ENGINE --> FACTORY RESET.  Next, cut power to the engine and let sit for about 60 seconds.  Turn power back on and re-add the engine to the remote. (as a factory reset deletes the engine entry from the remote.)  Then start the engine up.

I've seen an engine require being reset twice before coming back to life, but making sure you let the engine sit for a full 60 seconds is key. 

So if this happens to you, don't worry you can fix it.  If this does happen more than once, then do understand this can be a sign you likely have signal issues that you may want to address.  (Consider getting a Bridgewerks power supply and using SSBRDs)

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Intermittent loss of sound or complete loss of sound from engine:

If you are running your engine and the sound gets staticy or intermittently cuts out, then you may have a problem with the tender wire connection.  A write up can be found at this link to correct this issue:  MTH Challenger - Tender Plug Problems

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Intermittent loss of power to engine while running:

This is most likely the result of some sort of power pickup problem.  The times I've seen this are usually over a cross-over or switch and has pointed to the problem being with a power pickup slider.

The cause will vary depending on the engine you are having problems with:

GS-4s:  Generally don't have enough of an overall total length from the first power pickup to the last causing the engine to loose power for a split second over an Aristocraft #6 switch that has an unpowered frog.  (From the factory Aristocraft #6 switches do have powered frogs but I cut the power to mine)  The solution here is unfortunately to add additional power pickups on the engine (or tender) or provide power to the frog. 

Big Boy:   The times I've seen this engine have power pickup problems is when the power transfer board under the rear drivers has a burnt out trace due to having previously experienced a short on the track.  This effectively removes the front engine power pickups from supplying power to the engine.  See this link for more information:  (http://www.rayman4449.com/MTH_Big_Boy_mods.htm#Shorting%20on%20Cross-over%20/%20Slider%20modification)

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

Sound cuts-off before shutdown sound sequence is finished when you cut track power:

This is a sign of a dead or dying DCS Board battery and will need to be replaced.

 

Another way to test this is plug an extra DCS light into the battery recharge port.  If the light stays lit steadily for a period of time the battery is likely good, if it starts to get dimmer shortly after being plugged in then the battery is weak and should be replaced.

 

You can also check the battery voltage by using a voltmeter to probe the terminals on the battery recharge port.  A new battery (NiCad 2.4v pack) that has been fully charged and has been sitting a few hours should read ~2.54 volts.  If you get readings of 2.10 volts or lower after charging and letting sit a few hours, then it's time to replace it.  Battery packs will last between 3-5 years.

 

 

 

 

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

'Engine Error' message when trying to add engine:

 

This may be an issue running under DCS 4.10.  If you get this message, first make sure you only have one engine on the track.  Then verify you have the power polarity from the power supply to the TIU correct and then the power polarity to the engine correct.  (See this link for more information: - Polarity to the TIU / Polarity to the engine )

 

Once the polarity is confirmed correct, press the 'Read' button on the remote.  If you have a 'Lash-up' engine name (or other engine) come up as the engine identified on the track, do the following:  Press the "ENG" button -> "S/U"(setup) softkey  -> "EDIT ENGINE" -> "EDIT ADDRESS" ->  select the Lash-up/engine that came up on the screen -> then select another available engine ID.  Now retry adding the engine to the remote.  (Note: You can also choose to just delete the Lash-up, but this will require to to recreate the Lash-up)  MTH was made aware of this issue (as of 2/26/2009).

 

(You may need to set the engine on a small isolated short length of track directly connected to the TIU and use this setup just for adding engines and/or loading sound files.)

 

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

'No engine to add' message when trying to add an engine that you know isn't currently added/identified in the remote:

 

 

This issue is similar to the Engine Error message above.  If you go to add an engine and get 'No engine to add' message and you know the engine hasn't already been added in the remote, first make sure you only have one engine on the track.   Then verify you have the power polarity from the power supply to the TIU correct and then the power polarity to the engine correct.  (See this link for more information: - Polarity to the TIU / Polarity to the engine )

 

Once the polarity is confirmed correct, press the 'Read' button on the remote and see what engine comes up as being identified.  If it's another engine listed, delete that engine and then retry the add MTH engine procedure.  After you successfully add the engine, go back and re-add the original engine you just deleted.  Like the 'Engine Error' issue above I think this may be an issue related to the new v4.10 software load. 

 

(You may need to set the engine on a small isolated short length of track directly connected to the TIU and use this setup just for adding engines and/or loading sound files.

 

 

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

TIU will not power up or no power from a particular Fixed or Variable port:

You should never see this happen if you are using 10amp fuses between the power supply and the TIU, but you may have a blown internal fuse in the TIU if you see any of the following:

(Note:  Some older TIUs do not have internal fuses.)

 

 

TIU run in Normal mode:

  • TIU will not power up when power is applied to the Fixed 1 port.

  • No power goes to the output port when power is applied on the input for that same port. (Note that if you are applying DC power to the input side of Var 1 or Var 2, you will not get power reading on the Var output ports as they only function under AC power.)

 

TIU run in Passive mode:  (Note: if you always run the TIU in passive mode you should never blow an internal TIU fuse)

  • TIU will not power up when power is applied to the Fixed 1 port. (Means internal fuse is blown on the Fixed 1 port)

  • Not getting DCS signal from Fixed 2, Var 1 or Var 2. 

    • (This assumes TIU is powering up ok from power applied to the Fixed 1 (input or output port) OR to the TIU Aux power port)

    • To test if the fuse is blown, setup TIU to run in Normal mode (run power from transformer to the input port) then check the output ports that you have power.

      If you don't have power on the output ports you have a blown fuse.  (Note that if you are applying DC power to the input side of Var 1 or Var 2, you will not get power reading

      on the Var output ports as they only function under AC power.)

 

 

Photo of the internal TIU fuses:  (Note they are the smaller type of blade fuse.  "Mini ATM blade fuse")

 

 

 

Photo of an older version TIU that does not have internal fuses:

 

 

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Ensure the DCS signal is turned to ON for the TIU ports you are using:

If you are having problems with an engine just starting up and taking off on power up or are losing control of the engine over an entire block of track that is using a different port on the TIU, verify you have the DCS signal turned 'ON' for all ports.  With your remote, go to MENU -> SYSTEM -> DCS SETUP    and select each of the ports that you are using and press the S1 soft key for ON.  (I would go in and ensure all ports have the DCS signal set to on while you are there.)  Note that by default all ports should have DCS signal set to 'ON'.

 

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Eliminate delays in remote response time and improve engine response/control in areas of bad track signal:

If you have track signal issues in some areas and have delays in the remote response time and have trouble controlling engines (may be getting error messages 'CHECK TRACK' or 'OUT OF RF RANGE'), set your remote to 'Speed' operation.  (Go to MENU -> SYSTEM -> REMOTE SETUP -> OPERATING MODE -> Select 'SPEED')

 

I found this eliminated any lag time between attempts at issuing commands and greatly improves overall engine response and control performance in those areas. 

 

 

(Note: You may also want to turn-off remote messages to further speed remote operation:  (Go to MENU -> SYSTEM -> REMOTE SETUP -> REMOTE MESSAGES -> Select 'OFF'.)

 

Of course just setting your remote to SPEED mode doesn't correct the underlying track level (TIU to engine) communication issue.  If you want to correct the issue refer to the other areas on this page about ways to improve track signal.

 

 

*** If you do not have this option on your remote you will need to upgrade to a newer software version on the TIU and Remote.  See Section V on upgrading and install the latest version. ***

 

 

 

 

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

How to perform a Factory Reset on an engine:

If you are trying to perform a full factory reset of the engine (which results in the engine entry also being deleted from the remote) you will want to do the following.  Ensure the engine is started up by pressing the number 3 on you remote, then do the 'Factory Reset' on the engine by going to MENU -->  ADVANCED  -->  RESET ENGINE --> FACTORY RESET.  Next, cut power to the engine and let sit for about 60 seconds.  (You need to ensure you wait at least 30 seconds after all the sounds and lights are turned off... ie. after the auto shutdown sound sequence is played.)  Turn power back on and re-add the engine to the remote then start the engine up.  The key to this process is making sure the engine sits a full 30 seconds after all sounds and lights have shut-off.

 

 

 

 

 

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

III.   Tips and Other Information:

 

USING A QUICK-BLOW FUSE - THIS IS A CRITICAL ITEM!:

The very first thing you should do before ever powering up your trains for the first time is to install a quick-blow fuse inline in the positive wire between the transformer and the TIU/Track.  It is EXTREMELY important that you do not rely on your transformer's circuit breaker.  Delicate electronics and power circuits can and will be damaged long before a breaker ever trips.  You will want to make sure you run a fuse that most closely matches the load of the engines you are running.  A typical MTH One Gauge Big Boy will use a max of 3 amps and in most conditions will use around 1 amp.  So a 3 - 5 amp fuse would be best for just one engine and 5 amp if you're running more than one.  Use your amp meter to determine the load and to select the best amp for the job, you may want to select a fuse 3-5 amps above the peak amp draw you're seeing on your meter. 

 

I install two blade holders (in parallel) to allow the layout to remain running.  Using two fuse holders allows the swapping out of fuses on the fly so there's no need to power down, swap a fuse, then restart all the engines again.  Essentially, with two blade holders you have two separate power paths, so if you need to add a larger fuse and have a 5amp in one already, add a 10amp to the other fuse holder (now you will have power going through two holders) then pull the 5 amp.

 

 

Example of the blade fuse holder:

 

 

Example of two fuse holders wired in parallel (inline in the positive wire):

 

 

 

I use standard ATC blade fuses (typically used in automotive applications) and are the larger size blade fuse not the mini-blade.  I purchase my fuses from either Harbor Freight in the value packs or for other amperage levels like 1 - 3amps I order them from Tessco.  www.tessco.com  Tessco sells the blade fuse holders, but they can be purchased at places like Wal-Mart or auto-part stores.

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Improving the operating range of the wireless handheld DCS remote:   (UPDATED 12/17/2010)

In typical operation, I've found the maximum range of the DCS handheld remote outdoors is about 50ft away from the TIU (especially with the TIU located inside house).  I've also found the range can be extended significantly and have a page dedicated to this:  MTH TIU Modifications

In short, by adding an additional length of wire to the short original antenna wire in the TIU for a total length of ~12.88 inches (which is the full wave antenna length for 916.5 Mhz)  you can achieve ranges up to 300ft+ range (with the TIU located inside). 

I do not recommend modifying the remote antenna setup.

See the provided link above for full information and photos.  Bottom line, if you want to extend the range of your remote, you will want to make this modification. 

 

Other things to ensure for maximum range:

 

    -  TIU placement:  You may need to change where your TIU is located for best reception.

    -  Keep the TIU horizontal/flat.  (don't mount vertically)

    -  Use fresh batteries in your remote and use 1.5v alkaline.  (1.2v rechargeables can result in a little shorter range, but is what I use.  Do note that a freshly charged 1.2 volt can put out 1.5v and thus have similar performance as an alkaline.)

 

 

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    

Track polarity:  How to tell you have the correct polarity going to the engine:

One item that can cause a lot of frustration when you first get started in DCS is applying track power in the wrong polarity to the engine (or having the engine's track polarity switch set backwards).  The simple way to know whether the engine is getting the correct polarity is to listen to the relays click in the engine. 

When you apply power, if you hear two clicks, it's the correct polarity.. if you hear a series of clicks, then it's backwards and you will need to flip the polarity switch on your engine. (See Polarity switch location on engine )  (Note that listening for a series of clicks for incorrect polarity is only valid if you are running your engine under DC power.  If you are running under AC power, you will hear only two relay clicks in both correct and incorrect polarity)

Remember, you can have the power going to the engine in the correct polarity but still have the + and - backwards going into the TIU.  This will still cause problems and you won't be able to get your trains running correctly.  You may hear two clicks and think you're good to go but the engine won't respond, so check the TIU input polarity from the power supply.  So always first make sure you have your transformer set to provide + to the red TIU port and the - to the black port.  Then when you apply power listen to the relays and that will tell you if you are ready to go or not!

 

 

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Track voltage levels and it's effects on DCS operation:

Different track voltages levels will not affect track signal levels or the ability of the engines to run at their correct scale speed (as is the case with DCC).  Regardless of what track voltage levels you run with: 12v, 14v, 18v, 24v etc, the only effect it will have on a DCS equipped engine when running it with the TIU and Remote (under Command Control) will be to the engine's top speed.  Running with 24v to the track will enable it to run at it's maximum top speed. 

Track voltage levels will not affect the track signal levels in any way.  You will not get better track signal at 24v as opposed to 17v or vice versa.

The voltage applied to the track also does not affect the performance of the dialed SMPH of the engines.  If you have an engine dialed in to run 20 SMPH, that engine will run at the correct speed for 20 SMPH regardless of whether you have 17v to the track or 24v.  If you are running the engine at say 20 SMPH with 17v applied to track and suddenly increase it to 24v, the DCS board will immediately compensate for the change in the track voltage (because it is monitored by the optical reader) and keep the engine running at the correct speed for 20 SMPH.  (At some point you can reduce the track voltage to such low levels (like 9v) that it can achieve only a low maximum top speed.)  Overall, what this means performance wise for you is as your engines run around the track, if they encounter any change in track voltage the engines will compensate for these changes and keep the engine moving at the correct speed.  This allows you to run very long trains with pusher engines without having derailments.  It also allows you to run more than one train on the same loop and have those engines maintain the same distance from each other.

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

How to add an engine to the layout when other engines are already powered and running:  -

If you have a powered up layout in current operation there may come the time when you will want to use an unpowered siding or staging track like I do where you will first add the engine to an unpowered section of track then drive it off. 

When you first turn on power to a Protosound (DCS) equipped engine, it first looks for a 'watchdog' signal.  This 'watchdog' signal tells all DCS equipped engines (that are just now being supplied track power) to remain in place and in a standby mode until it receives commands from the remote.  If an engine does not see the signal when power is first applied to it the engine will assume it is to run under non-DCS remote control and will startup (power on lights, smoke units and sound) and start running at the designated track power levels.  This watchdog signal is sent by the TIU automatically when it is first powered on.  After that for the TIU to resend the signal it must be manually triggered with the remote.  

(Note: If you have an engine that is powering up on it's own and you have the TIU in place and powering up at the same time then the engine is not seeing the 'watchdog' signal for some reason.  This is likely a sign you have track signal issues that need to be addressed.)

 

There are two ways to trigger a 'watchdog' signal to be sent:

 

1.  Press the 'Read' button on the remote: 

One easy way to trigger the TIU to resend the 'watchdog' signal is to press the 'READ' button on the remote.  If you are wanting to add power to an engine on an unpowered siding and have it see the watchdog signal, you will want to press the 'Read' button on your remote, then at the same time to about one second later apply power to the siding.  The engine will receive the signal and know to remain in silent DCS Command mode waiting for remote commands.

Another good option for resending the 'watch dog' signal is to use a second remote (i.e. hit the read button on a second remote).  This may be desirable if you have other engines already running on the layout (including lash-ups) as hitting the Read button on the primary remote you're currently using can alter the engines in your active engine list at the top, i.e. move them back down to the inactive engine list. 

**Another way to add an engine to a layout already powered and in operation is to take and place one side of the engine on the track (and keep the other set of wheels and power pickups off the track), hit the Read button on the remote then set the engine on the track.** 

 

2.  Add DCS Remote Commander box to the siding:

Instead of having to press the Read button on the DCS remote when power is added to the siding, you can purchase a DCS Remote Commander set and connect the Red and Black terminals on the box shown below to the siding.  When power is then applied to the siding the box will automatically send a watchdog signal to the track keeping the engines in place.  The Remote Commander box is not polarity sensitive (for the purposes of getting them to send the watchdog signal) so regardless of what power polarity you feed them they will still send the watchdog signal and the engines will still wait in silent DCS Command mode waiting for remote commands.   

I have these in-stock for $46.50 + $7.50 shipping.  Please email me at Index 2 picturefor more information.

**BUY A DCS REMOTE COMMANDER SET HERE**

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Volt and Amp-meters - How to install and where to buy:

If you have a power supply that you need or want to monitor the voltage and or output amps, I provided this write-up to help instruct you on how to install and hookup digital volt and amp meters to your power supply:  http://www.rayman4449.com/Powersupply-40amp.htm   Here is how they look on my 24v DC / 40amp power supply.

(Click on the photo below to enlarge.)

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Remote Control for power supply power cut-off (great for emergencies)

 

 

I've been using one of these as my remote power on-off switch for the power supply / layout.  This essentially lets you remotely turn the power from the wall electrical outlet on and off.  Just plug this into the wall and your power supply into the box.  It helps to have this in an emergency in case of a derailment or if you need to turn power back on and you are on the other side of the yard.  Also completely removes any hassle of having to run back and forth to turn the power supply on and off.   This is an absolute must have in my book and costs under $20.00

 

 

 

To purchase, do an internet search on the key words "GE Smart Remote Plus Outdoor Outlet Receiver"  OR

 

Click this link for a Google search on this product:  http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=GE+Smart+Remote+Plus+Outdoor+Outlet+Receiver&aq=f&oq=&aqi=

 

 

One minor modification I've made to my key-fob remote was to pull the internal antenna out and heat shrink it.  This gives much better range and allows me to have the base in the house and me be anywhere outside in the yard and it work reliably every time.

 

 

 

 

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Charging the engine's Protosound 2 on-board battery

 

 

You have three options:

  • Charge the battery on the track:  Place the engine on the track, apply power to the track and hit the 'Start-up button'. 

        (Note:  Not hitting startup results in a very very slow trickle charge which barely charges the battery.)

  • Charge the battery with external charger:  Purchase Protosound 2.0 Battery Charger (#50-1019) and plug it into the engines battery recharge port. 

        REMEMBER:  Remove the engine from the track and do not apply any power to the power pick-ups.

  • Replace the battery with a capacitor pack so you never have to recharge or replace the battery again.

 

 

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Triggering the Bell and Whistle when running your engines under variable throttle power only

You can trigger an engine's bell and whistle even if you're running the engine under variable throttle power from the power supply.  Start your engine running under the analog power, then connect your TIU to the track in Passive mode (connect the Fixed 1 Output ports to the track, red term to + rail and black term to - rail).  Then select the engine on the remote and use the whistle and bell buttons as normal.

 

 

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

IV.   AIU items:

 


Power and Control powered remote switch machines:

To control a 2 wire G scale switch machine (like Aristocraft or LGB) with the MTH AIU requires a couple of extra components to get working.  The AIU is designed to control 3 wire switch machines as is used in O and HO gauge. 

 

 

 

 

 

Control 2 wire powered switch machine with AC power and diodes: (Aristocraft, LGB)

 

To control a switch with AC power you will need two rectifier diodes and an AC power supply. (AC power supply can be from 12-18v)

 

The photos below will help explain how it should be wired up:

 

 

The two white wires are from the AC power supply.  One wire goes to one side of the Aristocraft switch motor and the other goes to "IN" slot(s) on the AIU port.  It does not matter which of the two wires is connected to the AIU and switch motor.

 

Next you will need to solder one end of two rectifier diodes together with the other ends facing the same direction for insertion into the AIU.  (Solder the diodes in opposite directions, one with the white line on the diode closest to you and the other being furthest away.  Then solder the now common soldered end of the diodes to a single wire and run that to the other side of the switch motor as shown. 

 

Ensure the power supply is plugged in and you now have the switch machine ready to go. 

 

Lastly, you will then need to use your DCS remote to add that switch port as a selectable switch.   Once added you can then use the straight and switched buttons to control the switch.

 

 

 

To simplify the install of several switch machines, this is how I chose to wire it up.

 

- I chose to run one wire from the AC power supply to the first AIU "IN" port and then run jumper wires from the first "IN" port to the second "IN".  I then repeated this for the number of switch machines I planned to add. 

- Next I ran the other wire from the AC power supply directly outside and then split it out from there to run to one side of each of the switch machines that I planned to power.  This saved me from having to run a dedicated power wire from inside the house to each switch machine.  This way I only had one.

- Next I then ran a wire from each pair of diodes outside to the designated switch machines.

- To simply swapping out AIUs or moving the AIU, I added the pictured multi pin connector inline in all the wires run to the AIU.  This way I can simply unplug the connector and remove the AIU.

 

 

 

NOTE: If the power supply you're using to power the switch machine is greater than 1 amp, you may want to add a 1 amp fuse or use a polyfuse between the power supply and the switches.  (I would add a polyfuse inline in each wire from the power supply for good measure.)   Polyfuses can be purchased here: http://www.allelectronics.com/make-a-store/item/RXE-065/RESETTABLE-CIRCUIT-PROTECTOR-0.65-1.3-AMP//1.html

 

 

 

 

 

Parts list:

Here is a list of parts you can use to accomplish this:

  • Powered switch machine (like the Aristocraft ART-11299, LGB, or other)

  • AC power supply - (See this link:  www.mpja.com  Go to POWER SUPPLIES -> PLUG SUPPLIES (click photo) -> Scroll down to AC power supplies.  Look for a 12v-18v (I went with and prefer an 18v) and try and get one capable of at least 1 amp output (i.e. 20VA or higher).

  • For rectifier diodes try you local Radio Shack or go to  www.allelectronics.com  and select DIODES -> and look at ones with ratings of 1 amp/50PIV or 1 amp/50v or higher.  (a 200v or 600v will work fine) 

        Diode will look like this: 

       

 

 

 

Control USA Trains Powered Switch machine with AC power and diodes:

 

**UNDER CONSTRUCTION**

 

 

 

 

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

V.   DCS Software - (How to upgrade you TIU and Remote software or Change sound file on your engine):

 


TIU and Remote software update:

The TIU (Track Interface Unit) and remote both have software loaded to them that allows them to operate and is what provides you the menus and functionality to control your trains.  From time to time MTH will release updated software to enhance features or correct certain issues that may have been discovered.

 

 

1) CHECK LIST - To perform the update you will need:

  • PC running Win98, Windows 2000, ME, XP, Vista or Windows 7:  (Note:  For DCS Loader versions 2.2 and older, ensure you are using a 32-bit version of the operating system, do not install on a 64-bit OS.  Loader versions 2.3 and newer have a 64bit version avail for 64bit operating systems) 

  • Install the latest DCS Loader program on your computer: (See Section V at the top of this page or visit www.protosound2.com)

  • 9-pin serial cable: (Male / Female) (example: Belkin #F2N209-10-T extension cable http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16812123083)

    • (*Do not use a 'null modem cable'*)

    • Note: Can also use a USB to 9 pin serial cable: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16812107108 (GWC brand: #UC320)

      • Do note that some have issues getting the USB to serial cable to work properly.  You may experience errors during updating, etc.

    • Note: If your computer does not have a 9-pin serial port and you prefer to just add one, buy a card like this

                  (http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16815166003 - Rosewill serial port PCI card Model # RC-300)

  • USB cable: (Male Type A/Male Type B) - (Used with Rev L or later TIU only) Can be used instead of the 9-pin serial cable.

    • USB port on TIU on available on Rev L or newer TIUs.

    • USB port now provides the internal power to perform firmware updates for TIU & Remote and updates for engine sound files. (Track power is still needed for engine)

  • Phone cable - 4 pin narrow plug:  (type typically used to connect the handset to the base on wired telephones)

            (Note the colors: black to black, red to red, etc)  Don't assume that since it works for your phone that it's wired correctly for this application.

  • 3.5mm (male/male) stereo audio cable:

    • Photo #1  /  Photo #2  (Note: This cable has RCA ends that has been adapted to a 3.5mm end which works ok.)

    • Do not use 'mono' cables, you must use stereo.

  • Download latest DCS software version for the TIU and Remote:  (See Section V at the top of this page or visit www.protosound2.com )

    • Note: You will download a single file.  After downloading, go to where the file is saved and double-click the file to 'unzip' the file.

                     You will end up with two files:  (ex:  "Tiu4p10.tiu"  &  "remote4p10.rem")  Note these file names indicate they are for V4.10

                     Remember where these two files are located.

 

 

 

 

2) Some photos:

 

TIU

-Aux power input

-9 pin serial port(RS-232)

-Remote input port (narrow 4 pin)

- Proto-Dispatch input (3.5mm)

- AIU Input (6 pin)

- Protocast input (3.5mm)

-Remote input port (narrow 4 pin)

When updating TIU software (Plug 3.5mm audio cable into the Dispatch and Protocast ports)

Connect 9 pin serial cable into RS-232 port on TIU. (For upgrading TIU and/or Remote)

Plug 4 pin phone plug into Remote Input port on TIU. (for upgrading remote software)

New USB Port on Rev L and newer TIUs. (can be used instead of 9 pin serial.)

 

 

 

9-pin serial cable (male to female) (Not null-modem)

USB cable (Male type A/Male type B) - Used on new Rev L or newer TIUs.

Narrow 4-pin phone cable (used for handset to phone base)

Ensure cable is wired correctly

3.5mm (male/male) stereo audio cable

3.5mm (male/male) stereo audio cable ends

 

 

 

3) Instructional video on how to use DCS Loader v2.00 - *Click this link* - (Also visit www.protosound2.com and click the "New DCS Loader Released - September 3, 2008)

 

 

 

 

 

Step 1: Updating the TIU

 

**When updating to a different version of DCS software in your TIU and remote, you should always start by updating the TIU first.**

 

  • Connect your TIU to the computer using either the 9 pin serial or USB cable (Your computer can already be booted up)

  • Plug the 3.5mm stereo audio cable ends into the TIU's "Proto-Dispatch" & "Proto-cast" ports

  • Connect the power supply to the Fixed 1 input port OR connect the Aux power supply to the Aux power port on the TIU

  • Start the DCS Loader program

  • Close out of any unnecessary programs or applications and do not use the computer while the update is in progress

  • Click the load software to TIU Icon

  • Carefully follow the instructions on the screen. (it will instruct you to connect the serial cable and 3.5mm audio cables)

  • Then select the "*.tiu" (example: "Tiu4p20.tiu") file

  • The update process should start and will tell you when you are finished

 

 

 

Step 2: Updating the Remote

 

Once you have updated the TIU software to the version you are wanting to use, then update the remote.

 

  • Connect your TIU to the computer using either the 9 pin serial or USB cable (Your computer can already be booted up)

  • BE SURE TO REMOVE the 3.5mm stereo audio cable ends from the TIU's "Proto-Dispatch" & "Proto-cast" ports

  • Connect the power supply to the Fixed 1 input port OR connect the Aux power supply to the Aux power port on the TIU

  • Start the DCS Loader 2.xx program

  • Close out of any unnecessary programs or applications and do not use the computer while the update is in progress

  • Ensure your remote has good batteries and test it by turning it on.

  • Ensure the remote is off before you get started

  • Connect the remote to the TIU with the 4-pin narrow phone cable.  (Be sure to plug the remote into the Remote input port NOT the AIU port!!!)

  • Click the load software to Remote Icon

  • Carefully follow the instructions on the screen. (it will instruct you to connect the serial cable and remote cord)

    • NOTE:  When instructed to press the power button on the remote, the remote should remain off.  If the remote powers up, it's not detecting it's plugged into the TIU.

                   See below steps for troubleshooting.

  • Then select the "*.rem" (example: "remote4p20.rem") file

  • Follow the instructions on the screen

  • The update process should start and will tell you when you are finished.

 

 

        Remote update troubleshooting:

 

                I.  Press power button loop:

                        If you get into a 'loop' where the DCS Loader program tells you to press the power button, then release, then press, then release try the following steps.

                                1)  Unplug the remote from the TIU and make sure it will turn on

                                2)  Make sure you have good batteries.  If in doubt, put new ones in.

                                3)  Ensure the remote can detect that it's plugged into the TIU (i.e. Tethered to the TIU)

                                            - Unplug the remote from the TIU

                                            - Power up the remote

                                            - Plug the Remote back into the TIU and wait 3-5 seconds

                                            - With an engine selected on the initial screen, press the power button once.  You should get a (T) displayed on the remote. 

                                               (Note: The power supply to TIU can either be on or off.)  If you get a (T) displayed on the remote, retry the remote update process.       

                                              (Note: You can get rid of the (T) by unplugging from the TIU, wait 3-5 seconds and press the remote power button again.)

                                                     - *Click this link for example with (T) on remote* - indicating remote IS tethered to TIU

                                                     - *Click this link for example without (T) on remote* - indicating remote IS NOT tethered to TIU   

                                                         

                                                              -  If the remote does not display the (T) then:

                                                                        -  Power down the TIU and remote

                                                                        -  Unplug everything from the TIU (power cable, remote tether cable, Serial cable, etc)

                                                                            and let sit for 1 minute or longer and retry the remote update process.

 

                                                                                 -  If you still have problems:

                                                                                        -  Check the cable and ensure it is good.  Try another cable or test the existing one with a voltmeter and test for pin continuity.

                                                                                                Also ensure it is wired correctly.  See the information for the 4pin connector in the "CHECK LIST" section above.

                                                                                        -  Check the pins in the TIU and Remote phone jack sockets to ensure they aren't bent or damaged.

                                                                                        -  Try another Remote or TIU

                                                                                        -  If all this fails, contact your local MTH Authorized dealer or MTH directly @ (410)381-2580 for assistance.

 

 

 

Changing the Sound file on your engine:

Follow these steps to either make a backup of the sound file in your engine or load a new file to it.

 

  • Boot your computer and ensure you have the DCS loader software installed. (See this item in the TIU and Remote software section above)

    • Recommend you install the most recent version of the DCS loader software

  • Next connect the 9-pin serial or USB cable from the computer to the TIU. (See this item in the TIU and Remote software section above)

  • Put your engine on a short section of track not connected to the layout and connect the track to the output port of the TIU

  • Provide power to the TIU via either the Aux power port OR the Fixed 1 input port.

  • Start the DCS Loader program on your PC

  • Recommended: (click the icon with the arrow pointing away from the engine and pull a copy of the existing sound file loaded to the engine to save as a backup)

  • Click the icon with the arrow pointing to the engine

  • Follow the instructions on the screen and click start

  • Select the sound file you want to load to the engine

  • Start the sound file load (will take about 10 mins)

  • Cycle power to the engine, re-add the engine to the remote and you are done.

 

 

 

 

(Note: Images and information on this, linked and related pages may not be used without permission)

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Read about additional modifications, repairs and tips on MTH engines at the link below.

 

Garden Railroad Modification, Repair & Maintenance

 

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Return to the Garden Railroad Modifications page.

 

Free Counters
Web Counter