Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Cold Weather affecting DCC operation ?

1427 views
17 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    July, 2011
  • 12 posts
Cold Weather affecting DCC operation ?
Posted by Renoir on Thursday, November 28, 2013 4:29 PM

First of all Happy Thanksgiving to all forum members celebrating over in the US.

I operate my HO DCC Layout in my garage which has no heating.I use an MRC Prodigy Advance DCC system and have two Loco's fited with TCS decoders. Last weekend I decided to run the locos and found that when I tried to use my handheld controller it would not respond when I tried to call up either Loco. The speed control worked fine but when trying to call up a loco address on the Main track it would not appear on the LED display. I placed both locos on my programming track and both addresses read back no problem.

I took my handheld controller up to my local model store and the guys there used it on their shop layout with no problems at all. After some discussion we concluded that one possible reason was that the temperature had dropped in my garage during the week and I had left my controller out in the open on my workbench and both locos had been sitting on the layout - thereby possibly causing the dcc electronics to become sluggish. Once I returned home and plugged my handheld back into the DCC it operated completely trouble free.

I now bring my handheld controller indoors and put my locos away in their boxes wrapped in soft insulting material. Has anyone else had similar experiences of cold weather affecting their DCC?

Paul

US Railroad Fan modelling HO on Merrylands Rail layout in Bookham,Surrey,UK.

  • Member since
    February, 2005
  • From: Vancouver Island, BC
  • 19,720 posts
Posted by selector on Thursday, November 28, 2013 4:36 PM

I can't see any thing like 'sluggishness' being a factor.  If anything, metals science says electrical transmission improves as metals cool...generally.   I think something else is afoot here.  Not "a" foot, but afoot. Geeked

I believe lcd displays should continue to work until very cold temps.  Could it be that a solder opens up at a certain temp and then recloses to contact point?

  • Member since
    January, 2010
  • 4,438 posts
Posted by zstripe on Thursday, November 28, 2013 5:06 PM

Oil and grease, thicken in cold weather. batteries, will drain, in cold weather. How cold did it get?

Cheers, Drinks

Frank

  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • From: 4610 Metre's North of the Fortyninth on the left coast of Canada
  • 3,376 posts
Posted by BATMAN on Thursday, November 28, 2013 5:58 PM

When I was on the ramp at an airport loading Freighters, I would often have 3 radios and a couple of phones on me. When it was really cold out, all those electronic devices found a spot inside my government issue parka. It did not take long for those things to start acting up in the extreme cold. Sometimes the batteries would actually explode when thawing out if it got left on the seat of my truck or elsewhere to freeze.

I would say check the battery situation first by replacing them. You can also end up with an inttermitent circuit if those metals in the board shrink too much. If you are having problems down the road I would blame the cold for a cracked board or solder joint. My Uncle was head technicion on the pipelines for 30 years. The stories of havoc that the cold would cause were often hard to believe.

Equipment that is to be used in extreme conditions is built and tested for cold weather operation and it still fails, something tells me our DCC controlers did not face the 40 days and 40 nights at minus 50c before they were brought to market.Laugh

Brent


It's not the age honey, it's the mileage.

https://www.youtube.com/user/BATTRAIN1

  • Member since
    September, 2007
  • From: Charlotte, NC
  • 5,574 posts
Posted by Phoebe Vet on Thursday, November 28, 2013 6:55 PM

Try just keeping the controllers in the house.  Batteries get cold soaked.

In the Adirondack mountains, when we had to park an aircraft over night outside in the extreme cold we used to take the battery out and bring it inside with us.  At the 1980 winter olympics we wore our radios inside our coats running just the microphone outside.  Otherwise the battery would go dead in about 30 minutes.

Dave

Lackawanna Route of the Phoebe Snow

  • Member since
    February, 2002
  • From: Reading, PA
  • 17,310 posts
Posted by rrinker on Thursday, November 28, 2013 9:22 PM

 ABout the only thing that would be affected electronically would be batteries in wireless throttles. Locos running poorly is more likely due to the thickened grease and oil.

 Some brands come way overlubed fromt h factory, and also have a very thick grease, on the assumption that the purchaser will never bother to add any oil or grease. Some brands come completely dry, often to prevent messes - and the instructions tell you to apply grease and oil before running. Some people put way too much grease on the gears when doing maintenence. All these will cause poor running, and it jsut gets worse when it is very cold and the grease thickens even more.Even a properly lubed loco will have to deal with thickened grease, however after you run them for a while, they should return to normal as warmth builds up in the loco.

                            --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

  • Member since
    February, 2004
  • From: Central Ohio
  • 248 posts
Posted by basementdweller on Thursday, November 28, 2013 9:35 PM

Hello mate, can you set up a test track indoors and then try your DCC system, if similar proble persists then you can rule out the temperature.

 

  • Member since
    November, 2004
  • From: Cambridge U.K.
  • 238 posts
Posted by CPPedler on Friday, November 29, 2013 1:23 AM

Hello Renoir,

I live in the U.K. and I would be very surprised if the weather was causing your problem. We just don,t get the cold like what our friends across the pond experience.

I have seen a layout in Vermont running with the mercury down to 7'F and it still ran O.K.

I think that you should look at your track and perhaps clean it and check your electrical connections, I think that is where your trouble lies

Good luck    Colin    Cambridge   U.K.

  • Member since
    July, 2008
  • 981 posts
Posted by mfm37 on Friday, November 29, 2013 5:52 AM

Thew L in LCD stands for liquid. So yes, a liquid will be affected by extreme cold or extreme heat. Don't leave it on your dshboard in the blazing sun either.

That being said, the cold was probably not your trouble. The display would still do something just not as clearly.

Martin Myers

  • Member since
    February, 2004
  • From: Central Ohio
  • 248 posts
Posted by basementdweller on Friday, November 29, 2013 9:01 AM

Paul, I lean towards the possibility of dampness. I know you say the garage is dry but what is the humidity? I think if it operates fine stored indoors but not when stored in the garage then I think it would be an enviromental issue.

I know you are on the wind barren plains of Bookham but doubt it is too cold.

  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • From: 4610 Metre's North of the Fortyninth on the left coast of Canada
  • 3,376 posts
Posted by BATMAN on Friday, November 29, 2013 11:14 AM

Whoops!  I didn't realize you were in the U.K. Cold in the U.K. means a light jacket required. Cold here means don't turn off your truck unless you can plug it in. As a guy that spent a lot of his working life at airports we got a chuckle when Heathrow op's came to a hault a couple of years ago causing havoc after a few flakes fell. Even though Heathrow is on the other side of the world from us, we put in lots of extra hours  dealing with the ripple effect. I remember we stuck a toy Tonka front end loader just inside the door of a 747 freighter to give our compatriots a hard time at heathrow. The note on top said here's some better equipment now get those runways cleared.Laugh A couple of weeks later they sent it back thanking us for the loan, they said they had used it to to shovel out their idiot managers who had received big bonuses for not spending any money on snow clearing equipment. We all had a good laugh.

I don't think cold would affect your system unless you hit 20 or 30 below 0c.

Brent


It's not the age honey, it's the mileage.

https://www.youtube.com/user/BATTRAIN1

  • Member since
    July, 2003
  • From: Sierra Vista, Arizona
  • 13,167 posts
Posted by cacole on Sunday, December 01, 2013 9:45 AM

How cold is cold?  We use the North Coast Engineering PowerHouse Pro with ProCab Radio throttles at our club, which is in an unheated building except when someone is there.  Sometimes the temperature inside the building drops to near freezing, but we have never ran into a problem with the DCC system not functioning properly.

  • Member since
    July, 2011
  • 12 posts
Posted by Renoir on Tuesday, December 03, 2013 1:11 PM

Thanks everyone for your advice on this. Clearly the weather over here is not as extreme as most of you guys experience and this has reassured me that my equipment is safe in my garage during the winter months. My Handheld controller seems to be working normally so I will bear your thoughts in mind should I encounter any further operating problems.

Cheers

Paul

US Railroad Fan modelling HO on Merrylands Rail layout in Bookham,Surrey,UK.

  • Member since
    May, 2006
  • From: N.E. Lancashire (off Jnt. 12, M65.
  • 215 posts
Posted by john.pickles87 on Friday, December 06, 2013 2:12 PM

Hi Paul,
Sorry been grounded by the boss, just caught the thread. 
 
Our layout is situated in an ex-weaving shed north of Manchester, no heating on nothing, that’s why it’s so cheap (another story) and we find we have problems with near zero temperatures. So locos, stock and control systems (Prodigy Advance) are not left on site when it gets real cold.
 
I just leave a couple of rakes to run, the rest goes home, much to her annoyance (tough).  Alright motors and other electrics run better when kept warm and dry but leave a car out for a week in a couple of sharp frosts and watch the KDs fur-up, a whole rake of my hoppers did that last winter and the track got a bit sticky to the touch.
 
Be in touch.
Pick.
?
  • Member since
    July, 2011
  • 12 posts
Posted by Renoir on Wednesday, December 18, 2013 4:05 PM

Hi Pick Just got back on the forum this week so I have only just read your post. Thanks for your thoughts on this. I think I will follow your advice and not leave locos and the dcc system out during winter. Fortunately I have a chest of drawers in my garage which I use as storage.

Cheers for your reply - from down South!

Paul

US Railroad Fan modelling HO on Merrylands Rail layout in Bookham,Surrey,UK.

  • Member since
    May, 2006
  • From: N.E. Lancashire (off Jnt. 12, M65.
  • 215 posts
Posted by john.pickles87 on Thursday, December 19, 2013 9:01 AM

Hi Paul,

 

When I say I moved my stuff (stock & controllers) I mean I took them home as the layout room in the mill has no heating but for the heater used on club nights.  KDs don’t like –0 temp and gain a white furring on the knuckles, electronics don’t like it period.

 

 

 

I’d have a quite word with the boss, if you've no heating in the garage about moving stuff indoors when it gets frosty.

 

 

 

Be in touch.

 

pick.

 

 

 

PS. john.pickles@ntlworld.com

 

?
  • Member since
    December, 2004
  • From: York, Pa.
  • 2,298 posts
Posted by DigitalGriffin on Friday, December 20, 2013 12:11 PM

MOST solid state electronics really aren't affected by common temperature ranges.  Moving parts like motors, and lubes, and batteries however will be!  Battery performance lowers when you chill them.  It's one of the many reasons car batteries like to die in the winter.  Their total amp capacity drops when they get cold, making a cold engine that much harder to turn over.

 

Don H-Specializing in layout DC->DCC conversions

Modeling C&O transition era and steel industries There's Nothing Like Big Steam!

 

  • Member since
    July, 2011
  • 12 posts
Posted by Renoir on Sunday, December 29, 2013 3:06 PM

Don H

Thanks for your recent response, Ihave only just read it but thanks for the information. I am now reassured that the lower temperatures in my garage at this time of year wil not have any adverse affect on my DCC system and I have had no further problems with my handheld throttle which is responding just fine  now.

Thanks Again

Paul

US Railroad Fan modelling HO on Merrylands Rail layout in Bookham,Surrey,UK.

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!
Popular on ModelRailroader.com
Model Railroader Newsletter See all
Sign up for our FREE e-newsletter and get model railroad news in your inbox!
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Search the Community

ADVERTISEMENT
Find us on Facebook

Loading...