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Programming track.... can I just throw a switch?

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  • Member since
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Programming track.... can I just throw a switch?
Posted by irishRR on Friday, May 8, 2020 1:05 AM

Hello. So I have a layout and a programming track. The programming track is separate from the layout and until I get a new house with more room, the wife said no more expanding the layout... so I cannot build a new programming track into the existing layout... for now. 

I have a digitrax dcc system and it is getting annoying having to disconnect the track bus from the command station terminal everytime and then connect the programming track leads to utilize my programming track... and then going through this again in reverse to go back to operations on the main. 

Is there some kind of easy way I can just wire up both the layout and the programming track to the command station with a switch or something in between so I can just press a button or a throw and go from one to another and have them be independently isolated? 

I have done operations programming on the main before, but one time I forgot to select that in my throttle menu and accidentally changed CV's on all 26 of my locomotives at once.... that was not fun to reprogram all the speed tables. 

Any help, suggestion or diagram here would be most appreciated. Thank you in advance. Cheers!

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Posted by Bayfield Transfer Railway on Friday, May 8, 2020 2:50 AM

I use a DPDT toggle switch.  Center terminals to DCC, one set of outer terminals to layout, other set to programming track.

 

if you fancy being a mad scientist,use a DPDT knife switch.

Disclaimer:  This post may contain humor, sarcasm, and/or flatulence.

Michael Mornard

Bringing the North Woods to South Dakota!

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Posted by rrinker on Friday, May 8, 2020 7:48 AM

 Which Digitrax system do you have? It sounds like you are using a DB150 as a command station if you were able to accidently program all the locos on the layout.

 A DPDT toggle would work, with one side connected to the layout, the other to a piece of track just sitting there, and the center to the DCC system. But if you forget to throw the DPDT switch - the same thing will happen and all loocs will get programmed.

 NCE has a little device called the Auto SW. This will work with the DB150 as well. It automatically detects when the system goes to program mode and switches which output terminals the signals come from - so one set go to the layout, the other to the program track, and when you go to program, the layout is automatically cut off and the program track activated. It's under $30.

                                              --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

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

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Posted by dehusman on Friday, May 8, 2020 8:02 AM

On my layout I have the house track at Coatesville as my programming track because its a spur track right above teh command station.

The track has insulating gaps in both rails. 

I have a DPDT toggle mounted, recessed in the fascia, to control it.  The center poles of the switch are connected to the track, with the programing track leads connected to one side and the regular DCC attached to the other.

When I want to program an engine I run/place it in the house track, throw the toggle to the programming position and then can program away.  Since the track is next to the command station I can plug in my laptop to the command station and use Decoder Pro.

When I'm not programming, the toggle is in the DCC position and  the house track is just another track.  Since the toggle is recessed, its never used in an op session and nobody operates it by accident.

Dave H. Painted side goes up. My website : wnbranch.com

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Posted by floridaflyer on Friday, May 8, 2020 9:30 AM

Had a question but rereading the OP's post answered it.

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Posted by juan wise on Friday, May 8, 2020 9:36 AM

This is basically the same that I have.  Works well.  Prior to that I had a removable test track with alligator clips to the command station.

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Posted by joe323 on Friday, May 8, 2020 9:48 AM

I use a DPDT switch with my power cab but I thought digitrax came with separate outputs for a programming track?

Joe Staten Island West 

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Friday, May 8, 2020 10:54 AM

My Lenz system does have separate outputs for the programming track and regular DCC.  So, it's a simple matter to have an electrically isolated stub track and use a simple DPDT to decide whether the siding is a programming track or part of the layout.

This also has the advantage that I can run an engine on to program it and finish he job without touching the engine.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

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Posted by wjstix on Friday, May 8, 2020 12:52 PM

joe323

I use a DPDT switch with my power cab but I thought digitrax came with separate outputs for a programming track?

 
That is correct. You hook up the DPDT switch so setting it one way connects that section of track to regular track power outputs, setting the toggle the other way connects that section of track to the programming outputs. Or to say it another way, the two "output" connections on the DPDT toggle (usually the middle two) are connected to the track. The two input terminals on one side of the toggle switch are connected to track power, the two on the other side are connected to the programming connections on the DCC system.
 
I like to use a 'center off' switch so I can make the section of track dead when putting an engine on there.
Stix
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Posted by irishRR on Friday, May 8, 2020 1:22 PM

I think the DPDT is my best option. My digitrax is an old model. A DB150 that has since been retired and does not have a separate programming feature. It also does not have the ability to read back CV's... which at the time of purchase I was not too serious into my railroad and deemed it no big deal. If I knew then what I know now... oh well. Thanks for all the advice everyone. As always it is appreciated. Stay healthy.

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Posted by jjdamnit on Friday, May 8, 2020 2:28 PM

Hello All,

I use a Bachmann Dynamis DCC system.

This is considered a "dead-end" system. I've expanded it as far as I can adding a 5A booster and the Pro Box with Infra-Red antenna extension.

With the addition of the Pro Box, theoretically a programming track can be added for the options of Programming On the Main (POM) or Programming On the Service [programming] Track (POST).

After "Franken-cabling" a fitting from the Pro Box to the programming track it never really worked.

rrinker
NCE has a little device called the Auto SW. This will work with the DB150 as well. It automatically detects when the system goes to program mode and switches which output terminals the signals come from - so one set go to the layout, the other to the program track, and when you go to program, the layout is automatically cut off and the program track activated. It's under $30.

When I saw this unit I immediately ordered one. 

Installation was straightforward with the included instructions. Gaping both rails to the programming track and running a separate set of feeders will be necessary.

This unit is an NMRA DCC compliant device- -it is compatible with any DCC system that adheres to NMRA standards.

When programming I do have to choose from the DCC system POST.

If I try to POM the unit will not allow the programming packets through to the entire system, thus avoiding programming all the decoders on the layout and having to re-program each decoder. 

When not programming- -even though the programming track is gapped- -the non-programming packets are allowed to pass-through this device allowing "normal" operation of this section of track.

The NCE Auto SW is a great option for those NMRA compatible DCC systems that don't offer a dedicated programming output. 

Hope this helps.

Post Script: For Programming off the pike I use JMRI Decoder Pro installed on my Mac with a Digitrax PR3 interface to a mobile programming track. The NCE Auto SW integrates perfectly with the off-track programming.
HTH.

"Uhh...I didn’t know it was 'impossible' I just made it work...sorry"

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Posted by woodone on Friday, May 8, 2020 6:06 PM

Yes you can- SWITCH WIFE ! Not sure that is the wize thing to do has it cost lots los $.  

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Posted by BigDaddy on Friday, May 8, 2020 6:18 PM

woodone
Yes you can- SWITCH WIFE ! Not sure that is the wize thing to do has it cost lots los $.

But it's worth it.

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

By the Chesapeake Bay

  • Member since
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Posted by jjdamnit on Friday, May 8, 2020 7:15 PM

Hello All,

BigDaddy
BigDaddy wrote the following post an hour ago: woodone Yes you can- SWITCH WIFE ! Not sure that is the wize thing to do has it cost lots los $. But it's worth it.

For our 25th wedding anniversary, I asked, "She who must be obeyed" what she wanted?

She said, "A divorce!"

I replied, "That's not what I budgeted for our anniversary!"

Sometimes, it's financially prudent to stay the course.

Hope this helps.

"Uhh...I didn’t know it was 'impossible' I just made it work...sorry"

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Posted by mbinsewi on Sunday, May 10, 2020 9:17 AM

joe323
but I thought digitrax came with separate outputs for a programming track?

Not the older DB150, which I use, along with the DT400 throttle, but I have a small layout, with maybe only 2 locos on the tracks, not 26, so programming is no big deal.

Mike.

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Posted by santafe5000 on Sunday, May 10, 2020 6:37 PM

https://dccwiki.com/Programming_Track

 

Good article on how to set up a programming track with indicators.

James in TexasCowboy

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    November 2013
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Posted by WILLIAM SHEPARD on Saturday, May 23, 2020 3:07 PM

Had to run out and look at my DCC to tell if I had it wired wrong.

Bought the Digitrak system about 10 years ago, wired it in but never plugged it in yet.  Still run every thing DC.  

Mine has separate outputs for program and the track.  DCS200 so beleive I'm good to go if and when I start to use the DCC.  

Had bought couple Bachmann 3 truck Climax engine for my mountain route, with DCC but when I tried the first one on DC, it didn't have enough power to climb up a 1% grade.  Found out it wasn't the power that was the problem, it was the only truck that power went to was the front 2 wheels of the front truck.  The drive shafts turned to all trucks but only 1 pair

irishRR

Hello. So I have a layout and a programming track. The programming track is separate from the layout and until I get a new house with more room, the wife said no more expanding the layout... so I cannot build a new programming track into the existing layout... for now. 

I have a digitrax dcc system and it is getting annoying having to disconnect the track bus from the command station terminal everytime and then connect the programming track leads to utilize my programming track... and then going through this again in reverse to go back to operations on the main. 

Is there some kind of easy way I can just wire up both the layout and the programming track to the command station with a switch or something in between so I can just press a button or a throw and go from one to another and have them be independently isolated? 

I have done operations programming on the main before, but one time I forgot to select that in my throttle menu and accidentally changed CV's on all 26 of my locomotives at once.... that was not fun to reprogram all the speed tables. 

Any help, suggestion or diagram here would be most appreciated. Thank you in advance. Cheers!

 

irishRR

Hello. So I have a layout and a programming track. The programming track is separate from the layout and until I get a new house with more room, the wife said no more expanding the layout... so I cannot build a new programming track into the existing layout... for now. 

I have a digitrax dcc system and it is getting annoying having to disconnect the track bus from the command station terminal everytime and then connect the programming track leads to utilize my programming track... and then going through this again in reverse to go back to operations on the main. 

Is there some kind of easy way I can just wire up both the layout and the programming track to the command station with a switch or something in between so I can just press a button or a throw and go from one to another and have them be independently isolated? 

I have done operations programming on the main before, but one time I forgot to select that in my throttle menu and accidentally changed CV's on all 26 of my locomotives at once.... that was not fun to reprogram all the speed tables. 

Any help, suggestion or diagram here would be most appreciated. Thank you in advance. Cheers!

 

of wheels turned out of 6.  Never opened the second one figured it probably was the same.  

Live an learn. 

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Posted by JoeUmp on Tuesday, May 26, 2020 5:30 PM

One other advantage to a center off DPDT is that it prevents accidently routing track power to your programming output and possibly damaging your base station

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Posted by irishRR on Tuesday, May 26, 2020 11:42 PM

As the OP of this thread, I figured I should give an update. At first, the Auto SW seemed very attractive, so I bought one from my local hobby shop. As I got home and started to plan the wiring, I realized the terminals were too small to fit my 14 gauge bus wire into... this presented a problem as I was not comfortable using different size gauge wires for my bus power (I'm no master electrician, but this didnt seem like a good idea). Also, the Auto SW does not activate the programming track when in operations mode programming. I built my dual programming track long and straight with the intention of speed matching locos for consist set up. (I do not have JMRI.... yet). So speed matching would have to have still been done on the main, which puts the risk of accidentally programming all of my engines at once, which was the whole purpose of me building the programming track.

So I decided on the DPDT switch. It works like a gem. Same gauge bus wire and the program track completely isolated from the layout. Thanks again for all the insight.

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Posted by BigDaddy on Wednesday, May 27, 2020 7:37 AM

irishRR
I realized the terminals were too small to fit my 14 gauge bus wire into... this presented a problem as I was not comfortable using different size gauge wires for my bus power

It's considered acceptable to solder on a short piece of smaller gauge wire for that connection.  Those terminals can only accept wire so large.  When you think about it, you are putting a round wire in a square hole.  You don't have 360 degree contact in the terminal anyway.
Glad you wrapped it up for us.

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

By the Chesapeake Bay

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Posted by rrinker on Wednesday, May 27, 2020 8:11 AM

 And by design it doesn't switch to the program track for Ops Mode. No DCC system does. Ops Mode is supposed to be on the main track, since it only programs the loco you have selected. People who claim to have reset all their locos by using Ops Mode weren't using Ops Mode, or else they actually had every loco set to the same address.

                                          --Randy


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

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

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Posted by wjstix on Wednesday, May 27, 2020 11:00 AM

JMRI isn't really going to make a difference in speed matching. You can do it on your mainline easily enough. I use a "golden" engine, one that I speed match all teh other engines to. I create a consist with the engine I want to speed match as the lead engine, and add the golden engine as a second engine. Then I set them up next to each other on parallel straight tracks - but having them on the same track works too. Then I run the engines back and forth and use OPS programming (where you have to enter the ID no. of the engine you want to change) to adjust the lead engine's CV5 (and CV6 if it has it) until they're running at the same speed. Nice thing about doing it that way is you can do it in real time - change CV5 from 200 to 150 and the engine immediately slows down. Then I adjust CV 2, 3 and 4 so the 'new' engine starts and stops the same as the golden engine.

BTW space-wise, I have my PR3 and LokProgrammer and programming tracks connected to a laptop that are all sitting on a shelf UNDER the layout, so no extra room needed.

Stix
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Posted by Scandinavian on Saturday, May 30, 2020 9:29 AM

 Hi guys,

I have a switch in my control panel where i can select whole layout or prog track only:

 

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