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Too many decoders for a Digitrax Zephyr?

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  • Member since
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  • From: Anaheim, CA Bayfield, CO
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Too many decoders for a Digitrax Zephyr?
Posted by Southwest Chief on Monday, September 1, 2008 7:14 PM

My Zephyr manual mentions controlling 10 locomotive as a maximum.

Does this just apply to control, or is it a max of 10 decoders as well?

What I'm wondering about is my new passenger trainset.  The total consist has 2 locomotives and 9 passenger cars (11 total or 44 axels for the defect detectors out there Wink [;)] )

In all but the baggage car I will be installing decoders.  So a total of 10 decoders.  2 decoders for the 2 locomotives with at least one a being Loksound...most likely.  The other 8 will be function only for the various lighting features in the passenger cars.  I may add lights to the baggage car as well so this would push the function only decoders to 9.

All of the decoders will use the same address making it a lot easier to control the full trainset with one controller and one number entry.

So will this consist max out my Zephyr?  Will all of this eat up too much power?  The cars and locos, for the most part, will use LEDs.  So not as much draw as bulbs, but there are quite a few LEDs.  Rough guess at this time is a total of 110 surface mounts, and perhaps eight 1.5 volt bulbs.

I haven't ever had many locos on the layout at once.  I think 7 was the max, with 2 lighted passenger cars (10 LEDs).  This is why I'm not sure if the Zephyr, as is, will be powerful enough for this new passenger trainset.  I'm also wondering about other DCC systems as well if I happen to take the consist to run on a friends or public display layout.

I'm relatively new to DCC (only about 3 years of experience now) so if my above situation is not a potential problem...my bad Blush [:I]

Matt from Anaheim, CA and Bayfield, CO
Click Here for my model train photo website

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Posted by jbinkley60 on Monday, September 1, 2008 7:23 PM
 Southwest Chief wrote:

My Zephyr manual mentions controlling 10 locomotive as a maximum.

Does this just apply to control, or is it a max of 10 decoders as well?

What I'm wondering about is my new passenger trainset.  The total consist has 2 locomotives and 9 passenger cars (11 total or 44 axels for the defect detectors out there Wink [;)] )

In all but the baggage car I will be installing decoders.  So a total of 10 decoders.  2 decoders for the 2 locomotives with at least one a being Loksound...most likely.  The other 8 will be function only for the various lighting features in the passenger cars.  I may add lights to the baggage car as well so this would push the function only decoders to 9.

All of the decoders will use the same address making it a lot easier to control the full trainset with one controller and one number entry.

So will this consist max out my Zephyr?  Will all of this eat up too much power?  The cars and locos, for the most part, will use LEDs.  So not as much draw as bulbs, but there are quite a few LEDs.  Rough guess at this time is a total of 110 surface mounts, and perhaps eight 1.5 volt bulbs.

I haven't ever had many locos on the layout at once.  I think 7 was the max, with 2 lighted passenger cars (10 LEDs).  This is why I'm not sure if the Zephyr, as is, will be powerful enough for this new passenger trainset.  I'm also wondering about other DCC systems as well if I happen to take the consist to run on a friends or public display layout.

I'm relatively new to DCC (only about 3 years of experience now) so if my above situation is not a potential problem...my bad Blush [:I]

The limit of 10 is how many different decoder addresses the DCS50 can control at one time.  If they all are one address they will count as one decoder, so that should be an issue.  You might want to use 3 addresses, one for each locomotive and one for the 8 passenger cars.  The only other limit you might reach is the current draw limit of 2.5A, due to the lights.     The good news with Digitrax is that the upgrade path is pretty good so you have some options around increasing the current output capabilities of your system.

 

Engineer Jeff NS Nut
Visit my layout at: http://www.thebinks.com/trains/

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Posted by Texas Zepher on Monday, September 1, 2008 7:24 PM
 Southwest Chief wrote:
My Zephyr manual mentions controlling 10 locomotive as a maximum.

Does this just apply to control, or is it a max of 10 decoders as well?

Just simultanious control.   There can be as many decoders sitting around on the layout as the power supply will support.  Seems like that was 2.5 Amps worth for the Zephyr.

  • Member since
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Posted by Southwest Chief on Monday, September 1, 2008 7:36 PM

Thanks for the quick replies.

I'll have to do some math to figure out the power draw.  But like you say, with Digitrax I can add power boosters and such.  Why I went with the Zephyr and not a lesser DCC starter system.

Matt from Anaheim, CA and Bayfield, CO
Click Here for my model train photo website

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Posted by Capt. Grimek on Monday, September 1, 2008 11:27 PM
Let us know how it adds up?
I'm trying to decide if I've spent a lot more dough than I (would ever) need(ed) to...and your thread is making me feel more comfortable with the decision...

br /> I just purchased the Super Chief, yesterday as I'm newer to DCC than you are and I decided the "elbow room" while I'm learning to add up the amperage of whatever I'm using would be "comfy for signals, turnout switching, animation, later" and wanted CV read back. I needed the DT400 radio throttle soon, anyway for our club/sessions as I'm always borrowing from someone and I'm the new guy.

I'll never need 120 throttles on an 8'X17' layout but the 5 amps....maybe...?
I'm just now learning to add up my amps on things, so I'd appreciate learning from your experience to see if I've gone way overboard or not!
I already had one foot in the Zephyr to start/upgrade path which as you've said, is a good safe bet.

Looking forward to seeing how your consist works out.

Raised on the Erie Lackawanna Mainline- Supt. of the Black River Transfer & Terminal R.R.

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Posted by Capt. Grimek on Tuesday, September 2, 2008 2:32 PM
David, can you link us to an inexpensive yet effective product and descripton? Maybe a clip on device?
I did a search on ramp meter(ing) but got mostly freeway ramp highway traffic control links.
Maybe tell us what makes ramp metering different from other diagnostic metering. I'm an electrical rookie
but would like to monitor via a meter or two once I understand how things work.
Thanks.

Raised on the Erie Lackawanna Mainline- Supt. of the Black River Transfer & Terminal R.R.

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Posted by modelmaker51 on Tuesday, September 2, 2008 4:50 PM

Jay 

C-415 Build: https://imageshack.com/a/tShC/1 

Other builds: https://imageshack.com/my/albums 

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Posted by Capt. Grimek on Tuesday, September 2, 2008 8:14 PM
Thank you Jay. I wasn't even aware of their existence! I can see that this high tech world of DCC is going to
be an ongoing learning experience for some time to come. I'll definitely get a ramp meter once I'm
getting set up. I've been to Tony's site before but didn't click on things I hadn't formerly been knowledgable about and I can see that's a mistake I need to remedy. Someone really needs to write a DCC for Dummies
book that's very thorough. The Kalmbach books are skimpy and the "Big Book" is outdated and out of publication. It's frustrating for beginners and formerly non electrical/electronic oriented folks.

Raised on the Erie Lackawanna Mainline- Supt. of the Black River Transfer & Terminal R.R.

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Posted by retsignalmtr on Thursday, September 4, 2008 6:11 PM
you have to watch the current draw of the loco's that you'll be running. my club had our traveling layout at a show last year. we had brought our empire builder to run the layout. we had four sound equiped atlas and walthers loco's running plus a couple of decoder only loco's all running at the same time. within a few minute's the trains slowed down and stopped with the db 150 comand station reaching it's maximum current rating of five amps. we had to let the command station cool off a while and also shut off the sound in the loco's. sound locos will draw almost an amp. so it wont take much to reach the limit of the zephyr.
  • Member since
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Posted by Southwest Chief on Friday, September 5, 2008 1:46 AM
 davidmbedard wrote:
...We need to step back and look at each loco as an individual case. 

David B 

Yep, but that's what makes pre planning quite tricky.  You never really know the true current draw until you actually test it out with a meter.

Matt from Anaheim, CA and Bayfield, CO
Click Here for my model train photo website

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Posted by retsignalmtr on Friday, September 5, 2008 10:03 AM

after the show that the overheating problem surfaced i spoke with a person at digitrax and he confirmed that the amount of loco's being operated with and without sound and several passenger cars with incandesant lighting was causing the db150 to get too warm. he also said that the use of a small chassis fan be used to help keep the heatsink cool. we usually take the empire builder to shows because it is in a transportable case with adequate ventilation. we've since swapped in our 8 amp superchief for a show next month. we'll see what happens then.

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