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Circuit Breaker Survey

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Circuit Breaker Survey
Posted by bearman on Monday, March 05, 2018 5:46 AM

A recent thread started by gdelmoro regarding his short circuit problems prompts me to take a survey on circuit breakers.  What circuit breaker(s) do you use and why?  And did you switch over from another model?

I use two PSX1's on mine for no good reason at all than I read a quick review several years ago that they were the best on the market, so I cannot claim to compare them to anything else.  I also have not had a short on my layout beyond the ones that I induced to make sure the wiring was ok, so I cant say if they work under real life conditions.  Obviously, I assume they will if and when the time comes.

I would like to point out that this is NOT intended to be an opportunity to rant about Manufacturer A or B or C or whatever.  That can be done on another thread.

So, have at it.

 

Bear "It's all about having fun."

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Posted by richhotrain on Monday, March 05, 2018 5:53 AM

I own several PSX units as well. Occasional derailments cause shorts on my layout, and the pertinent PSX shuts down only that power district causing the short. The PSX is an excellent and reliable unit.

One thing that I like about the PSX units is that the input side has 4 ports instead of just two ports. So, you can daisy chain from one unit to another.

gdelmoro has NCE EB1 circuit breakers on his layout. I don't have any personal experience with them.

Rich

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Posted by gdelmoro on Monday, March 05, 2018 6:05 AM

Well ... as you know I only have experience with the NCE EB1 and I’m about to find out if NCE will stand by them.  

If not, I just saw an excellent video on the NMRA website about the PSX. the video was done by the designer who weas very informative AND he stated that if one ever goes bad (even out of warrantee) they will replace it.

If you’re an NMRA member search for the below

Presented by Larry Maier
‚Äč2009 National Convention - Hartford, CT
“Unique Features and Use of DCC Specialties Products” – Larry Maier (58:53) 
Tony’s Train Exchange engineer Larry Maier describes several products manufactured by Tony’s subsidiary, DCC Specialties, and how to use and program each.

Gary

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Posted by rrinker on Monday, March 05, 2018 7:38 AM

 I used a Digitrax PM42 on my last layout, but I have a Digitrax system. Never had any problems with it, even deliberately loading multiple sound locos in one section, it still recovered just fine. I have no external keep-alives on any of mine, and I guess ESU decoders don;t have the inrush issues of QSI or others, although I do have one QSI and people have claimed their PM42 won't reset with even one sound decoder - I think they're doing it wrong.

 Not really suitable for non-Digitrax systems as you need a Digitrax throttle to adjust the settings. Or a standalone Loconet and JMRI.

                                --Randy

 


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Posted by peahrens on Monday, March 05, 2018 7:59 AM

I decided on a NCE Powerhouse Pro 5A system, and consulted with Tony's Trains, which I recommend (again).  I note my DCC system, as with that I was ok with the OG-CB and OG-AR (reverser) breakers for my sub-districts.  I wanted non-relay types and Tony's suggested they would fit my bill.  I don't think they are adjustable, and they do not work with some systems, including PowerCab and Zephyr, I'm guessing because their trip setting (4A) is too high and the booster would trip first(?). 

They are less expensive ($25, $32, respectively) but that was not the key criterion.  They do have circuit board connections for extended LED indicators.  They might be worth consideration in some cases, but I would check with Tony's.

I note from previous threads that adjustability can be critical with some combinations, as the subdistrict breaker needs to trip before the main (booster) breaker.  But not an issue in my case.  Always work fine.

Paul

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Posted by bearman on Monday, March 05, 2018 8:02 AM

peahrens

...and consulted with Tony's Trains, which I recommend (again). 

Consulting with Tony's Trains is a very smart thing to do.

 

Bear "It's all about having fun."

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Posted by BroadwayLion on Monday, March 05, 2018 10:47 AM

LION uses 3AMP Automobile fuses. Him has five circuits for different uses.

If fuse blows, him not put in another fuse, instead him connects the big 12 v. truck taillight and uses the lamp filiments as if they were the fuse.

If the lamp lights up the short is still present. Go find the short. Whe the short is eliminated the light will go out and the train will start running. The train will not draw enough current to allow the lamp to glow.

Once all is working, LION disconects the lamp and installs a gnu fuse.

 

ROAR

 

(Do NOT mistake fuses with fusees, they are very different in the railroad world)

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Posted by bearman on Monday, March 05, 2018 11:26 AM

LION, Him the frugal railroader

Bear "It's all about having fun."

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Posted by BigDaddy on Monday, March 05, 2018 11:32 AM

BroadwayLion
If the lamp lights up the short is still present

My stupid question of the day: Why does the lamp only light in the presence of a short?

 

Henry

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Posted by bearman on Monday, March 05, 2018 11:55 AM

Henry, check with Allan Gartner's website.  He explains it.  I cant.

Bear "It's all about having fun."

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Posted by Onewolf on Monday, March 05, 2018 12:57 PM
I have a bunch of PSX components (two PSX-AR, two PSX4, two PSX3, one PSX2) and they all seem to work fine. They are fairly flexible/configurable. I chose them because they got good reviews and Tony's Trains recommended them when I started construction on my layout.

Modeling an HO gauge freelance version of the Union Pacific Oregon Short Line and the Utah Railway around 1957 in a world where Pirates from the Great Salt Lake founded Ogden, UT.

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Posted by bearman on Monday, March 05, 2018 1:02 PM

All those components, Onewolf?  Your layout must be massive.

Bear "It's all about having fun."

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Posted by BigDaddy on Monday, March 05, 2018 1:55 PM

bearman

Henry, check with Allan Gartner's website.  He explains it.  I cant.

I did and it didn't sink in. 

He says it has low resistance so it doesn't light.  If I take that same bulb and connect it to a battery it lights, doesn't it?  What's different about DCC?

I do have a PSX1 because I plan on having additonal power districts.  They do fail by the way because the MR staff replace one on the MRVP Rehab my Railroad. 

Henry

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Posted by gmpullman on Monday, March 05, 2018 3:08 PM

I have eight of the original "Power Shield" breakers (before they added the X in the designation). They have been soldiering along for at least twenty-years. I bought them from Lloy's Toys if that's any indication of their age. Never switched from anything else. These have performed flawlessly.

I added LED remote indicators plus a cut-out switch.

I also have three of the DCC Specialties AR auto reversers and one Digitrax AR-1 reverser.

Cheers! Ed

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Posted by graymatter on Monday, March 05, 2018 3:23 PM

Henry

If you use a automotive 12 volt 12 watt light bulb it will need around 1 amp of current to light bright. A locomotive that pulls say 200ma or 0.2amps through the light bulb will not cause it to light. So you can trouble shoot or even protect a district from excessive current draw with a lamp in series with the track and the power source.

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Monday, March 05, 2018 3:28 PM

I've got a PSX-4, which is 4 PSX breaker systems mounted together on one large board.  It's always performed well for me.  I also have 2 old PS-REV auto-reversers, which have been in service for many years and also function well.

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

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Posted by Onewolf on Monday, March 05, 2018 5:17 PM

bearman

All those components, Onewolf?  Your layout must be massive.

 

My layout is a simple loop-to-loop.  Wrapped up in a three level mushroom design.  See sig link.  Wink

Modeling an HO gauge freelance version of the Union Pacific Oregon Short Line and the Utah Railway around 1957 in a world where Pirates from the Great Salt Lake founded Ogden, UT.

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Posted by rrinker on Monday, March 05, 2018 5:52 PM

 First, you have to know what a short circuit is. That's then the power goes out, and comes back without going through a reasonable load. A pair of pliers across the track is not a reasonable load. A working loco motor IS a reasonable load. 

So, if you leave the plierson the tracks, and the fuse blows, now the circuit is open. It's exactly the same as removing a short chunmk of the wire. If you replace that wire with a light bulb, now you have a circuit again - out to the track, through the pliers, back through the light bulb. The same as connecting a light bulb to the power supply. So the light lights up. Take the pliers off the rails, now there is no current flow because there is a break in the circuit and the light goes out. Like opening a switch, or taking a chunk of wire out of the circuit.

Now keep the light bulb in place, don't repalce the fuse. The loco draws say 1/2 amp. Kirchoff's Laws say all loads in series have the sme current flowing through them. So if 1/2 amp is flowing throught he loco, 1/2 amp is flowing through the lamp. Except the lamp needs something more, like 2.5 amps to light up. So it doesn't light up. The lamp has a very low resistence, so it doesn't drop much of the voltage, and the train runs normally. But if the loco derails and wedges across the rails, and say the right side wheels touch both rails - now we have a short circuit. We're back to your basic power supply, wire, and light bulb circuit. The light bulb turns on. It draws 2.5 amps. Kirchoff again, that means no   more than 2.5 amps can flow through the short circuit.

And that's why I think light bulbs as circuit protection is a bad idea. Typical HO DCC voltage is 15 vold. At 2.5 amps, that's 37.5 watts. (15V x 2.5A). 37.5 watts is a pretty decent amount of heat. Enough to melt plastic, for sure.

A REAL circuit breaker actually turns the power off completely. Unless you enable the manual reset option most of them have, it will periodically try to see if the short is cleared, if not, it instantly shuts off again. A fuse is a form of manual reset circuit protection - power won;t come back on until you change the fuse. But if your trains derail a lot, or you run into switches lines against you frequently, you could go broke buying new fuses.

                                    --Randy

 


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Posted by bearman on Tuesday, March 06, 2018 6:31 AM

Randy, I have been leery about the light bulb method ever since I did my research on circuit breakers for my layout, and I do not claim to be an ace electrician.  As for Kirchoff's Law, I'll take your word on it.

Bear "It's all about having fun."

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Posted by BigDaddy on Tuesday, March 06, 2018 7:07 AM

graymatter
a lamp in series with the track

in series was the part I was missing.  Thanks everyone

 

Henry

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Posted by rrinker on Tuesday, March 06, 2018 7:13 AM

 Well, it's not my law, it's Gustav Kirchoff's, from way back in 1845. Big Smile

It's also the basis for putting a resistor in series with an LED - Ohm's Law lets us calculate the value of the resistor, but Ohm's law need 2 of the 3 terms to solve - voltage, current, or resistence. Know any 2, you can get the other. Voltage we know, but how do we get the current flow through the resistor? Kirchoff again. Now we have voltage and current and can easily calculate the required resistor value. Current is know because per Kirchoff, whatever current flows through the LED MUST also flow through the resistor. And really, we know the voltage also thanks to Kirchoff - the sum of the voltages through loads in series myst add up to the supply voltage. In simple termes, Vled + Vresistor = Vpower supply. The LED voltage is part of the specification of the LED so that is a known value, and hopefully you know what voltage power supply you are running it from.

It's really not difficult to understand, and it makes it pretty obvious how to figure out what resistor is needed for a given LED with a given power supply. Unless the most basic of algebra eludes you - the sort of stuff they teach BEFORE they tell you it even is algebra.

Vled = Vresistor = Vpower supply. I know Vled is 3.5V, and Vpower supply is 12V. How do I get Vresistor? 3.5 + x = 12. or, basic algebra, x=12-3.5, x=8.5 It really is that simple. There are far more complext systems of equations that are much more difficult to solve but we don;t need that stuff for basic model railroading. These simple things cover most cases you will run into with model railroad electronics.

                                 --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

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Posted by bearman on Tuesday, March 06, 2018 7:26 AM

Randy, I am electricity challenged.  I have a degree in civil engineering and the only courses that ruined my chance of graduating with honors was the first course in electricy and magnatism and Intro to Electrical Engineeringfor Non-EE majors.  Kirchoff, Faraday, Ohm, name them all and they are all gobbledygook to me, which is why I rely on people like you to help if I have a problem.

Bear "It's all about having fun."

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Posted by DigitalGriffin on Tuesday, March 06, 2018 12:45 PM

Not stupid at all.

When a short happens, current goes through the roof.

With an automotive lightbulb, as the current increases, the wire across the filament heats up.  This produces both light and resistence.  The resistence keeps your command unit from tripping.  And the light lets you know you have a short.  Kill two birds with one stone.

 

Don - Specializing in layout DC->DCC conversions

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Posted by Renegade1c on Tuesday, March 06, 2018 12:53 PM

 

Onewolf

 My layout is a simple loop-to-loop.  Wrapped up in a three level mushroom design.  See sig link.  Wink

 

I believe simple would be an understatement.....you have an impressively designed layout and I have been following you progress pretty closely. 

To answer the OP question, I have used PSX and Digitrax PM-42's (on club layout). I will never ever ever ever ever again use those (the PM-42's). They were not my choice but I got voluntold to install them. They did not mix well with the Lenz system we were using at the time and were an even bigger headache with the inrush current of sound locomotives (mostly Tsunamis). 

On my personal layout I have 10 PSX breakers (some were part of a PSX-4, a PSX-2) but I broke them all apart since they live in different areas of the layout. I have two main power points on the layout (the command station/booster and a booster). Each has 5 PSX breakers and a PSX-AR as I have two reverse loops on the layout. 

I am a very big fan of the PSX breakers. The only drawback, which sometimes drives me up a wall is the hum of the onboard transformers. The high frequency noise gets to me sometimes. 

Functionally they are wonderful. I have run up to 5-6 sound units in a single block, shorted it with a quarter and they all come back up just fine. 

I am in the process of building an external display panel to show the status of the blocks and if they are shorted or not. I will say the PSX breakers are worth their price and they are super easy to connect (unlike the PM-42 which is a disaster without an acculites board). They can be daisy chained too for easy installation. 

 

CIMG0724

this is from my old layout but as you can see they can be mounted very easily and the daisy chaining (thru screw terminals) makes wiring them a breeze. 

 


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http://www.coloradofrontrangerr.com/

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Posted by bearman on Tuesday, March 06, 2018 3:30 PM

Well, so far the ballots seem to favor the PSX units, but not in a landslide.

Bear "It's all about having fun."

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Posted by RR_Mel on Tuesday, March 06, 2018 4:35 PM

Randy’s point is that with the short and constant current through the 2 amp bulb means there is 2 maps flowing through the short, the object causing the short might not like that much current and vaporize.  Springs in trucks for an example.
 
 
EDIT
 
I have an automotive 1157 bulb in series with my track for trouble shooting.  The 1157 is a dual filament bulb, the brake side draws a bit over 2.1 amps at 12-14 volts the taillight side draws between .59-.61 amps or 600ma.  It works pretty good for trouble shooting but I don’t use it as a fuse.  I have a pair SPST switches to short across the filaments for normal running.  
 
Mel
 
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Posted by rrinker on Tuesday, March 06, 2018 6:01 PM

 Dick Bronson has a handy trick adding a few cents to the light bulb method but making it much dafer for your equipment - takes advantage of the dual filament bulbs. Initially, current flows through the 2.1 amp filament. If a short occurs, a PTC resistor switches the flow to the lower current filament. .6 amps at 15 volts is only 9 watts, like the large Christmas bulbs, before everything went LED. Those tend to not get too hot to touch. A lot better than 30+ watts.

                                       --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

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Posted by selector on Tuesday, March 06, 2018 6:14 PM

Think of a stenosis, or an arterial narrowing due to plaque.  That's where all the pressure gets backed up.  The filament in the bulb acts like a stenosis; it's highly resistive to the current that the circuit can through-put per the maximimum permitted by the power supply. At low current through-put, the filament might only get warm and glow in far infra-red. A triple consisted diesel set hauling 40 cars up a 2.2% grade might need 1.5 amps.  That's substantially below the rating of the tail light bulb, but it might still glow dully in pitch black, or be warm to the touch. It's still passing the demanded amperage that the three can motors need to do their 'work'.

When the metal wheel jams at the frog and bridges two rails that should never touch, the full current rating for the system immediately wants to course through that point. However, back, earlier, nearer the bus, and in line with the wires serving that part of the track system, you soldered or marretted that tail light which will now glow brightly because all that current has to get through it to get past it to where the short is.  Remember, we're talking about amperage, not voltage.  The voltage is the pressure in the pipe, but the amps are the water that turns the turbine blades...if that analogy works.

This is how I have come to look at the way the tail light bulb works.  I only used it on my second layout, and don't currently even need my boxed PSX-AR any more because I won't be using a permanent reversing loop.  Instead, I'll rig a reversible crescent of track to meet up with what looks like the stub of an interchange ending at the edge of my yard. 

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Posted by richhotrain on Wednesday, March 07, 2018 5:05 AM

So much for the circuit breaker survey.  Laugh

Rich

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Posted by rrinker on Wednesday, March 07, 2018 7:24 AM

 Well plenty of people use light bulbs, and advocate for them, as opposed to an actual circuit breaker. So it counts.

 There aren't that many options - Old PowerShield, PSX series, EB-1, PM42, and On-Guard. Couple of more DIY ones floating around. And NCE also has the CP6 which is just the whole light bulb thing with lower current light bulbs for the PowerCab.

                                          --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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