Author Topic: Command station and programming track location question.  (Read 260 times)

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djconway

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Command station and programming track location question.
« on: April 26, 2022, 08:42:28 PM »
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For a long time I have had my command station, test loop and programming track all located in my office. [no more than 4 foot of wire run]
I am in the process of building a layout on the other side of the basement. [wire run of about 25 feet, 16 gauge wire]

Is there a limit to the distance one can go and still be able to program and read decoders reliably?
Would running the wires in a bundle (not twisted) lead to interference in the programming leads?

I am seeing a large number of read errors with the current setup and am wondering if moving the command station and programming track back together could help resolve the reading problems.

mmyers

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Re: Command station and programming track location question.
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2022, 05:38:51 PM »
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We have a 25 cable connected between the Command station program terminals and our portable programming track. It has always worked well. IIRC, the cable is 16ga lamp cord. Could be 18 but pretty sure I used 16ga. It's been 10+ years since it was wired.

Martin Myers

peteski

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Re: Command station and programming track location question.
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2022, 05:58:03 PM »
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I am seeing a large number of read errors with the current setup and am wondering if moving the command station and programming track back together could help resolve the reading problems.

Programming track is low power (whatever amperage the decoder needs just to idle, with occasional acknowledgement current pulse caused by the decoder turning the motor and functions on for few milliseconds).  Likely around 200-300mA for the pulse, and less than 100mA when idle.

You could do a quick test. Disconnect the long connection to the remote programming track (at the command station), then temporarily connect a piece of track near the command station.  Then try to program/read the models which give the errors on the remote track.  That will tell you whether the distance makes the difference.
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djconway

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Re: Command station and programming track location question.
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2022, 08:32:29 PM »
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Since the programming and A-B outputs are bundled and  running up one wall - across the office - and down the other I moved the command station into the office and dropped the long parallel run.  The move seems to have cleared the read/write issue.  Tomorrow's experiment is to un-bundle the long run and re-run it as a twisted pairs.  I do want to keep both running power and programming in the office.

My other thought is to setup one of my command stations as a booster and just run loconet to the main command station from the office.  [long term plain is to have the office serve as a control / dispatcher tower.

I wish I could still tap old job resources and borrow an oscilloscope and see what the signal looks like at the far ends.

Thanks for the ideas
« Last Edit: April 29, 2022, 08:36:47 PM by djconway »

peteski

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Re: Command station and programming track location question.
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2022, 11:24:49 AM »
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Since the programming and A-B outputs are bundled and  running up one wall - across the office - and down the other I moved the command station into the office and dropped the long parallel run.  The move seems to have cleared the read/write issue.  Tomorrow's experiment is to un-bundle the long run and re-run it as a twisted pairs.  I do want to keep both running power and programming in the office.

My other thought is to setup one of my command stations as a booster and just run loconet to the main command station from the office.  [long term plain is to have the office serve as a control / dispatcher tower.

I wish I could still tap old job resources and borrow an oscilloscope and see what the signal looks like at the far ends.

Thanks for the ideas

If you own a PC, for less than a cost of Digitrax throttle you can have an oscilloscope and a logic analyzer.
https://www.amazon.com/Hantek-Portable-Oscilloscope-Analyzer-Diagnostic/dp/B01N74XEAN

Here is a standalone unit for $50.
https://www.amazon.com/Quimat-Oscilloscope-BNC-Clip-Assembled-Finished/dp/B07QML4LJL

You should also be able to find inexpensive oscilloscope modules which use a smart phone (with an app installed) as their display.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2022, 08:11:07 PM by peteski »
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djconway

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Re: Command station and programming track location question.
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2022, 02:40:10 PM »
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Thanks for the links, I'll have to check them out.