In preparation for the show at the TCA York Meet, April 24-26, a work day was held at Westfield HS in Chantilly VA to test the new wire harness, the new Maryland power cabinet and to test new modules and check the geometry of the York layout. About 20 trackers came out to help. The layout was a variation of the York layout, in the shape of an hour glass. One side of the layout was an exact copy of “part B” of the York layout, including the purpose built Yard Inlet module and interlocking switches, and 22.5 degree corners. The other side of the layout was a return loop to close the layout. All 4 of the new VA wide radius corners were in use, as well as all 4 Creech corners. In total, the layout was 77’ long and 20’ wide. Part of the layout was 3 tracks. Several members reported that they liked the design of the layout and suggested that it be considered for use in the future.
New MD Cabinet:
The recently completed Maryland cabinet was used for the first time. It is functionally the same as the Virginia cabinet. The Md. Cabinet has an added drawer with 3 additional programming tracks to make programming lashups possible in the cabinet; a very neat feature. Hookup to the layout is simple, as the outputs on the back of the cabinet are color coded, as are the layout connection wires (one blue set, one red set). The cables are plugged into opposing sides of a module connection.
Another feature added to both cabinets with the new harness is the continuity circuit. A green light in the cabinet illuminates when the layout is fully connected. This immediately proved its value. Upon start up, the light did not illuminate. After some basic trouble shooting, the problem was traced to a harness connection that was not fully seated, and the light then turned on. The cabinet was then powered up one loop at a time, using lighted cars spaced around the layout to verify functionality. After fixing another minor problem in the cabinet’s internal wiring, it was ready to go and given the stamp of approval.
New Wiring Harness:
The new wiring harness was also tested. Even though everyone’s modules had been previously inspected, we powered the loops individually, using lighted cars as indicators, to insure that there were no crossed wires. After checking all 3 loops and cleaning up some dirty track, we were ready for running. The new harness showed massive improvements. Even running from a single point of power input, DCS signal strength was strong enough to maintain control over the entire layout. It was even possible to “start up” locomotives at the far reaches of the layout on the first try, much to the delight of President Jack. TMCC strength was reported as strong. It was also noted that that the current draw was down substantially due to the larger gauge wire.
Also tested was a special wiring “gadget” for York, a 1 into 6 splitter for the harness, which allows for star pattern wiring. Using the Protocast function of DCS, we attempted to maximize the DCS signal by trying to maintain a constant stream of audio from the locomotive. The layout was fed at 4 locations instead of 1. The addition of more inputs helped to maintain a high signal strength.
It was noted that between multiple corner sets in close proximity to each other, the signal was slightly degraded (but not sufficiently to inhibit control). As all of the corners have filters installed, it was hypothesized that multiple corners in close proximity may be over filtering. We will need to continue to monitor this as time goes on. Installing a feed between 2 adjacent sets of corners showed some improvement.
Various trains were run for about 3 hours, including some large cars (21+”) through the middle track, no issues with overhanging cars or big locomotives were observed. The Lemert geezer gate is now 3 tracks, and performed well.
Teardown took a little over an hour, and everyone was out by 4:00.
Also of note, the Virginia Power Cabinet has also been upgraded to the new harness, and has also been tested and approved.
Thank you to everyone who came and helped.