Saturday 20 April 2019

Block Signal Network Problem ---BEWARE !

Hello friends...

I have been slowly installing a block signal network and recently encountered a significant problem:  With the most recently installed set of signals, one block signal would not communicate with the next block signal in line !
How rude! ;-)

 Below is Signal # 14 on my layout.  ( 76495 )  Programming achieved with the method described in my previous post using the programming track connections and CS 3.   ( this particular signal placed more toward the middle of the lanes b/c the longest passenger cars would scrape the signal if attached per usual  )

The address for this signal has been created.   The next signal is # 17 ( 76495), also a block signal.

Signal # 17 is red.  The signal below is # 14 and should show twin yellow Distant lights indicating that the next signal ( # 17 ) is red.  Obviously signal # 14 does not show the yellow lights !

So what is wrong?

( Remember: if the signal is red, it will NOT show any distant indicator lights for the next block signal--ONLY if the block signal is green will the distant indicator lights illuminate )

So let's examine the "configuration" data for Signal # 14.....  

Edit --> Edit Article --> Find the signal in question,  --> click on the signal --> click on Configuration bar--> this window appears.  ( allow time for each of the two horizontal bars to load ...a few seconds ) 

Click the SECOND line ( Configuration ) and then you can examine the data. 

The address for the next "distant" signal is correct:  218 ( which is the home signal address for signal # 17..the next in line ) This data was entered when the signals were mounted on the layout. 

NOTE WELL: Under CV "Type Distant Signal Mast" ...there is NO SIGNAL !!!!  This is why Signal # 14 will not read the next signal in line !

Now how to correct this problem?

Click on the "Type Distant Signal Mast" ON THE RIGHT HAND SIDE COLUMN ....and in this adjacent column,  the rectangle becomes white with the following choices: 

1) No signal
2) :::  ( I have no idea what this means)
3) Block
4) Entry
5) Exit

Click on the "Block " choice....indicating that the next signal is indeed a block signal

Below ...note that "block signal" is now in the CV for "type distant signal mast".

And now we have success !  Signal # 14 reads the home signal status of # 17..the next signal in the block chain!

This is signal # 17  

The underlying quandary is why did this situation occur now?  I installed a pair of block signals a few months ago in the same manner, and quite frankly, I do not remember changing the "type distant signal mast"  CV as we I assume it occurred spontaneously. ....I have no answer for what happened here.

 This post is only to advise others how to remedy a similar problem if encountered.

Rick Sinclair of the Marklin Dudes was the sagacious advisor who sleuthed the solution in just a few minutes.  Thank you, Rick!!!

Tuesday 9 April 2019

How to Program MFX signals with the CS 3

Hello everyone....hope all is well with you.

This blog entry focuses on how to program mfx Marklin signals ( 76xxx ) onto the CS3!

After returning from a two month hiatus visiting grandchildren, I stumbled once again as I attempted to program new signals for the layout.  I had documented the basic steps, but forgot an important sequence in the programming and thus I had to experience a "refreshment" of the "learning curve".

I hope that this step by step blog entry will save some of  you some indigestion, without insulting anyone's intelligence!  Let's begin:

Basic "first class" Marklin packaging.

Remove contents!  Programming the 76xxx series differs significantly from the previous Marklin series of signals.

The enclosed brochure lists all the possible codes.  I will program this signal to # 220 on the other words, there are 219 available slots ahead of this position.

The circuit board.  Toggle # 1 is in the on position per Marklin.

Circuit Board now programmed to the digital code.  Note that the #10 is in the "on" position!  I am programing all my signals with the DCC format as recommended by the "Marklin Dudes", and also exemplified in the "manual" Item # 03092.  Page 49-52.   The # 10 must be on for programming in DCC.

The circuit board is now connected to the signal and to the R/B wires for power.  See the brochure for the proper connection sites.  ( Stop track red wires intentionally not connected yet)

My programming track is located in the staging yard.  I ran auxiliary R/B wires to an extra piece of inactive track, to which I can then connect the Signal's R/B power spades to the track.   Now we're ready to begin programming to the CS3.

Click on the "Edit" tab, select "Discover mfx items".

Click "ok" for the CS3 to search for the NEW mfx item...namely our mfx signal connected to the programing track.

This "magic" box appears ....the CS3 is searching for our new signal circuit board.

Now this is where it can be confusing....the new item ....our signal icon, appears at the beginning of the "article list" cue......NOT next to all the other signals previously programmed into the CS....why?---because we have not yet assigned an ordinal number for the cue list.

Note the little red "m" next to the new icon...this means that this article is an mfx item.

Click on the "Edit" tab once again and select:  "Edit Article List" .   Remember that at the end of this process, if you wish to check the signal ....or any other article added to the list --from a turnout to a light---you MUST EXIT the "Edit" mode.

Now we see the page for editing the signal icon.  Note that the format is DCC.   I assigned the "cue position AND address of # 220.  Usually the CS3 selects the correct icon for the signal automatically.

Here the signal is named "Exit signal"....I eventually changed the name to Sig # 18.

Remember to begin this "naming" process with the open TDCB  ( Track Diagram Control Board) page to which the signal will be positioned on the track board. 

Here the signal icon appears on the proper page.   ( I often forget to do this little step ...ugh! )

I did not document moving the icon on the TDCB to the proper position.  One has to check the "Edit" tab, then check the "EDIT TDCB" and then drag the located deep into the Right Lower Corner of the TDCB page into the intended location on the TDCB to its track location !

Now our signal icon is in the proper position in the Article List cue.  Hard to read, but it is the third icon from the right on the bottom row.  .....signal # 18 !

NOTE again, that the green check mark is next to the "Edit" tab.....if you wish to check this signal, you must exit the Edit tab.

Now we can feel at least a little smug that we successfully programed a signal into the CS3 and IT WORKS !

Great...the "red" works too!  ;-)    Now let's install the rascal!

Install items:
1) Manual ! doh!
2) Wire cutters...will have to shorten the wires...plan on a mount under the C track.
3) Marklin wire stripper....I guess these are not available now...mine is about 19 years old1
4) Portable butane soldering iron, and solder.
5) Electrician's tape--to anchor the wires under the C track.
6) Portable "flame thrower" to shrink the shrink wrap around the soldered wire unions...after shortening the wires.
7) Surgical "pick up" ( tweezers ) and iris scissors.
8) Black marker to record on the layout where the "insulation" points are located. ( stop track)

"Power wires for the signal....remember to make certain to provide power to the track on BOTH sides of the stop track .....I have been embarrassed numerous times by failing to do so...I've had to run additional feeder wires to solve the problem.

Insulation point for stop track. Red wire in lower right attached to source of power to the circuit board,  and the other red wire ( not seen ) feeds the stop track.  Don't forget to check the power to the "stop track" with the signal on red" !!!!!  ....if the check fails....suspect your insulation points !

The "other" red wire for the stop track.  Blue/ White wires heading for the signal on the Lt.

Signal attachment mechanism seen on Lt. ....note that the assembly occurred on the EDGE of the layout so the signal could be installed to the track, the wires affixed to the track with the electrician's tape--as neatly as possible....

Note also the shrink wrap around the connection from the signal to the circuit board.

Don't forget to check to make certain that your longest wagon can negotiate the curve and not hit the signal .....goes for Cantenary as well!

When working around signals...try this trick....provides some modicum of protection so you won't destroy a very expensive piece of equipment !

Installed the 76495 in under 15 minutes!   Both signals work beautifully.....

Hope this little treatise helps someone....

Thank you for reading ....blessings....alan