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Author Topic: Possible problem with my Digitrax Zephyr unit  (Read 214 times)

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Offline jools1959

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Possible problem with my Digitrax Zephyr unit
« on: November 24, 2017, 03:20:00 pm »
I'm looking for help regarding my Digitrax Zephyr unit.  I'm in the process of building my Ais Gill layout and the track laying was going well but over the last few days, I thought I'd developed a short and but as I checked the wiring, I noticed that the unit would work one moment and then it would show a fault.

I would switch the track power off, then back on and and the display would flash erratically but if I did it again, the display would remain steady with the loco number steady.  I'm also a little perplexed as the display will remain steady when the track power is switched off.

I wish I could explain this better but if anyone has got any sensible suggestions or ideas, they would be most welcome.

Online ntpntpntp

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Re: Possible problem with my Digitrax Zephyr unit
« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2017, 04:47:22 pm »
Is the Zephyr happy and stable when the wiring is totally disconnected at the base unit?   What if only connected to a spare length of track and a loco run up and down?

Might still be an intermittent fault in the layout wiring?
Nick.   2016 celebrating the 20th anniversary of "Königshafen" exhibition layout!

Online Nigel Cliffe

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Re: Possible problem with my Digitrax Zephyr unit
« Reply #2 on: November 24, 2017, 04:50:53 pm »
Its either the layout or the Zephyr.  (which is both unhelpful and something I'll try to help with....).

Could be a faulty Zephyr, you could test this by disconnecting from the layout and hooking up a short test track.  Does the fault go away ? 

Could be a faulty "common ground" path.  Do you have stuff on LocoNet around the layout ?   Is any of it track related (block detectors, etc).  Do you have these devices correctly hooked back to the "ground" pin on the 7-way connector on the rear of the Zephyr ? 

Could be faulty wiring or partial short circuit paths on the layout.  Have you been ballasting with PVA glue ?  (Did you know that PVA, being an acid, is electrically conductive to small amount, and a lot of it on a layout can give a short ?).   
Do you have track which could lead to shorts, such as loops through live-frog turnouts which are not isolated (ie. switch each end of a loop different ways and there is a short, which may be partial through the blades not fully contacting) ?


So, could be any number of things, and one of those is a faulty unit.  But, without a load of testing and isolation of different parts, its hard to give any sensible answers. 




Offline Malc

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Re: Possible problem with my Digitrax Zephyr unit
« Reply #3 on: November 24, 2017, 11:27:25 pm »
The track powere on/off does not affect the display. You can still select locos etc without the track power being on.
I'm not sure if life is passing me by, or trying to run me over.

Offline jools1959

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Re: Possible problem with my Digitrax Zephyr unit
« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2017, 11:38:07 pm »
Just got home as I had a personal health issue to deal with and hooked up the Zephyr to my circular test track and to my annoyance, it worked perfectly with a loco running around it for 10 minutes in each direction without any problems.

Obviously, the problem is in the trackwork and without resorting to ripping it all up and starting again, I'm at a complete loss.

Online ntpntpntp

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Re: Possible problem with my Digitrax Zephyr unit
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2017, 12:06:08 am »
Aaargh - what a pain, but at least you don't seem to have killed your Zephyr!    So, this being a DCC layout you don't have track sections which can be easily switched off? (that's one useful feature of good old DC cab control: if I get a short somewhere I can turn off all sections then gradually turn back on to find the problem - usually a metal wheel bridging something it shouldn't!)   

Do you have points with polarity changeover switches? If something hasn't thrown properly that can cause a short.

Nothing metal lying across the track somewhere from where you've been working on the layout?  (Sounds obvious but I've seen it happen with a club layout!)

Does it still short with all locos and rolling stock removed?

If you can't find any obvious cause like those above, then it probably becomes a case of having to isolate/disconnect sections of the DCC bus to try and narrow down the location of the fault.
« Last Edit: November 25, 2017, 12:16:37 am by ntpntpntp »
Nick.   2016 celebrating the 20th anniversary of "Königshafen" exhibition layout!

Offline jools1959

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Re: Possible problem with my Digitrax Zephyr unit
« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2017, 03:36:54 pm »
Aaargh - what a pain, but at least you don't seem to have killed your Zephyr!    So, this being a DCC layout you don't have track sections which can be easily switched off? (that's one useful feature of good old DC cab control: if I get a short somewhere I can turn off all sections then gradually turn back on to find the problem - usually a metal wheel bridging something it shouldn't!)   

Do you have points with polarity changeover switches? If something hasn't thrown properly that can cause a short.

Nothing metal lying across the track somewhere from where you've been working on the layout?  (Sounds obvious but I've seen it happen with a club layout!)

Does it still short with all locos and rolling stock removed?

If you can't find any obvious cause like those above, then it probably becomes a case of having to isolate/disconnect sections of the DCC bus to try and narrow down the location of the fault.

Decided to sleep on the problem and basically started again electrically.  I undid the droppers from the bus wire, then tested each section and when I was happy with that section, I joined them up, one section at a time, testing all the time.

All has gone well until I checked a point and then the issues started again, so I removed it, rechecked and the layout behaved normally, so I wonder if my problems have been with that point.  As I don't have a spare one, I can't replacement but upon inspection, I can't see any problem with it.  Is there anyway of testing it?

Online ntpntpntp

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Re: Possible problem with my Digitrax Zephyr unit
« Reply #7 on: November 25, 2017, 05:35:52 pm »
All has gone well until I checked a point and then the issues started again, so I removed it, rechecked and the layout behaved normally, so I wonder if my problems have been with that point.

Remind us: 

What brand and model of point?
Is it insulated or live frog?
If live frog are you powering the frog through a changeover switch - if so what type?
Does it only short when thrown in one direction, and is ok when thrown the other way?
How is it used on the layout - a siding, a loop, a crossover?
Any insulating joiners after the frog?
Nick.   2016 celebrating the 20th anniversary of "Königshafen" exhibition layout!

Offline jools1959

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Re: Possible problem with my Digitrax Zephyr unit
« Reply #8 on: November 25, 2017, 07:42:47 pm »
All has gone well until I checked a point and then the issues started again, so I removed it, rechecked and the layout behaved normally, so I wonder if my problems have been with that point.

Remind us: 

What brand and model of point?
Is it insulated or live frog?
If live frog are you powering the frog through a changeover switch - if so what type?
Does it only short when thrown in one direction, and is ok when thrown the other way?
How is it used on the layout - a siding, a loop, a crossover?
Any insulating joiners after the frog?

I'm using Peco Code 55 live frog pointwork and flexitrack, added IRJ's to the exit rails and power to the toe of the point, but I think I found the problem.  It was with one of the droppers, a bad connection and once I replaced it, the problem seems to have disappeared.

 

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