Freerails Home 
Freerails > Model Railroad Forums > D.C.C. Electrical & Sound > Troubleshooting Help - 'E.S.U.' Sound Decoder

Freerails IS ACCEPTING new Members ... To join Freerails ... See how to Register as a Member in the 'Joining Freerails' Forum

 Moderated by: .  
AuthorPost
Reg H
Moderator


Joined: Sun Oct 19th, 2014
Location: Shelton, USA
Posts: 977
Status: 
Offline
 
I am looking for some troubleshooting help.

I just acquired a 'Lifelike' SW1200 with an aftermarket sound decoder. 
It looks like an 'ESU' decoder.

The aftermarket installation looks very well done. 
It was done in Great Britain, so I don't have access to the installer.

The locomotive does not respond until a little weight is applied to it. 
Then it will buzz, and the motor will turn VERY slowly, but in only one direction. 

Changing the locomotive direction on the controller,
does not affect the direction the motor turns. 

Reg


Reg H
Moderator


Joined: Sun Oct 19th, 2014
Location: Shelton, USA
Posts: 977
Status: 
Offline

 
Some more info.

Another member provided a link that had some suggestions. 
The main one being a contact problem between the frame and the walk way.

That doesn't seem germaine to my problem,
as the wires to the decoder from the trucks, appear to be soldered to the brass pick ups.


Some photos.















I have run continuity checks between the wheels and the pickups (bearings?). 
No problems.

I will try and figure out a way to run a check between the pickups and the decoder,
when I have a few more minutes.  

Reg


2foot6
Registered


Joined: Sun Oct 20th, 2013
Location: Near Melbourne Victoria, Australia
Posts: 498
Status: 
Offline
 
Have you reset the decoder,

to erase any possible problems in the programming?


.......Peter



Steve P
Registered


Joined: Fri Apr 20th, 2018
Location: Colorado USA
Posts: 150
Status: 
Offline
 
I would eliminate the track/wheel issue.

ie. make a set of jumper-wires that attach to the controller,

and can be connected solidly, to a central point of the wiring inside the loco.


If it still buzzes, the wheels/pickups are eliminated from the puzzle.

(Unless you are fighting a short)


Steve


Reg H
Moderator


Joined: Sun Oct 19th, 2014
Location: Shelton, USA
Posts: 977
Status: 
Offline
 
Peter

Haven't tried that one. 

Good idea.

Reg


Reg H
Moderator


Joined: Sun Oct 19th, 2014
Location: Shelton, USA
Posts: 977
Status: 
Offline
 
Steve

That was next on my list. 

This weekend has been busy and I only get a few short windows.

Reg


Steve P
Registered


Joined: Fri Apr 20th, 2018
Location: Colorado USA
Posts: 150
Status: 
Offline
 
Reg

Do you have another working loco, that you can put on the same track,

to verify the controller to track integrity?



Reg H
Moderator


Joined: Sun Oct 19th, 2014
Location: Shelton, USA
Posts: 977
Status: 
Offline
 
Steve


Oh yes. 
My other locomotives operate just fine.


I clipped test leads to the track and to the pickups. 
I got the very slow speed turning of the motor,
and only in one direction, as before.

I confirmed continuity between the wheels and the pick ups. 
I can see the wires all the way from the pickups to the decoder. 

I confirmed that the wires are firmly soldered to the pickups,
and that there is continuity from the wheels to the solder point.

Still the same response.


I checked to be sure the motor was properly isolated. 
My meter says it is and it appears to be isolated,
by the plastic mounting bracket.  

Checked for shorts. 
None detected.

I set the locomotive on the programming track,
and did the CV8 routine.
The controller said it was good.

Reprogrammed the decoder with a new address,
and some adjustments to 002, 005 and 006.  
Controller said all that was good.


Good news. 
The humming and slow turning of the motor are gone. 
But the locomotive would not respond.

Took apart one of the trucks,
so I could check continuity between the pickups.
 
At the point the wires are soldered to the pickups
(checking the solder joints in the process, which were solid)
and the connection point on the decoder. 
Complete open! 
Both black and red!


I can see the wires! 
They are completely intact, and not in contact with any moving parts. 
Besides, if that were truly the case, how could I program the decoder? 

It is beyond belief that there really is no continuity,
from one end of the wires to the other. 

And why would the motor respond at all (before CV8 to 008),
if there was no continuity between the pickups and the decoder? 
Makes no sense. 


It would be nice if ESU used edge connectors like Digitrax,
so I could just unplug one decoder, and plug in another. 

I am not sure what I am going to do next. 
 
Because ESU decoders are hardwired, replacing the decoder is a major undertaking. 
All for naught if it is not the decoder. If I replace the decoder, I will go Digitrax.  

I wasn't going to tackle this project yet, but I am awaiting a decoder for my SW7 project
(see my thread under "Logging & Mining"). That part is supposed to arrive on Tuesday. 

I thought it would be entertaining if I could get the SW1200 sorted out,
(I am starting to sound like my friend in Great Britain) while awaiting the decoder. 
If I haven't figured out the SW1200 by then, it will go on the shelf for awhile.  


I essentially paid nothing for the locomotive. 
I bought a collection of items, one of which, other than the locomotive,
is worth at least the purchase price for the lot. 

I really like this locomotive. So...if worst comes to worst,
I just might buy a new Lifelike SW1200 (with decoder) and swap the chassis. 
But that will have to wait until my checking account recovers from large, recent hits. 


Meanwhile, working through this challenge is a good deal of fun. 
Yeah, I know.  I'm kind of twisted.

Reg


Steve P
Registered


Joined: Fri Apr 20th, 2018
Location: Colorado USA
Posts: 150
Status: 
Offline
 
Thinking out loud here ...


Continuity thru a circuit might "look good" resistance wise,
for which the meter passes very little current, for continuity reading,
but fail completely when higher current runs thru it, to power the motor.

I strongly suggest connecting test wires directly from the controller,
to the connection point of the decoder.


I'm out of my element with DCC, I use DCS.

I think that the controller uses different outputs,
for the programming track, versus the regular track?

Can you command the motor to "run" from the programming track?
Try experiments with the test wires directly between decoder,
and each output of controller, looking for differences.

Look at the decoder outputs to the motor with a meter,
to see what voltage levels occur for commands of each direction.


Aren't there pickups on both trucks? 
Are the circuits from BOTH trucks to the decoder open?


Steve


2foot6
Registered


Joined: Sun Oct 20th, 2013
Location: Near Melbourne Victoria, Australia
Posts: 498
Status: 
Offline
 
If on CV8 you are getting a loco number the wiring of the loco is OK, there is continuity.

I had a similar problem years ago, and the result was, the brushes in the motor,
were not being pressured against the armature, because the springs were too soft.

Probably over-heated at one stage.
Perhaps check the brushes and the springs?

.......Peter


Reg H
Moderator


Joined: Sun Oct 19th, 2014
Location: Shelton, USA
Posts: 977
Status: 
Offline
 
Peter

That makes sense. 

Steven's idea might find the problem.
 
But trying to make those connections,
with my 71-year old eyes and hands is not practical.

The motor looks like it is completely sealed. 
But it seems there ought to be access to the brushes.

Except that would not explain the refusal to reverse direction.  

Reg


2foot6
Registered


Joined: Sun Oct 20th, 2013
Location: Near Melbourne Victoria, Australia
Posts: 498
Status: 
Offline
 
The fact the motor only turns one direction is a mystery,

that could be caused by soft springs or worn brushes.


It is not a common decoder issue,

but I'm thinking it may be the decoder or brushes.


....................Peter


2foot6
Registered


Joined: Sun Oct 20th, 2013
Location: Near Melbourne Victoria, Australia
Posts: 498
Status: 
Offline
 
Reg

I have had another thought.


Can you remove the decoder,

trace out the motor wires, and connect a 12 volt DC power supply to them,

and try the motor with 12 volts, in both directions.


If it works OK, then the decoder is at fault,

or if it is still a problem, then the motor is faulty.


.....Peter


Reg H
Moderator


Joined: Sun Oct 19th, 2014
Location: Shelton, USA
Posts: 977
Status: 
Offline
 
Peter

That is a good idea. 

If I choose to replace the decoder, I will run a test like that. 

I don't want to start seriously hacking things apart, without a replacement plan.

Reg


Si.
Moderator


Joined: Thu Feb 23rd, 2012
Location: London
Posts: 5628
Status: 
Online
 
Hi Reg  :!:



I have seen tons of 'broken inside insulation' ...

... single copper solid-core wires over the years.  :f:


Also some multi-stranded non-conductors as well.

Also 'pro-audio' mic-cables, snapped 1/2 way along inside the cable. 


All these faults were invisible, under the insulation of course.  :us:



One has to be careful these days not to get mugged by ALUMINIUM WIRE ! as well ...  :shocked:

... single solid-core, pulled out of ever handy CAT-5 cables, is often copper-plated aluminium !

It will SNAP inside, pretty much as soon as you bend it sharply, only a couple o' times.  :f:



I like silver-plated copper multi-stranded insulated in P.T.F.E. Teflon(TM) for my audio stuff.  :cool:

For model trains & slot-cars, I like multistranded SILICONE insulated electrical wire.  :thumb:


The P.T.F.E. is tricky to strip the insulation, due to the slipperyness of the Teflon(TM) ...

... but with both P.T.F.E. & SILICONE, the insulation doesn't 'melt-back' when soldering.  :bg:

I damn well HATE regular meltable P.V.C. conductor insulation !  :td:



Cost wise, you wouldn't notice 'much' difference in price, for a yard or two.  L:

They are both available on eBay for a $ Buck or two, for a few yards of cable.



:java: :brill: :dt:



Si.


2foot6
Registered


Joined: Sun Oct 20th, 2013
Location: Near Melbourne Victoria, Australia
Posts: 498
Status: 
Offline
 
Reg

You will be able to trace the wires to the motor, using a multimeter.

...............Peter



bobquincy
Registered


Joined: Sun Jan 27th, 2013
Location: Florida USA
Posts: 306
Status: 
Offline
 
I have had a motor run only in one direction,
and intermittently, due to worn out brushes.

The motor had metal brushes, and they were worn through,
making contact only sometimes.





As for wire,
the best I have found
(and all that I use for models) is Daburn 2671.

boB


2foot6
Registered


Joined: Sun Oct 20th, 2013
Location: Near Melbourne Victoria, Australia
Posts: 498
Status: 
Offline
 
Reg

I have just gone through a box of faulty decoders I have collected over the years,

and one gives me the same problem you have.


It runs well in one direction and will not reverse.

I suggest you try another decoder to prove the problem.

....................Peter


Reg H
Moderator


Joined: Sun Oct 19th, 2014
Location: Shelton, USA
Posts: 977
Status: 
Offline
 
Si:

I am pretty sure I have continuity to the decoder. 
It programmed just fine.


There seems to be enough wire trimmed off the decoder,
to provide for the rest of the install.

I save all the pieces I trim off.


My big frustration is finding a wire stripper,
that will dependably strip #30 wire. 

I found one at MicroMark.  


Peter:

Those are wimpy looking brushes!! 
I suppose that is standard for the can motors. 

I will test the motor before I order a new decoder. 
If that doesn't test out, I will replace the motor.

But I am pretty sure I am going to change out the decoder. 


Reg


bobquincy
Registered


Joined: Sun Jan 27th, 2013
Location: Florida USA
Posts: 306
Status: 
Offline
 
The Ideal 45-125 T-7 wire stripper,

(about $12)

Works well for 30 AWG  (24 to 32 stranded).


Reg H
Moderator


Joined: Sun Oct 19th, 2014
Location: Shelton, USA
Posts: 977
Status: 
Offline
 
Hang in here as I temporarily change subjects.

I have been working on an Athearn "blue box" SW7. 
My first attempt ended in failure because I had neglected to check,
to see if the chosen decoder would fit in the locomotive. 
I had the decoder laying around.

I checked the Digitrax sizing app,
and they recommended the smallest decoder they make.  Wow. 
Anyway, after it arrived I determined it would fit
(I ended up mounting it on top of the front gear tower)
I did the install.

When I put it on the programming track it programmed perfectly. 
But it wouldn't run.  Just like the SW1200.

So I examined all the connections. 
I had determined that the locomotive ran fine before starting the conversion. 
I could find nothing wrong.

I ran a resistance check, between the motor frame and the chassis. 
Completely open !

Though I had tugged on the bottom motor connection, confirming it was firmly soldered,
I hadn't pulled the motor to look at it.  As a last resort, I did that.  Very firmly soldered. 
In fact, the wire was buried in a rather slovenly blob of solder.  

Upon close examination, it looked like that blob of solder, might be able to contact the frame. 
Without much hope that was the problem,
I applied some additional tape to the frame and reassembled everything. 
Well, at least the chassis. 
I wasn't about to finalize the install until I was sure it basically ran.

AND IT DID!
 
That bit of solder, had been defeating my efforts to isolate the motor.  

You know where my mind is going.  

Once I have the SW7 completed
(There are some minor issues.  Something is still rubbing on one of the flywheels)
I am going to take a VERY close look at the SW1200's motor isolation.  

Reg


Reg H
Moderator


Joined: Sun Oct 19th, 2014
Location: Shelton, USA
Posts: 977
Status: 
Offline
 
For information purposes for those on this thread.

The SW7 is complete.











UltraBB 1.172 Copyright © 2007-2016 Data 1 Systems