CS3 Trials and Tribulations

PhilP

PhilP

G Scale, 7/8th's, Electronics
5 Jun 2013
26,184
Tamworth, Staffs.
There have been reports of the CS not liking to get too hot.. - Is this a recent thing in the hot weather?

The rail, with the DCC/MFX signals on it, is a transmission line..
In theory, you should feed in to it at one end, and terminate at the far end, to avoid reflections and interference..

Having said that, it seems to work fine for most people as a loop, without terminations, and in some cases with multiple feeds!

Could you have some dodgy joints in your rail, perhaps?

Stick DC on it, and measure the voltage on the rail at various points.
 
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phils2um

Phil S
11 Sep 2015
595
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Hi everyone,

Here is an update on my CS3 train control problem. From totally empirical observation I may have been trying to operate locomotives without letting them properly register with the CS3. I've found that when I add or remove a lok with track power on the system doesn't like it and my control problems begin. If voltage to the tracks is shutdown when loks are put on the tracks and then I turn track power on and let things sit for a minute or so before trying to operate things seem to work fine.

As the saying goes - "I'm a happy camper now".

Phil S.

Added 12/4 - I want to completely retract my comments in this post. - Phil S.
 
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stockers

stockers

Trains, aircraft, models, walking, beer, travel
Staff member
GSC Moderator
24 Oct 2009
25,547
62
Nr. Ashford, Kent. England.
Glad you have got it sorted, but that is a bit of a limitation isn't it. Certainly wouldn't work here very well.
 
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phils2um

Phil S
11 Sep 2015
595
Ann Arbor, Michigan
A further update on the CS3. Well, it's not "sorted". There seems to be a bigger issue to be tackled.

I had three mfx+ trains running the other day and everything worked fine all afternoon. Two freights and one passenger. The passenger had two old RhB unlit cars, a LGB 3063 and 3064. One freight had six unlit wagons. The other had a LGB Post Van as it last wagon. The Post Van has three constantly lit 18V, 50ma bulbs. I had begun conversion work to eliminate flicker by installing a bridge rectifier but no caps yet in the van. The lights are connected to the rectifier's DC output with track power feeding the ac input. (This may come into play later in my tale.) In any case, two of the loks that have sound and all the other bells and whistles operated flawlessly, the third lok w/o sound also operated fine. And my three track powered DCC turnouts (LGB 55525) worked flawlessly.

Move forward a week. My newly ordered LGB turnout lanterns arrive! I had old ones on hand but they don't work with the new EPL points motors. The next nice afternoon I get the lanterns installed on the three turnouts with power for the lights (LGB 18V, 50ma bulbs) coming directly from the track. They look great at dusk and at night not to mention I can verify the points setting at a glance. Time to run some trains. The old loss of control bug-a-boo returns. The sound loks are runaways and the points no longer respond. Hitting "Stop" and giving it a minute helps a bit. Points are working again. I start a train. It begins moving but is an immediate runaway again. Points stop working.

The next day I unscrew the bulbs from the points lanterns and the trains and points appear to be working again. Somehow, the lights seem to be affecting the CS3 and decoders.

It's getting very late here. I'll have continue this saga later.
 
stockers

stockers

Trains, aircraft, models, walking, beer, travel
Staff member
GSC Moderator
24 Oct 2009
25,547
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Nr. Ashford, Kent. England.
I wonder if the CS3 is trying to 'detect' the power drains.
 
PhilP

PhilP

G Scale, 7/8th's, Electronics
5 Jun 2013
26,184
Tamworth, Staffs.
I wonder if the CS3 is trying to 'detect' the power drains.
But wouldn't that be 'brake on DC'?

Runaways are normally when you have a buffer in a loco and analogue support turned on.. They 'runaway' when you turn the power off..
 
stockers

stockers

Trains, aircraft, models, walking, beer, travel
Staff member
GSC Moderator
24 Oct 2009
25,547
62
Nr. Ashford, Kent. England.
That's applying logic Phil? This is Marklin we are talking about! :D :banghead:
 
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PhilP

PhilP

G Scale, 7/8th's, Electronics
5 Jun 2013
26,184
Tamworth, Staffs.
You know that supposed 'spat' between Ford and Microsoft...
:giggle::giggle::giggle:
 
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phils2um

Phil S
11 Sep 2015
595
Ann Arbor, Michigan
A further update on my CS3 saga -

There seems to be a CS3/decoder communication issue when incandescent bulbs are wired directly across the rails for power. I ordered some E5.5 12-14V LED "bulbs" from Ebay as mentioned elsewhere on these forums. (I was surprised how inexpensive they were.) I also installed rectifiers on the power feeds for my three points lanterns while waiting for the LED bulbs to arrive in the mail. The LED bulbs were installed once I got them and I was able to run three trains and operate the point motors with no problem while LEDs were lighting the points lanterns. I've also noticed that incandescent bulbs seem not to interfere with decoder communcation if they are sufficiently isolated from direct connection to the rails. Such as when they are fed by a decoder or a constant lighting circuit as in LGB 3067 series coaches and 3068 restaurant wagon. Also, coaches with LED illumination powered from the rails seem not to interfere with the mfx/DCC signal from the CS3. But, when I put my Postal van (three incandescent bulbs fed through a rectifier) on the rails the control problem occurred again. Removing the van cleared the problem.

When the "runaway" problem rears its head, trains just continue at whatever speed (and activated functions) they had before the control signal was lost. It is as if the decoders are maintaining their previous settings while waiting to reestablish a lost communication link to the central station. I've not checked the CV's but don't think they are set to "brake on DC" or on AC for that matter. ( It is Märklin after all.)

I need to do some systematic testing when I get a chance and the weather cooperates. We've had a lot of rain and scattered showers the last couple of weeks.

I'll continue my updates when I know more. Anyone out there with a CS3 or other central station noticed a similar problem?

As an aside, the LED bulbs work fairly well but there is some gradation in the illumination from bottom to top of the lantern. The light output from the LED bulbs is much more directional than that from the original incandescent bulbs. The white diffuser that surrounds the LGB point lantern bulb does a fair job of redirecting the LED's light but is not perfect. We'll see how long the LEDs last when driven by 19.2V in the mean time.

One further unrelated item. Märklin has updated the MobileStation app to be compatible with the 64 bit Apple iOS 11 operating system.
 
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phils2um

Phil S
11 Sep 2015
595
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Hi All -

And now for the latest! I did two things Thursday.

First, I reloaded the latest update to the CS3.

Second, I changed the CS3's "6095 Time-correction" setting on TFP3 (Track Format Processor) page from "wide" to "norm"(al). I'm not sure when it got got set to "wide". It may have been that way out-of -the -box. The CS3 English manual does not address what this parameter changes. (Note that the "6095 mix mode" parameter got renamed to "6095 Time-correction" with the update.) However, the just released english version of Running Trains Digitally with the Central Station 3 has this to say about the parameter on page 70:

"The entry '6095 mix mode' is interesting for 1 Gauge operators, who would like to run trains with older decoders: With the option 'wide', these people can run the track format a little outside of the norm."

While this is still fairly cryptic, I interpret this to mean that perhaps the standard DCC and mfx formats are also "a little outside of the norm" being unintentionally affected by the "wide" setting.

In any case, Friday I ran three trains, one with a Märklin mfx+ decoder, one with an ESU LokPilot M4 decoder, and the third with a Massoth XLS-Onboard decoder. The ESU decoder equipped locomotive was one prone to runaway. I had my Postal Van with the incandescent bulbs in one of the consists. As noted in my previous post the incandescent bulbs seemed to be a trigger for loco runaways. I operated the trains off and on for about 4 hours without any runaways and all three locs were responding normally to their commands. My points decoder was functioning OK too.

Saturday afternoon I had two lighted passenger consists going. One pulled by a MTS decoder equipped Crok and the other by a Märklin mfx+ equipped Ge 4/4 II. Again, there were no problems with runaways or the points decoder.

Later today I'm going to jumper five or six incandescent bulbs across the rails and run some trains. If things go well (no runaways) then the final check on Monday will be to change the 6095 Time-correction to "wide" again and see if I can recreate the runaway/points decoder issues.

I'm not an electrical engineer but my current hypothesis is that the signal modification from the "wide" setting in the TFP3 along with the multiple parallel impedances imposed by the incandescent bulbs was distorting the digital signal beyond anything that could be recognized by the decoders in the runaway loks. Thus, they continued merrily along at their last recognized settings. If this is indeed the case, as I should know by the end of Monday, I'll consider my CS3 problems solved once and for all!

Of course, the other possibility is that reloading the last update solved the problem, but I don't think this is the case. I was experiencing the locomotive runaways before the most recent Märklin CS3 update was released.

Phil S.
 
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AustrianNG

AustrianNG

Director of my railway
16 Sep 2015
1,016
Wirral
I can't help thinking of the monkey on the advert after he rattles off some long winded name for a super special coffee and then says

"it's just not tea"

Pardon my ignorance on CS3, I'm still on MTS III with a Massoth Navigator.
I hope you get it sorted Phil - I started to read your tribulations and got lost after 3 lines.....
 
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phils2um

Phil S
11 Sep 2015
595
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Hi All - The Sunday test went fine. No problems with the CS3, runaway trains, or points decoder operation while the rails also powered a bunch of incandescent 18V, 50ma bulbs.

On to the acid test later today. Seeing if setting the "6095 Time-correction" parameter back to "wide" causes recurrence of the runaways and if "norm" setting will be the cure the again.

I am beginning to think I've actually found the root of my problem and its solution!

I apologize if some of my posts to this thread are "long winded" and confusing. Especially if you're not familiar with the CS3. I'm just trying to explain as specifically as I can the problem I've had with mine.

I also wish to apologize to PhilP for not responding to your comments on June 22. I did appreciate what you had to say and did not just "blow it off". I had checked my rail connections and also looked for voltage drops around the system using analog DC power. And, I ran some trains too with my old first generation Aristo Train Engineer while I was at it. No problems were detected. Also, assuming the internal temperature monitor can be believed, the CS3 is not getting unduly hot.

By the way, I'm using Split-Jaw over the joiner and standard rail clamps along with a few Aristocraft clamps at all my rail joints. Conductive paste has been used at the joints too. I've got 12 AWG buss leads buried under the rails along with track feeds every 1.5 - 2 meters. Electrical continuity has not been a problem so far.

Phil S.
 
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PhilP

PhilP

G Scale, 7/8th's, Electronics
5 Jun 2013
26,184
Tamworth, Staffs.
No offence taken..
We all 'play' and respond when we can..

Glad you seem to have it sorted!
 
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phils2um

Phil S
11 Sep 2015
595
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Well - I give up! I could not duplicate the the runaway/point decoder problems. I've not a clue what was happening! But, the CS3 and trains seem to be behaving themselves now. I hope it stays this way!

Phil S.
 
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phils2um

Phil S
11 Sep 2015
595
Ann Arbor, Michigan
This may be close to my last post to this particular thread. If you have been following my posts here you will know I have been having on-going problems with my CS3 losing communication with locos and turnouts on my outdoor layout. The CS3 is indoors and feeds the layout by cables run in underground conduit to the track outside. Trains and turnouts are controlled (sometimes) by iPhone with Märklin's app. For the last couple of months I've been observing the CS3's built-in booster trackside using my laptop running VNC viewer which takes advantage of the CS3's VNC server capability.

What I have seen is that the built-in booster's temperature is in the mid to high 40s C when it is operating properly. The base current load on the booster is about 400 mA from turnout lanterns, building lighting, reverse loop module, and turnout decoders. The booster usually works fine so long as locos are only operated without lights on.

But, turning loco lighting on often inexplicably triggered the loss of control. Locos and turnout decoders no longer responded to inputs from the CS3. There was still power to the rails however and locos continued on at their previous setting. The built-in booster's temperature rises as high as 70ºC when control is lost. I've also noticed the base current load seemingly doubles to 700 - 800 mA. I had pretty much ruled out a wiring problem. The layout was tested last Fall with analog DC (before the reverse loop module was installed) and worked fine. I was beginning to believe that there was an intermittent fault in CS3. And speculated (more like hoped!) it was the with built-in booster.

I like the CS3's software interface but was becoming extremely frustrated with the operating problems almost to the point of giving up on it. I was even considering moving over to the latest ESU unit now that it has been updated with more power. I decided to give the CS3 one more (rather expensive) chance about a month ago and ordered an outboard 60175 Booster. It arrived Tuesday. I disconnected CS3's internal booster from the layout and hooked up the 60175. Then, with crossed fingers, tested it out. The layout was operated for hours flawlessly. Up to three Mfx loco's were run simultaneously. Two LGB Ge 4/4 IIs and and a LGB Ge 2/4 complete with lights and sound on along with passenger and freight wagons. Switching maneuvers were performed to reverse the trains direction on my single track loop multiple times. Again, turnouts and locos responded flawlessly. I was monitoring the 60175 with VNC on my laptop throughout the testing. The maximum 60175 temperature I observed was 47º C. Current load with all three locos running was varying between 2.8 and 4.2 Amps at 21.9 V depending on locos and grades. Power to the 60175 was provided by Märklin's brand new 60195 120V 100w power supply.

Now this is the way DCC was meant to operate!

Later today, after a nights sleep, I'll test the CS3/60175 Booster combination with Massoth XLS and LGB MTS DCC chipped locos along with a Mfx loco.
If all is good as I suspect it will be, I'll declare my problem isolated to the CS3's internal booster.

Phil S.
 
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phils2um

Phil S
11 Sep 2015
595
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Update 2 on the CS3 and 60175 Booster.

Yesterday I had my ABe4/4 (XLS Onboard decoder), Ge 6/6 I (ESU LokPilot XL), and Ge 2/4 (Mfx) running with the 60175 Booster. Everything, including switch decoders, ran fine for hours until a derailment seemingly caused an intermittent short. I was able to bring all three locos to a halt with speed control (as opposed to emergency STOP). But, the turnout decoders stopped responding. I immediately checked the booster status and found its temperature had risen above 70ºC! It returned <40ºC within minutes once the short was cleared and everything was working again. 35º - 45ºC seems to be the normal operating range for this booster. Except for the above, self-inflicted event, I threw a turnout when a train was passing, the system worked flawlessly for over 6 hours. I need to pay better attention when three trains are chasing each other around my loop. The NTSB would be investigating my "human factors"! In any case, I'm about to try the system out again today with a MTS chipped loco.

As an aside, when I first turned the system on with the new booster attached it recognized the booster had outdated software (firmware?). It was simple to update with the CS3. I didn't have a clock on it but seemingly took less that a couple of minutes.

Phil S.
 
PhilP

PhilP

G Scale, 7/8th's, Electronics
5 Jun 2013
26,184
Tamworth, Staffs.
Well done for finding the problems!
It is a bit worrying that a booster gets that hot under a fault condition.. You certainly would not want it sitting like that for any considerable time.

I would have thought it would have dropped-off power to the track a lot more gracefully than that? - Would be interesting to see if you could get a (informed) comment from Marklin about this.. Though I am not holding my breath!
 
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phils2um

Phil S
11 Sep 2015
595
Ann Arbor, Michigan
A final update to this thread.

After having used the CS3/60175 booster combination for five days now, I have come to the conclusion that the internal booster of my CS3 is faulty and has been since I purchased it new. The intermittent nature of the fault sure had me chasing my tail! It would have been extremely useful to have a known good CS3 available for comparison! It will be going back to Märkiln for repair this coming winter. I don't want to be without trains the rest of the summer/fall.

Phil S.
 
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phils2um

Phil S
11 Sep 2015
595
Ann Arbor, Michigan
OK, as we say at the bar after golf on Monday's, many times I might add - This is the final final!

At the suggestion of a member on the Marklin-net forum I used the programming track output to power my layout yesterday. The gist of it is my CS3's programming track output is fully functioning even when the internal track power booster is malfunctioning. After swapping back and forth a few times I can confirm my CS3's built-in booster is faulty and has been the source of my DCC control problem all along.

Phil S.
 
lynxface

lynxface

Registered
14 Mar 2016
40
Scotland
OK, as we say at the bar after golf on Monday's, many times I might add - This is the final final!

At the suggestion of a member on the Marklin-net forum I used the programming track output to power my layout yesterday. The gist of it is my CS3's programming track output is fully functioning even when the internal track power booster is malfunctioning. After swapping back and forth a few times I can confirm my CS3's built-in booster is faulty and has been the source of my DCC control problem all along.

Phil S.
Chanced upon this post Phil S, and read with great interest. I have the exact same symptoms -- run away locos and also now two blown (mfx) decoders. It's a costly and mysterious issue, and when I got to the bottom of the thread and found you diagnosed the CS3 as the problem, it started to make me think my MTS II(P) is also at fault.

Strangely, however, I've also had runaway trains on an MTS II(s) central station. Like you, I also have several incandescent bulbs wired across the track, and - again like you - I had a runaway incident / decoder over heat after a temporary voltage spike + a derailment. I'm putting in LED bulbs, bridge rectifiers and a bigger 14 awg bus wire just out of good practice.

I assume you've never had a recurrence of this problem since getting the CS3 fixed...? I am starting to chase my own tail too... The tribulations of our hobby indeed.