After wrapping up the curved turnout build, I haven’t been back to the layout much over the last couple weeks. A few things have happened, so in the interest of momentum, I’ll share them here.
Last Fall I inherited an old Digitrax Super Empire Builder starter set, which is about 15 years old, from an old friend. This allowed me to switch from DCC++ to Digitrax for my main DCC system. (I’ve preserved my DCC++/JMRI/RPi setup for use as a programming and testing platform.) The Digitrax DT300 throttle that came with the set appeared to have been a victim of the capacitor plague and Digitrax had some sort of warranty repair program for repairing it. It will be going back to Digitrax for the repair soon. (they are just now getting back on track after being ravaged by hurricane Michael last year.)
So far, I have been using my backup throttle, an old UT-1 which I purchased about 17 years ago so I could run trains on the old MCMR club layout. The layout was gone shortly after I purchased it and I have never really had much use for it. With my new Digitrax system, I finally do! Since earlier in the Winter when I picked up the Digitrax system, I’ve used the UT-1. It works fine for running stuff around and testing it but I have been plugging it directly into the DB150 which means I can only use the throttle at one end of my long room. So, this weekend I decided to make some LocoNet cables. I have had some old inherited Cat5 cable that was left over from the old club storage area and some 6-pin RJ12 connectors and the proper crimping tools stashed away. I broke everything out and sat on the couch and did some crimping while watching TV with the wife. It went well. I had a bit of a re-learning curve as I figured out the process again. I attempted to use the cutter/stripper on the tool I have, but it would slice too much insulation and into the wires damaging them. I ended up using an X-Acto knife to carefully cut back the insulation. I also realized that my vision requires the use of glasses and an opti-visor to really get the wires correct!
The Digitrax LT1 tester proved to be tricky, as well. I read through the directions but I must have skimmed the part that said you must have a throttle plugged in for it to work correctly. (thank you Tom M. for helping me figure this out!) Anyway, once I got that working, the cables checked out and I hooked them up to a couple of the old Loy’s Toys cab bus fascia panels I have, and voila! I could now plug in my throttle at various spots around the room. Worked fine.
Lastly, I had a little bit of fun with some non-DCC locos I have collected over the years. I decided to put some basic decoders I have laying around into these engines and see if they will run. I fired up the DCC++/JMRI system and got to testing. I managed to get my Athearn Genesis 2-8-2 USRA light mikado and my Life-Like Proto2000 S1 up and running. I couldn’t fit the S1 shell back on and in doing some online research I found that these locos have a critical flaw that needs attention before the decoder can be properly installed. That will be next on my list.
So that’s it for now. Spring is here and thus my time in the layout room is being challenged by chores, yard work and other fun things. I’m hoping that I can continue as I really do have some great momentum right now. I visited my friend Kelly yesterday and saw his Georgetown layout which is really coming along nicely! He is modeling the area of G-town from the Aqueduct bridge to the “new yard” at Wisconsin Ave, with plans for expansion. Very cool!