Topics

Power for Z-Scale Decoders

Ric Zimmerman
 

I am in the process of building a DCC test track for our local NMRA division.  Being a HO Scale modeler, I have come across an issue I am nor sure about.  Z-scale motors are run on 9 VDC while N-Scale and HO are run on 12 VDC power.  When we apply DCC electronics to them, what is the power output?  

I don't one want to burn out someone’s Z-scale DCC decoder by applying the wrong voltage to the unit.  Does my DCC system (MRCProdigy Express) adjust the power output, or the fact that DCC uses square wave alternating current change the whole paradigm?

MRC has suggested that it should not make a difference and that their system will run all scales, but I would like a second opinion that I can understand.
--
RicZ

Don Vollrath
 

I would certainly want to investigate further on what voltage is appropriate for Z scale locos before assuming that one can simply apply 12-14 volts from the typical N/HO DCC command station or booster. I've never seen a Z scale loco running on DCC track power. It's not necessarily the 'power' but potentially the repetitive Voltage peaks that do the damage. Find a manufacturer of DCC decoders that are used for Z scale and see what their ratings and limitations are. Yes, you can simply set the DCC 'throttle' to a lower speed step to reduce the average voltage and speed of the loco motor. But this does not reduce the peak voltage applied to the decoder from the track or to the motor by PWM from the normal 12-14 track voltage used for N or HO scales.
DonV

Richard Gagnon
 

I have run DZ125 deciders on my NCE Poweer Cab many times. The DCC voltage is 13.6 vac. Scope and meter.

Rich




On Tuesday, February 12, 2019, 6:03 PM, Ric Zimmerman <zimmermane@...> wrote:

I am in the process of building a DCC test track for our local NMRA division.  Being a HO Scale modeler, I have come across an issue I am nor sure about.  Z-scale motors are run on 9 VDC while N-Scale and HO are run on 12 VDC power.  When we apply DCC electronics to them, what is the power output?  

I don't one want to burn out someone’s Z-scale DCC decoder by applying the wrong voltage to the unit.  Does my DCC system (MRCProdigy Express) adjust the power output, or the fact that DCC uses square wave alternating current change the whole paradigm?

MRC has suggested that it should not make a difference and that their system will run all scales, but I would like a second opinion that I can understand.
--
RicZ

Jay
 

Hi!
Z Scale recommended voltage should be 9V.
12V is pushing the upper limit of the true Z Scale decoders in Z Scale engines.
The UP6Z is recommended by Digitrax for operating Z scale.

Jay

Richard Gagnon
 

I have run the DZ126 in HO also. Good for HO N Z. Not sure about any other Z scale. 

Rich




On Tuesday, February 12, 2019, 11:25 PM, Jay <jayfmn@q.com> wrote:

Hi!
Z Scale recommended voltage should be 9V.
12V is pushing the upper limit of the true Z Scale decoders in Z Scale engines.
The UP6Z is recommended by Digitrax for operating Z scale.

Jay

Mark Cartwright
 

Ric Z
Me too ?
When I began to consider which of my several DCC Controllers was a Keeper for a future Z Scale Coffee Table Layout...I have yet to decide.
Yes, Z Scale is 9 volts.
But my ESU ECoS is in excess of 15 volts.
Works great for N Scale...
An I may keep my Digitrax Chief since the local HO Clubs use this system
As for the rest ?
I do not know.
MRC Prodigy and Prodigy 2, Digitrax Zephyr, Bachmann Dynamis, ESU Navigator,?
Again ...I do not know.
=====
I have considered putting on resistors to the end of my DCC Controller Leads, just as it reaches the track.
Instead ?
I gave up (at least for now).
I have for now far too many distraction in my daily life to consider yet a 4th scale.
Let me know what you figure out Please.
:)) Mark

Mark Cartwright
 

One other aspect to such a Question.......
And I am sorry for I don't want to put a too fine a point on it....
However...
After reviewing City Permits and work kind of sort of accomplished, inspected and approved by my City's Building Department....of nearly 80 yeas and further with 4 very recent Home Inspections.
When it comes to Electricity ?
>>> Don't even trust PG&E.
=========
With that said....
There is an Old Cherokee Saying about barking up the wrong tree.
or ....
No, I don't believe you can get there from here.
http://z-scaletrains.com/using-correct-controller-z-scale/

Looks to me as if ...Rokuhan and Marlin  maybe the answer.
Meaning ?
Pretty much NOT anything you are gonna find at your American Train Store...
Well perhaps ...
https://www.yelp.com/biz/ac-euro-trains-stockton-2

Okay these people may actually know.
:)) Mark

Don Vollrath
 

Ric and others... I stand corrected. Digitrax DZ125/6 is for Z and other scales. They give no specific voltage limits on the spec sheet but Digitrax suggests cutting the DCC voltage down when applied to Z scale tracks with their UP6Z. That may be an option to add to your text apparatus for the Z-scale track.
See http://www.digitrax.com/static/apps/products/universal-panel-ir-radio-receivers/up6z/documents/UP6Z_opt.pdf.
DonV

Richard Gagnon
 

Yes. I saw 12.3 volt PWM pulses out of the orange and grey decoder leads with my Scope.

Rich

Failure is not an option. it comes bundled with Windows.


On Wednesday, February 13, 2019, 11:04:15 AM EST, Don Vollrath <donevol43@...> wrote:


Ric and others... I stand corrected. Digitrax DZ125/6 is for Z and other scales. They give no specific voltage limits on the spec sheet but Digitrax suggests cutting the DCC voltage down when applied to Z scale tracks with their UP6Z. That may be an option to add to your text apparatus for the Z-scale track.
See http://www.digitrax.com/static/apps/products/universal-panel-ir-radio-receivers/up6z/documents/UP6Z_opt.pdf.
DonV

Jay
 

Hi!
I am using a Digitrax DCS100 on my Z Scale layout.
Per the Digitrax recommendation, it has a UP6Z between it & the track.
The track is hooked to the 4v output, putting the track at about 9v.
Perfect for Z Scale.
All of my decoders are Digitrax DZ123Z0 decoders.

Jay

Don Vollrath
 

Hmmm. Makes me wonder what;s inside the UP6Z box. there are plenty of misc connectors but according to the sales info no real need for a power supply. Anyone ever open the box? Could be just a bunch of 4 amp rated silicon diodes connected in series parallel to give a relatively fix 4-5 volt drop with either polarity.
DonV 

Jay
 

Hi Don,
Inside of the UP6Z it appears to have 3 resistor arrays.
With a Capacitor & a Fusible link to track output.
That & 6 Loconet ports.

Jay

Mark Gurries
 

With respect to the USA

Z scale track voltage and Z scale decoder voltage ratings are not directly related.  The voltage rating of the DCC electronics are typically the same as N and HO.  30V is common standard of electronic parts used.  The voltage rating of the power devices used to drive the motor does not define the physical size of the parts.  

The NMRA does not define specific voltage for specific scales.  They have one standard for all scales: 12V.  Does not change with DCC.

The purpose of having a specific track voltage as a standard is for reliability purposes for both the motor and lamps.

DCC track voltage typically is a bit higher than the DC track voltage because of voltage losses inside the DCC decoder.  The goal is to get 12V at the motor terminals, the same motor operating condition under DC without a decoder.



On Feb 12, 2019, at 8:25 PM, Jay <jayfmn@q.com> wrote:

Hi!
Z Scale recommended voltage should be 9V.
12V is pushing the upper limit of the true Z Scale decoders in Z Scale engines.
The UP6Z is recommended by Digitrax for operating Z scale.

Jay

Best Regards,

Mark Gurries
Electrical Engineer
DCC Website & NMRA DCC Clinics: www.markgurries.com



Carl
 

Hello Mark:

I've converted Lionel three rail locomotives and the 12 volt limit is a problem. Lionel and MTH locomotives are wired for 18 volts and some barely move at 12 volt. I'm not quite willing to change to 12 volt motors.

Carl.

On 2/18/2019 1:18 PM, Mark Gurries wrote:
With respect to the USA

Z scale track voltage and Z scale decoder voltage ratings are not directly related.  The voltage rating of the DCC electronics are typically the same as N and HO.  30V is common standard of electronic parts used.  The voltage rating of the power devices used to drive the motor does not define the physical size of the parts.  

The NMRA does not define specific voltage for specific scales.  They have one standard for all scales: 12V.  Does not change with DCC.

The purpose of having a specific track voltage as a standard is for reliability purposes for both the motor and lamps.

DCC track voltage typically is a bit higher than the DC track voltage because of voltage losses inside the DCC decoder.  The goal is to get 12V at the motor terminals, the same motor operating condition under DC without a decoder.

,_

Virus-free. www.avast.com

whmvd
 

Mark,

Try G-Scale at 12V. That's virtually a non-starter!

Wouter


On Mon, 18 Feb 2019 at 18:18, Mark Gurries <gurriesm@...> wrote:
With respect to the USA

Z scale track voltage and Z scale decoder voltage ratings are not directly related.  The voltage rating of the DCC electronics are typically the same as N and HO.  30V is common standard of electronic parts used.  The voltage rating of the power devices used to drive the motor does not define the physical size of the parts.  

The NMRA does not define specific voltage for specific scales.  They have one standard for all scales: 12V.  Does not change with DCC.

The purpose of having a specific track voltage as a standard is for reliability purposes for both the motor and lamps.

DCC track voltage typically is a bit higher than the DC track voltage because of voltage losses inside the DCC decoder.  The goal is to get 12V at the motor terminals, the same motor operating condition under DC without a decoder.



On Feb 12, 2019, at 8:25 PM, Jay <jayfmn@q.com> wrote:

Hi!
Z Scale recommended voltage should be 9V.
12V is pushing the upper limit of the true Z Scale decoders in Z Scale engines.
The UP6Z is recommended by Digitrax for operating Z scale.

Jay

Best Regards,

Mark Gurries
Electrical Engineer
DCC Website & NMRA DCC Clinics: www.markgurries.com



Al Silverstein
 

A little history here might help clear up the DCC voltage to the rails issues on several different levels.
 
At one point in time many years ago the NMRA Standards and Recommended Practices did include voltage to the rail ratings for the scales of N, HO, O/S, and G. Over the last 10-15 years the NMRA has modified and/or deleted many Standards and Recommended Practices. The DCC Standards and Recommended Practices are a perfect example. Several of the DCC Standards have been modified and most of the Recommended Practices have been deleted. Unless you know where to look finding the older Standards and Recommended Practices are very difficult. I have since DCC was first introduced back in 1994 tried to keep up with any and all information dealing with DCC. It has not always been an easy task. I have a complete set of the DCC Standards and Recommended Practices as they were back in 2002.
 
In the latest Electrical Standard S-9.1 (Version 2006), on page 3, there are four charts which indicated the various voltages of the different scales for DCC. If you are curious about the voltages please follow this link:
 
 
Now lets take a minute to look at the DCC Decoders. If one were take a close look one would find that any DCC decoder is supposed to accept an input range anywhere from about 12 volts to 22 volts. This holds true for most non sound mobile decoders. Sound decoders in general cannot handle voltages above, I believe, about 18 volts. This is a component issue dealing with sound chips. But all things being equal it is the motor in the scale that determines what voltage is needed on the rails.
 
Now as for the voltage output to the rails the issue deals with the market place. HO has been the most popular scale for at least 30-40 years and HO layouts have a history of using 0-12 volts DC for operation. With HO being by far the most popular scale the manufacturers lean in the direction of HO for most of their support. Just look at Walthers. Walthers today only produces two general catalogs: O and HO-N-Z. It was only a couple of years ago that Walthers produced three catalogs: O, HO, and N/Z. The number of products in HO in their HO-N-Z catalog is much larger than their N scale products which is much larger than their Z scale products.
 
DCC manufacturers are in the business of making a profit and thus they place their major support to the market with the greatest potential for profit which is the HO market. Thus most of the DCC command systems are HO scale based when it comes to voltage to the rails. There is a general drop of about 1.4-1.8 volts through a decoder thus in order to get the 12 volts to the motor the voltage on the rails must be at least 13.8 volts.
 
It is easily understandable why most of the DCC command system manufacturers have only one voltage to the rails output and that is most of the purchasers of their command stations are HO scale modelers. Besides N and Z being much smaller markets when it comes to model railroading note that N and Z scale decoders are more expensive because the parts need to be smaller and also note that it is much more difficult to install a decoder in a N and Z scale model railroad engine. I have a HO 0-4-0 yard switcher that is over 35 years old and it was easy to install a N scale decoder in it once I isolated the motor from the frame. It appears to me that over the last several years there has been a general drop in the number of model railroaders in the scales of O/S and above.
 
The only DCC manufacturer that I am acquainted with that provides easy to adjust voltage to the rails is Digitrax. All of their command stations with the exception of the Zephyr have an external voltage to the rails adjustment switch for N-HO-O/G with the output voltage dependent upon the command station power source. The current PS615 is great for HO and below while the PS2012e can easily handle all scales to include the scales above HO. Digitrax a couple of years ago added to their product line the UP6Z which can easily adjust the voltage to the rails for Z scale operation to about 8 volts.
 
The above paragraph is not intended to indicate that Digitrax is any better than any other DCC command system but only that the Digitrax hardware is geared to handle a wider variety of model railroading scales. Each DCC command system manufacturer has chosen which market it wants to support. When choosing a DCC command station or any other DCC related product one must make the decision that best fits his, or her, situation. I operate on several different layouts from time to time and I enjoy every moment no matter what the scale or which command system is being used.
 
The one aspect of DCC that I appreciate the most is the ability to move with my engine without the need of having to keep track of the rail power routing switches.
 
Al Silverstein

David Heine
 

The Zimo MX10 system has an adjustable track voltage of 10 - 24 V, in 0.2 V increments. The overcurrent setpoint of the main output is also adjustable from 1 - 12 A, in 0.1 A increments. But it is not inexpensive, and if you want the full output you need a big power supply. Factory defaults are typical for HO, 16 V and 5 A. But it can be adjusted from Z to G.

Dave Heine
Easton, PA 

On Tue, Feb 19, 2019 at 8:03 AM Al Silverstein <alsilverstein@...> wrote:
A little history here might help clear up the DCC voltage to the rails issues on several different levels.
 
At one point in time many years ago the NMRA Standards and Recommended Practices did include voltage to the rail ratings for the scales of N, HO, O/S, and G. Over the last 10-15 years the NMRA has modified and/or deleted many Standards and Recommended Practices. The DCC Standards and Recommended Practices are a perfect example. Several of the DCC Standards have been modified and most of the Recommended Practices have been deleted. Unless you know where to look finding the older Standards and Recommended Practices are very difficult. I have since DCC was first introduced back in 1994 tried to keep up with any and all information dealing with DCC. It has not always been an easy task. I have a complete set of the DCC Standards and Recommended Practices as they were back in 2002.
 
In the latest Electrical Standard S-9.1 (Version 2006), on page 3, there are four charts which indicated the various voltages of the different scales for DCC. If you are curious about the voltages please follow this link:
 
 
Now lets take a minute to look at the DCC Decoders. If one were take a close look one would find that any DCC decoder is supposed to accept an input range anywhere from about 12 volts to 22 volts. This holds true for most non sound mobile decoders. Sound decoders in general cannot handle voltages above, I believe, about 18 volts. This is a component issue dealing with sound chips. But all things being equal it is the motor in the scale that determines what voltage is needed on the rails.
 
Now as for the voltage output to the rails the issue deals with the market place. HO has been the most popular scale for at least 30-40 years and HO layouts have a history of using 0-12 volts DC for operation. With HO being by far the most popular scale the manufacturers lean in the direction of HO for most of their support. Just look at Walthers. Walthers today only produces two general catalogs: O and HO-N-Z. It was only a couple of years ago that Walthers produced three catalogs: O, HO, and N/Z. The number of products in HO in their HO-N-Z catalog is much larger than their N scale products which is much larger than their Z scale products.
 
DCC manufacturers are in the business of making a profit and thus they place their major support to the market with the greatest potential for profit which is the HO market. Thus most of the DCC command systems are HO scale based when it comes to voltage to the rails. There is a general drop of about 1.4-1.8 volts through a decoder thus in order to get the 12 volts to the motor the voltage on the rails must be at least 13.8 volts.
 
It is easily understandable why most of the DCC command system manufacturers have only one voltage to the rails output and that is most of the purchasers of their command stations are HO scale modelers. Besides N and Z being much smaller markets when it comes to model railroading note that N and Z scale decoders are more expensive because the parts need to be smaller and also note that it is much more difficult to install a decoder in a N and Z scale model railroad engine. I have a HO 0-4-0 yard switcher that is over 35 years old and it was easy to install a N scale decoder in it once I isolated the motor from the frame. It appears to me that over the last several years there has been a general drop in the number of model railroaders in the scales of O/S and above.
 
The only DCC manufacturer that I am acquainted with that provides easy to adjust voltage to the rails is Digitrax. All of their command stations with the exception of the Zephyr have an external voltage to the rails adjustment switch for N-HO-O/G with the output voltage dependent upon the command station power source. The current PS615 is great for HO and below while the PS2012e can easily handle all scales to include the scales above HO. Digitrax a couple of years ago added to their product line the UP6Z which can easily adjust the voltage to the rails for Z scale operation to about 8 volts.
 
The above paragraph is not intended to indicate that Digitrax is any better than any other DCC command system but only that the Digitrax hardware is geared to handle a wider variety of model railroading scales. Each DCC command system manufacturer has chosen which market it wants to support. When choosing a DCC command station or any other DCC related product one must make the decision that best fits his, or her, situation. I operate on several different layouts from time to time and I enjoy every moment no matter what the scale or which command system is being used.
 
The one aspect of DCC that I appreciate the most is the ability to move with my engine without the need of having to keep track of the rail power routing switches.
 
Al Silverstein

Al Silverstein
 

Dave,
 
It is nice to know there is at least one other DCC command system manufacturer that offers a command station with adjustable voltage to the track that covers a wide range of scales. Your comment about about not inexpensive is a bit under stated. After a very quick search of the internet I found only one retailer in North America (Streamlined Backshop www.sbs4dcc.com) and discounted the price tag is still $1280.
 
Al
 
 

From: David Heine
Sent: Tuesday, February 19, 2019 1:29 PM
To: w4dccqa@groups.io
Subject: Re: [w4dccqa] Power for Z-Scale Decoders
 
The Zimo MX10 system has an adjustable track voltage of 10 - 24 V, in 0.2 V increments. The overcurrent setpoint of the main output is also adjustable from 1 - 12 A, in 0.1 A increments. But it is not inexpensive, and if you want the full output you need a big power supply. Factory defaults are typical for HO, 16 V and 5 A. But it can be adjusted from Z to G.
 
Dave Heine
Easton, PA
 
On Tue, Feb 19, 2019 at 8:03 AM Al Silverstein <alsilverstein@...> wrote:
A little history here might help clear up the DCC voltage to the rails issues on several different levels.
 
At one point in time many years ago the NMRA Standards and Recommended Practices did include voltage to the rail ratings for the scales of N, HO, O/S, and G. Over the last 10-15 years the NMRA has modified and/or deleted many Standards and Recommended Practices. The DCC Standards and Recommended Practices are a perfect example. Several of the DCC Standards have been modified and most of the Recommended Practices have been deleted. Unless you know where to look finding the older Standards and Recommended Practices are very difficult. I have since DCC was first introduced back in 1994 tried to keep up with any and all information dealing with DCC. It has not always been an easy task. I have a complete set of the DCC Standards and Recommended Practices as they were back in 2002.
 
In the latest Electrical Standard S-9.1 (Version 2006), on page 3, there are four charts which indicated the various voltages of the different scales for DCC. If you are curious about the voltages please follow this link:
 
 
Now lets take a minute to look at the DCC Decoders. If one were take a close look one would find that any DCC decoder is supposed to accept an input range anywhere from about 12 volts to 22 volts. This holds true for most non sound mobile decoders. Sound decoders in general cannot handle voltages above, I believe, about 18 volts. This is a component issue dealing with sound chips. But all things being equal it is the motor in the scale that determines what voltage is needed on the rails.
 
Now as for the voltage output to the rails the issue deals with the market place. HO has been the most popular scale for at least 30-40 years and HO layouts have a history of using 0-12 volts DC for operation. With HO being by far the most popular scale the manufacturers lean in the direction of HO for most of their support. Just look at Walthers. Walthers today only produces two general catalogs: O and HO-N-Z. It was only a couple of years ago that Walthers produced three catalogs: O, HO, and N/Z. The number of products in HO in their HO-N-Z catalog is much larger than their N scale products which is much larger than their Z scale products.
 
DCC manufacturers are in the business of making a profit and thus they place their major support to the market with the greatest potential for profit which is the HO market. Thus most of the DCC command systems are HO scale based when it comes to voltage to the rails. There is a general drop of about 1.4-1.8 volts through a decoder thus in order to get the 12 volts to the motor the voltage on the rails must be at least 13.8 volts.
 
It is easily understandable why most of the DCC command system manufacturers have only one voltage to the rails output and that is most of the purchasers of their command stations are HO scale modelers. Besides N and Z being much smaller markets when it comes to model railroading note that N and Z scale decoders are more expensive because the parts need to be smaller and also note that it is much more difficult to install a decoder in a N and Z scale model railroad engine. I have a HO 0-4-0 yard switcher that is over 35 years old and it was easy to install a N scale decoder in it once I isolated the motor from the frame. It appears to me that over the last several years there has been a general drop in the number of model railroaders in the scales of O/S and above.
 
The only DCC manufacturer that I am acquainted with that provides easy to adjust voltage to the rails is Digitrax. All of their command stations with the exception of the Zephyr have an external voltage to the rails adjustment switch for N-HO-O/G with the output voltage dependent upon the command station power source. The current PS615 is great for HO and below while the PS2012e can easily handle all scales to include the scales above HO. Digitrax a couple of years ago added to their product line the UP6Z which can easily adjust the voltage to the rails for Z scale operation to about 8 volts.
 
The above paragraph is not intended to indicate that Digitrax is any better than any other DCC command system but only that the Digitrax hardware is geared to handle a wider variety of model railroading scales. Each DCC command system manufacturer has chosen which market it wants to support. When choosing a DCC command station or any other DCC related product one must make the decision that best fits his, or her, situation. I operate on several different layouts from time to time and I enjoy every moment no matter what the scale or which command system is being used.
 
The one aspect of DCC that I appreciate the most is the ability to move with my engine without the need of having to keep track of the rail power routing switches.
 
Al Silverstein

Jay
 

Hi!
If you can get a Digitrax DCS100 or DB150, they also have a voltage adjustment potentiometer.
I was able to drive my DSC100 down to 10v track voltage in N Scale setting.

Jay

Greg Elmassian
 

I have a zimo and adjust mine for the scale I'm using, and my NCE booster had an adjustment, never experimented with the lower voltage since I used it on G scale, and needed the high end which was normally 21.3 volts, but they came from the factory usually at 16v and the trim pot looked like it was at about mid position.

Greg