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SProblem running programs

Hi.

Sorry this is so long winded, but it is a precis of two years of frustration, trial and error, and getting nowhere.

I have requested assistance with this before but the problem still remains and I really, REALLY, need help.  Practical help for now but if the problem persists it may be psychiatric!  With Railmaster, creating and running programs of any length is almost impossible as commands, usually turnout operations, are spuriously missed which destroys the flow of the whole scenario unless I happen to notice the error and manually ‘fire’ the turnout.  The frustration is obviously compounded as locos, turnouts and rolling stock have to be returned to their respective start positions and the affected program restarted from scratch. Failure can occur at any time in a scenario and affects any turnout at random.  Very occasionally a loco will miss a command but not with anywhere near the same regularity as turnouts.

My setup is either a win 10 laptop (hi gaming spec) or win 7 desktop, both with Railmaster 1.73 and both with pro pack connecting via either an e-link or Elite controller, both with latest firmware and powered by a DCC concepts regulated (5A) power supply. Power draw rarely exceeds 1.5 amp even with several locos running with sound. The layout comprises of 9 electrical districts each powered by individual buss and 40 DCC cobalt omega digital turnout motors powered from a dedicated buss. 3 snubbers are fitted at extreme ends of 3 of the cable runs.  All cable connections/joints/track droppers are soldered except the main distribution block and turnout motor clip connections. Elite and e-link are always connected to selected computer on Com 2 or 3.

To date I have invested a small fortune in fault finding: changed computers, changed elite and e-link controllers (present ones are brand new), changed USB leads, changed power supplies, changed selected turnout motors (sufficient to discount them as the cause), renewed snubbers, rewired turnout motor supplies (they were fed from respective track power district buss, now all connected to a dedicated supply leg).

My latest experiment was to change the .ini file setting to double pulse for turnout operation but didn’t see any appreciable difference.  The problem does seem more pronounced when using the Elite, but resetting after any derailment shorts with the e-link can be even more frustrating than this problem, often requiring a complete shut-down/restart – that is why I would prefer to connect through the elite. 

I cannot believe I am the only one to suffer this issue. Three questions – 1. Has anyone reading this had a similar problem and if so, how was it resolved?  2.  Can someone in the know suggest what settings (baud rate etc. or .ini file) to tweak?  I am loathed to alter the settings to experiment when I do not know what they may affect. 3. Would it be of any use connecting the turnout supply buss via a boost unit fed from the elite boost connection? Don’t want to buy one to find it makes no difference. I’ve spent enough.

I thought I had solved the problem some time ago by uninstalling RM, clearing all RM hidden files manually and reloading RM.  I did manage to get a fairly complex 30 minute scenario involving various locos and numerous turnout changes to run right through back to back twice without a single glitch.  However, my absolute joy and feeling of ecstasy was short lived as the gremlins subsequently returned, increasing in frequency with time.

On a, I think, unrelated note.  I do seem to have trouble dragging my plan with the mouse from left to right & vice versa.  It moves very jerkily and settles wherever it wants. I also tried setting the left- hand side of the plan to one floating button and the right-hand side to another button as a work around, but the right-hand button only holds its program for a couple of operations before becoming un-programmed and non-responsive.  Ideas?

 

 

St1ngr4y

2310 posts

Hi FG,

 

First of all, my thanks for providing such a comprehensive description of your setup. You would think anyone reading wouldn't need to ask any clarification questions - however ...

 

You mention that you use two computers and you have two controllers, an Elite and an eLink. I assume, however, from your description above that you only use one computer and one controller at a time, and when one of these combinations is in use, all three of your buses are connected to the "Track output" of that Controller ?

 

For quite a while, I ran with an Elite as controller A connected to a Track bus, and an eLink as controller B connected to an Accessory bus. Earlier this year, I replaced the Elite with a new eLink as Controller A, so now use 2 eLinks as Controllers A & B. Past experience has shown me that the eLink is much more reliable than the Elite in "not losing" commands sent to it from Railmaster. As well as making sure that you are using the Hornby recommended baud rates for each device, you need also to ensure that this baud rate is reflected in the appropriate COMx port setting in Device Manager. Have you ever considered using your Elite as Controller A and eLink as controller B?

 

I would definitely stick with Double Pulse = 1 in the INI file. There are two places where a command can get lost on its way from RM to the decoder - firstly in the USB link from the pc to the controller, and secondly, from the controller to the decoder. This entry in the INI file means that you are doubling the chance of the command getting through both of these journeys.

 

When you say that commands are spuriously missed, are some turnouts more prone to failure than others ? Maybe it is worth creating one or two test programs which will repeatedly send left then right commands to one or more turnouts.

 

Also, how much of a time gap do you allow in your programs between each turnout operation? There is an INI setting "Points timer=0.75" which prevents turnouts being changed more rapidly than this setting - maybe setting this to a higher value may help...

 

Anyway, these are the only things I can think of right now. If you decide to act on any of them, let us know how you get on.

 

Ray

 

DCC Elite & eLink + Railmaster+ProPack, Windows 10 desktop

RAF96

13830 posts


Community Moderator

Ref the Boost idea.

 

Boost is a bad nomenclature for the functionality of those connections.

 

The Elite BOOST output does not provide a boosted anything, it is merely a low energy REPEATER of the DCC signal; this is passed by way of an R8239 Power and Signal Booster to a separately powered and otherwise isolated second or subsequent power district. There must be no direct connection between the Boost and the second district track.

 

A common user error is to connect the Boost output to the main Track output, which immediately fries the Elite Programming facility, as it shares the low energy output circuitry with the Boost output.

Halton Brat - Running Win 10, 64-bit - RM (Pro-Pack) with Elite as Controller-A, Select as Walkabout and E-Link as Controller-B - Locos are mostly TTS. http://www.halton96th.org.uk/robs_rails.html

Firstly, thank you st1ngr4y and RAF96 for your prompt replies.  RAF, you have probably "scared me off" the booster idea. Although my turnouts are now on a dedicated district, so would not be dirctly connected to the main track output, power to the point insul-frog is supplied from the respective turnout supply so could inadvertantly cross connect via a short to the track supply.  Plus - I think st1ngr4y has some avenues worth investigating first. 

Hello st1ngr4y. Indeed, I only ever use EITHER the elite or e-link with EITHER the laptop or desktop.  All the busses (districts) eminate from one distribution block fed from the single controller track supply, each district being individually switched for ease of fault finding.  Tomorrow I am going to try your suggestion with the elite as controller A and the e-link as controller B.  I can then connect the turnouts buss direct to the e-link. I too noticed that the e-link "lost" less commands but it can be so frustrating following a derailment short to get up and running again, hence my preferrence for the Elite.    

I have, however, been operating for some days on the misconception that I had changed to .INI to "Pulse = 1".  But today I found the setting has reverted to "0", probably inadvertantly at some stage in the past week whilst uploading usb backups between computers.  I re-selected Pulse = 1 and the miss-fires are noticeably reduced again and have been all day. I am careful in my programming and adhere to the minimum 3 second rule strictly but I may also try upping the 0.75 setting to 1. What is the highest you would advise?

I already have a "test" program where I run through all turnout motors L & R twice before operating programs, just to make sure none are stuck.  Occasionally one would "miss" and although spurious, there are some more regular than others.  They are the ones I renewed but with no percievable improvement. None failed during test since changing to Pulse = 1.

I will be continuing my onslaught tomorrow, or should I say "Lockdown locomotion"  but with renewed vigour.  I thank you for giving me some hope that it is parhaps not a fault incorporated by me during initial installation, which I was beginning to believe as the only explanation left.

Watch this space and stay healthy

Graham

Sorry.  Any suggestions on the trackplan and floatin buttons programming?

Fishmanoz

9836 posts

Just more on the boost idea, definitely not needed on the basis of your reported current draw.  However, it would mean 5hat a short on the layout will only shut down the track and not your points operation.

 

On your floating buttons, suggest you report this to HRMS via the email facility in the Help screen.  However, first update to latest v1.75 from the link at the top of the forum, this being the first thing they'll ask you to do anyway. 

and thanks for all the fish

Chrissaf

12053 posts


Community Moderator

RailMaster 1.73 not 1.75

 

Possibly thinking of 1.45 for the Elite perhaps?

Chris........ Making the wood in the trees visible.

Railmaster 1.73 already installed. I suspect the jerky movement could be connected to the resolution setting of the screen (high) but the floating buttons unable to hold a program is annoying.

Chrissaf

12053 posts


Community Moderator

Graham, just an observational comment to make your long posts a little easier for members to read and digest. I can see that you have put your text into paragraphs, but no gaps are showing between them.

 

Whereas this reply has clear gaps between blocks of text as indicated above and below this specific paragraph. When you are writing your post, type two consecutive 'carriage returns' [enter or return key on your keyboard]. It does look odd when you are in the post creation window, but when the post is published, only the first 'carriage return' is removed by the forum software, the second one sticks and generates the paragraph gap.

 

This TIP is TIP number 4 in my TIPs page list. My other TIPs can help a forum member to get the best 'user experience' out of this custom written forum software.

 

https://www.hornby.com/uk-en/forum/tips-on-using-the-forum/

Chris........ Making the wood in the trees visible.

St1ngr4y

2310 posts

Hi Graham,

 

I have a power booster installed between controller A and the track bus. This means that short circuits which occur on the track cause the power booster to trip, not the controller. The only problem is that to reset the booster, you need to disconnect its power supply, then plug it in again. I got around this by adding a single pole push-to-break push button into the power supply cable.

 

An alternative for floating buttons for moving your plan is by using a one-line program, with a button to run the program on your diagram. Problem is you can't use it if you're already running a program.

 

Ray

DCC Elite & eLink + Railmaster+ProPack, Windows 10 desktop

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