Product Documentation

PRODUCT DOCUMENTATION

 

 

PDF: LED Scene Controller II (DCC Manual 1.1 CASE)

 

16 Port DCC LED Scene Controller – LSC II

USER MANUAL FOR DCC OPERATION

INTRODUCTION

This manual explains how to configure and control the LED Scene Controller (LSC II) directly from your DCC system.  If you have an LSC II with a keypad you can choose one of the preprogrammed Special Effect (FX) animations using the keypad.    With the DCC control connection you can fine tune many of those settings.  You may also configure specific variables (Configuration Variables) via the keypad. For example, you can adjust the blink speed of both the on and off timing with settings from 1-100 each whereas the preprogrammed settings are pre-set.

 

Here are the special effect categories for reference.

  • Adjust each LED for individual “brightness”
  • Flickering
  • Blinking with individual pin on/off speeds
  • Rotating Beacon (simulation)
  • MARS simulation
  • Fade on and off (timing adjustable to 18 hours)
  • Random on/off with adjustable pace (all pins or one pin)
  • Step, Chase, Race – each LED on/off in sequence
  • Alternate 2-pin Flashing
  • TV Simulation (use 2,3 or 4 LEDs)
  • Arc Welding
  • Lighting

               

* Some speed settings apply to all LEDs whereas blinking and brightness settings apply individually to each LED (they can be different).  If you have multiple boards with the same DCC address but you program them separately, they will perform based on the board specific configuration.

You can configure and control the LSC II from your NMRA DCC system.  That also means you can use jmri (www.jmri.org) or Railroad Automation (RRAuto.com) software.

 

TO ALLOW THE BOARD TO READ CVs from your DCC System or JMRI, THE POWER SWITCH MUST BE IN THE OFF (LEFT) position.

To configure the LSC II you only need to connect to DCC IN.  You do not need to have the power adapter plugged in. The BLUE light will be OFF.

 

You can use the commands described here to program the LSC II remotely.

 

I designed and developed this board so that anyone who can run a DCC locomotive can easily, quickly and inexpensively add LED lighting effects to their layout.  Many people have wired their layout and run sophisticated software application that automate the running of the trains.  However, most people are not about to start learning “C” and compiling software and building circuit boards.  They want something that they can just hook up to run their LED lighting.  That is what we built.

*All the settings are saved as CV’s or configuration variables. They are saved even when the power goes out. If you like, you can customize the board by setting the configuration variables in Ops Mode via your DCC system.  The CV’s are listed at the end of this manual.

 

The LSC II is a customized, purpose-built circuit that has been pre-programmed, so you don’t have to.

NOTE: Digitrax user must operate the speed control with the train direction FORWARD. NCE and other operate the speed control with the direction in REVERSE.

 

Overview of operations

Your board comes configured as address 3 per NMRA® standards and it behaves similarly to an engine decoder otherwise known as a “multi-function” decoder.  There are two ways to change the board address:

  1. Connect the board to a programming track and set the Address CV (#2) to whatever address you like.  Long and Short addresses work just as they do with locomotive decoders.
  2. Connect the board to the main line DCC power and use the built-in programming mode to set an address that borrow from the switch addresses. This is highly dependent upon the make and model of your DCC system.  For example, the Digitrax® DT400 goes to 999 but the DT500 can reach to 2044.  Above that you will need to use the programming track.

 

The board has four “modes” of operation:

  1. Connected to a DCC line the LSC II can operate in:

 Operator Mode.  In this mode each pin can be turned On or Off, Fade On and Off or Random to On and Random to Off.  There is also an ALL on/off option.

Configuration Mode (F1).  In this mode individual LED and board level setting can be configured and saved.  (Note:  all the settings can also be activated by setting CV’s (configuration variables) using the programming track.

Animation Mode (F5).  In this mode the simulation of Blinking, Flashing, Always On and Random On/OFF and TV Simulation on each pin of the board (based on your configuration) is activated.

 

  1. Non DCC Powered Mode. (this is cool)

DCC Track power is precious, particularly if you have a big layout or are part of a club.  To accommodate the requirement to have accessories run off non-DCC sources we have built that capability into the board.

Once you have decided what you want each of the 16 pins on the board to do and you have configured the board via your DCC hand controller or Ops mode, you can unplug it from the DCC line and plug in a standard 12-18V AC or DC 1A or more power supply.  After about 5 seconds (configurable) the board will determine that it has power but no DCC signal.  At that point it will automatically kick into Animation Mode just like F5 above. 

There are two versions of the LSC II controller.  The standard version and the MICRO board (2” x 1.25”).  The MICRO board gives you the option of powering the LEDs from DCC power.  The standard board requires an external power supply. 

 

The LSC II Controller can support either 3-12V LEDs and can be run from the DCC system or in parallel with it without drawing off DCC current.

With DCC and/or a 12-18V supply, the output voltage of the LSC II at each pin is designed for LOW voltage SMD (Surface Mount Device) LEDs typically in the 1.8 to 3.3v range.  We’ll call these 3VDC LEDs.  We supply LED “chips” that have the LEDs already soldered onto a convenient mounting board.  These SMD LED chips are also available pre-wired from Amazon® and EBAY®. They are very inexpensive which is why we use them. We don’t think many people are willing to pay ~$4/LED – ours cost less than half that. We believe that if the LED’s are inexpensive and can be connected in less than 10 minutes people will actually light their layout!

One thing to note about SMD LEDs, they are very sensitive to heat from say, a soldering iron.  They melt very easily. That is why we solder the LEDs onto the “chip” board for you.  You can buy these from us wired or un-wired and you can solder the wires onto the “chip” yourself.  It’s easy.  We have 4 white “colors” available labeled with “K” (Kelvin) to indicate the “temperature” of the light.  They don’t actually get hot, but light is measured by its temperature.  For example, there is “warm” white and “cool” white.  The lower the value the more yellow it will be, whereas a higher value will have a bluer color. We also have a TV Sim “chip” that has a blue and white LED and an RGB “chip” for a Color TV Sim – or anything else you can dream up. Below is a color chart for your reference:

 

Note:  Everyone knows that the blue part of flame is hotter than the orange part.  With that in mind I can see that the blue area of the above chart should be “hotter” and have a higher degree Kelvin associated with it.  Then why is it called “cool” and the cooler part down near 3000k called warm?  We found out that it is described it by the way it looks that makes it “cool”, not the physics.  Just thought you might like to know.  Confusing, but we’re stuck with it.

There are other LEDs that are available online and from train scenery manufactures and suppliers that operate on 12VDC.  The LSC II can operate with either 3V or 12V LEDs. These are compatible with plug-in LED products from other companies.  Any LED product that has the JST-type plug will plug into the board and will have ALL the same features and controls as the LEDs you connect directly to our Controller.  12V prewired LEDs with mounting boards are available on Amazon and eBay in case you want to go that route.

 

The LSC II is designed to power 12V LED’s.  Plug in any 12-24VAC/DC power adapter (wall wort) or other power supply.  When you do, the board will come alive and the blue LED will light. For use with 3V LEDs like the “chips” we sell, we recommend a 12-18VDC supply.

 

IF YOU PLUG POWER THE WOODLAND SCENIC POWER SUPPLY INTO ONE OF THE LED PORTS YOU MAY DESTROY AT LEAST THAT PORT AND VERY LIKELY THE BOARD.  BE CAREFUL AND PLEASE PAY ATTENTION.

NOTE:  This board has a DCC Auto-sensing circuit.  If there is power to the board but NO DCC signal – either because you didn’t connect it or the DCC system is off – after 5 seconds the board will switch into Animation Mode (discussed further below).  The default Mode setting for all ports is ON.  You can change that in the configuration process.

 

  1. Plug in wired LEDs into the sockets labelled P1-16
  2. Press F0 ON to test that all LED pins light.
  3. Pause Switch – If you want to have the ability to “pause” the controller you can connect these two connections to a N/O (normally open) switch. If you close the circuit (connect the wires) the board will go into “standby” mode and all the LEDs will turn off.  When you release the switch, the controller will resume what it was doing.  The controller uses about 6-9ma (milliamps) in idle/pause mode.   The LEDs are all powered from the 12~24VAC/DC input.  Very little DCC current is used to run the board and zero to light the lights.

 

A few things to keep in mind:

We will be using the function keys and the speed control of the DCC hand controller to set the configuration of the LED controller board.  This causes a few weird behaviors in particular with the speed control switching from one mode to another.  My advice is to go slow and follow the steps one by one. Additionally, there will be a few sequences where you might get stuck.  In that case, turn off all the function keys and use F0 to turn All the LEDs on and off. This doesn’t do anything more than confirm that the board is working and that you are back at the start. 

We primarily use the Digitrax system for the reason that we can “see” the status of the first 12 function keys on the main controller.  NCE systems only show the first 6 so you have to toggle the EPXN key to check the status of others.  The ESU controller shows the function keys but the current firmware doesn’t allow you to show the function number.  Instead they want you to assign icons – but there are not enough, and I can’t remember what icon is what number. As crazy as that is, they say that they are going to fix it in a future version.

 

PIN behavior description and options

Each pin is assigned a MODE.  The default Mode is On [1].  1 is the value of the CV that you store for that pin to make it exhibit a special effect when in Operation, Animation or Non-DCC modes.

Each pin can be assigned only ONE behavior at a time. Of course, you can change that behavior anytime.  In fact, one of the by-products of how we use the function keys and throttle of the DCC controller is that you can both control the board (the LED scene) AND configure the board via software such as Railroad Automation or jmri without disconnecting the board from the layout or using the programming “track”.

To change the configuration of a pin you have to stop Animation mode (F5 OFF) and then make sure all other function keys are also off.  This is explained further in this manual.

 

The pin behaviors and their CV values:

Value Behavior Notes: Animation
0 disabled No output on this pin during animation. No
1 Always on On during animation; ignore Random Yes
2 Flicker Simulates oil lamp or fire Yes
3 Blink Blink speed On/Off configured for each pin Yes
4 Beacon Simulates a rotating beacon Yes
5 Fade Fade on and off to a timed cycle Yes
6 Random Default mode Yes
7 Step Sequentially turn LEDs On/Off with F0 Yes
8 Flashing Use to create alternate pin Flashing Yes
9 TV Sim Simulate a TV (using Blue & White LEDs) Yes
10 MARS Simulate a MARS style light. Yes
11 Mimic F11 Operator Controlled – Mimics F11 No
12 Mimic F12 Operator Controlled – Mimics F12 No
13,14,15 Arc Welder 13,14,15 – different time gaps between cycles. Yes
16,17,18 Lightning 16,17,18 – different time gaps between cycles Yes

 

The Mode CV addresses are [112- 127].  Pin #1 is 112, Pin#2 is 113, etc.

 

Operator Mode versus Animation Mode

 

There are two operating modes that the controller can execute.  Operator Mode allows you to turn on and off any LED pin by pressing its corresponding Function key +10.  That means that hitting F11 will turn pin #1 on and off.  F12 will turn pin #2 on and off, and so forth.  Nothing happens unless you tell it to do something by selecting a function key.  This is different from Animation mode whereby your configuration of the pins will cause them to behave accordingly just by pressing F5 (Animate On).

 

If you use software to control your layout and if it supports controlling Function keys, then you can control the LED Scene Control board using software – which is one of the several ways we control the animation on our demo layout.

 

There are also a few animations that are possible to activate in Operator mode.  See the chart below:

The available Functions in Operator Mode (F1 OFF) are:

Function

Key

Behavior Comments
F0 All Pins On/Off Also used to check everything works.
F4 Adjust all Pin Bright level Forces all pins to same Dim level; use F2 to save
F8 Alternate pin Flashing Overrides individual mode setting; all pins
F11-F26 Turn on Pin** For pin 1, add 10 = F11. Pin 16 = F26

 

Use of Function Keys

 

Function Keys are used to both configure the board and to control its operation.  Therefore, keeping track of which functions are on and off is important to keep things running smoothly.  The F1 key is used to switch into Configuration mode.  When F1 is On, the other function keys will behave differently than when it’s Off. 

 

F2 has a special role and since it is configured 99.9% of the time as a momentary Horn, we will use it to the SAVE configuration options.  You press the F2 key when you want to save something and then the LEDs will flash to tell you it worked.  If the LED’s don’t flash, something is not right.

 

F2 is also used to send the board into Address Configuration mode.  This is a little trick we designed into our LED light boards for passenger cars and we implemented it here as well.  I was never a fan of having to move my trains to a programming track to change their configuration.  Instead, with some minor limitation we invented a way to change the address of a board while it is connected to the live DCC track – without impacting or changing any other decoder on the layout.  Check out the Address Programming section but for now, just note that F2 is “special”.

 

The LSC II uses Function F0 through F12 to configure and control the pins on the board.  The current NMRA® specification calls for support of function keys to 29 – which all controllers don’t have on the primary panel.  How you get to functions above 12 depends on the controller.  Digitrax DT400 and below cannot access above F12. DT402 and above do have a way by using a combination of the FUNC key with either a 1 or a 2.  With software application running the show this isn’t a problem.

 

Since we make use of F0-F12 for control of the board we had to put the individual pin control for on and off starting at F11.  Just add 10 to the pin you want to control. Pin 1 is F11 (1 +10).  Pin 16 is F26 (20+6) using the extended function commands.  After I got the LSC II prototype board working and configured, I discovered that I never needed to control above F12 – but I did add a way to do it from the primary keyboard even if your controller can’t access above Function 12.  Look up the Mimic option in the chart for an explanation.

 

Use of the Speed Control

We primarily use the Digitrax® system so there will be some variation with your system when it comes to how the speed controller behaves.  We do support NCE and ESU. And while we have been testing the controller with as many different systems as we could, we are sure there will be a few hardware configurations we haven’t seen yet.  If you have an issue like this, please contact us so we can update the design to support you.

If there is anything that will confuse you as you configure the controller it will be the behavior of the speed control.  After a LOT of consideration, we decided that putting more functionality and flexibility into the controller was more important that super simple.   Here is why you might get confused as we did the first time. 

We give you the option to configure each pin individually.  The way you select a pin to configure is with the speed controller.  Press F1 and then turn the speed dial to any value between 1 and 16.  As long as no other function keys are on, the LEDs connected to each pin will light.  If you select 8 on the speed control, pin 8 will light. (consider our LED test board to simplify setup)

If you are a Digitrax user you will notice a slight idiosyncrasy when you turn the speed controller. Occasionally you may feel two “clicks” of the dial when the LED only moved by one.  This is because the range of speed is 0-127 (128 speed steps) but the dial on the hand controller is only two digits to represent 0-100%, not the actual internal speed step.  Actually, it only goes to 99 on the Digitrax system.  That means each click is 1.28 not an even 1.  So, we have to do some math to make sure that when the dial says “5” – it really is 5 on the inside.

 Since we also support the NCE Power Cab we had to figure out a way to easily control this behavior and determine if you have the full 128 Speed steps or the simulated 0-99% for Digitrax.

 

DIGITRAX SPEED CONTROL – Set the LOCO Direction to FORWARD.

NCE and all OTHERS – Set the LOCO Direction to REVERSE.

 

That part is simple.  If you dial a value above 16 no LEDs will light.  Likewise, if you choose zero.  Now that you have pin 8 dialed in, press F4.  This is the key to activate adjusting the LED brightness.  The moment you press F4, the LED on that pin will light to a value of 8 – since that is where the speed dial was when you selected pin 8. It will be fairly dim.  Now adjust the speed control to brighten the LED.  You can go all the way to 99!     Is that the brightness you want for that pin?  Ok, then press F2 – SAVE.  The LED on pin 8 will flash a few times letting you know that it saved your brightness setting.  Done.  Right?  Ok, now turn F4 OFF – this deactivates the brightness adjustment mode.  What happened – no LED’s are lit and pin 8 LED went off!   Yep, because the SPEED control is still set at 99 or whatever your last setting was if it is above 16.

If you now dial the speed control back to 8, the LED will go back on and you will see the new, adjusted and probably a brighter setting for pin 8.  Now you can use the speed dial to pick another pin and adjust its brightness and other configurations and so on.

If you followed that then you are all set!  You can only pick a pin from 1-16 but you will use speed controller to adjust for Values that are usually above that.  This will occur for each instance where you want to set the Mode, adjust the Brightness setting or change the speed of Blinking for individual pins.  This will not happen when you set the speed for Flashing, Fade, Random or Step since those are board-specific and affect all pins identically. We usually set the brightness to between 25 and 50.  Above 50 isn’t necessary because your eyes can’t distinguish the difference.

 

Setting the LSC II Address

The LSC II default address is 3.  If your board is acting flaky or you can’t remember the board address, you might need to resort to a RESET.  There are two methods.  The first is to set CV8 to 1 via the programming track – if you have to resort to that.  By the way, this method does NOT reset your configurations of the pins.  If you need to flush the pin settings use the next method.

 

The other way is as follows:

 

RESET (LSC II with CASE):  Refer to the KEYPAD manual.

 

RESET – press and hold the reset button on the controller board for approximately 5 seconds until the LED light – Then RELEASE the button.  After 5 seconds ALL the LEDS that are connected to pins will flash a few times.  When the LEDs go out, your board will be back to factory defaults.  We recommend that you power down the board for 5 seconds (just unplug the power) and then restart it.  Everything should be back to normal and the address for the boards is back to 3.

 

As mentioned, you can always use the programming track methods, otherwise known and DCC Ops mode – to program the address. In that case, the pin configurations will not be set back to defaults. 

 

Setting the Scene Controller board Address with F2

 

  1. Connect the board to a DCC layout and turn the power on.
  2. Turn OFF all function keys.
  3. Press and hold F2 for ~ 5 seconds. NCE use the HORN button.
  4. Wait for ALL the LED’s connected to the board to flash
  5. The board is now waiting for a SWITCH address.
  6. Press the SWITCH key on your controller or ACCY for NCE.
  7. Select a switch number ( 1-2044 based on your system)
  8. Press either Close or Thrown (1 or 2 – it doesn’t matter). The LEDs will stop blinking.
  9. Press EXIT to exit the switch mode and return to normal operations.

 

That’s it.  Now select the “Loco” for the address you just programmed into the board.  Press F0 to test that it works by lighting all the LEDs.

 

If you chose an address for your board that is ALSO the address of a switch on your layout – don’t panic!  Although the switch was thrown or closed when you hit C or T on your hand controller – it did nothing else on your layout nor did it change the switch control address. (That is unless you somehow put your switch controller into to “address setting” mode at the same time.  That is not easy to do so we don’t’ expect it to occur too often.)

 

For convenience, I use addresses for my LSC II that start at 1,000.  That way I won’t confuse myself with the layout switches.  With 2044 possible addresses, why would anyone need to do anything else with the programming track?

CONFIGURATION

Configuration Activation Function Keys:

 

Function

Key

Behavior Comments
Speed Dial

Select Pin 1-16 and enter

Values 1-99

When NO other function keys are on, the selected

LED for that pin will light.

F1 Enter Configuration Mode  
F2 Save Configuration If the value is valid, the pin(s) will flash
F3 Switch to MODE select See chart for MODE options
F4 Adjust Pin Dim level Adjust selected Pin brightness level with speed dial.
F5 Activate Animation  
F6 Random (all pins)

Use the speed dial to adjust these settings.  Since

these apply to all pins, no pin will be lit.  A

successful save will cause all the pins to flash.

F7 Step speed (all pins)
F8 Flashing speed ( all pins)
F10 Adjust Pin Blinking Rate
    Use F0 to switch between the On time and OFF time.

 

 

Pin MODE Configuration values*:

 

Value Behavior Notes:   Animation
0 disabled No output on this pin during animation. Yes
1 Always on On during animation; ignore Random Yes
2 Flickering Simulate an oil lamp or fire Yes
3 Blink Blink speed On/Off configured for each pin Yes
4 Beacon Simulates a rotating beacon Yes
5 Fade Fade on and off to a timed cycle Yes
6 Random Default mode Yes
7 Step Sequentially turn LEDs On/Off with F0 Yes
8 Flashing Use to create alternate pin Flashing Yes
9 TV Sim Simulate a TV (2-4 pins required) Yes
10 MARS Simulate a MARS-style light Yes
11 Mimic F11 Operator Controlled – Mimics F11 No
12 Mimic F12 Operator Controlled – Mimics F12 No
13,14,15 Arc Welder 13,14,15 – different time gaps between cycles. Yes
  • Table repeated for convenience

 

Overview of the behavior “MODE” of a pin for Animation

Each of the 16 pins on the LSC II can be set to behave differently for the purpose of Animation Mode F5. When F5 is activated, the Mode setting of that pin directs its behavior with a few the exceptions that will be mentioned. The Mode can be set via the configuration mode F1 and F9 explained in the next section.  There are 10 modes that will activate for the animation:

                                                      Mode Value             

  • Always off                                     0
  • Always on                                     1
  • Flicker                                             2
  • Blink                                     3
  • Beacon                   4
  • Fade                   5
  • Random                            6
  • Step                   7
  • Alternate Pin Flashing          8
  • TV Simulation                   9
  • MARS 10
  • Arc Welder 13,14,15
  • Lightning 16,17,18
  • Relay (Digital 5V signal) 99

 

The speed of Fade, Blink (time ON and time Off) for each pin can be adjusted separately. 

 

The speed of Beacon, Random, Step and Flashing can be adjusted but that setting affects all pins equally.

 

Flickering and TV simulation are not configurable.

 

Blink – a single LED pin at its configured speed On/Off.

Beacon – the LED will fade up and down and flash briefly at the highest point of the fade cycle.

Random – turns LED pins on and off randomly.  When in Operations mode – F10 – the F6 controls whether the lights sequence “spools” up or down.  In other words, the sequence will randomly turn the lights On/Off to about 80% (default) of the pins being On at any one time when F6 is on.  After the lights have been randomly on, turning F6 OFF will randomly shut off the lights until they (the pins with Random set = 6) are all off.  The other Modes will continue to operate.

In non-DCC connected mode the default for F6 is On – which means the LEDs will keep randomly repeating.

Flashing – alternate flashes any Odd/ Even pins.

TV Simulation – randomly turns one or more LED pins on at varying light levels to simulate the changing scenes on a TV.  An RGB LED “chip” is available to simulate a color TV.  This requires four (4) LED pins – three for the RGB LEDs and one for a white (6500k) LED chip.  For black and white TV simulation a single Blue and White TV “chip” is recommended.  To make this work best you will want to adjust the bright level of each of the pins so that one color doesn’t overwhelm the other. Very likely you will want to adjust the light levels down so that the varying brightness that occurs randomly can be seen.

MARS – fades the pin up and down with a brief flash every onther cycle.

Arc Welding – a random cycle of flashing with brief pauses – three settings are available that determine the length of time between cycles – or how fast the worker is working.

Lightning –  as series of flashes with periodic sub-flashes – a random cycle of flashing with brief pauses – three settings are available that determine the length of time between cycles.

 

STEPS TO CONFIGURE THE CONTROLLER

 

1.1 Setting the Pin MODE [ F1 ] [ F3 ]

 

 

  1. All Functions Keys OFF
  2. F1 [On] – enter configuration mode
  3. Select LED pin by using the speed dial (1-16) – Pin will light.
  4. F3 [On] – disables pin select mode; now select the MODE (0-12) with the speed control.
  5. F2 [Press Once] – selected pin LEDs will flash to confirm SAVE of new bright level for pin.
  6. F3 [Off] – Exit Mode Select adjustment; now in pin select mode.

 

This is where I mentioned you might get confused if the LED is not lit.  Check the speed dial – is it between 1 and 16?

 

  1. Use the speed dial to select another pin to adjust OR,
  2. F1 [Off] Exit pin configuration mode.

 

 

 

  1.2  Configure ALL LEDs Bright Level   [ F4 ]

 

  1. All Function keys OFF
  2. F0 [On] – all LEDs should be lit
  3. F4 [On] – LEDs will dim to the setting on the speed dial.
  4. Adjust the speed dial 0-100% to your liking.
  5. F2 [Press Once] – all LEDs will flash to confirm SAVE.
  6. F4 [Off]

 

Note:  This is the only configuration that can be made without using F1.

 

 

  • Configure a single LED pin Bright Level [ F1 ] [ F4 ]

 

  1. All Functions Keys OFF
  2. F1 [On] – enter configuration mode
  3. Select LED pin by using the speed dial (1-16) – Pin will light.
  4. F4 [On] – disables pin select mode; now adjust the brightness with the speed control.
  • F2 [Press Once] – selected pin LEDs will flash to confirm SAVE of new bright level for pin.
  1. F4 [Off] – Exit brightness adjustment; now in pin select mode.

 

This is where I mentioned you might get confused if the LED is not lit.  Check the speed dial – is it between 1 and 16?

 

** Make sure your speed DIRECTION is set: Forward for Digitrax and Reverse for all others.

 

  1. Use the speed dial to select another pin to adjust OR,
  2. F1 [Off] Exit pin configuration mode.
  3. Test the selected pin by pressing the function key for that pin: F11 = pin 1, F12 = pin 2, F13 = pin 3, etc.
  4. OR, F0 will turn on all pins and you can evaluate the pin that you configured.

 

 

 

  • Adjust Individual Pin Blink Speed [ F1 ] [ F10 ]

 

Each of the 16 pins can be set to blink, and each can blink on and off a different rate.  When you use F10 below to activate the adjustment of the blink rate, the MODE setting for the pin may or may not be set to Blink.  In fact, the default for all pins is Random(6).  However, when you press F2 to SAVE any adjusted blink rate, the controller will also set that pin’s MODE setting to Blink (3).  It assumes that is what you want to do so that when you activate Animation with F10 – the pin will, in fact, blink.

 

If you don’t save the Blink settings with F2, the controller will abandon your adjustments and use whatever the set MODE setting is – which may not be Blink(3)

 

  1. All Functions Keys OFF
  2. F1 [On] – enter configuration mode.
  3. Select LED pin by using the speed dial (1-16) – Pin will light.
  4. F10 [On] – Pin will start blinking at the existing saved setting which could be the system default. Since F0 is Off, the blink rate you will adjust first is the OFF time.  Use the speed dial to increase the time the LED is off.
  5. F0 [On] – Adjust the time for the LED to be on.

 

**  F0 Toggles between controlling the ON time and the OFF time.

 

  1. Use the speed dial to adjust the time the LED is on.
  2. F2 – Press once to save the settings. All the LEDs will flash to confirm the setting was saved.
  3. F10 [Off] – turn off adjusting the LED blink timing. If you still have F1 on, you will need to adjust the speed dial to get back in range 1-16 for any of the LEDs to light.

 

Note:  if you turn F10 Off before you save the new settings, the pin will revert back to the system stored settings.

 

A good way to test this new setting is to press F5 On to activate the Animation mode. 

 

 

 

1.4  Set the Fade Mode/Speed on individual pins

 

 

Set the pin to MODE = 5 to turn this pin to Fade on and off on a cycle.  We use this to have the street lights go on and off for example.  To adjust the time you will need to change the CV’s for the time ON and the Time OFF for this pin.  The CV’s for blink time on and off and Fade mode timing are the same so.  The Mode setting determines what FX the pin will exhibit.

 

The CV for Fade time On are 160-175.  Pin one is 160, pin 2 is 161, ect.

 

The CV for Fade time OFF are 176-191, Pin one OFF time is CV 176, pin two is 177, etc.

 

The default time multiplier is 10 seconds.  So, a CV value of 2 will result in a fade time On or Off of 20 seconds.

 

The time multiplier CV is 117.   You can set this to a max of 255 and you can set the time On or Off to 255 which would result in a time On or Off of 65,025 seconds. That is 1,084 minutes or about 18 hours!

 

A characteristic of the fade behavior is that the number of “steps” that the fade will execute is directly related to the brightness – which can be set individually for each pin.  That means that the pins will fade up and down at different apparent rates based on how many “steps” it has to take to get to or from the bright level.  A pin set at bright level 25 will finish sooner than a pin set at 50 or 99.

 

Finally, the amount of light that the LED emits at 25%, 50% and 99% is not linear.  It follows a curve which has the effect of making the fade more apparent between a bright setting of 10% and 20% than between 50% and 99%.  It’s just the way the LEDs work and how our eye perceive it.  You can speed this up or slow this down with CV 116 which is at a default of 25.  You can increase it or decrease it but know that this CV affects ALL fade operations for all pins. Therefore, if the brightness level is different for different pins the Fade Speed CV 116 will affect all of them.  To get the same fade speed among pins, adjust the brightness to match.

 

 

 

  • Adjust the Random Delay – All Pins – [ F1 ] [ F6 ]

 

The Random behavior affects any pin where Mode = 6. However, pins that have been individually turned on by a function key [F11-26] will stay lit and will be skipped until they are “manually” turned off via the function keys.  If you want your animation to turn on certain LEDs and keep them On, set their MODE to 1 (always on).  Mode 1 only activates during F5 – animation.

 

You can activate Random while NOT in Animation Mode by using F6.  In this way the other animations such as always on, blink, flashing and TV will not activate.  Only LED pins set to Random will activate.

 

In Animation Mode and DCC connected, once you turn F6 on and at least one LED has come on, the controller knows this.  Then what happens when you turn F6 Off is that the controller will keep behaving randomly but it will turn the LED’s off until eventually they are all extinguished, again, except for those you manual turned on with function F11, F12 ~ F26.

 

The Random delay setting has the effect of stretching out the pace of the “randomness”.  Since the whole behavior is random including the timing, we can’t tell you exactly by “how much”. The default setting is 5 so if you change that to 50, for example, it will really stretch the timing – which is what you might want. 5 is the setting where it changes enough to keep the scene interesting.

 

During Animation mode roughly 85% of the LEDs will be on.  You can change this by setting CV 116 to a number lower than 60 (default) so that for example, only 20% of the LEDs are on at a time.

 

  1. All Functions Keys OFF
  2. F1 [On] – enter configuration mode.
  3. F6 [On] – activate Random delay control – nothing visible will happen.
  4. Adjust the speed control to increase or decrease the value of the delay setting for all pins. 5 is the default and 1 is the minimum.  If you try to set it to 0 pressing F2 will not flash – meaning that it did not save the value.
  5. F2 – Press once to save the settings. All the LEDs will flash to confirm the setting was saved.
  6. F6 [Off] – Exit setting Random delay
  7. F1 [Off] – Exit Configuration mode.

 

 

 

  • Adjust the Step Speed – All Pins  –  [ F1 ] [ F7 ]

 

The Step mode is not obvious.  Imaging a night watchman inside a building going room by room to turn the lights on or off.  How many steps does he take between each action of hitting the switch?  Thus, was born Step mode.  What happened though is that I set the Step speed very low to test the prototype controllers and ended up with a chase sequence – very fast.  Use it however you like.  Step is a behavior that affects all pins simultaneously, it overrides any individual pin setting and is only available in Operator mode.  F7 does not function without F0.  Since F0 overrides F10 animation you can’t mix the F7 behavior with other effects.

 

 

  1. All Functions Keys OFF
  2. F1 [On] – enter configuration mode.
  3. F7 [On] – activate Step speed control – nothing visible will happen.
  4. Adjust the speed control to increase or decrease the value of the step speed setting for all pins. 10 is the default and 1 is the minimum.  If you try to set it to 0 pressing F2 will not flash – meaning that it did not save the value.
  5. F2 – Press once to save the settings. All the LEDs will flash to confirm the setting was saved.
  6. F7 [Off] – Exit setting Step speed
  7. F1 [Off] – Exit Configuration mode.

 

 

 

1.7  Adjust the Flashing Speed – ALL – [ F1 ] [ F8 ]

 

Flashing mode blinks alternate Pins on and off so that you can use any combination of odd/even pins, not necessarily adjacent to each other, to create an alternate flashing mode.  You could also use only odd or even pins to give a group of LEDs a synchronized blink.  Use this Flashing speed adjustment to set the speed.  Flashing uses evenly spaced timing of On/Off which is different than using Blink where the On and Off times can be different.

 

  1. All Functions Keys OFF
  2. F1 [On] – enter configuration mode.
  3. F8 [On] – activate Step speed control – nothing visible will happen.
  4. Adjust the speed control to increase or decrease the value of the step speed setting for all pins. 10 is the default and 5 is the minimum.  If you try to set it to below 5, pressing F2 will not flash – meaning that it did not save the value.
  5. F2 – Press once to save the settings. All the LEDs will flash to confirm the setting was saved.
  • F8 [Off] – Exit setting Step speed
  1. F1 [Off] – Exit Configuration mode.

 

 

 

Configure Mimic Mode  – F11 & F12  MODE [ F1 ] [ F3 ]

 

 

Mimic mode was born out of a sudden discovery at a local HO club that the Digitrax DT400 and other older DCC systems did not have an easy way to access the extended function keys above 12.  Yikes!  I had been using the DT500 which handles this nicely.  Further researched showed that all controllers have at least the ability to activate functions F0 to F12.

 

Therefore, for use when in Operator mode only, Mimic mode allows you to configure LED pins 3-16 to “mimic” either F11 or F12, LED pins 1 and 2 respectively.  The mimic function will only perform two behaviors: On/Off and Fade. When you turn on F11, any pin configured to mimic it will turn on or off.  If LED pin 1 or 2 is configured to Fade (5), then the pins set to mimic will also fade on and off.  LED pins set to mimic WILL respond to the Random behavior in Animation mode.  That is UNLESS they are Fade to ON.  On by a function key overrides the Random behavior.  The LED will stay on, mimicking the function key F11 or F12.  When either of these is Off or Fade to OFF, the Random behavior will pick up these pins again and they will join the animation.  I know that might sound complicated, but it should make it easier for folks with older DCC controllers to control their LSC II.

 

 

 

Mode Adjustments Available via CV’s Only:

 

Since function keys F2 and F4 have other special uses, the flicker and beacon speeds can only be changed via programming their designated CV values.

 

 

 

 

 

LED “chips” are available in the following colors:

 

  • 2000K
  • 3000K
  • 5000K
  • 6500K
  • TV Sim (Blue & White)
  • TV Sim (RGB)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A word about SLOTS.

 

 

Not technically a power issue, it is still worth mentioning something about Slots.  All DCC systems have a certain number of slots that they maintain – one slot per loco. The LSC II uses the same slots that engines use.  Therefore, you have to be thoughtful about how to allocate slots to the lighting animation and the locos. 

 

What seems to work best is to configure each controller separately by giving it a “fresh” address out of the box.  I use 88 as a habit.  Then I connect the building, streetlights, etc. and begin the configuration.  Once I am satisfied with how it looks and runs, I use the BUILT-IN Addressing mode to change it to match the group of other controllers I previously installed – without disconnecting or moving it or them from the layout! 

 

Let’s say my group of existing controllers are all address 500.  When I change the new controller from 88 to 500 – it just “joins the group” so to speak.  Then I dial in 500 and hit F10 (Activate Animation) and all the controllers and their associated LEDs do their thing.  I have roughly a dozen groups of controllers on my layout but my DCC system has 400 slots – more than enough!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Version 1.1 LSC II

 

 

Copyright© 2019 Model Train Technology LLC

 

Fiber Light Controller PDF: Fiber LIghting Controller (MTT) August 1 2020

8 Port Fiber Light Controller

with 8 detection ports and DCC

 

USER MANUAL

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

QUICK START

 

PLUG POWER INTO THE POWER SOCKET.

 

 

 

 

SLIDE THE POWER ON/OFF SWITCH TO THE RIGHT.

 

THE BLUE POWER LIGHT WILL BE LIT.

 

By default, all the ports are set to MODE=2, Alternate Flashing.

 

Check the back of the unit where the fiber manifold is located – you should see alternate flashing light emanating from the holes.

 

 

Fiber Lighting Connector Pins

There are three fiber pin sizes: .75mm, 1.0mm and 1.5mm to match the most common fiber cable sizes. The top of the .75mm pin is square.  The other two are round but the 1.5mm pin head and hole visibly is larger than the 1.0mm pin head.

 

The Fiber Lighting Pins hold the fiber to the lighting manifold with friction.   “Hold” is not meant to be so tight it cannot be removed by hand but strong enough to hold the fiber in place.

 

Slide the fiber optic cable into the pin so that it extends past the end.  Gently push the pin and cable into the manifold hole and let the fiber slide through the pin so that it rest against the LED lens inside and you feel the pin resting snug.  This “self-adjusts” the fiber inside the manifold. Then while applying gentle pressure, rotate the pin ¼ turn. This will set the fiber against the lens of the LED and prevent the pin from falling out of the manifold.

 

WARNING:

Don’t force the fiber cable into the hole since excess force will damage the LED.  Do not put/poke anything else into the Manifold hole as it may also damage the LED.

 

The LEDs of the Fiber Lighting Controller are set to a fixed brightness level.  You can adjust (reduce) the amount of light that is emitted at the light end of the fiber by pulling the fiber out of the pin slighting.

 

INTRODUCTION

 

The Fiber Light Controller is a powerful but simple-to-use animation controller for use with fiber optic lighting.  Three special effects behaviors have been preprogrammed so it’s simply a matter of selecting an output port and assigning a number representing that behavior.  

 

  • Always Off
  • Always ON
  • Alternate Flashing with adjacent Ports
  • Individual Port Blink with adjustable timing

 

The Fiber Light Controller is either “running”, what is call Animate Mode, or it is in Configuration Mode.  When you turn the power on, the blue light on top will light and then the LED digits on the top will go through a startup sequence where you will see the either (1111 or 2222) indicating which DCC decoder mode the unit is set for,  the address of the device (default 3), and then 1234.  1234 is the indication that the unit is ready to go; all working.  The next thing that happens is the unit enters Animate Mode and the lights will blink, flash or stay as they were configured.

 

There are 8 ports (controllable circuits) with two light holes per port. Each port can operate separately, or multiple ports can be “coordinated” to create effects.  For example, the alternate flashing mode allows any two adjacent ports to, you guessed it, alternate flash.  If you set all 8 ports to this mode, you will have a marquee lighting effect.  This one controller can run the police lights, a crossing gate, and much more.

 

The Fiber Light Controller also has 8 Input detector circuits to which you can connect most train detection systems that are “open drain”.  This simply means they have a To-Ground logic (connect the input line to ground (black wire usually). Don’t panic, there are some easy ways for you to trigger the circuit without track detection.  For example, you can use a simple on-off switch or push button toggle. Since there are eight ports and 8 detection circuits you can assign one-to-one; detector line #1 to light port #1 (default setting), detector #2 to light Port #2, etc.  You can also assign the same detector to multiple ports so that one detector activates more than one port at the same time.

 

Additionally, if you have an NMRA® DCC Command System for running your trains, you can connect the Fiber Light Controller and control (turn on and off) these effects from your DCC hand controller.  That means you can use jmri (www.jmri.org) or similar control software. Our favorite is Railroad Automation (https://www.perecli.com/rrauto/ )  Please see the DCC section of the manual for more information about DCC.

 

You can power the entire unit from your DCC power alone.  With all the light ports lit, the system uses less than 100 ma (milliamps). If you are worried about draining power from the track for your engines, you can simply set up a “lighting zone” with a booster which will be separate from track power.  

 

The most common method is to power the Fiber Light Controller with the included power supply and connect the DCC track power lines to the DCC input – and switch the Fiber Light Controller power switch setting to the right.  In this set up, only the SIGNAL part of the DCC line will be used – about 10ma (nothing really) while the CPU and lights are run off the external power supply.

 

We’ve enclosed the Fiber Light Controller inside a sleek 3D printed case.  This printing technology is state-of-the-art and allows smaller companies to manufacture high quality products in small quantities.  You may find very small imperfections in the case as a result.  The unit will probably reside under your layout and out of sight, so this is a good tradeoff between cost and function.

 

There is also available a specially designed magnet base so you can just snap the unit on and off your layout.

 

 

 

 

 

 

OVERVIEW

 

  1. POWERING the Fiber Light Controller (12-18V DC or AC, 1A)

 

 

To provide maximum convenience and adaptability, the Fiber Light Controller has a 1.35 mm barrel plug for the 18vdc power supply that is included with your system.  There is also available a Power Connection Adapter – a 1.3mm barrel plug with terminal screws to connect your own wires and power supply.  You can use any power supply that provides a FIXED voltage of 12 -18 AC or DC.  Do not use a variable speed transformer.

 

1.35 mm Barrel Plug Adapter

 

 

 

 

 

To turn on the Fiber Light Controller, slide the right-hand slide ON/OFF switch to the RIGHT.

 

The blue LED on the top of the case will turn on.

 

 

The arrow keys have a “fast” mode.  If you hold the key down for 2-5 seconds, the rate of change roughly doubles.

 

 

 

YOU TOGGLE BETWEEN ANIMATION MODE AND CONFIGURATION MODE BY PRESSING THE GREEN BUTTON.

 

  

QUICK SET Configuration

 

 

The Fiber Light Controller comes pre-configured with all the ports behaviors set to MODE = 2 (Alternate Flashing). You can plug the unit in, turn the power on and the fiber port lights will alternate Flash.

 

There are 7 single digit Quick Set configuration modes, 0 though 6.  Setting a port to a one of these numbers will set the special effect listed.  This Fiber Light Controller also has 8 detection ports so that you can have a detector on your layout trigger the port to go on.  When a port goes “ON” in this context it means “run the behavior” that the port is set to.  If the port is set to Blink, a detector trigger on that port will cause the fiber port light to blink.

 

The chart below shows the basic Quick Set configuration options.  Choosing one of these either with or without the trigger will allow you to be up and running in under 60 seconds!

 

Quick Set Chart:

 

 

 

    0 1 2 3 4 5 6
“Singles” OFF ON Flashing Blink ON Flashing Blink
    NO DETEECTOR TRIGGERS TRIGGER ON PORT

 

 

*note – “trigger on port” means that Port #1 will be triggered by trigger #1. You can change this later if you like.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quick Set: CHANGE THE FLASHING AND BLINKING RATES

 

The Quick Set chart shows a table of numbers organized into rows and columns. Down the left-hand side are the row numbers 2, 3   These represent two groups of predefined setting that allow you to adjust the behavior of the PORTS. 

 

By entering the row/column value into the controller, the pre-defined behavior will be set for the selected port.

 

Take a look at the Animation Setting Table.   All the numbers in the rows of the chart are for reference as to the speed of the Alternate Flashing (rows 2) and the Rates of Blinking (rows 3)

 

The best way to get familiar with this chart is to experiment.

 

 

EXAMPLE #1:

 

The default Alternate Flashing rate is 50.  When you set the MODE of any port to 2, the alternate flash rate will be always be 50.

 

Let’s say you want it to flash faster than 50. Let’s try 30.  A lower number means a shorter time between flashes. We won’t worry about the triggers for now.  On row 2, column 2 you see the number 30.  To program the ports to Alternate Flash at rate 30, set the MODE = 22 (row 2, column 2).

 

  • Press the Green button for one second to enter Configuration Mode.

 

  • Press the right side blue up/down buttons to arrive at 22.

 

  • Press the Yellow save button.

 

  • Press the Green button for one second to leave configuration mode and enter Animate Mode.

 

Important note: When one port’s alternate flashing rate is changed, then ALL ports set to alternate flashing will adjust to the same rate of flashing.

 

To make the Alternate Flashing go slower, you might choose 150.  That would be row 2 and column 7. 

 

  • Press the Green button to toggle back to Configuration mode.

 

  • Use the right 2 blue buttons to select the mode number:

 

  • Put 27 into the MODE (right side number) and press SAVE. The display will flash to confirm that it worked. Remember, all ports set to flashing will now be changed to “27”.

 

  • Press the Green button to toggle back to Animation mode.

 

 

EXAMPLE #2:

 

Blinking has two settings, so this is where entering in just one number into the controller makes this very easier.  There is an amount of time that the light is on, TIME ON.  And then a pause or TIME OFF where the light is OFF.  Looking across ROW 3 you can see a range of combinations of ON and OFF times.

 

A blink that looks like a “Blip” of a water tower red beacon will have a short ON time and a longer OFF time. ROW 3 COLUM 3 has an ON TIME of 10 and an OFF time of 100.

To set a PORT to “blip” Blink:

 

  • Press the Green button for one second to enter configuration mode.

 

  • Using the left-hand side up and down blue buttons to select the PORT you want to configure.

 

If this is the first time to change the behavior of this port, you will see the value of 2 on the right-hand display.  You may recall that “2” is the default behavior value for all ports. 

 

  • Using the righthand blue buttons (up and down) change the value of 2 to 38 – that is ROW 3. COLUMN 8.

 

  • Press the yellow button to SAVE this setting. The display will flash to confirm that it worked.

 

  • Press the Green button to toggle back to Animation mode.

 

The port you selected will now be blinking 1 unit on and 25 units off.  The Units are approximately 100 milli seconds or 1/10 of a second.  The actual display speed is a little slower than that, but you can experiment with other values 30 through 39 to set the effect that you want.

 

NOTE:  if you hold any blue button down for 5 seconds the rate of change from one number to the next will double in speed.  Just let go and the speed will evert to standard speed.

 

 

 

 

MORE WAYS TO CONFIGURE YOUR CONTROLLER

 

HOW TO CHANGE MODES:

 

 

If you just received you Fiber Light Controller and plugged in the power supply and turn the power on without DCC connected, then the unit will automatically go into Animate Mode after the start up sequence.  You will see alternate flashing lights shine out of the back of the box through the Fiber Optic Connection Manifold. (that thing with 16 holes in the back).

 

To switch the unit into Configuration Mode, hold the Green On/Off button for 1 second.  The left most PORT 1 will now be lit ON.  #1 will be shown on the left-hand display.  The MODE selected for the port will be shown on the righthand side. Since the default MODE is 2, the number 2 will be shown on the right-hand display. It will look like this:

 

 

Use the LEFT side blue buttons (Up/Down) to scroll through the PORTS 1 through 8.  The actively selected PORT Fiber Optic Light will be ON as you scroll through the ports 1 to 8.  Since all the ports are set to Mode = 2, you won’t see any change on the right-hand side.

 

 

TO CHANGE THE SPECIAL EFFECT MODE OF A PORT

 

To change the MODE setting of any port, press the RIGHT-HAND blue buttons up and down to change the MODE of the Port selected.  The numbers will go through the sequence of all the valid ports MODE behaviors listed in the Animation Setting Table.  Some numbers will automatically be skipped since they are not valid settings.

 

To Save the new setting, press the yellow (SAVE) button once.  The display will flash to confirm that it worked.   If you press the LEFT side buttons to change the port number before you press SAVE, the Fiber Light Controller will ignore what is on the right side display and will revert to the previously save setting.

 

To observe the effect if you changed the MODE setting, switch the Fiber Light Controller back into Animation Mode by pressing the On/Off (GREEN) button for 1 second.

 

YOU TOGGLE BETWEEN ANIMATION MODE AND CONFIGURATION MODE BY PRESSING THE GREEN BUTTON.

 

Don’t forget to press the YELLOW button to SAVE any change you make.

 

 

 

 

TRIGGERS: 

 

There are two ways to configure a trigger; hardware wiring or via software.  We will discuss the wiring approach first.

 

All the input lines are expecting a LOW signal which is to say a connection to GROUND.  The Fiber Light Controller has two 5VDC+ power sockets for use to connect power to third party remote detection units (Iowa Scale Engineering, Azatrax or Model Train Technology LLC). 

 

 

 

 

Almost all detector systems need some kind of external power.  We added these two power sockets for convenience so if you need 5VDC, its available.  We know that Azatrax and Iowa Scaled Engineering detection systems will both work with the Fiber Light Controller power source.

 

This means you only need to connect one signal wire from your detector to the INPUT of side of the Fiber Light Controller.

 

Your Fiber Light Controller came with 2 sets of prewired JST connectors that have Red & Black wires that you should use for the 5VDC power source.  Red is Positive voltage (+) and Black is Negative voltage (-).  You can use either of the JST plugs on the left side of the Fiber Light Controller.  They are identical.

 

Your kit also includes either an 8-port connection block or 4 black only prewired with JCT connectors.  Use the black only connectors for the Detection circuits.

 

The simplest way to test  a trigger is to connect a black wire from the Red/black 5VDC side from one of these two sources to any of the Detector Pins via the Black connection wire plugged into the detector port or via the 8 Port connector (sold separately).

 

 

 

 

 

The triggers are listed LEFT to RIGHT 1 to 8:

 

 

 

 

 

DETECTOR INPUTS

 

Each JST plug has two wires and each wire is its own detection circuit.  The Fiber Light Controller has four prewired JST plugs with ONLY black wires.  Use these for the Detector Inputs.  You may also want to use the plug-in terminal adapters available separately.

 

 

 

 

When a detector circuit is “tripped” whatever PORT#1 is set to do (FX MODE) it will do.  By default, if you trip Trigger #1, Port #1 will flash. Trigger #2 will activate Port #2 and so forth.

 

 

What you may want to do is cause BOTH ports #1 and #2 to Animate with a single trigger.  There are two ways to accomplish this. One is via hardware(wiring) and the other via software configuration.  Both works equally well.

 

If you connect Trigger # 1 and Trigger #2 with a single wire – when you trip that Trigger both port# 1 and Port # 2 will light.  You can test this by connecting it to the Black wire of the power supply.  You can connect all 8 ports together or in any combination of one to eight circuits with any of your detector circuits.  You can have Triggers 1 and 2 connected, Triggers 3 and 4 and then have 5,6,7 and 8 connected together.

 

The second method is to configure triggers is via CV’s (Configuration Variable) which is explained in the advanced section.

 

 

 

TRIGGER TIMEOUT

 

When trigger #1 is tripped by a passing train – or however you do it –the trigger will stay activated as long as the detector has the LOW signal or black wire connected to Ground. After the train leaves the detection zone or the switch to ground is shut off, the port lights will continue to Animate for 5 seconds and then turn off.  The trigger Timeout STARTS after the detector is OFF.

 

You can change the duration of the Trigger Timeout as described below. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trigger Timeout Settings

 

Trigger Timeout is the amount of time that Animation continues AFTER a detector has stopped detecting – by whatever means you have set up.  To change the Timeout settings, switch the Fiber Light Controller into Configuration Mode.  To do that, Press and Hold the Green Button for about 1 second and then release. 

 

The Fiber Light Controller has a lot of advanced options and you are now drifting into those areas – the deep end of the pool.  Pay special attention to the decimal points on the various digits since this is one important way how the keypad tells you what is going on.

 

When sensors on your layout activate a trigger, the trigger stays on for five seconds by default. Then the trigger shuts off unless the sensor is still active.  The trigger will stay on until the sensor stops, and then for five seconds more. You can shorten or lengthen the amount of time that the trigger stays active after the sensor has stopped.  The shortest time is immediately, the longest time is 255 seconds ( 4 ½  minutes).

 

To change the Trigger Timeout, while in Configuration Mode, press the white button momentarily.  The right-hand display will show the currently set timeout and the decimal point will be displayed on the right-hand digit.  The default is 5 (five seconds.  Use the blue up and down buttons on the RIGHT to change this value.  Press the Yellow button to SAVE this value.  Press the White button again to switch back to standard configuration mode.  You will still be in configuration mode until you press the Green button.  The Blue buttons on the LEFT will change (scroll through) the Port number.  Port numbers on the LEFT and Settings on the RIGHT.

 

 

ADVANCED TOPICS:

 

 

Setting and Changing Triggers and Trigger Timeout

 

You may have noticed a decimal point on the port number (left side display numbers). This indicates that the port is set to activate with a trigger.  If you are expecting something to happen with a port – and nothing is – check that dot. With the dot active, the port light will only light when it is triggered.

 

A quick way to override the trigger setting and to deactivate a port trigger is to use the trigger setting mode.  Press the White button as you did when setting the Timeout value.  Decimal points will be display on the right-hand display.

 

Without changing the value of the timeout, press the SAVE button.  If the Trigger was on, it will now be off.  You will know because the decimal point dot on the LEFT side PORT number will be off.  If you press the SAVE button again without changing the timeout value the dot will reappear and the port will be set back to Trigger ON.  As you see, this toggles the Trigger on and off for the selected port.

 

Using this method to change the trigger on and off will be OVERWRITTEN if you subsequently change the mode value setting for any port. 

 

IMPORTANT NOTE:  When you enter a value from the table as a mode setting for Alternate Flashing, the controller makes that change to all ports set to Alternate Flashing.

 

Why you may ask?    With all the flexibly to configure the unit we needed to make sure that any two odd/even port combinations would indeed “alternate” flash and be synchronized. Thus, we impose this configuration requirement.  You can try this by trying to set any two ports to Blink with the exact same settings.  They won’t stay exactly in sync as either or both will “time slide”.  We don’t use a Real Time Clock (RTC) so these cycles are simply software wheels going around.

 

 

 

Changing Configuration Values Directly with the Keypad.

 

 

If you are new to DCC, and even if you NEVER plan to use or connect a DCC system to the Fiber Light Controller, you will want to get acquainted with the term “CV” or Configuration Variable.  Put simply, CV’s are memory slots inside the computer chip.  You have probably heard of RAM as the memory in your desktop, laptop, phone, etc. CV’s are similar but not identical.  A CV is a single slot that can store a number between 0 and 255.

 

Why 255? You can skip this if you want.

 

Computers work in 1’s and 0’s.  The computer chip we use is called and 8-bit MCU.  That means that it works is packs of 8 bits at a time. If you line up 8 bits of 1’s or 0’s the max you can get is “11111111”. Since there are two options for each bit, a 1 or a 0, this is called counting in base 2.  2 to the 8th power is 256.  Since computers start at 0, the last number will be 255, not 256.  Another way to represent this is by counting the max of each bit as you add a “1”.  That would go like this:  2,4,8,16,32,64,128 – and 256. So our purposes, the largest value you can store in a CV is 255.

 

 

The Fiber Light Controller uses CV’s to store and remember your configuration.  When you press the SAVE button you are saving a value to a specific CV location.  CV’s are numbered so we can find them.  Which CV’s we can use is also determined by our compliance with the NMRA (National Model Railroad Association) standards.

 

Take a look at the Configuration Variable Address Map.  It shows which CV locations are used to store which information.  Using the keypad earlier we showed you a simplified method to configure the Fiber Light Controller.  The choices of speeds for flashing and of the On OFF settings for Blink were simply preset values that we used to set the CV’s.  By setting your own values for CV’s you can fine tune ALL the operating aspects of the Fiber Light Controller.

 

 

If you are familiar with DCC systems, you probably know how to set CV’s from your DCC hand controller.  If you want, you CAN connect the programming track wires to the Fiber Light Controller to read and write to CV’s in the same manner.  The Fiber Light Controller also supports mainline OPS mode for writing CV’s while connected to the main track.  However, you can only READ CV’s back while using the programming track methods. The same as all DCC systems that are NMRA® compliant.

 

If your eyes are glazing over and you don’t have DCC and don’t care – DONT WORRY!

 

We have been using DCC since it was invented and oftentimes found it cumbersome to work with.  With that in mind we made it simple and easy to READ and WRITE all the CV’s you need directly from the keypad and without the programming track.

 

 

HOW TO READ AND WRITE CVs WITH THE KEYPAD

 

 

  1. Enter Configuration Mode (Green Button)
  2. Press and Hold the lower two BLUE buttons (one on the left and one on the right) on the keypad for 3 to 4 seconds.
  3. The Keypad will switch into CV mode and show C 2 0 8.

 

You are now in CV mode.  The “C” indication the CV location.  In this case it is 208.  Take a look at the CV Address map and find 208 in the Port #1 column.  You will see that it is the Trigger Port Assignment.

 

Pressing the RIGHTSIDE blue buttons will change the CV Address up and down.  If you press the UP blue button the CV address will change to 209, 210, 211, etc. When you get to 215 – there is no 216.  The next number will be 224 – the Trigger Duration for Port #1.

 

The keypad will only scroll through the valid CV addresses in sequence.

 

 

Next, get yourself back to C208.

 

Press either of the LEFTSIDE Blue buttons once. The keypad display will read  “- _____0”.  Zero is the default Trigger – which is to say No Trigger.  When you turn on power to the Fiber Light Controller and a port has a zero for a trigger, it will automatically enter Animate mode and perform the behavior you set with for the MODE (Off, On, Flash, Blink).

 

The value in CV #208 is “0”. Press the LEFTSIDE blue button again to TOGGLE back and forth between the CV Address and the CV Value.

 

With the “-____0” showing, press the RIGHTSIDE up or down blue button. If you press UP, the value of 0 will change to 1, 2, 3, etc.  When you get to 8 the next value will be back to 1.  Since this is the Trigger Port assignment and there are only 8 triggers, the Fiber Light Controller knows that and keeps you “in bounds”.

 

We are going to set CV 208 with the value of 1.  This means that when Trigger Port 1 is triggered, the PORT 1 Fiber Optic Light port will light.

 

With the display showing “-___1”, press the yellow SAVE button.  The display will flash indicating a successful save.

 

Now that you have some of the CV mode navigation under control, let’s explain how to use this option to have multiple light PORTs activate with a single Trigger Port.  You may recall that the other method is to simply wire the Trigger Ports together and set the triggers on from the Trigger configuration mode.

 

NOTE:  the trigger configuration mode always assigns Triggers to its matching port number.  Trigger 1 to Port 1, etc.  In CV Mode you can change that. But if you use Trigger Mode to configure the triggers it will overwrite what you do here with CV’s.

 

By using the CV address for the Trigger Port Assignment, you can set a PORT to Activate with ANY trigger.

 

The most fundamental set up for two Light ports is a crossing signal.  The Fiber Light Controller has two lights per port.  To set up an alternate flashing railroad crossing you need two adjacent ports that will alternate flash.  In this example we will use ports #1 and #2.  You could have used #2 and #3 or #5 & #6, etc.

 

Setting up port #1 to light with trigger #1 is easy.  You already set CV 208 to a value of 1.  That means that trigger #1 will activate port#1.  To set Port #2 to activate simultaneously with Port#1, set CV209 value = 1.  That means that Trigger 1 will also activate Port #2.

 

Remember to SAVE with the yellow button.

 

You could have set Port #1 to trigger with ANY of the triggers (1-8).  Likewise, will all the other ports. And there is no limit on how many ports are connected to any single trigger – all or none is fine.

 

You should now see that you can also set the other CV’s according to your individual needs.  If you scroll to CV224 and press the left blue button to see its value, you will see the default value of “5”.  That means that AFTER the trigger/detector is released, the light PORT will continue its animation for 5 seconds and then shut off.

 

 

WATCH OUT:

 

Trigger Port Assignment tells the Fiber Light Controller which Trigger to listen for.  Trigger duration is for the Trigger not the light port.  In the example above since both light port 1 and 2 are connected to trigger #1, they will both stay animating until the trigger expires, in this case Trigger #1.  If you want to lengthen the time, change the Trigger Timeout.  That is, change the value of CV224 from “5” to “10” – and SAVE.  The range of Trigger Timeout is 0 to 255 or about 4 minutes, 15 seconds.

 

As you will also see on the CV Address Map sheet, there is a single CV that adjusts the rate of flashing for all light ports set to flashing.  Earlier you used the preset mode to change this.  Using the CV124 you can change the flashing rate to anything from 1 to 255.  The sedate default pace is 50 but if you experiment with this you will see that a value of 10 or even 5 will give you a lighting effect (fast flashing) that you might use for a police car or something else.

 

Keep in mind and as we mentioned earlier, only ONE Alternate Flashing speed is allowed per Fiber Light Controller so all ports set to flashing will flash at the same speed.
 

Let’s discuss the other three CV settings for ports.  Animation mode is simple enough.  It is the same that you set with the keypad in the quick start section.  You can use the CV’s to set this but using the standard configuration mode with the keypad is easier.

 

 

 

HOW TO SET THE BLINK RATES

 

Using the quick start option and the preset table you were provided 10 different Blink settings.  Using CV’s, you now have over 65,000 variations of how you can set any single light port.  Unlike Alternate Flashing, the blink behavior you give any port is independent of all other ports.  The two CV’s are for the length of time the light is ON and the length of time the light is OFF.  The pattern will just repeat.

 

 

 

FAST BOOT:  CV50

 

When the Fiber Light Controller starts up it displays three sets of numbers.  First it shows which decoder type it is set to, then the DCC address and then 1234 to show all is working.

 

You can disable this and speed up the boot up process by setting CV50 = 1. 

 

1 is Fast Boot on, no display, 0 (zero) is OFF (shows the display).

 

 

 

DECODER TYPE:  CV47 (1=MF, 0 = Accessory)

 

In the DCC universe there are two types of decoders:  Multi-Function Decoders and Accessory Decoders.  Unlike ANY OTHER device we are aware of, your Fiber Light Controller can be set to operate in EITHER mode.

 

A multifunction decoder is what you use in your engines.  It responds to a single DCC address.  Additionally, there is a speed control and function keys.  Typically, the function keys turn on the headlights and sound the horn.  The Fiber Light Controller uses these same capabilities to respond to your commands via your DCC hand controller.  You can turn on all the lights, only one light, flash all lights and put the Fiber Light Controller into animation mode.

 

An Accessory decoder has a single “master” address and then can have any number of sub address.  Some Accessory decoders only have one address.  Some have 4.  The Fiber Light Controller has eight – one for each Trigger. Unlike the Multifunction decoder that can do many things for one DCC address, the accessory decoder can really do only one.  It’s either Thrown or Closed for any given address.  On or Off.  But that’s fine.  We’ll use eight sequential addresses to trigger each of the eight Trigger ports.

 

When the Fiber Light Controller boots up with power it has to pick one or the other mode to operate in.  If you change the Decoder Type CV47, you have to turn OFF the power and then back on.

 

Set CV47 = 1 for Multi- Function Operation

(1111 will display on boot up)

 

Set  CV47 = 0 for Accessory Decoder operation

(2222 will display on boot up)

 

 

 

DCC CONTROL OF THE Fiber Light Controller

 

As mentioned, you can control the Fiber Light Controller from you DCC control system (and JMRI for those using software) in either “Engine” (multifunction) mode or “Accessory” mode.

 

Here are the available commands in Multi-Function mode:

 

F0                       All lights on

F1                       Use the speed dial to light a port 1-8

F5                       Turn on/off Animation mode

F8                       Alternate Flash all pins regardless of setting

        

F11-F18            In Animation mode (F5 on) – Trigger 1 -8

                 

                           In Static Mode (F5 off) – Turn on Port 1 -8

 

 

In Multi-Function Mode:

 

When DCC is connected to the Fiber Light Controller, the unit detects the DCC signal and puts the unit into DCC listen mode.  That means that DCC is in control and the auto start into animation may not activate.  There are several scenarios where for example, the unit was first powered by DCC, then the external power supply was turn on – or the other way around.  It may take up to 5 second for the unit to recognize the DCC signal and if the unit was in Animate mode with an externa power supply – things were happening – then until you press a function key on your DCC controller the Fiber Light Controller behavior won’t change.

 

Since the Fiber Light Controller doesn’t know ahead of time what the state of the Function keys is you may have to cycle (turn on and off) the function key for the unit to sync up.

 

The cool thing is that the Function Keys F11-18 are connected up with the Trigger system.  That means that you can “manually” and in parallel, trigger a crossing signal or any other combination of effects from your DCC hand controller.  For example, if F11 is on, then trigger #1 turns on Ports #1 and # 2 of the crossing signals will activate- or whatever you have configured.  Turn F11 off and the Trigger Timeout will countdown and then turn off the lights.  If a Train comes along and triggers the circuit, that too will activate the ports.

 

In Accessory Mode:

 

If you switch your Fiber Light Controller to Accessory mode right out of the box without changing anything, you will have default address 3-10 lined up as “switches.”  From your DCC hand controller, select switch #3 and press the THROWN option.  This will activate the first Trigger since 3 is the first address – and thus Port #1 will animate. Switch 10 will activate Trigger #8, the last trigger.   Press CLOSE (Off) and the trigger will deactivate, and the Trigger Timeout sequence will begin.

 

For convenience, in accessory mode the number of the switch is briefly shown on the keypad and then disappears after two seconds.  You will also note that the decimal is on with the digit if the Trigger is ON and there will not be a decimal if the trigger is off – this is as you press Thrown and Closed for the switch.

 

There isn’t much else to explain here since that is all that Accessory decoders do.

 

But how do I change the Address of the Fiber Light Controller?

 

 

 

 

SETTING THE DCC ADDRESS OF THE Fiber Light Controller

 

  1. Press the Green button to enter configuration mode.
  2. Press and hold the WHITE button for 8-10 seconds.

 

The display will flash “8888” and then show the currently assigned address with a blinking decimal point.  The ONLY time and place where there are blinkingdecimal points is in address setting mode.

 

To change the address, press the RIGHTSIDE blue buttons up and down.

 

** holding down the up or down button will speed up the changing of the numbers. Holding for more that 50 digits will put the scrolling into hyper speed scrolling.  Release to stop.

 

Press the yellow SAVE button to save the new address.

 

If you are using Multi-Function decoder mode, remember to change the loco address on your DCC Hand controller to the new address you assigned.  For Accessory mode it doesn’t matter.

 

In Accessory mode the address of the Fiber Light Controller is always the first Trigger.

 

 

 

 

RESET

 

There are a few reasons that you may want to reset the Fiber Light Controller back the factory defaults.  One is that you forgot the DCC Address.  Or, you just want to get back to the default settings.

 

TO RESET THE Fiber Light Controller, turn on configuration mode.  It doesn’t matter what the display is showing, just that the display is on.

 

Then, PRESS AND HOLD the two Blue UP buttons.  After about 5 seconds, the display will read all ZERO.  Release the buttons.  Once the reset is complete the display will blink as few times and then return the display showing PORT #1 set to “2”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fiber Lighting Cable Selection and Use

 

Selection of the fiber size is completely up to you based on your desired application. Below are a few helpful tips on the use of fibers.

Fiber Length:

The length of the fiber has relatively little impact on the light intensity exiting from the end. Once the light enters the fiber, the majority remains in the fiber until it exits at the other end.

 

Fiber Cutting:

Fibers should always be cut with a sharp shearing action or with a sharp utility knife. You do not need to polish the end of the fiber, but it is important to have a clean face to it in order to maximize the light transmission. The fiber does not require any special treatment to be used.

 

Light intensity:

As a general rule, going from 0.75mm to 1.0mm to 1.5mm diameter fibers doubles the amount of light you will get from any pin inserted into a port.

 

Flexibility:

The smaller the diameter of a fiber the easier it is to bend. Hence, lighting small objects that may require inserting the fiber through and around small areas, will require the use of the smaller diameter fibers.

 

Permanent Bends in Fibers:

Fibers, like wires, are relatively easy to bend. However, to hold the bend, it is best to insert the fiber into near boiling water and it will immediately take the desired shape. This is further explained and demonstrated in videos on our website.

 

Coloring fibers:

Unlike LED’s, fibers are extremely easy to color. Use a translucent paint and put a very small amount on the end of the fiber that enters into your scenery. Let it dry for a minute and then wipe off any excess paint. Recommended paints are The Tamiya paints are highly recommended for this application.

 

Fiber size and types of Animation:

Flashing lights on the top of emergency vehicles: 0.75 to 1mm fibers. Railroad crossings: 1mm fiber for HO, 1.5mm for O and 0.75 for N scale. Train Signals: 1mm fiber for HO, 1.5mm for O and 0.75 for N scale.

 

 

 

 

Reading the Product, Assembly and software Edition numbers:

 

Press and hold the lower left BLUE button and the upper right up BLUE button 5 seconds.  The display will blank and then the Product type number, Assembly number and Software version (Edition) number will appear.  They repeat twice and then after 10 seconds the keypad will revert to normal mode.

 

 

Software Updates and new functionality.

 

We are constantly receiving feedback from customers about new features and we add them as we can and seem appropriate.  That means that we will be constantly improving the performance and functionality of the Fiber Light Controller.  Therefore, here is our upgrade policy:

 

We will upgrade your software on the Fiber Light Controller for two years FREE of charge, less shipping. Simply send us the device and we will return it with the latest and greatest. Order the upgrade shipping kit on our website and then send the device to the address listed.

 

Except where noted, all software, product designs and circuits are copyright of Model Train Technology LLC. 

 

Model Trian Technology LLC has Patents Pending for their products.  Their products are manufacture in the USA and only source limited items from overseas.

 

 

 

 

ONE YEAR MANUFACTURER WARRANTY: The product is warranted to be free from defects in workmanship and materials, under normal residential use and conditions, for a period of one (1) year for the original invoice date. Shipping and handling fees are to be paid for by the customer.

 

LIMITATION OF LIABILITY.  UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCE SHALL COMPANY OR ITS AFFILIATES, PARTNERS, SUPPLIERS OR LICENSORS BE LIABLE FOR ANY INDIRECT , INCIDENTAL, CONSEQUENCIAL, SPECIAL OR EXEMPLARY DAMAGES ARRISING OUT OF OR IN CONNECTION WITH YOUR USE, OR INABILITY TO USE THE PRODUCT, WHETHER OR NOT THE DAMAGES WERE FORESEEABLE AND WHETHER OR NOT COMPANY WAS ADVISED OF THE POSSIBLITY OF SUCH DAMAGES. WITHOUT LIMITING THE GENERALITY OF THE FOREGOING, COMPANY’S AGGREGATE LIABILITY TO YOU SHALL NOT EXCEED THE AMOUNT OF THE PRODUCT.  THE FOREGOING LIMITATION WILL APPLY EVEN IF THE ABOVE STATED REMEDY FAILS OF ITS ESSENTIAL PURPOSE.

 

 

Model Train Technology LLC

10524 Moss Park Rd. Ste. 204-256

Orlando, Florida  32832

407-242-5436

www.ModelTrainTechnology.com

support@modeltraintechnology.com

 

 

Version 1.5 Fiber Light Controller

 

 

         Copyright© 2020 Model Train Technology LLC

 

PDF:  Lighting Board Decoder Manual V1.3
PDF:  Lighting Board Decoder Manual V1.5

Model Train Technology LLC™  

 

PASSENGER CAR LIGHTING with DCC DECODER OPERATIONS MANUAL

Version 1.5

The N & HO Scale LED light boards (with DCC Decoder) have either 5,6,8 or 11 built-in LEDs and two pads (AUX) to connect two additional LEDs that are typically used for red end-of-car lighting. The Decoder has a Microprocessor (MCU) and the board behaves like an engine decoder (NMRA Multi-Function Decoder) using the function keys and speed control for brightness adjustments and address setting. Typical current draw @ 50% brightness (recommended) is 10-30ma. All LED light boards have capacitors and circuitry to reduce flicker and to maximize keeping the system alive.

 

All HO scale boards have a built in Switching Power supply.  This means that the board operates extremely efficiently regardless of the setting of the LEDs.  This also dramatically reduces any heat that would be produced by a typical “linear” regulator.  As far as we know this is the only decoder board on the market with this feature. The N scale boards don’t have as many LEDs so this is not an issue.

As per NMRA standards, the board default address is 3.

You can set it to anything that your DCC system supports (short and long addresses).

 

RESET

 

If you get lost, stuck, can’t remember your board’s address or just want to start over then follow these steps.  You don’t need to do this with a new board it’s already ready to go:

  1. Connect you board to you DCC main power supply. Make sure you are not connected to the programming lines.  This works with the main track power.
  2. With your finger or a not-too-pointed item like a pen or Philips jewelers screwdriver, press the reset button for about 5-8 seconds (not exact) – and wait until the main board lights turn on and stay on. If board lights were on when you started this process, they will turn off momentarily and then back on to 100%. After the lights have been ON at 100% for more than 1 second, you can release the button.  The lights will stay on for about 5 seconds while the reset is performed.  After the lights go out, wait about 2 seconds.  The board address will be reset to Address 3 and the default brightness values will be reset to ~80%.

As part of our ongoing inventive spirit we recently we began including a solid-state (non-mechanical) magnetic sensor on the board at the same end as the push button switch.  This allows you to use a small magnet to trigger the reset from the OUTSIDE of the car once the board is installed.  Now, you don’t have to take the car apart in the rare case that you need to perform a reset.

 

   

 

And now you know what that funny looking refrigerator magnet is for!  Simply hold the magnet above the board about 2” max for 5-8 seconds.  Once the light blinks once, move the magnet away to let the board complete it’s reset cycle (4 flashes confirms its done).

 

 

OPERATIONS:

FUNCTION KEYS F0-F4

F0     Turn on the lights to the default brightness.  If this is a new board, or you performed a RESET, the brightness will be 80%

F1     Force the brightness of the Main Lights to 100% regardless of the default setting.  This has no effect on the AUX lights.

F2     This is the momentary push button (HORN) and is used for two operations:

  • PUSH ONCE to SAVE the default brightness for the MAIN LEDs and AUX LEDS.
  • PRESS and HOLD for 10 seconds to set the DECODER BOARD ADDRESS while the car is on the main track. This is a cool feature we added that avoids having to move the car to a programming track! (see below)

F3     Turns ON/OFF the AUX lights

F4     ACTIVATE the speed throttle to adjust the brightness of the lights.  If you move the speed control very fast there might be a slight delay in the LED response/adjustment.  Fooling around you might spin up and down quickly for example.  Once you stop though, the board will catch up.

F5     Activates the Ramp Up/Down function for the main lights.  Instead of instant on/off, the LEDs will dim up and down.

F6     Activates the flashing mode of the Rear LEDs.

F7     Activates the flickering (OR MARS)  mode of the Rear LEDs.  F6 has to be Off.

F8     Activates the flickering mode of the MAIN LEDs.(if equipped) 

 

SAVING THE BRIGHTNESS LEVELS:

F2 works in conjunction with F4 (which activates the SPEED THROTTLE) to set the brightness of either or both the main LED’s and the Read End lights.

The way it works:  Press F2 ONCE to save the displayed LED brightness. 

 

Step-by-step:

Set your DCC Throttle to match the address of the board just as you would to select an engine decoder. (remember, default is 3). Turn ON the light(s) you want to control/ adjust.  You can set the MAIN lights and the AUX light bright separately OR together.  If they are BOTH on when you press F2 (SAVE), the SAME brightness will be saved for both.  If you want different light levels for the MAIN and AUX lights, then SAVE one first, and then turn it off, then turn on the other, adjust its brightness and then press F2 to save the setting for that light.

 

SET THE DECODER BOARD ADDRESS (without the programming track!)

Using this method, you can set the light board to an any address between 1 and 2048. (the range of switch addresses)

Turn OFF both F0 and F3 lights.  The board will not enter programming mode if either is ON.

PRESS AND HOLD F2 for 10 seconds to put the board in ADDRESS PROGRAMMING MODE.  (This can be done anywhere on the layout but the power to the track must be ON.  This will NOT affect any Multi-Function Decoder (Engine) on the layout.  

After roughly 10 seconds the board lights will flash rapidly (~ 2 times a second).  This tells you that the board is ready to accept a new address.

For this to work you must have the throttle set to the CURRENT board address and you are able to control the lights On/Off from the throttle.  If not, either reset the board back to Address 3 or set your DCC throttle to the assigned board address.

Using the SWITCH function on your throttle, select the new address you want to program – then press either CLOSED or THROWN.  The lights will go out indicating the new address has been saved.  Using your throttle, EXIT switch mode and set the throttle (Loco) number of the new address you just programmed.  Then use F0 and F3 to test for correct operations – the lights go on!

  • This process has no effect on any engine decoder (Multifunction) on the layout.
  • This will NOT reprogram any of your switches (UNLESS you simultaneously put your Accessory Decoder into programming mode – We’re not sure why anyone would do that?)
  • If you use an address that is already assigned to a SWITCH – don’t worry! When you press CLOSED/THROWN you will hear that switch operate but only for that one instance of programming this decoder.  Thereafter the decoder knows it’s not a switch and will ignore any switch commands and likewise, your switch will ignore commands sent to this board.  Pretty clever!

 

THE OLD FASHION WAY (CLASSIC DECODER ADDRESS PROGRAMMING

This LED Light Board can be programmed using any standard NMRA DCC compliant system.  We can’t give you every combination of steps here because of the wide variety of manufacturers since each has its own specifications and limits.  For example, NMRA extended addressing can go to 10,000+ but the Digitrax® throttle only allows up to 9983.

As you would with your engine decoder, hook up the light board (or put the car with it installed on the programming track) and program as you normally would.  CV8: is RESET.  This is a good thing to remember.

When in “native” DCC programming mode this LED Light Board supports both Short and Long addresses.  Just bear in mind not to set it to an address that your DCC system and hand controller do not support. 

From time to time we stumble across occasional strange behavior in mixed system environments.  For the most reliable (and we think) simple operation, use the built-in in address programming mode (not programming tracks) and work your addressed to be organized within the 2044 address limit.

 

 

PERFORMANCE and INSTALLATION

The N & HO Scale LED Light Boards are designed to operate visually best at about 50% brightness.  On my layout I run at about 30%. That is, the best visual effect for the train cars is 30-50%.  The circuit will still protect the LEDs if you operate at 100%.  However, if you decide to build a really long train all with lighted cars the cumulative effect of the current drain will affect other action (engines) on the layout.  For planning purposes, 10-30ma (milliamp) or less per car is about average.  We design the board so you could run the lights brighter but for both appearance and current drain it’s better to run at half or less rated capacity.

The N Scale board will safely operate at HO voltages at about 16V.  It should NOT be operated at G scale voltages of 18-20v.  We have other boards that are designed for O and G scale.

We have had the good results with KATO® passenger cars largely because they come with wheel pickups.  One of the reasons we made these boards is that the rest of the KATO® lighting system is very “whimpy”.  With KATO® we have found that the best hook up is to solder the wires to the very end of each of the two long copper strips that make contact with the wheel pickups.  We tried to use a variation of the copper strip that slips inside and makes contact with the longer metal strips – it “sort of” works.  Depending on the version of the board you purchased, you may have as many as 8 capacitors that are designed to reduce the flicker effect that comes from the physical “noisy” pickup and the wheels.  In testing we found that this was still not enough to overcome a bad connection to the long metal strip.  Soldering the two board wires directly to the long metal pickup improved the overall performance dramatically.

For all other cars that are not pre-configured with electrical pickups, we recommend our “floating” brass strips.  A single 1mm or 2mm piece of brass is wrapped around each axle of the truck at either end of the car.  Then, a 36AWG stranded wire (supplied) is soldered to the brass and connects to the DCC1 and DCC2 on the board.  The reason we call this “floating” is that it is NOT fastened to the wheel truck.  This allows it to shift with the movement of the axle and doesn’t bind the wheel. ALL the other types we tried required you to fasten their metal contact to the truck with a screw or by glue.  This tends to put extra pressure on the wheel or axle and causes it to pinch inside the truck wheel holder.  It also adds friction that cause the car not to roll freely.

The width of the board is 11.5mm. In a few situations you may have a better fit at about 11mm. For example, this was the case for the Amtrak Skylight car.  It’s perfectly ok to sand down the edge of the board up to a total of about 1mm. Use your good judgement on this.  The underside of the board is ground (GND), and you can see that it starts a little bit away from the edge of the board.  I know it’s hard to see but wiggle the board under a light to see the reflective difference. Consider up the edge of the GND a safe zone for filing and sanding.  I use a piece of 100 grit paper on a flat surface and slide the edge of the board over it.  The PCB material is fairly soft so don’t go overboard!

These boards are NOT designed to be shortened lengthwise.  We have two lengths available for N Scale; 124mm (4 7/8”) and 144mm (5 5/8”) and 192mm and 264mm for HO. If this doesn’t fit your requirement, contact us to see if we can include a custom sized version in one of our manufacturing runs.

 

That’s it!  Have fun and please send us feedback or special requests.

         
CV   Behavior   Comments
         
47   Saved Default Brightness for Main LEDS   Use F0 On, F4 On to activate “Speed” control and F2 to save.  Valid value 1-127
48   Saved Default Brightness for REAR LEDS   Use F3 On, F4 On to activate “Speed” control and F2 to save. Valid value 1-127
49   Fade speed interval    Set via CV only
50   RESERVED    
51   F3-sync  

Makes AUX pads follow MAINS only.  Off=0,

On = any non-zero number

52   AUTO-ON   Set to “1”,  ALWAYS turn on at Power Up regardless of F0 setting.  NCE® needs this set to =1
53   Auto-On for AUX pads   0=Off, 1=0n, 2-Flicker/MARS, 3-blink
54   Fade On/Off   Sets default
7   READ ONLY – Software Version   FYI – in case we need to know which board you have.

Note:  for the Auto-on option to work properly, the DCC system should NOT have the address for the board selected.  Thus, when you place the car on the track and powerup, the board will auto on.  If you then want to control the operation of the board, select the board address and it will follow the Function commands on your hand controller.  Digitrax systems send a repeating signal so your board will respond to the setting on your hand controller. 

NCE and others do not send repeating signals by default.  Therefore, you will need to press the Function keys – and possibly cycle on/off to get the board and the DCC controller in sync.  You can change the NCE system to repeat Function keys via a Command Station option.

 

Boards made after August 1, 2020

 

REVISION:

 

Previously the blue and red LEDs mounted to the board were – well – soldered to the board.  In the case of the blue light which indicates that there is proper power to the board the only way to “disable” it was to paint it over with black flat paint which is what I recommend on my videos.  The other option is to forcibly remove it by destroying it with a soldering iron. Not recommended. In the case of the red LED you can set the individual board brightness for the AUX pads to zero.  However, if you subsequently change the brightness of another car with the same address, the end car for example, all the red LEDs will also adjust.  Again, the only way previously to disable this was to remove the LED or paint over it. And there are now quite a few situations where we use the AUX pads for dome lights and other special effects.  In that case we don’t need the on board LED.

 

We’ve change that so that both the blue power LED and the red read LED each have a solder pad (JP1 and JP2) that we solder/connect during manufacturing. 

 

See the pictures below:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To disable either of the on-board LEDs simply remove the solder from the pad.  This is actually quite easy because the shape of the pads (square) causes them to not “want” to be connected.  If you apply a CLEAN solder tip to the solder bubble, more of the solder will want to attach to your iron than the pad and the connection will be “broken”.  In some cases, you might have to repeat the procedure.  You can always solder it back if you like.  This way the board or LED never needs to be “destroyed” in any way and you still have flexibility in your installation. Below is a picture of pad that was soldered and then UN soldered: