Author Topic: LM-4S-G Erratic behavior/Intermittent "Cannot Connect"  (Read 43274 times)

jordanhd87

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LM-4S-G Erratic behavior/Intermittent "Cannot Connect"
« on: December 18, 2022, 10:14:13 AM »
Hi All:

Issue: I am having very erratic behavior with my RailPro locomotives. I'll place them on the track, sometimes they will connect to my HC-2b handheld, sometimes they will not. For example, yesterday I was setting up three locomotives on the track (my "clean" install locmotives, see below). Two of them connected to the handheld, one of them did not. If I tilted that locomotive and placed it back down, it would connect. Tilt it again and place it back down, it would not connect. 50/50 chance. The other two would connect everytime if I followed this same test. So I proceeded to do my run session with just the two locomotives that stayed connected. I MU'ed them together to pull a 29 car train. While running (45 minutes into the running session), the train randomly comes to a screetching halt. My handheld is still connected to them. No warning triangles were displayed. The sounds were still going and never cut out at any point (indicating i did not lose track power pickup). I throttled all the way down, then back up, and it starts moving down the track again. About 5 minutes later, my lead loco becomes unresponsive (lost connection) and would not reconnect to the handheld. This is not the first time this has happened. It happens everytime I try to run my railpro locomotives, "clean" install or "quick" install (again, see below). It continued to run though, it just would not reconnect no matter how many times I tried, I as well tried cycling the power off and on my handheld and still would not reconnect. I had to cut the track power off and back on to get it to reconnect again.

Locomotives: I have 5 LM-4S-G equipped locomotives, Two USA Trains SD70's, One SD40-2, One Aristo Dash9 and One SD45. My USAT locomotives are a "clean install" (stock electronics ripped out, RailPro install from scratch). Aristo units I have used the airwire Adapta-1 board RLD sells to utilize the Aristo/Revo/DCC slot (quick install, I'll call it). I have brushless ball bearing fans installed in the shell as well as Oley Valley mounting brackets with the heatsinks (earlier this year I experienced overheating issues). I have since installed the 1.05 update which supposedly fixes the overheating issues (but now it is too cold outside to confirm). Each locomotive (except for the SD45) have two 8ohm speakers wired in parallel (which sounds amazing).

Layout: I am running outdoors on track power, with a Crest CRE-55465 15 amp power supply (which was designed for use with DCC systems, meaning the output is supposed to be just be clean DC voltage). I have it set to 23v output. My loop is 300 feet long, and anywhere I check along the track I get 23.2 volts. However, I can duplicate the "Cannot Connect" error on my indoor bench which is a different power supply.

Running conditions: My layout is next to a walking trail in our neighborhood and I have it all decorated for the season. On a busy night I constantly have 20-40 people around watching the trains (and yes, the issues seem to happen when there are 40 people around). I run my display for 3-4 hours at a time. The track is pristinely cleaned with an LGB track cleaning locomotive prior to running my railpro locomotives. I also have a few track lit cars, and they do not flicker during the run session (their power pickup is not near as robust as the locomotives) so I do not suspect dirty track being the issue. Temperature outside ranges between 50*f and 30*f (I have not found a correlation with temp and the issue I'm experiencing). I like to run 2-3 locomotives at a time, MU'ed together pulling the same train. Sound volume at 100%. I also have a few locomotives equipped with Revolution. When I run my Revolution locomotives they run flawlessly, for the whole run duration, no issues whatsoever. I also have a 70ft "back and forth" shuttle track running off of a separate power supply, the train carrying a speaker playing Christmas music).

I have called Tim a few times regarding the above, and he has no definitive answers. He claims there's no way it can be the LM-4S-G units or my handheld, that there has to be some other common denominator. I've also spoken with Robby at RLD and he has not experienced this behavior, but has admitted that all of his installs are battery conversions as well. Again, they are behaving this way on two completely different power supplies, both indoors and outdoors. And again, I can run my RC Revolution locomotives and they run absolutely flawless. One thing I have not tried is to go battery powered, but I feel I should not have to do this just to get RailPro to work properly. Also, as a side note, I have done quite a few Revo installs prior to doing RailPro installs, so I am not new at this "RC install" thing. Is anyone else here running an outdoor G gauge layout with railpro locomotives on track power? Do you experience erratic behavior such as this? The next steps (as I see it) to take involve spending more money (either on batteries to go battery power or yet a third power supply to try). Any feedback or ideas you have would be welcome as I am beating my head against the wall and am about ready to give up on RailPro.
« Last Edit: December 18, 2022, 12:45:24 PM by jordanhd87 »

jordanhd87

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Re: LM-4S-G Erratic behavior/Intermittent "Cannot Connect"
« Reply #1 on: December 18, 2022, 02:02:55 PM »
I did some testing with a 24v power drill battery as well as a 4.5amp 20v laptop power supply. Using my bench power supply and SD45 as a tester locomotive, it would sometimes connect to the handheld and sometimes not. Using the battery, it connected every single time. Using the laptop power supply, it intriguingly also connected every single time. I also kept going back to the bench supply in-between, and it would sometimes connect and sometimes not. So it is starting to point to not liking the two main power supplies I have. A buddy is going to send me a USAT 10 amp supply to test with (this is one of the RailPro recommended power supplies). TBD and will update the thread. If it does end up being the supply, wow, RailPro is very finicky and sensitive to incoming power. Why did they not design it to be a bit less sensitive? Again, I have no issues running Revolution equipped locomotives.

Dodgezilla04

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Re: LM-4S-G Erratic behavior/Intermittent "Cannot Connect"
« Reply #2 on: December 18, 2022, 02:18:20 PM »
One of my 4 modules will do the occasional issue as well

Power on, select the loco, start the sounds (they work) throttle up And she doesn't move.. the sound changes as it's moving but nothing... Requires a power off and start over... Sometimes while running this same loco will stop moving, but the sounds continue... Requires a power off.... Latest software, batteries are charged. It's just the module.. I feel your frustration

William Brillinger

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Re: LM-4S-G Erratic behavior/Intermittent "Cannot Connect"
« Reply #3 on: December 18, 2022, 03:29:08 PM »
Sounds like you both need to contact Ring and report the same issue. (again)
- Bill Brillinger, RPUG Admin

Modeling the BNML in HO Scale, owner of Precision Design Co., and RailPro Dealer.


Dodgezilla04

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Re: LM-4S-G Erratic behavior/Intermittent "Cannot Connect"
« Reply #4 on: December 18, 2022, 07:33:07 PM »
I emailed ring when I first started buying stuff, asking about a sound file... Never bothered to respond, it's been 6 months...........

jordanhd87

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Re: LM-4S-G Erratic behavior/Intermittent "Cannot Connect"
« Reply #5 on: December 18, 2022, 09:44:47 PM »
Sounds like you both need to contact Ring and report the same issue. (again)

I've spoken with Tim @RailPro a couple of times for probably 2 hrs over the last two weeks. According to him there's not enough evidence that the issue is with the RailPro modules or the heldheld (pointed fingers at everything else but the railpro stuff). He did say I could send the stuff back to him to checkout but "he guarantees that he won't find any issues with it." Not sure how he can say that with absolution, but regardless, he did. His other words were, "no one else has reported this issue...." if there are others, PLEASE call Tim.

William Brillinger

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Re: LM-4S-G Erratic behavior/Intermittent "Cannot Connect"
« Reply #6 on: December 19, 2022, 06:01:59 AM »
I emailed ring when I first started buying stuff, asking about a sound file... Never bothered to respond, it's been 6 months...........

Pick up the phone. Email is horribly unreliable.
- Bill Brillinger, RPUG Admin

Modeling the BNML in HO Scale, owner of Precision Design Co., and RailPro Dealer.


G8B4Life

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Re: LM-4S-G Erratic behavior/Intermittent "Cannot Connect"
« Reply #7 on: December 19, 2022, 06:51:07 AM »
Does this problem only happen when in close proximity or in line-of-sight to the benchtop and / or Crest supply? Some of the symptoms you describe match a power supply putting out a lot of RFI. A member here had previously come across this one, noticing that things went really strange when a certain power supply he had was line-of-site in between the HC and the LM in the loco.

- Tim

jordanhd87

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Re: LM-4S-G Erratic behavior/Intermittent "Cannot Connect"
« Reply #8 on: December 19, 2022, 08:16:00 AM »
Does this problem only happen when in close proximity or in line-of-sight to the benchtop and / or Crest supply? Some of the symptoms you describe match a power supply putting out a lot of RFI. A member here had previously come across this one, noticing that things went really strange when a certain power supply he had was line-of-site in between the HC and the LM in the loco.

- Tim

Interesting thought..... outside, the issue seems to occur in random/various places around the layout. Inside, the power supply is within 4 feet of the locomotive. On the bench, the handheld is always set right next to the locomotive (not inbetween the PS and locomotive). Outside, the PS does reside inside of the loop. So depending on where I stand, there may be times the PS is between the loco and handheld. The PS is stored in a weather resistant box trackside, and is about 5 inches off of ground level inside of the box. I'll see if I can dig up a picture. Also, when I get that USAT supply in my hands I'll report if there is any difference in operations.

Edit: here's the best picture I could get of the overall layout. The power supply is in the box circled in red. 20amp 120vac circuit was run to the layout right next to the box.
« Last Edit: December 19, 2022, 09:21:56 AM by jordanhd87 »

Gibs

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Re: LM-4S-G Erratic behavior/Intermittent "Cannot Connect"
« Reply #9 on: December 19, 2022, 10:05:53 AM »
I know that you stated that you keep your track clean, which I don't doubt. However there is another culprit.
When I look at that photo, I'm seeing a LOT of track, and the first thing that came to mind was, I hope hes using a Bloody BIG BUS system for that with plenty of droppers and more than one power supply. See the problem is the voltage that we use in model rail. Its bloody WEAK! By that I mean when it comes to long runs of cable and/or track, 12V-24V is pathetic to be a good POTENTIAL DIFFERENCE between POLES (+, -), even if its DCC. The longer the run the higher the voltage needs to be to get the job done plus the bigger the cable required. The funny thing is, the current can go DOWN when this is done. In fact it always does for the same given POWER (WATTS) Rating.
The other better option is to break the long runs down into practical lengths of Cable/Track runs. More power per given length with less loss.
So the question is, how long is a Powered section of the Track/Bus Run that you have per section, (I'm really hoping its in a lot of sections with a lot of droppers) and what size is your main cable bus.
Because if its not suitable for the length of your line, that may very well be your problem.
Cya Down The Line.

jordanhd87

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Re: LM-4S-G Erratic behavior/Intermittent "Cannot Connect"
« Reply #10 on: December 19, 2022, 12:34:15 PM »
I know that you stated that you keep your track clean, which I don't doubt. However there is another culprit.
When I look at that photo, I'm seeing a LOT of track, and the first thing that came to mind was, I hope hes using a Bloody BIG BUS system for that with plenty of droppers and more than one power supply. See the problem is the voltage that we use in model rail. Its bloody WEAK! By that I mean when it comes to long runs of cable and/or track, 12V-24V is pathetic to be a good POTENTIAL DIFFERENCE between POLES (+, -), even if its DCC. The longer the run the higher the voltage needs to be to get the job done plus the bigger the cable required. The funny thing is, the current can go DOWN when this is done. In fact it always does for the same given POWER (WATTS) Rating.
The other better option is to break the long runs down into practical lengths of Cable/Track runs. More power per given length with less loss.
So the question is, how long is a Powered section of the Track/Bus Run that you have per section, (I'm really hoping its in a lot of sections with a lot of droppers) and what size is your main cable bus.
Because if its not suitable for the length of your line, that may very well be your problem.

The loop is 300ft of track. It is all connected with railclamps, which have all been coated with NOALOX before clamping. Power supply is outputting 23.2 volts, it is 23.2 volts at every point of track including the farthest point away from the power supply. I only have one feeder going from the PS to the track. It is a short run (maybe 6 feet of wire or less?). I'll double check but I think I used 12/2 landscaping wire. My thought was, if I got power to the track with as short of a feeder as possible, the track itself is a bigger conductor than the feeder coming from the supply, therefore I'll reduce the drop. If I send feeders to the far sections, the wire I'd be using is a smaller conductor than the rail and I'd end up with bigger drops In the feeders than the rail itself.

Again, I have no issues with Revolution equipped locos or analog locos. No dropouts. No sudden stops. No slowdowns. Only ones I have an issue with are my Railpro locos. If what you suggest is an issue, I'd think I'd be experiencing it with Revolution and analog locos too. In addition, the issues I'm experiencing happen at any spot around my layout, not just the farthest spots.
« Last Edit: December 19, 2022, 12:43:21 PM by jordanhd87 »

JRad

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Re: LM-4S-G Erratic behavior/Intermittent "Cannot Connect"
« Reply #11 on: December 19, 2022, 10:22:17 PM »
I think Gibs might have missed where you said Large Scale.  I agree that brass code 332 track, if all connections are lossless, is a very good and large conductor.

You state that voltage is even around the layout. Might I suggest measuring the opposite side of the loop from the power connection when a train is running to prove there is no voltage drop.

I'm in Large Scale but got in before the LM-4 and am all battery power.  Never a connection issue so long as loco is in range.

Gibs

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Re: LM-4S-G Erratic behavior/Intermittent "Cannot Connect"
« Reply #12 on: December 19, 2022, 10:41:41 PM »
I get what you're saying in regards to the length of run from your power supply to the track its self, yes the shorter the better. The thing is, your BUS, it should be of a BIGGER Cross Sectional Squared Area than the Cross Sectional Squared area of your track. So looking at the track from the point of view where you see the cross section, the Bus Cable SHOULD be bigger by at least 2 x that surface area. I don't recall if you said you have Brass Track, but I still wouldn't rely on that alone myself personally to supply full power to such a largish track run.
Also relying solely on the track only, to supply the power around the entire layout, not a good idea, I'd be breaking that down into smaller sections with each sections own power supply. I know you state that all your other loco's run fine on the layout, but I'd be more inclined to call that a fluke. I'm thinking the other system may have onboard their circuit boards something akin to a Stay Alive, ergo a few extra capacitors to maintain power through bad sections of track.
The part that does my head in, is that you can repeat this fault inside on the test track at random intervals. Its like the Modules loose signal connectivity for some odd reason, normally I'd say all the above about your track layout and its suffering a small power loss at random moments given how its set up. The only thing I can suggest is add a suitable keep/stay/PMB Alive to one notoriously bad Loco and see if that makes any difference. I'd bet there is one available for G Scale somewhere.
Either that or just temp put a battery in.

PS: The reason I'm suggesting this, is to remove the possibility of a power issue from the equation. If its proven to not be a issue, then you have more information than before to tell Tim.
« Last Edit: December 19, 2022, 10:47:58 PM by Gibs »
Cya Down The Line.

jordanhd87

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Re: LM-4S-G Erratic behavior/Intermittent "Cannot Connect"
« Reply #13 on: December 20, 2022, 08:14:28 AM »
You state that voltage is even around the layout. Might I suggest measuring the opposite side of the loop from the power connection when a train is running to prove there is no voltage drop.

Thanks for your input. I do not get a warning triangle saying "low track voltage". In fact, the reading on each locomotives status page in railpro (while I have two to three locos running) shows about a 3 volt drop compared to the static track voltage. I obviously can't read this when the connection to the handheld drops out, but I can say the sound output in all cases continues loud and clear and does not crackle, drop out, or anything. I admittedly have not tested the track voltage with a meter with trains running to confirm the readings the railpro modules are putting out (I will do try that).

@Gibs - the track I am using is code 332 brass. In essence, the track itself is the BUS in this set up. As mentioned above, with the erratic behavior the sound always stays loud and clear and continues with no drop outs, indicating no loss of power below the threshold. Also I run a couple cars that pick up power for lighting - their power pickup is not nearly as robust as the locomotives, and they do not flicker or drop out around the layout either. I do wonder if an additional capacitor would help clean up the incoming power before it goes to the rail pro card though. But I recall Tim asking me if I had anything like that, and suggested that I shouldnt.
« Last Edit: December 20, 2022, 08:19:24 AM by jordanhd87 »

trainman605

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Re: LM-4S-G Erratic behavior/Intermittent "Cannot Connect"
« Reply #14 on: December 20, 2022, 08:56:54 AM »
I have no answer to your problem, but think it's 99% your track power, intermittent voltage from the track probably effects the Rail Pro module to function as it should.  If it works on battery power 100% of the time then you have your answer, just my personal thoughts on this. I know what I would do if I had a track powered layout outside, change to battery power and be done with it, no track cleaning and no track power connections to deal with. 
trainman