Booster Problems

 The following topics are discussed in this section:

BACKGROUND DISCUSSION
WHY BOOSTERS ARE SO SENSITIVE TO ELECTRICAL FAULTS
SHUTDOWN PROBLEMS
BOOSTER FAILS TO RECOVER FROM A SHORT CIRCUIT
LOW FULL SPEED OPERATING PROBLEMS
LOCOMOTIVE STALLS WHEN USING MULTIPLE BOOSTERS


BACKGROUND DISCUSSION

The most common problem that causes a booster to shutdown is a plain old short circuit on the track someplace.  It the exact same problem you would have with a old DC layout too. Often the problem is simply caused by a derailment of the rolling stock which happens a lot around track switches.  Another common cause is leaving tools or some metallic object on the track by accident.

But there are booster shutdown problems that show up that are not, at face value, easy to understand let alone know what what to do about it to solve the problem.  That is what this section focuses on.


WHY BOOSTERS ARE SO SENSITIVE TO ELECTRICAL FAULTS

DCC boosters put out a lot more power (as much as 5 times more) than a standard DC power pack.  Why?  Unlike a DC power pack, a booster is designed to power multiple trains at the same time.  Given the higher power available, a booster is much more concerned about any electrical faults in the interest of preventing damage to rolling stock which is not designed to handle the booster power continuously.  Stated another way, DCC boosters have an aggressive overload protection system that will shutdown on even the smallest of momentary electrical shorts or the appearance of a short circuit. 


NOT SO OBVIOUS TYPES OF BOOSTER SHUTDOWN PROBLEMS


1) Short Circuit with Athearn Engines.

PROBLEM SIGN:  Two Athearn Blue Box engines short out when coupled together.

PROBLEM CONDITIONS:  You are using metal Kadee Couplers in the stock metallic coupler pocket

PROBLEM BACKGROUND:  Athearn Blue Box engines use the die cast frame to carry electrical current of one of the track rail.  This means the frame it shorted to one of the two rails.  If you connect a 2nd Athearn locomotive which is oriented backwards (back to back) relative to the first Athearn engine, the two frames will have the opposite rail polarity.  The use of metal couplers will allow the two frames to short each other out through the couplers.  Remember Athearn ships engine with plastic X2F horn hook couplers which prevent the problem from happening.

SOLUTION: Two solutions.

1) OK:  Replace the metal Kadee coupler with Kadee's plastic equivalent coupler.  Eliminates short but that is all it does.

2) Best:  Replace the metal pocket with a Kadee plastic pocket. Drill and tap the screw to hold the pocket with a metal coupler.  The Kadee pocket will give you better coupler performance than the stock Athearn pocket.  Better centering spring forces and no loose side to side slop.

   To learn more about this problem and the solution for it, go here: Athearn Blue Box Engines

2) Underpowered power supply.

PROBLEM SIGNS:

SOLUTIONS


BOOSTER FAILS TO RECOVER FROM A SHORT CIRCUIT

High Inrush Current

This problem deals with the difficult load (High Inrush Current) that sound decoders present to boosters upon recovery from a short circuit.
To learn more about the High Inrush Current problem go here: Inrush Current (Sound Decoders)

SOLUTION:  You must upgrade the booster to a newer version.  There is no adjustment for this problem.

Booster known to have issues supporting multiple sound decoders.

1) MRC 8 Amp Booster. (Discontinued)
2) System-One Dual 5A Booster. (Discontinued)
3) NCE Master Series Dual PB-205 Booster. (Discontinued)
4) Digitrax Boosters that DO NOT HAVE Option Switch 18 set to 1/2 second recovery.


LOW FULL SPEED OPERATING PROBLEMS

PROBLEM SIGNS:

SOLUTIONS


LOCOMOTIVE STALLS WHEN USING MULTIPLE BOOSTERS