Welcome to Part 2 of our in-depth mini-series looking at improvements and upgrades to Hornby TTS sound decoder-fitted locomotives. In Part 1, we looked at speaker upgrades, and in this second part we’re looking at making a stay alive capacitor unit and fitting it to the decoder.
Whilst focused on the Hornby TTS decoder, the principles and steps outlined in these videos are applicable for most other stay alive scenarios, including other types of decoder, coach lighting circuits, end of train (EOT) lamps and so on. It’s ideal viewing for anyone interested in this areas of railway modelling.
Making the Stay Alive/Keep Alive Capacitor Unit
As well as showing you how to make the stay alive unit itself and assemble all of the components, in this video there’s a brief explanation of the background to stay alive devices generally and the role that each of the components plays in the overall circuit.
+ Video Contents +
00:00 – Video introduction
01:08 – Intro to making a stay alive unit
02:18 – Overview of the components required
04:11 – Using resistors to manage in-rush
05:00 – The components in detail
06:26 – Circuit diagrams
08:40 – A quick word of capacitor sizes
10:58 – Putting it all together: soldering
15:40 – Adding hookup wires & heat shrink
17:22 – The finished article
Fitting the Stay Alive Unit to the TTS Decoder
In this final video, we look at adding the stay alive/keep alive unit that we made to Hornby’s TTS sound decoder. We look at where to solder the two wires and also how to adjust CVs on the decoder to ensure that the stay alive unit functions correctly.
While the specific steps relate to Hornby’s TTS decoder, if you wanted to add a stay alive unit to their entry level R8249 decoder, the steps would be fairly similar (although the negative leg would have to be soldered directly to the negative side of the rectifier). If you’re using a different brand of decoder, the principles will be very similar, but the solder points will be different.
+ Video Contents +
00:00 – Introduction
00:20 – A quick recap
01:20 – Examining the decoder
06:08 – Soldering it all together
14:52 – Testing the solder work
16:10 – Fitting it all into the chassis
18:05 – A word about CV settings
19:08 – Testing the stay alive unit
20:53 – Conclusions
Please note: the steps involved in fitting the unit do require a steady hand and competence with a soldering iron. Working with DCC decoders and tiny surface-mount components leaves little margin for error and it is very easy to permanently damage sensitive electronics if you are not extremely careful.
We’ve produced a couple of circuit diagrams to accompany this tutorial series. You can download copies for free using the links below:
This project does require a steady hand and competence with a soldering iron. Working with DCC decoders and tiny surface-mount components leaves little margin for error and it is very easy to permanently damage sensitive electronics if you are not very careful. If you choose to follow any of the steps or suggestions outlined in the video, you do so at your own risk and any damage or injury to yourself, your models, your equipment or others is your own responsibility.
I was chatting to Paul at the Galgorm Hall model railway layout a few weeks back about railway modelling on YouTube, and model making and creativity online more generally.
One thing that we both loved about other maker channels, particularly amongst the woodworking community, is that folk share ‘shop cards’ with each other as a way to support other channels and give visual ‘shout outs’.
So, we decided we’d knock up some ‘layout cards’ for our own respective model railway YouTube channels and share them with each other to get the ball rolling.
And no sooner had we exchanged cards, when Simon from Liverton Central dropped us a line to get involved – and so it began!
I’ve also put together a small noticeboard, which I’ll hang on the wall in the loft and fill up with cards as and when they arrived. I’ve put together a short video explaining the thoughts behind this initiate – link below – and we’d love it if you’d like to get involved.
How to get a Strathpeffer Junction Layout Card
If you’d like a Strathpeffer Junction layout card, please click on the link below to send me your details. Please let me know if you’d prefer a magnet or sticker. Both variants now feature the Strathpeffer Junction station sign and YouTube design (see image above).
I originally had 50 cards to send out free of charge and with free UK/EU postage initially. I only have a handful of that batch left. Once the initial 50 have gone, I’ll happy send out the remaining cards in exchange for a stamped addressed envelope or contribution towards postage, or in exchange for your own card, which I’ll happily add to my wall of layout cards.
To get your Strathpeffer Junction card, please click here to send me your details. Make sure to include a UK/EU postal address. If you live further afield, I’m happy to send out a card if you cover the postage.
Got a layout card for your own channel?
I’d absolutely love to collect layout cards from other model railway YouTubers – be they in the UK or further afield – and add them to my board. If you’d like to send me one or you’d like to exchange one for one of my own cards, please drop me a line.
This is a wiring diagram for the decoder/loco test boar and rolling road featured on this website. Your own test board wiring requirements will vary depending on the components that you use and also the specifics of your design. The diagram provided above is only a guide and you must work out your own wiring needs yourself to avoid costly damage to programmers, testers and decoders.
I’ve been doing an increasing number of DCC decoder installations and model locomotive repair jobs – both for myself and others – and setting up my tester and rolling road each and every time I needed them was becoming a bit tiresome (not to mention the rat’s nest of cables).
After pulling what’s left of my hair out for the final time, I decided to put together a small loco and decoder test board, incorporating my LokProgrammer and SPROG, as well as accommodating off-board control integration (DCC and DC/Analogue).
The board also features a rolling road, using DCC Concepts rolling road modules, and my own take on a means to permanently integrate them into a test set up and improve usability, using acrylic sheet, spacers and screws.
You can download a PDF version of the wiring diagram for the test board featured in the video via the link below:
This is only one way of approaching a decoder test board setup and there other examples out there. I do recommend that you consider something like this if you’re intending to do a lot of decoder installation and maintenance – it saves a lot of time and hassle!
CORRECTION: in the video, I mention the acrylic/perspex sheet as being 6mm when it is actually 4mm. A thickness of 6mm is likely to be too thick and may interfere with the wheel flanges.
You can buy some components for this how-to project via the links below. Buying via Amazon affiliate links means I get a (very) small donation and helps to support the website and channel:
Please note: If you choose to follow any of the steps or suggestions outlined in the video, you do so at your own risk and any damage or injury to yourself, your models, your equipment or others is your own responsibility. Your own test board wiring requirements will vary depending on the components that you use and also the specifics of your design. The diagram provided above is only a guide and you must work out your own wiring needs yourself to avoid costly damage to programmers, testers and decoders.
It’s been just over two months since I posted a layout update. Despite the incredibly hot weather and other distractions of the Summer, I’ve still managed to make some reasonable progress up in the loft.
In this layout update video, I take a look at the track plan for the Strathpeffer Junction layout, as well as where I’ve got to with the baseboards, my initial thoughts for DCC busses and some sorting and cataloguing of rolling stock and locomotives.
I’ve had to jettison the idea of a two level layout with large fiddle yard below due to space constraints, so now it’ll be mainly one scenic level, albeit with an upper level TMD at one end with a small fiddle yard below that.
The station layout is loosely informed by Dingwall station during its heyday (click the map below for a larger image). There’s also a great thread on RMweb that looks at Dingwall’s layout in years gone by. You can read it by clicking here.
The plans show what I’ll be working towards, but are by no means set in stone. I’d love to know what you think about my plans and ideas, so please feel free to leave any thoughts, comments, suggestions and questions in YouTube’s comments section.
EDIT: In the video I put up text on the screen mentioning two booster units for my two power districts. I should have written one booster. The one district will be run run from the DCC controller itself (in my case, a Z21 black), and the one from a booster.
When the Model Railway YouTube Community Group coach tour visited Strathpeffer Junction, we took the opportunity to drop the coach into Fodderty TMD for a quick once-over and flashing tail lamp installation.
This in-depth, two-part how-to series takes you through the installation process, step-by-step. Part A looks at designing and building a small rectifier and stay-alive/keep-alive circuit, from component selection to soldering.
Part B looks at adding a switch, installing the red tail lamp itself and, because the flasher unit used requires a specific voltage, the design and build of a small rectifier circuit.
The circuitry used in this video series is just as applicable for coach lighting circuits or most other situations where you need to get power from the tracks into a coach or wagon to power a light.
You can download the schematic for the circuitry here:
Please note: If you choose to follow any of the steps or suggestions outlined in the video, you do so at your own risk and any damage or injury to yourself, your models, your equipment or others is your own responsibility.
We were delighted for Strathpeffer Junction to be one of the first stops on the tour and the coach spent a week here, undergoing a little work at Fodderty TMD and having a quick run on the emerging layout. We’ve lots of footage to get through and edit down into a video, but we also took some photos too…
The coach has now headed off down the Highland Mainline, hauled by Class 37 An Comunn Gàidhealach, in the direction of Kirkton Road Junction in the Kingdom of Fife, Scotland.