Some Tips on How to Find Those LocoNet Problem
So, you've got your LocoNet installed and it's causing you problems or it's not working.
To find out the problem components, you will need to test each part of your LocoNet. This isn't rocket science. It's simply a matter of having a lot of patience and being very methodical. The key for testing is to test one section at a time. Getting all of the bugs out of your LocoNet will ensure smooth operation in the future.
For finding where those problems are, you need 3 pieces of equipment - the LT1 tester that came with your command station/booster, a multimeter and some "test probes" that we showed you how to make on these pages.
Checking Your Command Station/ Booster
The first step in testing is your command station/booster. Unplug the LocoNet cable that goes from your command station/booster to your module. Fire up your command station/booster and plug a throttle into the LocoNet B plug. Then, plug the LT1 tester into the LocoNet A plug on your command station. All 4 LEDs should light up. Anything less and you've located an area where the problem might be.
Now, plug your throttle into the LocoNet A plug and plug the LT1 tester into the LocoNet B plug on your command station. All 4 LEDs should light up. Anything less and you've located an area where the problem might be. At this point in time, we don't cover any problems with the LocoNet A or B plugs. Just make sure the settings on your command station/booster are set to run the trains. Check this out with your manual. If you've got a DB150 command station/booster, check this page on our website.
Testing the LocoNet on Your Module/Layout With the LT1 Tester
Leave your throttle plugged into either the LocoNet A or LocoNet B plug and plug the LocoNet cable that comes from your layout into your command/station
Go to the next connection/jack on your module/layout and insert the LT1 tester. Again all 4 LEDs should light up. Continue working your way down your LocoNet testing each piece with the LT1.
When you've discovered the piece of cable/plug/jack where only 3 or fewer LEDs light up, this might be a source of your problem. Unplug the next piece of LocoNet cable and plug your LT1 tester on to the end of the current cable/jack/plug (the piece where we think the problem might be). All 4 LEDs might light up. If you've only got 3 or fewer LEDs lighting up, we're getting closer to the faulty piece of wiring.
Go back to the previous piece of LocoNet cable and unplug this piece of LocoNet cable (ie we're going to isolate what we suspect to be the faulty piece of cable). Plug your LT1 tester on to the end of the previous piece of LocoNet cable (this is still connected to your command station/booster). All 4 LEDs should light up. If all 4 LEDs light up, then the piece of cable we just isolated could be faulty. But we have to make sure.
Testing the LocoNet With Your Multimeter and Test Probes
This is where you use your multimeter. Shut down your command station/booster and disconnect it from the LocoNet.
To find out which wire is causing the problem, you need to make some RJ12 test-probes. These are simply two pieces of cable that have been stripped and tinned on one end with a male RJ12 plug on the other end. If you missed the page on how to make test probes, click here.
Plug one probe into one socket/plug and the other end into the end of the LocoNet that you are testing. Using the probes on your multi-meter, check each wire, in turn, for continuity - white-to-white, black-to-black, red-to-red, etc. The multimeter should indicate a closed circuit as you check each wire. (If you have any reversed cables, then the white wire on one probe will close the circuit when you touch the blue wire, the black to the yellow, the green to the red. )
Some Types of Problems
My limited experience indicates that your problem will be with
The Crossover Effect Is Not An Issue
The crossover of the 6 conductors is not an issue. If you look at this page from my website, you'll see that Wire 1 and 6, Wire 2 and 5, Wire 3 and 4, have the same functions. So, crossover is not an issue. The main reason we want to make sure that white is connected to white, red to red, etc is to be able to trace any problems we might have with the LocoNet. If all of our wires are properly colour coded, then tracing problems is easier. (If you plan to use the Digitrax transponding and signalling system, it's important that you make sure that white is connected to white, red to red, etc.)
Only 6-wire RJ12 Components!
What type of wire are you using to connect the components to your LocoNet? Make sure that all of the components you've bought are 6-wire. Digitrax LocoNet is a 6-wire standard. Anything less and it won't work. Some of the components, like female-female gender benders and T-jacks (male to two-female, female to two-female, all in one plastic assembly), look like 6-wire but they're only 4-wire.
Only The Best of The Crimpers!
If you've made your own cables, make sure the male plugs are well crimped in place. If you've used a plastic crimper, this could be the cause of your problems. Locate an electrical supply store that deals in telecommunication components and invest in a good crimper. This will cost you $30/$45 Cdn. I can't emphasize strongly enough, the importance of a good crimper.
You might be tempted to try and salvage some of those male plastic plugs. Don't! If re-crimping the plug doesn't work the first time, cut the plug off and crimp on a new one.
And that's all there is (well, not quite)
That's all there is to wiring in the LocoNet. Yes, the wires are fragile, but with a bit of experience and experimenting, you'll develop the skills to become a pro. Lots of luck with your LocoNet. And remember - have fun. (I am!)
And while you're here, why not take a look at the rest of our website?