Zephyr/remote throttle

Discussion in 'DCC & Electronics' started by Nazgul, Dec 11, 2006.

  1. Nazgul

    Nazgul Active Member

    I'm going to buy the UT4 throttle to use in conjunction with my Zephyr.
    The pic shows the existing location of the Zephyr (red) and the proposed location of the UT4/jack (blue):
    View attachment 32863
    Question 1: Does any one know how far you can walk from the jack or in other words, how long is the cord that comes with it?
    Question 2: Do you have to buy the Digitrax UP5 jack or can a "generic" jack be bought at Radio Shack or some such place?....and while I'm asking questions
    Question 3: Do I even need a jack or can I buy a 6 wire cable with the right connections (1 male and 1 female...I think) to make the UT4's cable longer and plug directly to the back of the Zephyr?
    Question 4: Have I totally confused everybody?.....LOL:D
    If anyone can help me...I would appreciate it!

    Attached Files:

  2. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Looks good. Did you consider a UT-4R and radio receiver for wireless operation? (You'd need a UR-91 radio receiver panel as well.) It's quite nice to be "unplugged". Actually if you have good sight lines, you can use the IR function that comes in every throttle (i.e. UT-4). The only thing you'd need then is the IR receiver panel - UP-5 I believe.

    It comes with a long coiled cord, which will stretch, but remember that the force is all concentrated on the little phone-style jack at the end... I would not go much more than about 4 feet away (plus your reach might give you about 8 feet).

    No. As long as the "phone" wire and jacks that you get are 6 wire, you should be fine. Just make sure you wire them correctly (see www.digitrax.com). Standards diagrams can also be found at www.hotrak.ca in the standards section.

    That is another option. The jack just fits nicer into your facia, but there is no reason you can't run an "extension cord". I found a box of 6 4-wire double jacks at a local electronics shop for $1. I made 4 6-wire jacks out of them. $0.25 each is not bad. 6- conductor wire runs about $0.30 per metre (I think....).

    Not confused yet - you're obviously not asking the right questions...! ;) :D

  3. railwaybob

    railwaybob Member

    Hello Steve. Here's a simple $10 solution. Go down to your local Home Depot store and into the electrical section where they sell the telephone components. Find the six-wire telephone jack. The type you are looking for is a surface-mount one that has one jack on the surface and 3 jacks on the sides. You will probably have to do a bit of rooting around to make sure you get the telco jack with the six spade terminals. Cost is about $5.95

    In the same area, you will find telephone extension cords. Find an extension cord that has the six wires. has two male plugs on each end, and is about the length to stretch from your Zephyr to the location you have shown above. If you aren't sure, go for the one that is 25' long. Make sure it has two male plugs on each end! Cost is about $3.95

    Install the surface-mount jack onto the side of your layout in your favourite location. You can easily do this if you pop off the front cover (locate the 4 tabs on the backside and press them out with a slotted screwdriver), and then screw the jack onto the fascia of your layout.

    Unroll the extension cord and plug it into one of the female plugs on the side of the jack. Run the other end to your Zephyr and plug it into one of the female plugs.

    Voila, you have extended the reach of the LocoNet.

    To extend the reach even further, install another surface-mount jack, and connect it to the first jack with another male-male extension cord. Keep going until you've reached the end of your layout.

    Of course, from here, if you want to get even fancier, you might want to really get into the swing of things by purchasing a crimper, some male plugs, and making your own cables. Or, you can probaby find a place that can make the cables for you at a reasonable price.

    Have fun. (I am!)

    Bob M.
  4. NYNH&H

    NYNH&H Member


    The IR panel is the UR90, the wired ones are UP-5s.

    Here is the reponse I typed earlier but could not post (my issue; not The Gauge's):

    Not sure how long the cord is, but if it is not Radio equipped, it
    does have a pretty decent cord (6ft???). As long as it is SIX pins,
    not the usual two for a phone, it should work fine. It MUST be wired
    straight through, watch out for telco style stuff that reverses the
    pins, as that may or may not work. For one or two throttles, you can
    use regular Home Depot/ Radio Shack type of panels as long as they are
    SIX pins (RJ12/ RJ25). If you have more than a few throttles and/or
    phone sytle panels, you will see Loconet voltage drop, and the
    throttles will malfunction. This is one purpose of the UP5, which can
    take track power, or power from a wall wart/ 12VDC bus. You can get an
    extension and plug it right in, as long as it is wired straight
    through. I would recommend buying the cables from Tony's, as they have
    ones that definitely work with DCC equipment. They have a male to male
    cable available in different lengths, and then they have a female to
    female adapter, effectively making an extension. They also have a
    coiled cable that can be used to extend a radio throttle's tether, or
    any tether for that matter. If you have the tools and experience to
    make Ethernet or phone cabling, you can make your own cables. Also,
    you may want to consider using multiple UP5's, a UR90 for IR, or a
    UT4-R and UR91 for radio in order to be able to walk all around the
    layout, without being tethered to one point, and not getting tangled.
    If you want a really cheap throttle, you can also use a 12VDC supply
    into a home-made DC throttle, plugged into a jump port, or you can use
    any old DC power pack that you can find at the local train show for
    $12. Just note that the Zephyr essentially uses common rail for the
    jump ports, so the two jump throttles CANNOT be powered off of the
    same DC power supply. Two DC power packs that have their own AC
    supplies in the are fine.
  5. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Thanks for the clarification on the panel for IR

  6. Nazgul

    Nazgul Active Member

    Thank you all so much for the excellent info. You not only answered all of the questions that I asked...you also answered questions I didn't, but should have[​IMG]. that's what I call service![​IMG]
    In a perfect world I would love to go wireless, but the expense is prohibitive at this time:cry:
    Bob, checked out your site (awesome)....I understand DCC much better now, although since I didn't understand it at all before...I don't think that's saying much!:D
  7. NYNH&H

    NYNH&H Member

    If you want to try IR, the UR-90 is only about $30, and works with any current throttle. On the other hand, radio is a lot more expensive, as you need a radio throttle, and the UR91, which is $115. If you are thinking about radio in the future, you may want to get a UTR now, and use it with a curly extension as a wired throttle until you can get the UR91. If you can't do any wireless, then you can always use a UR90 later with the UT4, and see how that works. If you have a decently small room, you should be able to bounce the signals off the wall. If not, you can just mount the thing near the cieling in a corner, and on a layout the size of yours, you should be able to get coverage everywhere. Next best is to do like 3 or 4 plug-ins, and then go from one to the next to the next, following your train. If you are operating alone, you can also get a 25 foot cable, and drag it behind you whereever you go. Thats still better than being tethered to one spot.
  8. Nazgul

    Nazgul Active Member

    Thank you for all the good input and advice. I certainly have a much better understanding of my options in this case and of DCC in general.
    Thank you everybody:thumb: :thumb: :thumb: ALL three of you guys have been a tremendous help!
  9. railwaybob

    railwaybob Member

    To clear up some misconceptions here before they become a "fact".

    The length of your LocoNet (the telephone cable) has nothing to do with the drop in voltage. It is a function of the number of "devices" (eg throttles, LT1 testers, stationary decoders) that are connected to the LocoNet. The greater the number of devices connected to the LocoNet that are operating, the greater the chances of voltage drop. Telco jacks do not drop the voltage.

    For you technical gurus, when the voltage on the white and blue wires (Pins 1 & 6) drops below a threshold voltage of 7 volts, problems will start. On a home layout, unless you've got some devices that really draw on the power (like that LT1 tester), you will never drop below that threshold voltage. You can stretch that LocoNet out as far as 1,000' before you will start to experience voltage drop. For more details, refer to this page on my website.

    Unless the UP5 panel is connected to a wallwart or is connected to the rails, the LED on the UP5 panel will drop voltage. If you are using UP5 (or UP3) panels, make sure you connect them to either a wallwart or to the rails.

    Reversing the Pins (ie - inside the cable connecting white (Pin 1) to blue (Pin 6), black (Pin2) to yellow (Pin 5), red (Pin 3) to green (Pin 4)) does not affect the operation of your LocoNet. There is redundancy in the Digitrax system (as in all well-engineered systems) in that Pins 1 & 6, Pins 2 & 5, Pins 3 & 4 all have the same function.

    Therefore, you can use telco-style equipment on your Digitrax system. The only piece of telco equipment that reverses the pins/ colours from one end of the device to the other is the "female-female gender bender".
    However, not withstanding that reversing the pins doesn't impact the operation of your LocoNet, you should always wire the LocoNet so that the colour codes of the wires in the cables match - in case you have to trouble-shoot some problems. It also looks neater.

    Where you may encounter some problems in reversing colours is with DCC signalling systems. I'm not familiar with these systems but I've heard they use all six wires for transponding signals from the loco to the signal detection unit. However, I could be mistaken on this one.

    Have fun. (I am!)

    Bob M.
  10. NYNH&H

    NYNH&H Member


    The length of the cable has SOMETHING to do with the drop in voltage, although within the limitations of the length of Loconet, it shouldn't be enough to do anything. The Abovementioned modular group has like 6 throttles, and they had BAD voltage drop. They were not, however, using Digitrax- recommended UP5's with power.

    PINS 1 AND 6 ARE NOT THE SAME. They are the opposite phases of the DCC track power, just at a much lower amperage. For a small system like the one discussed, they can be used intercahngeably, as they are just used for power, but for a system with a booster, one is rail A, and other rail B.
  11. railwaybob

    railwaybob Member

    Sorry to disagree with you MYNH&H. For what Steve is planning to do, he should have no appreciable drop in voltage. It's only after you get out for any length on the LocoNet that you will experience any drop in voltage (usually after about 1,000 feet of telephone cable). Your main source of voltage drop on the LocoNet is with the throttles that are connected to the LocoNet.

    If you cruise the files of the Digitrax@YahooGroups discussion forum from abut 2 years ago, you will find e-mails about voltage drop. I was the originator of those questions. Our club, Ottawa Valley HOTRAK, was having problems with the LocoNet. A scope told us that we had large drops in voltage as we plugged in more throttles. Why were we getting this drop in voltage? We thought that the battery in the throttle would power the throttle. All anyone could say about our problem of voltage drop on the LocoNet was to outchange our telco jacks for UP3/5 panels. Nobody could give me an answer as to why we should do this. So, with the help of some people such as Rex Beistle down in Colorado, we undertook some experiments.

    From the various throttle types, here's the power that's sucked up
    Throttle Type Volts milliamps
    UT1 15.5 0.25
    DT100 15.5 0.25
    DT300 10 13.95
    DT400 10 13.95

    This is without any load to the throttle (ie sending and receiving signals). As we added more throttles to the LocoNet (again with no load), the voltage kept dropping. We added a couple of LT1 testers - you should have seen the voltage drop!

    Contrary to popular opinion, the 9 volt battery in the throttle does not provide power to the throttle. It only serves to keep the display lit and the inards going from the time you unplug the throttle to the time you plug it back in. If you have an IR or radio throttle, it powers the IR or radio. If you don't have a battery in the throttle, no harm is done. In fact, you can save some weight and discard the battery - unless you like to look at your throttle display when you are unplugged. A battery in a throttle has nothing to do with powering the throttle. If you don't believe me, read your DT100, DT300, DT400, UT1, UT2, UT4 manuals and find a sentence which very clearly says that the battery powers the throttle for receiving and sending LocoNet signals. You won't find such a sentence.

    While technically, Pins 1 & 6 are not the same, they do serve the same function. In fact, when you are doing any testing with a ohm meter, you can tie the wires for Pins 1 & 6 together. They provide power to the throttles or any other devices that are connected to the LocoNet. There is one exception. Pins 1 & 6 should provide the signals to any boosters attached to the DCC system. If you provide the signals to a booster from Pins 3 & 4, the booster will fight with the command station for control of the network.

    For anyone who has a home layout, they don't have to worry about voltage drop on the LocoNet if they only plug in a few throttles (usually anything less than a dozen or so throttles). If they do have voltage drop so that the DCC system no longer functions properly, they should look at the load they have placed on the LocoNet, the power supply to the command station, or their wiring. The load would also include any LEDs they have connected to the LocoNet.

    Now, to the question of why the UP5 panel is recommended. Try to find why they recommend UP5 panels over telco jacks. When you find the answer you will find the weakness in the Digitrax system.

    As more throttles (devices) are added to the LocoNet, the more the voltage in Pins 1 & 6 drops. As you approach the threshold voltage of 7 volts on Pins 1 & 6, the throttle starts to send and receive weak signals. This can result in garbled instructions being sent to the command station and out onto the tracks resulting in runaway trains particularly if you have the CVs set in your locomotive decoders for analog enabled.

    So, you need to pull up the voltage. One way to do this is to unplug some throttles. Another way to do this is to use the UP5 panel. Another way is to feed Pins 1 & 6 out on the LocoNet with voltage from a 12.5 volt regulated power supply. If you have to use UP5 panels or regulated power supplies on your home layout, then you should trade in your DCC system.

    Now, why do they recommend using the UP5 panels? Simply because the Digitrax DCC system doesn't put out enough power on Pins 1 & 6 to power the throttles. So, how does the UP5 panel solve the problem? We have to look at the sequence by which the throttle receives its power. The throttle receives its power in the following order

    When plugged into a UP3/5 Panel
    From the UP3/5 panel if the UP3/5 panel is connected to a wallwart
    From the UP3/5 panel if the UP3/5 panel is connected to the track power
    From Pins 1 & 6 if the UP3/5 panel is not connected to a wallwart or to track power

    When plugged into an RJ12 telco jack
    From Pins 1 & 6 unless Pins 1 & 6 in the telco jack

    If your UP3/5 panel isn't connected to a wallwart or track power, it is only an expensive telco jack.

    However, if you are using DCC on a home layout, you will probably never have to worry about all of this.

    Hope this has added to your knowledge of Digitrax DCC.

    Have fun. (I am!)

    Bob M.
  12. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    What is the rest of this sentence? Unless what?


  13. NYNH&H

    NYNH&H Member


    I said that Loconet voltage drop due to length of cable shouldn't be an issue in most setups, but that it does exist, and it could also be measured with precise measuring equipment on any setup.

    The booster can't use 3 and 4 for the railsync, as they are loconet, and a booster needs railsync, not loconet. In fact, the booster may not understand loconet, if it is an NCE or other brand booster.

    The club mentioned above had about six throttles, and they were killing their loconet, but they were using a Zephyr, which might have been putting out less voltage/ amperage.

    Trade in your DCC system??? That's nuts. Just adding power will fix the issue, no need to go to a Super Chief for this issue alone, and if you have a Super Chief, there is nothing to trade up to.

    The UP5 is more than just an expensive telco panel. It is easier to mount, has two jacks, says Digitrax on it, and is MUCH easier to wire (plug and go).

    I plan to have a ton of fun when I get my Zephyr/ UR91/ DT400R/ DT400R system!!!!!

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