Model:160

n-scale model railroading
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 24, 2011 3:42 pm 
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Joined: Wed Aug 11, 2010 3:03 pm
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Bill Denton shares his methods for adding MARS lights to DCC equipped motive power.

FULL STORY...

Image

Who else has installed MARS lights in their N scale locomotives?

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Mike Skibbe
Model:160


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 27, 2011 12:00 am 
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Nice work Bill,

I did Mars on my one of my V-Line shell Erie Builts.
Both the headlight and Mars are micro golden white LEDs glued directly to the inside of the shell and wired to a TCS M1 2 function decoder. A drop of Micro Crystal Clear makes for a nice "lens" in the openings.
F0 turns the headlight on/off and F1 turns the Mars light on/off. The headlight is programmed for directional as well as F4 pushbutton dimming. The mars light is is set up for auto operation which oscillates when the engine drops below 30% throttle and above 30% goes to solid on.

I love working with the LEDs and am definately going to do more.

Jim


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 27, 2011 2:18 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jul 09, 2011 11:42 am
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Love the tutorial!...
back 'when', living in the Austin Area, I remember Richmond controls splashing onto the miniature electronics 'scene' (one of my N scale 'mentors' does a lot of modelling with and for him...)...being based right outside of Houston, I'd always see him at the Texas' shows..I was impressed back then and still am...
I intend to jump into DCC pretty soon, while my locomotive fleet is still 'manageable'...and would love to outfit my cab units, F's and PA's with the LED 'headlight' centered in the lower housing...still not sure about the Mars light....I like the effect, though...
...I understand the Mars light was a 'safety' feature, like ditch lights are these days...how and when was the Mars light used?...in most of the period pics I have of the ATSF in the later 50's...the Mars light isn't being used in any of the capture shots...
...also...i'm going to be restricted to using Digitraxx decoders.. I'm completely sold on the new Soundtraxx 'Surroundtraxx' system for my Santa Fe door layout...not only will it give me the real 'rumble' of sound...it has 'echo' features which will really work for me...and it's eminently expandable...
however, Digitrax decoders are the only ones supported at this time...
Not knowing, yet, too much, technically, about DCC...I realize I may be asking some redundant questions...but here goes...


All of my locos are 'DCC ready'...none of the cab units are the older version that require 'milling' and such...and 'drop in' decoders, from a couple of different manufacturers, are available for my Kato F's and PA's...will the Digitraxx drop-in decoders for these units support the Mars light function, in addition to the headlight function?....and..how difficult is it to change these from 'lamp equipped' boards to LED's?

(I prefer the LED's for a few reasons...longevity and I never cared much for the effect that the bezels have on the appearance of the cab units...)

On my LL E3, I'll, obviously, have to do some soldering/wiring...no biggie....
which leads me to another question...for that very nice E5, did you use a LL shell?
Thanks,
Bruce


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2011 3:03 pm 
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Joined: Wed Aug 11, 2010 3:03 pm
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My understanding of SurroundTrax is that it utilizes the transponding feature of Digitrax. Digitrax sells a small "feature only" decoder to add transponding to cabooses that don't need power drive, or for locomotives that have the power drive covered by another decoder. So you could use any DCC decoder, you would just have to add the transponder to non-Digitrax locomotives.

And yes, most drop-ins now support the FX lighting functions. There are solder pads on the board to pick up the additional functions.

It's hard to catch a MARS light in a photo, but if you catch some vintage video you'll see the flashing lights. Jim Hinds probably has more information on the proper Santa Fe lighting but I believe they used Gyro lights instead of MARS. Instead of the rolling figure 8 pattern of a MARS, the Gyro light was more of a basic flashing light, IIRC. I know Digitrak gives you the option for both and it can be changed through simple CV changes while programming.

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Mike Skibbe
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 06, 2011 2:12 pm 
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Location: Chicagoland
Actually a gyralite is just Pyle's version of the Mars figure eight oscillation.

As far as I've been able to figure out, ATSF used both, but leaned more on the Mars. SP/DRGW was strictly a gyralite user.


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 11, 2011 10:59 pm 
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Joined: Tue Dec 06, 2011 10:49 pm
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Location: North Carolina
Amazing work...really amazing. The MARS light addition makes such an impact.


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