Shield’s Up!

So, I finally installed my Power Shield (PS4) from Tony’s Trains a few weeks ago. I installed the thing the afternoon of an operating session on the BS&T. I only had time to install two zones. But it was enough to make a difference during the session.

The feature that really bugs me about using Lenz DCC is the way it handles shorts. Having to press a button to recover from a short is a pain. What usually happens is that more than one person presses the button – the first guy turns the layout back on, the second guy turns it off again. Now you wonder if the short cleared up? So everyone fiddles with their locos and the whole process starts again with a couple guys pressing buttons. You’d think we’d learn to assign an “official button presser”. Nope.

Anyway, we only had a few shorts during the next session (there’s still a few turnouts in need of repair), but we didn’t have to press any buttons. The PS4 reset automatically after the short was cleared.

I installed the other two power zones on the afternoon of the last operating session. It seems an op session provides an incentive to get something done on the layout. It’s great! Now only 1/4 of the layout is affected when a short occurs.

Both yards at Bayside and Tidewater are on separate zones, as are Stevenville/Derwin’s Drop and Chappellton/Kenville.

The next project for the PS4 is to install short indicator lights around the layout. I think this is something that can be done, but not exactly sure yet how to do it.

I know, it’ll be even better once I get the source of the shorting problems repaired. That’s a project for another day(s).


No Responses to “Shield’s Up!”

  1. Doug Whitman says:

    Being able to block the layout into many zones reduce the amount of headaches for both the owner and operators. When I was doing modular setups, I have been installing PM4(s) to reduce the problem of shorts. Now that people want sound units, it has become more important to block the layout so you can recover from a short.


  2. Scott says:

    Well, as you know I did use a PM4 on the old layout. It was a pain to have to use a Dark Side (Digitrax) throttle to set the options on the board so I sold it back to Don and used the money to buy the PowerShield. It did not require any configuration changes out of the box.

    We had way too many sound units sitting in the yard during RailFest – err… Mudfest. Most times the PowerShield would recover without a problem, but every once in a while we had to disconnect the zone to allow it to recover.


  3. Doug Whitman says:

    Yes, your “old darkside” unit came in handy at Yarfest. Should have had a three unit just to serve Cleveland.

    The days of connecting up the booster to two wires from the layout has lone gone. I have two boosters ( one in the command station and one stand alone) and two PM4s to control my home layout. As the plans for the new perment layout is finished a third PM4 maybe required. After Mudfest, I am thinking that you need two zones for a major yard, one for each ladder. And then you need another for the service area.


  4. Scott says:

    Two zones in the yard? Perhaps overkill, but I’ve learned that model railroaders tend to do that a lot! Like 10Ga. wire for the power bus and multiple boosters on a smallish layout. ;-)

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