Thommo57
Good morning (our time anyway) I am considering purchasing an Alpha Meter and was wondering if someone could explain to me in layman's (should that be persons terms?) terms what I should be looking for in relation to the volts and amps read outs? What's good/bad etc. Thanks Geoff Shepparton Victoria Aus
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AHJAY
The actual readings will depend a little on which DCC equipment you use, but the following may give you a guide.

With nothing happening, and with the understanding that the avtual reading should relate to the input voltage to your DCC system and its settings, volts should ready between 12 and 18.5 volts.

Amps will depend on what you have on the layout and what is actually connected to the power (track) bus. Each Accessory decoder and each loco will add a little to the load even when not miving or acting.

What you are looking for is stability.

Volts: The voltage should remain close to its "nothing happening position" when trains run and should not vary much with trains moving or accessory activation. Any variance should return to normal when things stop.

Amps: Amp readings should remain pretty stable and you should be able to see the current draw change in a small way if a loco is started or an accessory activated. Keep an eye more on amps than volts as a change current draw is the first indication of something not quite right on the layout... for an example if most locos draw only 100mA and a newly addred loco draws 399mA, then that loco will need looking at.

ALSO keep an eye on the total load of all things on the layout. Electronics are like everything else - they work best and last longest at a "Usual working average" load. (Imagine how short your car motor life would be is always run at high RPM). If you approach say 2/3 of the DCC systems power limit while running nromally, then it is time to start looking to add another power district or added booster to share the load a little.

regards, Ahjay
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Thommo57
Thank you for your reply Ahjay. Here is what I am running copied form a previous forum when I was about to purchase the DCC Concepts Alpha Box Smart Booster and Alpha Power 18v 5A Power Supply (sorry copied and pasted this as well!)

"I currently have an NCE Power Cab, 3 x PSX-AR autoreverse loop modules, PECO CDU PL35, PECO side-mounted and under-mounted point motors PL11 & PL10E and an NCE SW Power Cab programming Track switch as the circuitry which all work perfectly in unison."

I now have the booster and power supply installed.

...if this is any additional help for you.....

Geoff

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Thommo57
Hi Ahjay.  Further to the above we have installed to Alpha Meter and it works fine. Just another question based on the above circuitry that we have installed, we want to ad an "extension" to the NCE Power Cab by having another plug so the same throttle can be used in two places. Can you suggest what what we can use to "piggy back" the Power Cab from one plug to another and what cables we can use. Thanks as always geoff
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AHJAY
In theory, for a simple, smallish layout, all you need is an Alpha Panel and an appropriately terminated RJ12 6-wire cable.

However its not that easy really.... You need to be aware that when moving the PowerCab forther from the power supply, all of the power used will then go via the very thin RJ12 wires to the second socket so there will be voltage drop under load. Because of this, I would strongly recommend not making the distance more than a few feet. (Less than 6 feet)

The best practice approach would be to just add a second throttle. This will also keep things live (if you move the basicpowercab, trains will stop until its plugged in again)

If you have other questions, why not ring and talk it through with Mick or John. They will give you a blow-by-blow response to any questions

regards, Ahjay
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Thommo57
Thank you for your reply Ahjay. Just a bit of a background on my set up. It is located in a bedroom will the track covering all sides of the room except of course the doorway. Now as I am in a wheelchair things have to be organised to suit my mobility. The Smart Booster and Power Supply were sitting on the bench however took up a bit of room so we decided to install them on a slide out shelf at one end of the set up which has meant that the existing cable for the hand control wasn't quite long enough to reach all around the room hence the question on an additional point to plug the controller into. The distance is well short of 6 feet and we wont to changing where the controller will be plugged into it will be other than the extension.

Given that I am in Australia the time differences make it difficult to make a call.

Again thank you for your advice.

Kind regarsd

Geoff
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AHJAY
Hi

OK - its a little different with the smart booster.

With the smart booster distributiong track power its only the cab to think about.... so its not an issue anyway. You need an Alpha Panel or NCE panel and a cable. All will work fine

regards
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