Free-moN: At Home & On The Road

MC Fujiwara Dec 3, 2012

  1. MC Fujiwara

    MC Fujiwara TrainBoard Member

    When I touch the multimeter to the orange and grey solder points on the decoder itself it shows current between them.
    Is that normal?
  2. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    If they are still connected to the motor, yes. You have a circuit completed through it (albeit high resistance)
  3. nscalerone

    nscalerone TrainBoard Member

    That whole "cannot read CV's" thing *can* sometimes be dirty track or wheels. I had a couple locos do that, cleaned things up a bit, and back to normal. (They were previously programmed).
  4. madleech

    madleech TrainBoard Member

    Hi MC, there are a few troubleshooting steps you can try with a troublesome loco. The first is to see if you have connection from the wheels to all the frame connection solder pads on the decoder. You could go as far as put the train on some track, touch one end of your meter to a rail and the other to the copper frame contacts on each board on the appropriate sides. If there is no connection between the frame and the boards, sometimes it is because the frame lugs are too wide for the board; a simple solution for that is to put a wee dab of solder on each pad and push it back in. The solder is softer than the steel and will squish down to make a good tight fit.

    Next check that there isn't a dead short between both frames, although from what you're written this seems unlikely.

    The next test is to see whether the headlights come on or not when you put it on track power. Depending on the decode they may briefly light up, or one may light up and stay on. Or nothing; depends on the decoder. Related, try putting it on the track and selecting loco #3 on your DCC remote. First test here is to turn the headlight on. If it lights up then your decoder is responding at least in part. Second try changing the loco direction; the other headlight should come on. Finally, try driving the loco on address #3. If nothing happens then it's likely a problem with the motor wiring.

    The reasons why you might get a "could not read CV" error are many, but basically boils down the remote having sent a query, and not getting a response back. The first reason may be that the loco never heard the query, which indicates a problem between the track and the board, or a mis-wired board. If they're ok and the board is hearing the query, it needs to respond. It does this by driving the motor which creates a momentary spike in power consumption that the DCC command station then detects. So if the motor is miswired or not connected correctly, then the command station will be unable to "hear" the reply from the decoder.

    Hope that helps track down the problems.
  5. MC Fujiwara

    MC Fujiwara TrainBoard Member

    Thanks for all the help: I'll fiddle around with it some more and report back.

    We had a great time running trains yesterday at the Great Train Expo at the Craneway Pavilion at the Richmond Marina (part of the old Ford plant), and then watching the Richmond Pacific switcher shunt some cars around the waterfont right outside.

    Here's a teaser trailer:


    The building is full of great light and great layouts, from scales Z to O, so come on down today and check it out (hey, free parking!).
    Hope to see you there!

    Today will be filming day, so later I'll post photos and video of the whole layout, including our newest module: Nils' 8'+ "Bridge O' Wonder"!!
  6. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    The JACALAR on SV Free-moN

    Had a great time running on the layout out the Richmond show, yesterday. Here are a few of the photos I took

    My new WP Feather River Route box cars, running through the country side


    SP A-B-A Black Widows pulling a mixed SP / WP freight run through the S-Curve

    The City of LA crossing the new Bridge O' Wonder


  7. WPZephyrFan

    WPZephyrFan TrainBoard Member

    I LOVE that movie! Mel Brooks is awesome. "I'll throw, what we call in german, "Da Svitch"! Thanks for a good laugh!
  8. WPZephyrFan

    WPZephyrFan TrainBoard Member

    I should add that I wish you guys weren't at the other end of the bay. If my work hours were normal, I'd love to join a club of some sort. You guys are doing some really nice work.
  9. Nick Lorusso

    Nick Lorusso TrainBoard Member

    Rick I agree had a blast running and catching up with every one yesterday. Now need to get off of me rear and build!!! Also change the wheels out on my cab forward.
  10. MC Fujiwara

    MC Fujiwara TrainBoard Member


    Well, we're not really a club.
    More like a loose group.
    We chat on our Silicon Valley Free-moN Google Group and sort of slouch our way towards shows.
    Probably meet in person every 2-3 months for a show or a "work party".
    Most the guys are in San Jose, but Scott's in Half Moon Bay and I'm in Walnut Creek, so we're spread out pretty well over the SF Bay Area.
    But seems to work alright so far: no dues, no politics, no problems (so far, knock on 3/4" birtch ply endplate)

    Build a module and join in!

    So, without further ado, here it is, in all 10 minutes of it's 1080p glory: the Silicon Valley Free-moN layout at the Richmond, CA Great Train Expo, January 12 & 13, 2013.


    Can't wait for Nils to finish his 8'+ "Bridge O' Wonder" module!
    Even after couple months' work it's very nice & dramatic [​IMG]

    We had only about 1/2 our members and modules, so if you come to the World's Greatest Hobby show in San Mateo, CA March 2 & 3, 2013 you should see SVFMN in all of it's full-length glory [​IMG]

    Thanks to Rick, Nick & Spuds for coming down and running trains!
    Thanks to you all for looking.
  11. greatdrivermiles

    greatdrivermiles TrainBoard Member

    Anyone in the Puget sound doing this?
  12. MC Fujiwara

    MC Fujiwara TrainBoard Member

  13. NCDaveD

    NCDaveD TrainBoard Supporter

    Thanks for the Show!

    M.C., thank you so much for making the video so that we could enjoy the fruits of everyone's labor. Wonderfully crafted modules by incredibly skilled modelers. That bridge module is already looking great and will be one for the magazines for sure when finished. The only thing is it sure made me nervous watching that train go over that high elevation. All I could visualize were small kids bumping the module with the resulting tragic consequences (insert Homer Simpson video of him choking Bart).

    Seeing all those great models has inspired me to get out of my chair and back to my modeling station. While my skill level isn't up to par yet, I can certainly keep practicing :).

  14. MC Fujiwara

    MC Fujiwara TrainBoard Member

    Only one car fell off the bridge, and it's was Nils' (the guy who built the module) when he stringlined a long train of short hoppers.

    Thought I'd throw in a shot someone (Steve?) took from the overhead crane walkway at Craneway Pavilion (it was part of the old Ford plant) showing our "whole" layout:


    Like I said, 1/2 our members and modules didn't make it to this show, so the layout will probably be twice the size for WGH in March!
  15. Bendtracker1

    Bendtracker1 TrainBoard Supporter

    Very nice MC!

    It again reminds me of our Bend Track setups.
    With the Free-moN modules each being narrow to start with and then set up in a folded shape, how stable is the over all setup?
  16. alexkmmll

    alexkmmll TrainBoard Member

    I wish more groups were doing Free-moN, honestly. It looks so much better than that three mainline crap..

    I haven't found any groups doing it up here in WI. I'm considering trying to get a group of guys together and see if it grows from there. Small beginnings, right?

  17. MC Fujiwara

    MC Fujiwara TrainBoard Member

    Allen: an individual module is pretty wobbly, but a few put together with some curves is pretty stable.
    Of course, if you bump one module, the earthquake ripples down through them all, but hey, we're Californians, and earthquakes are part of life :)

    Silicon Valley Free-moN began with a couple of guys from an HO club who wanted to run some N stuff.
    When I joined at the beginning of last year (Feb., 2012) it was about 4 guys.
    Now we're 10-14 guys (of varying "dedication) and a bunch of modules.
    For WGH in March we should have well over 300' of mainline over 20+ modules and small curved sections.
    All it takes is 1-2 dudes with the energy to start and the love to run trains.
    No politics.
    Free-moN is not about politics.
    We're not even a club.
    No dues, no nothing (it's actually pretty amazing we get our sh!t together enough to make shows!)

    You can also join the Free-moN Yahoo Group which is the de-facto national message board and find out who's in your area.
    I know there's a large Free-moN group in Milwaukee (or maybe Minnesota, I get everything East of the Sierra Nevada mixed up :) )

    And yes, it does look better than the 3-mainline stuff.
    But different strokes for different folks.
    Now back to my Free-moN stroking :)
  18. dottney

    dottney TrainBoard Member

    I must have been under a rock or something to have only just discovered this thread and your Free-moN group. I have to say I've been blown away by this modular layout. The consistency between modules is great. The videos are wonderful and I get a real charge out of the change in music when the big bridge appears. I'll be watching this thread for additions.
    Thanks for posting all the info,
  19. MC Fujiwara

    MC Fujiwara TrainBoard Member

    After a show I have little desire to work on the modules more, so I've decided to finally get around to building the 6-7 kits of turn-of-the-century and pre-1900 cars I've had stashed in my drawers (that's cabinets, lads).
    In typical O. Henry fashion, I've already thrown away my turn-of-the-century Mt. Coffin & Columbia River layout ["D'oh!"].
    No problem, my boxcab or Climax can tootle around with them on the Free-moN layout next to the big diesels.

    Almost done with the first two: a Mark Watson / CG N Scale Ventilated Boxcar and a Fine-N-Scale 36' boxcar lettered for the now-departed Mt. Coffin Cannery Co.


    The boxcar was the first time I made (& applied [​IMG]) my own decals, make on an inkjet.
    The first couple were not so pretty, as I dunked 'em before sliding them off so the ink ran.
    But dabbing the back of the paper it worked out.
    Just wondering how to get rid of the decal "border" which I thought weathering would blend in (oops).
    More micro sol?
    That clear "frame" around the decals kind bugs.


    The ventilated boxcar is a very cool kit from Mark W (I think here's around here sometimes)
    Lots o' good details abound:


    I scratched a wood load around some lead weights as the car is verrrrry light.

    On both cars are trucks from Panamint (Eric Cox).
    Ventilated box has the "Allen" / California archbars (
    And the Mt. Coffin Cannery Co. has the wooden beam trucks.
    Both work well (though fragile!) and maybe metal wheels will help.

    Got a couple more ventilated boxcars, a flat with two-stagecoach load, a flat with a steam donkey load, and a couple of RLW early boxcars in the pipeline.
    Now if that Atlas 4-4-0 ever shows up... [​IMG]

    Groovy weekend, all.
  20. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    I wonder if you could connect with anyone, by checking at the UNW show in a couple of weeks?

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