Problems with my Digitrax Zephyr

I purchased a new Zephyr today and hooked it up, but I'm having problems getting things to work. 1st of all I had an Atlas Commander
before and everything was working except I couldn't program my engines. I assumed the contgroller went bad and wanting to go to digitrax anyhow I bought a new Zephyr.
Everything looked like it was working, but none of my engines would move on the track. I got out a new engine that I have never run and assuming it was using address 03, I set the Zephyr to 03 and it ran ok.
So that tells me my other engines somehow don't have an address the Zephyr can read.
I have put all of my engines on the programming track (one at a time) and the Zephyr can't seem to read any of the decoders. I get the error d nA, which means no acnowledgement from the decoder. The Zephyr can't even read the new engine I actually got to run.
I checked the connections to the Zephyr, using an ohm tester determined the wires to the programming track are ok, resoldered the wires to the track and still nothing can be read.
Has anybody else had this problem, or have any idea on what else I can check. As you know the programming track is a pretty simple setup, a piece of track with the two programming wires connected to the track.
Is it possible the Zephyr can't read all of my engines? These aren't old engines and I was able to set them all with my old Atlas at one time.
Thanks for any ideas. Mike
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The Z has separate terminals for the programming track. Make sure that you connected it properly. I use a DPDT switch with the center terminals to the track, and each pair on the ends to the Z's track and programming terminals.

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wrote:

The wires are connected to the correct terminals. I have checked several times. When the Z is trying to read I can hear the sound change at the engine so there must be some contact, but as I stated after a few seconds the error message comes up. I was told at the hobby store that they haven't run into any engines that they couldn't program so it must be fairly straight forward.
My programming track is seperate from the main track. I followed the z instructions on how to read the engine, but maybe I'm missing something like, should the power to the main track be off, or something like that?
I can't believe it's this difficult.
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It's possible you have a defective Z. I think a call to Digitrax might be in order on Monday.

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It isn't that difficult, normally. But remember that there is a learning curve here, and you are on the steepest part. I forgot to ask, but are you in "PAGE" mode when reading and programming decoders? If you are and it still doesn't work, try programming in the mainline in "OPS" mode provided your locos responds to a working address. You said you have a new loco that was still on 03 and it worked? If PAGE mode doesn't work on it, try selecting the loco on the mainline as 03, then go into OPS mode and try to program it there. OPS mode programming uses the track power to program, so you shouldn't have any problems. Good Luck. BTW, you may also want to try the Digitrax Yahoo! group. It is very active, and full of people who have been very helpful to me and my club in the past.
Paul A. Cutler III ************* What have you done to save r.m.r today? *************
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mike wrote:

Are you going to PROGRAM mode? It sometimes helps to turn track power off. What decoders are in the engines? What programing mode are you using?
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I doubt if it's the Zephyr, but it's a completely different animal than the Atlas Commander.
If you're trying to program in "OPS" mode, there is no read back. Try using "PAGE" mode.
I also highly recommend Loy Spurlock's new book, "Mastering the Digitrax Zephyr", ISBN 0-9788976-0-9, publisher Madison Mountain. It's available directly from Loy's Toys at:
http://www.loystoys.com/madison-mountain/mastering-zephyr.html#to p
I have no financial connection whatever with Loy's Toys or Madison Mountain publishing, I just believe this is an excellent book for someone starting out with a Zephyr. It does a lot more than most people think it does.
Len
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Hi had a similar experience with a new Empire Builder until a friend discovered that I had not turned on Track Power. A simple fix, but I hadn't realized that I had overlooked a basic part of the setup.
Carter

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mike wrote:

Don't feel too bad.
I just finished creating a small layout that is set up with the Lenz LH100 and LSV100 system. It works okay for controlling stuff out of the box, but I am batting zero at being able to program any of my three DCC locos. I have two Athearn Genesis locos that it can't talk to - that's ERR 98 and a Broadway Limited consist that kicks back ERR 01.
I have contacted Lenz and, to their credit, they responded immediately and offered work-arounds - I haven't tried those yet, but it's a f***ing joke that I paid hundreds of dollars for these locos and the Lenz system and now I have to "trick" them into being programmed or add resistors to my wiring. This is what I call Mickey Mouse and it's going to kill this approach if these idiots can't get on the same page. This is, after all, supposed to be a hobby... not another job full of problem solving opportunities.
I'm about ready to go back to DC and throw this DCC system up on e-Bay.

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I can see part of your problem right there: Athearn Genesis sound decoders. These pieces of junk are made by MRC, and Horizon Hobby (Athearn's owner) chose them because they are the cheapest of the lot (not a high endorsement). Athearn employees know darn well what this is costing them (and no, that's not just talk...I do know a couple guys), but Horizon (who wouldn't recognize a train unless it ran over them) is dead set on getting by with the minimal approach to DCC sound. So you get junky MRC decoders. Ick. I personally have tried to program a dozen or so MRC sound decoders, and I've only ever gotten one to work right. Most people in my club are either buying soundless Athearn's and adding LokSound or ripping out the MRC crap and replacing it with a Soundtraxx Tsunami. What I would suggest with the BLI is if it won't program on the programming track, to program it in OPS mode with verbal feedback enabled (which is a factory default). If it's 03 still, program it on the mainline, and it should talk to you and say what has changed, as in, "Cee Vee Two Nine Equals Three Four."

You could also try Tony's Power Pax programming track booster (www.tonystrains.com). It boosts the power to the programming track for sound decoders and the like. As far as solving problems, that goes with any hobby. If you take up model railoading and expect everything to work 100% all the time, you are bound for Disappointment with a stop over in Frustration via the "I can't friggin' believe this!" Route. :-)

Lenz is a good system (and that's coming from a Digtrax owner). I don't think it's the system causing your concerns, but the decoders in the locos that have issues (and that happens...nothing's perfect). I would try to program normal decoders and see if that works before chucking it all. I have found that once I got things rolling, I was more willing to overlook the inevitable problems that crop up (remember that DCC is 1980's technology).
Paul A. Cutler III ************* What have you done to save r.m.r today? *************
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Thanks everybody. I managed to get it working yesterday and I don't really know why. I took it back to the store and they showed me it did work and when I got home and hooked it up again, it started to work. I don't care why, as long as it's working
I'm going to find the book mentioned above. Thanks.
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Congratulations. I hope you end up enjoying it. I also hope you also bought the DT400 throttle to go with it. I find that I hardly ever use the Z's console for programming or much of anything (other than running my yard switcher) now that I have a DT400. The DT400's multiline LCD display makes it easier to program than the Z's LED screen.

So far so good. But you have to tell us what the make and model of your decoders are. Are they Atlas Master Decoders (and therefore are Lenz)? Or are they NCE? Digitrax? TCS? Other Lenz types?

All decoders should be able to be used on any DCC system, especially addresses. If you programmed your locos with your Atlas Commander (and they worked), the Z should also be able to run them as is. Hmm... How about consists? Did you have any of these locos that don't run in MU consists from your Atlas Commander? The Z won't be able to run them until they are broken out from their MU. See, Digitrax uses "Universal" consisting with the MU info kept in the command station while Atlas/Lenz uses a different kind that keeps that info on the decoder. IOW, if you took your A-B-B-A set of F-units from your home Digitrax layout and tried to use them on another DCC system (Digtrax, Lenz, whoever), you'd have to MU them again because they are only MU'd on your home Digitrax system. But if you were to MU your A-B-B-A set on a Lenz system and took them to any other DCC system, they would continue to be MU'd to that same address. So if your old locos were MU'd on the Atlas Commander, they would not operate singly on the Z without the MU address or until the MU is broken or the decoder is reset and reprogrammed.

Again, what kind of decoders? The Z had a known problem in programming Atlas/Lenz decoders that could be solved with Tony's Power Pax programming track booster or with a resistor put across the programming track leads (just don't ask me the size of that resistor...a search of the archives on the Atlas Forum should turn up a result or two). The Z sometimes doesn't have enough power on the programming track to program Lenz and some sound decoders. The resistor apparently tricks it into adding more power, and the Tony's Power Pax has all the power you need. Also, when you have the Z turned on with the track power on, turn off the track power with the Z's Power button and watch the LED display. It should say either "Po10" or "Po11" (this is the software version of the Z). "Po10" is what you want, "Po11" is, believe it or not, the older version.

One other trick. Are you sure that CV29 is set correctly on all these locos? I know the Atlas Commander only had 2 digits, but the Z can do 4 digit decoder addresses. If you've tried to program these to a 4-digit address (anything above No. 128), you must also change CV29 to make the decoder use the new 4-digit address. For example, if you have a factory decoder, the address is 03 and CV29 (IIRC). If you change the address to 2029, you must also change CV29 to a value of 38. If you change the address to a 4-digit number without changing CV29, your loco will only operate under the old 2-digit address.
Paul A. Cutler III ************* What have you done to save r.m.r today? *************
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