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Connecting the NLA8034 & NLD8034 Ditchlight Simulators


Installing the NLA8034 is very straightforward. Its tiny size and thin construction will allow it to be placed in many spaces too small for even the smallest Z-scale decoder. Because the module has circuitry on both sides, care must be taken to be sure that the components or wires soldered will not make contact with any metal object (such as a locomotive frame) causing a short circuit.

Included with the module are three 6” lengths of #32 insulated wire. If necessary, these can be used for power input and control wires.

NLA8034 (analog) input power connections:

The NLA8034 Simulator is configured for analog (DC) operating environments. It will function normally with track voltages ranging from 3.2 to 16-volts DC. The circuit includes a Schottky barrier diode to protect the module from reverse input voltage polarity. This means when it is wired the normal "engineer's side is the +DC track side", the effect is fully operational. when running in reverse "fireman's side is the +DC track side) the effect is not in operation. For many lighting effects, this will not be a problem because they are intended for forward operation.

For those effects that need full bi-directional operation, one of our N8101 DC Power Source circuits can be added in front of the effect simulator board to eliminate DC polarity issues. The N8101 contains a very-low voltage-drop Schottky bridge rectifier which will slightly raise the startup voltage threshold of the lighting effect by about 0.2-0.4 volts. Figure 2 below below is schematic diagram of the connections required.


             All solder connections explained below

                                Figure 1


                                Figure 2


NLD8034 (DCC/RC) input power connections:

The NLD8034 Simulator is configured for DCC environments and sound decoders having 3.3-volt accessory functions It has an on-board jumper in place of the barrier diode used in the analog version. This allows them to operate fully at 3.3-volts (even slightly, below allowing for LED brightness). Since track polarity is not a factor in DCC the need for this protection is not required. Also, in an RC modeling environment, battery power is known so this is not an issue. However, since this family of Simulators doesn't have polarity protection, care must be taken during wiring to ensure polarity is correct before power is applied. Otherwise, the circuitry will be damaged. Figure 3 below shows the front side of the NLD8034 with the jumper installed and the barrier diode not installed.

                       Figure 3 


In a DCC environment, most wired decoders have a blue wire which is the common connection for all wired functions (F0, F1, etc.). It is the + DC connection and will be connected to solder point #1 as shown in Fig. 1.

If the decoder is a “drop-in” style without wires, consult the decoder manual and use the blue wire supplied to connect point #1 to the appropriate + solder pad.

If the solder pad has a resistor in series with it, be sure to connect the blue wire behind the resistor (see Fig. 4). This will ensure full voltage is supplied to the module.


                                Figure 4


Important note: A low-wattage iron with a pointed tip should be used for connection of wires. Too much heat or solder can easily damage the wires, decoder or module and void the warranty.

Also, all connecting wires should be pre-tinned before soldering them to the module. This will make connection quick and easy and ensure excessive heat is not applied to the solder points.

Next, choose the function you want to control the N8034 module and connect the appropriate function wire to solder point #2. For example: If you want F1 to turn on the Ditchlights, connect the green wire to #2.

Again, if the decoder is the drop-in style, use the enclosed green wire to connect the appropriate function solder pad to #2. Make sure the pad chosen for this connection is not a “+” pad , but a function pad (– DC connection).

Whichever function you choose, make sure it is programmed for On/Off control only. Do not program the function for special effects. The NLA/D8034 will control the special effects.


Connecting LEDs


When connecting the LED, proper polarity must be observed. LEDs are “polarity sensitive” and will not function if connected backwards. The NLA/D8034 is configured to connect to a 20 ma LED with a device voltage of 3.2-3.3 VDC. This covers all of Ngineering’s white, yellow-white and incandescent white LEDs, as well as most of the white and golden-white LEDs available.

Using wire appropriate for the size of the LED and its placement in the locomotive, connect one LED cathode (the – connection) to point 3 on the module and connect the LED anode (the +) to solder point 4.

The NLA8034 & NLD8034 are configured to support a second LED to fulfill the ditchlight function. The additional LED requires a current limiting resistor in series with the LED. Unlike our traditional Simulators, these new low-voltage modules have two on-board current limiting resistors. The second resistor can be connected either to the circuit's +DC voltage or to it's –DC (ground) by solder jumpering either of two pairs of jumper pads on the rear-side of the module. Figure 5 below show the location of the resistors and solder jumper pads.


                                         Figure 5 


 For the Simulator to function correctly as a ditchlight module, place a small blob of solder across the +DC jumper pads. This will ensure the 2nd connected LED will have voltage supplied to its anode connection.

The second LED’s cathode is to be wired to solder point 5 on the module. The LED’s anode is soldered to point 6. See Fig. 6 below for a complete overview of wiring.


                                                        Figure 6


Once again, be sure to use a low-wattage soldering iron when connecting wires to the module.

Our N40M2 12-watt Iron with either the N408I (iron clad) Needle Tip, or the N408X (bare copper) Needle Tip would be an excellent choice for this operation (or any DCC decoder work).

Ditchlight Operation

Basic operation of the ditchlights (both ditchlights either on or off) is controlled by applying power to the module’s DC inputs (points 1 & 2). Wiring for this is covered above. Included with this module is a 6” length of violet #32 wire. If necessary, this can be used to connect solder point 7 to either a DCC decoder momentary function control (such as F2) or to an external switch (slide-switch, pushbutton or magnetic reed switch) which is then connected to DC – (ground).

The microcontroller on this module has been programmed to “latch” when point 7 is momentarily grounded , turning on the alternating ditchlight effect. This effect will stay in operation until point 7 in again momentarily grounded, which will return the ditchlights to both on continuously. When grounded again, they alternate again… and so on. This latching feature allows for quick and easy throttle function control, such as when passing through multiple grade crossings or station approaches.

If automatic control is desirable, point 7 can simply be wired through a miniature reed type switch to ground, with the reed switch placed low on the underside of the locomotive so it can be triggered by magnets buried at track level. One magnet prior to the crossing to turn on alternating ditchlights, another after the crossing to turn them off.


Flicker control

Another new feature we've added to our low-voltage Simulator modules is solder-points for direct wiring of external capacitors for flicker control. These are solder points 8 and 9. When connecting external capacitance for this purpose, if multiple capacitors are used, they must be wired in parallel (all + connections together, and all – connections together). They must have a voltage rating of 16-volts or greater. The + (plus) connections are to be wired to solder point 8 and the – (minus) connections wired to point 9. For this Strobe Simulator, a capacitance value of 200 to 400uf should be sufficient.


This completes hookup and operation of our N8034 Ditchlight module. We hope the added realism it provides enhances your enjoyment of the hobby.


© 2014 Ngineering