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Connecting the N8043 Universal Strobe Simulator
Installing the N8043 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.
If the N8043 is to be used in a stationary (not track powered) application, it can also be powered by any well-filtered and regulated DC power source with an output of 6-18VDC.
Included with the module are three 6” lengths of #32 insulated wire. If necessary, these can be used for power input and function control wires.
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. 2). This will ensure full voltage is supplied to the module.
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 N8043 module and connect the appropriate function wire to solder point #2. For example: If you want F1 to turn on the Strobe lights, 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 N8043 will control the special effects.
Direct Track powering (without a decoder connection)
All of our Simulators require a clean DC voltage of known polarity for their power source. Track power is typically provided in one of two forms. DC voltage (analog), or DCC.
Analog track power has been around for more than 75 years. Simply put, a DC voltage is applied to the two tracks with one being +DC and the other, -DC. Increase the voltage and the electric motor in the locomotive spins faster making the train go faster. If the train is required to reverse, track polarity is reversed so the loco's motor turns in reverse. Also, what defines "forward and reverse" is dependent on which way the loco is facing when it's put on the track. Bottom line here is that track polarity is not fixed. Our Simulator needs fixed polarity.
DCC track power is such that to devices requiring plain DC voltage, it looks like AC power. That is because voltage levels on each track go both + and – continuously. The DCC decoders in locomotives “descramble” the track signals and provide correct polarity so their motors can function normally. It is this process that will allow multiple locomotives to go in different directions on the same section of track, at the same time (a feature not available with analog track power). Once again, our Simulator needs fixed polarity and it needs to look like DC voltage.
Due to our Simulator's very small size, there is insufficient space to include additional circuitry and components necessary for proper power conditioning when direct track pickup is to be used. There are two solutions to this problem and both are inexpensive:
When connecting the LEDs, proper polarity must be observed. LEDs are “polarity sensitive” and will not function if connected backwards. The N8043 is configured to allow the connection of up to three (3) 20 ma LEDs. Since most strobe lights are white in color, this simulator's on-board resistor (the resistor for the LED to be connected between solder points 3 & 4), is to provide current protection for a white LED with a device voltage of 3.3-3.6 VDC. This covers Ngineering’s 2x3, Micro and Nano white LEDs, as well as many white LEDs available.
Using wire appropriate for the size of the LED and its placement in the locomotive, connect the LED cathode (the – connection) to point #3 on the module and connect the LED anode (the +) to solder point #4. Again, this LEDs will use the on-board current limiting resistor so it can be wired directly.
The N8043 is configured to support two (2) additional LEDs for a total of three (3). Each additional LED must be wired with an external resistor in series to limit the current flow through the LED. Included with this module are several 1/8-watt surface-mount resistors. There are two 81Ω resistors (plus a spare) if the additional LEDs are to be white in color, and one 150Ω resistor (plus a spare) for a red or yellow LED (some strobes are red or amber). These resistors are tiny for easy placement and have pre-tinned tabs so soldering is easy. The second LED’s cathode is to be wired to solder point 5 on the module. The resistor should be wired in series between this LED’s anode and point 6. The third LED's cathode is to be wired to solder point 7 on the module. The resistor should be wired in series between this LED’s anode and point 6. See Fig. 5 below for a complete overview of wiring.
The N8043 will control strobe effects for 3 LEDs. With the input pin (solder point 8) left disconnected, output pins 3, 5 & 7 all flash together simultaneously at a rate of once/second. When the input pin is grounded (DC-), LEDs connected to outputs 3 & 5 continue to strobe together at once/second, but output 7 strobes alternately with 3 & 5. The alternating rate is once every 1/2 second (output 7 pulses in between the pulses of 3 & 5). This feature allows various combinations of strobe effects, depending on number of LEDs, LED color and input grounding. Please see Examples of use for applications and more detail.
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).
Solder point 8 on the simulator module is for connection of the (optional) input control wire. This additional control can be connected to either a momentary throttle function such as F2, or any on/off decoder function (F1, F3, F4, etc.). This simulator can handle either type of control input. If an on/off function is selected for hookup, be sure the decoder has any special effects turned off for that function. The simulator module will take care of the effects.
For non-decoder installations or for analog operation, solder point 8 can be connected to any switch (momentary pushbutton or magnetic reed switch) which is tied to -DC (ground).
This completes hookup of our N8043 Universal Strobe module. We hope the added realism it provides enhances your enjoyment of the hobby.
© 2008 Ngineering