Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Tuesday Tip: Test Track

I've been enjoying trying to dial-in the sound decoder on my DERS-2b using ESU's Lokprogrammer, but the 3' test track I've been using hasn't given me enough run to go through all the notches on the throttle or test momentum settings. So I decided to toss the test track and build a test loop.

Bill of Materials

  • 2" foam board - 4'x4'
  • Atlas curved snap track - 22" radius
  • Terminal joiners (or solder & wire)
  • Aleene's Tacky Glue
  • Water bottles (with water)
I debated for a while building an 18" radius loop - it'd take up a smaller footprint (38" square, rather than 4" square) - but the minimum radius on my layout is 24" and I figured anything that could make it around 22" radius (including certain passenger cars) would do fine on my layout. 18" radius would be overkill.

Though I could certainly have cut it myself, I had the store rip cut a 4x8 sheet of 2" foam into two 4x4' sections. Made it easier to transport home too. Then I painted it on both sides with brown flat latex paint. That seals the foam, and makes it look nicer.

Next, I put together the Atlas track sections (note that it takes 16 sections to make a circle, so you'll need 3 packages of 6 to make your circle, and you'll have two sections leftover), traced the outline, removed it, and put down a bead of glue.

After spreading the glue with an old business card, I reassembled the track - including two terminal joiners I had on-hand (you could just as easily solder feeders to the track) - and weighed it down with the waterbottles while it dried.

Voila! A nice - albeit a bit large - test loop. You can see here that I've connected the Lokprogrammer to my laptop and to the track. Now I can program the decoder and make changes without having to worry about the engine flying running off the end of the track.

What's your DCC testing/programming setup look like? Let me know if you have any additional tips or suggestions you've found especially helpful.

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