Fixing problems on your Digital Command Control system does not have to be hard if you know efficient ways to troubleshoot. It can be a great inconvenience if you discover an issue after building out an entire layout. In this video, Steve Barkley emphasizes the importance of testing out small portions of your layout’s DCC system before building out entire sections. Barkley gives tips and tricks on how to keep your DCC system in top operating shape.
Some pre-check and testing that Barkley recommends on DCC systems includes reading the manual to insure your setup is installed to the manufacturer’s specifications. Manuals and manufacturer sites also have sections on troubleshooting. After installing any part of your layout, it is important to test it every step of the way. This will ensure that you do not build out a whole section only to find it is not functioning properly. If an error is found, think back to the last section you worked on, and you will know that is were it went wrong.
Some common problems that Barkley finds in his layouts include loose or dirty connections, or a dirty track. Check to see if connections have come loose or developed a defective cable or panel. Make sure to clean your train wheels by running the train over a paper towel soaked with cleaning solution. Another common problem is short circuiting. Check if any trains have derailed or trips an open switch. They may have defaulted to its factory default. Never forget that a fresh set of batteries on your DCC system could solve a multitude of problems with your system.
Barkley states that it is important to keep a detailed notebook of all the work you have done on your system so you can look back when troubleshooting. You will be able to see how your DCC system is organized; it will be a valuable manual and asset.