KB270: Broadway Limited Locomotive Shuts Down Zephyr

This article was last updated on May 10, 2012, 4:03 p.m. | Print Article | Leave Feedback

I have a Broadway Limited Import diesel locomotive equipped with factory DCC and Sound.

Every time I turn on my Digitrax Zephyr DCS50 the engine starts to short out.

It begins to slow down and then jerks a little and sometimes it stops completely.

My Zephyr shows a line of flickering zeros across the dial and the engine decoder number even flickers on and off at times.

I have checked all terminal connections and for foreign matter on the track but have not had any success in solving the problem.

I have taken all cars off the track to make sure there was no metal tracks or metal wheels shorting it out.

I can run three DCC engines without sound on the same track at the same time and everything works as it should.

The Zephyr does not flicker at all.

I have a 6 1/2 X 12ft layout.

I have several feeders hooked to the track about 4 feet apart.

Do you have any suggestion as to what is wrong?


From what you've said, we don't see that you're doing anything wrong; you're doing everything right.

In this particular case, it appears that the BLI locomotive is drawing more current than the Zephyr can supply.
The “flickering zeros” are an indication that the Zephyr has shut down because of excess power consumption.

Dividing your railroad up into power districts and adding boosters with their own power supply may help.

Part of the problem has been that the BLI locomotives initially draw a great deal of current; this is especially true with their earlier locomotives.

Later locomotives have partially solved this problem by changes in their design and changing to smaller capacitors in the locomotive.

One of our editorial team has a PRR T-1, which does cause Zephyr to shut down, resulting in the "flickering zeros".

It is our understanding that there is a chip replacement for this locomotive, and others, which helps deal with the power consumption issues of these locomotives.

We contacted BLI and were advised that the replacement is available from a designated vendor of the sound unit’s manufacturer, QSi.

There also is an experimental work-around being applied by some modelers that uses an automotive light bulb to help buffer the initial inrush current, but we have not tested this extensively.

We would be remiss if we did not point our that our DH165 series Plug ‘N Play Decoders with SoundBug Socket were designed to address the high current consumption issues of sound decoders.

There are four different DH165-series DCC decoders for locos by Atlas, Athearn, Intermountain, Life Like and others that were originally factory equipped with QSI Sound 1.0 Amp, 6 Functions.

The SFX004 SoundBug plugs into these decoders; it comes with generic diesel and steam locomotive sounds, and can also be customized with your own sounds.

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