KB601: No Track Status Light - Things Aren't Working

This article was last updated on Aug. 7, 2011, 2:57 p.m. | Print Article | Leave Feedback

One of the basic problems encountered with command control systems is when things simply are not working.  Period.  Even after vigorous exhortation on your part, and perhaps even some enthusiastic train table banging, nothing is running.  At this point, it is time to gather your wits and your patience for a debugging session.  

The first step to determining how to proceed is to determine if the problem with the electronics or with the layout?  The tendency is to blame the electronics, after all it is a black box.  But don't jump to conclusions so quickly! Be patient and follow the following steps to track down the problem.  If you need help, call tech support, that's what we are here for!

1.  Look at the Track Status indicator on your Command Station/Booster.  If this indicator is not lit, then the command control signal is not getting to your layout. 

2.  Press the appropriate button to turn on track power.  Usually this is the power key on the throttle.  If the track status indicator on your command station does not come on move to step 3.

3.  Disconnect the Rail A wire from your command station/booster and again turn on the track power using your throttle

If the Track Status light on your command station comes on then, the problem is with your layout.  If this is the case further debugging is needed.   

If the Track Status light on your command station does not come on then, you need to contact tech support.  Your command station may need to have a new battery installed or it may need to come in for repairs.

4.  If the problem is with the layout, reconnect the Rail A wire to the command station and continue with layout troubleshooting.

There are literally infinite possibilities for electrical problems with layouts so, let's begin by eliminating some of the obvious things that might be causing the problem:

5.  Remove all the rolling stock from the layout.  This includes ALL locomotives and cars.  Try turning on track power again. 

If the Track Status light comes on then the problem is with one of the locomotives or cars.  Put each one back on the track until you find the one that shuts everything down.  Then work on that item to find the problem.

If the Track Status light does NOT come on then the problem is somewhere in either the track or in the wiring. 

6.  Once you have determined that the problem is with the track or wiring, it is a matter of checking to find the problem.  This can be an open circuit or a short circuit. 

Check all track gaps to be sure they have not closed up.  Often, when the weather changes, this happens because the rails expand and contract with temperature changes.From there, it becomes a matter of tracking down the source of the open or short circuit.

Check the wiring to be sure no broken connections exist.  It may be useful to try running an non DCC locomotive on DC power to find the problems.

Once you have found the problem and made the necessary repair, you will be able to turn on track power and see the track status lit on your command station.

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