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Upgrading Carrera 132 Digitial to Variable DC Adjustable Power

13611 Views 17 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  Slotspeed
Hi everyone,

I finally took the plunge and have bought into Carrera Digital 132. I also have a large tyco 2 lane track setup from the mid 70's (fills a ping pong table). I also have 2 x AFX Super International 4 lane sets. I have a Viasue / RMS track timing system on the way for the HO scale tracks.

I am hoping to begin a race league for the Carrera Digital setup and am thinking having a stable power supply would be a very good investment.

From what I have read I think I would like the following in a variable dc power supply:

20 Volts adjustable

10 Amps adjustable (I would use about 6 amps max when hooked to the Carrera Control Unit)

1 or 2 outputs (in case I want to run something else at the same time)

I know they offer both linear and switching supply units. When I was chatting with an agent from Mastech he indicated if my unit has any sound options I would need to go linear.

Reading on the forums I also learned the best source of a plug may getting a Carrera Evolution to digital conversion plug.

I am in Canada and was wondering if anyone knew of any Canadian sources to avoid the expensive shipping, customs, and currency exchange (our dollar is in the toilet at the moment). I would like this power supply to be used for all three track setups if possible.

Would anyone have any recommendations for me on this? I am pretty dumb when it comes to electronics unfortunately but I am hoping to learn to better my hobby enjoyment.

Thanks for your help,

Michael
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I have a vague memory that the D132 decoder boards have a Vin rating of 16v max. Or youll be blowing decoder boards. Fuse might be a good idea in case of a fault. A simple inline fuse should do. Not sure of best online retailer, maybe check monster hobbies, but Ive never bought from Canada 馃嚚馃嚘 though I wish I could visit! 馃彃 capital!
I have a vague memory that the D132 decoder boards have a Vin rating of 16v max. Or youll be blowing decoder boards. Fuse might be a good idea in case of a fault. A simple inline fuse should do. Not sure of best online retailer, maybe check monster hobbies, but Ive never bought from Canada 馃嚚馃嚘 though I wish I could visit! 馃彃 capital!
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https://www.ebay.com/itm/30V-10A-Adjustable-DC-Power-Supply-Precision-Variable-Dual-Digital-Lab-Test-110V/391321591608?epid=809536487&hash=item5b1c959f38:rk:5:pf:0

I have a version of this power supply (it may be this actual one, I am unable to check at the moment) that has these exact specifications.

Not only has it been perfect for my needs (we race 6 cars at a time, pretty much all the time) but it was fairly inexpensive, comparatively speaking.

There are better power supplies out there that cost lots more! With D132, you are limited to a max of 8a (I have my supply set to 7.5a) with no inline fuse. I see no need for anything more for my needs.

Happy Slotting!
Thanks everyone. I picked up a supply very similar to what Drewbert34 suggested. I think it was around $125 CDN with shipping and within Canada to avoid duty and taxes. Just need to get a spare plug to wire it up to the control unit and I think I will be off to the races!

I will set things to around 16V with approx 6.5 - 7 amps and hope that should get us through. I am at around 30 meters of track at this time but we will be building a variety of tracks so hopefully this setting will hold true as long as we add some power taps in a few spots.
Hi everyone - I have tried the power supply a few times now.

The instruction manual states to lower the voltage to 2 -4 volts and then short the positive and negative output leads to force the power supply into current mode instead of voltage mode. Voltage mode is what the system moves into when powered on. It will only go into current mode when their is a load drawing current on the supply.

I did this and then adjusted my current to 7 amps. I then disconnected the alligator clips releasing the short circuit and the system immediately went back to Voltage mode.

There was no way to keep the system in current mode unfortunately.

I soldered a carrera plug to two new leads testing the polarity with a voltmeter. I then turned on the power supply, adjusted it to 15.5 volts and then plugged the leads into the Control Unit. The CU registered around 1 amp or less according to the power supply display. I then setup multiple ghost cars and also three normal cars so we had eight in total on the track. The power supply went into current mode as soon as things happened on the track.

The current readout varied from 0.5 amps and once peaked around 2.6 amps. I believe that happened when there was a major pile up on a digital track switch section.

I also had 3 x double wireless charging stations, the CU, and 2 driver displays all plugged in. I did not notice a loss of power or speed with any of the cars on the track. I was worried the power supply would cause havoc as it would not remain on current mode displaying 7 amps constant. All of the cars which were on the track (up to 8)were carrera digital 132 or carrera evolution (chipped to digital 132). The test track in my living room is quite small. So the cars don't get beyond 2 or 3 speed bars on the driver display.

At any rate things seem great so far.

If anyone has any further advice on this setup I am all ears. Until then I will keep using the supply on our race days and hopefully everything will be peachy.

At any rate I am glad I have the supply as it will also help me recondition and break in motors for slot cars and RC.

Cheers,

Michael
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Hey Michael, thanks for the write-up. Im sure this info will help others in the future. I could be on the wrong track with my next question, but is the Current mode you refer to just what unit is displayed on the PSU metering or is it when the current limiting function starts working? If you cant easily answer that, dont worry, youve given us some good findings already, so thanks. I guess another bonus is that if you decide to get 1/24 cars you wont need to get another PSU.
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Slotspeed - Had to take my track down because we are having a get together to race in a few days. PSU has two displays. Voltage is on the right display. Amperage is on the left display.

First picture is when I turn on the PSU using a voltage of 2.1 without any loads.

Automotive lighting Gas Audio equipment Wood Machine


Second picture is when I shorted the output leads, adjusted current to approx 6.76 amps. Then I unhooked the shorted leads and the display went back to the first picture... I then moved the Voltage up to 15.5 which is where I will leave it. I am hoping what I have done will also keep the current maximum at 6.76 amps. But I don't know if it will.

Automotive lighting Gas Electronic signage Display device Machine


I was hoping when the cars were running on the track the Voltage would stay around 15.5 and the Current would remain static around 6.75 amps regardless of how many cars were running at once. But the current and voltage meter are in flux when the cars are racing...

I am absolutely dumb, however, when it comes to electronics. Yeah, I can solder basic things and I used to tinker with HO slots and model trains and RC cars.I did not take the time when I was a kid to learn the things my dad could have taught me. And finally, when I realized his knowledge was invaluable, and wanted to learn all I could he passed unexpectedly.

Hope this helps answer your question.

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I believe current will never be static on a slotcar track, and a draw on 6,76 amp continuos, indicates something is wrong on your track.
Thanks Gysse.

I think as long as I have the Voltage dialed in at 15.75 max and the current at 6.76 amps max (hopefully) the system should be set how I want it.

I am not sure what I need to do to place an inline fuse on the output leads to ensure the amperage doesn't go past the amount I set, however.

I really don't want to blow my CU or the PSU if something caused a short on the track.
The lab power supplies I have used in the past were fairly simple in operation. I would just select voltage and then wind current to the desired limit. I am not sure, maybe yours is different. Technically there isn't really a need for a fuse when running a supply with a known set current limit, but if in doubt, put a fuse in or do some tests with low value (but high power rated) resistors across the output to check the current limit features are behaving as expected. Have you read the manual and did it make sense?

Also, I am not sure about my previous comment on the maximum voltage for the D132 chips. My comment was based on something I remembered reading on the forums but this post on SCI https://www.slotcarillustrated.com/portal/forums/showthread.php?p=896430 tends to indicate that the standard 26732 decoder board (most D132 cars) will be fine up to 18V. Just don't try the F1 cars or decoder boards because they already have heat dissipation issues apparently. Though I don't think you'd really want to or need to run the D132 cars up to that voltage anyway.

Steve.
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We have been running a 20Amp )to 24 Volt power supply with 8 Amp quick blow fuses on our Carrera digital sysytem. Given the power limiting in the Control unit and Software, an the fact that the Carrera 1/24 cars normal voltage is 18, we normally leave it set at 18V and let the Carrera CU / Software choke speed down as needed for 1/32. It is handy, however, to twist the knob down if drivers are getting out of hand.

The main reason for the variability and excess amperage is that our track has been wired to be switchable to analog and we like to analog run kids races at 9 volts, high amperage vintage cars and 12 volts (these cars sometimes draw 8 amps each on launch) and occasionally HO at 24 volts. We use industrial power supplies modified to connect to slot car systems. My question is this: I have people that would like to buy these power supplies for their Carrera Digital sysytems. Although there is no reason for more than 18V to do so, and I can caution against that, I expect some WILL crank the voltage up to 24 Volts. Does any one know if this will kill Carrera Control units? Has any one tried it? I would rather not let he smoke out of my system to test. Besides whatever momentary test I would be anecdotal. I hoping some one has run consistently over 18 volts (maybe with a non variable supply) and survived.

Anyone?
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I have heard of several people who say that they had no issues running at 20V.

My experience and electronics awareness does not like pushing systems out of their design limits, if I was tempted, I would carefully monitor car decoder temperatures and motor temperatures until I was conifident that I wasn't approaching the limit of failure for sustained use. I don't think I would run aftermarket decoders unless I checked that they were ok at this voltage, by either looking at the voltage regulation arrangements and the voltage rating on certain components, or just asking the manufacturer what they recommend.
We have been running a 20Amp )to 24 Volt power supply with 8 Amp quick blow fuses on our Carrera digital sysytem. Given the power limiting in the Control unit and Software, an the fact that the Carrera 1/24 cars normal voltage is 18, we normally leave it set at 18V and let the Carrera CU / Software choke speed down as needed for 1/32. It is handy, however, to twist the knob down if drivers are getting out of hand.

The main reason for the variability and excess amperage is that our track has been wired to be switchable to analog and we like to analog run kids races at 9 volts, high amperage vintage cars and 12 volts (these cars sometimes draw 8 amps each on launch) and occasionally HO at 24 volts. We use industrial power supplies modified to connect to slot car systems. My question is this: I have people that would like to buy these power supplies for their Carrera Digital sysytems. Although there is no reason for more than 18V to do so, and I can caution against that, I expect some WILL crank the voltage up to 24 Volts. Does any one know if this will kill Carrera Control units? Has any one tried it? I would rather not let he smoke out of my system to test. Besides whatever momentary test I would be anecdotal. I hoping some one has run consistently over 18 volts (maybe with a non variable supply) and survived.

Anyone?
Hi Jim, great question. The CU will blow at 24-25 volts. I found out the hard way by doing some testing and accidentally leaving my PS cranked up to 25 volts. The capacitors are rated at 25V so they will blow, but they can easily be replaced. I'm sure you don't want to replace the caps so I'd limit mine at 20 volts, and advise your customers to do the same.

If your customers want to buy a power supply one of the best models is the Korad KA3500D. It's a great little power supply and can be bought for as low as $60 on the auction site. It's 0-30v and 0-5 amps, more than enough for most digital racing and you can also use it for motor break ins, tire truing, motor testing, etc. The retailer I like is SRA Soldering, they are the US distributors for the PS. You can also find models that go up to 0-30v and 0-10 amps, nice to have but not always necessary. If they don't buy the lower amperage model or anything else definitely get one with adjustable voltage AND amperage. For D132 set it at 13-15 volts and 4-6 amps. For D124 18.5 volts and 5-8 amps. By limiting the voltage and amperage at the PS you don't necessarily need an inline fuse, I never use one. And if there is a short you'll hear the PS's fan turn on and the transformer will hum.

The CU's max voltage is 24 as discussed earlier. It can handle 8 amps continously and a momentary burst of 10 amps. What that means is you can set the amperage at 8 and run all day, with any cars. It will allow a momentary burst of 10 amps, but no more than 5 seconds and you'll blow the FET. That's a difficult, but not impossible repair. The CU only needs 6.5 volts to operate and 10 volts to operate if you are using accessories like wireless controllers. It's well designed and really well built.
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Carlos,

Thanks for sharing your experience with the limits of the CU and current settings. Sounds like informed information. From memory the fuse from the power supply on the CU board is rated at 5A which is going to be the average continuous current if you look at a spec sheet so I wouldn't recommend running at 8A continuously, peaks are a different story of course. Of course measuring and monitoring the mean or average current is a bit of an art with multiple slot cars.

Steve.
I wouldn't recommend running at 8A continuously, peaks are a different story of course.
Running 8 amps continuous will blow the power FET in the CU. While it is technically rated at 8A, there are other factors in the design that will cause it to fail. The Germans encountered this many years ago, when they were determined to run 6 D124 cars. They were smoking the power FET. So they replaced the FET with a different (IRF9540N), externally mounted FET with heat sink installed.

Then they could run 6 D124 cars w/o smoking a CU.
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Had another thought on this also, Carlos mentioned finding the threshold for the maximum voltage for the CU before it fails. Points to the rated voltage on the capacitors on the board at 25V. Normally you build in a bit of overhead in the rated capacitors, because generally they don't like operating near their maximum limits, especially if there are other factors such as ripple currents etc. Some people actually put quite a lot of overhead when selecting capacitors, but... Reality is that costs and sizes of components mean smaller overheads in a lot of designs. So, with a bit of experience with servicing mostly professional and industrial electronics equipment, personally I wouldn't be going over 20V into a CU though I know others have gone a little bit higher. Domestic gear is usually designed for specific limits and with optimistic marketing or advertised specifications so I especially take it easy with domestic gear.

Steve.
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