Signal Booster for Lionel Legacy Serial Port – Now with “Earth-Ground” terminal!
The chip Lionel chose for the RS-232 output on the Legacy Base will not power more than a very few hard-wired controllers with optocoupler data inputs (Z-Stuff Data Wire Driver and Lionel TPC.) The MANCO Booster corrects this problem by amplifying the normal Legacy output current by a factor of ten times, providing adequate drive for many wired controllers.
The Lionel hard-wired controllers require a drive that nominally swings between zero volts and 5 volts. This was the swing provided by the TMCC Command Base, but a 0-5V swing IS NOT a true RS-232 port. When Lionel designed the Legacy Base, they “corrected” this problem by adopting a chip that swings from –8V to +8V as required by true RS-232, but in the process they lost the higher output current drive capability that the TMCC Base had provided. An output current of only 7 milliamps will cause the Legacy serial output to sag to 3.5 volts – the lower limit for proper operation of optocoupled devices.
Controller devices such as the TPC (Track Power Controller) and Z-Stuff’s Data wire driver use an optocoupler to electrically isolate the serial digital commands from the circuits being controlled. The TPC optocouplers require approximately 1.5 milliamps each, and the Z-Stuff driver requires about 3 milliamps. As a result, layouts with more than a few of these optocoupled hard-wired controllers will load down the serial data line to a point at which the controllers no longer see adequate signal swing, and they quit working.
(Other Lionel accessory controllers such as the BPC, ASC and OTC utilize a different form of input circuit that does not require as much drive current.)
The Booster provides a 9-pin female connector with a boosted serial-output signal capable of providing more than 5 times the output current of the bare Legacy Base. A second 9-pin connector provides a direct link from the Legacy Base RS-232 output, retaining the +/-8V swing for RS-232 compatibility. This RS-232 compatible port can be used to conveniently connect an external computer for running the Legacy System Utility (LSU) for Legacy backup/restore and configuration functions. This port can also be used for other input/output controller, or future Lionel products using RS-232 protocol.
The latest version also includes an external terminal on the box that is connected directly to Pin 5, the ground reference for the TMCC/Legacy Track Signal. Connect a wire from this terminal to a terminal strip that serves as the star origination point for all of your earth-ground signal enhancement wires. (See additional documents at www.trainfacts.com regarding measuring the Track signal and steps to enhance this signal.)
Installation: Plug the 9-pin male connector on the cable into the Legacy Base 9-pin female socket. Plug a 9-pin male connector into the “Accessories” port (Pin 2 is the boosted output to accessories, Pin 3 is input from ARC, Pin 5 is ground/common.) Plug the wall wart into an AC outlet.
The “Computer” port is a pin-for-pin pass-through of the 9-pin Base connector. It can be used for connecting a computer or a DCS TIU.
Price – $60.00 plus $6.00 for Priority Mail shipping.
Dale Manquen at MANCO
1694 Calle Zocalo
Thousand Oaks, CA 91360
Visa, Mastercard and PayPal accepted