Limited quantity – Enhanced MANCO Legacy Base Booster


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 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

(805) 529-2496

1694 Calle Zocalo

Thousand Oaks, CA 91360

Visa, Mastercard and PayPal accepted

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