Out of Box

How to test your components before installing on your layout

Out of Box

This describes what tests you should perform before installation, to make sure that you get the highest performance out of the StaRFIshrail system. Please do not skip these - they will save you time, and make sure that your installation works perfectly first time round.

Testing the Hub

Your StaRFIshrail components will arrive securely packed in anti-static bags, and will have been tested. If there is any damage please contact us immediately.
As with all electronic boards, anti-static precautions should be observed. If you only handle the board by the edges, and do not touch the components, then all should be fine. The boards will come with standoffs attached, so there is no need to handle the actual board.  If you have nylon carpets or similar, then before handling the boards it is best to "ground" yourself first, usually the easiest way is to hold on to a radiator for a short period!
Unpack the power supply, and remove the Hub from it's static protective bag, and place on a non-conductive surface, such as a clean wooden worktop.
If you are using your own power supply, it should be 12V-18V output, positive centre on the 2.1mm/5.5mm barrel connector.  Note that a 2.5mm/5.5mm plug will insert, but it will be loose, and the connection will not be stable.
The hub will already have it's 4 nylon standoffs on it, one at each corner, so the underside will not touch the worktop anyway.
Connect the dc plug on the power supply into the dc socket on the hub, and then plug in the power supply. The following should happen.
1] The green LEDs marked "VIN", "3V3" and "4V5" should light green
2] The red LED marked "RUN" should flash, at about 1/2 second intervals.
If the "RUN" LED is either static on or off, or flashes slowly at around 2 second intervals, then there is a problem - switch off and contact us.
3] The green LED marked "S" should light.
If all the LEDs are correct, leave the hub running for about a minute, and then gently touch the centre of the big chip (Xilinx) in the middle, and the smaller square chip near the CBUS connector (the Atmel processor), to make sure that they are not overheating - they should be cool to the touch. If either are hot, remove the power and contact us.

Testing a Reader

Unpack a reader, which will have it's associated aerials with it.
Switch the hub power off, either by removing the dc plug, or by disconnecting from the mains.  Connect a RJ45 cable.between the hub (any vertical socket named "PORT", NOT the silver Ethernet socket), and the reader.  Connect the aerial(s) to the reader board - these are just push fit, will only go in one way round, and "click" in place.  Connect the power, and makes sure the green LED on the reader board lights - this shows that power is being transferred down the cable, and the switched mode supply (which converts the 10-20V incoming dc to 5V dc) is working. 

Single Reader

Position of green power LED and red RFID present LED.

Dual Reader

Position of green power LED and 2 red RFID present LEDs.

Quad Reader

Position of green power LED and 4 red RFID present LEDs.

Testing the aerial(s)

The aerials are fragile! They are very thin, but the likeliest cause of damage is to the connections, so handle with care.
The aerial wires are terminated in crimped connectors, which are already inserted into a white crimp plug.  These can be plugged directly into the reader board, by simply pressing, and they will click lock.  They can be removed by gently wiggling and pulling - on the housing, not the wires!.
If you need to remove the housing to thread wires then you can, see the aerials section on how to do this.
Plug all your aerials into the reader board, and then connect the power.
In the picture on the left, I have secured the aerial to the top of the baseboard using a bit of Blutack, but you could use some masking tape.
Take a single tag, holding in one hand, holdi it a few centimeters from the aerial.  Bring the tag and aerial close together (i.e. above or below the flat aerial), and you should see the RFID light (Red LED) on the hub light up.  You will also see a red LED light on the reader board.  This means that the reader is seeing the tag, and communicating with it.  Try the other aerials on a multiple reader in the same way.
Testing each reader before installation will save you time if there is a fault.

Installing Tags and Aerials

You are now in a position to install the aerials on your layout, and the tags on your rolling stock.  Read through both the Tag Installation and Aerial Installation pages first.  You may want to make a little test jig on your bench which emulates the baseboard and track bed, and place a length of track on top.  Alternatively, you might want to install a single aerial under a siding using masking tape, and use this as a test bed.