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Offline ersb2194  
#1 Posted : 16 June 2021 15:58:16(UTC)
ersb2194

Mexico   
Joined: 16/06/2021(UTC)
Posts: 2
Location: Ciudad de Mexico, Mexico City
Hello fellow Märklin users,

I am new to this forum and I want to ask the following question:

I am very interested in the CS3, the standard model (60226) not the plus one, but when reading the documentation of it it states:
Quote:
Do not operate at an altitude over 2,000 meters / 6,500 feet.

The thing is I live in Mexico City with an altitude of around 2,377 meters / 7,800 feet.
When inquiring directly with Märklin service I got the following response:

Quote:

When specifying the maximum operating altitude of electronic devices, it is about the insulation resistance of the air, which decreases with greater altitude = lower air density. This has a decisive effect on the dielectric strength or the creepage distances between conductor tracks that are now too small. There are standards that set out clear rules and set benchmarks, e.g. the value of 2000 m above sea level. In order to make electronics up to 5000 m compliant with standards, a factor of 1.48 applies, for example, to the distance between the conductor tracks, which must be further apart. All of this is particularly important at higher voltages, such as those that occur in power supply units, as the risk of flashover is greater here. Strong voltage fluctuations in the network with strong peaks can definitely test the limits of security here.

I do not know the local conditions and, as a manufacturer representative, I cannot advise you to operate one of our devices outside of the specifications. For reasons of liability alone, I cannot give you a clearance for 2380 m.

My recommendation is therefore: Ask a local specialist for his opinion and how one usually deals with this problem in Mexico, which affects all electronics. However, it is ultimately up to you to assess and assume the risk.


Confused Anyone in the Mexico City area? Or with a higher altitude from the recommended one?
What are your thoughts?



Thank you very much in advance.
Erik
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Offline marklinist5999  
#2 Posted : 16 June 2021 16:13:32(UTC)
marklinist5999

United States   
Joined: 10/02/2021(UTC)
Posts: 970
Location: Michigan, Troy
I must have missed that! I am no expert in electronic engineering, but someone else will no doubt chime in!
I don't know why altitude would affect it if your cell phones, tablets, and laptops work there? Unless, the galvanic separators are affected by it?
How well do pressure swithches for water level operate on automatic laundry washers for you? I would think those would be more affected, and there is nothing of that sort in the CS3.
Offline kiwiAlan  
#3 Posted : 16 June 2021 18:16:33(UTC)
kiwiAlan

United Kingdom   
Joined: 23/07/2014(UTC)
Posts: 6,296
Location: ENGLAND, Didcot
Originally Posted by: marklinist5999 Go to Quoted Post
I must have missed that! I am no expert in electronic engineering, but someone else will no doubt chime in!
I don't know why altitude would affect it if your cell phones, tablets, and laptops work there? Unless, the galvanic separators are affected by it?
How well do pressure swithches for water level operate on automatic laundry washers for you? I would think those would be more affected, and there is nothing of that sort in the CS3.


No, but there is in the power supply, which seems to be the point of the marklin response.

If it was me i would have just plugged it in and tried it.

However if you are unfamiliar with such things then i would suggest you get an electrician to operate the power supply into a dummy load for a period (say a day). Don't use the cs3 as a load for the power supply in case there is a problem.

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Offline ersb2194  
#4 Posted : 16 June 2021 18:28:18(UTC)
ersb2194

Mexico   
Joined: 16/06/2021(UTC)
Posts: 2
Location: Ciudad de Mexico, Mexico City
Originally Posted by: kiwiAlan Go to Quoted Post
Originally Posted by: marklinist5999 Go to Quoted Post
I must have missed that! I am no expert in electronic engineering, but someone else will no doubt chime in!
I don't know why altitude would affect it if your cell phones, tablets, and laptops work there? Unless, the galvanic separators are affected by it?
How well do pressure swithches for water level operate on automatic laundry washers for you? I would think those would be more affected, and there is nothing of that sort in the CS3.


No, but there is in the power supply, which seems to be the point of the marklin response.

If it was me i would have just plugged it in and tried it.

However if you are unfamiliar with such things then i would suggest you get an electrician to operate the power supply into a dummy load for a period (say a day). Don't use the cs3 as a load for the power supply in case there is a problem.



Thank you all for your responses!
I am just still reaserching the system as much as I can before investing in it.
I am mostly interested in HO scale modelling.

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Offline H0  
#5 Posted : 16 June 2021 18:33:57(UTC)
H0


Joined: 16/02/2004(UTC)
Posts: 14,261
Location: DE-NW
The altitude limit is for the CS3. The CS2 uses the same power supply and has no documented altitude limit.
So if there is a problem that someone at Märklin is aware of, it probably is not with the power supply, but with the CS3.

So maybe CS2 or ECoS are possible alternatives for people living above 2000 m.

If lower air density is the problem, then I assume it also depends on air humidity if electric isolation is the issue. So maybe operation at 2400 m is safe within a certain region of air humidity. But only Märklin or the manufacturer of the CS3 would be able to provide that information. And it seems the service desk shows little willingness to obtain this information.
Regards
Tom
---
"In all of the gauges, we particularly emphasize a high level of quality, the best possible fidelity to the prototype, and absolute precision. You will see that in all of our products." (from Märklin New Items Brochure 2015, page 1) ROFLBTCUTS
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Offline xxup  
#6 Posted : 16 June 2021 19:38:37(UTC)
xxup

Australia   
Joined: 15/03/2003(UTC)
Posts: 9,231
Location: Australia
Gee Wizz.. You would think that someone from Marklin could take a CS3 to the restaurant at the top of the the Zugspitze (2,962m) and plug it in for a modest test.. It's only a two hour drive from Göppingen.. RollEyes
Adrian
UserPostedImage
Australia flag by abFlags.com
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Offline kiwiAlan  
#7 Posted : 16 June 2021 19:59:40(UTC)
kiwiAlan

United Kingdom   
Joined: 23/07/2014(UTC)
Posts: 6,296
Location: ENGLAND, Didcot
Originally Posted by: H0 Go to Quoted Post
The altitude limit is for the CS3. The CS2 uses the same power supply and has no documented altitude limit.
So if there is a problem that someone at Märklin is aware of, it probably is not with the power supply, but with the CS3.


Hmm, well the worst place for close tracks is on the connectors to the flex circuits that go to the displays and speed control knobs (from memory these are 0.5mm centre and 0.25mm wide tracks). For a voltage to jump that will still require a voltage above what is available inside the cs3.

The relevant information is in this wikipedia page on Paschens law (you don't want to know how I know about this Scared ) The wikipedia page gives pashens Curves for pure gases, but this paper (referenced in the Wikipedia article) gives a curve for air (where the distance is in inches and pressure in Torr - but I haven't worked out the metric conversions).

This wikipedia article suggests that pressure drops to 80% to 70% of pressure at sea level for altitudes between 2000m and 3000m and gives the pressure for a nominal 1 atmosphere as 1013.25 hPa. I'll let someone else more mathmatically inclined than me plug that into the Paschens Law equations to come up with a likely breakover voltage at 0.25mm distance for 2500m altitude.

Quite frankly i suspect Marklin are just being paranoid, but maybe they have their reasons. It could be the display is not rated for use at altitude (but I wouldn't have thought it would be a problem, after all they have probably been airfreighted around the world to get from manufacturer in the Far East to Marklin). I can't think of any other components that might be worried with altitude, unless the electrolytic capacitors have a problem, but that hasn't historically been a problem that I am aware of (many wartime radios and radars would have had less well sealed electrolytic capacitors working at much higher altitudes).

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Offline marklinist5999  
#8 Posted : 16 June 2021 20:04:03(UTC)
marklinist5999

United States   
Joined: 10/02/2021(UTC)
Posts: 970
Location: Michigan, Troy
Interesting Alan! As for Mexico's power grid, it's identical to the USA's. 110-120 volts A/C @ 60 cycles. If a CS3 user in Denver Colorado, etc, has no problems, then ??????????
Offline mrmarklin  
#9 Posted : 16 June 2021 20:05:37(UTC)
mrmarklin

United States   
Joined: 27/10/2004(UTC)
Posts: 850
Location: Burney, CA
I have been to Mexico City many times, and you use the same 110 current as here in the US. We always bring whatever appliances with us such as cell phones, hair dryer for my wife, iPad and laptop computers, etc. They have always worked as back home. My house its at sea level. Normal German current is 220v. This may have something to do with the warning.Confused
It's hard to see a problem here.
From the People's Republik of Kalifornia
Offline mrmarklin  
#10 Posted : 16 June 2021 20:09:03(UTC)
mrmarklin

United States   
Joined: 27/10/2004(UTC)
Posts: 850
Location: Burney, CA
Originally Posted by: marklinist5999 Go to Quoted Post
Interesting Alan! As for Mexico's power grid, it's identical to the USA's. 110-120 volts A/C @ 60 cycles. If a CS3 user in Denver Colorado, etc, has no problems, then ??????????


Denver is only a "mile high".BigGrin
From the People's Republik of Kalifornia
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Offline H0  
#11 Posted : 16 June 2021 20:09:04(UTC)
H0


Joined: 16/02/2004(UTC)
Posts: 14,261
Location: DE-NW
Originally Posted by: mrmarklin Go to Quoted Post
Normal German current is 220v. This may have something to do with the warning.Confused
Normal voltage in Germany is 230 V.
But since the warning is not about the power supply, the mains voltage should not play a role here.
The CS3 gets 19 V DC all over the world with the standard power supplies for H0 gauge.

19 V DC is a very high voltage and requires large air gaps inside the CS3. Under near vacuum conditions (above 2000 m) security can no longer be guaranteed.

The altitude limitation had been mentioned on this forum before, but I think the technical secret was not yet solved.
Regards
Tom
---
"In all of the gauges, we particularly emphasize a high level of quality, the best possible fidelity to the prototype, and absolute precision. You will see that in all of our products." (from Märklin New Items Brochure 2015, page 1) ROFLBTCUTS
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Offline hxmiesa  
#12 Posted : 16 June 2021 22:06:43(UTC)
hxmiesa

Spain   
Joined: 15/12/2005(UTC)
Posts: 3,286
Location: Spain
Remind me not to fly ever again... ;-)
Best regards
Henrik Hoexbroe ("The Dane In Spain")
http://hoexbroe.tripod.com
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Offline kiwiAlan  
#13 Posted : 16 June 2021 22:52:07(UTC)
kiwiAlan

United Kingdom   
Joined: 23/07/2014(UTC)
Posts: 6,296
Location: ENGLAND, Didcot
Originally Posted by: H0 Go to Quoted Post

19 V DC is a very high voltage and requires large air gaps inside the CS3. Under near vacuum conditions (above 2000 m) security can no longer be guaranteed.


Oh come on Tom! 19V is less than half the voltage old style telephones work on. Any gap larger than half a millimeter will definitely not cause a problem.

The only place in the cs3 where the 19V appears will be around the power output stage, and the nature of the components used will mean that quite reasonable gaps will exist. Most of the PCB will have an epoxy coating in the form of solder resist (the (normally) green coating on the circuit board) and the only exposed places will be the solder pads for components.

Anywhere else in the cs3 will be limited to 5V or lower for the logic circuits, although there will be some 12V for the s88 bus, but again, the gaps between pads will be significant compared to the breakover voltage.

I would be interested in getting a cs3 and hitting up my old work colleagues for use of a vacuum chamber for a couple of hours and see what really happens.

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Offline dickinsonj  
#14 Posted : 17 June 2021 01:44:58(UTC)
dickinsonj

United States   
Joined: 05/12/2008(UTC)
Posts: 1,447
Location: United States
Interesting discussion and ideas about that bizarre altitude stipulation for the CS3, which has amazed us before. It really does make you wonder what Märklin actually means by this, even more than their normal inscrutability. BigGrin

But I work in the custom electronics industry and I wonder if it even is a real hardware issue at all. I suspect that it might be CYA legal bs rather than actual hardware limitations. The regulatory environment is harsh for electronics and disclaimers are the name of the game.
Regards,
Jim

I have almost all Märklin and mostly HO, although I do have a small number of Z gauge trains!
I have models from Era I to Era VI, but I try to focus on Eras I & III. Whoops, that one got away from me. Let's just say I focus on cool trains, regardless of the particulars :-)
So many trains and so little time.
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Offline DaleSchultz  
#15 Posted : 17 June 2021 03:12:41(UTC)
DaleSchultz

United States   
Joined: 10/02/2006(UTC)
Posts: 3,869
my prediction is that the root cause of this whole saga is a lawyer.
Dale
Intellibox + own software, K-Track
My current layout: https://cabin-layout.mixmox.com
Arrival and Departure signs: https://remotesign.mixmox.com
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Offline H0  
#16 Posted : 17 June 2021 09:39:34(UTC)
H0


Joined: 16/02/2004(UTC)
Posts: 14,261
Location: DE-NW
Originally Posted by: DaleSchultz Go to Quoted Post
my prediction is that the root cause of this whole saga is a lawyer.
That may be.
Or a component used with a 2000 m limit that now imposes a 2000 m limit on the whole unit. So maybe the root cause is the lawyer of a component supplier.
And maybe the altitude limit sinks if the specs are too often translated between metric and imperial units.

Regards
Tom
---
"In all of the gauges, we particularly emphasize a high level of quality, the best possible fidelity to the prototype, and absolute precision. You will see that in all of our products." (from Märklin New Items Brochure 2015, page 1) ROFLBTCUTS
UserPostedImage
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Offline mike c  
#17 Posted : 21 June 2021 07:45:11(UTC)
mike c

Canada   
Joined: 28/11/2007(UTC)
Posts: 7,213
Location: Montreal, QC
This is a very interesting topic... I guess that Cheech and Chong would not be able to use a CS3 as they are too high.

I wonder if somebody could elaborate on exactly what the risks are...

For a second I thought it might have something to do with the pressure on display crystals (LCD) which might cause the displays to fail, but the response seems to indicate a greater risk of bleeding between conductors, it makes me think that this may refer to an increase in the risk of transient voltage in the rails as a result of the switched mode power supplies. I would check with an electrician or send a message to Maerklin asking whether this would still be an issue if you were to power the unit using a different power supply which would provide a constant voltage to the unit.

Maerklin used to submit it's transformers and components for electrical certification, but the costs of doing so have been deemed to be excessive, so Maerklin models are no longer certified for use in USA (and Canada). They are no longer tested to ensure that there is no interference during operation and buyers are invited to submit product for approval if they decide to use them. There is a substantial fee for the process and a test unit must be submitted, so you would have to buy at least two, one for the testers and one for yourself. I don't know if you get the test model back at the end of the process.

See here: http://dynapowerusa.com/...esign-of-power-supplies/

Regards

Mike C
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Offline JohnjeanB  
#18 Posted : 21 June 2021 15:19:05(UTC)
JohnjeanB

France   
Joined: 04/02/2011(UTC)
Posts: 1,738
Location: Paris, France
Hi Mike

I am assuming that:
- Märklin CSs (CS2 and CS3) can be transported by air (so a reduction of pressure equivalent to 2000 to 2500 meters).
- all Electronics used on the motherboard are conventional and resist to much higher altitude
- Märklin is probably listing all operation requirements of its components and mainly the touchscreen (possible faulty detections at low pressure (high altitude)
- I cannot see the integration level being the restriction as on modern computers it is far higher

Below is a 60215 PCB and the 60216 PCB is very similar.

60215 IMG_4343 red red.jpg
Just my opinion (Engineer in micro electronics)
Cheers
Jean
My layout videos
latest vid
hump yard
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Offline kiwiAlan  
#19 Posted : 21 June 2021 16:28:09(UTC)
kiwiAlan

United Kingdom   
Joined: 23/07/2014(UTC)
Posts: 6,296
Location: ENGLAND, Didcot
Originally Posted by: JohnjeanB Go to Quoted Post

- Märklin CSs (CS2 and CS3) can be transported by air (so a reduction of pressure equivalent to 2000 to 2500 meters).


Probably even lower pressure in a cargo hold ... Blink

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Offline marklinist5999  
#20 Posted : 21 June 2021 17:22:45(UTC)
marklinist5999

United States   
Joined: 10/02/2021(UTC)
Posts: 970
Location: Michigan, Troy
If my bladder responded to higher pressure both atmospheric or altitude, would also be good.
Offline David Dewar  
#21 Posted : 21 June 2021 19:26:39(UTC)
David Dewar

Scotland   
Joined: 01/02/2004(UTC)
Posts: 7,001
Location: Scotland
Managed up Ben Nevis our highest mountain. It did take me several days and a medical team to assist. The CS3 got up without any damage. As for the altitude test I was surprised to learn that there was no electricity at the top of the mountain. However I had a mobile signal and phoned for a large wire to be sent up being connected to a power supply. When this arrives I will report further. Bit cold up here but this is important as we must have a good result. Amazing this thread has actually got this far lol.
Take care I like Marklin and will defend the worlds greatest model rail manufacturer.
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