|63340 / 63350: Detector Modules
The Uhlenbrock 63340 and 63350 Detection Modules are used, in conjunction with your Intellibox, to detect the presence or absence of a train on track section. In fact, they can be used to detect any contact (or lack of contact) of any connection (reed switch, infrared sensor, etc.). The 63340 is for 2-rail (typically DC) layouts and the 63350 is for 3-rail (typically AC) layouts. Links to the respective instruction manuals are provided above and, for the most part, are essentially the same. Please note that the two translations (links at the top of this page) are a bit "more correct" then their original German versions in that the description of the "module address" is not correct in the German version. The general features of these modules is described below.
These work in conjunction with your existing Intellibox and connect via a 6-wire phone cable through the LocoNet bus. A 2-meter (6-foot) cable is included with each module, but I can provide you with a custom-made cable of virtually any length.
The 63350 can be regarded as an s88 detection module (Marklin part #6088) with LocoNet interface with some improvements as described below.
The 63340 is intended for 2-rail operation in that each of its 8 connections (half of the inputs available on the 63350) is equipped with current sensing circuitry. Therefore, this module can be used directly on 2-rail layouts in order to detect no (or some) current consumption to determine whether a given piece of track is occupied or empty.
Think of an 63340 as ½ an s88 plus 8 current sensors (e.g., 4 x LB100 Lenz modules - each such module features 2 current sensors). Of course, having the current sensors inside the module greatly reduces the layout wiring.
The terms "2-rail" or "3-rail" are just that: terms. The fact is that 2-rail sensors can also be used on 3-rail layouts (e.g., on Marklin M-track, C-Track or K-Track). Since creating isolated rail sections is difficult to create (as you know, Marklin produces such track pieces specifically for this purpose) an alternative is to isolate the central studs and feed that section through a current sensor module (i.e., a 63340).
The converse is also true: 63350 modules can be used on 2-rail layouts to report, for example, the status of a switch, reed contact, etc.
The most significant feature of these modules is that they feature a programmable delay for the "on to off" and (separate delay for the) "off to on" transition of each input. This greatly helps to make automatic train operation reliable - particularly in the case of 2-rail layouts. (Please read the aforementioned instruction manuals for details.)
In fact, since block occupancy in the 2-rail case depends on current consumption, and since current consumption is not constant (the wheels of a moving loco do not always make contact with the tracks - as we all know very well), there is a high potential for "false" free/occupied status reports. These reports, without proper "de-bouncing" on the "receiver" end (e.g., a PC program which is driving the layout), are bound to cause havoc. The ability of the 63340 module to account for this is significant!
Additionally, data transmission on LocoNet is much more reliable than on the s88 bus -- and, it is "event-driven"; that is to say, there is no polling requirement. When a status change occurs, after an eventual programmed time delay (referenced above), the module reports the new sensor status to the Command Station through LocoNet. This too is a departure from how Marklin's detector modules work. If you are programming your layout for operation from a PC, or if you have purchased (or intend to purchase) software, this is not something about which you need to be concerned. What you do need to understand is that this makes for much more reliable train detection and layout operation.
The 63340 / 63350 modules are not restricted to the s88 limitations of Marklin's digital system of 16 x 31 = 496 inputs. With these modules, and by virtue of their use with the LocoNet bus, you can have up to 2048 individual detection tracks. Moreover, each Uhlenbrock module can be configured for its own "bank" of 16 addresses. As such, these can be used either instead of or in conjunction with any Marklin s88 modules you may already have on your layout. If you already have (or have been considering) Marklin's 6088 modules, you're already aware of the limitations the short cable length imposes. Using these Uhlenbrock modules with LocoNet enables the use of virtually any cable length. This makes it much easier to develop (and easily to manage) large layouts.
For the first 496 of those 2048 addresses, the Intellibox can automatically perform a "mapping" of s88 inputs to LocoNet sensor addresses. You can think of this as if the Intellibox were performing a (logic) "translation" from the s88 bus protocol to the LocoNet protocol: sensor events happening on the s88 bus are reported/converted to messages which are sent on the LocoNet bus. This serves the purpose of informing LocoNet devices about sensor events having occurred on the s88 bus.
You can mix s88 modules and LocoNet feedback sensors. If you do that, please keep the addresses separate. That is: if you have N s88 modules, then the first 1 through N*16 sensor addresses will be used up by s88 modules and it would be best to configure all LocoNet sensor modules to use addresses beyond N*16. For example, if you already have 4 x s88 modules, you are already using sensor addresses 1 through 64. It would therefore be advisable to configure your LocoNet sensors to use addresses beginning at address 65 (or higher). In fact, you can even configure your LocoNet devices to start at address 497 (or 16 x 31 + 1) and, in so doing, assure yourself that you will never have a conflict, even if you later decide to install additional Marklin s88 modules.