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Thread: Newbie DCC query

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    Default Newbie DCC query

    Hi guys,
    I am a Brit (don't hold it against me!) living in the UK and relatively new to the model US railroad scene, having not done anything with model trains since I was a kid! I have been slowly acquiring Kato N gauge locos which are superb and run lovely. But I have a couple queries, that you more experience modellers might be able to help me with:

    a) What is the best sound decoder to use for EMD/GE locos? I appreciate audio is subjective and what is good to one may not be to another, but what is the general feeling on which decoder manufacturer to use? All my friends that model British Railways say go Zimo as the sound is better, the chips are smaller and the response is better, but I need to check if EMD/GE sounds are available on Zimo. How do you go on with fitting it in terms of lights, as I would assume the DC circuit board that includes the LED would need to be removed?

    b) To start in the DCC field, I picked up a TCS (non-sound) drop in decoder for one of the Kato models, that works fine. I then bought another model second hand that had a DCC board either pre-fitted or factory fitted. I've been struggling to identify which make it is, but I *think* its TCS. It ran fine until I reprogrammed the loco number. Now its all over the place, builds speed quickly to step 10, then drops to a crawl at 11. The lights dont react to function buttons, and having tried programming it through bought JMRI and on my Digitrax controller, it just will not respond to any commands. Because I'm not sure of the manufacturer I cannot do a factory reset either. I tried a factory reset for a TCS but that made no difference. It does look like its a drop-in type decoder, and again non-sound. Any thoughts or advice would be gratefully appreciated!

    Richie
    British fan of American Railroading - with an interest in California activity

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    [Looks like you copied (a) and (c) over instead of (a), (b) and (c) from the Diesel forum but I'll just copy and paste my entire response from there.]

    Hi Richie,


    We won’t hold anything against you for being a Brit. As a matter of fact, Moose will love you as he’s a frequent purveyor of British steam and he loves ordering from your country.

    I’m going to roll up my sleeves and try to answer your three queries and I’m sure others will chime in as the collective “us” will hopefully be your expert.

    (A)
    Renumbering is a toughie especially if you are just getting back into trains. Depending on manufacturer, it may be difficult to remove the old numbers without damaging the underlying paint. From what I’ve read on the various forums, Kato is the toughest unfortunately. Kato uses some of the toughest paint out there so you would think the underlying paint would be left untouched in the renumbering process. But unfortunately they use the same paint for the numbers! A few have done it with an abrasive airbrush, a q-tip soaked in solvent (which seems to escape me at the moment) or an abrasive eraser. Try Googling “Kato renumbering”.
    As for the number boards, they are even more challenging due to their size. Many have printed small font numbers (I’ve read 4 point) on a piece of paper and cut them out. Black numbers on white are easiest as bright LED light shining through white is still white. But if your number board is white letters on black, it may be tougher as the black may not be opaque enough to block the LED bright light. You may end up with a gray looking number board.

    (B)
    ESU Loksound is the way to go but Zimo has better motor control. But what’s killing Zimo is their sound library is nowhere as extensive as ESU’s. The majority of folks here in the US use ESU Loksound. As for the lighting, you will have to run wires from the LED or whatever light source to the pads on the decoder, not terrifically difficult to do.

    (C)
    Sounds like you need to reset the decoder. First find out who makes it. Read CV8 and then look up the number in the bottom section of the attached PDF. Then reset the decoder depending on manufacturer by writing the correct number into the correct CV as highlighted in the green section of the chart on top of the PDF; CV8=8 or CV8=33 or CV30=2. One note of caution. Once you find out who makes the decoder, go to their website and see what CV is decoder lock. Some decoders have a CV that “locks” the decoder which prevents changes to any CV (for accident prevention). You need to write the correct number into this CV to unlock the decoder that allows you to change things. It *may* even prevent a decoder reset but I’m not sure. If a reset doesn’t work, I would next check this CV.

    Addendum
    UGH! Seems the PDF I want to attach exceeds the 1MB limit. You can download it here:
    http://mrhpub.com/2018-02-feb/downlo...-Card-v1.2.pdf

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    Oops! Thanks. I thought after I posted on the diesel forum that the DCC queries should really be on the DCC bit so went and amended it thanks for taking the time to reply. I've responded to your other answer kingmeow.
    Richie
    British fan of American Railroading - with an interest in California activity

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    Quote Originally Posted by kingmeow View Post
    Sounds like you need to reset the decoder. First find out who makes it. Read CV8 and then look up the number in the bottom section of the attached PDF. Then reset the decoder depending on manufacturer by writing the correct number into the correct CV as highlighted in the green section of the chart on top of the PDF; CV8=8 or CV8=33 or CV30=2. One note of caution. Once you find out who makes the decoder, go to their website and see what CV is decoder lock. Some decoders have a CV that “locks” the decoder which prevents changes to any CV (for accident prevention). You need to write the correct number into this CV to unlock the decoder that allows you to change things. It *may* even prevent a decoder reset but I’m not sure. If a reset doesn’t work, I would next check this CV.
    Kingmeow...
    Only just had time to have a quick look at the loco. I need to connect it up and try and find out what CV8 is holding, but this is the model and the decoder. I have no idea whose it is, as the only writing on it is as shown. Does anyone have any ideas?

    Richie
    Attached Images Attached Images
    British fan of American Railroading - with an interest in California activity

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    It looks to be a Digitrax 163 decoder
    Rodney

    Here is my build of my n-scale railroad
    https://www.nscale.net/forums/showthr...-50-8-quot-%29

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    That's a Digitrax decoder so set CV8=8 to reset it.

    https://www.worthpoint.com/worthoped...dcc-1810753482

    Also take a look at the pictures at the bottom of Page 6 of Digitrax's manual. You might have to zoom in on the PDF but it shows the same board number as your third picture.

    http://www.digitrax.com/media/apps/p...s/dn163k1a.pdf

    Also check to see if the decoder is locked. CV8=8 will not work if the decoder is locked. To unlock, check CV15 and CV16. CV15 and CV16 should be zero to be unlocked.

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    Thats great. Thanks guys - its coming up on 1am in the UK, so I'll take look tomorrow and report back.

    Thanks again.

    Richie
    British fan of American Railroading - with an interest in California activity

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