Lionel Legacy system ?

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Lionel Legacy system ?
Posted by Bill54 on Thursday, January 29, 2009 1:01 PM

Does anyone have a Lionel Legacy Control System or know how they work? 

I am transitioning from HO to O and have read what I can find on the Lionel TMCC and Legacy systems.  I bought the Fastrack Layouts book that covers these systems but it isn't specific.

Coming from HO and using Digital Command Control, I can run as many trains as I please on the same section of track at different speeds and in different directions. 

Can anyone explain in plain english how the Legacy or TMCC systems control the trains?  Are there other systems that are similar and if so which would be your choice and why?

I am also looking at the C&O Empire Builder RTR set.  It comes with Legacy railsounds and also describes coming with Duel Fat Boy Speakers. 

I'm assuming these speakers and the Legacy railsounds is an internal to the engine / tendere setup, right?

I would appreciate if someone can clairify how these systems work.  Are they like the HO DCC systems?

Thanks,

Bill

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Posted by mdainsd on Thursday, January 29, 2009 1:42 PM

 Welcome to O gauge!

 

I'll weigh in here (a bit), Im sure many more will add their considered opinions.

 Legacy is the current iteration of Lionels digital train control system.

"Coming from HO and using Digital Command Control, I can run as many trains as I please on the same section of track at different speeds and in different directions"

Well, maybe not as many as you please, but would 99 do? Legacy can store and address information on 99 locomotives. The locomotives can be paired up in "lash-ups" The system allows for the operation of accesories and switches (with additional hardware)

The Legacy system is basically three parts, the hand held remote, the command base and the individual locomotives. It in theory is very similar to digital control systems used in the HO you are familiar with. Constant voltage is applied to the track. the locomotives use this power to operate the radio receiver and digital control systems including the motor(s) driver circuitry. You get control over speed, direction, whistle, bell, lighting effects, amount of smoke and some other features that are locomotive dependent. Also control over railsounds is provided to include volume control plus crew and tower talk.

The other system in use is DCS by MTH. Im not even going to venture a comment on ones superiority to the other as it always ignites a firestorm around here.

I run Legacy myself.

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Posted by Bill54 on Thursday, January 29, 2009 1:58 PM

Can you control MTH loco's with the Legacy system or do you have to have MTH's DCS system to operate their loco's?

If you need DCS for MTH loco's, can both systems be used on the same trackage at the same time? 

In HO the Digital Command Control systems cannot be run on the same track.  They do not interface with each other.  However, I can run a loco with a different manufacturer's "decoder". 

How does it work in "O".  I did notice that Atlas does sell some of their loco's with TMCC installed.  So I'm assuming they will work on the Lionel TMCC / Legacy system? 

Bill

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Posted by chuck on Thursday, January 29, 2009 2:17 PM

 TMCC/Legacy uses radio signals broadcast from the Command Base using the outer rails of the track as an antenna.  DCS encodes the signal on the center rail of the track (similar to DCC up to a point).  You can only control TMCC loco's in command mode with a command base and the same is true for DCS.  The two do not fight and you can run them on the same track at the same time.

TMCC (not Legacy) is licensed to Atlas, Weaver, and ThirdRail.  DCS is only available from MTH.  Legacy is a superset of TMCC, i.e. all TMCC commands are available plus the newer Legacy commands.  Legacy allows for additional sound effects/control and very fine speed control, particulalry on the newer (Lionel only) Legacy equipped locomotives.

I am not going to go into conventional control on this post as it gets even more complex but is doable.

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Posted by mdainsd on Thursday, January 29, 2009 2:20 PM

 we will need more learned people to answer some of your questions..

To my limited understanding: DCS will operate Legacy locomotives but not all features.

 

Both Atlas and Weaver offer models with TMCC control already installed. These will operate from Legacy control or the older TMCC cab 1 system

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Posted by 3railguy on Thursday, January 29, 2009 2:58 PM

Command control for O gauge is basically like DCC. The electronics are different. However, with O gauge, it is not standardized like DCC. You can combine systems as others have posted but you won't get full control off one remote. For instance, you need a Lionel handheld to program a TMCC1 engine to run with MTH DCS TIU and Lionel command base. With Legacy, things get more complicated. Like with DCC, there are aftermarket components suppliers such as Electric RR. You can also buy switch and accessory controllers like with DCC. Or you can convert plain engines to command control like with DCC.

O gauge is often pricier than HO but it also depends on what features you are getting. I spent around 25 or 30 bucks each to put decoders in a couple N scale diesels. That's with no sounds. For some trivia on DCC, you can assign 9000 loco adresses with Digitrax DCC.

 

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Posted by chuck on Thursday, January 29, 2009 5:15 PM

DCS will operate Legacy locomotives but not all features.

It will allow you to access only TMCC features of a Legacy equipped loco, aka no advanced sounds or advanced speed control.  This will require both systems and some cables which may or may not interfere with operation of the TMCC serial control devices like TPC's, ASC's, etc.  If you want to run both systems, get both and just run them in parallel.

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Posted by magicman710 on Thursday, January 29, 2009 5:22 PM

Bill54

I am transitioning from HO to O and have read what I can find on the Lionel TMCC and Legacy systems.  I bought the Fastrack Layouts book that covers these systems but it isn't specific.

I am not aware of any FasTrack book that is new enough to include information about the Legacy System. Confused

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Posted by lionelsoni on Thursday, January 29, 2009 7:04 PM

Unlike DCC, the Lionel and MTH systems are pretty much trade secrets.  There is almost no information available about the signal specifications, whereas DCC is completely open and conforms to standards sponsored by the NMRA.

Bob Nelson

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Posted by chuck on Thursday, January 29, 2009 11:25 PM

The core RF technology TMCC uses has never been published or placed in the public domain.  The original TMCC system technology was available for licensing.  If you wanted to build after market locomotive or rolling stock control boards you could sign up as a licensee and get the tech specs for a socket to accept RL2C and then design your own back plane and/or motor driver.  The actual command codes have been published and you can make/build devices that use the RS-232 interface without licensing anything.  Lionel actually acquired IC Controls the original maker of the TPC and several other serial communication control devices e.g. ASC, BPC, ARC.  Electric Railway and Digital Dynamics make locomotive controller boards.  TA Studios used to do the same (it's not clear what they are going to be doing in the near future).  Z Stuff makes some switch controllers that use the serial interface.  There were also some companies that wrote and sold software to control a layout using TMCC commands that interfaced with the system via the serial port.  They have decided to not publish Legacy codes or license the upgraded system.

None of the DCS technology or command codes have ever been published.

Lionel did look at DCC back in the early 90's along with QSI's state machine and decided to develop TMCC instead.  There were concerns about command latency issues in DCC since we tend to run physically larger trains in realtively smaller spaces at significantly higher speeds than HO or N scale folks do.  There were also issues of power consumption and the cost of high current decoder boards. The DCC standard had current limits on the encoder's that were very low by three rail AC standards (5 amps) and there were wiring issues regarding isolation of the motors and other components from the chassis to provide proper signal propagation.  I believe that Digitrax did make high current three rail compatible board back then but they weren't popular partially because of cost and modifications needed to the locomotive wiring system to incorporate the boards.   The QSI state machine was deemed too awkward to use. It relied on a kind of morse code signalling system that used series of bell/whistle pushes and voltage swings to send commands to the loco's.  This was the basis for ProtoSounds 1 although MTH never included/used the command control features of QSI's technology, just the sounds.

Probably the main reason none of the three rail systems are open is that the three rail companies tend to not play well with others.  I'm kind of suprised they could even agree on the gauge of the track!Confused

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Posted by winrose46 on Friday, January 30, 2009 8:11 AM

Chuck, I believe that your statement "It will allow you to access only TMCC features of a Legacy equipped loco, aka no advanced sounds or advanced speed control.  " is slightly off. Regarding sounds, I can get multi tone whistles on 3 of my 4 Legacy engines with my DCS handheld, and it appears to me on my layout that I get 128 speed steps (not the full 200 of Legacy) with the DCS controller. Prior to Legacy and release 4.xx of DCS, a TMCC operator was limited to the 31 speed steps of TMCC when using the DCS controller. With release 4.xx of DCS, you can control ERR, EOB and Legacy engines with 128 speed steps. The features lost when running Legacy with a DCS handheld, are the train speeds, vibrating handheld, quillable whistle etc. The benefit for me to utilize the DCS handheld is a reduction of the number of handhelds I need to juggle,  avoidance of the Legacy velocity wheel that is extremely sensitive and the ability to control a train and its controller with one hand.  Unfortunately, the DCS "ALL" command does not apply to TMCC/Legacy engines so I have to start them with the Legacy controller and those engines also drop out of the DCS active area and need to be brought back into the active area to operate via the DCS handheld.

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Posted by chuck on Friday, January 30, 2009 8:52 AM

Legacy has three "modes" of control operation.  CAB-1, TMCC, and Legacy.  CAB-1 only allows for access to relative speed steps.  The CAB-1 actually predates the Command Base by about a year.  TMCC mode allows access to absolute speeds steps.  This feature was always in the locomotive control boards and the Command Base could process the commands but you could not access this feature unless you used a computer hooked to the serial port and had software to generate the commands.

DCS 4.x allows access to CAB-1 and TMCC modes (previous editions of DCS could only use CAB-1 mode).  EOB uses TMCC mode and that is why you can control the extended speed range.  You can also succesfully control Odyssey as well for the same reasons.

Re the whistle.  ALL Railsounds whistles/horns have had variable effects from day one.  The sound sets actually consist of snippets of sound (start up/middle/end/labored) that are assembled on the fly when you hit the horn/whistle button.  A number of inputs were read to vary the whistle sound (e.g. speed, how long you hit the btton, random number generator).  Legacy takes this one step further by expanding both the sound set and the input variables allowing you to "play" the whistle.  You are still accessing the sound controls on your Legacy Locomotives in TMCC mode through DCS but the sound sets themselves are expanded and will play different variations.  When you set up an engine in Legacy the CAB-2 allows for setting the sound set for RS 4, RS 5 or Legacy (this is seperate from the control mode).

Preferences re remotes are up to the individual.  I can't stand the thumb wheel on the DCS remote.  Some people can't stand the big red knob on CAB-1 and CAB-2.  Getting your trains to do what you want is the main issue.

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Posted by 3railguy on Friday, January 30, 2009 10:30 AM

For the life of me, I could never understand why O gauge manufacturers make little effort to standardize an operating system. To me it makes a lot of sense because when they don't, they scare off more hobbiest than they attract. Especially when the hobbiest shells a fair amount of cash only to find out his stuff is incompatible. It happens all too often. A guy should not need $1000 worth of controllers, command centers, adapter cords, etc, just to run different brands of trains.

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Posted by chuck on Friday, January 30, 2009 12:24 PM

This almost happened in HO.  There were a number of competing digital command control systems under development before the NMRA stepped in and convinced everyone to play nice.  Even DCC is not as universal as people who don't use it believe.  There are core standards and ALL decoders have to meet these.   You can still add addiitonal features to "your" brand that will only be accessable by your equipment.  Remotes from company A generally will not control company B's encoder and so on.

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Posted by Bill54 on Friday, January 30, 2009 1:22 PM

3railguy

For the life of me, I could never understand why O gauge manufacturers make little effort to standardize an operating system. To me it makes a lot of sense because when they don't, they scare off more hobbiest than they attract. Especially when the hobbiest shells a fair amount of cash only to find out his stuff is incompatible. It happens all too often. A guy should not need $1000 worth of controllers, command centers, adapter cords, etc, just to run different brands of trains.

You're right.  Reading through some of these replys really has me wondering if it's a good idea to take the"O" plunge or wait until things start to become standardized.  

Sounds like I have a lot to learn since the advent of the different systems to control the loco's.  I've got to say, I'm a bit aprehensive at the moment.

Bill

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Posted by marxalot on Friday, January 30, 2009 1:53 PM

Bill,

The following and $1.75 should get you a cup of coffee: I'm running older traditionally controlled trains. I do not hold out much hope in the short to near term for a "standardizing" of operating systems for the Legacy and MTH systems. The NMRA is really the only gun that can hope to officially corral manufacturers into opening things up and I do not see their presence in most of the toy train hobby. Both manufacturers are pretty far down their roads to want to come back to a new "wye" track, and then move on again. Pick a system, load up and have a good time. From reading this and other boards they both do the job and both would want your business. We really don't want O and 027 to be the same as HO anyhow! 8-)

Have a good one.

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Posted by winrose46 on Thursday, February 05, 2009 9:14 AM

"You're right. Reading through some of these replys really has me wondering if it's a good idea to take the"O" plunge or wait until things start to become standardized. "  I doubt that will ever happen. Both systems co-exist so I just purchase the engines based on features and not which control system they utilize. Having a single system might reduce the innovation as each vendor tries to one-up the other.

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