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Brands of decoders.How do I choose?

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tjm
  • Member since
    November 2006
  • 21 posts
Brands of decoders.How do I choose?
Posted by tjm on Wednesday, July 16, 2008 4:38 PM

All companies want you to buy there products.What are some tips for deciding which decoder to use.I realize some decoders are built for a specific loco.When there is a choice,what do I look for.I model n-scale.

  Thanks,TJM

  • Member since
    October 2004
  • From: Colorful Colorado
  • 8,639 posts
Posted by Texas Zepher on Wednesday, July 16, 2008 7:32 PM

 tjm wrote:
What are some tips for deciding which decoder to use.  I realize some decoders are built for a specific loco.  When there is a choice,what do I look for.
1. Don't choose MRC. 
2.  As you have already mentioned select the one built specifically for that loco.
3.  Look at the installation considerations of whether you want a plug or just wires on the decoder.  This will also depend on your skill of installing things.
4.  What is the electrical current the locomotive is drawing?  Get the heaviest decoder that will physically fit (considering #3 above).
5.  How many "functions" does the locomotive need/want?  Get the decoder with the fewest number of superfluous functions.  If a locomotive only needs 1 function for the headlamps then having extra circuits for 4 functions is a waste of space and electricity.
6. Are lighting effects important to this locomotive and you?   The mars, gyra-light, strobe, etc effects by the various brands can be very different.
7.   Do you care if the lighting outputs have built in resistors for LEDs and low voltage bulbs?  In N-scale adding that extra resistor can suck up some more valuable space.

I model n-scale.
Physical size & the amount of heat produced would be major considerations.

  • Member since
    April 2008
  • From: Los Angeles
  • 199 posts
Posted by Randall_Roberts on Wednesday, July 16, 2008 8:46 PM

As has been said, if there is a "drop-in" for the specific locomotive always use that.

If you have to hard wire decoders, you can't go wrong with the TCS goof proof warranty.  They replace it even if you're the one who blew it up.  Their M1 decoder used to be about the smallest you could get in America... until the Digitrax DZ125 came out. And their web site has lots of installation guides with pictures.

But I've done far more Digitrax installs than all the other brands combined.  So my personal bias would be to point you in that direction.  I believe that they make drop-in decoders for more types of locos than any other brand I've seen, so that may decide things for you too.

Best! 

Randall Roberts Visit http://modeltrains.about.com Subscribe to the FREE weekly Model Trains newsletter.

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