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My new WOW101-Steam-KA decoder

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My new WOW101-Steam-KA decoder
Posted by John-NYBW on Tuesday, May 19, 2020 7:50 AM

I've had Athearn Genesis DCC-ready Mikado on my shelf for the longest time waiting for a decoder installation. I finally decided to go ahead with it. It requires a 9-pin JST decoder and one of my RS-1s had died had a 9 pin DH123 in it so I inserted that. Nothing to it but this was just temporary because I wanted sound. This loco only gets electrical pick up from the drivers, not from the tender. I noticed it would hesitate when passing over the insulated frogs of my Atlas turnouts. For that reason I decided to get a sound decoder with a Keep Alive and the WOW101-Steam-KA was just what I needed. Given my poor soldering skills, it was nice to be able to just plug it in. I did need to solder the twin sugar cube speakers and I didn't do the neatest job of that but managed to get a good connection. Since the tender is just an empty shell, that gave me plenty of room for the decoder, the Keep Alive, and the speakers. The sound is excellent. I did notice at first the sound would cut out when passing over the frogs but that went away after a short time. I'm guessing the Keep Alive needed to get charged up. After that it ran fine with no hesitations or sound interuptions.

I do have one gripe. This decoder has function keys for applying the brakes and releasing them. It automatically releases the brakes when you throttle up but does not apply the brakes when you throttle down. You have to hit function key 7 to bring the loco to a stop. Each press of the key applies 20% braking. If you just throttle down, the loco seems to coast indefinitely with no slow down. It won't stop unless you apply the brakes. While this is a more realistic way of stopping a loco, it seems like they are being too clever. All my other locos brake automatically when the throttle is turned down. I played around with it and it was very difficult to get the loco to come to a stop where I wanted. This was especially a problem when I tried to make stops at my coaling and sand towers. I had planned to use this loco on my peddler freight but with all the switching that will be done, this manual braking requirement could be a real nuisance. Maybe I will get the hang of it but I would prefer not having this feature. Unless I missed it, the instructions don't indicate that feature can be turned off. 

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Posted by tstage on Tuesday, May 19, 2020 8:07 AM

John,

It sounds to me like the decoder is set at maximum momentum.

I can change that on the fly with my NCE Power Cab.  Try programming CVs 3 & 4 (acceleration/deceleration) to a value of "1" and see if that helps.  If they are set way higher than "1" then that was your problem.

I generally set my momemtum no higher than "3".  And I only use the throttle buttons or encoder wheel for speeding up and slowing down.

Tom

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Posted by John-NYBW on Tuesday, May 19, 2020 8:21 AM

 

I ran into the momentum issue with the Loksound 5 decoder that I installed in my C-liners. They took a while to stop but eventually they did after about 2 or 3 feet depending on the speed. With this decoder, if I don't hit the brakes, it doesn't look like it will stop at all or at least not for a very long time. I know it went at least 20 feet after I turned the throttle all the way down and I had to grab it by hand because it was about to enter my hidden staging yard and I couldn't remember which was the brake key. The instructions seemed to indicated that this is a feature that cannot be shut off simply by adjusting CV4. I'm going to reread them to see if I missed anything, but based on what I have read so far, this decoder requires manual braking. If I want to stop the loco immediately, I have to press F7 five times real fast.  

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Posted by tstage on Tuesday, May 19, 2020 8:52 AM

John,

I have never experienced what you describe with either of my TCS WOW decoders - steam or diesel; nor has it required me to use F7 to stop.  I'm curious if you tried a decoder reset whether you would still see this issue.

Tom

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Posted by John-NYBW on Tuesday, May 19, 2020 9:04 AM

Probably so. The instructions are quite explicit that the F7 key MUST be used to stop the loco. It sounds to me like this is a new design feature. Here is what it says, word-for-word:

    "In the TCS WOWSound decoders we have reinvented the way we think about model locomotive operation to reflect that of the prototype. Currently, most model trains operate without a brake seperate from the throttle speed. We call this kind of operation "Traditional" because your locomotive operates like a slot car (directly controlled by the throttle). With our new default "Prototype" operation users are expected to apply and release the brakes seperately from adjusting the throttle just like the real thing, though the brakes will automatically release when the throttle is increased."

This makes it seem to me like this is a design feature hardwired into the decoder and not one that can be turned off by adjusting the CVs.

Edit: I've gone through the menu in the printed instructions and under the Throttle Menu there is an item for selecting the loco's operational mode. Maybe that will allow me to switch to what they call "Traditional" which is what I would prefer. 

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Posted by tstage on Tuesday, May 19, 2020 9:23 AM

John

If prototype operations is the "default" then I'm guessing there's another option(s) - at least that's what I read into that.  And I would think that the WOW! manual would list those options somewhere, as well.  I don't have it in front of me to look so I can't check.

Tom

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Posted by wrench567 on Tuesday, May 19, 2020 9:56 AM

Check CV 61. It controls headlight dimming when stopped and button control of motor. Download the comprehensive programming guide from the TCS website.

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Posted by John-NYBW on Tuesday, May 19, 2020 10:00 AM

All I got with this decoder is a 4 page instruction sheet. It tells me there are options but doesn't tell me what the options are. It says the decoder comes with an Audio Assist menu that I am guessing will tell me what my throttle options are. I'll have to check it out to find out if I can switch to "Traditional" operation as opposed to "Prototype". 

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Posted by tstage on Tuesday, May 19, 2020 10:35 AM

John,

Here's a link for downloading the WOWSound Steam Programming Guide that will be handy for you to have:

https://tcsdcc.com/WOWSteamGuide

Pg. 8 talks about the two modes.

Tom

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Posted by Spalato68 on Tuesday, May 19, 2020 10:40 AM

Steam decoder manuals can be found on TCS web site (go to DOCUMENTS).

There you will find separate manual for audio assist. It takes some time to get used to it, but it is easy to use, in fact. 

By default Throttle mode is enabled, meaning that CV 4 is set to 96 (and CV 3 to 32). If you want that your locomotive responds more quickly on your throttle, CV 4 should be set considerably lower, e.g. 15. If you really want it to react like slot car, then set it at 1. 

Personally, I like 5 step brake very much, because you can stop your locomotive exactly where you want, and have the impression, you are driving a real thing. You can drive locomotive fast, then press brake for a moment or two, then release it to let it coast a bit, and then press again until it stops. 

But this is a matter of personal preference - therefore, you have both options. 

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Posted by John-NYBW on Tuesday, May 19, 2020 2:12 PM

tstage

John,

Here's a link for downloading the WOWSound Steam Programming Guide that will be handy for you to have:

https://tcsdcc.com/WOWSteamGuide

Pg. 8 talks about the two modes.

Tom

 

Interesting stuff but I didn't see where it allows me to switch to traditional mode so I don't have to apply the brake manually. It mostly dealt with how the chuffing can be modified. I did notice that the chuffing volume goes down once the loco gets up to speed and the manual did confirm that is by design. I also observed this regarding stopping without applying the brake:

"The locomotive will also take a very long time to come to a stop without the use of the “Brake” defaults to button 7 and “Brake Release” defaults to button 6. When you close the throttle the loco will coast while you hear Rod Clank and/or the Snifter Valves. "

"a very long time is an understatement". While that might be realistic, it's also a nuisance. I go back to what I said earlier that they are being too clever. I've never gotten involved with the advanced features available in DCC and for my tastes, it is an unnecessary complication. I spent my working life as a mainframe programmer and the last thing I wanted to do in my retirement hobby is have to read through manuals and learn a new programming language which essentially is what CV programming is all about. I'm happy with very basic functions. I want my steam engines to chuff and my diesels to hum. I want a bell and a whistle on my steamers and a horn on my diesels. I'd be perfectly happy with generic sounds for all my locos. I don't know the difference from one diesel horn to the next or if the sound is authentic. I've been in DCC for over 15 years and I can't recall ever modifying a CV. I'd have to go read my Lenz manual to figure out how to do it. 

When I was a mainframe programming developing applications we used to use the phrase "bells and whistles" regarding features we included in those applications. Not sure if that phrase had its origins in in railroading or not. I'd be perfectly happy with very basic "bells and whistles" but that doens't seem to be where the decoder manufacturers are going. They want to include as many fancy "bells and whistles" as they can. Unfortunately that comes with complications that are to me unnecessary. I'm sure others appreciate all these advanced features but I'm a big believer in KISS when it comes to model railroading. 

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Posted by wjstix on Tuesday, May 19, 2020 2:31 PM

John-NYBW
Interesting stuff but I didn't see where it allows me to switch to traditional mode so I don't have to apply the brake manually.

I don't believe there is a "traditional mode" per se. As mentioned earlier, the stopping momentum in CV4 is just set very VERY high. It's just like momentum on any other decoder; the higher the amount, the longer the engine will take to stop. If you set CV4 to zero, the engine will stop as soon as you power down to zero.

I find putting the momentum on CV4 to around 20-30 allows me to press the brake once and the engine stops about as quickly as just turning the throttle down to zero. You may need to try different settings to see what works for you.

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Posted by John-NYBW on Tuesday, May 19, 2020 3:40 PM

wjstix

 

 
John-NYBW
Interesting stuff but I didn't see where it allows me to switch to traditional mode so I don't have to apply the brake manually.

 

I don't believe there is a "traditional mode" per se. As mentioned earlier, the stopping momentum in CV4 is just set very VERY high. It's just like momentum on any other decoder; the higher the amount, the longer the engine will take to stop. If you set CV4 to zero, the engine will stop as soon as you power down to zero.

I find putting the momentum on CV4 to around 20-30 allows me to press the brake once and the engine stops about as quickly as just turning the throttle down to zero. You may need to try different settings to see what works for you.

 

I used the Audio Assistant feature that talked me through it. It does allow you to switch between Traditional and Prototype modes. Even when I switched to Traditional, it appears it still has a fairly high CV4 setting because it took several feet to come to a complete stop without using the brake. When I went back to Prototype mode and I turn the throttle from top speed down to zero it will coast over 20 feet easily. I think I'm going to set it to Traditional mode and then reduce the CV4 setting so it operates more like the rest of my loco fleet.

I would much rather be able to use the throttle to make gradual start ups and braking. It's not a hard skill to learn to do. Even I figured out how to do it. I do like the braking sound it makes when the brake is applied by pressing F7. I haven't figured out if that's still present in Traditional mode.  

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Posted by tstage on Tuesday, May 19, 2020 6:04 PM

wjstix
I find putting the momentum on CV4 to around 20-30 allows me to press the brake once and the engine stops about as quickly as just turning the throttle down to zero. You may need to try different settings to see what works for you.

The value entered into CV 3 is multiplied by a factor of 8.  So my "3" would fit into your momentum window, Stix.  And, IIRC, CV 4 is multiplied by 1/2 that or a factor of 4.

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Posted by FowlmereRR on Wednesday, May 20, 2020 4:09 AM

I have just fitted a WOW Steam decoder into a Proto 2000 Heritage 0-6-0. I was initially a bit dubious about the "Prototype" mode and F7 braking, but having played for a while I rather like it now, and I am no longer thinking about changing to "Traditional" mode.

In fact, I am rather thinking about fitting the same decoder into a couple more DCC-ready locos I have so that they all operate the same way.

Bob

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Posted by John-NYBW on Wednesday, May 20, 2020 6:38 AM

FowlmereRR

I have just fitted a WOW Steam decoder into a Proto 2000 Heritage 0-6-0. I was initially a bit dubious about the "Prototype" mode and F7 braking, but having played for a while I rather like it now, and I am no longer thinking about changing to "Traditional" mode.

In fact, I am rather thinking about fitting the same decoder into a couple more DCC-ready locos I have so that they all operate the same way.

Bob

 

I haven't completely given up on Prototype mode. Now that I know how to do it, it's easy to switch back and forth. I'm still going to play with it to see if I can get the hang of it and stop it where I want it to stop. I do like the way the brakes squeal as it stops but since this loco is going to do a lot of switching, I don't want it slamming into the cars it is coupling to. 

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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, May 20, 2020 9:46 AM

from the manual, courtesy of John-NYBW:
"In the TCS WOWSound decoders we have reinvented the way we think about model locomotive operation to reflect that of the prototype. Currently, most model trains operate without a brake seperate [sic] from the throttle speed. We call this kind of operation "Traditional" because your locomotive operates like a slot car (directly controlled by the throttle). With our new default "Prototype" operation users are expected to apply and release the brakes seperately [sic] from adjusting the throttle just like the real thing, though the brakes will automatically release when the throttle is increased."

Glad to see that programmers from the NAJPTC project have finally found employment in the software field again, although it seems they have learned comparatively little.

A non-moron programmer considering 'prototype' operation will comprehend the presence and effect of machine friction or train resistance in operation, and at least design a default 'bleed-off' of applied power to simulate this -- it doesn't seem to me to take much to get a 'prototypical' default.  Just because slot cars have ridiculous voltage slew means you throw the whole premise out, let alone replace it with something harebrained like 'infinite frictionless momentum'... or even some non-Davis train-resistance approximation taken only from steel-wheel-on-steel-rail "friction" vs. very large assumed inherent momentum.

Now, if I were doing this sort of thing, I'd tie the F7 response 'programming' to what actual one-pipe Westinghouse brakes do -- early pushes give you different degrees of service, four pushes give you emergency, five gives you immediate stop, etc.  Put the application after first F7 on the encoder wheel if you like to simulate gradual application, or put appropriate support in if you want some modeling of graduated release (again likely via the encoder wheel) as in P position.  That would actually add some real-world 'prototype' verisimilitude to model train operation.

Oh, and while they're at fixing it, they could program prototypical brake release and recharge into what happens when the throttle is reopened (i.e. commanded voltage rises above current delivered voltage) -- resumption of acceleration will not be immediate, as it would be in, say, a slot car, but will be retarded as the brakes release, perhaps with appropriate sound effects, as the air compressors come on, etc. to pump up the system for the next application.

(If I were as truly sadistic as I sometimes pretend to be, I'd incorporate a simulation mode that mimicks how the brakes would respond on a real comparable train -- meaning considerable to near-infinite momentum right up to whatever your 'stop now - no backchat' number of frantic F7 pushes might be if you let the air get too low in the wrong place.)

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Posted by snjroy on Wednesday, May 20, 2020 2:13 PM

Well, if there was a vote, count me in the "slot car" category.  Operations with long braking are very tedious, especially when the layout is on the smallish size, with many cars and switches bunched up in tight spaces. We are very far from the prototype, brake button or not... In all events, it should be easy to program the CVs on one or the other. 

Simon

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Posted by John-NYBW on Wednesday, May 20, 2020 3:25 PM

snjroy

Well, if there was a vote, count me in the "slot car" category.  Operations with long braking are very tedious, especially when the layout is on the smallish size, with many cars and switches bunched up in tight spaces. We are very far from the prototype, brake button or not... In all events, it should be easy to program the CVs on one or the other. 

Simon

 

That's a good point and one I hadn't thought of. It applies even to large layouts. It requires a lot of distance to bring a real train to a stop and we just don't have that kind of space even on big layouts. Stopping distance doesn't scale down well. My longest mainline run between towns is about 15 feet. By the time I'd get a train up to speed it would be time to start braking again. Another problem extending braking presents is hidden staging yards. It would be quite easy to overshoot if you can't stop in a very short distance. 

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Posted by BMMECNYC on Thursday, May 28, 2020 7:52 PM

Audio assist allows you to switch throttle modes.

Press 8 8 8 8 (eight 4 times)

Press 4 (additional options)

Press 1 ( to choose a throttle mode)

Press 7 to hear an explaination of throttle modes

Press 1 or 2 (to select mode)

Source: 

https://tcsdcc.com/sites/default/files/2018-05/WOWSteam%20Sound%20Manual%20v4.pdf

 

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Posted by BMMECNYC on Thursday, May 28, 2020 7:55 PM

Overmod
programmer considering 'prototype' operation will comprehend the presence and effect of machine friction or train resistance in operation, and at least design a default 'bleed-off' of applied power to simulate this -- it doesn't seem to me to take much to get a 'prototypical' default.

TCS decoders do this...the locomotive does slow down when you shut the throttle off, but it doesnt come to a complete stop for awhile, it is in effect like having the momentum cranked up to max. 

Also, name calling is uncalled for. 

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