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decoder programming

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  • Member since
    February 2008
  • 2 posts
decoder programming
Posted by tonyslair on Tuesday, February 5, 2008 12:38 PM

I need help! I am new to dcc. I have an MRC prodigy express and a booster. My first dcc loco is a  HO Athearn MP15AC with sound.It worked perfectly with address #3. i wanted to change the address to a 4digit address, bur from the MRC and the decoder manuals I was unable to do this. When it asked for an adr. it did not respond to the one entered only address 3. I tried to figure out how to do this with CVs 17, 18, & 29. I should have left well enough because it now does not respond to the default address 3, just idles. Programming CV 125 to 1 resets all defaults. That did not work. It only operates in dc analog mode. I am apparently way over my head with this, but it should have been made easier. 

If you can help me to get it working again in dcc mode I will still need to how to program a 4 digit address. Hope you can help, John     

  • Member since
    December 2004
  • From: Bedford, MA, USA
  • 19,085 posts
Posted by MisterBeasley on Tuesday, February 5, 2008 1:37 PM

Can you read back the engine address?

Sorry, I don't have either an MRC system or one of these engines.  I think Athearn uses MRC decoders for these, but I'm not sure.  Anyway, if you can read back the address, that's a good start.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

  • Member since
    January 2002
  • From: Portland, OR
  • 3,119 posts
Posted by jfugate on Tuesday, February 5, 2008 2:43 PM

I know its not much comfort, but the MRC Prodigy Express is a rather limited DCC system -- it will not read back CVs. If you can't get the decoder to reset, take it to a friend's who has a system that reads CVs and try to figure out what is wrong. If you can't do that, work your way through the CVs one by one, setting them deliberately to the value you want them to be. And if that doesn't work or you don't want to bother, contact the decoder manufacturer and ask their advice.

Because the MRC Prodigy Express is such a limited system, longer term I'd recommend you consider selling it on E-Bay and getting a Prodigy Advanced or an NCE Powercab. The PowerCab now has an add-on computer interface feature -- if you had a system with a computer interface and DecoderPro installed (free!), you could have completely restored all the CVs in a couple of minutes and then tried again.

That's one of the beauties of DecoderPro -- you can save all your CV settings for a loco to your PCs hard drive so if you ever need to restore all the CVs it takes a couple minutes and you're back in business! 

Joe Fugate Modeling the 1980s SP Siskiyou Line in southern Oregon

  • Member since
    January 2001
  • From: Kansas
  • 808 posts
Posted by jamnest on Tuesday, February 5, 2008 3:53 PM

Digitrax Zepher can read back CVs and it also does blast mode programing so it can program DCC sound decoders.  The Zepher is Digitrax's entry level DCC system.

Digitrax Empire Builder with a DB150 can not read back CV, so if you want more than the Zepher has to offer, you need to move up to a Chief (DCS-100) command station.

I would recommend getting a DCC system that has a computer interface;  then down Decoder Pro for programing your locomotives.


Jim, Modeling the Kansas City Southern Lines in HO scale.

  • Member since
    January 2004
  • 790 posts
Posted by Tilden on Tuesday, February 5, 2008 8:15 PM

It is not easy or reliable to read a sound decoders CV's, especially MRC/Athearn's.  Sometimes I can read CV values if I turn the sound off first and then set the loco on the programming track and try to read the values.

This only works if your system can read back CV values.  If not, then have someone else try it or reprogram each CV.  When you reprogram CV's make sure you read the decoder instructions.  If aparticular CV is not listed in the instructions, then the decoder probally doesn't support it and there is no use trying to read or change it.


  • Member since
    January 2005
  • From: springfield . Ma
  • 194 posts
Posted by Ibeamlicker on Wednesday, February 6, 2008 12:12 AM
Read the back of the controller it gives you a quick and easy way to give a new address.

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