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Switching back to DC

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Switching back to DC
Posted by Anonymous on Monday, March 24, 2008 6:48 AM
After a futile attempt at trying to run a DCC loco as a normal DC locomotive on a DC controller i have just been given another loco that is DCC equiped (long story)it also has problems running as a normal DC loco so i am thinking of taking out the DCC electronics and running it as a plain old DC loco,whats involved in the process of de DCCing it?  thanks.
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Posted by jeffrey-wimberly on Monday, March 24, 2008 7:18 AM
Usually just removing the board and hardwiring the loco so the power goes directly from the wheels to the motor and lights. You might want to check to see if the locos have plugs that can be moved to enable them to be used on DC or have someone with a DCC system that can read CV's try setting them for DC operatrion.

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Posted by jfugate on Monday, March 24, 2008 11:41 AM

While I can understand the frustration that being brand new to DCC can be, don't just let your very first experience with DCC sour you to the technology. Stick with it just a bit longer, so you get a couple more experiences under your belt, then decide.

Once you get a chance to experience DCC working properly, I'm betting you will be very impressed with the ability it gives you of fine-tuning each and every loco's performance.

If you really care about great loco performance and fiddling with loco mechanisms is not a part of the hobby you relish -- then you owe it to yourself to stick with it until you learn the DCC ropes a little better. 

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

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Posted by selector on Monday, March 24, 2008 12:28 PM

How about taking a deep breath, accept that you may have missed, or misunderstood something, that has made your experience....so far...a less than satisfactory one.  Could we prevail upon you to flesh out your problems with some more details?  What you are running, on what, with what.  Tell us what you feel is wrong with your experience so far.  From there, we, as a group, may be able to get you through this and back to a most rewarding and fun time in the hobby.

Please, stop, and tell us a bit more.

-Crandell

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Posted by Anonymous on Monday, March 24, 2008 12:56 PM
90% of what i like about model railroading is the making of the layout with all the scenery etc.running trains is secondary.i have an MRC Tech2 Railmaster 2400 controller that runs just fine for my purposes which may include running 1 or 2 trains.I bought a specific engine (P2K Limited Edition SW 9)to act as a shunter but it only came with factory installed DCC and sound which the salesman said would run fine as a DC unit minus the DCC parameters and i would also not have control over the sounds,well when i tried it the thing wouldnt run 2ft without cutting out or shutting down so i returned the product,Now i have just been given another unit with DCC and it runs about the same but i dont have the option of returning it.Up here in Canada it would cost me around $600 to go the DCC route which just  doesnt make any financial sense for my purposes.Its not that i'm anti DCC its just not what i want at the moment..Thanks for the info.
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Posted by Texas Zepher on Monday, March 24, 2008 1:17 PM

 jambo101 wrote:
I bought a specific engine (P2K Limited Edition SW 9)to act as a shunter but it only came with factory installed DCC and sound which the salesman said would run fine as a DC unit minus the DCC parameters and i would also not have control over the sounds,well when i tried it the thing wouldnt run 2ft without cutting out or shutting down so i returned the product
That was poor advice from the salesman and a good thing they allowed you to return it.   However the problem sounds like simple dirty track, or perhaps the wheels of the loco were dirty (machine oily) from the factory.   Also DCC Sound equipped locomotives are tricky to control on DC.  One must carefully read the directions.  As I recall one thing is that the power is never supposed to be totally turned off unless a direction change is desired.  I am acually surprised if the locomotive moved before about 1/4-1/2 throttle.

i have just been given another unit with DCC and it runs about the same but i dont have the option of returning it.
Another similar P2K? Does it also have sound? 

A conversion to DC should be fairly straight forward.  The most difficult part will be any lighting it has.   Basically one would simply remove the decoder.  Connect the pickup wires off the trucks together (left to left & right to right).  A small wire will probably have to added to each side, because they probably are too short to reach each other.  These are your power wires.  Next connect the positive pole of the motor to the right hand power wire and the negative pole of the motor to the left.   This is an NMRA standard that says the locomotive will go forward when + polarity is applied to the right hand rail.   At this point the locomotive should move properly.    For headlamps some addition information is needed like the voltage it is expecting.  Don't just hook it up directly because many headlamps these days are 1.5V.  That would blow in a split second if connected directly to the power pickup wires.

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Posted by Anonymous on Monday, March 24, 2008 1:18 PM

You must understand that there is a certain point on your analog throttle that must always be maintained to keep that DCC engine alive.

Somewhere above that point to a certain point on the throttle dial the engine will leave neutral and move forward or reverse.

The track, wheels must be clean and the good feeders in for it all to work reliably.

If DCC was really bad, I would not have spent the last 5 year's worth of hobby spending on it.

Consider a entry level DCC system to keep better control of your engines. The price of a good one equals that switcher you are trying to run.

Once you get a DCC system controlling that switcher, you are going to be blown away by the slow speed shunting you can do.

Because I myself know that I am no good with the analog throttles, I set all of my DCC engines NOT to accept old style analog power.

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Posted by jamnest on Monday, March 24, 2008 2:15 PM

Sign - Ditto [#ditto]

I think that you will continue to be frustrated trying to run a dual mode decoder with DC.  Considering the cost/investment of a DCC-Sound Locomotive, a long-term solution would be to invest in a DCC starter set such as a Digitrax Zepher.  The Zepher will also let you run your non-DCC equiped locomotives in analog mode.

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

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Posted by jfugate on Monday, March 24, 2008 2:21 PM

Your $600 Canadian dollars for a starter DCC system is pretty far off the mark.

Take a look at an NCE PowerCab ($150 Canadian) or a Digitrax Zephyr ($147 Canadian) from Litchfield Station. Litchfield Station has free shipping on orders over $50 so you won't even have to pay shipping for these systems! So you can see, for little more than the cost of another nice loco, you can move to running trains on DCC.

Running mixed mode (DCC locos on DC -or- DC locos on DCC) is only a stop-gap measure and not something I recommend as a standard practice, so your dealer's recommendations are somewhat misleading. You will not get decent loco performance for the most part running in mixed mode. Either go straight DC or into DCC -- running regularly with a mixture will not lead to very satisfying loco performance.

If I were in your shoes, I'd sell the one loco you can't return on eBay and use the funds to underwrite the purchase of one of the starter DCC systems above. Then get yourself a couple of fleet decoders (NCE D13SR is a good choice) for $15 each and start your journey into DCC.

Once you see what you can do with DCC, chances are you won't look back. Believe me, DCC is that good! It's easily worth the price of another loco to move to DCC, IMO.

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

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Posted by modelmaker51 on Monday, March 24, 2008 2:25 PM
I don't know where you're getting the $600 figure to go DCC, but there are several great starter systems for $150 - $200, even up there in Canada.

Jay 

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Other builds: https://imageshack.com/my/albums 

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Posted by selector on Monday, March 24, 2008 3:41 PM

And....AND... I am pretty sure your little switcher, the first one, came with rubber tires on one axle to help with traction.  I may be late now, but I have the same diesel, and I couldn't get it to run more than 12" on my layout.  I do run DCC.  When I inquired, the kind tech at Walthers told me that my problem would probably go away if I installed an all metal-tired replacement axle that they would happily ship to me for nothing.  I accepted, installed it, and have had no problems since.  It was getting insufficient power pickup because the rubber tires meant a loss of about 50% of the potential for power transmission via the rails and metal wheel sets.

Also, my very first engine was a BLI DCC and sound Hudson.  I ran it on a DC transformer for 10 weeks before I saw the light...I wanted to be able to make the decoder run the engine more realistically.  Once I installed my system, a simple plug and play with the same two wires, I was having fun making the decoder do what I wanted it to do.

Try DCC.  Watch out for rubber traction tires on short engines, be they diesel or steam.

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Posted by Anonymous on Monday, March 24, 2008 5:19 PM

Im not trying to be snide... but I feel this has to be said:

If you treasure your analog power and refuse to go DCC, then there are analog ONLY versions of your locomotive for sale these days.

=) Cheaper too. And any number of self contained stand alone sound players are availible as well or you can create your own... lol.

I dont know what is worse... a stubborn dual mode user or a stubborn poster like me =)

Cheers!

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Posted by tstage on Monday, March 24, 2008 11:17 PM

I have to agree with a lot that has already been said.  Jambo, you haven't really "tried DCC" until you actually use it with a real DCC system.  Sure, you can use a DC power pack to run a locomotive outfitted with a dual-mode decoder.  But there are a number of things that are simply not available to you when you attempt to run your DCC locomotives on DC.

Now, does that mean that DC is bad?  On the contrary, it's a proven and reliable technology.  However, if you are going to utilize this newer technology, make sure you have a system in place that allows you access to ALL that it has to offer.  It doesn't mean that you'll use all of it.  It does mean that you have a system that is optimized to operate your locomotive's decoders as they were originally conceived and intended.

I've been trying to come of with an analogy to illustrate my point but I'm stumped at the moment.  Maybe someone can jump in with one.

Tom

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Posted by selector on Monday, March 24, 2008 11:47 PM
New high-speed, high capacity computer, high bandwidth capable, etc, but using a dial-up modem?  The technology disparity isn't far adrift from that analogy, I don't think.
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Posted by tstage on Tuesday, March 25, 2008 12:05 AM

You're hitting a lit-tle too close to home there, Crandell. Laugh [(-D]

Tom 

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Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, March 25, 2008 3:30 AM
 tstage wrote:
I've been trying to come of with an analogy to illustrate my point but I'm stumped at the moment.  Maybe someone can jump in with one.

Tom

How about "Why drive a small economy car to work when you could be driving a Ferrari to work"Wink [;)]

Thanks for all the help,i'll start looking for a starter system then worry about how to pay for it without the wife finding out. 

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Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, March 25, 2008 3:51 AM

Secrets are not good.

My spouse and I dont hide train stuff. In fact my DCC system was a gift one year during the holidays. We had a pretty good year and had a little extra left over for it without touching the everyday budget or bills.

These days when a major purchase comes up, I usually put X dollars away each month into savings and voila! It's done.

I use JMRI on the computer now which connects with my loconet from the computer and it has been a great help towards corraling my sometimes onery set of engines much easier too than a world of binary that I learned in college.

As far as a analogy well... how bout this?

Old style V8 engine or Desiel that breathes air through a carburetor (Spelling?) or turbo and requires rather basic working to function. You could maintain and fix this engine with a standard toolbox from Sears.

Today's engines just need a button pushed to start with just about all of the things that could go wrong removed from the owner's mind by computer. Any problems require a workshop with fancy computers and all sorts of expensive electronics before understanding what repairs are needed.

Sometimes that computer tried to shut my rig down being just a little short of coolant. Takes a paper clip on the sensor to force it to "Think" there is plenty of coolant and bypass some of this... this... fancy junk technology.

In fact, I recently took down the rabbit ears and replaced them with a converter box to recieve DTV signals to supplement my satellite box because the USA will quit transmitting analog tv in early 2009 pernamently.

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Posted by arkansasrailfan on Tuesday, March 25, 2008 5:07 AM
Well DCC is preety much all plug N' play nowadays.
-Michael It's baaaacccckkkk!!!!!! www.youtube.com/user/wyomingrailfan
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Posted by jeffrey-wimberly on Tuesday, March 25, 2008 6:10 AM
 wyomingrailfan wrote:
Well DCC is preety much all plug N' play nowadays.
Not for me it's not. Many of my old Athearn's are just that - old. I'm converting them, one by one to DCC. Initially I did this with the Digitrax DH123AT decoder, just clip on and go with very little modification to the loco, just isolating the motor from the frame. The only problem was the wire lengths were way too long and had to be cut back. This required that the newly trimmed wires be either soldered back onto their clips or soldered directly to the points they would go to in the loco. I also make use of decoders rescued/salvaged from DCC-Onboard Bachmann locos. These however are rather large and can be somewhat difficult to fit into a hood unit but they work well enough in car body units such as F7's and PA's. Lately I've been using the Digitraz DZ125 decoders. These are Z scale size but are robust enough to operate most HO equipment, including Athearn's.Nothing plug 'n' play here.

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Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, March 25, 2008 7:15 AM
 selector wrote:

And....AND... I am pretty sure your little switcher, the first one, came with rubber tires on one axle to help with traction.  I may be late now, but I have the same diesel, and I couldn't get it to run more than 12" on my layout.  I do run DCC.  When I inquired, the kind tech at Walthers told me that my problem would probably go away if I installed an all metal-tired replacement axle that they would happily ship to me for nothing.  I accepted, installed it, and have had no problems since.  It was getting insufficient power pickup because the rubber tires meant a loss of about 50% of the potential for power transmission via the rails and metal wheel sets.

Also, my very first engine was a BLI DCC and sound Hudson.  I ran it on a DC transformer for 10 weeks before I saw the light...I wanted to be able to make the decoder run the engine more realistically.  Once I installed my system, a simple plug and play with the same two wires, I was having fun making the decoder do what I wanted it to do.

Try DCC.  Watch out for rubber traction tires on short engines, be they diesel or steam.

  We have a winner on the problem diagnosis.

Switching the rubber traction wheels to an all metal wheel solved the problem.Thanks for the tip selector  and thanks all for sewing the seed of a future DCC convert.

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Posted by UpNorth on Tuesday, March 25, 2008 1:05 PM

 "... This engine has traction tires on one axel, both wheels. Could be related as one truck is only picking up current on two wheels.  Hate traction tires...    "

" ... Dig deep into the box and you should find another set of wheel sets with no traction tires... "

Funny, these were suggested about 5 days ago by Jbernier and myself.  You would have saved all the greif and frustration.    

Marc.

 

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Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, March 25, 2008 2:41 PM
 UpNorth wrote:

 "... This engine has traction tires on one axel, both wheels. Could be related as one truck is only picking up current on two wheels.  Hate traction tires...    "

" ... Dig deep into the box and you should find another set of wheel sets with no traction tires... "

Funny, these were suggested about 5 days ago by Jbernier and myself.  You would have saved all the greif and frustration.    

Marc.

 

 

You are right,i should have checked back to that previous post,I was probably thinking too much about the problem being with the lack of a DCC controller..Thanks guys you really know your stuff..Expect another volley of posts from me when i get a DCC controller.. 

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Posted by tstage on Tuesday, March 25, 2008 2:54 PM

Jambo,

We'll just expect a much smoother and easier transition whenever you make your move over to DCC. Smile [:)]

Tom 

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Posted by selector on Tuesday, March 25, 2008 6:24 PM

 jambo101 wrote:

 We have a winner on the problem diagnosis.

Switching the rubber traction wheels to an all metal wheel solved the problem.Thanks for the tip selector  and thanks all for sewing the seed of a future DCC convert.

Jambo101, I am pleased that it worked.  I have had the same eureka when I have had "issues" and have gotten help from others who have "been there."  We help each other and have a better time of things that way.

Whew...I'm glad we got the fat out of the fire that time.  Big Smile [:D]

Go DCC!!!

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Posted by UpNorth on Tuesday, March 25, 2008 9:08 PM

Sent you a PM few days back. Guess you missed it. A Zephyr,  with Locobuffer-USB, sold on Ebay  for 186$ CDN. It was located in New Jersey,  a nice drive away...

Browsing previous sales on Ebay I found Zephyrs sold for  between 100$ (not a myth or hear say) and 186$. 

You can find DCC for far less than 600$ and are not limited to Digitrax in any way.  Why do I push the Zephyr ?...  You can use your existing DC power pack with a Zephyr. The Zephyr  uses your DC  as what they call a " JUMP " throttle.  So your power pack is not wasting away. Zephyr is the only one to do this, to my knowledge. 

Marc  

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Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, March 26, 2008 6:32 PM

The power pack's ability to jump onto a DCC system isnt that important.

The old power pack can do good service lighting buildings etc.

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Posted by UpNorth on Wednesday, March 26, 2008 6:43 PM
It does offer you the possibility of having a second throttle at no additional cost and that throttle can still be lighting buildings all the same.  I'd rather have visiting youngsters pounding away at the DC throttle than on the DCC controler.
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Posted by New Haven I-5 on Saturday, March 29, 2008 1:16 PM
Jambo, P2K's with sound use QSI sound. Don't trash the sound decoder! Get QSI's Quantum Engineer. It is for DC use and costs aroun $30 to $50. You get to use 33 sound functions. All you have to do ( I think) is wire it to your DC controller.

- Luke

Modeling the Southern Pacific in the 1960's-1980's

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Posted by UpNorth on Saturday, March 29, 2008 2:45 PM

Again, reading thru their manual, that unit only works with the QSI decoders and the QSI decoder must have QARC.  It does not  work with any other decoder but QSI.

So you want sound,  you limit yourself to  QSI decoders and QSI equiped locos. If you pick up a QSI without QARC, it won't work.

 Might as well go DCC and not limit yourself.

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