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Readout of Address for Loco's in storage track

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  • Member since
    April 2008
  • 2 posts
Readout of Address for Loco's in storage track
Posted by Cyrilaardvark on Thursday, April 10, 2008 4:39 PM

I am interested to see if someone has developed a circuit that would read back and display the digitial address of loco occupying a storage track. I was thinking that a 4 digit led display on the control panel for each storage track would be an neat idea.

I find that because there is sometimes a long time laspe between sessions, that unless I manually record the loco's that are in storage, it becomes a task to climb under the layout with a flashlight to read each loco address. 

I run Digitrax DCC, mostly Soundtrax decoders, some Digitrax and one QSI. I use Digitrax block detection in the storage areas only.


Jim Bush 

  • Member since
    January 2007
  • From: Eastern Shore Virginia
  • 3,290 posts
Posted by gandydancer19 on Thursday, April 10, 2008 7:57 PM

Sign - Welcome [#welcome] to the forums!

The answer is YES.  Digitrax has what they call Transponding.  This can be added to their detection system / cards.  However, as I understand it, you need transponding decoders as well.  Go to the Digitrax web site and you can read about it.


The above is my opinion, from an active and experienced Model Railroader in N scale and HO since 1961.

(Modeling Freelance, Eastern US, HO scale, in 1962, with NCE DCC for locomotive control and a stand alone LocoNet for block detection and signals.) at home, and N scale at the Club.

  • Member since
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Posted by UpNorth on Thursday, April 10, 2008 9:08 PM
Digitrax transponding is the only way you will get the info you ask. It requires you have a BDL168 and add the RX-4 to it. Your decoders must be from Digitrax, no other supports transponding. You can get around this by using Digitrax function only decoders as the come equiped with transponding.  Be aware that function only transponding will not give you engine controling decoder info. best you can do is set the function only decoder (with transponding) to the same address as the controling decoder. 
  • Member since
    December 2004
  • From: Bedford, MA, USA
  • 19,080 posts
Posted by MisterBeasley on Friday, April 11, 2008 7:02 AM

Think Outside The Box Department:

This would be a very non-standard way of doing this, and it has some drawbacks.  But, it will work with any decoder:

Requirement 1: Each storage track must be electrically isolated from the layout, and from all other storage tracks.

Requirement 2: Only 1 engine per storage track.

Requirement 3: This is manual only, and you can't run trains while you're checking addresses.

Take the programming track output of your DCC system and run it to a monster rotary switch.  The switch is then wired to each of the storage tracks.  You'll also need some way to disconnect the storage tracks from the rest of the layout to do this.  To read what's on each track, all you have to do is switch to programming mode and select the appropriate track, and then read back the address.  Yeah, this is kludgy, but to me it beats climbing under the layout with a flashlight.


Get a small surveillance camera.  Put enough light down there that you can use the camera to see what's on the tracks.  Yes, you'll need a TV screen, but with the coming dawn of universal HDTV, you can probably find a perfectly-good old-style TV by driving around your neighborhood on garbage pickup day.


Be prototypical.  Get a whiteboard, or, if you don't model the modern era, a blackboard.  As an engine goes to storage, record it on the board.

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

  • Member since
    April 2008
  • 2 posts
Posted by Cyrilaardvark on Friday, April 11, 2008 1:36 PM

Thanks Mr Beasley - I like the way you think on this - keeping things simple.

Yes, with my current setup, it would be relatively easy to do the rotary switch option and read-back using the programing function. All my tracks are isolated. This would give me the info I need. Thanks for that.

I was waiting for someone to suggest the whiteboard option - and yes in the meantime I may look at a quicke version next to the storage control panel.

I also had the idea of "tumbler" type numerals on the control panel for each track, that would record the 4 digit address manually - like the rotating rubber date stamp idea. Will think more on that.

From the feedback that others have made, transponding would be the way to go, but with only a few digitrax decoders, installing the function only decoders would be quite a task. 

Thanks again



  • Member since
    January 2001
  • From: Kansas
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Posted by jamnest on Friday, April 11, 2008 6:56 PM
Why not just program your locomotive decoder address to the number printed on the locomotive; and use a printed car (locomotive) card for each stroage track to indicate which locomotives and cars are stored there?

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

  • Member since
    December 2002
  • 1,511 posts
Posted by pastorbob on Saturday, April 12, 2008 3:05 PM
 davidmbedard wrote:

How about a waybill for each loco, and have a slot for each stall in the roundhouse.  You can also have a pocket on the rear of your throttle for the loco.  If you include them in an Ops session, you can also stage "mechanical breakdowns" at a certain time.

David B

Echoing the other posts, simple way is an engine card with the loco number being the same as the programmed 4 digit address, and keep the cards with the engines.  I have around 60 permanent consists sat up, so the locos cards have another card in the pocket with consist info and the other locos in the consist on the card.  The remaining locos not in a consist have the single engine card, easy stuff.

Each station/yard/storage area has the car card boxes with each track covered.  cards are stored in these boxes.  May not be "techie" enough for some, but it works for me.

the information is also kept on an Excel spreadsheet on the laptop at the dispatch desk.


Bob Miller

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