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DCC ready, what does that mean?

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DCC ready, what does that mean?
Posted by woodman on Thursday, April 28, 2011 10:24 PM

As I stated before, I just got back into the hobby after close to 20 years. I have decided to go with DCC operation. I know less than nothing about DCC. I purchased the Digitrax Zephyr Xtra system. I just recently purchased 3 DCC engines. A spectrum SD-45, a Bachmann GP-30 and a Spectrum GE-44 Ton Switcher. I have been able to get the SD-45 and GP-30 running, but only in the 03 mode. I have been unable to program the four digit engine number, I keep getting d nr error message, the manual say something about, it can not read the decoder. What do I do to correct this? Also the GE-44 Ton switcher will not respond to any programing. I noticed on the box it states that it is DCC ready, did I just purchase a DC loco that will need a decoder installed? Like I said, I know less than nothing about DCC. I am really worried that I might be in over my head. I have just purchased an Atlas Gold line GP-40-2 with QSI sound, it should arrive next week. Have I bitten off more than I can chew?

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Posted by wholeman on Friday, April 29, 2011 12:58 AM

DCC ready means that the loco is easy to install a decoder.  Usually there is a plug for the decoder to plug into. Usually there is a dummy plug that allow the loco run on DC.

I hope you didn't put that particular loco on powered track with DCC.  The motor will be fried with the DC dummy plug in place.

Will

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Posted by tstage on Friday, April 29, 2011 6:42 AM

Generally, it means that the motor is wired and/or has a 8-pin NMRA socket ready for a DCC decoder.  In reality, some decoder installs are easier than others.

And, in the case of the Proto 2000 S1 switcher, it means absolutely nothing.  Even though the box says "DCC-ready", the motor brushes still have to be isolated from the chassis or your decoder goes **poof**

Tom

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Posted by Phoebe Vet on Friday, April 29, 2011 7:16 AM

Merely putting a DC loco on DCC track will not fry the motor.  If it is left there not in motion for long periods of time, it will overheat and damage can eventually be done.

While I don't have any now, I have run DC engines on DCC with zero stretching for hours in the past.  Not all DCC systems have that capability.

Dave

Lackawanna Route of the Phoebe Snow

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Posted by rrinker on Friday, April 29, 2011 8:26 AM

 You're running into the infamous Bachmann cheap junky decoder problem. Those Bachmanns that come with DCC already installed use an old Lenz-designed decoder built for them that is not even sold by Lenz since the current Lenz economy models exceed it. They usually work for programmign if you connect a 1K resistor across the program track rails. Eventually you may want to replace them with better decoders - even the $12 NCE D13SRJ (when purchased in a 10 pack) is a FAR superior decoder than those Bachmann ones. It's great Bachmann makes it possible to buy a $50 locoa nd it already has DCC< but, well, you get what you pay for sometimes. What's more annoying is that they use that same cheap decoder in the otherwise superb Spectrum steam locos, which aren;t $50 locos. Unless you get the sound version, which has a Tsunami sound decoder.

 DCC Ready unfortunately is just a marketing term. SOmetimes it means all youhave to do is plug in a decoder, other times it just means that yes, you CAN put a decoder in this loco if you want to - which is true of ANYTHING. You cna put a decoder in anything - just the level of effort required varies.

                   --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

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Posted by cacole on Friday, April 29, 2011 9:29 AM

With some models it means that installing a DCC decoder is a simple matter of plugging one into a socket.

With others it means practically nothing other than marketing hype because the model has no decoder socket or the loco must be rewired to accept a decoder.

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Posted by rrinker on Friday, April 29, 2011 12:35 PM

davidmbedard

DCC ready means "motor is isolated from the frame"...nothing more.

David B

 But not always! See Proto2000 S-1 switchers for example. Says DCC Ready on the box. Orange motor wire connected right to the frame.

 Motor brushes isolated from the track pickups, I'll buy that as a definition.

                       --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

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Posted by Hamltnblue on Friday, April 29, 2011 3:22 PM

As you can probably guess, once you see a DCC ready loco you are interested in, post it here and we'll buy it before you, oops, we'll tell you what will be involved.

Springfield PA

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Posted by richhotrain on Friday, April 29, 2011 5:54 PM

rrinker

 davidmbedard:

DCC ready means "motor is isolated from the frame"...nothing more.

David B

 

 But not always! See Proto2000 S-1 switchers for example. Says DCC Ready on the box. Orange motor wire connected right to the frame.

 Motor brushes isolated from the track pickups, I'll buy that as a definition.

                       --Randy

 

Randy,

I am still the proud owner of a fried decoder that I installed in one of those exact little buggers before I knew better.

Rich

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Posted by woodman on Friday, April 29, 2011 6:08 PM

Just wanted to thank everyone for their input. I disconnected the power from the programming track. The two DCC locos are both running. One loco I was able to program the 4 digit road number into it and it was accepted and works fine. The other a Bachmann Spectrum loco still will not accept the 4 digit road number, it will only operate at the default 03 setting. Another problem with this loco is it is running very slowly at full throttle. Is this a decoder issue or motor issue?

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Posted by rrinker on Saturday, April 30, 2011 12:16 AM

 Try the resistor across the program track that I mentioned in the other thread, A 1K resistor should be fine. One lead of the resistor to one rail, the other lead to the other rail, of you rprogramming track. Give that a try. I presume that Bachmann Spectrum loco came with a decoder - in which case it is the Bachmann ultra-cheap decoder and often required the resistor to put an extra load on the program track.

                  --Randy


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

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Posted by wabash2800 on Saturday, April 30, 2011 10:47 AM

As for the Digitrax system, you bought a system that is not user friendly, especially for beginners. This is a system for folks that like to troubleshoot and have all the bells and whistles at the expense of complication. You might have to find someone nearby that is a guru with this stuff, as you'll be asking for more help then than with other DCC systems. It's heavily marketed but not the best for the reasons just stated.

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Posted by rrinker on Saturday, April 30, 2011 11:57 AM

 This 'ease of use' thing is REALLY getting tired. EVERY system does the basic operation the EXACT same way. Use the somewhat cumbersome DT100 throttle of a Digitrax system that hasn't even been made for nearly 20 years is NOT a valid comparison on the useability of various systems.

 There also is this persisent MYTH that Digitrax systems require you to manually set CV17/18/29 to program a 4-digit address. Absolutely not true.

 There is a persistent myth that it's hard to hook up a Digitrax system. The terminals are clearly labeled and the user mauals show a clear picture right int he front of what plugs in to where. ANd IMMEDIATELY walks you through selecting and runnign a loco. I've read the other manuals - some of them have pages of information before they even tell you how to hook the darn thing up, yet Digitrax gets rapped for supposedly not having a 'getting started' section. What?

 And then there's Loconet. Single bus for the entire system, not a seperate command station and throttle bus, and more capable than any polled system. And certainly no harder to hook up than any other, in fact maybe EASIER than some that still start with individual wires at the command station instead of a plug and socket like on all the downstream devices.

                   --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by Phoebe Vet on Saturday, April 30, 2011 1:03 PM

Just because it's too complicated for YOU does not mean it's too complicated for most people who are actually willing to read the manual.

I found my Super Chief manual to be very easy to read and comprehend, and the system very simple to set up and operate.

My 4 year old grandson has no difficulty at all operating the trains.

There are valid personal reasons why some people prefer a different system, but ease of use certainly isn't one of them.

Dave

Lackawanna Route of the Phoebe Snow

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Posted by mfm37 on Saturday, April 30, 2011 1:37 PM

I consider myself a Digitrax guru. That being said, I picked up an NCE throttle at the last train show and made more then one mistake trying to get a train running. So much for the intuitive thing. Had the same trouble first time I tried an MRC throttle.

Maybe it's just what you get used to doing. I have trouble with the windshield wipers on my wife's car, That's because the wipers are on turn signal lever of my own everyday vehicle. They are on the other side of the column on her car. She can't understand why it's so hard for me either.

 

Oh and what the heck does the comment about Digitrax systems have to do with "DCC ready" anyway?

Martin Myers

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Posted by rrinker on Saturday, April 30, 2011 2:12 PM

 OH yeah, I left one out - Cab address - all the others seem to have a cab address, and certain devices can only use certain ranges of addresses. No such thing in Digitrax, just plug in your new throttle and it works.

                  --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by glenng6 on Saturday, April 30, 2011 3:48 PM

Woodman,

I have to commend you for having the mettle to jump into DCC. I got back into mrr a few months ago, after a 17 year absence, but have known for a few years that I would go DCC. However, doing so seems fraught with many pitfalls. When the manufacturers command, and probably rightfully so, between $200-500 per loco- for sound & DCC- what guarantee do I have that placing my new loco on my tracks won't fry it?, or that it will work at all. Although I worked in the computer field for 38 years, I am not a programmer, or electrical engineer. And for hundreds of dollars I don't think I should have to be. As far as I am concerned it is the fault of NMRA. Nothing should be sold as DCC, or DCC ready unless it is plug & play. If there are 28 sounds available they should all work out of the box. If I don't choose to use them, so be it. Now from this thread I have found out that DCC ready could mean nothing, I have to program supposedly DCC locos, that Digitrax may require an advanced degree (was my choice until today), in addition to BLI and MTH having DCC issues now Bachman has problems as well. I have read and printed articles that state, that other than reverse loops, DC to DCC should work without a hitch. The more I read about DCC the bigger the nightmare seems. I hope it works out for you in the end, but I think it will be a long time before I plunk own a $2000 for a DCC system and some locos.

Glenn

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Posted by Hamltnblue on Saturday, April 30, 2011 3:58 PM

I too find it amazing that people don't read or update themselves before commenting. It goes to show that once people have a perception about something it's hard to break.  Digitrax earned the perception of being difficult but fixed it long ago but they still have the title

A very similar scenario is Bachmann.  They went through their time of poor quality.  Today they rank with the best in quality but they are having a problem shaking the reputation they earned long ago.

Springfield PA

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Posted by CNR378 on Saturday, April 30, 2011 4:28 PM

glenng6

Woodman,

I have to commend you for having the mettle to jump into DCC. I got back into mrr a few months ago, after a 17 year absence, but have known for a few years that I would go DCC. However, doing so seems fraught with many pitfalls. When the manufacturers command, and probably rightfully so, between $200-500 per loco- for sound & DCC- what guarantee do I have that placing my new loco on my tracks won't fry it?, or that it will work at all. Although I worked in the computer field for 38 years, I am not a programmer, or electrical engineer. And for hundreds of dollars I don't think I should have to be. As far as I am concerned it is the fault of NMRA. Nothing should be sold as DCC, or DCC ready unless it is plug & play. If there are 28 sounds available they should all work out of the box. If I don't choose to use them, so be it. Now from this thread I have found out that DCC ready could mean nothing, I have to program supposedly DCC locos, that Digitrax may require an advanced degree (was my choice until today), in addition to BLI and MTH having DCC issues now Bachman has problems as well. I have read and printed articles that state, that other than reverse loops, DC to DCC should work without a hitch. The more I read about DCC the bigger the nightmare seems. I hope it works out for you in the end, but I think it will be a long time before I plunk own a $2000 for a DCC system and some locos.

Glenn

I fail to see how this is the fault of the NMRA. They have no control over what manufacturers produce or how they advertise their products.

As for Digitrax needing an advanced degree you apparently missed reading half this thread.

Peter

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Posted by Phoebe Vet on Saturday, April 30, 2011 5:57 PM

You apparently have not been reading very carefully.

DCC engines will work right out of the box, and all of the sounds on DCC sound engines will work right out of the box.  A decoder is factory installed.  The only programing you will have to do is to change the address.  Most new DCC engines are programed to address 3 at the factory.  You can easily change it to any number you like.  Most people use the number that is on the side of the engine, unless you have a Bachmann EZCommand which can only use address 0 through 9.

The people who think you need some kind of advanced knowledge to operate a DCC system do not know what they are talking about.

The DCC Ready issues you are seeing here involve adding a decoder to your old DC engines.  Some people like to buy DC engines and install their own decoder because they like a particular brand of decoder better than others.  Most DCC Ready engines made today have an 8 pin plug into which you can just plug a decoder, or an easily replaceable board.  Older engines are sometimes more difficult and decoders must be hard wired.

This ease of use is BECAUSE of the NMRA standards.

Reverse loops are a problem on DC as much as DCC.  Reverse polarity is reverse polarity and a short circuit is a short circuit regardless of which system you use.

Dave

Lackawanna Route of the Phoebe Snow

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Posted by rrinker on Sunday, May 1, 2011 1:25 PM

 There is no 'advanced degree' needed to use DCC. The only programming that is pretty much 'required' is to set an address, unless you don't mind running your locos one at a time (in which case why bother sith DCC?). Nothing else is 'required' - it's there to add to the realism level of outr models - things like special lighting effects, momentum, configuring sounds.

And if you buy any common DCC system, EXCEPT MRC, there is a very nice FREE program called JMRI that will make settign all those advanced features as easy as clicking check boxes and selecting items from a dropdown list. You will need to purchase the computer interface device for whatever DCC system you get to use it.

                     --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by Truck on Sunday, May 1, 2011 3:04 PM

Here is a link for installing a decoder in your GE 44 tonner.  http://gearedsteam.blogspot.com/2010/08/bachmann-ge-44-ton-decoder-installation.html                

I recommend the decoder they are installing, the TCS  MC2. Just remember to cut off the two capasitors as stated. Once you see the difference in how your 44 tonner performs compared to your GP 30 & SD 45 with Bachmann decoders you may want to switch them out also, it's your prefference. And as far as your Zepher Xtra system goes, it has good reviews, you just have to learn how to use it. To program your Bachmann decoders on it, you will need a 1K ohm resistor. By soldering a couple leads with alligator clips on each end of the resistor you can clip them on your program track rails when needed to program.

DCC ready ?  Unless it is stated   PLUG N PLAY  or QUICK PLUG or some other wording that all you have to do is plug in a decoder of your choice, you can garranty yourself that soldering and more itensive disassembly of locomotive will be involed. And if your not sure about DCC ready for a loco you are about to puchasce, ask your LHC or google that particular loco someone out there some where should have an answer  as to how to install a decoder in it.

                                                                    Good luck,      Truck.

                                                               

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Posted by glenng6 on Monday, May 2, 2011 5:53 PM

Peter,

What I meant by it being the fault of NMRA is the fact that manufacturers are allowed to specify that their products meet the standard of the NMRA, when in fact this might not be true. NMRA should be testing these products to ensure their standard is met, and consumers are protected, before they allow manufacturers to specify they do. If they created the standard they should be enforcing it.

Also, this is not the only thread, or blog I have read about the "difficulty" of using Digitrax. And it was mentioned in this thread, as well. Now, it has been mentioned that Digitrax has resolved those problems, but that wasn't stated before I read the thread.

Glenn

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Posted by glenng6 on Monday, May 2, 2011 6:03 PM

Dave,

I understand that many, if not most mrr, may not have a problem out of the box. However, there seems to be a lot of people who are. From all the posts and blogs I have read I am just surprised at the number of people having issues. If the only process you have to do is set the address that doesn't seem unreasonable. What bothers me is how many mrr are having trouble doing so. Not to mention problems with lights and bells and horns.

Glenn

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Posted by rrinker on Monday, May 2, 2011 6:29 PM

 Some people have problems getting a simple loop of track to work with a basic power pack - I guess that makes DC difficult?

 Some people are great at scenery but not so good with wiring, other peopel are great with wiring but not so good at scenery (that would be me).  There's a huge variety of skills in this hobby, because it involves so many diverse sets of talents.

                 --Randy


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by glenng6 on Monday, May 2, 2011 6:30 PM

Randy,

Thanks for the information about JMRI. I had not heard of it before. I have no desire to run one loco at a time and thus my reason for reading everything I can about DCC. I think the problem may lie in the fact that people write when they are having problems, not when they are not. I guess a better way to look at it is not that there are so many problems, but as a resource for what problems I may encounter.

Glenn

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Posted by wabash2800 on Tuesday, May 10, 2011 1:19 PM

My point about Digitrax was that they do offer more bells and whistles and this makes it more complicated, especially for beginners and the instruction manual thicker. Also, having been on the planet for a while I know that just because something is heavily marketed and many people use it, doesn't mean it's the best product in its class. This is very evident in computer software and equipment. For example, sometimes Microsoft products can sometimes be a let down. I do not have the system but have used it. I also know folks in my area that did purchase it and I am speaking from their frustrations. There often has to be someone in their group that can help the others. And yes, they do use the manual. If this has been brought up time and again all across the internet,  we can't all be ignorant or making and consuming myths.

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Posted by floridaflyer on Tuesday, May 10, 2011 2:26 PM

Love my Zephyr, had trains running on separate addresses in about 2-3 minutes. some of the other capabilities took a bit longer. I believe both NCE and Digitrax offer a quality product for the price. If some don't like the Zephyr and find it "difficult" to operate fine. My experience was the opposite.

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Posted by Phoebe Vet on Tuesday, May 10, 2011 3:04 PM

I have a Digitrax Super Chief.  I also had it up and running in minutes after reading one page of the manual.

Just because it CAN do a lot, doesn't mean that it MUST do a lot.

I know how to set the clock in my cars, too.

Dave

Lackawanna Route of the Phoebe Snow

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Posted by jalajoie on Tuesday, May 10, 2011 3:51 PM

I find it odd, but most if not all these Digitrax bashers don't own a Digitrax DCC system.

Jack W.

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