Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Lots to learn for newbie DCC Programmers

553 views
11 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    January, 2014
  • From: Cresskill, NJ USA
  • 608 posts
Lots to learn for newbie DCC Programmers
Posted by gdelmoro on Saturday, September 09, 2017 6:30 AM

In the last few months I have been exposed to several different DCC decoders which initially sent me for a loop.  

I'm new to DCC (about 3 years) and after wiring the layout I got my 1st DCC Loco, a BLI Paragon 2, 2-8-2 and learned to program CV's.  These are straight forward. Look at the table, find the CV, look at the value range and select one. Wa La!

Then there was this CV29 thing. NO Values on the table. Ut-Oh. There's a calculator?

So I figure that 29 thing out and I think "I Got This".  Alright, stop laughing.

In reality I was doing ok until I found out I could read CV Values when the loco was on the program track. So I decide to start recording settings for each locomotive (by now I have 5 BLI's). 

Must be something wrong, it's not working. I need a WHAT? 

So a very knowledgable Forum member provides the information I need to get the Program track booster and I install it. Wa-La AGAIN. 

I'm going along fine until I get a TCS Soundtrax decoder and install it in a loco. Ok time to program it. Where is the CV table, this can't be right? Four CV's used to program multiple functions? How does that work? Again help comes from you guys.

By now most if not all of you seasoned programmers are falling off your stool laughing!

Recently I got a Lok Sound decoder and again a different system which the manual did not make clear to me but Randy did.

So, how many different programming schemes are out there? Does every manufacturer do their own thing? Why?

Gary

  • Member since
    January, 2010
  • 1,854 posts
Posted by peahrens on Saturday, September 09, 2017 8:17 AM

I'm 5 years into DCC (after last MRing in the '80's.  Still on learning curve.  But I am enthusiastic about it, the best part perhaps being how little kids love to blow the whistle/horns.  

I started with a single Genesis GP9 with Tsumani.  Hooked up my NCE on a test setup of my booster and 3 sections circuit breakers and got things going ok.  When the layout, which includes a switchable program track) got going I got a little familar with tweaking some CVs.

Then I soon added a BLI Paragon steamer and a Proto 2000 E6 (QSI decoder).  I encountered things like different reset process (QSI).  Ok, check the manuals.  

Then I added JMRI Decoder Pro on my laptop.  Needs two cords to connect to my NCE 5A Power Pro.  I dabbled in that, finding it an easy way to do things like turn off analog (part of the CV29 calculation thing). 

Then I got into LokSound Select decoders for most of newly acquired DC locos for conversion.  Indexed CVs!  And some CVs, when change in program on main, take immediate effect (such as master volume) whereas other POM CV changes need a power off/on cycle to hear the change.

Then added a LokProgrammer, mostly to be able to change sound files.  As part of this, discovered that sometimes a program track booster can be needed, so added that.  And I was advised that LokSounds on program track mode using the NCE Power Pro (not the Power Cab) will not work (actually makes wrong changes) if used for indexed (above 255) CVs.  So either POM or JMRI or the LokProgrammer need to be used.

I also find that JMRI is handy for some things with LokSounds but the various sound file setups can include (I think) different CV default settings.  And the JMRI choices for the LokSounds are not specific to each different sound file, so I'm quie unclear why I would use JMRI over my LokProgrammer.  But I can easily make most changes with POM that I tinker with.

All manageable, but a multi year learning curve.  Unfortunately the various NMRA decoder types do not work the same (forgetting MTH approach that I have avoided).  It takes some patience and research.  And some expert advice at times.  In my case, for specific LokSound questions, I find the Yahoo User Group handy.   

Paul

Modeling HO with a transition era UP bent

  • Member since
    December, 2001
  • 1,786 posts
Posted by Stevert on Saturday, September 09, 2017 9:32 AM

I've been using DCC for 15+ years, and JMRI for almost that long.

I use a Digitrax PR3 (in stand-alone programming mode), so no need for a programming booster.  And I buy my decoders/locos with the correct sounds already installed, so no need for any manufacturer-specific programmers, either.

Since I use JMRI, I don't need to know which CV's do what, or how to figure their values, either.  DecoderPro does that for me.  I just select what I want on a plain-language computer screen, tell DecoderPro to write it to the decoder, and I'm done.

But before I do that, I have DecoderPro read ALL the CV's, and save that to a file.  That way I have a record of what I started with, that I can fall back to if necessary.

Nice 'n' easy!

 

gdelmoro

I'm going along fine until I get a TCS Soundtrax decoder and install it in a loco.

Um, TCS and Soundtraxx are two different decoder manufacturers.  Unless they merged, which I guess is possible.

gdelmoro

So, how many different programming schemes are out there? Does every manufacturer do their own thing? Why?

*Some* basic CV's and their functions are NMRA-mandated (although there isn't any "law" that prevents them not being followed).  The rest are up to the manufacturers' discretion, and they devise what they think is the best scheme for them. 

That was by design by the NMRA.  They wanted the DCC signal on the track to be standard for everyone, but everything else is up to the manufacturers.  That encourages innovation and competetion among those manufacturers.

  • Member since
    January, 2014
  • From: Cresskill, NJ USA
  • 608 posts
Posted by gdelmoro on Saturday, September 09, 2017 9:38 AM

So I don't feel so bad only being in this game for 3 years.

Gary

  • Member since
    February, 2002
  • From: Reading, PA
  • 22,657 posts
Posted by rrinker on Saturday, September 09, 2017 1:07 PM

 If you look at them, you may realize they aren't really different programming schemes, just different CVs used for the settings. They ALL use some sort of indexed CV system since most systems can't access a CV number greater than 255. It's just that they don't all use the same CV as the index CV.

 And the CV48 selection system oin Loksound is EXACTLY the same bit mapping scheme used for CV29. The specific values are of course different, but the method of using one CV to control multiple options is exactly the same. Make your selections, add up all the values.

 CV29 rarely needs to be touched, all current systems automatically calculate whet to put there for you. Only really need to change it if you want to implement speed tables or to disable DC operation.

                                                 --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

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

  • Member since
    December, 2001
  • From: Northern CA Bay Area
  • 3,533 posts
Posted by cuyama on Saturday, September 09, 2017 1:09 PM

For many of us with "typical" needs, full-featured DCC systems like NCE eliminate the need to manually configure CVs at all.

  • Member since
    December, 2001
  • 1,786 posts
Posted by Stevert on Saturday, September 09, 2017 3:31 PM

cuyama

For many of us with "typical" needs, full-featured DCC systems like NCE eliminate the need to manually configure CVs at all.

 

 
Wow! 
 
You mean your NCE system knows (for example) that you think the air compressor is too loud compared to the prime mover? 
 
Or that one particular loco out of a fleet of however many had a Nathan M-3 instead of a Leslie S-3L during the time period you model?
 
You must have discovered some undocumented feature! 
  • Member since
    February, 2002
  • From: Reading, PA
  • 22,657 posts
Posted by rrinker on Saturday, September 09, 2017 3:35 PM

 That does nothing to help with sound decoder indexed CVs, or manufacturer specific CVs like the horn selection on Loksound. I think the OP has NCE anyway.

                                --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

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

  • Member since
    December, 2001
  • From: Northern CA Bay Area
  • 3,533 posts
Posted by cuyama on Saturday, September 09, 2017 3:45 PM

Easy, fellas.

That's why I said "typical". Simply noting that for many, there is no need for the kind of detailed progamming complexity that the Original Poster is describing. Newcomers can get the wrong impression about DCC.

Yes, there are certainly advanced options (especially regarding sound) that require manual CV manipulation. But not every DCC user needs them.

  • Member since
    January, 2014
  • From: Cresskill, NJ USA
  • 608 posts
Posted by gdelmoro on Saturday, September 09, 2017 4:02 PM

No worries. I like to learn new techniques and when I get stuck, there's always you guys. If I just stayed with my NCE I would not grow in the hobby. Geeked

Gary

  • Member since
    February, 2002
  • From: Reading, PA
  • 22,657 posts
Posted by rrinker on Saturday, September 09, 2017 9:16 PM

cuyama

Easy, fellas.

That's why I said "typical". Simply noting that for many, there is no need for the kind of detailed progamming complexity that the Original Poster is describing. Newcomers can get the wrong impression about DCC.

Yes, there are certainly advanced options (especially regarding sound) that require manual CV manipulation. But not every DCC user needs them.

 

 No worries, I'm firmly on the side that some tend to make DCC more complicated than it really is.

                                   --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

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

  • Member since
    December, 2001
  • 1,786 posts
Posted by Stevert on Saturday, September 09, 2017 11:00 PM

cuyama

Easy, fellas.

That's why I said "typical". Simply noting that for many, there is no need for the kind of detailed progamming complexity that the Original Poster is describing. Newcomers can get the wrong impression about DCC.

Yes, there are certainly advanced options (especially regarding sound) that require manual CV manipulation. But not every DCC user needs them.

 

 
You also said "full-featured DCC systems like NCE eliminate the need to manually configure CVs at all."
 
That's very different than "not every DCC user needs them."
 
Newcomers can also "get the wrong impression about DCC" if they're told a particular brand of DCC system has some sort of magical powers that it doesn't in fact posess.

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!
Popular on ModelRailroader.com
Model Railroader Newsletter See all
Sign up for our FREE e-newsletter and get model railroad news in your inbox!
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Search the Community

Users Online

There are no community member online
ADVERTISEMENT
Find us on Facebook