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Converting to DCC

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  • Member since
    February 2020
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Converting to DCC
Posted by Llenroc fan on Thursday, February 13, 2020 9:49 AM

I am considering going to DCC.  If I install a sound decoder is a train control decoder also needed or does the sound one do everything?  Also, where is the best place to reference which decoder is best for a particular locomotive?

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Posted by BigDaddy on Thursday, February 13, 2020 5:56 PM

Welcome to the forum

Tsunami makes a SoundCar decoder that has lights, live stock sounds, but AFAIK no motor functions

Most and perhaps all the rest of sound decoders also have motor control.

TCS WOW sound is particularly helpful in that it shows installations in various brands of locos, of their decoders.  https://tinyurl.com/wfhnor4

I don't think there is a any sort of global cross reference where you could pick, for example, an Athearn SD 40 and see multiple decoder manufacturers, all on the same chart.

It's always a good idea to give us more information than you think we need.  The age of the loco makes a difference.  Older locos may have a higher stall current than modern locos.  Some decoders, like the micro decoders, may not be powerful enough to handle an older loco. 

Blue box locos need the frame insulated from the motor.

At some point loco manufactures went to a standard size circuit board.  There are standard size replacement DCC decoders, Loksound calls theirs the "Select"

Newer locos will have a plug, 8 or 9 pin and you can plug in the decoder to the circuit board, though some recommend hard wiring all decoders.

Life is easier if you stick to one brand of decoders. 

It's not always obvious on the online store websites, but you have to pick the sound package you need.  A GP9 has a different sound package than an SD70 or a Big Boy.

There are installation videos on you tube.

There are no stupid questions in this forum.

Not everyone likes sound.  I wasn't sure until I tried it, and I like it, but out of the box, every decoder is too loud. YMMV

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

By the Chesapeake Bay

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Posted by khier on Friday, February 14, 2020 6:34 AM

In most of the cases you do not need anything more than a decoder. It cares about operation, light and sound. However, in darker agaes BLI (Or MTH?) used dual decoders. One as a motor decoder and the second as a sound module.

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Posted by BigDaddy on Friday, February 14, 2020 6:59 AM

I wasn't in the hobby during the early days of DCC. I guess the Digitrax soundbug is another add on sound decoder.  It looks like it comes with a keep alive and a speaker. 

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

By the Chesapeake Bay

  • Member since
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Posted by mbinsewi on Friday, February 14, 2020 7:15 AM

I'll ad to what the rest of the guys have said, most of the manufacturers of decoders have web site where you match one of their decoders to your locomotive.

I use Digitrax, and their site has a an easy "drop down" style decoder selector for matching the locomotive your using.

http://www.digitrax.com/

You pick the scale, the manufactuer of the locomotive, and it gives you options for Digitrax decoders.  Look for Decoder Selector on the bar at the top.

TCS also has a great decoder selction along with lots of installation pictures.

https://tcsdcc.com/

Another popular site is ESU.  Their sound decoders are claimed, by many modelers, to be the best.

http://www.esu.eu/en/start/

I'm far from an expert on sound decoders, but I believe many have the motor function and sound, but just sound decoders can be bought, to add a sound to your railroad car, with out any motor function, as Henry mentions.

By the way!  Welcome to the forums!

Mike.

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Posted by Llenroc fan on Friday, February 14, 2020 9:34 AM
I'm working on a Life Like Proto 2000 PA unit.
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Posted by Llenroc fan on Friday, February 14, 2020 9:35 AM
Thanks.
  • Member since
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Posted by BigDaddy on Friday, February 14, 2020 5:07 PM

Llenroc fan
I'm working on a Life Like Proto 2000 PA unit

The Wow sound instructions are confusing, at least to me.  They installed a 1k ohm resistor and then said their motherboards don't need resistors. 

https://tcsdcc.com/installation/ho-scale/1415

That is an example of needing a board and a sound decoder.  There is a new company that has a product called decoder buddy. You solder all the wires into the board then plug a decoder in an 8 pin socket.  I don't think you have room in your PA.

MRC has one, people are generally happy with MRC decoder, I have no experience

https://tonystrains.com/product/mrc-0001922-platinum-series-ho-drop-in-lifelike-proto-2000-e8-e9-alco-pa

Here is a Loksound.  V4 is being phased out, but there is nothing wrong with it.   You would have to hardwire it directly to your loco.  The new 21 pin V5 look wide to me.  I don't know how much room you have to play with.  I put their micro in my LL GP9's, but you you need to check stall current.

https://www.modeltrainstuff.com/esu-ho-74401-loksound-v4-0-sound-decoder-with-alco-244-12-cly-rs-3-sounds-with-8-pin-plug/?groove_ppc_id=1079742151&gclid=CjwKCAiAp5nyBRABEiwApTwjXnNMA_FqPYKP_KhVesRUPeouA2GMYRMbpCzWruJmVjQy6OGoxtsdghoCaHkQAvD_BwE

Henry

COB Potomac & Northern

By the Chesapeake Bay

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Posted by rrinker on Friday, February 14, 2020 5:50 PM

 The future is motherboards and things like the Decoder Buddy generic motherboards, and 21 pin decoders. It's how you get all the functions out. The motherboards are mostly passive. Appears to be plenty of room for it to fit in the PA there in those photos - the motherboard is what come sin different form factors and then the decoders are all the same and simply plug in.

 The WOW motherboards have keep alives in them, most others do not.

If you have any Loksound Select Direct decoders - take a close look - it's a 21 pin micro on a motherboard. More or less.

                            --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
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Posted by Llenroc fan on Saturday, February 15, 2020 12:18 PM

According to the TCS website, the LL Alco PA uses a DP2X-UK decoder which it says the "one of the easiest to install" for a beginner.  As the "UK" is a designation for European models, does that sound correct for mine?  Also, any recommendations re: speakers?

Thanks.

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Posted by basementdweller on Sunday, February 16, 2020 12:47 PM

Llenroc fan
I'm working on a Life Like Proto 2000 PA unit.

 
With the older Life Like P2K or P1K locos I remove the circuit boards and light bulbs. Then hardwire in your decoder of choice along with LED's and resistors.  The LL 8 pin socket has caused me problems in the past. 
 
I love the TCS WOW sound decoders, I find they have enough horn and motor selections to match the loco I install them in. Motor performance is excellent, they also have their Keep Alive so sound does not cut out on dirty track, the PA should have plenty of room. 
i have one Loksound decoder and one Tsunami decoder, both are excellent. 
 
I like the idea of sticking to one type of decoder, then you are familiar with the function buttons on all of you locos. Having said that I know it is not always feesable if you need a particular decoder / motor sound. 
 
Welcome to the forum. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Posted by trainnut1250 on Friday, February 21, 2020 2:41 PM

Welcome to the forum,

1. If you are new to DCC, buy a locomotive with a sound decoder factory installed and play with it on the layout. This will give you a good idea of how a correctly installed decoder performs.

2. DCC has a learning curve. Take some time to read up, ask questions and find a local person who can help you through the bumps...You will get lots of advice all over the place on these forums (and others) and sometimes cutting through the noise will take some time.

If you are on the fence about DCC, jump on in, the water is fine...

Guy

 

see stuff at: the Willoughby Line Site

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