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DCC Functions

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DCC Functions
Posted by jamnest on Wednesday, January 30, 2008 9:53 PM

I see that the newer DCC systems are promoting the ability to have 20+ functions available from the throttle.  I have had my Digitrax Chief System for years and have only used the lights functions. I recently aquired my first sound locomotive.  I do not want to get into a discussion as to which DCC system is best, but would like to be educated as to what some of these 20+ functions might be?  Maybe I am missing somtheing?

JIM

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

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Posted by ARTHILL on Wednesday, January 30, 2008 9:59 PM
I like the whistle and the bell. Maybe some of the rest later.
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Posted by tstage on Wednesday, January 30, 2008 10:18 PM

Jim,

I don't think that you are.  Personally, I think F1-F8 will always be the "most used" sound functions by users.  (Maybe through F10.)  In the long haul, my feeling is that the additional sound functions will end up being more "gimicky" than actually being useful.

For me, the sound functions that I use the most are bell (F1), horn/whistle (F2), and mute (F8).  Doppler (F6) - although cool - only gets activated every once in a while.

Tom

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Posted by Tilden on Wednesday, January 30, 2008 10:38 PM

I agree.  I run a Prodigy Advance, which can run 18 functions.  The PA2 can run 28 (older versions of PA's can be upgraded).  I was talking to MRC about the use of 28 functions and they said it was a new standard but they really weren't sure how much it would be used.

Mostly you will use the bell, horn, lights, some times maybe braking or air release and ocassionally, if you remember, dymnamic braking downhill. 

Last I checked my new math that's still a bunch less than 28 or 18!

Tilden 

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Posted by selector on Thursday, January 31, 2008 1:06 AM

I am in the same boat as all of you.  I don't want F buttons being my reason for attendance at the layout.  Naturally, if we are to have sound, and some lighting effects, then by all means capitalize on the most remarkable ones, bu...the fire-door opening?  No, I don't think so.  Even the Tsunami tender water refill is a bit much.  I do like the clank when the lid closes, though. Big Smile [:D]

But, aside from:

F0 lights

F1 bell

F2 horn/whistle

F3 coupler run (out prolonged boom-boom-boom...gotta have that when the J1 or Y6b begins to strain) or air-let-off in neutral

and F7 some flange or brake squealing the only other thing that has to be there is the automatic prime mover or chuff sounds.  They're all I really want in order to have a full modelling experience for my tastes.  As it is, the DT400 goes up to F12.

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Posted by CSX Robert on Thursday, January 31, 2008 3:26 AM
I have a Digitrax Zephyr and an Athearn Challenger with sound, and I agree that you do not need that many functions, but I also wanted to add something else. If you really want to know what you are missing, get JMRI and hook you're Chief up to your computer. With the latest version of JMRI, you can control functions up to F28 with the on screen throttle, even with Digitrax.
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Posted by jamnest on Thursday, January 31, 2008 8:42 AM

I have an older version of the Digitrax Chief (DCS100), which can only use eight functions.  I have a DT400 throttle and use Decoder Pro. Digitrax will upgrade the DCS100 to use up to 20 functions for only $35. I have been informed by other modelers that I need to get the upgrade so I can use the additional functions.  The cost of the upgrade is not an issue, I am just trying to find out what I am missing.  As rapidly as DCC is changing maybe there is some new function out there?  Thanks for the replys.

JIM

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

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Posted by tstage on Thursday, January 31, 2008 8:50 AM

Jim, 

I have 28 functions with my NCE Power Cab and Smart Booster set up.  I just can't think what else the decoder manufacturer's might add in the sound department that could tickle my fancy on a regular basis, other than what they already have to offer.  Maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised.

Jim, if the upgrade is beneficial in general, I'd say get it.  But, if it's only for the extra sound functions, I think it would be wiser to invest it in a DT400 throttle instead.  You'd have an extra throttle and F0-F12.  And you'd then be able to put your BLI and Atlas locomotives in sleep mode (F9) if you wanted.

Tom

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Posted by reklein on Thursday, January 31, 2008 9:50 AM

How come nobody mentioned the conductor yellin ALL ABOARD!!. I was surprised when I ran my UP 4-8-4 on the club traack with the MRC prodigy and was playing with the function. My home layout has a Digitrax Empire Builder about 5 yrs. old now. I'm glad to hear one can upgrade them.

Of course that paticular FX is not necessary but its fun from time to time. Specially when there's little kids about.

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Posted by jfugate on Thursday, January 31, 2008 10:30 AM

Agreed ... anything beyond about 8 functions keys is just a bunch of hype. Nobody in real life will be able to remember what all those functions keys do. Here's a great post from my layout website forum by Gerry Hopkins, MMR from Australia:

 Gerry Hopkins wrote:

I would like to add a little to the Function Issue discussion. EasyDCC is currently set to handle 8 functions, I have just set up a Tsunami decoder in one of my steam locos and have set up the functions as follows.

F0 (for) Headlight & Dyno & firebox flicker
F0 (rev) Backuplight & Dyno & Firebox flicker
F1 Bell
F2 Whistle
F3 Short Whistle
F4 Dim Headlight ( not really needed on steam loco)
F5 Water Fill of tender
F6 ??????
F7 Blow down
F8 Brakes and Screach (also brings loco to stop without turning knob)

All other sounds are random.

As you can see I have 2 function keys free F4 & F6 - why would I need 12 function keys?

If you are in a train room with 15-20 sound locos on the move - you have no time to think of extra function, never mind listening to them. Silence is Golden - It's great when you turn the power off after a session.

Just my 2 cents worth.

Gerry 

 

And Gerry is quite right ... who in the heck can remember 8 functions, much less 20+ functions in regular operation? It's mostly marketing spin and much ado about nothing. Smile,Wink, & Grin [swg] 

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Posted by C&O Fan on Thursday, January 31, 2008 10:38 AM

I have my Tsunami decoder set up the same way

And actually do use the Blow down, Water take on and Brake Squeal

quite often

TerryinTexas

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Posted by pastorbob on Friday, February 1, 2008 7:37 AM

One of the great joys of our hobby is to create and use the tools as we want and which means the greatest enjoyment to us.  Being an old timer in age and in the hobby, I went with dynatrol back in the late 1980's as a command system, so already understood receivers, and individual control, etc. when DCC came along, and I made a seamless conversion in 1999 from dynatrol to NCE and have used NCE ever since.

Old timers like me may not care as much for all the "bells and whistles" of today's DCC because we didn't grow up with it, while the younger modelers who are more electronics minded and gimmick driven do.  That said, out of 210 diesels on my layout, plus two BLI Santa Fe steam engines, only the steam and 7 diesels have sound.  I still find sound somewhat distracting, although as a mainline freight is cruising the main, the sound is nice, trying to remember to blow the crossings, turn on / off lights, etc. becomes frustrating.  The regular crew that operates on my layout are of pretty much the same mind.  I remember the first "sound" operating sessions and one old guy who was working the switch engine at one town was almost ready to quit because trains came in and out blowing horns and disturbing his concentration on switching.

So I run sound diesels when I am on tour/open house, people oooh and awwww, but after the session, those units go back on the shelves and I go silent again.  And I enjoy it.

I recently purchased a total of 8 of the NEW Kato SD40-2 Santa Fe's, renumbered them, decodered them, and they silently glide around the layout.  Some asked the other night why I didn't install sound.

So I offer the excuses above.  Nothing wrong with sound, it is in the eye, ear and age of the beholder I suspect.  Good thing the hobby is big enough for kids with Thomas and old cusses with non sound Kato's.

Bob 

 

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Posted by Bapou on Friday, February 1, 2008 9:27 AM
since I have an ESU decoder I get up to F11 somtimes, which is the short horn.
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Posted by jktrains on Friday, February 1, 2008 11:22 AM

Many of the sound functions are rather gimmicky, but having access to them all is good.  My primary complaint with most of the factory sound decoders such as QSI is that there are no extra light functions.  Get rid of the some of the higher, gimmicky sounds function controls and give some more light functions so I can have working ditch lights, beacons or separate number boards.  I've got some BLI and P2K units with sound that I'd like add extra lights to and can't without trying to shoe horn in something like a TL1 or TL4.  My DCC system can access up to F28, so why not make F26-F28 for extra lights.

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Posted by Anonymous on Friday, February 1, 2008 3:36 PM
 reklein wrote:

How come nobody mentioned the conductor yellin ALL ABOARD!!. I was surprised when I ran my UP 4-8-4 on the club traack with the MRC prodigy and was playing with the function. My home layout has a Digitrax Empire Builder about 5 yrs. old now. I'm glad to hear one can upgrade them.

Of course that paticular FX is not necessary but its fun from time to time. Specially when there's little kids about.

All Aboard = Gimmicky. That's why.

I'll take the lights, whistles, notches, airbrakes etc.

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Posted by jamnest on Friday, February 15, 2008 2:57 PM

I sent my Digitrax DCS-100 Command Station to Digitrax this morning for an upgrade of the chip to allow more functions.  The cost was $35.  I believe the upgrade will take me from eight (8) functions to twelve (12) functions.  I still don't know what I will do with 12 functions, but I will now have them.

I decided to do it now because I scrambled the brains on my DT-400R and needed to send it in for repair.  I don't use the DT-400R, as I prefer Decoder Pro, but I am doing a lot of work on my layout and hope to invite some friends for a trek into the country (rural Kansas) for an operating session.  I needed to have the extra throttle available.

JIM

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

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Posted by jwils1 on Friday, February 15, 2008 9:38 PM
 jktrains wrote:

 My DCC system can access up to F28, so why not make F26-F28 for extra lights.

I'll second this.  Giving us a variety of light functions would be very nice.  Also, maybe several horn/whistle combinations would be helpful.

Jerry

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