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JMRI and DecoderPro what hardware do I need?

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  • Member since
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  • From: Richmond, Texas
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JMRI and DecoderPro what hardware do I need?
Posted by RDG1519 on Monday, March 17, 2008 3:30 PM

I have downloaded the software but I need to know what hardware? I have a 232 serial port, cable and interface box that I now use with the LokSound decoder programmer. Power is deliverered to the program track by the interface box. Interface box communicates with computer via the serial port.

Can I use this LokSound hardware or do I need something else?

Thanks! Chris

Great grandson of John Kiefer, Engineman Philadelphia and Reading Railroad, 1893 to 1932
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Posted by ereimer on Monday, March 17, 2008 3:38 PM

what dcc system are you using ? that will determine what hardware you need to connect the computer and the dcc system

 

ernie 

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  • From: Richmond, Texas
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Posted by RDG1519 on Monday, March 17, 2008 5:07 PM

My DCC system is MRC Prodigy Advance.

I have decoders from all the manufacturers.

I am talking about the interface needed to let the computer communicate via the serial port to the engine on the program track so I can manage the CV's in the decoder using the JMRI Decoder Pro software just like I do now with LokSound.

Thanks! Chris

Great grandson of John Kiefer, Engineman Philadelphia and Reading Railroad, 1893 to 1932
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Posted by simon1966 on Monday, March 17, 2008 7:11 PM
You will need a computer interface for your Prodigy system.  Decoder Pro communicates with the program track via the DCC system.  I seem to recall that MRC have just announced the PC interface for your system so your timing might be good.

Simon Modelling CB&Q and Wabash See my slowly evolving layout on my picturetrail site http://www.picturetrail.com/simontrains and our videos at http://www.youtube.com/user/MrCrispybake?feature=mhum

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Posted by RDG1519 on Monday, March 17, 2008 7:49 PM

An Ahah! moment. The DecoderPro will communicate via the DCC control system. This is not the way the LokSound works. David, thanks as well I hope it wont cost 270.00!

Thanks, Chris

Great grandson of John Kiefer, Engineman Philadelphia and Reading Railroad, 1893 to 1932
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Posted by fwright on Monday, March 17, 2008 8:03 PM

An alternative is to buy the SPROG 2 for $120.  Use a DPDT to select whether your Prodigy or the SPROG connects to the programming track.  SPROG (according to the web site) uses a USB connection instead of RS-232 and includes drivers for JMRI and Decoder Pro. 

You could also use a DPDT to select the SPROG for the main, too.  In this case, your computer would serve as the throttle/controller.

just a thought

Fred W 

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Posted by CSX Robert on Monday, March 17, 2008 8:44 PM
As has been mentioned, the MRC Prodigy line does not currently have a PC interface. When it does come out, no one knows if they will give out the information needed for JMRI(DecoderPro) to be made to work with it or not. There is a yahoo group where someone who actually works for MRC has asked what features people would like in the interface software, and the most common response so far has been to make it usable by JMRI, so if they listen, maybe they will do that. Of course if they are just now asking what features people want, I would think that it will still be quite a while before they can finish the software for the interface. Also, as has been mentioned, it will be rather expensive with a $270 list price. This price includes the wireless adapter. If you already have a wireless setup then they have just the PC side of it for a list price of $180, still rather pricey. What they do not have is a lower cost wired version(at least they have not listed any), which I think is a big mistake on their part, especially since one of the reasons many people go with the Prodigy line is to save money over some of the other systems.

If you are not wanting to run your layout or control your switches with it and you just want to program your decoders, then I would suggest getting the Digitrax PR2(http://digitrax.com/prd_compint_pr2.php). It hooks up similar to the way the Loksound Programmer does, plug in to serial port, two wires to the track(make sure you do not connect more than one of the devices to the same track at the same time), and two wires for power. You can use it to program your decoders and it has the added advantage that if you ever get any Digitrax sound decoders, you can use it to download sound projects. Digitrax also used to make the PR1, which would program deocders, but did not download sound projects, and you might still be able to find it somewhere for a good price.
  • Member since
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Posted by jrbernier on Monday, March 17, 2008 10:10 PM

Chris,

  There are 2 different ways to program decoders via computer:

  • Via the DCC controller using the Decoder Pro software
  • Direct from your PC to the engine using a special interface(DCC system not needed)

  Decoder Pro will need to have a supported 'interface' on your DCC system.  Digitrax systems can have your PC attached to the 'Loconet' using a 'Locobuffer'.  Other systems have a serial or USB port attachment.  IIRC, MRC has announced the attachment, but has not delivered it. 

  The other programming method is direct from your PC to the engine via special interface and to a seperate programming track(stand-alone).  The DCC system unit is not needed.  The Digitrax sound decoders require their own PR2 interface if you want to 'download' sound files into your Digitrax sound decoder.  It will program CV's/addresses.

  In the case of ESU Loksound, you will need their programmer (either serial or USB attached) to download sound files or program CV's/addresses.  To just program the normal CV's/addresses - you should be able to use the standard MRC programming from the throttle.  Until the MRC system's computer port(either USB or serial) becomes more than 'vaporware', you are out of the Decoder Pro game.

  Decoder Pro is a very powerful DCC programming tool.  It took almost 2 years for NCE to deliver their computer port for the 'Power Cab' system, so I suspect the MRC computer port will arrive shortly.  Decoder Pro makes simple work of setting up things like lighting effects and other complex CV's.  Where most folks get frustrated with DCC programming and complain that DCC is 'too hard' - They become instant experts using Decoder Pro.  And once you have complex programming set up for a certain engine, you can 'save' the files for future use on you computer.

Jim Bernier

Modeling BNSF  and Milwaukee Road in SW Wisconsin

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Posted by Anonymous on Monday, March 17, 2008 10:25 PM
 RDG1519 wrote:

An Ahah! moment. The DecoderPro will communicate via the DCC control system. This is not the way the LokSound works. David, thanks as well I hope it wont cost 270.00!

Thanks, Chris

Well. I use JMRI, USB Ports with XP Pro SP2 and a machine that I built. Com 3 hardware drivers installed. A Locobuffer Interface connects to my Digitrax Loconet (Actually the DCS 200 Command Station but... still part of the loconet) and from there to the track.

The computer probably ran me about 3K (6 rebuilds in 4 years), DCC system 400 more and whatever engine I stick onto that track a few more dollars.

The software was open and free, the drivers easily found and not too much in way of issues. I like to run the JMRI in what is called "Simulated Loconet" and poach the CV's it coughs up and tap it into my engines.

At first I wrote sheets directly to the engine. Then I ran into a crappy MRC Roundhouse 2-8-0 that sat there like a bumpkin on a log. So... back to simulated loconet to hammer CV's into that brick of a engine. Gonna not be long before I replace that decoder.

Once you learn to use Simulated Loconet in your preferences menu, you will be able to see the CV changes that occur and enter it using whatever DCC system that is capable of programming without the need to hook the track to the System and thence to the computer.

I tend to stick with QSI to keep my life simple. I recall Lok sound has thier own charts for the Reading T1 4-8-4 when I owned it and it had nothing to do with any of my other engines.

That is one reason I prefer QSI, they have pretty much everything down to (Literally) the last bit in binary.

It does get a little scary when you have a ABBA in a consist and each of the engines know thier names and properly verbally reading back values being input.

Oh the possibilities.

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