Athearn DCC

Discussion in 'DCC & Electronics' started by nicknero, Nov 24, 2006.

  1. nicknero

    nicknero Member

    own a few DCC ready Athearn Locos and they have 2 plug ins Im wondering if anyone knows what I can plug into them for decoders I need product numbers both regular and sound would be great by the way its HO
  2. oldtanker

    oldtanker Member

    nick, you can look up which decoders fit on Digitrax's web site.

    DH163P Series 3 HO Plug ‘N Play Decoders

    DH163PS Series 3 HO Plug ‘N Play Decoders

    DH163IP Series 3 HO Plug ‘N Play Decoders

    Good Luck

  3. Quinn222

    Quinn222 Member

    I picked up an Athearn RS-3 today and the decoder to put in it. I'm stymied by the fact that I can't figure out how to get the shell off the loco to put the decoder inside. Everything I've attempted feels as though it's going to damage the loco if I continue. Is there some trick to this that I'm clearly missing?
  4. oldtanker

    oldtanker Member

    I don't know about the RS-3 but check to see if it has a plastic fuel tank. If so take that off first, if not the look over the bottom very carefully, the shell may be held on with a couple of small screws.

  5. Quinn222

    Quinn222 Member

    Thanks, I'll go over it again tomorrow and see. I did find a couple of screws and took them out, but while it seemed as though the thing might come apart at that point it also seemed like it was going to damage the handrails.

    On the plus side I did get a decoder installed into a Bachmann Spectrum Baldwin and it worked! My first decoder install. Granted it was a DCC ready loco but still, it felt like an achievement to me.
  6. UP SD40-2

    UP SD40-2 Senior Member

    nicknero:wave:, i might be able to help you with the sound decoders;). i(currently)have 58 engines, ALL with sound, a few of them ARE Athearn "DCC Ready" engines:thumb:. Loksound, and MRC Brillance sound decoders will work in your engines. i am sure Soundtraxx decoders will too, but i myself think the LokSound, and MRC Brilliance sound decoders are better. announce1thats just MY OPINION(did i say thats just MY OPINION;)).

    YOU have three options to install a sound decoder in an Athearn "DCC Ready" engine:

    OPTION #1
    One bad thing about Athearn DCC Ready circuit boards is the 8pin socket on the circuit board is so SLOPPY, you cant just push the sound decoder plug in it and go, like you would on a P1K, P2K, or Kato engine. if you read the papers that came with that engine, it says to install a decoder/sound decoder "solder the 8pin plug into the 8pin socket on the circuit board", MY answer to this is...HA! GOOD LUCK!:rolleyes: i am NOT saying it cant be done;), but i have NEVER had good luck doing this:curse:. good luck not melting the circuit board:rolleyes:, or not getting solder to not connect at least 2 of the pins together:rolleyes:. you might be able to do it this way, but i prefer not to.

    OPTION #2
    you can buy an adapter to connect the 8pin plug on a sound decoder to the 9pin socket on the circuit board:thumb:. be sure and pull the mini circuit board out of the end of the 9pin socket first;). i am sorry, but i cant remember who makes the adapters:oops:, i think Digitrax does, but cant swear to it. announce1THIS WOULD BE THE EASIEST WAY TO GO! if you are a beginner, this way would give you the least hassles:thumb:.

    OPTION #3
    this is the option I ALWAYS USE when it comes to Athearn "DCC Ready" engines. NOT recommended for beginners, yet its not as hard as it sounds;). i take the wires off the circuit board, and throw it in the trash, cut the 8pin plug off the sound decoder and HARD WIRE IT IN:thumb:. WHY DO I DO THIS?:confused: 2 REASONS, 1- it gets the circuit board out of there and gives you more room for the sound decoder;). 2- it saves you the money you would spend on an adapter:D.

    ORANGE WIRE= to motor
    GRAY WIRE= to motor
    BLACK WIRE= to left side of the trucks
    RED WIRE= to right side of the trucks
    WHITE WIRE= to headlights
    YELLOW WIRE= to backup lights
    BLUE WIRE= the common wire that goes to BOTH, the headlight and the backup light
    GREEN AND THE PURPLE WIRE= are for optional lighting functions like ditch lights, mars lights, etc. unless your engine has these options, you wouldn't use these wires. just cut them short, and cover the ends to avoid a short.

    EDIT: there IS a fourth OPTION...
    i have done this before but i didnt want to post this, but after reading a PM sent to me(THANKS Thoroughbreed;)), perhaps i should. Cut the 9pin socket off the wires coming out of the decoder, now cut the 8 plug socket off of the sound decoder. ALL the wires ARE color coded the same, so you could solder the decoder wires to the wires that was connected to the 9pin socket coming out of the circuit board:thumb:. i have done this on a couple of my dads Athearn DCC Ready engines. for a beginner, i guess this would be fool proof:thumb:. HOWEVER, to me it seems kinda senceless. WHY? you ask, I'll tell you why, you STILL have to solder wires, and by saving the Athearn circuit board, now you have ANOTHER THING to work around, while trying to find a place for the sound decoder and speekers:rolleyes:. to me, if i am still going to have to do soldering, i am not gaining anything by keeping the circuit borad:rolleyes:, so i just 86 the board. in some engines, its real tight in there, so making room IS important. BUT, this way IS beginner friendly and will give you some experiance:thumb:.

    announce1 KEEP IN MIND, all i have wrote above is how to install a sound decoder in an Athearn "DCC Ready" engine. FOR OTHER BRANDS, i would give different instructions.

    Quinn222:wave:, i have Athearn BB's, Athearn RTR's, Athearn Genesis, and Athearn DCC Ready engines, NONE OF THEM requires the removal of the fuel tank to take the shell off. i am NOT saying it isn't possible that you might have to do that, since i don't own an RS-3 Athearn, but usually to get the shells off them you would pull the couplers and coupler boxes off, then there is 2 sets of "tabs" on the frame, one set towords the front of the engine, and one set towords the rear of the engine. pull the shell away from the frame in these to spots, the shell should come right off;).

    :D -Deano

    COMBAT Member

    OK, I got a question about my Athearn engine I have.

    I have an Athearn Genesis SD-70MAC. It is DCC ready. I want both DCC and sound in it as well as the ditch lights to work when the horn is blown. I also want a few other options like:
    Acceleration and Deceleration Momentum
    DAC Function Control
    Directional Lighting : Most of Digitrax's decoders have special effects. However, the ones ending with "2" generally do not produce properly timed Blinking Ditch Lights. The rest of the effects are OK so far as I know.
    Back-EMF : ControlScalable Speed Stabilization OR cruise control for up and down hills.
    CV Reset : A reset button to fix screw ups.
    Function Remapping
    Short-Circuit Protection
    Decoder Programming Lock : Prevents you having to do a programing track and you can select specific decoders to program.

    The things in bold are very important to me. The others would be nice. I have looked and have NO IDEA what to get. Suggestions are greatly appreciated!!!! :oops:
  8. UP SD40-2

    UP SD40-2 Senior Member

    COMBAT:wave:, FIRST, i hope the DCC system you are using will support all the lighting and sound options you are requesting. i am sorry to say i am NOT familiar with ALL the DCC systems:oops:, but i for example use MRC Prodigy Advance, it lets me use 19 different sound/lighting functions PER ENGINE.

    SECOND, please correct me if i am wrong, but to the best of my knowledge, right now the ONLY Digitax sound decoders available to the public are sound "circuit boards" that replace Kato circuit boards. i do have a Tower55 UP ES44AC that has a digitrax sound decoder in it, works GREAT!:thumb:, but that sound decoder is NOT available to the public far as i know;).

    SOUNDS to me like you are a candidate for LokSound:thumb:. LokSound can do just about EVERYTHING you are requesting:thumb:. my ONLY complaint on LokSound is the horn sounds on them are not that loud:(. funny thing about it is, ALL the other sounds are plenty loud enough. YES I HAVE adjusted the CV's:rolleyes:, just seems to be the ONLY compliant i have with LokSound. then again, i could just be being a little pickytooth1. LokSound is made by ESU, stop in at there website and check out the AWESOME SOUND DECODERS they have, i think you'll find they can take care of the MULTITUDE of things you are demanding;).

    :D -Deano

    COMBAT Member

    What about soundtrax? Can they do what I want? Is it avialable. I was told to wait for Tsunami?? Yes? :oops:

    THANKS! :D
  10. Quinn222

    Quinn222 Member

    Having read all your advice about installing decoders I'm not sure I still want to get the shell off! All I have is a simple, no sound, digitrax controller. I did actually take the shell off but do not see anything that looks like a socket to plug the decoder into. Are you saying I have to rewire the whole thing or solder this thing into place? I've never soldered anything in my life and I'd rather this not be my first attempt at doing so.

    The only thing I see that looks right already has wires plugged into it. And doesn't have the same setup as my decoder, which has 2 rows of pins, not one row. Shall I assume the hobbyshop guy gave me the wrong decoder for this locomotive?

  11. oldtanker

    oldtanker Member

    Could be the wrong decoder, if I'm correct the circuit board in there has to be unplugged and replaced by your decoder.

    If you have the Digitrax decoder you can go to their web site and download a very good PDF file for the installation of the decoder. You can also look up the correct decoder for different engines.

  12. Quinn222

    Quinn222 Member

    I went to the website and as far as I can tell I have the wrong decoder. The one for this locomotive has the connector at one end and just a bunch of loose wires at the other that I'm to solder to the various connection points. Not happening. I think I'll just wait for the budget to permit me to send this thing off to have someone else install the decoder. I'm more than willing to build a craftsman kit or lay my own turnouts but there is no way I'm soldering all those tiny wires to parts I can hardly see much less reach.
  13. oldtanker

    oldtanker Member

    I kinda thought so. The one hobby shop that I get near every month (90 miles) doesn't stock any plug and play decoders and the guy there claims that the DT123 decoders are the correct one for all Athearn locos. But after being on here and joining the Yahoo group on Digitrax DCC ( I've learned that the guy doesn't know anything about DCC.

  14. UP SD40-2

    UP SD40-2 Senior Member

    Quinn222, Rick(oldtanker), IS CORRECT, and has passed on good advice:thumb: THANKS RICK!:D that type of circuit board IS best replaced by the decoder;).

    nicknero, the install i wrote to you about was for SOUND DECODERS. the Soundtraxx LC series sound decoders offers a replaceable circuit board type sound decoder, you would install it the same as Quinn222 is going to install the CORRECT digitrax decoder(if he gets that one;)). i personally don't push the Soundtrax LC line of sound decoders as it is "old technology", in my opinion the MRC and LokSound decoders are far Superior, BUT, thats JUST MY OPINION. others still like the old Soundtraxx decoders, to each his own;).

    COMBAT, Soundtraxx at this time, couldn't even dream of doing the MULTITUDE of things you are wanting to do, at least for diesels;). Their Tsunami sound decoders would probably be able to satisfy your needs but, at this time the Tsunami is for STEAM ONLY, the diesel version has not come out yet. you mentioned you want it to go into an SD70MAC.

    announce1 BELOW is a picture with an example of an Athearn DCC Ready circuit board. this is the same DCC Ready circuit board that came with -ALL- the Athearn "DCC Ready" engines i have bought. THIS is the Athearn "DCC Ready" circuit board type i was basing a sound decoder install on with nicknero. I HOPE THIS PIC CLEARS THINGS UP:thumb:.

    :D -Deano
    View attachment 33035

    Attached Files:

  15. COMBAT

    COMBAT Member

    OK, so what do I need then to make my engine come alive? Do they have a decoder out now that will do it? Thanks again for the help. By the way, thanks for the picture!!! :thumb:
  16. Thoroughbreed

    Thoroughbreed Member

    No prob, Deano, here to offer suggestions:thumb:

    My reasoning for this is the existing lighting on these engines are 1.5 volt bulbs and the board has a voltage regulator built in. I've personally bought these boards just for this purpose of regulation after experimenting and blown bulbs:curse: , but I managed to add ditch lights (athearn part# ATHG63825) to these engines wired in at the same point as the front lights. Now when the front lights are on, so are the ditch lights. Makes it simple for even a single function controller to work them.
    I've even started using the false ditch lights that come with the dash9's and drilling them out to accept the 1.5v bulbs (athearn part# G63843) and then chase them up through the chasis to the board.:D
    Now I have a Blue Box dash9 with small bulbs where the lens go, original ditch lights (modified as above) (cost$3, you get 4 bulbs)with a single function controller (cost $13) that looks as good as a rtr.:thumb:
  17. COMBAT

    COMBAT Member

    WOW, Ok what about the ditch lights flashing when the horn blows. Are you getting that effect too? :oops:
  18. Thoroughbreed

    Thoroughbreed Member

    Negative sir, this is just a single function, non sound decoder. Sorry, couldn't help you with the sound portion of it.:oops:
  19. COMBAT

    COMBAT Member

    :cry: :cry: :cry: :cry: :cry: :cry: :cry:
  20. UP SD40-2

    UP SD40-2 Senior Member

    COMBAT, my Tower55 does the horn blow with the lights flashing, it is a neat effect:thumb:. i have Loksound in about half of my engines, i haven't set any of them up to do both at the same time, but i am more then sure the Loksound decoders can do it;). i have lighting effects programed in some of my engines, and tons of different sounds, just never had the desire to do the horns and ditch lights flashing at the same time, neat effect, but not on the top of my list. if you hit search on your web browser, and type in Loksound, the second place that comes up is the Yahoo Loksound news group. those guys are VERY helpful, they live Loksound, and would be able to tell you exactly what all the capabilities of the decoder are:thumb:. :D -Deano

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