Atlas Loco DCC decoders

Discussion in 'DCC & Electronics' started by NYNH&H, Jan 1, 2007.

  1. NYNH&H

    NYNH&H Member

    I have a number of Bachman DCC On Board locos, and they are essentially impossible to program with the Digitrax Zephyr. Bachman uses stripped down Lenz decoders. What type of decoder does Atlas use on their DCC equipped locos? I would assume Lenz, as their system used Lenz's eXpressNet (which is not a network :curse: ). Does Atlas have the same programming problems (I use ops mode, don't care about the programming track)? I would like to know so that if I see a good Atlas loco with DCC in Springfield, I can buy it with confidence, knowing I can actually program it. I love the looks and quality of their locos, a guy at my club had a pair of their RS-1s in New Haven Paint, and they were gorgeous!
  2. nhguy

    nhguy Member

    Why don't you care about the Programming Track? This is a very useful tool. When you install a decoder in the loco, it will test your installation without blowing it out like on Ops or POM mode. This is because it uses less power to do so. So you don't get the full 14VAC going right to the drive section of your decoder and blowing it out because you installed it wrong. :curse: :cry: Saves you money in the long run.:D

    You cannot read what is in a CV in OPs or POM mode. I like to know the value of a given CV before I change it so if I don't like the change and can go back to the original value that was in the CV. POM only shows you what you last put in. Take it off the track and try reading it. The info is gone. This alone saves you time.

    As for your Atlas decoder, I believe they are made by Lenz. I have one engine with the Atlas Dual mode decoder in it. A H15-44 in New Haven green and orange in the Lowey style. Stripped down is right. They do not have the Silent Running feature. My H15-44 growels because of it. This is because it has the DC circuitry in it.

    When I put decoders into Atlas engines I use the NCE DA-SR. They are a direct snap in fit to replace the Atlas non DCC or DCC boards. These are silent running and have more features. Except for running on DC. I also solder all the connections. I then test them on the Programming track so if I did something wrong I will get the "Cannot read CV" message instead of smoke. Letting out the 'magic smoke' is not healthy for a DCC decoder.:D :thumb:
  3. NYNH&H

    NYNH&H Member

    The programming track is a pain, as you have to take the loco from the main, put it on, and then program it, take it off, etc. The programming track also will not program many decoders (especially sound), but ops mode will. There are only 4 CVs worth changing on a non sound loco anyways, 1, 2, 5, and 6. I just try to do the installs right in the first place, and if I fry one, guess I was a total idiot and I would deserve the magic smoke. I don't care about silent running, BEMF, etc. Can you program it on your NCE system? Can you get at CVs 2, 5, and 6?
  4. caellis

    caellis Member

    It is pretty simple to have the programming track as part of your layout.
    I simply use toggle switches to make a small section of my layout my programming track.

    I therefore can run my loco from the programming track area, after programming, to the rest of my layout without having to pick up the loco.

    I wouldn't dream of not having a programming track!
  5. CAS

    CAS Member

    It may be, or not. But what happens when you have more then 1 loco on the tracks, you forget to change the settings back( being distracted). All your Loco's will be set to the same address. Then you would have to start over. Bad thing if you have several Loco"s.

  6. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    I thought atlas has QSI sound decoders in it now.
  7. NYNH&H

    NYNH&H Member

    The sound equipped ones do. I was asking about the DCC eqipped ones without sound.
  8. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    on those, i think there is a swithc or metal tab that you need to manually move over, if its one of their dual modes. otherwise it probablyisn't going run on DC
  9. LongIslandTom

    LongIslandTom Member

    I bought an Atlas HO Silver series (no sound) B40-8 locomotive equipped with the dual-mode decoder back last January. Here is the manual for the DCC decoder on-board my loco:

    I had to set a jumper to select DC or DCC operation. Very nice-running loco, and I've bought two more Atlases since then. :thumb:

    It appears those Atlas locos with the 4-function decoder can be programmed more extensively:

    I'll probably upgrade the 2-function decoder in mine when the need arises in the future (might go sound).
  10. Stan Ames

    Stan Ames New Member

    The NMRA established standards in order to promote interchange. Unfortunately not all manufacturers fully conform to these standards.

    The Digitrax Zephyr will not send programming packets to the track unless it detects a current load. Unfortunately many decoders in the market including the ones made by Bachmann do not draw enough current to trip the Digitrax check.

    If you place a 1 K resistor across the programming track you will have no difficulty programming these low current decoders.

    Stan Ames
  11. NYNH&H

    NYNH&H Member

    So you have to set a jumper to use it on DC or DCC? That makes no sense, as Analog conversion mode is so much easier. With analog conversion, you just stick it on the track, and no matter which type of power, it works. Like a DCC loco on DCC, like a DC loco on DC. So can I program it in Ops mode on the Digitrax Zephyr?
  12. Stan Ames

    Stan Ames New Member

    When a DCC decoder is working on DC there are two potential problems.

    1) It generally takes more voltage to start the locomotive
    2) Some pulsed power packs confuse the decoder

    To solve both problems Atlas implemented a manual switch.

    In DC mode the motor is conected directly to the rails which avoids both problems.

    In DCC mode the motor is connected to the decoder. You can still operate the locomotive on DC in DCC mode the same way as other decoders do so long as CV29 is set up properly.

    From the factory I believe the jumper is set to DC mode.


    Stan Ames
  13. NYNH&H

    NYNH&H Member

    Oh, OK. That seems REALLY dumb to set it by default to DC, as DCC is both DC and DCC. As for the start voltage, I have found that the locos work equally as well in either mode with a decoder. This is assuming they do not have a sound decoder, which totally changes the way they run on DC, as the sound needs a lot of voltage to start. Having a regular decoder in a loco, and running it on DC makes it seem like it doesn't have a decoder at all.

    So, for my original question, can the Atlas locos be programmed in Ops Mode on the Digitrax Zephyr??
  14. railwaybob

    railwaybob Member

    The short answer to your question. If the decoder in question is the Atlas DMD decoder. Yes
  15. CAS

    CAS Member

    I have to agree with NYNH&H on
    I just got a bachman DCC on board loco, I tried changing the address of the decoder on the programming track. I was on the PAGE programming screen. I got a error message d nd. It just stayed at the default address, 03.

    The Zepher manual states, Be sure the decoder you are programming supports the programming mode you are using. Not all decoders support all programming modes.

  16. NYNH&H

    NYNH&H Member

    railwaybob, thanks for the info.

    CAS, You can't use the programming track. You can change opsw #7, and thus use Blast Mode programming in Ops mode. Basically, you hook your programming track to the mainline output of the Zephyr, and use ops mode. Note that changing this option switch and using ops mode will reporgram ALL locos on the main. I learned that by calling Digitrax and talking to Howard, and he told me about opsw #7, which is undocumented. Be sure to change it back before hooking your real mainline up again, as otherwise you could have a real programming mess on your hands. It worked for me with limited success. His advice was to rip the decoder out, and put a Digitrax one in.
  17. NYNH&H

    NYNH&H Member

    railwaybob, thanks for the info.

    CAS, I called Digitrax support, and talked to Howard. He told me to change opsw #7. This enabled "Blast Programming". I then hooked a program track up to the mainline output of the Zephyr, and programmed the Bachman decoder with limited success. Be sure to only have one loco on the track, and change the opsw back when you are done, as blast mode reprograms EVERYTHING on the track.
  18. myltlpny

    myltlpny Member

    This is an old thread, but I have to say it just saved me from pulling my hair out. I recently won an Atlas Master Series b32-8W with a factory installed dual-mode decoder for $43 on eBay. It had very little run time - in fact the original owner never even installed the detail parts. It was detailed for Amtrak California. I would have preferred the pepsi-can scheme, but what an engine.
    I couldn't for the life of me figure out why my Digitrax Zephyr couldn't recognize the decoder to program the 4 digit address. A quick search of the forum got me to this thread. Stan's idea here worked like a charm.
    So, thanks Stan (wherever you are).:thumb:
  19. Someone said "If it's the Atlas DMD, then yes."

    I installed one of those into my (old) Atlas SD24. The Zephyr DOES NOT recognize it except to make it go. I used a 1k resistor. I used a BIGGER resistor. I SHORTED THE TRACK (d'oh) with an even bigger resistor. Still never read the *nngh* decoder. HOWEVER. DT400s and their respective boosters/DCS's CAN AND WILL read and program the Atlas DMD decoders (that's how mine got re-addressed to 0416 XP).

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