Entering the world of DCC

Discussion in 'DCC & Electronics' started by MasonJar, May 25, 2004.

  1. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Well, I finally did it! I have decided to order a Digitrax Zephyr! I will be "decodering" two locos to start (all that I have, really) a P2K 0-6-0 and a Bachmann Spectrum 4-6-0 (on order shortly!).

    I will keep the DC power pack to run the older IHC open frame motor locos that are (apparently) harder to convert to DCC.

    Any comments or suggestions to this DCC newbie would be appreciated... :)


  2. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    1) you can also use the old PP to power switch machines and lights.
    2) You should have no problems converting old open frame motors as long as you can isolate both motor brushes from the loco frame. It may require a bit of soldering rather than plugging in. Your LHS should be able to provide a decoder that will handle your motors -- get a 1 amp output.
  3. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    My advice is don't start messing with the CV's until you really know what you're doing!!!!!!

  4. neilmunck

    neilmunck Member

    The IHC locos shouldn't be a problem because the frames are plastic so the motors are already isolated. They are on my 3 2-6-0's 4-8-2 and 0-4-0T anyway.
  5. Iron Goat

    Iron Goat Member

    Spitfire is telling it like it is ! When I got my Zepher, I rushed it and started customizing the CV's that I really did not need to be messing with at that time.... the good news is that I finally got them straightened out.

  6. Tileguy

    Tileguy Member

    Listen to Vals advice but be very jelous,She has a digital soundrax Locomotive and I dont!!! :D
  7. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    The thing that really got me interested in DCC was/is a sound equipped Bachmann Spectrum 2-8-0 that a friend (railwaybob here at The Gauge) let me run at one of the first modular club meets I attended. My enthusiasm was only slightly dampened when I found out that the decoder costs more than the loco :( But it is still on my wish list ;)

  8. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    be careful with the lights. the decoder runs them at full blast and they can melt through the body. If you use LEDs, you need a resistor.
  9. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    Thanks for the heads up. I will be asking our club DCC guru for help, or possibly get him to do the whole job, including fixing the lights.

  10. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Andrew, it comes from experience. I was operating a friend's layout and asked him if the light was supposed to show through the top of the smokebox. I think he's now looking for a feedwater heater casting. :cry:
  11. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    When you get your zephyr system, read up on the "jump" feature......
  12. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Hi Pete...

    I did read about the jump feature, and I will definitely use it when running more than one decoder equipped loco.

    What I read about some older IHC locos that use the frame to conduct current has me a bit worried about converting. I intend to do a bit of wiring on the layout so that I can flip back and forth from DCC to DC, as in addition to the older INC locos I also have an old Mehano. The Mehano might be easier to convert (I have already added pick-ups to the tender) but I have not made up my mind yet.

  13. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    Had this problem on my P2K SW1200 even before adding decoder and LED. Solution is to glue a little tinfoil on the inside of the shell.


  14. Chessie1973

    Chessie1973 Member

    If you are truly worried about those older Loco's perhaps if you do not have too many of them you could remotor them with Can motors over time as well?

    I plan to do this with all my athearn locos to make it easier to isolate the motor and provide a better solder connection to the motor.
  15. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    To isolate the Athearn motor from the frame, put the bottom clip that has the two frame grounding tangs on top, and the smooth clip on the bottom. Solder wires to both brush clips, and then mount the motor on either double sided foam tape or silicone to insulate it from the frame. Without the tangs on the bottom, you may even be able to use the stock Athearn mounts and have it isolated.
  16. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    Thanks for the tips, but it is an IHC loco ;) It will be difficult to isolate since there is not a lot of extra room in the cavity inside the cast boiler. It may be possible, but I don't know if I will do it anyway...

    Chessie - I thought about that, but as I said to Russ above, there is not much room in there... The open frame motor is kind of noisy, but is remarkably smooth, and pulls really well considering it is probably older than I am...

    Thanks again everyone for all the tips.

  17. fifer

    fifer Active Member

    My advice would be to go with Lenz , but since you are getting Digitrax my second suggestion would be that whatever system you buy , buy a top of the line or near top of the line as it will only be a short time and you will want to upgrade any low end system.
    This theory is alot like buying a radio for an RC aircraft . I went through many untill I was happy and had to pay more every time instead of once.

    Have Fun with DCC!

    :wave: :wave: :wave:
  18. aluesch01

    aluesch01 New Member

    Many people seem to be afraid to tamper with CV settings. How come? Can't you reset your decoders by entering a value of 8 in CV #8? The decoder should then reset to factory specifications as it was when you got it.
    And what about lights? Can't you dim your lights to prevent plastic from melting?

  19. railwaybob

    railwaybob Member

    Salut MasonJar. Glad to hear you enjoyed yourself with that Bachmann 2-8-0. However, it needs a checkup. My recommendation would be to go with the "Club Guru" as he does a beautiful job for basically the cost of the decoder. I just had him install 3 decoder in 3 Athearn AC4400s.

    Hi 60103. If you visit most websites or list groups, you'll find advice on how to install resistors between the decoder and the lights. Even 12v g-o-w bulbs should have resistors to protect them from the surge of current when the lights are first switched on.

    Be careful if you're installing decoders that have plug-n-play PC boards with the 8-pin NMRA plug. If you hard-wire a decoder in, you may blow the decoder as Pins 3 and 7 of the NMRA plug are usually connected together.

    MasonJar, if your budget can afford it, go for the highest level you can afford. I went from the DB150 Empire Builder to the DCS100. I should have gone right to the DCS100.
  20. nslakedivision

    nslakedivision New Member

    Congrats, I use digitrax as well, keep in touch with thier web site, lots of good links.

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