MRC decoders

Discussion in 'DCC & Electronics' started by lester perry, Sep 12, 2008.

  1. lester perry

    lester perry Active Member

    I have tried the MRC sheer brilliance decoders and had nothing bnut trouble with them. Is there a trick to programing the sound and motion to work together?
  2. UP SD40-2

    UP SD40-2 Senior Member

    Les, for EMD Diesels, i have found MRC Brilliance sound decoders to be quite good, for steam engines...NOT GOOD. I found it odd because my Athearn Big Boy, and both of my Athearn Challengers came factory with MRC sound decoders in them, and i was real impressed with the them.

    i bought the Intermountain cab forward and decided to put an MRC Brilliance sound decoder in it, i had the same problem you are now having, i couldn't get the chuff rate right. after an hour and a half:roller: , i finally got it close enough to where could live with it, NOT perfect by any means, but i could live with it:rolleyes: . Simply, i kept adjusting the speed curve & chuff rate till i got it close.


    MRC BRILLIANCE: As i mentioned, for EMD Diesels, i found them to be quite good, but for steam engines, i would NEVER get another one:cry: .

    LOKSOUND: Real good for steam, the ONLY problem with these decoders are the whistle is so quiet i have a hard time hearing it:frowns: . its funny how ALL the sounds in LokSound decoders are plenty loud enough, but the whistle in them you can barely hear. you can adjust the whistle volume CV all you want, it just doesn't get any louder. if you can live with a quiet whistle, these are GREAT sound decoders for steam.

    TSUNAMI: These are -BAR NONE- the BEST SOUNDING steam sound decoders you can get:thumb: . TWO/THREE PROBLEMS THOUGH,
    1- they are the most expensive of the three sound decoders i have mentioned here.
    2- these require a ridicules amount of work to install considering the amount of money that you pay for them, they should be easier to install.
    3- If the steam engine you are putting one of these in IS NOT DCC ready, their is a HIDDEN COST:eeki: , you will have to buy the "Cam kit" and install it on the first driving wheel of the engine, OH BOY, now you have even more work to do, and another expense:roller: .

    **AGAIN, those are JUST MY THOUGHTS on the three steam sound decoders i have used:winki: .
  3. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

    I'm not sure how the Tsunami decoders are any more difficult to install than any of the other brands. Especially if you choose the micro Tsunami, since it's so small. I've done several installations of these decoders in several brands of locos. Would you care to define "ridiculous" compared to an ESU or MRC installation? I don't see a difference, with perhaps the exception of the Tsunami not coming with a plug. If you can't solder to save your life, then you will have some difficulty installing them, but that's true of any non plug'n'play installation.

    You don't need to install a cam/wiper, since you can use CV116 to synchronize the chuff rate to the driver speed. It's not perfect, so if you're absolutely anal about the sound being 100% synched, then you need to install the cam regardless of the decoder you choose.

    In the decoder game, you get what you pay for. Tsunamis are about the best steam sound I've heard so far, and when they release their Tsunami diesel decoders, I expect they'll be tough to beat too.

    *EDIT* Whoops! To stay on topic, you can't do much with the steam sound of the MRC decoders, Brilliance or not. In fact, I would say "brilliance" was definitely not employed by the designers, since you can alter the chuff rate to try to get close to the driver speed, but the chuff rate isn't tied to the speed table. If you choose anything other than the linear speed table, your chuff rate will be way out of synch.

    Also, the MRC decoders don't have any sort of load-sensing or back-EMF. All you can do is alter the speed table so that you have either a linear, negatively or positively exponential response to the throttle. For any decoder over $20, this is unacceptable, in my mind. Even the basic Digitrax decoders have more sophisticated motor control than the MRCs.

    My $0.02. YMMV :)
  4. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Les,The MRC sheer brilliance sound decoders works quite well in the DC mode but,DCC seems to kill these decoders because of the programing as you found out.

    Best solution is rip those decoders out and go with either the Soundtraxx or Digitrax DCC/Sound decoders.
  5. UP SD40-2

    UP SD40-2 Senior Member

    MY bad:oops: , i should have been more exact in my answer. yes, the engine i installed the Tsunami in was a Proto 2000 Heritage Y-3, the Proto engines come with a real nice "plug and play" set up:thumb: , there was NO WAY i was going to cut the wires and do a hard wire install on that engine:roller: . my point was, for the amount of money you pay for the Tsunami, they should have a plug on their harness, then the buyer would have the choice of installing it either way:winki: .

    i just RE-LOOKED over the paperwork i got with the Tsunami, NO WHERE does it say to do this:cry: , but they sure make a big deal about getting the "cam kit":roller: . ITS GOOD TO KNOW just using CV116 will do the trick, that could save many a lot of extra work:thumb: .

    I am sorry Squidbait, PLEASE, i HONESTLY mean no disrespect, but this last paragraph is got to be the BIGGEST amount of "bull-malarkey":toug::119: i have ever read:eeki: ...sign1 . i am just guessing you have the MRC Brilliance sound decoder mixed up with the AD370:winki: .

    The MRC Brilliance line, AND the line they have thats just a step down from that(i cant recall the name:oops: ), BOTH offer BACK EMF:thumb: , you can turn it on/off by using CV#123, if you set the value to "0" the back EMF is off, if you set the value to "1" the back EMF is on:winki: .

    WOW!:eeki: , i am really "miffed" as to how you can say that?:confused: , but as you did mention, it IS your $0.02, and you are entitled to your opinion:thumb:

    More people have problems with Digitrax decoders then ANY other brand, don't believe me?, PLEASE, just look over the posts in this section of the forum, time and time again you'll find threads containing problems with Digitrax decoders:roller: .

    **FOLKS, DON'T GET ME WRONG, in NO WAY, SHAPE OR FORM am i sticking up for MRC's STEAM SOUND DECODERS:cry: , as you can plainly see in MY first post in this thread i stated that i would NEVER get another MRC steam sound decoder, and i still hold to that:winki: , but i just cant sit back and see the whole line trashed, i find their DIESEL sound decoders to be quite good, i have around 30-40 of them installed in MY fleet, and have only had problems with 1 of them.
  6. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    No, Squid bait is right. Their decoders are horrible even for diesels.

    I have an Athearn SD45-2 with the MRC sound, and that thing is garunteed to fail. Unless it comes factory installed set to off, the whole locomotive won't even start to run until the 6th speed step of 28. When it does run, it fires like a rocket, going something like 10 MPH. I have to double head this locomotive just so that it doesn't zip away.

    You can play with the speed tables and other limitations to get it down to where it might start running on 3 on straight/level track, but god forbid you stop the train. I won't start rolling again until you put it half way up the possible speed steps on the throttle, and then it will shoot off.

    Thats why i bought my latest genesis without DCC/sound. I hope i can install a speaker of another brand in it's place. Then again, the Model Railroad for the SD60M/I seemed to say that decoder ran fine, so maybe they've fixed this.
  7. Squidbait

    Squidbait Recovering ALCO-holic

    I may be mistaken, but I was told the decoders I was working with were the Brilliance line... although the paperwork that came with them didn't have the word "Brilliance" anywhere on them. There was no mention of a back-EMF option for CV123, but even so, the chuff table isn't linked to the speed table (AFAIK) which to me seems stupid.

    I have had very good luck with Digitrax decoders, especially DZ125's, DH123's and DH163's. They're simple, have an excellent motor-driver circuit, and have never given me any grief.
  8. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    I will definitely have to see if the SD45-2 has that Back EMF. hopefully my locomotive won't explode if i play with it, lol.
  9. UP SD40-2

    UP SD40-2 Senior Member

    and while you are doing that, make sure its a Brilliance decoder, if it is, when you open the paperwork, on page three there will be the CV# list, the "Back EMF" CV will be the third CV from the bottom of the list, you cant miss it, it CLEARLY reads: "CV#123 BACK EMF ON/OFF 0-1" :thumb: .
    the problems you describe also seem like the decoder could be improperly installed, like your not getting a good connection somewhere:confused: . did you hard wire the sound decoder in that engine, or did you try and install it using Athearn's existing "far less then perfect" circuit board?:confused:

    as i mentioned before though, out of 30-40 brilliance decoders i have, i had problems with ONE, and the problems were similar to what you described.

    BINGO! you hit the nail on the head:thumb: , you were NOT installing MRC Brilliance sound decoders:eeki: , on the box they come in, and on the whole top 1/4 of the paperwork that comes with them, in LARGE LETTERS, big enough that even Ray Charles could read it:119: , it says: "SHEER BRILLIANCE" :winki: . its hard to give advice on a sound decoder that you have never really used, but comparing it to a whole other line isn't really giving it a fair chance either.

    AS i mentioned before, the brilliance line, and the line they have thats just a step down from that, i have had REAL GOOD luck with:thumb: ...except for the STEAM SOUND DECODERS:frowns: . I would ALSO like to add, the MRC AD370 sound decoders ARE JUNK:roller: , and i wont stick up for those one bit:cry: .
  10. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    Actually, the SD45-2 came with the brilliance decoder installed at the factory. Its one of the Genesis sound units. And it doesn't come with the full paper work, it comes with barely enough to get the thing running.
  11. Harold Cole

    Harold Cole Member

    Les,what system are you using to program these decoders¿
  12. lester perry

    lester perry Active Member

    I am using MRC Prodigy advance. If any system should work with it this one should.
  13. UP SD40-2

    UP SD40-2 Senior Member

    Harold, that was an excellent question:thumb::smilie: , i see Les answered with MRC Prodigy Advance, i used that system on my dads layout, and i am using the Express system with the Advance cab on my layout, i really don't think the problem is with the system, honestly, i just think MRC doesn't have the steam Brilliance decoders right:cry: . i have seen problems from others concerning their steam sound decoders, and as i mentioned, to get mine close enough to satisfy me was no walk in the park:roller: .

    Les, regardless of what anyone says, take it from a guy that is using THE SAME EXACT system and sound decoder that you have:winki: , by adjusting the speed curve, and then adjusting the cuff rate, you can get it closer then you started with, DON'T GET ME WRONG, it will take a lot of playing with it:roller: , but it will get closer...but still far from perfect:frowns: .

    my advice, DON'T use the Brilliance STEAM decoders:cry: . in an earlier post in this thread, i gave a brief description of the three brands of STEAM sound decoders i HAVE ACTUALLY USED, not guessed at, but ACTUALLY USED, if you read over it, it might help you decided which steam sound decoder might suit you better on the next engine:thumb: .

    PERSONALLY, like Squidbait mentioned, i feel the Tsunami is really the best, my only problem with it was, its the most expensive one out there, and for the money you are paying for it, i felt it darn well should have come with an 8pin plug, that way on NICE engines like Proto Heritage units, you wouldn't have to cut the wires off their circuit boards:roller: , you could plug-n-play, but thats just not the case, other then that, they really are FANTASTIC steam sound decoders:thumb: . i have hard wired well over 60 engines, sure its not a big deal to do it, it just stinks knowing that your paying top dollar for a sound decoder that you know you'll have to cut wires on some engines that might have a nice circuit board setup.

    i don't follow anything digitrax, so i am not sure if they have steam sound decoders out, you might want to check that option. i do have a digitrax diesel sound decoder that came factory in my TOWER 55 ES44AC, and it works decent:thumb: , but i don't feel its any better then most other brands.
  14. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Alternative to cutting up the circuit boards - solder a plug to the end of the decoder wires. One of the DCC gurus at my local club did this for me on a couple of decoders. Very neat solution (although you need to be sure there's room, which is a whole other issue with DCC-readiness ;)).

  15. UP SD40-2

    UP SD40-2 Senior Member

    GREAT IDEA Andrew!:mrgreen: , and thats exactly what i did:thumb: , in fact, i done a whole tutorial on installing the Tsunami into my Proto Heritage Y-3 a couple months back:winki::mrgreen: .

  16. lester perry

    lester perry Active Member

    I spoke with MRC today. they said you must know how to program DCC to set up their decoders. It is a universal decoder and it is not possible for them to program it to work with all locos. So unless someone can change my mind that will be my last MRC decoder.
  17. diburning

    diburning Member

    There, they just contradicted themselves.
  18. UP SD40-2

    UP SD40-2 Senior Member

    Les, i know your into steam:winki: , after reading ALL my quotes through this whole thread, does it look like i'm going to talk you out of NOT getting anymore MRC STEAM sound decoders:winki::119: .
  19. Harold Cole

    Harold Cole Member

    Les,give me a call and we can get together and i'll try and help you out.I'am off till This Sun,21st,How close have you gotten it,i've used several of them in a few steams that i've got and am very satisfied with them,the only thing i had to complain about is they are a tad too loud.
  20. lester perry

    lester perry Active Member

    OK Harold got it working. It is not a soundtrax by any standard. I think I will try a digitrax with a sound bug next. Tsunami is so expensive.

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