my decoder just stopped.

Discussion in 'DCC & Electronics' started by green_elite_cab, Jun 3, 2007.

  1. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    I am having the worst day in a long time right now. I just got 2 DH163ATs from Walthers yesterday, and i went to go hook them up. the first one (athearn blue box GP38 ) ran well initially ( although i do need to clean the wheels) but then i stopped it while switching directions, and then put it in reverse, and opened the throttle, but the train didn't go anywhere. no ammount of pushing or coaxing got it to run. Originally i thought this may be a disconnected wire, so i unplugged the decoder from the harness and plugged it into the 9 pin plug on my brand new AMD103. for some reason, the rear headlight on the second locomotive blinked on, but the locomotive was not responding to the commands i sent. then i tried it on some fresh tracks so that i was sure there was current getting in there. I didn't do ANY programming to it whatsoever.

    the next project (Athearn RTR GP40-2) has it's headlight stuck on, and i think this may have happened in a short that occurred when i put it on the tracks. (I noticed later there is a tiny scorch mark on the wrapper, so i'm guessing this one is done to). The locomotive ran though, even if it did so awkwardly, but i know not all of my layout's tracks are the cleanest (lost the track cleaning block:rolleyes:) I tried programming the adress into the decoder (so i could see if i could turn that light off), and so my Prodigey Express supposedly has the ability to put an adress right in. Apperently, it doesn't, because when i entered 3401 into the adress programmer, that definitely did not turn out to be the new adress. it twithced back, kind flashed, and then nothing but a full bright headlight. I have no clue how i can atleast get that decoder to work.

    I'm thinking about sending them in for repairs, but i don't want to pay another $32 to get these things working again, i could almost get a new decoder from some other manufacturer, because i've seriously lost faith in digitrax. I know the second one might be my fault, but the first decoder was set up perfectly, and then stopped working, no matter where i put it.

    is there anything i can do, so that i don't loose $64 in decoders?
  2. UP SD40-2

    UP SD40-2 Senior Member

    Hmm, you mentioned your track IS dirty in spots, are your wheels dirty?

    on the engine that WAS running, if the wheels are dirty, that could do it. also go back over your wiring checking for a short. the burned spot on the decoder wrap indicates wires hooked up wrong, or a short.

    your prodigy express WILL setup a decoder on the mainline, just make sure NO OTHER ENGINES are on the track. i don't know if this is true for your decoders, but i put in a Digitrax REGULAR decoder in one of dads engines for him, it would ONLY read a two digit address, i found this out the hard way:frowns:, in this case i would setup a program track just to read the decoder to see what number comes up, after that, put it back on the mainline to program it, i have done this before and it has worked:winki:.

    after thought, i would put BOTH of your problem engines on the program track, and have your Prodigy express read them, this will help see just how many digits they will read, also see if they will read at all, or if they are goners, the only bad thing is if they don't read at all, the wiring might not be right, but they still could work. i have put a sound decoder in an engine of mine, and thought i had all the wiring covered up good....DOH:eeki: , GUESS WHAT, i didn't, and it burned a hole in the decoder wrapper:frowns: , i fixed the problem and the sound decoder works great to this day:mrgreen: .....except the lights don't work, i guess thats what fried out:119: , not really a big deal to me so i left the sound decoder in:winki: .

    i hope some of this might help:smilie: .
  3. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    there are dirty spots, but i specifically switched the decoder out to other more reliable locomotives on some clean track i had stored away. no response.

    I'd like the lights to work on mine though, so i'm guessing i'm gonna have to return it for repairs. at $17 its better than buying a new one. In the future though i think i'm going to do it like your tutorial rather than the athearn Harnesses. to much ridiculousness there.

    I'm going to try and read the decoders. I haven't done this before, but i'm sure it will say in the manual somewhere.
  4. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    turns out the Prodigy Express can't do that, i'd need an Advanced cab.
  5. UP SD40-2

    UP SD40-2 Senior Member

    OH NO!!!:eeki: you tried to install the decoder AS ATHEARN says to do it:eeki::roller: , i have wrote SEVERAL postings in this forum on how that NEVER works:frowns:. i HAVE YET to find someone that has actually been successful at installing it as they tell you to, its seems to me its just slap impossible:frowns:. using MY tutorial for Athearn Genesis & RTR DCC "ready" engines, and the tutorial Dan Raitz has for Athearn Blue Box engines, will lead you to easy, and safe installs:winki: . you can find BOTH tutorials here: :winki:.

    there IS another way to install decoders in Athearn BB engines, but I'm sorry i don't have it up yet:oops:, but like i said, Dan has a GREAT tutorial up THAT WORKS:thumb:, and honestly i think the way he does it IS BETTER:winki:.

    after you set the program track up, just hit "program" on your handheld, it will say "program track" , hit enter, it will say "read", hit enter...there you go:thumb: .

  6. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    Hi...I presume these engines were running well before you wired 'em up. I use D'trax in all my locos, with a D'trax Zephyr, AND a programming track. Never had any trouble with them EXCEPT the couple of times I know I did a dumb thing which caused one of them to let the factory-installed smoke out. wall1
    Might there be some incompatibility between the Prodigy & D'trax decoders which leads to strange behavior..??
    As for the dirty track...DCC requires very clean track as current interrumptions can play havoc on operations. There's an answer for that...My TRACK GUARD on eBay...Check it out...!! :thumb:

    This seems to be one of those instances where an accumulation of circumstances leads to disastrous results... :cry:
  7. UP SD40-2

    UP SD40-2 Senior Member

    Gus:wav:, though ANYTHING is possible....i HIGHLY DOUBT this is the case:winki:. i have dads layout set up with Prodigy advance, and my layout is set up with Prodigy Express, but i use an Advance handheld on it instead of the Express:winki:, dad has 2 non-sound engines with digitrax decoders that i have setup, and before i went to sound in ALL my engines, i had a couple that i put digitrax decoders in....they ALL worked:thumb:.
  8. UP SD40-2

    UP SD40-2 Senior Member

    ARRGH!:eeki::frowns: I just doug out my Prodigy express cab(took over an hour to find it:oops:) and tried it....your right:frowns:. i ONLY use my Prodigy Advance cab with my Prodigy express, i thought the Express cab would act the same concerning this doesn't:frowns:.
  9. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    While we're on the topic...The smoking incident ocurred after I drove my SD-7 into a turnout set against it, so, short circuit. I corrected that and the loco worked OK, but shortly after, while working it's way slowly to the engine yard, I heard the crinkly sound and noted the smell of plastic burning. I stopped the engine, and removed it from the tracks. There was definitely something wrong....I re-placed it on the tracks, and it still works, but the front light doesn't work, and the rear light is always on - no matter which way the engine is moving. And, yes, there is a spot where the plastic burned through....
    Any ideas..??
  10. UP SD40-2

    UP SD40-2 Senior Member

    Gus:wav:, my problem was when i installed the sound decoder, i had a strand of wire i didn't see touching a wire it wasn't supposed towall1 , i didn't know it at the time, i programed the engine, ran it, it worked GREAT:mrgreen:...then i turned the lights on, smoked a hole right through the sound decoder wrapper and the lights went out...for good:frowns:. took the engine apart, looked the wiring over about 4 times before i seen the problem:roller: , i fixed it, but the lights haven't worked since:frowns:. i am big on sound, if the sound would have went out, i would have replaced the sound decoder:winki:, but since it was just the lights, and everything else works fine, i just said the heck with it, and pretend the engine has electrical problems, and the crew needs to take it in for repairs after the switching operations are over(now thats creative thinking:winki: ).

    ANYWAYS, if the engine runs fine, if it was me, i wouldn't worry about the lights:winki:, but the choice is YOURS, you could replace the decoder:frowns:, perhaps it could be fixed, but the time taken to take it out, ship it etc, i would just replace it if the lighting bothered you:winki:. Just my thoughts:smilie:.
  11. YmeBP

    YmeBP Member

    I'll attest to this tutorial. I used it when i was pulling my hair out on an ahtearn install and it worked like a charm!!

    No issues after following UP's instruction.

  12. UP SD40-2

    UP SD40-2 Senior Member

    YmeBP:wav: , THANK YOU!!!:mrgreen: (you just made my day:thumb: )GLAD my tutorial was of help:smilie: .
    :deano: -Deano
  13. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    you know what occurred to me, the decoder has other accessory wire terminals. Perhaps i could hook the headlight up to this. Hopefully the damage didn't reach other areas of the decoder's functions on my burnt one. since the rest of it was still running, i'll probably keep it going. the decoders where supposed to go to a locomotives that run in a double headed set (GP38/GP40-2), so as long as i can get them to look right together, it will be good.

    so basically, you suggest that i should just make direct soldering connections to each area that needs the DCC wire, rather than use the harness?

    Right now i'm considering my options. the one decoder is still viable i think, its just being a pain in the butt. the other i think i'll send in for repairs, and if that doesn't work, i'll see if one of the other functions can take over for the headlight. I'm also thinking of getting and Prodigy Advanced handheld to read the settings on these decoders, but even the cheapest price i've seen for them is still more expensive than if i just bought 2 new decoders to replace the non functioning ones.

    I know the hobby shop i go to does repairs and things, so maybe he can have the values read. on the other hand, it would be nice to have a second cab, and one that does have all those extra features.

    decisions decisions.
  14. UP SD40-2

    UP SD40-2 Senior Member

    If the decoder has optional lighting possibilities, in theory that would work, but i sadly suspect that ALL the lighting features are burned up:frowns: , but it would be worth a try:winki: .

    Since the engines ARE Athearns, i recommend using DANS, or MY tutorial to install the decoder, whichever one is applicable to your engine:winki: .

    As far as the Prodigy Advance cab goes, like i mentioned before, thats ALL i use:thumb: . on MY layout, since it is small i am using the Prodigy Express system, but instead of using the Express Cab, i use the Advance cab simply because it gives me ALL the options that i could possibly need:thumb: . out of ALL the engines i have, i have NEVER had a system problem using the setup i do:winki: . i say its worth getting the Advance Cab....just MY thoughts :winki: . :deano: -Deano
  15. green_elite_cab

    green_elite_cab Keep It Moving!

    hmmm... now all i need to do is figure out if my decoders are actually working. I'm pretty sure the one with the busted (or more accurately, forever on) light works, I just need its adress. i think i may still send it in for repairs before i think about trying out my theory. At $17, its better than buying a new decoder to bomb, and if they can't do anything for it, i get my $17 back and i can fiddle with it.

    Does anyone have an idea why the perfectly fine one may not be working? I mean, i'm not even entirely sure if the decoder is being detected, but everything was running normally. it just stopped responding.

    I suppose i should start ordering those 19 volt lights for the these locomotive's headlights, to replace the ridiculous big single headlight in these athearns, which is how this mess came about in the first place i think.
  16. rogerw

    rogerw Active Member

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