Poor mans DCC conversion

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by jeffrey-wimberl, Aug 26, 2007.

  1. jeffrey-wimberl

    jeffrey-wimberl Active Member

    On some other forums, I've seen posts that say you need small, specially built DCC boards to convert DC locos to DCC. It's can't be done ANY other way. That's a bunch of BS! Here are pics of conversions I did with two cheap Lenz decoders salvaged from a couple of Bachmann locos. I put one of the decoders into a Proto 2000 E7 and the other went into a BB Athearn F7-A.

    First the E7. The light board was removed and the decoder was hard-wired into the wire harness. The lights were changed out with 14v replacements and get their power directly from the track. The decoder controls motor functions only. After being wired in, a strip of masking tape was placed on the non-component side of the board as insulation. The board was then pressed down onto the top of the chassis and secured in place with strips of masking tape.


    Now to the Athearn F7. The motor was isolated by removing the grounding tabs from the bottom of the motor and a strip of electrical tape placed in the motor well. A ground wire pigtail was soldered to the motors ground strip. All previous wiring was removed from the top of the motor (pick-up wires from trucks and wire to headlight) and a pigtail soldered to the top of the motor. The existing pick-up wires from the trucks were soldered to the + input pads on the decoder. A ground wire was soldered to the old light bracket base on the loco frame with the other end being soldered to the - input pad on the decoder. Wires were then soldered to the + and - motor output pads and soldered to the top and bottom of the motor respectively. For lighting, I used the existing yellow-gold LED on the decoder. I put a strip of masking tape on the non-component side of the decoder, placed the decoder atop the motor and used one strip of masking tape to secure it in place. In this loco, the decoder controls motor function and lighting.


  2. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I don't run sound or other special effects. I've found the T1 which I can get for $15.00 when ordering 5 or more to be acceptable for what I'm doing.
  3. erikstoll

    erikstoll New Member

    this is all very interesting, as none of my stuff has DCC, and i dont know if i really truly want it or not. But if it can be more or less, bashed, that would be quite the relief
  4. woodone

    woodone Member

    This is all welll and good. If you are going to to this I would us Kapton tape and not masking tape. The making tape will not hold with the heat and the wire will become loose. Also after a while the masking tape becomes very stickey and makes a mess. With any oil from the drive train, makes it worse!
    Just my 2 cents.
  5. Santa Fe Jack

    Santa Fe Jack Member

    That looks great except for your choice of tape (echoing the previous poster). Masking tape is for masking -- paint. It is by its design temporary, and will dry out.

    You want a couple of passes of electrical tape for insulation. As for attaching the decoder to the body, I'd suggest using a few spots of RTV (room-temperature vulcanizing) silicone rubber goo. If you keep it to just a few spots, it will hold OK, and yet you can cut it off if you need to get back into the board.

    I, too, may some day go the DCC route. But for now, my design is to go with a complex and wonderful block-wired four-controller DC design. I hope I like the challenge of running four controllers on eleven blocks!
  6. jeffrey-wimberl

    jeffrey-wimberl Active Member

    On any new instalations I'll be using electrical tape. For now, these two units are working fine.
  7. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Jeffrey, I'm not sure I understand your original premise. To me, the "cheap Lenz decoders" are still special electronic boards that are used for DCC operation. Was it your point that each brand and type of loco will only work with a certain special board made especially for it?

    Pretty much any decoder can be used with any loco as long as it will fit inside and you are willing to do a little tinkering and soldering.

    Edit: I guess you gotta make sure the decoder can handle the amount of amps needed by the motor also.
  8. gcodori

    gcodori Member

    I believe that he is saying that drop-in boards for specific locos can be adapted to other diesels if you are in a pinch.

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