So I have gotten my start with DCC, and fried my first decoder.

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by RidgeRunner, Oct 30, 2003.

  1. RidgeRunner

    RidgeRunner Member

    At the Winston-Salem GATS last Sunday, a buddy of mine picked up an AtlasMaster DCC Commander and Generator set for $20 after I told him I'd let him have first stab at it... if he didn't buy it I would have bought it anyway. But he jumped at the chance, since he doesn't have much "train money" and has wanted DCC for years.

    But he said he wouldn't be able to afford any receivers for quite a while, and would let me use it til then. So I went to the hobby shop, picked up a Digitrax DH163D, and wired it directly to the outputs of the Commander and directly to a motor sitting on my desk to see if this $20 DCC bargain worked. Sure enough, it made that motor purr!

    So then I started messing with some resistors and grain of rice lamps, but didn't realize I had left the power to the decoder on, and while shuffling wires around, something touched something it wasn't supposed to, and it was like Hiroshima on my desk. :( A flash, and a little mushroom cloud of smoke rising from the receiver. The Commander went into self shutdown. There was a roasted spot in the decoder's shrink wrap. All seemed bleak.

    I powered the Commander back up, turned the knob, and hey! It still works! Hooked lights up to it (this time turning it off first!) and all but the front headlight works. Called Digitrax, and apparently they'll fix the thing for $17 (vs $26 to buy a new one locally).

    So all is not lost, I'll just not have a headlight until I can afford the money to fix the decoder.
  2. Clerk

    Clerk Active Member

    Yup Ridgerunner. Experience is the best teacher. That is how I learned a lot of my stuff.
  3. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Jon, you don't need to have it repaired unless you have need of the other two functions available on the decoder. I cannot guide you in the how to, I refer you to the Yahoo Digitrax group for that, but the DH163 has four function outputs which can be remapped to respond to various function buttons on a throttle. It sounds like you have blown the one output which controls the front headlight only. I'm at work and have no reference to check, but I believe that is the white wire. Yellow being for the rear light. The blue, btw, is a common sink for all the outputs. Anyway, you should be able to use the purple or green lead to control the headlight. Just read the manual, it should be in there. I haven't bought a 163, but I've read the forum and this is often mentioned. It's just a matter of setting appropriate CV's.
    Good luck.
  4. RidgeRunner

    RidgeRunner Member

    But would the automatic directional headlight still work the same? Sure I could use another function for it, but I'm afraid I'd end up having to manually turn the lights on and off.
  5. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Good question, and one I'm not sure of the correct answer. I tend to think it would not be auto reversing. However, auto reversing of headlights is one of those things we, as modelers, have come to think of as correct. Actually, prototype locos have no such feature. If a road switcher backs into a siding to deliver or pick up freight cars, the engineer doesn't bother to turn lights off. They stay on. So, you haven't lost the ability to operate prototypically. If you want automatic operation then you may need to spend that $17. Or put that decoder in another loco without lights if you have one.
  6. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    And a vital lesson to all! on smoke! If you let the smoke out, the circuit won't work any more. :D :D :D
  7. RidgeRunner

    RidgeRunner Member

    Of course. But it sure is a handy dandy feature to have, especially with DCC to help indicate which direction the loco is going to go. ;)
  8. Zug

    Zug Member

    I have one word for you: LENZ
    their warrantee covers fried decoders, even if you do what you did to that Digitrax.
  9. RidgeRunner

    RidgeRunner Member

    Interesting... I'll have to see if the local hobby shop has any Lenz decoders.

    They had Atlas, MRC, and LOTS of Digitrax decs, I didn't notice anything Lenz tho. That doesn't mean it's not there.
  10. camelot

    camelot Member

    Train Control System (TCS) decoders also have a 1 year goof proof replacement waranty , i know for certain as i have tested this out :(

    The replaced it with no questions asked , even though i thought it was mine own fault that it blew.


  11. MCL_RDG

    MCL_RDG Member

    I just wanted to say...

    ...that someday (maybe) I will be in your shoes.

    I'm proud of ya! You're a pioneer where many more will follow. It may be a backhand compliment but one I'm sure we all understand. We have a saying in amateur radio- "I let the smoke out and it doesn't work anymore"!

    Good luck!


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