Author Topic: Starting the GREAT TRANSITION  (Read 1431 times)

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daniel_leavitt2000

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Starting the GREAT TRANSITION
« on: September 16, 2014, 02:58:46 AM »
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I have about 175 locos that will need decoders. Most are Atlas and Kato engines that are DCC ready. I have a number of older engines with the split lightboards, and a few that will need a mill and cut job.

I know back EMF id important, and I anticipate using ditch lights.

Are there any decoder companies that are better than others? I am looking for reliability, DCC standards comparability and price.
'In my great and unmatched wisdom'

Chris333

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Re: Starting the GREAT TRANSITION
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2014, 03:03:38 AM »
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That's like $5000 in decoders alone  :scared:

peteski

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Re: Starting the GREAT TRANSITION
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2014, 05:05:49 AM »
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That's like $5000 in decoders alone  :scared:

If you chose Digitrax and you plan on using LEDs for ditch lights, make sure to only pick up the 6th generation of the decoders. Ones like DZ126, etc. (the last digit has to be 6).  The older ones do not play well with LEDs and no matter what adjustments you make, alternating ditch lights will not really dim correctly.

TCS decoders do not have that problem - they all handle LEDs well.

Do you really have to install decoders in all the locos?  Unless you have a Miniatur Wunderland size layout, you most likely won't be running 175 models on it (even if you were modeling 3 or 4 eras).  :)
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daniel_leavitt2000

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Re: Starting the GREAT TRANSITION
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2014, 06:06:31 AM »
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Yeah, I want all to be operable.
I will also need:
1200+ feet of C55 flex
100+ C55 switches
DCC decoders for those switches
Two base stations (Worcester, Boston)
5 boosters
5 wireless throttles
Two computer terminals with DCC and full layout control Boston and Worcester towers)

The idea of to have fun automated control of commuter and subway trains while freight and long distance passenger ops are human controlled.

The layout will be in a 680+ square foot basement. The layout footprint should be about 275-350 square feet single level with a hidden return loop, storage and some below layout dioramas for specific locations not directly on the line (Canton viaduct off the NE corridor for example).

The Boston line uses light engine moves, so yes, I could be using up to thirty engines a session. Since these are often broken up in Worcester, they all need to be powered. That means it will need a lot of power, hence the boosters.
'In my great and unmatched wisdom'

lajmdlr

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Re: Starting the GREAT TRANSITION
« Reply #4 on: September 16, 2014, 12:56:18 PM »
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Your questions have been discussed many times before on this & other forums. Do a search for all your questions then ask about the things you can't find answers you need.
Andy Jackson
Santa Fe Springs CA
LAJ Modeler

peteski

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Re: Starting the GREAT TRANSITION
« Reply #5 on: September 16, 2014, 04:01:19 PM »
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Those are *VERY* ambitious plans Daniel!  Is this your first room-sized (or basement-sized) layout?
--- Peteski de Snarkski

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fcwilt

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Re: Starting the GREAT TRANSITION
« Reply #6 on: September 16, 2014, 07:17:02 PM »
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Then you will needing this:

http://www.freiwald.com/pages/traincontroller.htm

If it actually takes flight I expect will we be hearing from you.

Good luck!

delamaize

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Re: Starting the GREAT TRANSITION
« Reply #7 on: September 17, 2014, 02:54:19 AM »
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the TCS CN and CN GP will be your best friend for your split board locos. I have used quite a few of them, and I have never had a single issue.
http://www.tcsdcc.com/Customer_Content/Products/Decoders/N-Scale/ClassicN/CN-Series.htm
Mike

Northern Pacific, Tacoma Division, 4th subdivision "The Prarie Line" (still in planning stages)

delamaize

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Re: Starting the GREAT TRANSITION
« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2014, 02:59:29 AM »
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I waited too long to edit my post:

I really like the TCS decoders, they have great motor control, QC is excellent, and the goof proof warranty is worth it's weight in gold.

I have not been too impressed with the small wired digitrax decoders in the past, but their drop ins seem to be ok.

For TINY decoders, the Lenz Silver and gold minis are expensive, but it's hard to beat their size, and motor control.
Mike

Northern Pacific, Tacoma Division, 4th subdivision "The Prarie Line" (still in planning stages)

Rich_S

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Re: Starting the GREAT TRANSITION
« Reply #9 on: September 17, 2014, 07:53:37 AM »
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I waited too long to edit my post:

I really like the TCS decoders, they have great motor control, QC is excellent, and the goof proof warranty is worth it's weight in gold.

I have not been too impressed with the small wired digitrax decoders in the past, but their drop ins seem to be ok.

For TINY decoders, the Lenz Silver and gold minis are expensive, but it's hard to beat their size, and motor control.

+1 on the TCS decoders for the older Atlas / Kato lcomotives. Also Walthers Proto2000N locomotives like the GP38-2 can be modified to accept the TCS CN or GP decoders. It's a very simple process of cutting two slots in the front of the frame to accept the front TCS CN board.



The advantage of the TCS CN or GP decoder is the LED's are on the boards vs. a hardwired decoder, in which you need to add your own LED's for the head lights.


djconway

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Re: Starting the GREAT TRANSITION
« Reply #10 on: September 19, 2014, 05:07:59 PM »
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With that many decoder installs you will want to standardize on one maker of decoders. The learning curve for programming gets a little crazy with more different families of decoders.  My fleet, 96+ decoder equiped locos is about 80% Digitrax starting back in 1997 with the DN93 and going to last month's installs of DN163A0's.  Other makes of decoders arn't bad its just that you have to learn their quirks.

Decoder sizes have been dropping - so "milling" may not be needed - I've tucked DZ126's under existing light boards with minimal modifications to frames. 
Start soon with only 85 locos when I started converting I still have 15 or so that I haven't done yet.  New locos are purchased DCC ready with the appropraite Digitrax decoder. - Personal preferance, I do not like pre-installed decoders, mostly because they are a stripped down or low end version of an existing decoder model. 

eric220

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Re: Starting the GREAT TRANSITION
« Reply #11 on: September 19, 2014, 07:35:03 PM »
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Then you will needing this:

http://www.freiwald.com/pages/traincontroller.htm

If it actually takes flight I expect will we be hearing from you.

Good luck!

Or, if you're comfortable with computers and don't want to drop $150-$700 on software with paid upgrades, JMRI has a train automation feature and is free.
-Eric

Modeling a transcontinental PRR
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jagged ben

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Re: Starting the GREAT TRANSITION
« Reply #12 on: September 19, 2014, 10:55:09 PM »
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I have been using mostly Digitrax but have been considering switching to TCS.  I've had some problems with the CN and CN-GP, but I think that it might be due to either (a) they were the very first run of the product, and/or (b) some weird pulse width issues on our club layout.  I've not tried TCS drop-ins, and I have very little experience with other brands.

Digitrax vs TCS pros and cons that matter to me.

Digitrax:
Pros:
- $5 cheaper
- Good LED bright white color
Cons: 
- NOT capable of proper rear-light dimming effects as you would want on a DPU.
- Poorer documentation
- No split light board product

TCS
Pretty much the mirror image of Digitrax on those five criteria.  (TCS LED color on the CN series is not terribly horrendous, but I find it too bluish compared to Digitrax.)

I totally welcome feedback and disagreement, especially if my experience with the CN series is out of date.

mmyers

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Re: Starting the GREAT TRANSITION
« Reply #13 on: September 20, 2014, 11:17:17 AM »
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If you plan to use Atlas code 55 track you will have plenty of time to install those decoders before it comes in.

jimmo

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Re: Starting the GREAT TRANSITION
« Reply #14 on: September 23, 2014, 10:29:22 PM »
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Yeah, I want all to be operable.
I will also need:
1200+ feet of C55 flex
100+ C55 switches
DCC decoders for those switches
Two base stations (Worcester, Boston)
5 boosters
5 wireless throttles
Two computer terminals with DCC and full layout control Boston and Worcester towers)

The idea of to have fun automated control of commuter and subway trains while freight and long distance passenger ops are human controlled.

The layout will be in a 680+ square foot basement. The layout footprint should be about 275-350 square feet single level with a hidden return loop, storage and some below layout dioramas for specific locations not directly on the line (Canton viaduct off the NE corridor for example).

The Boston line uses light engine moves, so yes, I could be using up to thirty engines a session. Since these are often broken up in Worcester, they all need to be powered. That means it will need a lot of power, hence the boosters.

Holy crap Daniel, all that plus a model vehicle business? Are you planning on quitting your day job?
James R. Will