Author Topic: New Atlas N Scale MP15DC  (Read 1577 times)

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NSGeorge

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New Atlas N Scale MP15DC
« on: December 07, 2016, 10:43:25 AM »
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Waited a year longer than originally projected to get three new Atlas MP15DCs in Norfolk Southern.  As usual, bought Digitrax decoders to install in them.  Took the first one apart to discover that they are NOT DCC friendly -- the light board is hard wired to the motor.  Took a second one apart to make sure the first was not an anomaly; unfortunately, it wasn't.  So, I'm stuck with hardwiring in decoders.  The thing that really lights me up is that there was no warning.  Every Atlas diesel I've bought in the last four years was drop-in decoder ready.  Now this model isn't.

I noticed that Atlas, in their recent announcement for the upcoming RS-1, specified that the frame was not DCC ready.  Wish they had warned me before I plunked down hundreds of dollars for locos and decoders.

NSGeorge

jpwisc

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Re: New Atlas N Scale MP15DC
« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2016, 10:48:55 AM »
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That sucks. I think I would order up the DCC ready frame instead of hard wiring. It may be the easier route to go.
Karl
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C855B

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Re: New Atlas N Scale MP15DC
« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2016, 11:06:42 AM »
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Interesting. Before you do anything such as buy different decoders and start hacking away, I would ask Atlas about this. This model has always been DCC-ready, at least to my knowledge.
...mike

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wcfn100

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Re: New Atlas N Scale MP15DC
« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2016, 11:07:54 AM »
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I'm 99.99% sure I dropped in a TCS decoder in mine and it was not hard wired. I believe mine were from the first release.

Jasln
« Last Edit: December 07, 2016, 11:12:15 AM by wcfn100 »

Wutter

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Re: New Atlas N Scale MP15DC
« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2016, 11:22:42 AM »
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Any chance you can take some pictures of this new hardwired arrangement?
Alvin
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NSGeorge

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Re: New Atlas N Scale MP15DC
« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2016, 11:57:07 AM »
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I have older MP15DCs that accepted drop-in decoders; the ones I just received don't -- that's the reason for the surprise.  I have calls in to
Atlas to ask about the design change.  Mainly, just wanted to warn others to check before buying.

NSGeorge

peteski

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Re: New Atlas N Scale MP15DC
« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2016, 12:30:01 PM »
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My friend noticed the same on the model he just bought. The Digitrax plug-n-play board is designed for the previous run of the model where the motor had brass contact strips exposed on the top of the chassis (which then directly touched motor contacts on the decoder. The current run doesn't use that type of contacts - instead the motor has wire leads soldered to the factory light board. So, some modification to the decoder will be required to make it work.

I recall that in the past those motor contacts were quite unreliable - it appears that Atlas "solved" the problem by hardwiring the motor to the circuit board (without considering what will happen when modelers decide to install a decoder specifically designed for the previous run of this model).
--- Peteski de Snarkski

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NSGeorge

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Re: New Atlas N Scale MP15DC
« Reply #7 on: December 07, 2016, 12:41:53 PM »
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I'm aware of previous complaints about the previous contacts.  Personally, I've had few issues with them.  I have a bunch of Atlas (24 to be exact) running with drop-in decoders.

BTW, received a call from Steve in customer service at Atlas who said he knew nothing about any wired-in light boards on N scale models.  He said repair shop would be calling to discuss the issue.

Overall, I'll write it off as a bad experience.  I can handle soldering in decoders; however, I've told Atlas I'm done with them because it was done without warning the customer.  The only way I can vote is withholding my dollars.  I will do so and leave it up to others to make their own decisions.

NSGeorge

peteski

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Re: New Atlas N Scale MP15DC
« Reply #8 on: December 07, 2016, 12:46:15 PM »
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Maybe the Chinese subcontractor decided to tackle this modification on their own?  Seems unlikely.
 I haven't compared the old and current run but it seems to me like the circuit board had to be changed to accept the motor wires, so it is more than just a minor assembly process change.  Sounds like the various parts of the company aren't communicating properly.

Here is a photo of my friend's model.
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« Last Edit: December 07, 2016, 12:51:16 PM by peteski »
--- Peteski de Snarkski

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reinhardtjh

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Re: New Atlas N Scale MP15DC
« Reply #9 on: December 08, 2016, 12:11:07 AM »
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I recall that in the past those motor contacts were quite unreliable - it appears that Atlas "solved" the problem by hardwiring the motor to the circuit board (without considering what will happen when modelers decide to install a decoder specifically designed for the previous run of this model).

That's an understatement.  I put a Digitrax board in a friend's MP15 a few months ago and had a few issues with contact until I bent things up right and tinned some of the contact.  Even so, I expect it back one of these days with the complaint that it doesn't run.  I have several of my own that need decoders but as a result I was waiting until I had a chance to work out a more reliable contact method.  And bought another motor or two as a backup in case I destroyed one.

Looking at that picture, it looks like the power pickups from the frame are the same, it's just the two wires to the motor.  I'd rather deal with unsoldering them from the supplied light board and attaching them to the decoder than fiddling with the contacts of the previous version.  I know most people won't be though.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2016, 12:14:37 AM by reinhardtjh »
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NSGeorge

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Re: New Atlas N Scale MP15DC
« Reply #10 on: December 08, 2016, 11:19:29 AM »
+1
The saga continues...

Spoke with Atlas repair department this morning.  Explained (1) that I purchased three new MP15DCs and three Digitrax DN163A3s expecting the locomotives to be "Decoder Ready" as advertised on the jewel case, and, (2) having examined the chassis I'm not sure the Digitrax decoders will work and don't want to solder anything in until I'm sure.  Thinking I might try returning the unused Digitrax decoders and buying whatever Atlas used for factory installations, I asked for the model of the factory decoder.  I was told it was an NCE NMP15.  I advised them that, according to the NCE Web site, that decoder was retired; so, it appears to be unavailable to the general public.

I suspect the Digitrax decoders will work; however, at this point I'm awaiting a followup call from Atlas.  I'll pass along any final determinations about proper decoder, etc.

In Atlas' defense, they were apparently unaware of this design/manufacturing change until I complained.

peteski

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Re: New Atlas N Scale MP15DC
« Reply #11 on: December 08, 2016, 12:51:05 PM »
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NSGerorge,
As shown in the photo I posted, the Digitrax decoder should work just fine with some extra work to solder  the motor leads. From my past experience (and I'm not alone) with motor contact strips touching pads on the decoder board being unreliable, soldered leads will prove more reliable.

Funny about the NCE decoder being retired (if Atlas does in fact use it for the latest run of these models). What I agree on with you is the lack of communication between Atlas and customers (they should have announced the modified design to warn people like you and my friend that it is no longer a true plug-n-play decoder install, as some soldering is required).
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NSGeorge

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Re: New Atlas N Scale MP15DC
« Reply #12 on: December 09, 2016, 10:49:52 AM »
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Just received a return call from Atlas offering to install NCE decoders (same as factory install) and pay shipping both ways.  Even though I could have handled the problem myself, I accepted their offer.  I think that is a fair response and demonstrates good faith on the part of Atlas.  Too often in today's world it is caveat emptor for the customer.  It is good to see a company step up with good customer service. 

peteski

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Re: New Atlas N Scale MP15DC
« Reply #13 on: December 09, 2016, 01:24:09 PM »
+1
Just received a return call from Atlas offering to install NCE decoders (same as factory install) and pay shipping both ways.  Even though I could have handled the problem myself, I accepted their offer.  I think that is a fair response and demonstrates good faith on the part of Atlas.  Too often in today's world it is caveat emptor for the customer.  It is good to see a company step up with good customer service.

If you can handle basic soldering of 2 wires, you could have had this loco running on your layout today. See https://www.therailwire.net/forum/index.php?topic=40629
 :D

Good to see Atlas taking care of dissatisfied customers - I also always had positive experience with them.
--- Peteski de Snarkski

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Dave Schneider

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Re: New Atlas N Scale MP15DC
« Reply #14 on: December 09, 2016, 02:34:09 PM »
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Thanks for putting the tutorial together Pete. Most of us feel that we can solder wires, but I always get an additional bit of anxiety when soldering something to a circuit board with IC chips. Worried about overheating them and destroying the board. Adding the wires may also void any warranty as well. But life is about choices, so thanks for providing one!

Best wishes, Dave
If you lend someone $20, and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.