Author Topic: More DCC questions  (Read 560 times)

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daniel_leavitt2000

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More DCC questions
« on: March 09, 2018, 12:35:27 AM »
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I have been reading though about half a dozen DCC books in the last few weeks. This is all totally new to me, and I feel like I'm way behind the curve.

One of my main concerns is getting the headlight on my Conrail E8s to work properly. I bought whatever BLI E8 was available. Two were dual headlight versions converted to single headlight. The problem is that the upper headlight on these is configured as a mars light. After reading the 200 page manual (yikes!!!), the mars on/off is F7 and configured by CV40. Unfortunately it looks like an off/mars only, with no configuration for a conventional headlight:

http://www.broadway-limited.com/support/manuals/Paragon2techDiesel[1.11].pdf

Am I reading this correctly?

I plan on using Loksound and BLI sound equipped engines where possible. I see that some (Digitrax, MRC etc. have pre-configured engine sounds, but Loksound decoders look like I need to download and install the sound files? How can this be done without the $150 Lokprogrammer?

I am also looking to see what decoder brands you guys like. Why are TCS decoders more expensive than Digitrax or NCE? All appear to have BEMF and a similar number of functions. Is there an advantage to standardizing on one brand for non-sound decoders (I understand that different brands of sound decoders use functions differently for sounds, even with function remapping)?
'In my great and unmatched wisdom'

woodone

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Re: More DCC questions
« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2018, 09:48:29 AM »
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Not in any order to your questions.
If you are gong to be using LokSound Sound decoders you should bet the Programmer. You can't download the sound files to your decoder without one.
I believe that BLI uses a priority system ( Their own) and some times writing CV's or changing them can be a problem for some systems.
TCS price? Who knows. Digitrax,  made in the US? TCS,  in the US? Don't know but, that could be a difference in price.
IMO the sound quality in an MRC, or Digitrax does not come close to what you will get with a decoder from Lok5ound.
You may want to look at SoundTraxx too.

jdcolombo

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Re: More DCC questions
« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2018, 02:21:26 PM »
+1
Your reading of the Paragon 2 manual appears correct.  If that particular light is hooked to the Mars light output, then you don't have a choice - you have to use it as a Mars light.  At least, I don't see any way to change this.  Frankly, I got so disgusted with the Paragon 2 decoders in my BLI PA-1's that I ripped them out and put in ESU LokSounds; better sound, better motor control, better lighting effects, better everything.

For your other questions.

1.  LokSound decoders can be purchased from a dealer who should offer to install a particular sound file for you prior to shipping.  Streamlined Backshop, for example, has a box where you can tell Brian what sound file you want loaded (you do have to look up the sound file number yourself via ESU's web site).  But even if you get the sound file loaded by a dealer, I'd strongly recommend a LokProgrammer if you are going to have more than one or two sound units.  You can program everything BUT a new sound file with JMRI's decoder pro, and I actually use JMRI along with my LokProgrammer.  But you can't download and install an updated sound file without a LokProgrammer, and some programming things I find easier with the LokProgrammer than JMRI.  You absolutely need one or the other - trying to program anything but the basics (e.g., address, CV's 2, 5 and 6 for speed control; 3 & 4 for momentum) via a throttle and a command station is nearly impossible (it is THEORETICALLY possible, but in practice you'd be a fool to try).  And actually, this advice is pretty much true for any sound decoder - they are just too complex to try to program via manual CV programming.

2.   For non-sound decoders, I have standardized on ESU's LokPilot.  There is an advantage to doing this if you are going to use LokSound decoders on the sound side - the advantage is that all the non-sound circuitry is the same between the two; if you want to consist a non-sound engine with a sound engine, it's a LOT easier to do that and do things like speed and momentum matching when both decoders are essentially the same.   Same CV's, same CV value ranges, etc.  Plus if you want to take advantage of certain advanced features of the LokSound in a consist (for example, Drive Hold, which allows you to "decouple" the prime mover sound from the throttle position), only the LokPilot v.4 motor decoder supports doing this.  I also happen to believe that the ESU LokPilot is a better motor decoder than either Digitrax or TCS; second only to Zimo's MX series. And it is actually cheaper than TCS's equivalent (or used to be - with the dollar dropping every day against the Euro, I don't know if that is still true - haven't bought any in a while).

I have 50 active engines on my layout.  I used to have a mix of Lenz, ESU, TCS and Zimo motor decoders and a mix of LokSound and Soundtraxx sound decoders.  Now everything has either a LokSound (for sound) or a LokPilot V.4 (for non-sound DCC).  My life is SO much simpler with one decoder brand.  What you give up, however, is the ability to use "drop-in" decoders from TCS or Digitrax for non-sound diesel installations.  But over the years I've found that "drop in" is a misnomer - they rarely are that (e.g., they rarely are really a "drop in").  Almost always, the "drop in" requires some tweaking to work - a coat of solder to thicken the frame contact pads; direct wiring of the motor, etc.  At the end of the day, I found I could use the standard light board (for power pickup and lighting) and wire in a hard-wire decoder like an ESU LokPilot V.4 in about the same amount of time it took me to get most "drop-ins" working correctly.

So my best advice is: standardize, and if you're going down the sound route, standardize on ESU.

John C.


wcfn100

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Re: More DCC questions
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2018, 03:12:52 PM »
+1
Swap the wires?

Otherwise, can you set the L1 to type 1 with an on time for a second or something but set off time to 0 seconds?

I think it would be

CV160 = 1
CV161 =32
CV162 = 0

Jason
« Last Edit: March 09, 2018, 03:34:39 PM by wcfn100 »

wcfn100

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Re: More DCC questions
« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2018, 03:42:52 PM »
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I think it would be

CV160 = 1
CV161 =32
CV162 = 0


I just tested this and it works on my Paragon2 E8.  F7 is now just a headlight.   

Jason
« Last Edit: March 09, 2018, 03:45:10 PM by wcfn100 »

daniel_leavitt2000

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Re: More DCC questions
« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2018, 05:33:05 PM »
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Thanks Jason! I never even thought of adjusting flicker times.

If ESU had drop in decoders for atlas and Kato engines, I would go far route. But I'm not very good at soldering. I rather tweak a frame or use a bit of Kapton or electrical tape. Any chance they will go the "drop in" route?

I am probably going to focus on NCE for conversions and play around with various sound decoders until I find one I'm happy with. I have a feeling the real weak link in MRC sound decoders is the speaker. I bought a cheapie to experiment with.

On the Lokprogramer, will it also program other brands of non sound decoders? What about sound decoders with pre installed sound files?
'In my great and unmatched wisdom'

Maletrain

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Re: More DCC questions
« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2018, 07:52:41 PM »
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Thank you, Jason.  I have the same issue as Daniel, and it is nice to get handed a solution without having to futz with it myself.

Steve

RBrodzinsky

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Re: More DCC questions
« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2018, 08:27:58 PM »
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Thanks Jason! I never even thought of adjusting flicker times.

If ESU had drop in decoders for atlas and Kato engines, I would go far route. But I'm not very good at soldering. I rather tweak a frame or use a bit of Kapton or electrical tape. Any chance they will go the "drop in" route?

....

On the Lokprogramer, will it also program other brands of non sound decoders? What about sound decoders with pre installed sound files?

The new ESU Select Micro Direct decoders are “almost” drop ins for Atlas. But you still have to solder the speaker wires.

LokProgrammer really only works with ESU products, as it uses a proprietary method of communication with the decoder, not the DCC standard method. Makes for much quicker read and write. JMRI Decoder Pro is still the best all around method of programming most decoders, although the LokProgrammer is required to load new sound projects to LokSound decoders
Rick Brodzinsky
Chief Engineer - JACALAR Railroad
Silicon Valley FreeMo-N