Author Topic: I'm now in the digital age!  (Read 975 times)

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daniel_leavitt2000

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I'm now in the digital age!
« on: March 11, 2018, 05:23:52 PM »
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My NCE Power Cab arrived yesterday. I now have it hooked up to an oval of Bachmann EZ Track.

The cab is ok... there were scratches in the face plate, but all the important parts worked well. The throttle feels a bit light. Molding isn't as nice as it could be. For example the speed jog dial is ridged, but the ridges don't quite line up correctly. Some parts of the cab have a matte finish while others are shiny, as if the tooling wore out. The plastic feels a bit cheap and I am worried about how well it will survive the inevitable drop. The membrane keys need a very firm push to activate.

So far I have played around with a few engines:
IM SD40-2 with Loksound
IM SD40-2 with Lokpilot
BLI AC6000
Kato SD40-2 with NCE decoder
Kato F40PH with MRC sound decoder

Both Kato engines were my first decoder installations. I needed to solder an extension to the lower motor tab to reach the decoder. That only took about a minute. The MRC decoder was a bit trickier, with the motor tabs not wanting to stay connected to the contact plate. I eventually added two short 00-90 screws to the retainer tab and that kept everything on contact. I also had to lob off half of the forward LED to make the shell fit on the chassis.

Programing engines was pretty easy. I'm keeping the short address of 3 on my engines, and using the engine number for the long address. I have not played around with speed tables or sound tweaks yet, though that is the next step.

I plan on getting two decoders with every addition model purchase to slowly update my fleet... all two hundred engines. I plan on installing sound on 1/3 of the existing fleet and 50% of any new engines.

'In my great and unmatched wisdom'

Urodoji

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Re: I'm now in the digital age!
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2018, 06:55:49 PM »
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TCS has great motor control and is a nice medium between the NCE and ESU decoders.

woodone

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Re: I'm now in the digital age!
« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2018, 07:51:19 PM »
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I have had my Power Cab for almost 10 years now. I have never had any problems with it at all.
Simple to use and very user friendly!
BTW I use the PC Perty much every day has it is my work bench DCC for doing installs.

jdcolombo

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Re: I'm now in the digital age!
« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2018, 10:19:52 PM »
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Hi Dan.
Welcome to the world of DCC. 

So you already know how I feel about this.  If you really are serious about converting your fleet, think seriously about the following points.

1.  Standardize on a specific decoder brand.  It will make your life much simpler.
2.  For diesel sound, nothing out there competes (yet) with the ESU LokSound.
3.  That in turn means using ESU LokPilot decoders for non-sound units per point 1 above.

Grandma Della Colombo drilled into me the old saying "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all."  Accordingly, I will say nothing about Digitrax sound decoders.
My experience with MRC sound decoders is worse than with Digitrax, so I also will say nothing about them.
TCS motor decoders are fine, but they do not have the ability to fine tune BEMF parameters for best motor performance.  When they work, they work.  When they don't, you're screwed.

BLI's Paragon decoders are OK, but inferior to ESU, and the programming interface is just weird.  Their sound is also inferior to ESU's.  I took out the Paragon decoders in my BLI PA-1's and replaced them with LokSound.  If you want an example of why I did that, take a look at the following video which compares the stock BLI PA-1 with its Paragon sound decoder to my ESU-replacement unit:


John C. 

daniel_leavitt2000

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Re: I'm now in the digital age!
« Reply #4 on: March 11, 2018, 11:05:04 PM »
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I will probably use NCE decoders for most of my non-sound engines unless ESU starts to produce drop-in decoders for Atlas and Kato engines. I really hope Atlas will have kits available with new frames, fuel tank, speaker and decoder available to retrofit previous SD50/60/60Ms.

And you are right, I was relatively underwhelmed by the MRC sound decoder. I have a feeling that is due to the tiny speaker, but i'm not at the point where I'm going to hack an F40 into bits to experiment with speakers.

ESU has the only sound files for the SD80MAC that I have found. I want to do at least two of those up, and have started to look into what will be needed for such a project.
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peteski

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Re: I'm now in the digital age!
« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2018, 12:28:43 AM »
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In my DCC experience I have worked with several brands of decoders, and while I own (and like) the NCE Power Cab, I have never tried the NCE decoders.  I have looked at them in the past, but from what I remember the wired-in decoders were quite a bit larger physically than most of the other brand decoders.  And in N scale the (small) size matters.  :)
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nscaler711

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Re: I'm now in the digital age!
« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2018, 02:09:57 AM »
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In my DCC experience I have worked with several brands of decoders, and while I own (and like) the NCE Power Cab, I have never tried the NCE decoders.  I have looked at them in the past, but from what I remember the wired-in decoders were quite a bit larger physically than most of the other brand decoders.  And in N scale the (small) size matters.  :)

Quick note this isn't directed at you per say, Peteski.  :)
As for NCE decoders, every Atlas loco I have bought that came with NCE decoders I have ripped (once literally) because they are junk. Almost as bad as the Lenz decoders they used to use... I've had a couple that refused any programming from my MRC Prodigy Advance/² and a NCE Power Cab, either main or dedicated programming track. Then there was one that fried the second I set the loco on the track. All in all I have stopped buying DCC equipped Atlas locos, and have added Digitrax or MRC decoders (when they go on sale.)
Digitrax is a solid decoder with a great warranty, and MRC just listens better to the PA² (go figure...)
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jdcolombo

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Re: I'm now in the digital age!
« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2018, 04:55:41 PM »
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I will probably use NCE decoders for most of my non-sound engines unless ESU starts to produce drop-in decoders for Atlas and Kato engines. I really hope Atlas will have kits available with new frames, fuel tank, speaker and decoder available to retrofit previous SD50/60/60Ms.

And you are right, I was relatively underwhelmed by the MRC sound decoder. I have a feeling that is due to the tiny speaker, but i'm not at the point where I'm going to hack an F40 into bits to experiment with speakers.

ESU has the only sound files for the SD80MAC that I have found. I want to do at least two of those up, and have started to look into what will be needed for such a project.

Yes, if you are wedded to drop-ins, ESU is not (yet) your best bet.  The new LokPilot board decoders are drop-ins for IM SD40-2's, and the very latest Atlas models, but that's about it.  You can fit them to other units with some frame modification, but there's no sense going down that route - easier to just hard-wire a regular LokPilot.

Unlike their sound decoders, I've generally had good luck with Digitrax motor decoders, and they probably have the widest range of drop-ins.  Their drop-ins sometimes would be a tad "thin" and require a coat of solder on the power pickup pads that fit under the frame fingers, but once that was done, the actual performance was quite good.  Never used an NCE decoder of any kind, so I can't comment on them.

John

Mark W

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Re: I'm now in the digital age!
« Reply #8 on: March 12, 2018, 05:33:41 PM »
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Yes, if you are wedded to drop-ins, ESU is not (yet) your best bet.  The new LokPilot board decoders are drop-ins for IM SD40-2's, and the very latest Atlas models, but that's about it.  You can fit them to other units with some frame modification, but there's no sense going down that route - easier to just hard-wire a regular LokPilot.

I spent last week installing ESU direct boards in a few Kato ACe's, and both a Kato and FVM ES44AC (one LokSound and 3 LokPilots).  Including frame modification (which was very much less than I expected), I rate the direct board install dead equal with a wired decoder as far as work required.  And with the advantage of being fully removable and no need to trim/tuck wiries, I give the edge and my new preference to the direct boards vs the wired decoders.

So if you're comfortable with frame mods, (and you have want/need to take advantage of Full Throttle or other ESU specific features)  I do think the ESU direct boards are now the best bet.  :)
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Jbub

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Re: I'm now in the digital age!
« Reply #9 on: March 12, 2018, 05:49:44 PM »
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I spent last week installing ESU direct boards in a few Kato ACe's, and both a Kato and FVM ES44AC (one LokSound and 3 LokPilots).  Including frame modification (which was very much less than I expected), I rate the direct board install dead equal with a wired decoder as far as work required.  And with the advantage of being fully removable and no need to trim/tuck wiries, I give the edge and my new preference to the direct boards vs the wired decoders.

So if you're comfortable with frame mods, (and you have want/need to take advantage of Full Throttle or other ESU specific features)  I do think the ESU direct boards are now the best bet.  :)
Do you have any photos of the install? I'm curious on how you did it and where you put the speaker. I don't think a Peteski or John c. write up is needed, just the idea, unless you really want to show us the detail which would be awesome too.
« Last Edit: March 12, 2018, 10:25:23 PM by Jbub »
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daniel_leavitt2000

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Re: I'm now in the digital age!
« Reply #10 on: March 12, 2018, 07:02:03 PM »
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I am not comfortable with frame modifications. At least not until I have a mill, and a way to add lots of weight. Because my layout will be focused more on switching than I originally thought, a set of B23-7s will need to handle 40 car trains.

If only they magnetic wheels and steel track.
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Urodoji

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Jbub

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Re: I'm now in the digital age!
« Reply #12 on: March 12, 2018, 08:08:37 PM »
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peteski

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Re: I'm now in the digital age!
« Reply #13 on: March 12, 2018, 09:29:44 PM »
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http://www.gaugemaster.com/articles/product-spotlight/dcc-concepts-powerbase.html

@Chris333 is doing something similar on his narrow gauge layout. The mechanism he uses already has the magnets installed.
--- Peteski de Snarkski

-"Look at me, I'm satirical!!!"
-"Look at me, I'm anal retentive!!!"
-"Look at me, I have the most posts evahhhh!!!"
-"Look at me, I'm snarky!!!!"
-"Look at me, I have OCD!!!"
-"Look at me, I'm a curmudgeon!!!!"
-"Look at me, I'm not negative, just blunt and honest!!!"

tehachapifan

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Re: I'm now in the digital age!
« Reply #14 on: March 12, 2018, 09:58:57 PM »
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I did a B23-7 and a B30-7 with the standard Select Micro board and did not need to  do any frame mods at all. Speaker and custom enclosure went where light shroud was.