Author Topic: Lighting with a Digitrax 163 series decoder  (Read 483 times)

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woodone

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Lighting with a Digitrax 163 series decoder
« on: March 04, 2019, 12:37:45 PM »
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Got an Digitrax DN 163 KOA decoder . I want to have flashing ditch lights ( alternating).
Want the ditch lights to come on solid when the headlight is on- hit a different function key and have them flash for a set time and then go back to being on solid .
Even with the help of Decoder Pro I have not been able to program to do that?
I must be over looking something!

peteski

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Re: Lighting with a Digitrax 163 series decoder
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2019, 04:12:33 PM »
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A warning about Digitrax decoders in general: Their FX ligthing effects don't handle LEDs very well. I programmed the ditch lights using one of those decoders (don't remember all the CV settings) and there was only a very faint signs that the ditch light LEDs were dimming.  I even tried to add a resistor/capacitor circuits to the LEDs to get them to dim better, but that didn't quite work either.  I gave up.

So even if you get the CVs programmed correctly, don't expect the effect to look realistic. You would need to use incandescent bulbs for the effect to look convincing.
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tehachapifan

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Re: Lighting with a Digitrax 163 series decoder
« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2019, 04:33:43 PM »
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A warning about Digitrax decoders in general: Their FX ligthing effects don't handle LEDs very well. I programmed the ditch lights using one of those decoders (don't remember all the CV settings) and there was only a very faint signs that the ditch light LEDs were dimming.  I even tried to add a resistor/capacitor circuits to the LEDs to get them to dim better, but that didn't quite work either.  I gave up.

So even if you get the CVs programmed correctly, don't expect the effect to look realistic. You would need to use incandescent bulbs for the effect to look convincing.

While I haven't tried their ditchlight effects, I have a few Digitrax decoder-equipped locos that have gyralights with LED's and the effects are quite good. I did have to fuss with a few CV'c to get them to look their best, but the effect is quite convincing and pronounced (the LED doesn't go all the way off between flashes or even close to it, but neither does the prototype...at least the twin sealed-beam type). It's been a while since I messed with those and I can't remember if they have an  "LED mode" like an ESU decoder does, but I would imagine that could possibly play a part if your effects are not very pronounced.
« Last Edit: March 04, 2019, 04:36:35 PM by tehachapifan »
Russ

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Re: Lighting with a Digitrax 163 series decoder
« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2019, 04:49:20 PM »
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I know you already bought the 163 but I've heard TCS does LEDs better.

peteski

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Re: Lighting with a Digitrax 163 series decoder
« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2019, 05:55:23 PM »
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It's been a while since I messed with those and I can't remember if they have an  "LED mode" like an ESU decoder does, but I would imagine that could possibly play a part if your effects are not very pronounced.

They don't have LED mode, but they have couple of CVs for controlling the lighting FX parameters. The manual also recommends certain values for working with LEDs.  However, even in the latest generation 6 of the decoder (as in DZ126) I still find the effects lacking with LEDs. But they look great with incandescent lamps. Any other brand I tried handles LEDs much better.  TCS, ESU, ZIMO for example (especially the later two) have excellent control of the LED dimming (needed for those effects).
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tehachapifan

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Re: Lighting with a Digitrax 163 series decoder
« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2019, 06:32:39 PM »
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They don't have LED mode, but they have couple of CVs for controlling the lighting FX parameters. The manual also recommends certain values for working with LEDs.  However, even in the latest generation 6 of the decoder (as in DZ126) I still find the effects lacking with LEDs. But they look great with incandescent lamps. Any other brand I tried handles LEDs much better.  TCS, ESU, ZIMO for example (especially the later two) have excellent control of the LED dimming (needed for those effects).

As far as gyralight effects go, I actually prefer Digitrax over Zimo a little bit once you figure out how to minimize or eliminate the subtle flicker or a kind of erratic wobble I've noticed with those (which seems to require a lot of experimenting with the adjusting CV's to accomplish). The Digitrax effect has a very brief and more intense flash at the brightest point (well, every other flash anyway) that I assume represents the eye's brief alignment with the sweeping reflectors. The Zimo, while still a very nice effect, doesn't do this. I do agree that ESU's representation of the gyralight is the best of all three, even though the effect does stair-step a little....at least with LED's.



Russ

woodone

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Re: Lighting with a Digitrax 163 series decoder
« Reply #6 on: March 05, 2019, 08:35:06 PM »
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If anyone is interested - flashing ditch lights- With the H/L on.
Set CV-51 TO 106,   CV-52 TO 107, AND. CV- 63 TO 64.    Turn on the H/L and the ditch lights will come on also.
Hit F-2 and the ditch lights will flash- hit F-2 again and they will go back to just on.

peteski

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Re: Lighting with a Digitrax 163 series decoder
« Reply #7 on: March 05, 2019, 08:58:05 PM »
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If anyone is interested - flashing ditch lights- With the H/L on.
Set CV-51 TO 106,   CV-52 TO 107, AND. CV- 63 TO 64.    Turn on the H/L and the ditch lights will come on also.
Hit F-2 and the ditch lights will flash- hit F-2 again and they will go back to just on.

I assume you are using white LEDs.  How do you like the flashing effect?  When I tried to do this, the change of brightness (between fully bright and fully dim) was almost imperceivable.
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woodone

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Re: Lighting with a Digitrax 163 series decoder
« Reply #8 on: March 05, 2019, 10:30:12 PM »
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Yes, used white SMT LED’s.
Not real happy with the flash rate.
Going to see if I can adj. that- need to some more reading!

peteski

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Re: Lighting with a Digitrax 163 series decoder
« Reply #9 on: March 05, 2019, 10:57:20 PM »
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Yes, used white SMT LED’s.
Not real happy with the flash rate.
Going to see if I can adj. that- need to some more reading!

Yes, flash rate is adjustable. I was more interested in whether when they are flashing, do they get dim enough to be readily noticeable?
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woodone

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Re: Lighting with a Digitrax 163 series decoder
« Reply #10 on: March 06, 2019, 08:12:23 AM »
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Yes they are flashing. I believe that CV 63 sets the flashrate. Right now CV63 is set at 64.
I just have not had time to investigate if I can get more off times.
The lighting effects are not has good has a Tsunami2 or a LokSound Select that’s for sure!

peteski

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Re: Lighting with a Digitrax 163 series decoder
« Reply #11 on: March 06, 2019, 03:40:44 PM »
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Yes they are flashing. I believe that CV 63 sets the flashrate. Right now CV63 is set at 64.
I just have not had time to investigate if I can get more off times.


I don't think so, and that is the big problem.  They just don't dim dark enough.  It's like: bright, and slightly less bright twitch for an instant.

And DZ126 is has their 3rd generation lighting effect (FX III). Seems that they are just reusing the same old lighting effect patterns from the older decoders.   If you tried using incandescent bulbs instead, you would be surprised how the dimming effect looks a lot better.  So much for being "LED friendly".
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woodone

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Re: Lighting with a Digitrax 163 series decoder
« Reply #12 on: March 07, 2019, 10:30:49 AM »
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After reading (more than once) it is CV 62 that is used to adj the flash rate.
I tried all kinds of values for CV 62 , it did change the flash rate, but the off time just was not there.
Like you said they just don’t look right. More like they dim a bit and then go bright, hard to see a flash of light.

peteski

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Re: Lighting with a Digitrax 163 series decoder
« Reply #13 on: March 07, 2019, 04:04:42 PM »
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After reading (more than once) it is CV 62 that is used to adj the flash rate.
I tried all kinds of values for CV 62 , it did change the flash rate, but the off time just was not there.
Like you said they just don’t look right. More like they dim a bit and then go bright, hard to see a flash of light.

Exactly.
Ditch lights don't really flash (like rotary beacons or strobes). It is kind of opposite. They are mostly on at full brightens, but when flashing they go from full brightness down to off for a moment, then back to full brightness.  In 1:1 ditch lights the electric current is probably momentarily fully shut off, but the hot glowing filaments do not fully go dark (just very dim for an instant).  Either way, the effect the decoder produces with LEDs is nothing like the real thing.

The flash rate is the cycle time (flash repeat time).
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tehachapifan

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Re: Lighting with a Digitrax 163 series decoder
« Reply #14 on: March 07, 2019, 05:49:04 PM »
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I've seen ditchlights that alternate between bright and dim only. I believe some/many/most or all Amtrak P42's do or at least did at one time.
Russ