Bachmann Message Board

Discussion Boards => General Discussion => Topic started by: Warflight on April 21, 2017, 12:52:40 AM

Title: Another DCC question... (hopefully my last?)
Post by: Warflight on April 21, 2017, 12:52:40 AM
Who am I kidding? We all know I'll be asking questions the SECOND I buy a DCC controller, or my first sound decoder...

Is there a way to take a DCC decoder (MRC 1651) and make it dual mode?

Before I bought it, I researched it, and couldn't find any information on if it could run DCC and DC (and heaven knows MRC's web site wouldn't tell me) but the seller assured me it was good for DCC AND DC. So I asked previous customers (it was Amazon) and one of the customers said yes as well... so I bought it. Before it arrived in the mail, MRC (whom I e-mailed) said it did NOT do DC (and the guy was just a bit smarmy about it... apparently EVERYONE knows that if it doesn't specifically SAY in the instructions "Dual Mode", then it won't do DC?)

Also, when I got it, it looked nothing like the pictures on the sellers site, NOR on MRC's site (all of their images, plus the seller's images show it comes with a sleeve, but it does NOT... it's bare circuit board... the smarmy guy at MRC said to just tape it, which, apparently everyone also knows) however, I want to put it into a Bachmann Spectrum 2-8-0 "Connie", so "just tape it" is NOT an option... so, where do I get a sleeve for a DCC decoder as well? (Oh, and neither the board on the tender, nor the plug on the decoder have any markings to indicate which way to plug it in, either)

So... any help? Please? (oh, and I will never EVER buy a damned thing from MRC again after that customer service... I should have just bought a Bachmann decoder!)

So, yeah... is there a way for it to work with DC as well as DCC, where do I get a sleeve for it, and which way do I plug it in? (though, checking these boards, I suppose if the engine doesn't move, flip it around? But then, MRC, so I don't know if doing it backwards will damage it or not)

I was hesitant to ask here, but, it *IS* going into a Bachmann engine after all, and figured someone here could help with at least one of my questions. (in fact, that's all I own so far, are Bachmann engines... ten of them now in the past two months... I swear I didn't mean to buy that many so fast!)

I really hate to just toss it into a junk drawer, but MRC was zero help, and the advice from folks here has been reliable so far...

Title: Re: Another DCC question... (hopefully my last?)
Post by: jonathan on April 21, 2017, 06:25:50 AM
As far as I know, Bachmann decoders come dual mode from the factory.  BLI's locomotives come dual mode from the factory, though, I don't know who's decoders they use.

Tsunami's decoders come DCC only from the factory, but can be configured to dual mode.

Don't know about other folk's decoders. MRC may be DCC only. I don't know. You need some sort of programmer to find out.  OR you need somebody nearby who can put your locomotive on their programming track to find out.

I learned this lesson when I installed a Tsunami in a locomotive for the first time. The installation when fine, but I couldn't get the loco to run on my DC layout.  Tsunamis have the dual mode capability, but you have to program them for dual mode on your own programming track.

I have since acquired my own programmer.  When you put a locomotive on the programming track, one of the options is to keep the locomotive dual mode or program it for DCC only.  There must me some sort of advantage, in DCC, for losing the dual mode capability.  I don't know.

To be on the safe side, I put only Bachmann (Lenz) decoders, or Tsunamis, in Bachmann equipment.

Just a few thoughts. 

I'm fairly new to the DCC world, so others will be much, much more knowledgeable than me.



Title: Re: Another DCC question... (hopefully my last?)
Post by: Warflight on April 21, 2017, 06:46:53 AM
Thanks! And yeah, from now on, I'll be getting Bachmann, or decoders that SPECIFICALLY say they are Dual mode. (I know if Bachmann uses the decoder, then I'm probably safe, and have been eyeing Tsunami ones as well as Lenz... I hear good things about Digitraxx as well) I will not be buying the brand I have now, however. I mean, it would be one thing if it was just the issues of the misleading and blatantly false advertising (which will ruin a hobby for any newbie) but when asking about the issue, I got condescension, and when asking about the sleeve issue, they not only did NOTHING to make it right (it's a freeking sleeve, after all!) but threw even more attitude, and bad information, well... I have better places to spend my cash.

DCC Decoders are a stepping stone for me to get into DCC and Sound. I have one DCC engine which I LOVE so far, and two DCC ready ones that just need the decoders, and next month, I plan to buy a Sound Value engine that I have been eyeballing. (it comes with the Bachmann DCC Controller, which looks like a good, easy, starting point for me for DCC control... I'm sure I'll upgrade eventually though, from what folks have been telling me)

Title: Re: Another DCC question... (hopefully my last?)
Post by: ACY on April 21, 2017, 10:34:12 AM
The decoder you bought is not dual mode and cannot be programmed to be dual mode. It will only run on DCC and you should not attempt to run it on analog DC or you will damage the decoder. Also many decoders were made to only run on DCC, originally all decoders were DCC only in fact. Some newer decoders are also not dual mode as it is cheaper to make and probably has a few other benefits. Bachmann and Tsunami have both in the past made DCC only sound decoders so you really have to be knowledgeable about what you are buying and pay close attention to the details. If you are not knowledgeable in DCC then buying separate sale decoders probably isn't the best idea until you have a better handle on things. I suggest starting with a locomotive that already has a dual mode sound decoder which applies to all current new Bachmann HO sound equipped locomotives. Also you would not be able to do the necessary programming for a DCC decoder that has analog mode disabled if you only had an EZ Command System; you would need a more advanced system such as a Dynamis to do that sort of programming. The EZ Command is mainly for programming an address 0-9 and direction of travel, that is pretty much the extent of its programming ability.  It is fine for those who just want a basic controller capable of running 2 or 3 trains at a time but aa better system is necessary if you want to program configuration variables  (CVs).

Title: Re: Another DCC question... (hopefully my last?)
Post by: ACY on April 21, 2017, 10:38:50 AM
Also Jon, I have a few BLI locomotives with factory sound that are DCC only. I also have a Bachmann locomotive that has factory sound with a warning label on the box not to run it on analog DC.
I also recently bought a Mantua 2-6-6-2 with DCC and sound and it also is DCC only and cannot be run on analog DC. They do sell a analog version as well (with no decoder or sound) for those who run on DC.

Title: Re: Another DCC question... (hopefully my last?)
Post by: jonathan on April 21, 2017, 10:52:53 AM
Yep. I only have one BLI. It came dual mode. I wondered if they had DCC only locos. Now I know.  Thanks!



Title: Re: Another DCC question... (hopefully my last?)
Post by: WoundedBear on April 21, 2017, 12:07:52 PM
I'm almost thinking your attitude may be half your trouble in dealing with MRC. Most likely you spoke with Doug. He is "the guy" to talk to regarding all things DCC at MRC.

I use a lot of MRC equipment. I use their decoders in my projects, and their Prodigy Advanced Wireless system to run my layout. I also use their computer interface.

I have found Doug to be nothing but helpful and very knowledgeable about his products. The sleeve issue you are having is a non issue. Some have, some don't. Some modellers remove it, some add it. It can be a shrink sleeve or simply tape. A few of my installs are just two sided tape and no wrap on the decoder at all. I don't know how you wanted MRC to "make it right" when it's up to you as the installer to make it right.

I would also recommend that you do a whole lot more research before spending money on an entry level DCC system. If you plan on spending any amount of time running trains and want to get serious about the hobby, you will need more than an entry level DCC system immediately. If all you want is a loop of rail on the floor, made out of snap-track, then a basic do-nothing system would be fine.


Title: Re: Another DCC question... (hopefully my last?)
Post by: Hunt on April 21, 2017, 03:10:07 PM
A few points  ---

You are drawing conclusions based on incomplete and erroneous information.

If a decoder needs what you are calling a sleeve (shrink-wrap) it would be on it.
Do not expect product information to tell you what it does not have.  You will encounter ads and  documentation that is incomplete and sometimes contains incorrect and non-relevant information.
Once you have a DCC system I suggest the dual-mode decoder feature be turned off (disabled).
Often the necessary decision making information is not readily available. That is when assume occurs, which can be expensive as you then learn by trial and error.

Caveat -- If you have researched a few DCC systems or components (example- a decoder) and think all the others are the same - you are mistaken!

Title: Re: Another DCC question... (hopefully my last?)
Post by: Yardmaster on April 21, 2017, 03:44:58 PM
It would be a good idea to do a little reading up on Digital Command Control. Here is a link to some great primers and some more advanced titles as well.

Title: Re: Another DCC question... (hopefully my last?)
Post by: Nathan on April 21, 2017, 05:10:16 PM
One more good place to look:


Title: Re: Another DCC question... (hopefully my last?)
Post by: bapguy on April 21, 2017, 10:07:42 PM
And another one.   Joe

Title: Re: Another DCC question... (hopefully my last?)
Post by: Warflight on April 21, 2017, 11:49:13 PM
Thanks guys! All of this is VERY helpful!

So... here's to hoping my next dive into DCC is a better one!

Title: Re: Another DCC question... (hopefully my last?)
Post by: jbrock27 on April 22, 2017, 01:01:55 PM
Why limit yourself to this being your "last" DCC question ??? ::)

I will never EVER buy a damned thing from MRC again

That's too bad, bc they make the best DC controllers out there.

Ever think of toning down the drama?

And lots of people use Kapton tape to secure their decoders wires etc; better than using gooey electrical tape and it does not trap heat like electrical tape will.