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Discussion Boards => General Discussion => Topic started by: MathewWorley on May 21, 2009, 10:31:26 AM



Title: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: MathewWorley on May 21, 2009, 10:31:26 AM
Hello everyone.
     Im sure this question is on here somewhere, but. What Ive been tryin to find out is how to convert my HO scale loco's from DC to DCC. I have 6 of Bachmanns Gp50's that Id like to make the switch to DCC with but I have no clue on what to get to make the switch. Any advice or help will be greatly appreciated.


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: Stephen D. Richards on May 21, 2009, 10:37:30 AM
Check Tony's Trains.  They have quite a few detailed instructions.  Also a very good source of info on electronics is Jim Banner.  Contact him either on line or off line and he can take you through it step by step.  It's more intimidating than difficult.  Stephen


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: rustyrails on May 21, 2009, 11:20:34 AM
Matthew,
Like most technical and semi-technical subjects, DCC becomes much less intimidating when you understand the jargon.  There are several very good introductory books on the subject.  My favorite beginners book is "The DCC Guide" by Don Fiehmann, published by Kalmbach.  Your LHS should have it.  Most DCC manufacturers have very informative web sites. 

Moving to DCC is not inexpensive, but it's not like buying a new car either.  Plan on spending a few hundred dollars to get off the ground.  You can spend a lot less, but the bottom line is that you get what you pay for.  Compare systems and see what you can live without. It is better to spend a little more now than to spend less now and later realize that you have to spend a lot more to start over because you can't run your railroad like you want to.  Just my two cents worth.

Rusty


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: Yampa Bob on May 21, 2009, 02:24:07 PM
Hi Mathew, welcome to the forum.

Ask 10 modelers about DCC controllers, you will likely get 10 different recommendations. That's why you need to do a lot of research and study before purchasing a controller.  I also recommend "The DCC Guide" by Don Fiehmann.

As for locomotives, the general consensus is that the Bachmann standard line of diesels are not good candidates for upgrading to DCC. This is evidenced by the lack of information regarding decoder installs in these locomotives.

The question you have to ask yourself....is it worth $20 and considerable effort to upgrade a $35 locomotive?  I just talked to the decoder install technician at Caboose Hobbies, installs in the Bachmann standard line are possible but not recommended. The cost of a custom install by a qualified technician is prohibitive.

However, since you have 6 of them it would be a waste not to consider upgrading them. It's your choice, just wanted you to be aware of possible complications and expense.

Bottom line, it's your money and your railroad, no one else can tell you how you should run it or what equipment you should purchase.

Regards.


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: jward on May 21, 2009, 03:59:58 PM
bob,
i need to disagree here about the bachmann upgrades. the ones with split frames are not difficult to do, they all follow pretty much the same procedure. detailed in the following link:
http://members.shaw.ca/sask.rail/dcc/tmaster/tmaster.html

so, if you get a locomotive for $35, and install a decoder for another $20 you have a dcc equipped locomotive for $55. what's wrong with that. keep in mind that a new bachmann locomotive is going to run as well as if not better than top of the line stuff from 25-30 years ago.....

for those of us on a budget, this is a godsend. there are always going to be those who turn up their noses at the less expensive stuff, but to be honest, we've reached the point in model railroading where there really isn't any new junk on the market, everything out there pretty much runs well.


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: Yampa Bob on May 21, 2009, 10:13:43 PM
Jeffery,
Upgrading these locos may not be difficult for you and me, but to modelers just starting up in DCC it might be a daunting task, especially if they don't have an electrical background or test equipment.

The first impression of a new venture needs to be that of success. We don't know if Mathew is up to the task, only in his words, "I have no clue on what to get". This indicates to me that he hasn't done sufficient research yet. This forum is a good place to start. He can take all the comments, weigh them against his skills, (and wallet) and make sensible conclusions on how to proceed. 

If you read my post again notice I didn't say, "I think they are poor candidates", because I rarely express opinions about anything train related. I base  my statements on experience, either my own or that of professionals.

As for the "budget" aspect. I have 8 Bachmann DCC equipped diesels, all purchased at $40 or less each.  Of course, since Mathew has 6 DC locos, he finds himself between a rock and a hard place. I'm glad it's his decision and not mine to make.

With my background in modeling and electronics, I would be tempted to try at least one for my own edification. But with my eyesight and growing impatience it would probably be frustrating. (It comes with old age)  I have to weigh expense and effort against my blood pressure.  :D

Whenever someone asks about an upgrade, I always refer to this site first:
http://www.tcsdcc.com/HO_Search/search.html

If I don't find a loco listed, I become suspicious of the practicality. It it was easy and economically practical, then everyone would be doing it. In response to Mathew's question I spent hours searching the net, and didn't find a single documentation on the questioned upgrade.

Regards. 


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: jward on May 22, 2009, 08:27:16 AM
my son and i have about 6 dcc onboard locomotives, and another 6 or so that i've converted using the link in my previous post. i don't know much about tony's or the other websites, i really don't consult them that much.

what i do know is that, using those directions, i have had less trouble getting things like headlights working properly than some of the so called plug n play installations i've done.



Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: Jim Banner on May 22, 2009, 02:49:00 PM
I don't know if Mathew is still following this thread that he started, but please let me put my 2 cents worth in anyway.

If Mathew is happy with the way his GP-50s run on dc, then I expect he will be equally as happy with the way they will run on DCC, even with a low cost decoder.  If he is willing to go a few dollars extra on the decoders, I think he will be thrilled with the low speed performance he can get with BEMF decoders.

I am not sure if Mathew has N-scale or H0-scale GP-50s so here are some thoughts on Digitrax decoders for both scales:

N-scale -  DZ123 (low cost) or DZ125 (includes BEMF)

H0-scale - DH123 (low cost) or DH163 (includes BEMF and four extra function outputs)

BEMF stands for Back ElectroMotive Force, which is the voltage generated by a motor when it is turning.  This voltage is measured by a BEMF decoder and compared to a voltage that represents the speed you set via your throttle.  If the motor is going too fast or too slow, the decoder makes the required corrections.  In this respect, it is rather like cruise control in an automobile.

Where BEMF control really shines is at low speed.  With most locomotives, you have to set the throttle to about 30% to get the locomotive to start.  Then it runs, but often faster than the slow crawl you would like.  But with BEMF, you set the throttle to say 1%.  If the motor does not start, the decoder ups the voltage until it does.  When it does start moving, the decoder will reduce the voltage before it moves too fast.  The result is a locomotive that starts smoothly and runs smoothly throughout its speed range, including the all important low speeds.  This is ideal for switching freight cars and just as great for pulling a passenger train out of the station without spilling a single bowl of soup in the diner.

If they were my GP-50s, I would buy one decoder and see how the installation went.  While I have talked about Digitrax decoders, there are many other good ones on the market, both with and without BEMF, that will do the job.  Most of them will require removing capacitors but that 2 second effort with a pair of cutters is the price of quieter operation.


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: MathewWorley on May 22, 2009, 04:11:32 PM
Hello again everyone. I have been following the thread and I appreciate all the advice so far. I wanted to express that I understand I have a lot of research to do on my behalf but I also thought I could find out just as quick by asking. With the job I have (truck driver) I dont have a lot of free time to sit down and browse the internet. I havent made the official switch over to DCC yet but when I do, Id like to take my loco's with me. The only use Im looking to get out of DCC is the ablility to have multiple engines running, the ability to turn off/on headlights and maybe a beacon light on top of the cab.I am tempted to do the installs myself its just that I needed to find what parts to get to do the install. If it works it works, if it dont it dont, If i blow one up I'll learn not to do it again lol. I only have the 6 bachmanns and If i can upgrade them and it works than I dont have to worry about re-buying my fleet. I know some of you  probably have quite a few loco's but with what little area id like to model I only need maybe 15 if that. But with this thread and from some of the others I have found information that may help and will try once Im able. Again, Im not wanting to offend anyone at all


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: Yampa Bob on May 22, 2009, 05:09:28 PM
Mathew,
Please be assured you aren't offending anyone here. We just want you to have as much information as possible. More information from you will help.

1.  Are the locos HO scale?

2.  How old are they? If they are the newer release with 8 wheel drive, then they are probably good runners. This is probably the most important factor.

I have been told by professional installers that the main problem is lack of room for the decoder. Installers usually have a milling machine to cut down the metal chassis to provide space for a decoder.

Suggest removing the shell of one loco and see how much space you have. If you can post a few pictures that would help.

The main thing I gather from your last post, is that you have the right attitude to do the job yourself.  "If it works it works".  You have just a little to lose, but a whole bunch to gain if you can pull it off.  I think most will agree, in model railroading "attitude is everything". If you need more motivation, I would say "GO FOR IT!"  Of course I have nothing to lose. LOL

Good luck. 


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: MathewWorley on May 22, 2009, 06:12:00 PM
Yes they are the newer 8 wheel drive type and are HO Scale. If i can get the pictures smaller than 128kb Ill try to post them. another alternative would be to email them.


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: jward on May 22, 2009, 06:40:00 PM
here are some of my experiences with dcc.....

1. we have 5 gp40/gp50 type locomotives. all are dcc on board. none have flywheels. the lack of flywheels is not objectionable to me as they are otherwise smooth runners. you could probably compensate for the lack of flywheels by adjusting the momentum settings in the decoder.....

2. we also have 1 each gp30 and gp35 that came with dcc on board. these have flywheels.

3. we also have numerous h16-44, gp30, gp35 and sd45 type locomotives that we converted to dcc  using the instructions from the link i posted earlier. all conversions were similar to the one shown, the only difference being the size of the locomotive frame involved.

4. in addition, we have numerous locomotives by athearn, model power, broadway limited, atlas and proto 2000. some conversions were plug n play, some were hard wired. only the atlas s2 needed a milled frame for the decoder i installed. it, and the athearns, also needed the motor isolated from the chassis, complicating the installation.

5. the decoders installed have been digitrax dh123, and a single dh163. i am not that impressed with the dh123 as several of them have gone into thermal shutdown. when a decoder overheats, it will shut itself and the locomotive down until it cools. digitrax will replace bad decoders for $17 each, but the dh123 retails for not much more than that price. the big advantage of the digitrax decoders is that they come shrinkwrapped in blue plastic, and this protective coating prevents accidental shorts of the decoder components against whatever they may come into contact with inside the locomotive. the single dh163 i have has caused me no trouble and i will probably buy more of those.

6. the other make of decoder i have used is nce. i believe they are model da13-sr. i have experienced no problems with these, and nce will replace ANY decoder for $15 regardless of make. the nce decoders are not shrink wrapped and it would be a good idea to wrap them in electrical tape when they are installed.




Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: Yampa Bob on May 22, 2009, 07:27:21 PM
Mathew,
I just remembered that NCE has a decoder designed specifically to replace the DCC board in Bachmann DCC equipped GP35, GP40, and GP50. If your locos have the usual light board, then this might also work as a direct replacement without requiring additional space. 

http://www.ncedcc.com/bachdv35.pdf

Once you remove a shell, see if this looks like your setup. You will need a low wattage (15 to 25 watt) pencil soldering iron and solder.

The PDF file has instructions to install, read it through. Note on page 3 that the capacitors must be clipped from the motor for proper operation. (note warning, don't clip the "dog bone" inductors) See bottom picture, capacitors are on top under the board on the GP series.  LED lights are included.  This might be the perfect answer for your upgrades.

Caboose Hobbies has the decoders in stock at $15.55.
http://www.caboosehobbies.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=346_349&products_id=29411

Several members use NCE decoders and seem very pleased with them.

Hope this helps.


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: MathewWorley on May 22, 2009, 08:07:46 PM
That looks very close to what these have, the biggest diffrence is the circuit board. The ones in myne dont have all the extra stuff, just a plain board with strip of copper down each side of the board with 6 connections. most of the wire colors are on the same side - all red wire connection are on left side of board, black on the. It sounds like you may have found my solution. only one way to find out for sure :)


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: Yampa Bob on May 22, 2009, 08:49:42 PM
The red wires are usually on the right side of the locomotive (engineer's side). Of course it is possible the loco was wired incorrectly at the factory. It happens.

I just read through the PDF again, something you should know.

If you look at the default CV values table, CV29 is set to "2" at the factory, means "analog" operation (DC) is disabled.  If you want to continue running the loco on DC power, you need a DCC controller capable of changing the value to "6".

Sort of a "catch 22" huh?   They want (all) your money!  :D  I won't recommend any particular controller (unless you ask what I use LOL), you need to buy one that will suit your needs and wants.

Since the decoder is an "upgrade" (their words) for the Bachmann DCC board, they probably assume one already has a DCC controller. Isn't this fun?  Well, I'm enjoying this, I like helping others spend their money.  8)


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: Rangerover on May 22, 2009, 09:20:21 PM
You really don't need the light board, in fact some modelers remove them to make room for decoders/speakers. Also you can purchase some Digitrax Z scale decoders, which are the size of a dime that you solder in without the light board, they are equipped with back emf and come with complete simple to follow instructions. I have 3 (plug in, but you can cut off the male plug and solder in) of these installed in BLI Blueline loco's HO scale and they work great and easy install. They can be purchased at Tony's Trains or Litchfield Station which have discount prices, do yourself a favor and don't buy the cheapest decoder's you can find. The digitrax DZ 125PS is selling under $25.00 and (the DZ 243PS with 4 functions under $35.00, your cab rotating light or a mars light would be connected to the extra functions which you need for those functions), the directions are included again with the decoder.
 
Here on Z scale decoders, (for Z,N, and HO) click this on and read the information.
plug in:

http://www.digitrax.com/prd_mobdec_dz125ps.php

solder in:
 
http://www.digitrax.com/prd_mobdec_dz143.php

Hey I was petrified to open the shell and install my first solder in decoder, it took me about 2 hours, now after the first, if the motor is already isolated, it takes 20 minutes to 1/2 hour and that's in a steam loco.
Just do it, if you have a problem just come here, that's what I do.
Welcome and Good Luck, above all have fun! Jim
 


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: Yampa Bob on May 23, 2009, 03:42:43 AM
The NCE decoder board replaces the existing light board, even comes with new LEDs. As a package, the current limiting resistors on the new board are probably optimized for the included LEDs.

A tiny Digitrax decoder might be hard wired in the available space, but don't forget the lights. With the light board gone, and by not using the NCE replacement board, there won't be any mounting brackets to support the lights. Also, using a standard decoder will require installing current limiting resistors.

Remember we're talking about diesels, not steamers. Everyone should download and read the PDF instructions so you will see how the lights are mounted on the board.

Again, the final decision is up to Mathew, just wanted to mention all the facts.

I'm rather fascinated by the NCE boards, think I'll order a couple myself, the decoders in my GP40s are very noisy. 

Regards.


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: Rangerover on May 23, 2009, 10:06:39 AM
Remember we're talking about diesels, not steamers.

Bob

I simply mentioned the  steam loco's only as an example of the time involved, they are after all a bit more time consuming than diesel, at least I found it so. Probably only because I like steam and take my time with them. But I've only converted 7 loco's so far to DCC and consider myself a beginner and learning too. Any loco whether steam or diesel, which isn't DCC ready but that can mean anything, takes longer depending on if you need to isolate the motor or hog out some of the weight for decoder/speaker installs.

I converted 2 old Atlas diesel F units to DCC which had 12 volt bulbs, so I didn't need resistors, leds do need a resistor which is no big deal and as per jward's link, the modeler cut the light board so as to use it as a mounting bracket, it's quite simple. Easier doing that than hogging out the weight.

Also I believe the OP has a light board similar to what I had in my Atlas just copper strips with no resistors or electronic gizmos, with the light wires simply soldered to the strips.

When and if the bulbs burn out I will install leds with resistors.

In the future as I am converting to DCC, some with sound, I will be replacing the bulbs with leds, just makes more sense since I got them apart.

Since the OP is installing an oscillating/strobe light of sorts on the roof of his loco, there is no place on the light board to solder or operate that addition, he still would need the 4 function decoder for the install and to operate it. And the common blue wire for the lights on the decoder would have to be used for the installation.

Mathew, read the links provided by all, you will find, like most of us have, that it's all quite simple, but there are all kinds of techniques modelers use to achieve the outcome. I played with DCC only 4 years and only been installing/converting some of my own favorite loco's to DCC for the past 2+ months. With all the jargon it does get confusing, but the more I do, the easier it gets. I spent a lot of time(4+years) on threads like this during that time reading and learning and visiting and downloading to folders pdf files, and now I find I only needed a few resources plus following the directions that come with the decoder or calling the manufacturer for specific directions if problems arose. Believe it, it's all rather simple, after I did my first one, I remember shaking my head and saying "is that all there is to it".
Jim


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: Rangerover on May 23, 2009, 01:38:29 PM
I'm rather fascinated by the NCE boards, think I'll order a couple myself

Bob, thanks for that link about NCE decoders and light boards. I just spent a couple hours looking and reading on their web site. I haven't read many reviews about them or on forums or threads. I like the idea that you can program and remapp them provided you have the system to do that, I'm glad I got the PR3 and JMRI program more than ever. I'm going to order one just to see how they function and if they hold up.

Thanks again, Jim


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: Yampa Bob on May 23, 2009, 02:20:39 PM
I think we are all guilty at times of "not seeing the forest for the trees". Until Mathew posted this thread, I could only base my comments about upgrading the DC diesels on what installers and others have reported.

Of course, being an Empirical Skeptic and non-conformist myself, when someone says it "can't be done", I get more determined to do it anyway.  :D  The word "can't" is not a usual part of my vocabulary.

For my own enlightenment, and to be in a better position to advise others on this topic, I ordered not only the NCE decoders, but also a Bachmann DC version of a GP40, so I can do an actual upgrade.

I also wrote a letter to NCE support for more detailed information. If the decoder meets the claims, they might be missing the boat by not mentioning the DC to DCC upgrade possibilities for an increased market potential.  This might also increase sales of Bachmann DC diesels to those who prefer installing their own decoders.

Thanks to Mathew, we may see new horizons here.  Also thanks to Jeffery Ward, if he hadn't mentioned NCE, I would not have remembered the BACH-DSL board. As Jim Banner says, we learn from each other. 


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: pdlethbridge on May 23, 2009, 03:17:47 PM
As a decoder installer, I've stayed with the least expensive decoder, the dh 123. After doing more than 20 upgrades from DC to DCC on athearn, Lifelike, Bachmann and brass imports, both steam and diesel, they all have their own types of problems. I have found though that steamers are much more of a problem because of the wires between the loco and tender. Using 30 or 32 gauge wire makes the install go pretty good but you have to watch out for shorts and insulate every potential area.


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: Jim Banner on May 23, 2009, 06:08:05 PM
While I agree with PD that there are advantages to sticking to one or two types of decoders, and mostly do that myself, I think the simplicity of the NCE Bachman DSL decoder makes it a better choice for a first time installer.  Added to that simplicity is a great set of instructions, making it quite difficult to go wrong.

I guess this is a case of me suggesting he do one thing while I do something different.  So be it.

Earlier, Bob was worried about how to mount the headlights if you used a standard decoder.  A trick I have often used is to keep enough of the ends of the lighting board that I can mount the lights on them, or leave the original lights mounted on them.  By nicking the copper traces, I can easily disconnect the lights from as much or as little of the original circuit as I want.  In a few cases I have removed all the other components and all the unused copper traces, cut a square hole in the middle of the board to drop a tiny decoder into, and put the lighting board back in place.  More often, it is possible to leave the lighting board in place and slip a tiny decoder up into a fan or dynamic brake housing.  But let's not wish that on Mathew on a first attempt.

PD, one trick I like to use when doing steam locomotives is to put the decoder in the locomotive rather than the tender.  That way I need only 3 wires between the locomotive and tender, assuming tender pickups and tender light.  That is only half of the usual six wires and they cause less than half the trouble.  With sound decoders, you may not save any wires but you end up with more room for a larger speaker in the tender.  But it can be harder to find enough room for the larger decoder in the locomotive.

Jim


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: Yampa Bob on May 23, 2009, 09:44:31 PM
I have modified a couple of light boards, just didn't want Mathew to realize the "dark side of installs" until he gets his feet wet. 

To paraphrase "Yoda", fear leads to suffering, suffering leads to anger, anger leads to a huge hammer.  :D


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: MathewWorley on May 24, 2009, 12:48:14 AM
Hello everyone,

     Im in aww that my question has possibly created a new chapter. Not only does it sound like my question has helped others and stirred up new curiosity, but it may have helped a few companys in the process. I wonder how much my checks will be?? just kidding lol.  I hope that this thread has helped others like it has me and it sounds like it has and more. I hope to start or attempt my install(s) soon, just waiting to get the cash cow from the barn and the time to sit down and goin from there. I also wanted to thank everyone who has given advice and input to help me upgrade my fleet. Ill be leaving the thread up to see how far it goes and to refer back to it.
                                                                                 ---Mathew---


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: Yampa Bob on May 24, 2009, 01:09:45 AM
Hey Mathew,
We're having as much fun as you are. Suggest you place this thread in your favorites folder for recall. It may be awhile, but I plan to upgrade a DC diesel myself out of curiosity.

You've heard the expression, "Out of the mouths of babes". We get lots of ideas from new members. Some of the questions are quite thought provoking.

Keep us updated on your progress, and remember if it works out ok, be prepared to be the teacher the next time someone asks about it.

In the words of Larry the Cable Guy...."Git 'er done"  :D


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: WGL on May 24, 2009, 01:48:45 AM

I am not sure if Mathew has N-scale or H0-scale GP-50s so here are some thoughts on Digitrax decoders for both scales:

N-scale -  DZ123 (low cost) or DZ125 (includes BEMF)

H0-scale - DH123 (low cost) or DH163 (includes BEMF and four extra function outputs)

BEMF stands for Back ElectroMotive Force, which is the voltage generated by a motor when it is turning.  This voltage is measured by a BEMF decoder and compared to a voltage that represents the speed you set via your throttle.  If the motor is going too fast or too slow, the decoder makes the required corrections.  In this respect, it is rather like cruise control in an automobile.

Where BEMF control really shines is at low speed.  With most locomotives, you have to set the throttle to about 30% to get the locomotive to start.  Then it runs, but often faster than the slow crawl you would like.  But with BEMF, you set the throttle to say 1%.  If the motor does not start, the decoder ups the voltage until it does.  When it does start moving, the decoder will reduce the voltage before it moves too fast.  The result is a locomotive that starts smoothly and runs smoothly throughout its speed range, including the all important low speeds.  This is ideal for switching freight cars and just as great for pulling a passenger train out of the station without spilling a single bowl of soup in the diner.

 Jim, if I had installed BEMF decoders (which I didn't know about until I read your post) into my BlueLine DC with sound locomotives, would they then have momentum, instead of lunging at start & stopping suddenly? 

 Also, does momentum decrease the top speed of locomotives?  I wonder because my 4 Bachmann locos with DCC onboard have top speeds of about 80 or less, while my 2 BLI DC with sound into which I installed DCC decoders, have top speeds of 100+.


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: jward on May 24, 2009, 09:45:29 PM
blue line are supposedly very good locomotives, with excellent low speed control. if your is lunging, something is wrong. maybe you have something in the gearbox that would be causing this? do you hear a clicking sound when you run the locomotive?

matching speed between decoder equipped locomotives is a simple matter of adjusting the top speed of the faster locomotive. cv5 adjusts the maximum voltage.


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: Jim Banner on May 24, 2009, 11:52:33 PM
WGL, the answer to that is a deffinite maybe.  It depends on why your locomotives jack rabbit starts and stops.  But before we get into that, let me ask you a couple of questions.  I am assuming you are running on DCC.  What system do you use?  And what sound decoders did you install (make AND model?)  I assume we are talking about sound and motion decoders, not sound only decoders.  Some of them already include BEMF control and all you have to do is turn it on or program it.  Others do not have it but there are work arounds.

Just to make sure we are on the same wavelength about momentum.  There are two CVs that adjust momentum, CV3 for acceleration and CV4 for deceleration.  If they are set to zero, then the locomotive will react to the throttle directly - turn it up to a new setting, the locomotive immediately speeds up to the new setting.  Turn it down, and the locomotive similarly slows down immediately.  With momentum turned on, you can drive your locomotive more like you would a real train.  When starting off from a dead stop, you can crank your throttle up to full power right off the bat.  But instead of a jack rabbit start and reaching full speed immediately, your locomotive with momentum will (or should) start gradually and accelerate up to speed.  You may not want full speed even though you applied full power but what you can do is turn the throttle down to an appropriate level once your locomotive is going the speed that you want.  By increasing the momentum during acceleration (by programing higher numbers into CV3) you have have your train react as if it was heavier.  That is, it will accelerate more slowly, even if the power you apply is the same.  This is not a whole lot different than driving a real diesel.  The engineer puts the throttle in run 8 (full throttle) and leaves it there until his train reaches the desired speed, then backs it off to maybe run 3 or run 4, whatever he thinks will keep it at that speed.  The same with deceleration.  The higher the deceleration momentum is set, the heavier your train seems to be and the longer it takes to stop.  With a high deceleration setting in CV4, it takes quite a lot of skill to stop your train exactly where you want it, just as it takes a lot of skill in the real world to stop a 100 car train exactly where you need it.

Acceleration and deceleration do not always work quite the way you would like them to.  When starting from a dead stop, you might apply lots of power and then have to wait before your train starts moving.  This is because your locomotive does not necessarily start at one percent of maximum motor voltage.  It might need 25 to 30% of maximum before it will start.  And it will take some time before you reach that voltage when you start off from zero with acceleration momentum applied.  But as long as the train starts smoothly when it does start, we can correct the waiting problem by increasing the start voltage programmed into CV2.  If your locomotive took 25% of maximum voltage to just start, then you program 64 into CV2 (because 64 is 25% of 255, the maximum you can put in CV2.)  Then when decoder calls for 0 speed, the voltage applied to the motor is zero.  But when it calls for an increase of speed, the motor voltage immediately jumps to 25% of maximum voltage and the locomotive immediately starts moving at minimum speed.  All the in between speed steps are automatically skipped over.

Way back at the beginning of the last paragraph, I said that as long as the train starts smoothly when it does start, we can correct the waiting problem.  But what happens if it does not start smoothly?  Poor mechanical design, wear, lack of lubrication, and throttle mismanagement are the four most common causes of jack rabbit starts.  ("Throttle mismanagement" is just a fancy term for cranking the throttle up too fast when you are not using momentum.)  By using acceleration momentum as discussed above we can eliminate throttle mismanagement.  And by lubricating and maintaining the locomotive, we can usually make it start more smoothly.  Poor mechanical design still shows up in old train set locomotives but mostly today we are dealing with five pole, skew wound motors, flywheels and precision molded gears.  So we can expect smooth starting and what we get is quite good, but still not perfect.  What we need for the ultimate in smooth starting is a little man sitting inside our locomotive with his hand on an auxiliary throttle and each eye on a gauge.  One gauge tells him how fast the motor is supposed to be turning and the other gauge tells him how fast the motor is actually going.  His job is to adjust this throttle to keep the two gauges matched.  If he does his job well, all we should see from the outside of the locomotive is the slight change in speed as the decoder steps through its 128 steps between stop and full speed.  The little man is available to all of us and his name is BEMF.

BEMF control will not solve all the problem with a bad locomotive.  As a test, I installed one in a  Tyco locomotive from a train set bought in the late 1960s.  Before the install, I cleaned, lubricated and test ran the locomotive on dc.  It ran about as well as it did 40 years ago, smoothly and reliably at half throttle and above.  But it took almost half throttle to get it started, and then it went from zero to 50 in about 6 inches.  With a BEMF decoder installed and tweaked (a very long process in this locomotive,) it would start at 1% throttle (on a Digitrax DT400 throttle) and would speed up along with the throttle but to get it to do this, I had to set the decoder gain so high that the speed was "hunting," that is, jumping up and down in a most annoying manner.  I had visions of the little man having apoplexy as he tried to match his gauges.  Later I tried the same decoder in an older Athearn locomotive, about 30 years old.  On the dc test, it had a much smoother start, but still with a bit of a jump from zero to maybe 10 mph.  Similar locomotives with with non-BEMF decoders had similar jumps.  With the BEMF decoder installed, it had silky smooth starts and I was able to start and stop it four times per tie running down the line.  Basically, the BEMF decoder turned this good locomotive into a great locomotive.

But as with most good things, BEMF decoders have their limits.  Being unable to deal with inadequate locomotives is one of them.  Running in consists is another.  If you put two BEMF equipped locomotives together, you will often find one of them spinning its wheels as the decoder applies full power to get it up to speed while the other shuts down and drags its wheels in an effort to slow down.  It is like that first locomotive has a gauge that reads actual motor speed just a little bit too low, so the little man in it jams his throttle fun open to try to get the speed up.  The reverse is happening in the other locomotive - that little man sees his locomotive being speeded up by the first locomotive and so applies the brakes.  The solution would be to take away their glasses so that they cannot read their gauges quite as closely and some decoders effectively do that, letting you turn down the BEMF gain at the push of a button for when you put them in a consist.

Decoders do not reduce top speed when you use momentum.  CV5 sets top speed unless you are using a speed table.  Off hand, I would say that CV5 is correctly set in your Bachmann locomotives if they are intended for passenger service and a tad high if they are for freight only.  In real locomotives top speed is usually set by the gearing between the traction motors and the axles, 80 mph max for passenger service and 60 mph for freight (varies by railroad.)  You can bring the top speeds of your other locomotives down to more reasonable speeds by adjusting CV5.  Start off with a value of 255 and keep dropping it by 50 at a time until you get about what you want.  You can do the final adjusting in steps of 10, then 1 if you want an exact value.  Just remember that 0 and 1 in CV5 do not give you zero speed, they "shut off" CV5 so that it has no effect on maximum voltage.

Hope this gives you a better idea of what is going on but I apologize if all it does is put you to sleep!! 

Jim


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: WGL on May 25, 2009, 01:58:08 AM
Jward, no, I don't hear a clicking sound when I start my BlueLine locomotives.  My experience with DC locomotives, like the Lifelike F7 with my first HO train set, is that they start & stop quickly.  Maybe better DC locos operate more smoothly.

 Jim, thanks for your detailed explanations.  In my BLI DC with sound Heavy Mikado, having its own sound decoder, I installed a Digitrax DN143IP motion decoder, because it was at the top of the list of recommended decoders in the Mikado's manual.  I have EZ Command.  I turn the throttle very slowly, hear the Mikado wake up, turn more & then see it move.  The best I can do is minimize its lunge to avoid uncouplings.  It can pull 16 cars at about 120 mph.
 When I ordered the BLI SD40-2, I also ordered a Digitrax DN143IP for it.  When I received them, I saw that the manual listed a Digitrax DZ143PS as the top choice.  The SD40-2 reacts like the Mikado:  after it awakes, more throttle makes it move, & it wants to lunge.  It pulls 14 cars ranging in length from 40' to 75' at 100 mph, & it probably isn't completely broken in yet.
 You lost me a few times, but I did not get sleepy.  :)  Now, I know that top speed & momentum are not connected.  I've ordered The Dcc Guide: How to Select and Use Your Command Control System by Don Fiehmann, & I may buy a Digitrax Zephyr, if only for programming.

Bill


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: jward on May 25, 2009, 11:04:58 AM
i have had my zephyr for 5 years now and i love it. it had the knob control like a dc power pack, so it was pretty intuitive for me to pick up. i have also operated on layouts with nce and mrc systems, and both use a thumb wheel instead of a knob for speed control. i find them a bit harder to use.

about the lunging effect. it has been a few years since i ran a decoder equipped locomotive on dcc, but i seem to recall that it did not run smooth, requiring about half throttle just to get moving, then taking off like an old tyco locomotive. when i made my earlierr reply, i had forgotten about running that locomotive on dc.....

this locomotive was a model power metal f7. before anybody bashes model power, let me say i am very impressed by this locomotive. it has a speed curve similar to the much more expensive stewart f7s, and it will pull the paint off the walls as well.



Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: WGL on May 26, 2009, 03:04:08 AM
jward, have you programmed with your Zephyr?  I just lost another auction of a Zephyr, but I saved $155.   :-\


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: jward on May 26, 2009, 08:52:08 AM
yes, i have done some pretty extensive programming with it, when i first bought it. i am an old school model rail, from way before dcc when athearns were among the best. to improve performance i had regeared most of them to get about a 40 scale mph top speed. just to see what dcc was capable of, i programmed an out of the box athearn to run with the regears.

the zephyr offers full readback of anything you've programmed. you don't have to guess whether the programming took or not. i believe it will support control of 10 functions as well, but all i ever use those for is the headlight anyway. my best decoder has 6 functions so the zephyr is adequate for my needs.

$155 seems to be about the going rate for the zephyr. you can find them advertised for less, but shipping will probably push your costs up to $160-165.


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: Tim on May 26, 2009, 09:44:36 AM
WGL & Jward

The zephyr is available here, and the shipping is free.

http://www.litchfieldstation.com/xcart/product.php?productid=2450095&cat=23&page=1


Tim Anders
Souderton, PA


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: pdlethbridge on May 26, 2009, 09:53:45 AM
or here
http://www.gadgettom.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=ZEP&Category_Code=D-S (http://www.gadgettom.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=ZEP&Category_Code=D-S)
or get the NCE power cab, a nice hand held unit
http://www.gadgettom.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=NCE0025&Category_Code=NCE-S (http://www.gadgettom.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=NCE0025&Category_Code=NCE-S)


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: WGL on May 27, 2009, 04:44:36 AM
Thanks, jward, Tim & pdlethbridge!  I just looked through the manual for NCE PowerCab, & it looks interesting.  Decisions, decisions! 

 I received The Dcc Guide: How to Select and Use Your Command Control System by Don Fiehmann, but much of it is over my head.  Also, questions that are important to me, he does not discuss.  :-[

  If I wanted to use my Bachmann 5 amp booster with a Digitrax Zephyr or NCE PowerCab but had to connect them to sections insulated from each other, could the command station still communicate to the section controlled by the booster?

 What I'd prefer is to connect the Bachmann booster to the command station.  NCE says, "NCE POWER PRO POWER BOOSTER 5 amp Booster

User-friendly set include everything to 5 amps of additional power.

This is a generic booster which works with most DCC systems to add 5 amps of power to your main system.
This unit can also be used to add 5 amps of power for a separate power district.

NOTE: Requires 15V, 5 Amp, AC power supply, (#524-215 sold separately)"


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: Tim on May 27, 2009, 06:36:48 AM
WGL

The command station is connected to the power boosters in a daisy chain
fashion, the boosters in turn are each connected to a separate section (Power District) of track.

The command station talks to all boosters all the time.  The command station is in turn connected
to multiple throttles (Cabs) via the cab buss.  In this way you have control of your train anywhere
on the layout.  The boosters are used for power distribution only, not for control.

The NEC PB105 and PB110 boosters will work with Lentz , Digitrax, and of course NCE.  They are not
reccomended for the PowerCab system.  The PowerCab system has the smart booster SB3 which is a command station-booster combined to which you can connect several DB3 boosters at 3a each.

Using the SB3 smart booster makes your PowerCab into a 3amp Pro-Cab system.

As for using a EZ-command booster with NCE or Digitrax, I can't answer that as their isn't enough
documentation available.  I don't reccomend it.  Jim Banner may be able to help with it.

I hope this helps clarify boosters for you.

BTW  I have a NCE Pro-Cab 5a system with an RRAMP meter in the power circuit and have yet to see
1amp draw and all my lcoos are Tsunami equipped.

Tim Anders
Souderton, PA


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: jward on May 27, 2009, 08:47:29 AM
here are a couple of interesting features about the zephyr, and these are what caused me to buy one over the other systems:

1. the zephyr has the abil;ity to use 2 dc power packs as additional cabs. if you are like me, you already have these. with other systems, additional throttles cost in the neighborhood of $100 apiece.

2. address 00 can be used to control any locomotive without a decoder. i don't believe nce offers this feature.....

being on a somewhat limited budget, i had to get the most bang for the buck. what i got was an instant 3 throttle system that would run all of my locomotives whether decoder equipped or not. i could convert them to dcc as funds allowed, yet still have full use of them in the meantime.

my friend bought an nce system. he had well over $1k invested before he even turned a wheel. my dad got the mrc prodigy and ran into the same situation. i had mine up and running with 3 decoders installed in locomotives for about $200. i would not have been able to make the switch to dcc with the other systems as they are an all or nothing approach, versus my phased conversion.


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: rustyrails on May 27, 2009, 09:06:05 AM
I am very pleased with Digitrax, also.  I bought my first Digitrax parts back in '96 and the old parts all still work and interface with all the new parts, including a Zephyr.  Digitrax's committment to LocoNet seems to be one of their biggest assets.

Rusty


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: Jim Banner on May 27, 2009, 12:10:52 PM
Sorry, I do not know enough about the Bachmann E-Z Command booster to say.  Some booster allow you to power one district while your command station/booster powers another.  Digitrax and Lenz are examples.  Other boosters must keep their inputs isolated from their outputs which means your command station/booster can connect only to the booster and not directly to the track.  MRC's Power Station 8 is an example of this.

I use a Digitrax Zephyr to power my outdoor railway via a Power Station 8.  I can and do use the programming output of the Zephyr connected to an isolated programming track, even as the trains are running on the main layout.  But I cannot use the Zephyr to power a piece of the main layout, even if the section is insulated from the rest.  This is because trains crossing over the gaps would short the input of the Power Station 8 to its output.  If I used my 8 amp Digitrax booster, then using the output of the Zephyr as well would be no problem.

I switched to Digitrax when my original MRC system became obsolete, replaced overnight by a new system that had no compatibility with the old.

Like many, my initial Digitrax purchase was a Zephyr, in part because of the jump throttles, but mostly because of upgradability.  As funds permitted, I added a radio throttle and radio receiver for the garden layout, another command station for the indoor layout (so I could run both layouts at once,) another radio throttle, a booster for the indoor layout (which can also run as a command station if needed,) yet another radio throttle, and finally another radio receiver, this one for the indoor layout.

Digitrax is not perfect.  I find it awkward to run two trains using only the one throttle on the Zephyr.  For that, E-Z Command has a much easier way of switching the throttle back and forth between trains.  And the Digitrax manuals, like many computer manuals, assume some preexisting knowledge of the subject.  That is, they are good at telling you how to do things without telling you why you would want to do them.  And Digitrax manuals are long, but that is not surprising considering the large number of things they are capable to doing.

Overall, I am glad I made the switch.

Jim


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: WGL on May 27, 2009, 11:07:17 PM
Tim, thanks for explaining how the command station works with multiple boosters, each having its own power district.

 jward, thanks for telling why you like the Zephyr.  The ability to have 3 throttles to control 3 locomotives seems a good alternative to EZ Command's having a button for each loco.  I e-mailed NCE & just received this reply:

 I currently have an EZ Command DCC system with a Bachmann 5 amp booster.  I am considering advancing to a system that would enable me to program my locomotives.  Could I connect my booster to an NCE PowerCab?

  William,
 
I'm sorry, but no. The Power Cab is a stand alone system and the upgrade path is for the Smart Booster.
 
Larry Larsen
NCE Customer Service
 
 Since the booster must be connected to the command station, I doubt that I could use my Bachmann booster with any other brand.

  Thanks, Jim for your discussion of the Zephyr & boosters.  I suppose I could always sell by Bachmann booster to pay for a booster made for whatever system I might get. 

 Thanks, Rusty.  Compatability over time is a good feature.  I used MS Bob for 14 years to catalog my movie collection & print it--until something went wrong a month or two ago.   :'(
 


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: Robertj668 on May 29, 2009, 03:00:06 AM
This was great thread to read.

I decided that if I have an emotional attachment to an engine.  This would be one that I had when I was a kid. That's about 30 years ago.  I would convert it to DCC.  I did it for several reasons.  However it was mainly because I could run more than one at a time and secondly I would not hear that sound I heard when i would run a DC engine on a DCC system. 

Also I like taking on the challenge as well. As for my newer stock they are all DCC.  And until recently I was adding sound.  Now I think I just want to buy the engine with sound and DCC or DCC ready.

Lastly I would love a board that would just cover DCC questions.

Again a great Thread!


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: Yampa Bob on May 29, 2009, 04:15:22 AM
I can see another section being added specifically for DCC, but leave the General and other sections for the "physical" aspect of Model Railroading. There are still many modelers who run DC.

There are also many, like myself, who only run EZ Command and have no interest in what I call the "dark side" of DCC.  I probably run my trains more miles and more often than those who enjoy the challenge of adjusting CVs and computerizing their railroad.

Just as DCC is not the wherewithal of modeling, fine tuning CVs is also not the epitome of DCC, at least not for me. My fear is that DCC is taking us away from the true joy of modeling. Frankly I miss the discussions about layouts, crafting, bashing, running trains and having fun. When the fun requires too much thinking, it becomes more of a science than a hobby.

For my part, I have 22 DCC locomotives, every one runs velvety smooth and predictable. I enjoy EZ Command so much, I bought two more just for spares. I believe very strongly in the concept of "one engineer, one train". I could be wrong, but my theory is that if a locomotive doesn't run well on EZ Command, there is something drastically wrong with it.

One thing is certain, manufacturers know what bait to use and many are hooked on the advanced technology. Older members may remember the phrase: "Hook, line and sinker".  :D


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: pdlethbridge on May 29, 2009, 05:09:06 AM
It should read " hook, line and sucker!"  ;D ;D ;D
     I Have 11 locos converted to DCC and a few laying in the wings for upgrade but they are really too big to look good on the layout, 2 Athearn PA's and a couple of E units. A couple of small switchers I might upgrade but time will tell. I love my NCE Power cab more for its flexibility than its ability to change cv's. Its 6 foot cord gives me access to the whole layout especially good for switching operations.
    Old Athearns are real easy to change but I would recommend replacing wheels if the unit is baulky. 


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: WGL on May 29, 2009, 05:13:19 AM
 Yes, manufacturers keep finding more ways to make an expensive hobby even more costly.  Once we have invested a lot into the hobby, however, we need to find ways to keep up our interest.  Many hobbyists have lost interest & stored or sold their equipment.  My brother-in-law modelled a layout 20+ years ago, put it away when it was done, & went on to other hobbies.  A local MD started the hobby but is not currently active.

 DCC programming has many possibilities that shouldn't cost much.  I would like DCC to let me record the HO miles each locomotive has traveled.  I'd like to be able to send a train on a trip of a specified distance in HO miles & have it either stop or signal that the trip was completed.

  As a boy, I had an electric baseball game.  Someone said baseball is a game of statistics.  I enjoyed meticulously compiling teams' & players' statistics.

  The history of the hobby contains many ingenious features & accessories, like a milk car with a man coming out of it carrying milk cans, a barrel loader, a crossing signal that rings a bell, or a mail car that snags a mail sack from a trackside pole.  They added details to model railroading.


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: jward on May 29, 2009, 09:47:55 AM
i understand about sentimental value of older locomotives.

i have an old alco models brass rs27, and a hobbytown rs3 that i am going to convert to dcc. both run well on dc, but as with many locomotives of the 1970s they use the locomotive frame as one side of the motor circuit. so i have to figure out how to isolate the motor before i install my decoders.

bob is right about the aspects of modelling being forgotten. back when this was a craftsman's hobby, we understood about things like selective compression. now, we expect to model things in exact scale, no matter how overpowering they may be. we also now buy ready to run boxcars at $40 a pop, which were derived from kits that sold for less than $10. we expect track that snaps together, and are lost when things don't fit perfectly. and as for dcc, the magazines have told us that all we need are two wires to the track. when we figure out that maybe we need some form of block control, we call them "power districts" and spend a fortune on power management components to replace the $3 block toggles we once used.......

in a way, i feel sorry for the people just coming into the hobby. they have been told to be afraid of dc control, and block wiring. but if you know how to wire your layout for dc, wiring for dcc will cause you no problems because you understand the concept of wiring in the first place. the same goes for laying track. understand how it works and why, and if it doesn't work you'll know how to fix it.

i'll get down off my soapbox now and let you all enjoy the hobby, in whatever way you see best......


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: rustyrails on May 29, 2009, 11:56:21 AM
Jeff,
You keep that soapbox handy.  Since folks today never really interact with trains, they have no idea how to model railroads in a way that simulates the actions of a train.  I know that operation frequently gets bad-mouthed as too complicated, or some such, but the bottom line is that watching a train, I don't care how wonderful the models are, run in circles gets old awfully fast. 

My layout, when completed, is not going to be large--less than 50 sq.ft.--but it will use a card system to move cars on and off the layout and deliver freight, have a semi-working interchange, and have 30 inch radius curves to indulge my interest in passenger train ops.  I've "gamed" operating the layout and it's going to be a blast to run.  I expect to spend a couple of more years finishing the construction and scenery.  It's my last layout and I've no doubt it will keep my interest until I'm planted. 

Yet when I suggest to folks that model railroading is a lot more than figuring out how to run a UP Big Boy on 18 in rad curves, you'd think I was from Mars.  But, my experience is that once the last piece of fascia is nailed in place and the last feeder is soldered to the rail, there'd better be something more.  Back in the 50's, Peggy Lee sang a song called, "Is That All There Is?"  For those of us who answer "Yes," maybe RTR electric model airplanes will make us happy.  I doubt it.

Rusty


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: jward on May 29, 2009, 01:17:05 PM
rusty,
thanks for the post.
i am at the point now where i wish i had room for 30" curves. i don't, but that's not going to stop me. my gp40s will go around 18" curves that i am forced to use. my 6 axle power is in storage, awaiting that day when i can at least have 24" curves.

i agree about operation. my dad started a railroad back in 1978 based on operation, it is still in use in the basic configuration planned on paper, with minor changes in trackage to enhance operation. it was operated by card since day one, and still uses the same basic system. it has withstood the test of time well enough to be featured a couple on years ago in model railroad planning. if we'd have built a glorified circle layout, it would have been torn down a long time ago.

as with anything in life, you get out of this hobby what you put into it. don't be afraid to learn things, don't take the easy way out, and you will be rewarded. go into the hobby thinking you know what it's about , and don't put any effort into it, and you will quickly become bored with watching your trains run in circles....

operation complicated? yes, of course it is. i've worked for the real ones, they're complicated too, and sometimes have you scratching your head wondering what they are thinking. but when you put things in context they are also endlessly fascinating. model railroading is the same way. in what other hobby can you be exposed to carpentry, electronics, computer programming (dcc) geology, geography, historical research. metallurgy, and who knows how many other fields?


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: WGL on June 01, 2009, 02:20:31 AM
Tim, thanks again for the link to Litchfield Station.  I just ordered a Digitrax Zephyr from them, because they have the lowest price.


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: klrwhizkid on June 01, 2009, 08:34:25 PM
One thing that was missed in all the discussion was recommendation about the tools to do the job. The following link will get you to my suggestions about what to have to take on such projects: http://www.frisco.org/vb/showthread.php?t=2849 

I recognize that I am sending you off-site, but the frisco.org forum is free to all and I am the Electronics moderator there.  My suggestions come from nearly 40 years of electronics hobby.


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: WGL on June 05, 2009, 02:25:27 AM
 I received my Digitrax Zephyr Wednesday, two days from Arizona to Wisconsin!  It does run 4 sound locomotives (F7A-B included) on my 3 connected ovals.  However, they run slower than with EZ Command & its 5 amp booster.  The F7A-B passenger train reaches 80 with EZ Command + booster but only 50 with Zephyr.  I haven't found information about the length of layout as a factor in consumption of power, but I have about 117'.

  I succeeded in programming acceleration & deceleration momentum into my BlueLine Heavy Mikado & BlueLine SD40-2, both with Digitrax DN123 decoders.  I used a programming track so that I could read the existing values, all of which were 0.  I set the Mikado's momentum to 3 & 3; I set the SD-40-2 to 5 & 5.

  My BLI manual recommended programming the sound in operations mode.  I succeeded in reducing the master volume from maximum 15 to 10.

 If I could be sure that it won't cause damage, I would try connecting the Bachmann booster to the Zephyr.  I will ask Digitrax, but I'm sure they want people to buy their boosters.  I posted the question on Yahoo\Groups\Digitrax & recived the following reply:

"Try the following at your own risk as it's only speculation based on the info
that Bachmann provides on their web site.

It should work. From the little info available on Bachmann's web site, their 5
amp booster is optoisolated same as the Lenz boosters. You would need to connect the track A and Track B terminals of the Zephyr to the inputs of the Bachmann booster. No ground (common) needed with optoisolation. Not sure if doing so would affect the use of the Zephyr's 2.5 amp track power to an independent power district. You may wind up with just the one 5 amp district available.
http://www.bachmanntrains.com/home-usa/ez_content/Images/booster.jpg

You could also try making up a special loconet cable with a standard 6 pin jack on one end to plug into one of the Zephyr's loconet ports. Strip the other end and connect only the outside (1 and 6) wires to the Bachmann booster input. Make sure you completely insulate the 4 middle wires. Not sure if Railsync will haveenough power to drive the Bachmann booster but it may just work.

With either method, you would still need to observe proper rail phase. Simply swapping the input wires at the Bachmann booster should take care of that.

Personally, I would try the Railsync method if I had a Bachmann booster around. Of course I've been known to blow up perfectly good equipment trying off the wall stuff."


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: rustyrails on June 05, 2009, 06:39:34 AM
How many feeders do you have to the track?
Rusty



Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: Tim on June 05, 2009, 09:15:47 AM
WGL

Your Zephyr is working properly.

The EZ command system applies a higher than standard voltage
to the track, thus the higher speeds.

The accepted standard DCC track voltage for H0 is 13 - 14v, the EZ command
is closer to 17v.

The Zephyr is designed to work with 15v max AC input, the track voltage will be ~13.8v.

Tim Anders
Souderton, PA



Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: Axim1 on June 05, 2009, 01:08:20 PM
Check out your area for a club or clubs and go visit them. There help and knowledge is without a dought the most bang for the buck. Plus they might even let you operate a train or two.


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: Jim Banner on June 05, 2009, 05:05:23 PM
If, as stated above, the E-Z Command Booster has optically isolated inputs, then connecting it to the output of a Zephyr is no problem.  With optical isolation, the only current path for the Zephyr's output current is through the IR LEDs inside the opto-isolators.  The amount of current the opto-isolators require is small, so the track outputs of the Zephyr can easily power them.  It is also possible that the rail sync outputs of the Zephyr could provide enough current for them as well.  But keep in mind that throttles also draw their power from the rail sync.  Rail sync is the two outer lines of the LocoNet, as explained on page 48 of your Zephyr manual.  Connecting these to the DCC input of your E-Z Command booster should provide enough signal it you are not using any LocoNet throttles, but even if it does not, optical isolation will prevent damage to the Zephyr and to the booster.  At this point in time, I cannot confirm that the inputs of the E-Z Command Booster are optically isolated and would really like to hear from someone who can.

However, even if the E-Z Command booster has optically isolated inputs, I would be very hesitant to try to use the outputs of both the booster and the Zephyr on the same layout, even if you have it divided into two properly isolated power districts.  The reason is the way the output circuits of Digitrax Boosters work.  Each booster has a single power supply.  The positive and ground outputs are switched back and forth between the two rails to make the DCC signals.  This means neither rail is ever more than about 15 volts above ground voltage.  By connecting the grounds of all the boosters together, you can never have more than 15 volts across any gap.

Other boosters may or may not use this scheme.  The MRC Power Station 8, for example, does not.  It uses two power supplies, one producing a voltage more positive than ground, the other producing a voltage more negative than ground.  (This is often called a "split" power supply.)  With this type of booster, one rail is held at ground potential all the time while the other rail is switched between positive and negative.  Generally, only one of this type of booster can be used on a layout.  That is because of the possibility of one booster applying +15 volts on one side of a gap while the other applies -15 volts to the other side of the same gap, a total of 30 volts.  The matching gap in the other rail will also have 30 volts across it, but the polarity will be reversed.  We now have a situation where a bit of dirt on the wheels and or on the rails can result in all of that 30 volts being applied to the decoder.  Not every time the locomotive crosses the gap, but it only takes once, for a tiny fraction of a second, and the decoder is toast.  So, only one booster if it uses a split power supply.

Now here is the dilemma.  I do not know for a fact that the E-Z Command booster uses a split power supply.  But then again, I do not know for a fact that it does not.  Therefore I would not be willing to connect its output and the output of my Zephyr to the same layout at the same time.

Two separate layouts, yes.  No problem.  In fact I installed a Digitrax command station with an MRC Power Station 8 booster for a friend.  He powers his basement H0 layout with the Digitrax and his outdoor large scale with the Power Station 8.  The Digitrax supplies the DCC signals to both.  A single layout, no.  I use a Zephyr as the command station on my own outdoor large scale layout and boost its output with a Power Station 8.  But I do not dare to use both the booster's output and the command station's output on that layout, much as I would like to have the extra power.

So there you have it.  If you can confirm that the E-Z Command does indeed have optically isolated inputs, then go ahead and use it.  But don't connect its output and the Zephyr's output to the same layout, at least not at the same time.

Jim


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: Yampa Bob on June 05, 2009, 06:15:18 PM
According to specs provided to retailers, the booster does have opto-isolation interface @ 30 ma. WGL's manual or DVD should have the information. Or not...  :D

http://www3.towerhobbies.com/cgi-bin/wti0001p?&I=LXJFZ3


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: Yampa Bob on June 05, 2009, 11:32:47 PM
Update:
I found the following discussion on another forum, someone allegedly used an EZ Command booster with a Zephyr.

http://cs.trains.com/trccs/forums/t/28444.aspx?PageIndex=2

I don't know if the Bachmann booster is "linear" or not. We use Linear Current Boosters for our solar water well pumps. With the boosters, we get 8 to 10 hours of pumping; without the boosters, only 4 or 5 hours when the sun more directly hits the panels.

Your 4 sound locos may require more current than estimated. If each draws, say .75 amp, then that would exceed the Zephyr's output.  Did you check the speed of only one sound loco on the track? Then with two, then three, etc?


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: Jim Banner on June 06, 2009, 12:19:31 AM
Thanks, Bob, for the Tower Hobbies link.

For the record, the E-Z Command booster is not linear.  It has a fixed output voltage that stays (relatively) constant in magnitude but reverses polarity.  This is normal for a DCC booster.

Jim


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: Yampa Bob on June 06, 2009, 01:03:07 AM
You're welcome Jim. 


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: WGL on June 06, 2009, 02:26:03 AM
 Thanks, Tim, Rusty, Bob, Jim & Axim1 for your help!  I am impressed by so much response.
 
  I was surprised that Digitrax does not provide wires to connect it to the tracks, as Bachmann & LifeLike do.  I can use the Bachmann wires.  What is worse is the absence of wires for a programming track.  Today, I went to Radio Shack & bought clips to which I can solder wires, so I can connect the bare ends to the Zephyr & clip the other ends to the rails.  For $155, they ought to include program track wires.  The decoder & loconet cable tester they do include is something I may never use.

 Rusty, I have one set of feeders to each of my 3 ovals.

 Tim, I thought that an F7A-B passenger train would go faster than 50.

 Thanks for the links, Bob.  I will test the speed of each locomotive alone on the layout & compare it with top speed under Bachmann.

 Oh, I suppose my digital multimeter does not do what a rampmeter does.  :-[


Bill


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: WGL on June 06, 2009, 04:43:01 AM
 I tested the Digitrax Zephyr with each train alone on the layout.  The Intermountain F7A-B reached 54, compared with 50 when all 3 trains were on the tracks & running, compared with 80 with EZ Command + 5 amp booster.  The BlueLine Heavy Mikado reached 79, compared to 118 with EZ Command + 5 amp booster.  The BlueLine SD40-2 reached 55.

  Strangely, the SD40-2 pulled its 14 cars at 100 with EZ Command, before I programmed its CV3 & CV4 from 0 to 5; then its top speed dropped to 67 (70 with no other locos on the layout)!  I reduced CVs 3 & 4 to 3, but the SD40-2's top speed remained the same.  In contrast, the Mikado runs just as fast with its CVs 3 & 4 increased from 0 to 3 as it did when they were 0!

 Let me confirm, Jim:  If the Bachmann booster has optically isolated inputs, I can connect the Zephyr to the booster & the booster to the track, but connecting both the Zephyr & the booster to the track, even insulated districts, should not be done.  I wouldn't need 5 + 2.5 amps, anyway.  Now, I had to switch the Bachmann booster from 14 volts to 18 volts with EZ Command, because 14 volts yielded no more power than EZ Command alone.  Because the Zephyr has a lower voltage than EZ Command, should the booster be set back to 14 volts?  Would 18 damage the Zephyr?

 I found that I didn't need to solder the wires to the alligator clips.  With the holes in their handles & their plastic sleeves, I just had to hook the wire through the hole & replace the sleeve.   :)


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: Jim Banner on June 06, 2009, 10:53:18 AM
It does not matter if more voltage comes out of the E-Z Command booster than comes out of the Zephyr because their outputs are not connected together.  The outputs (track terminals) of the Zephyr go ONLY to the inputs of the booster.  These are the terminals that you originally had connected to your E-Z Commander's track outputs.

Jim


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: WGL on June 07, 2009, 02:01:57 AM
 Thanks, Jim.


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: jward on June 07, 2009, 09:00:20 PM
 
  I was surprised that Digitrax does not provide wires to connect it to the tracks, as Bachmann & LifeLike do.  I can use the Bachmann wires.  What is worse is the absence of wires for a programming track.  Today, I went to Radio Shack & bought clips to which I can solder wires, so I can connect the bare ends to the Zephyr & clip the other ends to the rails.  For $155, they ought to include program track wires.  The decoder & loconet cable tester they do include is something I may never use.

 Bill

why are you worried about a set of feeder wires? you can make your own that are more reliable, at modest cost. as a matter of fact, since you are soldering the wiers to alligator clips for use on the programming track, why not do the same for the rest of the layout? i do. you don't even need to use alligator clips.....

don't discount the use of the decoder tester. it can save you a world of trouble. it will confirm to you that the decoder is good before you begin your installs. digitrax and some other decoder manufacturers will not honor warranties on decoders that have been improperly installed, so it is best to make find the occasional bad decoder before you begin the install. they are way too expensive to throw away.....


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: WGL on June 08, 2009, 02:29:51 AM
jward, thanks for the advice.  I will have more respect for the decoder tester.
  Suppose a beginner gets a Zephyr & doesn't have spare wires from other train equipment, doesn't know what gauge to use, doesn't know how to connect a programming track, & is unaware of model train forums?  He looks at Digitrax's Quick Start poster & reads "attach your train layout wires to these terminals" & wonders what wires, & how they attach to the track?  The documentation does not explain.  Thus, the Zephyr Quick Start Guide does not get him off to a quick start.


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: WGL on June 08, 2009, 05:23:59 AM
 I connected my Bachmann 5 amp booster to my Digitrax Zephyr tonight.  I almost didn't, because I didn't want to cut the plug off the cable that connects the booster to EZ Command & not be able to connect the booster to EZ Command.  I finally had a brainstorm:  I checked the booster's instructions & found in its box a second cable designed for connecting the booster to other brands of DCC systems!

 With the booster set to 14 Volts, I measured 15.8 v on the tracks; with the booster set to 18 Volts, I got 19 v on the tracks.  With the booster at 18v, the speeds of my trains are about what they are with EZ Command & the booster set to 18 v.  I ran 3 trains simultaneously, including 4 locos with sound & am satisfied with their performance.

 Next, I'll connect the power pack from my LifeLike DC train set for a jump throttle.  Thanks for all of your help, & I hope my experience will help to confirm for others that the Zephyr & Bachmann booster will work together.


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: jward on June 08, 2009, 10:24:56 AM
i do agree that the digitrax instructions that come with the zephyr can be bewildering at times.  i had bought the digitrax big book of dcc along with kalmbach's dcc made easy. the digitrax book does an excellent job of explaining dcc along with all the possibilities and pitfalls. the kalmbach book? forum rules prohibit me from giving my honest opinion. let's just say i wish i could have gotten my money back.

wire guage. as explained in the digitrax big book should be 18 and above. larger wire means lower resistance and less corruption of the dcc signal. i have used smaller wire, 22 guage, but quickly replaced it. 18 guage is small enough to solder to the rails, yet large enough to reliably carry the dcc signal on a medium sized layout.
what happens when your decoder loses the signal? unlike dc where a loss of power causes your locomotive to slow down or stop, loss of dcc signal causes your decoder to continue running the locomotive according to the last command it received, regardless of how frantically you are triying to regain control. once the signal is re-established, the locomotive responds to commands in the normal manner.


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: Yampa Bob on June 08, 2009, 02:04:01 PM
WGL,

Congratulations on your success with the Zephyr and booster. Your experimenting and testing will help others with the same issues.

Good job!!


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: Jim Banner on June 08, 2009, 02:32:53 PM
WGL, thank you for keeping us up to date on your progress, your trials and your tribulations.  Sometimes those of us who have been connecting power packs or boosters to tracks for a long time forget that we too did it for the fist time at sometime.  Then we need a smack upside the head to remind us.

If I may tell a story at this point:  As a kid, I got in trouble for cutting a piece of wire off a table lamp.  Hey, I really needed it to hook up something on my railroad.  Afterwards, I started having second thoughts about what I had done.  So I figured I had better fix things up so no one would notice.  I unscrewed the plug from the stub end of wire and screwed it on the wire still hanging out of the lamp.  It took me a long time to figure out how my Dad knew that I was the one that did it, just because the plug was a few feet short of the wall outlet.  

This story had a happy ending.  Soon after the lamp cord incident, an electrician friend of my Dad brought over a huge mess of wire, mostly bell wire, all for me.  Solved my problem.  Solved my Dad's problem.  And was no doubt the reason I get good feelings, even today, on the rare occasion I run into some double cotton covered bell wire.

Jim


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: Yampa Bob on June 08, 2009, 05:24:10 PM
Jim,
Mentioning wire reminds me of a huge mistake I made. About 5 years ago, at a local auction, there was a 3 foot wooden spool of wire. The auctioneer said it was heavy duty extension cable. The end was taped over, but it appeared to be about one inch diameter, so I bid and bought the spool for $5.00.

When I got it home, I discovered it was actually telephone trunk cable, with 100 or more tiny color coded wires inside the jacket. Not being into trains at that time, I figured it was of no use to me, so I took the spool to the dump.  :-[ :-[

Well, it was probably for the best, can you imagine that big spool hanging over my work bench?   :D


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: WGL on June 09, 2009, 01:54:24 AM
 Thanks, Bob & Jim, for the help & encouragement.
 
 I did connect my LifeLike power pack for a jump throttle.  Since the dial turns only about 150 degrees for forward speed (about half what EZ Command & Zephyr's throttles have), one can't make small adjustments in speed.


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: jward on June 10, 2009, 09:29:41 AM
you can build your own jump throttles with components easily found at radio shack.
http://f1.grp.yahoofs.com/v1/QKAvSjmv9vMald0B9rt15fSS0yHswsAx_XS9b_dscthqEmf8WMrm6zWxOMXPxRi4haqYU1Ybxg2ALwY5ab6n7xRWt6kK-VA/JumpThrottle.GIF

the jump throttle input on the zephyr reads the voltage from the jump throttle, and current output is irrelevant. so you can have a jump throttle controlled by a 9 volt battery. you can make them removable plug in type throttles and have walkaround control.



Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: Yampa Bob on June 10, 2009, 11:44:32 AM
Jeffery,
The link didn't work for some reason.

You might want to check this site. "TinyUrl" turns those incredibly long URLs into short ones.

http://tinyurl.com/


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: Jim Banner on June 10, 2009, 01:24:16 PM
If you like single knob, center stop throttles, you can build a jump throttle with two 9 volt batteries and a 1k pot in four easy steps:
- Connect the + of one battery to one end of the pot.
- Connect the - of the other battery to the other end of the pot.
- Connect one jump port wire to the center of the pot.
- Connect the other jump port wire to the unconnected ends of both batteries.

With the pot at center, the locomotive stops.  Turn it one way and the locomotive goes one way at increasing speeds.  Turn the pot the other way and the locomotive goes the other way.  Disconnect the batteries when not in use (but you can leave the rest of it connect to one of the jump ports.)

For a deluxe version, add an on/off switch and a knob and put it all in a small box.  The switch will have to be a double pole type, using one pole for each battery.  For connecting the batteries, you can buy battery clips with wires attached or you can salvage the clips off dead batteries.

Diagrams are available on request.

The down side of a jump throttle is that you cannot control functions with it.  The upside of the Zephyr is that you can turn the headlights on (from the Zephyr) and they will automatically switch fore and aft when you change directions with the jump throttle.  The jump throttle is excellent for switching a yard.  In switching, the three main things are speed control, direction control, and an indicator of which direction you have the locomotive set for (the headlights.)  A jump throttle is also a good choice for running trains on a smaller layout where you would normally run them from one location anyway.  And the limited number of controls make it a great choice if you want to let a youngster run a train.

If you like to adjust CVs to stretch out the low end of the throttle for switching or to limit the maximum speed for youngsters, remember that these adjustments are in the decoder, not the throttle or the command station.  So your jump throttles will give whatever special speed control that you have programmed into the locomotive.

Some sound decoders (including the Tsunami) allow you to select automatic sound controls.  These include, for example, a crossing whistle _ _ . _ if you blip the throttle, one whistle for stop, two for starting forward and three for starting in reverse, bell on at low speed, and special effects when stopped.  Some sounds are always automatically controlled, such as steam locomotives chuffing and diesel engines ramping up.  The good news here is that all these sounds can be operated by a jump throttle if the proper CVs are set for automatic operation on DCC.

Bottom line, don't under rate the jump throttles.  Digitrax is big on design, and programmed in all the bells and whistles (bad pun intended.)  And while I agree with Bob that the E-Z Command is as easy as it gets when it comes to switching a single throttle between trains, switching a single throttle will never match the luxury of having a separate throttle for each train.


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: jward on June 10, 2009, 01:43:42 PM
Jeffery,
The link didn't work for some reason.

You might want to check this site. "TinyUrl" turns those incredibly long URLs into short ones.

http://tinyurl.com/

here is an alternate way to access the file:

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Digitrax/files/

scroll down through the links until you find one called Jump Throttle. GIF


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: Jim Banner on June 10, 2009, 02:24:37 PM
Although the throttles Jeffery linked to are a little more complex, the use of a transistor about doubles the battery life.  The 1k base resistors in these circuits are not necessary and can be eliminated with no effect what so ever on the circuits operation.  You would still want to include an off/on switch for the battery in the battery version.

Jim


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: jward on June 10, 2009, 06:21:34 PM
my thoughts on those throttles are that you could wire receptacles around the layout for them, and have a simple form of walkaround control, by plugging them into audio jacks. this would also be a much stronger system than the telephone jacks most walkarounds use.


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: Jim Banner on June 10, 2009, 07:27:57 PM
Digitrax throttles really only need 3 wires but use 6 wire cables for increased reliability.  And the flat telephone plugs are cheap and easy to replace.

However, the round phone plugs are more robust and stand up better when the throttles are being used by people who are not responsible for the repairs.  That is why some clubs use phone plugs, particularly the 1/4" diameter stereo kind.  No worries about putting them in upside down.  No problem if people pull them out by the cord.  But can be a real headache if visitors want to bring their own throttles.

For jump throttles, by all means use a plug that is different from the LocoNet throttle plugs.  Then they cannot get mixed up.  If you use a four pin plug, you can use two of the pins for the jump throttle output and the other two for picking up power from a wall wart.  No wall wart?  No problem.  You can use track power as long as you treat the rails as a split supply and the Zephyr's ground as a neutral or center tap.  You still only need a four pin plug because one side of each jump port is the Zephyr's ground terminal.

For a minimal center stop throttle, you could use a bridge rectifier, ~ terminals to the rails, + terminal to one end of the speed control pot, - terminal to the other end of the speed control pot, and the center of the pot to the jump port input.  Just 3 wires and 2 components - a 1k pot and a bridge rectifier.  I almost don't believe it myself.

Jim   


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: jward on June 10, 2009, 09:01:07 PM
my thoughts are to use the 9 volt battery throttles, with the audio plugs so they plug right into the fascia without cords. since there will be two jump throttles, my idea is to run a seperate bus for each, with one throttle using a female plug, the other a male, so they won't get mixed up. i will probably build some sort of bracket to support the throttle while it is plugged in.

there will be multiple ports for each of the throttles, so that whoever is running that throttle can move anywhere on the layout....

i estimate that with all materials i could build each throttle for under $15. beats the $100 or so for a commercial throttle.


i like when others think outside of "recommended practice" to come up with inexpensive and ingenius solutions.......that's the way i've always done things in this hobby, and i've had alot of fun to show for it no matter how much the "purists" maay cringe......lol



Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: Jim Banner on June 11, 2009, 11:17:40 AM
Jeffery, your scheme sounds good.  The only down side compared to commercial throttles is that when you unplug a jump throttle to move it from one place to another, the train will stop.  With a commercial throttle, it will keep going in the same direction at the same speed.  This is not a problem if you can make the move while the train is stopped in a station or stopped on a passing siding waiting for another train to pass.

It is possible to design a jump throttle without this limitation but it would require some electronics jiggery-pokery. (let the spell checker choke on that!)

Jim


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: Yampa Bob on June 11, 2009, 01:01:37 PM
Jim,
If a club is set up for 1/4" phone plugs, they should make up several short adapter cables for the visitors. 

Speaking of "short", I would greatly appreciate it if forum members would shorten those looooong urls, they are really stressing my MSIE. The problem is compounded by the fact that many of us old geezers with lousy eyes have to use large text to read the posts.

http://tinyurl.com/

Thanks.


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: Jim Banner on June 11, 2009, 07:13:46 PM
Bob, that is a good idea.

I assume that "phono" was a typo.  Phono plugs would be a poor choice for repeated insertions/withdrawls.  But phone plugs were originally made with that in mind.

Jim


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: Yampa Bob on June 11, 2009, 08:30:13 PM
Yep, typo. I was referring to the 1/4" TRS (tip, ring, shank) phone plug, not the RCA plug.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TRS_connector

Scroll down for other configurations and standard wiring convention.

(I edited my post)
Thanks


Title: Re: DC to DCC Conversion
Post by: MathewWorley on June 18, 2009, 11:29:34 PM
Im back everybody. I apologize ive been missing in action but just got back home off the road. I now have everything (almost) to attempt to convert my DC GP50 to DCC. I managed to aquire a MRC Prodigy Express  DCC System, 3 used Digitrax DH123 decoders and a airbrush kit (a whole new adventure awaits). Now I just have to aquire the proper tools for the decoder installation and go from there. so hopfully I will have a better update within the week. From the looks of the post, Ive missed quite a bit but with a few days home Ill have time to catch up. :D