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1  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: RF-16 DCC Question on: May 24, 2009, 11:40:05 AM
FYI...I am able to use universal consisting with these Bachmann decoders on my Digitrax and  NCE system without any problem.  It is the Advanced (CV19) I am wrestling with.  Just wanted that for convenience.
Hope this helps,
Boalsburg, PA

OOPS... we entered the same time. Now I understand, you've got me curious though, I have Decoder Pro and going to put one on the track and see. Thanks though, I'm just learning all this stuff!
2  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: RF-16 DCC Question on: May 24, 2009, 11:36:27 AM

You can consist with them, but I speed match before I address them with Bachmann decoders. If you have the Bachmann disc it describes how to do this.

Remove all other loco's from the track, unless you have a separate program track. Place the forward facing loco on the track, make sure the direction led is forward, program it to the desired entry # (5 example). Remove it from the track.

Place the trailing loco on the track, backwards (if preferred), this time make sure the reverse led is lit, program it to the same # (5). If you desire the trailing loco to be positioned cab forward, make sure the led forward light is lit and enter it.

3rd and 4th loco's or how many in the consist same way.

Put them all on the track connected and go!

Some reason I really don't think this is what you are looking for.

I have no fault with Bachmann installed decoders either for easy out of the box running either in DC or DCC. I just like playing with CV's.

3  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: RF-16 DCC Question on: May 24, 2009, 10:35:06 AM
I'm new at this programming cv's but I've never been able to consist using Bachmann decoders. I do it the old fashioned way also as Jim Banner stated. In fact I haven't found a way to address any cv's with the Bachmann decoder's as far as speed steps either.

That NCE decoder board that Bob recommends seems like the way to go!
4  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: dcc decoder (tight budget) on: May 24, 2009, 08:02:35 AM
As you are installing into a Bachmann I would suggest that you stick with the Bachmann DCC decoders. If using decoders other than a Bachmann you will need to cut any capicators on the PC board.

Ditto on this..I tried installing a Digitrax DZ143 in a Bachmann GE Dash 8-40CW, it jerked about a foot and I could smell it cooking. I grabbed it off the program track before it fried. I called Tony's train and they recommended and I bought a TCS decoder MC2 P-MH since I wanted to program it and adjust the cv's. Otherwise I would have installed the Bachmann decoder. No harm done to either the loco installed light board or the decoder, caught it in time. "Any ole decoder" won't work!

Note..... it wasn't the brown capcitators giving me the problem, it was the 2 dark blue or black electonic look like capictators or whatever's that were getting "hot".
5  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: DC to DCC Conversion 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
6  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: DC to DCC Conversion on: May 23, 2009, 10:06:39 AM
Remember we're talking about diesels, not steamers.


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".
7  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: DC to DCC Conversion 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:

solder in:

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
8  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: Why Use a Capacitive Discharge Unit you ask... aka/snap swich's on: May 22, 2009, 09:51:29 AM
You guys are really something I appreciate your knowledge of electronics and you left me in the dust. I too appreciate your experience with old TV picture tubes and I did know about the capicitors in them and other electronic devices, grounding out to discharge before working on them. In my youth, I was about 30 years old, I had a small farm with horses for my wife and myself and Shetland pony's for the kids add to that a 2500 lb bull and a bull calf. I installed an electric fence, well one day I forgot the fence was on and grabbed the wire early in the morning with dew on the ground, lets just say I'm lucky I'm alive, it knocked me to the ground and I had to change my underware. The capicitor in that was huge and with household current, I remember the label said "brush burner", and it did, it would burn the brush that grew near it and touched the wire. On rainy nights it sparked all over the place.

Another time I was about 14, back in the 50's, I learned that old tv picture tubes had a steel jacket in the rear of the tube. Back then we burned our househole garbage in the back yard, there was a discarded tv, Philco my dad tossed a few days prior.  Well I shot at it with a 22 rifle, after about 6 or 7 rounds I heard a bullet ricochet over my head and it went through the kitchen window. I learned a big lesson that day too! No I didn't get beaten, my dad was more surprised than I was. He was with me at the time. We both learned not to shoot at tv picture tubes after that, my dad was a cool headed knd of guy too.

Now more on this unit I bought just for insight, on the instructions it says this:
terminals..."The pair marked "input" go to any 16 to 25 volt AC source. A spare n scale power pack is an ideal source, attach to auxiliary ACC terminals on the power pack."

It goes on to say this later in the literature..."recommended is the 16 volt ac terminals of any power pack up to 25 volts from any small transformer.the available power is proportional to the voltage squared. In other words, increasing the input from 16 to 25 volts AC increases the power into the switch machines by 3.2 times. Use this factor only if you need it, because of the extra vibration given to a single motor when multibles are not switched."

I have it hooked up to a cheapy Rail Power transformer putting out 16 volts to the unit. Just to show how much it stores I can throw 4 Peco switch motors at precisely the same time with no problem using telephone wire from the slide switch machines to the switch motors. Now if you're familiar with Peco twin solenoid motors you get my point.

9  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: Why Use a Capacitive Discharge Unit you ask... aka/snap swich's on: May 21, 2009, 08:52:11 PM
btw, i noticed in the photo that your capacitor discharge unit has a rectifier diode, and would thus be suitable for either ac or dc input.......

According to the directions, no, AC only and it should not be used for slow motion machines such as Tortoise. Of the CDU machines I've seen this is rugged, heavy duty stuff.

Paragraph from the directions or an Advantage for using this particular model PDC-1.

"The unit automatically shuts off if a control button, turnout motor or switch is jammed. There is no danger of blowing the motor as is often the when a large transformer is used (25 volts) as a multiple power source. You need only a small inexpensive transformer or power pack as the power source."
10  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Looking for a trading post in this wilderness on: May 21, 2009, 10:20:01 AM
Well here's an idea, where I live there is absolutely no hobby or train stores except about 120 miles round trip. I have bought and sold on eBay and well we all know what that's like. I wonder why or if it's possible that a forum like this wouldn't have a pinned thread for model train only for sale or trade and only for members of the Bachmann Train sight. After all most seem to get along and are quite honest I believe on this sight.

Well it's just a thought, I visited the Yahoo site, but they don't exactly give a price for what the members have for sale, unless I wanted something real bad, I won't deal with complete strangers, I'd rather go to a reputable store or web dealer, such as Litchfield, Tony's, Factory Direct, etc.

 At least at eBay if the seller is a scam artist, you still have recourse through either eBay, or pay pal or if you pay with a credit card and you are somewhat protected.

Hello Stephen Richards.........
11  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: Remote snap-switch electrical hook-up on: May 21, 2009, 09:43:59 AM
I just posted a new thread about Capacitive Discharge Units when using Atlas slide switch's or even the spring toggle switch that have a tendency to stick and burn out the twin solenoid switch motors, Atlas and Peco come to mind. Even good insurance for when the grandchildren run trains and have a tendency to push the button too long and fries your switch motor's. I cooked 4 plus a relay in the last 4 years. I have replaced a dozen with Tortoise in the last year.

No doubt the stand alone DCC decoders is the way to go if you have enough resources on your DCC hand controller to program the amount of switch's you plan to operate that way. I have 48 and my Bachmann EZ Command won't hold that many under the F function.
12  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Why Use a Capacitive Discharge Unit you ask... aka/snap swich's on: May 21, 2009, 09:26:35 AM
I melted my 4th and last snap switch about a month ago, and it also took out an Atlas Relay due to stuck Atlas slide switch's.  No more I installed a Capcitive Discharge Unit. I have converted some (12) to Tortoise within the last year, but I have a total of 48 turnouts. The last picture is the unit I purchased for under $35.00 delivered in 3 days and can throw 10 switch's at once. That's a lot of power and it works great easy hook up. Here's the company I purchased from:

click image to enlarge:


13  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: Digitrax Zephyr, Decoder Pro, and sound decoders on: May 20, 2009, 10:01:07 AM
The link below is the manual for the PR-3.  On page 4, they mention a blinking red LED if the output falls too low.  Did you by any chance notice this with the troublesome decoders when using the PS12?

No nothing with the leds were anything out of ordinary. I studied those leds for hours, I must say when first reading the info on the leds was confusing, I did experiment by disconnecting the power supply to see for myself what they meant. Also the same with disconnecting the track power wires and the USB port, just so I would know why an led was blinking different than what normal is.

I really don't feel comfortable with continuing use of the Bachmann power pack programming with the PR3. I bought the PR3 for a specific reason, so I could download loco sounds from the soundloader program using the digitrax soundbug. Also it gave me the interface so I could "play" with cv's using the JRMI program since I'm using the Bachmann EZ Command which we all know has no cv programming capability. I won't knock Bachmann for that, but for the low cost and simplicity of Bachmann I don't think I would be this far in my adventure of DCC. I love it by the way!

One of our friends and posters here (Stephen) stopped by a few weeks ago at my home and I of course showed him my pike. He was praising the Dyamis System, which I am taking an interest in.

The Power Pax system has more of what I need in so far as protection with still the right juice, so to speak, to program the more sophisticated sound decoders. I would imagine the frustration of smoking a $100.00 decoder in seconds if something was shorted out in my installation that the Power Pax would detect and cut off so as to prevent the loss. That Bachmann power supply won't do that. Here's the last paragraph from Tony's which really sums it up for my reason to purchase that power supply.

How PowerPax Works:

PowerPax is microprocessor controlled. When hooked up for programming, the PowerPax initially provides power to the programming track to charge-up decoder components like capacitors that would otherwise reduce programming energy and cause a programming failure. When you initiate the programming sequence through your DCC System, the PowerPax also boosts and controls the programming energy to about 200 mA. In the event of an overload or short the PowerPax instantly shuts down to protect the decoder and your DCC Systemís programming circuits.

Hey Jim I read your posts and all I can say is I'm glad your here and pointing guys like me in the right direction, thanks, my name is Jim also!
14  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: Digitrax Zephyr, Decoder Pro, and sound decoders on: May 19, 2009, 09:54:52 PM
Rangerover, you win the bet and I will gladly buy you a beverage of your choice next time you are in Saskatoon.  I had in mind that the E-Z Command power pack was up around 18 volts unloaded but I just checked three of them and measured 16.0, 16.0 and 16.1.  The odd ball was an older one, identical with the other two except for having a primary power cord instead of the prongs built in.  The difference in our measurements of  output may be just the difference between US line voltage and Canadian line voltage (ours is 120 volts and was bang on during this test) and are not significant.  I used a $14 DMM that I check from time to time against my AVO meter (model 8 mark III with traceable calibration.)  I like the low cost meters because I can throw them in the tool box and even if I run over one with my truck, I am not out much.  I rarely use the AVO directly because there is no way I could ever afford to replace it.

I did read and understand that you were programming a DZ143.  The comment about the DZ125 if for the next guy who may not realize the difference.  In fact, Digitrax now rates the DZ125 at 22 volts but there may be some of the earlier ones still around.  But again, using a 15 or 16 volt supply on your PR-3 should not affect even one of the older ones.  I would be interested if you could tell  me the track voltage with the PR-3, either with its own power supply or with the E-Z Command one.  You have got my curiosity going here.


Hey Jim I ain't bet'n, heck I'm only learning and I'm way behind you guys with DCC. I got curious from your post. I thought he must know something that I don't nor was I concerned before. What I found out is weird to say the least.

The extra Bachmann EZ Command power pack is measuring 14. 35 volts out of the wall. That's the one I used on my program track. Hooked up to the PR3 I get 14 volts on the track with a loco turned on. Well I kind of knew that from when I first measured it.

The Digitrax PS 14 reads 14.96 volts out of the wall, but only 8.31 volts on the track with a loco turned on and 12.35 volts with nothing on the track. Strange!!!!!!!

The Bachmann EZ Command I run on the layout with the 5 amp booster measures 16.97 out of the wall and 15 volts avg on the layout track measured in various places, with no loco's on the track, I knew that though. I have quite a number of led's that are on with the track power on so I accept the loss of voltage there.

The 2 Bachmann EZ Command power packs are identical in appearance and the extra one I had was never used in the 3 years or so since I bought it until I used it with the PR3. Odd !!!!!!!!!! One measures 14.96 while the other measures 16.97.

I sure am glad I mentioned this, thanks for your warnings I appreciate it. Fortunately I plugged the right one in the PR3, no more. I'll wait for the Power Pax to program the Tsunami and other such sound decoders as per Tony's Trains suggestion.
15  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: Digitrax Zephyr, Decoder Pro, and sound decoders on: May 19, 2009, 12:58:38 PM
I am glad this worked for you without damaging your PR-3 or any decoders.  Did you happen to measure the actual output of the E-Z Command power pack with just the light load of the PR-3 connected?  I am betting it was a lot more than the 15 volts the PR-3 is rated for.  A measurement of the track voltage would be interesting too.  It could easily be more than the 18 volts maximum that the early DZ125's were rated for.

Bottom line, boosting the voltage for programming is not the same as boosting the available current.  It may program some of the decoders all of the time and all of the decoders some of the time.  The rest of the time, don't inhale the smoke.


NO NO NO NO...I'm a little smarter than that. I checked the voltage with a meter for the EZ Command power pack before I plugged her in. Output is 14 volts ( though it says 16 volts output on the power pack) and the PR is 12-15 volts. I am however ordering the Power Pax programmer from Tony's.  I use a quality electricians volt ohm meter, not a cheap $25 meter. I don't particularly like taking chances.

It's cheaper $50.00 for the Power Pax  than smoking a $100.00 decoder, what worked for a shortcut once, may not work again, so I won't take that chance either.  And that programmer will program the Tsumani and QSI and other power eating decoders.  Mama didn't raise no fools!

As far as the digitrax decoder it wasn't an early DZ125. It was a DZ 143PS in fact and it was on the list of recommended decoders from BLI for that particular loco which I already had on hand. The digitrax PS decoders are for Z scale loco's but work in HO scale also. There is a "room for question" so I used what BLI recommended.

note...I have a separate program  track I use to program off the layout. I don't have the computer in the train room. But I am considering buying a cheap laptop for the train room and then can program on the main and run the layout using the JMRI Panel Pro. But I also have a separate program track that is completely isolated from the layout in my yard area. That's where I program Bachmann diesels to the command station. You can't program anything with them with any system that I know of, not even speed steps, if you know of how to program them,  please enlighten me.
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