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16  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: Digitrax Zephyr, Decoder Pro, and sound decoders on: May 19, 2009, 10:03:40 AM
Hi All,
Here's what I want to do:
Program Micro-Tsunami's and QSI's with a Zephyr and Decoder Pro.

Which interface do you recommend? I was looking at the Digitrax PR3.
If I purchase that do I need a booster as well (PTB-100 or Powerpax)?

Thanks for the help

I'm going to start some controversy concerning some sound decoders and boosters.

I've been using my Bachmann EZ Command for over 4 years. I also added the Bachmann 5 amp booster, glad I did. Cost is more than some, but in my opinion Bachmann is high end in their booster, meaning, the circuit breaker and the cooling fan.

But proper buss and feeder wiring is utmost important when using boosters with DCC.

I have a friend on one of the other forums who also uses Bachmann EZ Command. Instead of purchasing the Bachmann booster he saved some money and bought one for like $69.00, not sure of the manufacturer, but if I find out, I'll post it.  Worked good for a year or 2. But something happened along the way. On derailments, he was frying decoders, expensive ones I might add. It seems he ignored the quarter test, until he finally decided it might be the booster, like other posters were telling him, after all how could it be that, it's fairly new, he thought. Well it failed the quarter test in that the booster would not break the current during shorts. He needlessly spent a lot of money on decoders, burning them up. All he had to do was turn on the booster, put a quarter across the track and see what happens, the booster should have kicked off until the short was corrected. You get what you pay for...Thank you Bachmann for a great product in your booster.

Another guy had problems with his booster failing the quarter test also. He apparently used too light of buss wire and drop feeders, something like #18 buss with #24 drop feeders. The booster failed because in simple terms, the correct current wasn't being delivered to the rails due to the wire size. I would imagine a 4X8 layout would have no effect but if your running 300 ft of wire, different story.

My experience with the Digitrax PR3 programmer. You still need a power supply with it, it tells you that even in the advertisements. I purchased the Digitrax PS14 Power Supply when I bought it. Now all worked well until I installed a Tsunami sound decoder, just not enough power from the PS 14. I had a spare power pack from an extra EZ Command and plugged it in the PR 3 and I was then able to program the Tsunami. I did the same for the BLI Blueline Loco's. There is a problem trying to program those, being you have to program 2 decoders in one loco. I found that by using the EZ Command power pack it worked fine. Now that may be too that the first BLI I did, I used a Digitrax motor decoder DZ143PS and had problems programming. Had to turn the motor decoder off and program the sound. Turn the sound off an then program the motor. However on my second attempt  I purchased a TCS motor decoder for another BLI Blueline and low and behold, I could program both the same time, I didn't have to turn nothing off. I don't know why that could be but it worked.

Now The Quantum Revolution sound decoders (QSI) I'm sure you have to purchase their programmer, correct me if I'm wrong, unless they are already loaded in the loco you purchase such as BLI, Atlas. I know that I am very happy with my PR3 and the JMRI program. You don't have to know all the CV's, some are very important and it's a learning curve .Just slide the bars for the sound or move the speed steps on the table in the program, try it on the layout, if you're not satisfied just keep tweaking until you are satisfied. Just a nice simple way to program, and I highly recommend it.

It's also great for those consists you would like to build, but those loco's that run way too fast or too slow, are now under my control and I can build any consist I choose to, simple and easy!

Hey if you mess up, simple, you won't and can't hurt anything, just reset the decoder back to factory reset and start over, it's all in the learning.
17  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: proper tools on: May 07, 2009, 09:42:31 AM
The idea is that you are not supposed to step on the rope. It is good practice for bungee jumping

LOL yeah but DuPont forgot to supply us with those "sky" hooks, you know the ones that you clamp on in thin air. They made us tie it to facia on the opposite side's of the roof, hence the rope laid on the roof under your feet.
18  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Add DCC to K4 Specrum on: May 05, 2009, 01:45:32 PM
I believe this decoder is in my Bachmann Decopod and it is an 8 pin plug in.

scroll down to speakers sold seperately
19  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Adding sound to a 2-10-2 on: May 05, 2009, 12:50:04 PM
Here listen to some sound samples, pick what suits you and fits the loco.
20  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: proper tools on: May 05, 2009, 12:39:29 PM
OH I don't miss that in the link. I worked for DuPont installing a roof that was 4 on 12 pitch, 16 ' off the ground, relatively flat and they made us wear
such a harness, couldn't believe it. You know that thing was more dangerous because when you step on the rope it would roll under your feet which to me made it a real safety hazard. Sometimes safety is really overdone.

21  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: Decoder Calculators on: May 05, 2009, 12:19:06 PM
One more thing I dared to install decoders in DC loco's that I would not have done if it weren't for Decoder Pro. I upgraded 2 Atlas F units to DCC, and had to strip them and isolate the motor's. I also did a nice little IHC 4-6-2 Baldwin Steam DC, not DCC ready, and hardwired it with a TCS decoder yesterday and it took all of 30 minutes, it's a great runner. I am going to install a separate sound decoder Soundtraxx down loadable sounds in the tender for about $55.00.  Never thought I'd be doing this, always been afraid of messing something up, now it's a piece of cake. Just another 2 cents worth.
22  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: Decoder Calculators on: May 05, 2009, 12:02:13 PM
Yampa Bob...I know what you mean for me it was like the Twilight Zone all these cv's and binary stuff for the past 4 years and I shuddered and kept my EZ Command, and I still do use it. I haven't changed to another system yet.

But like Jim Banner sorta of said, thank God and digitrax for Decoder Pro and JMRI, I really like programming if it's called that, simply sliding the slide bars left or right to adjust sound and moving the speed step table to adjust the speed steps in those programs make it awesome and very rewarding to be able to tweak my loco's.

If you have lots of Bachmann decoder installed engines, well you won't be able to do anything with them. Plug and play is what they truly are and by the way nothing at all wrong with that or them, sometimes it is best to leave it as is. Bachmann decoders work fine for me. I had a problem installing a digitrax decoder, recommended by digitrax for a Spectrum Dash 8 and it didn't work, I installed a Bachmann decoder and it works fine. TCS is probably the best decoders right now out there, if I mess it up even if it's my fault, they will replace it free and they are not that expensive, just my 2 cents worth, hey we all have fun in the hobby whether we do it simple or we dare venture in the Twilight Zone!
23  Discussion Boards / General Discussion / Re: Bachmann Vs. Competition on: April 30, 2009, 09:00:39 AM
I can't add much to what's been said about Bachmann. I came back to this hobby about a year before retiring and I purchased Bachmann EZ Command and also half dozen or so Bachmann Diesel engines only one decoder went bad in 4 years. I own 4 steam engines, non are Bachmann, but I'm not done yet and my next purchase will be a Bachmann steam loco. I have 30 dcc loco's in all.

I fight and argue constantly with other MRR's on the other forum for Bachmann, received an email from another poster over there that suggested he and I should be paid by Bachmann for standing up for their quality and performance, especially EZ Command. Where some of these guys get their information from I don't know. The newest fight I had was a well known poster over there, who posted you can't consist with EZ Command in different heading configurations, one forward one backward. I posted the steps of how to do it.

Some MRR's think of Bachmann as a toy train dealer, well all I can say is OK, they do influence the youngsters with their Thomas The Tank line, but I think it's great, I had a love affair with model trains as a youngster starting back in the late 40's with a keyed wind up train I got for Christmas, I still remember it as well as the real steam loco's that came through town back then and always waiting to see the caboose at the end of the train as a youngster. I think it's great that Bachmann influences the youngsters!

I too appreciate the low cost of DCC equipped loco's that I personally know are a good quality product backed by their warranty.

Thank You Bachmann, if it weren't for you, some of us would not have returned to this wonderful hobby especially in retirement.
24  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Spectrum GE Dash 8-40CW Decoder Question re Mr Bachmann on: April 21, 2009, 09:56:09 AM
Hey thanks men, I will probably change the board out as suggested by pdlethbridge. I plugged in a Digitrax DZ143PS decoder, brand new and loco was erratic for about a foot and the 2 blue capacitors were starting to cook. The loco is still OK, I caught it in time and just pulled it off the program track  and it still runs fine on DC. I'll give Tony's Trains a call and see what he recommends. I think if I change the board out that's in there and install a drop in, there may very well be enough room to get an oval speaker in the screen vent area. There definitely isn't any room anywhere for any speaker in it's present state, though I really don't need another loco with sound, I like the loco and thinking now I might be able to put it in if I change the board.

I both love and curse that darn PR3 and the JMRI program, it's a blessing to change the cv's to more realistic movement and sound, and appreciate both Digitrax and Soundtraxx QSI Revolution programmable sound decoders, great stuff.

I only curse it because of the money I'm spending on sound decoders, but what the heck, good for the economy, bad for my children (having fun spending some of their inheritance)     Grin

I am in the process of adding DCC and sound to a pair of older Atlas F units that pull one of my subway trains. Great runners, each with a stall test of just over 1/2 amp. I isolated the motors and just waiting for the decoders from Tony's. Having a lot of fun and learning a lot, seems I'm at least 20 years behind you guys, thanks for your help, I love this forum!
25  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Spectrum GE Dash 8-40CW Decoder Question re Mr Bachmann on: April 20, 2009, 01:16:37 PM
Finding an 8-pin plug means the chassis is DCC ready and you can plug in a decoder with a matching (male) plug to control the motor and lights.  You could also install a decoder that will control the motor and provide sound assuming you can find someplace to put a speaker inside the loco body.  Since you asked this question, I'm guessing that you have no experience with DCC.  You need to browse the web sites of DCC manufacturers and do some reading.  Kalmbach Books publishes an excellent book by Don Fiehmann called The DCC Guide that is suitable for beginners and intermediate users, and I just read a review of a new book by Carstens that sounds good, too.  Check with your LHS for literature.  I hope this helps a little and wish you good luck.  DCC changes the whole complexion of model railroading.  Personally, I like it a LOT!

I've been using DCC for 4+years and only Bachmann EZ Command. I just buy'em and run'em. However I am expanding my horizons, so to speak, and wanted to delve into CV's and purchased the DigitraxPR3 and loaded the JMRI program about a month ago. I have installed 3 decoders so far even sound with no real problems since I got by the first one.
Yup, still learning but I would like to install decoders I can "play" with, only way I know of learning, on the job training so to speak, something I picked up 45 years ago from military service. Bachmann decoders don't really have many options so I've installed only sound trax, and  Digitrax decoders so far, and I do realize there isn't one decoder that'll work in all loco's. I've been reading about DCC "goody's" for at least 4 years, the good and the bad, biggest reason I stayed away from the technical stuff like installing and programming decoders is the problems I read about on sites just like this. But for what it's worth, of the millions that are sold with seemingly no problems, those that post questions are a fraction of the entire DCC community for help and are people like me who are rather new to venturing in the technical aspect in forums like this to ask questions no matter the experience, better than messing something up. I'm not old enough yet not to learn. But thank you for your response, really appreciate it. Jim
26  Discussion Boards / HO / Spectrum GE Dash 8-40CW Decoder Question re Mr Bachmann on: April 20, 2009, 12:39:01 PM
I purchased this loco new, Spectrum GE Dash 8-40CW, and it runs DC however I took the shell off and on the light board is a 8 pin plug and lots of electronic capacitators, resistors, coils, transistors, etc, sure seems a lot of stuff for just the motor and leds. Is this for upgrade to DCC or is it for sound. I would like to upgrade it to DCC. The board # is HB50XP01B if anybody has had experieince with this loco, the directions don't say anything about DCC ready, but it sure looks like it. The motor is definitely isolated when I tested it with my meter. The item # on the box is: 86018

After 4+years finally got the courage to take the shells of some locos to see if they can be upgraded either with sound and especially DCC.

Thank You in advance. Jim
27  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Where to connect a Tsunami tan lead on: April 12, 2009, 03:39:47 PM
Chris after doing more research, I need to find this out too, I need to install such a decoder myself, I found this. Apparently the tan wire does not have to be connected to get the chuff sounds, the chuff sound comes from  the decoder with the exhaust feature already built in the deocder, the tan wire is for the cam as a preference if you so desire!

I would try it and see if you got the chuff sounds without connecting the tan wire.

Use the Auto-Exhaust™ feature to adjust the exhaust cadence to correspond to a 2-cylinder, articulated or geared locomotive or use a cam if you prefer.

28  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Where to connect a Tsunami tan lead on: April 12, 2009, 03:12:36 PM
So I'm new here, having had one turbulant year with model railroading.  I'm currently working on installing a Tsunami in to a Hicken Tender (#89912), to be tethered to a 4-8-2 Heavy Mtn (#82501).  I have it to the point where I need to know where the tan lead for the chuff sensor gets attached to the electronics board.  Can someone point me to the location?  I diagram would be helpful if one exists.  Also how does one tell which purple lead for the speaker is 10 and which is 12?  That last may be better directed at the Soundtrax folks, but I'll start here.
Many thanks, Chris

Chris somewhere on your drive wheels on your loco, not the tender, there should be a wheel that has a notched sort of disc with a wiper wire in contact. The tan wire goes to that wiper. Here's a diagram from the tsunami decoder install site:

Scroll down about 5/8 of the way until you reach "installing the cam". it's could be possible you don't have the cam on the wheel and the wiper. If not this shows how to install it.

Scroll down on the same site about 7/8 and you will find your speaker question on speakers, copied from the site:

Speaker Connections
Connect the decoder’s PURPLE speaker (+) wire (pin 12) to one of the
speaker terminals. Connect the other PURPLE speaker (-) wire (pin 10) to
the other speaker terminal. Note: Tsunami does not need a capacitor to
be wired in series with the speaker as required by some other SoundTraxx
Note: the polarity of the speaker
terminals is only important when
using multiple speakers (see
below). If you have installed
multiple speakers, make sure they
are phased properly, i.e., positive
lead to positive lead and minus lead
to minus lead of each speaker.
On smaller speakers, solder the
wires to the outside edges of the
solder pads as shown in Figure 18.
Wiring Multiple Speakers
When wiring multiple speakers, it is very important to observe speaker polarity as
noted above. If a speaker is wired backwards with respect to another speaker,
each speaker will produce a sound wave that is 180 degree out of phase with
the other. The two sound waves will effectively cancel each other out resulting
in a diminished volume level! If the speaker does not have polarity markings
on their terminals, wire like terminals to like terminals (i.e., left terminal to left
terminal). If in doubt, try swapping the polarity of one speaker and see if the
sound improves or worsens.
Tsunami is designed to drive an 8 ohm load. You must properly wire multiple
speakers according to the directions that follow so as not to exceed this load.

29  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: Where to connect a Tsunami tan lead on: April 12, 2009, 11:14:13 AM
The polarity of the speaker terminals is only important when using multiple
speakers. If you have installed multiple speakers, make sure they are phased
properly, i.e., positive lead to positive lead and minus lead to minus lead of
each speaker.

If you are using only one speaker, it doesn't matter which polarity goes where!
30  Discussion Boards / HO / Re: sound for diesels on: April 12, 2009, 10:14:17 AM
I've been considering doing the same, and using a dummy seems to be the most logical way to go. Though the sound decoders are small, it's the speaker that you have to worry about hogging out for in the motorized loco.

Here's a link to soundtrax.
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