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Author Topic: dcc decoders for 4-6-0  (Read 3591 times)
bill whisenhunt

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« on: November 23, 2013, 05:37:08 PM »

I have two 4-6-0's and would like to covert them to dcc.  I plan to use a Bachmann E-Z- Command controller,  but I need the decoders.
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Kevin Strong


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« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2013, 12:28:20 AM »

Any DCC decoder will work, just make sure it's capable of handling the current of the loco. For the 4-6-0, you'll want one that's rated for 1 - 2 amps at a minimum. There's plenty out there to choose from, but most popular in large scale seem to be QSI, Zimo, LokSound, Lenz, and Massoth. Some come with sound, some without.

One thing to consider: the EZ-Command system does not allow you to program the CVs on the decoder beyond decoder address (1 through 10 only). You can control functions 1 - 8 on any decoder, but you cannot program the decoder to tell which specific lights or sounds those functions control. You're at the mercy of factory default settings. As such, when shopping for your decoder, make sure you get one that will do what you want using factory defaults, or purchase it from someone who can pre-program it (specific sounds, etc.) should you so desire. You can also take your loco over to someone else's railroad who's running a full DCC set-up, and use their railroad to program your decoder.

Later,

K
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jviss

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« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2015, 11:08:16 PM »

I know this is an old thread, but this is exactly where I am; just laid out enough indoor, steel Bachmann track to be able to put more than one locomotive on it, and have acquired a couple of more loco's.

I don't see that there's a lot of DCC discussion here, but I know there are those among this community who know what they are talking about!

I have measured the current to the 4-6-0 pulling three or four cars on the level and never saw more than one Amp.  I guess I could rate if up to 1.5 Amps for the decoder selection.

I don't have a DCC controller, nothing.  I want to get started, but don't want to paint myself into a corner.

So, for 4-6-0 decoder, what should I choose?  I'd like throttle, of course, plus control of lights, sound, smoke - that's it, I guess? 

What's best, current? 

Thanks!

jv
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Bachmann Big Hauler fan
Pennsylvania Railroad Set - generation 3 locomotive
Emmet Kelly Circus set - generation 3 locomotive
Open Streetcar
4-6-0 D&RGW "Bumblebee" Anniversary loco
various passenger cars and rolling stock
indoor, temporary at this point
DCC: Digitraxxxxx Super Chief Xtra 8A
Kevin Strong


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« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2015, 03:32:29 AM »

Asking specifically which decoder one should buy is something akin to asking what car one should buy. There are lots of choices, and none are really that monumentally better than the others. The differences--quite literally in this case--lie in the bells and whistles. Since the 4-6-0 is not "plug-and-play," then you have no reason to look specifically to decoders which offer that feature.

How particular do you see yourself being with regard to sounds, lights, and motor control? Are you going to just run with the default values, or are you one who will spend hours on end tweaking every possible control parameter to highly customize your loco's performance? While your 4-6-0 may draw only an amp or so, I'd still not recommend using a decoder meant for HO scale on it. You'll still want a decoder that can handle at least 1 - 2 amps, so that puts you up a bit in price. All those things figure into your choice of decoder.

Personally, I use the QSI decoders, but they've got a very steep learning curve. They're very customizable, but they're also very complex as a result. Really, any of the decoders listed above will be fine.

What you will need regardless of which decoder you go with is a DCC command station system. Here again, the sky's the limit in terms of price and features. Most large scale DCC folks like at least a 10-amp system. Large scalers also tend to gravitate towards higher track voltages, usually in the 20 - 24 volt range. That's not mandatory, though. The only thing higher track voltages give you is the potential for higher speeds. For something like the 4-6-0, you can get away with a system that puts out 14 - 18 volts without worry. (That, and if you're using Bachmann's steel track, that's a 2' radius curve. You definitely don't want to hit that at more than a medium crawl.)

If you ask 5 people what DCC system they use, you'll get 6 answers. If possible, hook up with a local HO group. Many HO folks are running DCC now, so you might be able to test drive a few different systems to see if you like how the controller works and things like that. IMO, the controller is probably the most important aspect of choosing a DCC command station, as that's what you're going to use to run your trains. If it's not intuitive for you, running your trains will not be fun.

Later,

K
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jviss

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« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2015, 10:11:12 AM »

Thanks for the detailed reply, Kevin.  I guess I have to do some basic research into DCC before I can make any intelligent decisions. 
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Bachmann Big Hauler fan
Pennsylvania Railroad Set - generation 3 locomotive
Emmet Kelly Circus set - generation 3 locomotive
Open Streetcar
4-6-0 D&RGW "Bumblebee" Anniversary loco
various passenger cars and rolling stock
indoor, temporary at this point
DCC: Digitraxxxxx Super Chief Xtra 8A
Len

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« Reply #5 on: March 07, 2015, 10:14:51 AM »

A 1.5 or 2.0 amp decoder should be fine for the Bachmann 4-6-0.

Having said that, Digitrax discontinued their 2amp decoders because G-gaugers who were used to putting them smaller locos, started putting them in larger, heavier locos and burning them up. So now Digitrax, TCS, and NCE all show either 4 or 5 amp decoders for G-gauge.

Specifically:

Digitrax: DG583S - 5amp/8 func/screw terminals
TCS: G8 (order# 1303) - 4amp continuous/8amp peak/8 func/screw terminals
NCE: D408 - 4amp/8 func/screw termnals

There are many others, these 3 I could find without a lot of searching.

Bachmann decoders are all flagged for HO or N. It'd be nice if they came out with a 4amp decoder for Large Scale.

Len
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If at first you don't succeed, throw it in the spare parts box.
jviss

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« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2015, 12:48:26 PM »

Thanks Len.  I am thinking I should just bite the bullet and order some decoders and a controller.  I like the "classic" looks of the Digitrax DCS51; it's limited to 3 Amps, but it looks like a decent place to start.
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Bachmann Big Hauler fan
Pennsylvania Railroad Set - generation 3 locomotive
Emmet Kelly Circus set - generation 3 locomotive
Open Streetcar
4-6-0 D&RGW "Bumblebee" Anniversary loco
various passenger cars and rolling stock
indoor, temporary at this point
DCC: Digitraxxxxx Super Chief Xtra 8A
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