• N scale DCC decoders...

  • Discussion related to everything about model railroading, from layout design and planning, to reviews of related model tools and equipment. Discussion includes O, S, HO, N and Z, as well as narrow gauge topics. Also includes discussion of traditional "toy train" and "collector" topics such as Lionel, American Flyer, Marx, and others. Also includes discussion of outdoor garden railways and live steamers.
Discussion related to everything about model railroading, from layout design and planning, to reviews of related model tools and equipment. Discussion includes O, S, HO, N and Z, as well as narrow gauge topics. Also includes discussion of traditional "toy train" and "collector" topics such as Lionel, American Flyer, Marx, and others. Also includes discussion of outdoor garden railways and live steamers.

Moderators: 3rdrail, Otto Vondrak, stilson4283

  by XRails
 
Which are the best (and will fit)? I have:

Life-like GP-38
LL SD7
Con-Cor SW1500
Plan to get LL F40PH

Does anyone have experience converting these locos? Thanks.

  by jnewman
 
I have used Digitrax and Lenz decoders. I have had no real problems with any of the ones I used (I did blow up a Lenz decoder once, but it was mostly my fault).
As for those particular models, you'd probably be best with one of Digitrax's "Z scale" decoders (all that means is they are physically very small, they have impressive current ratings) like their DZ143 or DZ123.
Go hither to see the specs.
This page has instructions for the SD7 and GP38. The others will probably take significant work (i.e., frame grinding and rewiring, if even possible).

  by XRails
 
Thanks! One more question: Without removing the decoder, can you return to block power? The reason is I am putting the decoders in so I can borrow my friend's DCC unit for when we operate, but the 'ol wallet needs to fatten up a bit before I get my own DCC setup.

  by keeper1616
 
XRails wrote:Thanks! One more question: Without removing the decoder, can you return to block power? The reason is I am putting the decoders in so I can borrow my friend's DCC unit for when we operate, but the 'ol wallet needs to fatten up a bit before I get my own DCC setup.
the short answer: No

  by jnewman
 
the short answer: No
This is not true. You can certainly operate a DCC equipped locomotive on regular DC block control without removing the decoder, with no problems at all, I do it all the time.

However, it's not necessarily a good idea to run a non-decoder equipped locomotive on a DCC layout. It can be done using DCC address 00, but some kinds of motors can be damaged or destroyed by this (for example, coreless motors will be destroyed in seconds). Check the packaging for information, and if in doubt, don't!

  by keeper1616
 
I have to admit I have only tried to run a DCC loco on DC track once, and it just sat there, much like I had anticipated. The reason is that DCC does not rely on the track voltage to determine the power applied to the motor. It relies on the signals sent on the tracks in a digital format. I have done almost no research on this, but from what I hear you may be able to get different types of decoders which may detect what kind of track the engine is placed on. This maybe a yes and no answer depending on what equipment you have, both DCC and DC, or how the decoder is programmed...maybe better asked in the DCC forum?

  by jnewman
 
I have to admit I have only tried to run a DCC loco on DC track once, and it just sat there, much like I had anticipated. The reason is that DCC does not rely on the track voltage to determine the power applied to the motor. It relies on the signals sent on the tracks in a digital format. I have done almost no research on this, but from what I hear you may be able to get different types of decoders which may detect what kind of track the engine is placed on. This maybe a yes and no answer depending on what equipment you have, both DCC and DC, or how the decoder is programmed...






I believe that all decoders are able to switch to DC mode, but the track voltage needed to trigger the appropriate circuitry in the decoder varries among the various brands of decoder, and may also be controllable by setting CV's. For example, I have an Atlas Trainmaster model with the factory decoder, which needed a very high starting voltage on DC. After fiddling with the CV's, I got it to work better on DC. I should point out that decoder equipped locos almost always seem to be less responsive on DC.



And maybe this should be in the DCC forum, but it gives some traffic here, which heavens knows this forum needs :D
  by Mike Roque
 
Many (if not all; I'm not sure whether it's an NMRA requirement) decoders can be set up to either run in DC mode when DC is there (Just like a loco without a decoder) or not to respond at all when DC is present. The idea is specifically to avoid having to remove and install decoders just to go back and forth from a DCC layout to DC.
  by N-railroader
 
If your digital command station is capable of programming decoders compatible to NMRA-DCC/LENZ, CV29 can be set for analog & digital.
Normally values for CV29 would be set between 0 and 3 (digital, 14/28) or 4 to 7 (digital & analog, 14/28 modus).
I'm not sure, but this should always work. I would have to find out about 128-modus, but the decoder instructions should help here.

:wink: