Choosing the correct DCC decoder

DMiller-1960 Jan 12, 2021 at 1:16 AM

  1. DMiller-1960

    DMiller-1960 New Member

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    Hello All,
    I recently started a complete change over for our HO layout from a basic 4x6 over under oval just for grand kids and nieces/nephews to play with when visiting, to a larger Up and over dog bone that will hold my interest longer. Since I am basically starting from scratch with this layout, I am also going to DCC for control. I figure that now is as good a time as any! lol
    I have one good running older Atlas loco straight DC, plus one Atlas DCC loco that we have been running on DC, and a new Walthers DCC ready loco. What I would like to do is find a sound decoder for the Walthers loco. So the question is, how can a newbie to dcc go about finding the right decoder? Yes, I have done some searching and reading, but am having a hard time with the Walthers 21 pin adapter. I would be open for suggestions and appreciate the help.

    I am not new to trains.......or soldering, etc. I am primarily a G scale guy, and have installed sound in several of my G Scale locos. I also have installed a few R/C units in said locos. Its just the HO size and DCC that are new to me......and I would rather not waste money on the wrong decoders.

    Thanks for any assistance.

    Darryl
     
  2. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    Can't help you with HO specifics; I'm in N scale, but... You might check various decoder manufacturers' lists of compatible decoders for various locomotive models.

    "DCC ready" means various things to various manufacturers. Usually no solder involved, but that also does NOT include sound decoders. Or, at least in N scale...
     
    Mo-Pac likes this.
  3. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    You can put a LokSound 5 decoder with 21MTC adapter into the unit.
     
  4. DMiller-1960

    DMiller-1960 New Member

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    Ok, thanks for the replies. I’ll check on the LokSound units, but also keep reading and researching.
    D
     
  5. DMiller-1960

    DMiller-1960 New Member

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    Ok, so I have done some more research and have contacted a place to order the Loksound 21 pin decoder I would supposedly use for this locomotive. I have a couple general questions that I asked them, but no response yet so I thought I would put them out here.....plus, they might help someone else like me in the future if they read this thread.

    The recommended LokSound decoder supposedly is a drop in application for the Walther main board. There is a removable board on the loco that the instructions state to remove and replace with the dcc decoder. One question is this.......do the speaker/s attach to the decoder, or the main board? I ask this as there is already a receptacle on the main board labeled "spkr", but would require a small male plug to attach to it......one that I am assuming is NOT included in the decoder package. If the speakers are soldered onto the decoder, I can handle that. However, if I need to connect them to the main board, I would need to find a mating plug.

    Second, it was recommended that I use 2 speakers. Would someone offer some advice/reasoning for this? Again, no big deal, I am just trying to glean information before purchase, and not buy what I don't really need.

    Also recommended was small capacitor unit to help with maintaining voltage if there were a bad track area, etc. I am familiar with the concept, just curious as to how many of you actually use this feature. My layout is small.....and so far I don't have issues running straight DC. I do not have the DCC system yet, (its on the way) so I won't know if there are issues using it on my layout until I actually get it up and running.


    Thanks for any advice and input. I hope to order this stuff tonight/tomorrow, and am just looking to know as much as possible before doing so.

    Regards,

    Darryl
     
  6. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    The speaker is not attached to the decoder. It should be attached to the connections on the board in the loco (the 21 pin adapter brings the speaker circuit off the decoder and onto the main board)

    ESU decoders are optimized for 4Ω speakers, so 2 8Ω speakers, wired in parallel will get you to 4Ωs. This all really depends on the speaker you are going to use and, most importantly, the enclosure.

    Stay alive circuitry can help significantly with the performance of DCC decoders, especially sound ones. While a DC layout may seem “solid” in performance, switching to DCC can show all the issues (distance from command station to far end of track, track cleanliness, wheel cleanliness, etc). You need a good clean signal to the decoder for optimal performance. With sound decoders, any small power glitch and you can hear the cutoff and restart (at least ESU decoders have a “persistent settings” option, so if there is a power hiccup, it picks back up in same state). One doesn’t, necessarily, need the more expensive full feature “keep alive” or “power pack” add one (which keep locos alive for seconds), but instead use 440μF to 1000μF of capacitance to buffer small power glitches. There is plenty of information, here and elsewhere, on how to do these.
     

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