DCC decoders for Kato ge U30C and U23C

french_guy Dec 29, 2020

  1. french_guy

    french_guy TrainBoard Member

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    Hello
    Looking for drop-in decoders for Kato N-scale ge U30C and U23C
    On the Digitrax website, I see the DN163K1C to be compatible for the U30C...but I can't find anything about the U23C
    Are they the same chassis, thus this decoder would fit in both?
    What about TCS? Would anyone knows which TCS decoder fit both, and is a true drop-in?
    Thanks
     
  2. french_guy

    french_guy TrainBoard Member

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    I did check on Spookshow and found that U23C is the same chassis than the U30C. Only minor differences on the shell
    So any decoder that will fit the U30C should fit the U23C
     
  3. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

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    Going to probably depend on which generation U30C you have. The ones before 2011 aren't going to take a drop-in decoder. I installed a Digitrax DZ123 in a U30C...

    [​IMG]


    Not as easy as a drop-in but also not real hard. Here is the link to the install...

    http://1fatgmc.com/RailRoad/Decoder-1/page-7.html

    Sumner
     
  4. Ike the BN Freak

    Ike the BN Freak TrainBoard Member

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    The Kato U23C is the same as the U30C, they just painted/numbered them as U23Cs to get an extra roadname and numbers out of the runs. The shell details are of the U30C
     
  5. french_guy

    french_guy TrainBoard Member

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    This is a picture of my U30C......so I guess I'm good to go with the Digitrax DN163K1C drop-in decoder, right? 20201230_110205.jpg
     
  6. Sumner

    Sumner TrainBoard Member

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    Looks like it to me.

    Another way to check things like this is to use Trovestar and Spookshow. Look the model up on Trovestar Kato 000-000 and you usually find the year it was made there. Then go to Spookshow and look for the same model there and see what the years are for DCC ready and not if it is listed in the description.

    One last thing. Think about making a donation to each site as they are a wealth of information and it doesn't get there without a lot of work by the guys that have the sites.

    Sumner
     
    Hardcoaler likes this.
  7. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    If the U30C is the same mechanism as the C30-7, with one-piece light board, TCS has a decoder for it too (K1D4 drop-in).

    TCS also has a semi-drop-in CN decoder for the older ones with two-piece light boards.
     
  8. french_guy

    french_guy TrainBoard Member

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    Are TCS decoders really worth the $10/$15 extra over the Digitrax decoders?
     
  9. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    I've heard several times/places that TCS' motor control is better than Digitrax's. I have one direct comparison that favors TCS, but it is only between out-of-the box, stock programmed decoders (except addresses were re-programmed to their road numbers), in identical locomotives (except road numbers). Both were factory installed.

    A lot of the question regarding $10 to $15 difference has more to do with how much $10 to $15 is worth to the individual, and how many decoders they need to purchase.

    I definitely appreciate TCS' installation documentation on their website, particularly the photographs of the installations.
     
  10. french_guy

    french_guy TrainBoard Member

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    are you saying once properly "programmed/tweaked", Digitrax decoders are similar to TCS's?
     
  11. BigJake

    BigJake TrainBoard Member

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    French_guy,

    I don't know yet... I need to speed match the two locomotives, and I'm not sure how easy that will be between the two different brands, so I will probably replace one decoder to match the other, but I need to play more with them to see which one I end up keeping (and buying a second decoder to match).

    I like having the BEMF enabled for low speed operation, but have always heard BEMF should be turned off if trying to speed match for a consist.

    But I found an article that contradicts that "common knowledge," on a site for a retailer that does not advertise here, so I won't mention who/where, but search for "Locomotive Speed Matching Made Easy".

    It says that TCS and QSI decoders can be speed matched with BEMF enabled. Others maybe not...

    I can say that from reading the manuals on the two decoders, the BEMF controls on the Digitrax decoder are more complex (involving multiple parameters). That may mean they are more capable of achieving a desired behavior, but the recommended means of setting the BEMF parameters seems to be "trial and error", without saying exactly what they do...

    I got all the Unitrack I need for my "Spaghetti & Western" HCD layout (Merry Christmas!), but right now I don't even have a test loop set up. As soon as the holidays subside, maybe I can re-acquire the dining room table for a test loop, so I can do some more experimenting between the two decoders. But the future layout room requires redistributing some furniture to other bedrooms, and that will take a bit more time (though preliminary management approval has been secured.)
     
  12. Mr. Trainiac

    Mr. Trainiac TrainBoard Member

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    I have not been a big fan of Digitrax decoders; their sound decoders are outperformed by ESU and Tsunami, and I have had issues with their function decoders too (but that may have been the command station's fault).

    However, If you have a Digitrax DCC system, I can understand the benefits. There are Digitrax-exclusive features that you may want to take advantage of, such as transponding. If I were to be between Digitrax and TCS however, I would choose TCS. I am less invested in Digitrax, but you may not be the same.

    Another thing to keep in mind is how they will be programmed. If you use a software like DecoderPro or the ESU LokProgrammer, each decoder brand will have a different display layout. It can be complicated to keep track of different momentum CVs, function maps, and exclusive features that each decoder brand uses. I am a proponent of consolidation and sticking to as few brands as possible. If you already have multiple Digitrax decoders and enjoy them, I would just continue that trend for the sake of programming and speed matching.
     
  13. french_guy

    french_guy TrainBoard Member

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    I have the NCE Power cab, and also trying a DCC++ base station
    All my dcc locomotives are equipped with digitrax (dz123 and a recent sound decoder sdn144k0a in a Kato P42 Genesis) plus 1 Atlas engine that i bought used for $50 and was slready equipped with a NCE decoder
    So I guess i will stick with Digitrax then......
     
  14. DCESharkman

    DCESharkman TrainBoard Member

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    I have had Atlas NCE decodered locomotives (16) and in each case the NCE decoder just flat out did not work and had to be pulled and replaced.
    I have run the marathon of starting with Lenz Silver Mini, Digitrax, TCS, ESU and Zimo decoders and JMRI (DecoderPro) keeps them all straight.
    The best reason for using one brand of decoder is that it is easier to MU and speed match when the decoders are all from the same manufacturer.
    The biggest bang for the buck on TCS decoders is that they also support RailCom and it's bidirectional communication. That could be the justification of the price differential. I am not familiar with the NCE Power Cabs and whether they support RailCom or not. So if none of that means anything to you then enjoy your trains with Digitrax decoder and make things easier for you.
     

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