What is the best way to program decoders?

Bronxarnie Apr 28, 2016

  1. Bronxarnie

    Bronxarnie TrainBoard Member

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    I am a relative newbie to DCC and have not, as yet, programmed or reprogrammed a decoder. I have heard really good things about DecoderPro, but would like the group members input to the best was to program the decoders that I have onboard in my engines.

    Thanks to all for your input and advice!

    Arnold Rubin
    Basking Ridge, NJ 07920
     
  2. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    JMRI (Decoder Pro) is the cleanest way to program your decoders (and maintain a file, for each loco, of all the settings). But, it requires a computer interface to your command station (or stand alone programmer). The positive aspects of the program are that there are different definition files for almost all the different decoders out there, and the settings and values are presented to you clearly (i.e. Lighting effect: [choose from list] Constant; Mars Light, Strobe; GyraLite; Rule 17; etc., rather than "set CVxx to 0+4+16+128 " ) All the different values and bit flags are hidden from view. Though, if you want, you can still manipulate CVs directly.

    If you do not have a computer interface, then you are left with direct programming using your command station and throttle, calculating CV input.
     
    papahnash likes this.
  3. Bronxarnie

    Bronxarnie TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks very much for your clear comments on DecoderPro....much appreciated! Now for my dumb question: I visited the JMRI website looking to purchase the program-- what I found were various downloads of the program depending on the operating system, Windows 7, etc. Is the program free? Thanks.
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2016
  4. Bronxarnie

    Bronxarnie TrainBoard Member

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    I visited the JMRI website...is DecoderPro a free download...I was looking to purchase it, but free would be great! Thanks.
     
  5. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Yes, it is 100% free. It is an Open Source project
     
  6. Sepp K

    Sepp K TrainBoard Member

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    The computer interface will depend upon the brand of command station you own. I have had no problems with the RR Cirkits Locobuffer USB for my Digitrax Superchief, much easier for me to use than Digitrax's own interface. You can get JMRI support from the JMRI Yahoo group, unless you have a friend with a similar set-up.
     
  7. Mike C

    Mike C TrainBoard Member

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    First off I would have to ask which DCC system you use . Some (like NCE) are very easy to do programming with , while others are a bit more difficult . Personally I've never had the need to use JMRI , but I could see how it would be advantageous in some situations .
     
  8. Bronxarnie

    Bronxarnie TrainBoard Member

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    I have a Digitrax Zephyr for use on my test track, and a Digitrax Super Chief set for future use on my layout. As I have no experience with programming decoders, I am looking for a simple, "foolproof" way to set CVs, etc. How well does DecoderPro support Digitrax systems such as mine? Will DecoderPro make programming easier for me...your thoughts are most welcomed!
     
  9. Metro Red Line

    Metro Red Line TrainBoard Member

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    Decoder Pro will make your life so much easier.
    Also, since JMRI doesn't take up a lot of computing power, I would recommend getting a used cheap laptop as a dedicated layout computer.
     
  10. Bronxarnie

    Bronxarnie TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks very much for your input! I have an old Apple tablet and I can download the program to that computer...dumb question: how do I interface the computer with my programming track?
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2016
  11. Carl Sowell

    Carl Sowell TrainBoard Supporter

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    Arnie,

    do not know about the Apple tablet but I will share how I use JMRI. First, I use an NCE Powercab on my layout and programming track. I purchased an NCE USB interface and when I want to use JMRI, I plug the interface into an unused USB slot on my desk top computer. In the JMRI program the USB interface is assigned to Com Port 3 or maybe 4, do not remember. That is all I have to do and it's ready to go.

    Always, have fun
    Carl
     
  12. Bronxarnie

    Bronxarnie TrainBoard Member

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    Carl,

    Always trying to have fun, and reprogramming some decoders will add to my fun. I will have to check out the ports in my Apple, or do what you do, and use a USB interface on my desktop computer.

    Thanks,
    Arnie
     
  13. jdetray

    jdetray TrainBoard Member

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    The JMRI home page:
    http://jmri.org/

    The JMRI home page has links to installation guides for Windows, Mac, and Linux.

    The "J" in JMRI stands for "Java." So Java must be installed on your computer in order to run JMRI. To run the latest version of JMRI you will need Java 1.8 installed on your computer.

    You'll also need a hardware interface between your DCC controller and your computer. Exactly which interface depends on which DCC controller you have. The interface will likely require that a software driver be installed to allow your computer to recognize and use the interface.

    - Jeff
     
  14. Bronxarnie

    Bronxarnie TrainBoard Member

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    Jeff -- Thanks much for your very helpful comments. I will proceed as you have suggested. Arnie
     
  15. Greg Elmassian

    Greg Elmassian TrainBoard Member

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    Certain manufacturers also supply software specific to their decoders that make it easy, like QSI, but I also am trying to standardize on JMRI so I use one software for all manufacturers.

    Greg
     
  16. Bronxarnie

    Bronxarnie TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks, Greg, for sharing your information with me and the group.
     
  17. TwinDad

    TwinDad TrainBoard Member

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    A couple of notes... Yes JMRI requires Java but if you don't have it the JMRI installer will handle that for you.

    Second you mentioned "old Apple tablet"... If you mean an iPad it won't work because Apple does not allow Java to run on its iOS devices. If you mean s Mac then you are OK.
     
  18. Bronxarnie

    Bronxarnie TrainBoard Member

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    Unfortunately, I have an iPad and not a Mac, so your comments just saved me a bunch of time...thanks. I guess that I will have to use my Windows PC which does have Java installed.
     
  19. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    While you cannot use DecoderPro on an iPad, you can use the iPad as a throttle to run the trains via the WiiThrottle app. It can interface with JMRI on your local network, providing a wireless throttle (of course, the PC needs to be on, with JMRI running)
     
  20. Bronxarnie

    Bronxarnie TrainBoard Member

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    I think that, for now, I am going to keep it simple, i.e., set-up a programming track near my PC to program the decoder using DecoderPro. Thanks again for your input and advice.
     

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