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Richie Kynaston

Can anyone offer advice on a couple of DCC problems?

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Chaps,

I have four N gauge US-outline models. All are Kato EMD SD70MAC or GE AC4400CW.  Three I purchased second hand with DCC already fitted (not sure if it was manufacturer fitted or a previous owner), the fourth was a DC model purchased new with a TCS K1D4 'drop in' decoder border from Coastal DCC acquired to make it DCC.  In all cases, this is pure DCC, not DCC sound.  I have a Digitrax DCC system.

 

On their own the locos operate fine, but each appears to have a different start point. 2 of them start moving at 01, 1 at 02 and 1 at 03.  One of them seems to slowly build up to where you set the controller, the others start and stop immediately.  One of them has an odd operational habit in that it starts moving at 01, and accelerates up to 12 on the decoder, then at 13 immediately drops its speed to where it was at 04, and then ramps up again as you turn the power up. I was trying to multi various combinations this afternoon and by controlling two of the locos separately got them running about right - one was at speed 43, the other at 29!  The other two both seem to be of equal speed steps, but one of them is the one that slowly accelerates and decelerates!

 

Im sure it must be down to CV values, and while i've looked in the manual about setting values, I haven't a clue which CVs to set or what they should be set to.  I presume there must be away to do a factory reset on decoders, but do all decoders leave the various factories equal? While the decoder I purchased is a TCS, I am not sure what type of decoders are in the other three.

 

Any help and/or advice would be gratefully appreciated, as multi-working with the US locos is obviously quite a major thing!

 

Richie

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1.  Not all decoders are equal.

 

2.  you likely have the speed tables enabled on the decoders, as well as the momentum on the one turned on.

 

3.  I'm not sure if you have a programmer, but the easiest way to program any large # of decoders is with JMRI or similar, and a computer based programmer.  You _can_ change all the CV's with just the digitrax boxes & no computer, but it can get exciting.  PR3 or PR4 will work if you want to stick with Digitrax.  (PR4 is the current one).  

 

James

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Posted (edited)

Hi James,

Thanks - I may need to read up a bit on speed tables, that not something I've heard alot about (and know far less if im honest).  I do have an LocoBuffer-USB here, which connects the PC laptop to the Digitrax Loconet system. I'd got it to use with TrainController at some point, but I suppose it can work with JMRI too.

 

Edit: It looks like Decoder Pro is what I need to download, so will investigate that. Any advice on which CVs to look at would be welcomed.

 

Richie

Edited by Richie Kynaston
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If the decoders are to NMRA standards(most are) then look here &scroll down to & click on S-9.2.2 DCC Configuration Variables

Setting CV8 to 8 will reset some/most Decoders to factory defaults

Hope this helps

John

 

 

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8 hours ago, Richie Kynaston said:

Hi James,

Thanks - I may need to read up a bit on speed tables, that not something I've heard alot about (and know far less if im honest).  I do have an LocoBuffer-USB here, which connects the PC laptop to the Digitrax Loconet system. I'd got it to use with TrainController at some point, but I suppose it can work with JMRI too.

 

Edit: It looks like Decoder Pro is what I need to download, so will investigate that. Any advice on which CVs to look at would be welcomed.

 

Richie

I have not looked a the compatibility options of JMRI but I would expect it to work with Digitrax. It is free so you have nothing to lose by trying it out.

The beauty of it is that you do not need to remember any CV's. DecoderPro shows everything in plain English.

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44 minutes ago, Pete the Elaner said:

I have not looked a the compatibility options of JMRI but I would expect it to work with Digitrax. It is free so you have nothing to lose by trying it out.

The beauty of it is that you do not need to remember any CV's. DecoderPro shows everything in plain English.

 

Though it doesn't provide a 'plain English' explanation of all CVs e.g. Lenz CV50 is still simply 5 motor types with no explanation of what they are :(. I agree that as far as NMRA CVs are concerned the explanations are good, but step outside NMRA and you are in a land of unclarity :(

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Thanks guys.

 

I’ll hopefully be able to download Decoder Pro later today and have a look at it. I’ll report back!

 

Richie.

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The basic principles with lie within the first few CVs ...

CV1 (Basic address 1-127 (or less on some systems eg 1-8, 1-22,1-99 or 1-127)   [ Overridden by Extended address or Consist Address ]

 

CV2 Starting value ... When the controller moves off the 'zero' position, what is the 'first speed step value' it sends .. effectively the

minimum voltage need to keep the loco moving   (and I say it that way, rather than to START it as the name suggests, because some decoders may have a separate 'quick start' feature which overcomes initial stiction, and thereforre 'confuses' what the 'Start' value might be.

Speed steps COULD be 1-14, 1-28, or 1-128 according to your preference (and age of controller/system). Your controller MAY offer a 'default' suggested value ...  and the decoder MIGHT accept a range of 1-64 or 1-255 ...( see decoder manual for guidance OR simply start with '8' and go lower and lower until the loco no longer keeps going ...and go back up a bit ... you have found the minimum speed setting.

 

CV 3 Acceleration and CV 4 Deceleration - or INERTIA  ... you could start with a value of 1 in each - this will give 'instantaneous' response to a speed change - and if you tried this on 14 speed steps you would be able to see each 'notch' ... but the larger you make the value, the longer the decoder will take to change to your newly changed speed value.    At 28 speed steps the change would be harder to see, and even less chance when using 128 steps, of course.   If you make the deceleration too slow, then you may overrun station stops and hit buffers - having to resort to an emergency stop.  My controller suggests a default to try of 3 or 4 ... just keep reprogramming CV3 for acceleration and CV4 for decelleration until you are happy - the result may depend on the size of your layout !    A SOUND decoder is likely, in my experience, to have a relatively high value for both of these - and adjusted by the sound-programmer to match the sound image they have created ... this will also include an initial start-up delay to cover the engine starting sequence.    Conversely, I have found that if I wanted to use computer-based automation; the computer software wants to be in control, and so wants low settings IN the decoder... which would otherwise not follow the computer-originated speed setting promptly... I therefore found this to be conflict between setting for automation, and driving manually. I know some disagree with my opinion on this, but that was my experience. [Computer software programs can do an intensive 'learning process' for each loco, involving may 100 times passes over a known section of track at different speeds .... the thought of doing that with 700 locos doesn't bear thinking about ... nor its repeatability !

 

CV5 is the MAXIMUM speed -  although this may also depend on track voltage if you move between systems.   We find it very useful to restrict the speed range for locos used on a shunting puzzle, for example... as the 1-14/28/128 speed range is then redistributed over the newlyset range.  Linearly by default, but CV 6 can set a 'mid value' so that the first part of speed control has one slope, and the top end a differnt one.

 

NOT ALL decoders support all these adjustments (Hornby's basic and TTS decoders for example do not support CV5)  ... but there may also be a 'speed table' setting further up in the CV range where you can create your own - JMRI or similar software helps considerably when playinh with these - ensuring you do not mis out values etc.  ... if the alternative speed table is selected, the CV2-6 will be overridden  Hence CV8 is suggested to RESET a decoder to default  [ does not work on ALL decoders, and some decoders offer PARTIAL resets too ]

 

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Phil,

Many thanks for that detailed explanation, that is great. I'm just downloading Decoder Pro now, so will print out your comments and go have a look.

 

3 hours ago, Phil S said:

Conversely, I have found that if I wanted to use computer-based automation; the computer software wants to be in control, and so wants low settings IN the decoder... which would otherwise not follow the computer-originated speed setting promptly... I therefore found this to be conflict between setting for automation, and driving manually. I know some disagree with my opinion on this, but that was my experience.

 

One of the area's that I have thought about using using something like TrainController to operate the fiddle yard for me, allowing me to 'take over' drive manually on the layout.  A friend of mine knows Paul Chetter and had a chat with him about a similar scenario.  Paul responded that on Zimo chips (others may be similar I guess) but there is the ability to have two sound projects - ie a light engine and a loaded train.  He said that if we didnt want those scenario's the other option is to use the two sets of settings as 'computer' with zero inertia, and a 'manual' with the standard inertia settings.  As these are 'swapped' over using an F key, the computer could be advised that it needs to turn (for exmaple) F8 on before starting to move, and switch F8 off when it stops.  Therefore at anytime the train is manually picked up, F8 is off giving you the standard interia settings, but anytime the computer takes over it turns F8 on removing all the interia. 

 

An interesting prospect - although it doesnt help with mine being TCS decoders of course!  As I've only got the four at the moment, if i develop the fiddle yard idea, I may just replace the existing decoders with Zimo ones, then again that could be the point at which i move to DCC sound, making a swap of decoders necessary anyway.

 

Richie

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Running on Digitrax it is beneficial to set the chips to dcc only, this way the locos don't become confused with intermittent signals and think the track is dc powered. In fact it is a good thing to do for all systems but Digitrax in particular with its ability to run a dc loco on 0.

There is no guarantee of locos of the same make with the same chip brand being speed matched on the same cv settings, which may not be the case anyway with second hand locos.

Decoderpro by jmri is quite good for speed matching and setting up loco speed tables.

Matthew

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1 hour ago, Richie Kynaston said:

Phil,

Many thanks for that detailed explanation, that is great. I'm just downloading Decoder Pro now, so will print out your comments and go have a look.

 

 

One of the area's that I have thought about using using something like TrainController to operate the fiddle yard for me, allowing me to 'take over' drive manually on the layout.  A friend of mine knows Paul Chetter and had a chat with him about a similar scenario.  Paul responded that on Zimo chips (others may be similar I guess) but there is the ability to have two sound projects - ie a light engine and a loaded train.  He said that if we didnt want those scenario's the other option is to use the two sets of settings as 'computer' with zero inertia, and a 'manual' with the standard inertia settings.  As these are 'swapped' over using an F key, the computer could be advised that it needs to turn (for exmaple) F8 on before starting to move, and switch F8 off when it stops.  Therefore at anytime the train is manually picked up, F8 is off giving you the standard interia settings, but anytime the computer takes over it turns F8 on removing all the interia. 

 

An interesting prospect - although it doesnt help with mine being TCS decoders of course!  As I've only got the four at the moment, if i develop the fiddle yard idea, I may just replace the existing decoders with Zimo ones, then again that could be the point at which i move to DCC sound, making a swap of decoders necessary anyway.

 

Richie

 

Richie,

 

What you say is definitely possible with ZIMO but there is an easier route whch would maintain the 'Heavy train'/ 'Light engine' options, which are in all my projects, as well as providing quick access to 'no inertia' settings for computer control.

 

CV155 = X (where X is number of the operating F Key)
CV124 = 3 reduces the values in all inertia and momentum CVs to zero (on ZIMO that's CV3 and CV4 plus additional control via CV121, CV122 and CV123). With F key X engaged (manually or via computer control) the model will react instantly to control inputs (manual or computer control).

 

Typically used for Shunt Mode in my projects, it would be equally effective at providing access for direct control by computer software. As you say, just instruct the software to issue an instruction to 'engage F key X' before beginning a movement.

 

I use ZIMO sound decoders, but these features apply equally to ZIMO non-sound decoders too.

 

Best regards,

 

Paul

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4 hours ago, pauliebanger said:

What you say is definitely possible with ZIMO but there is an easier route whch would maintain the 'Heavy train'/ 'Light engine' options, which are in all my projects, as well as providing quick access to 'no inertia' settings for computer control.

 

Paul,

Thats great, thank you.  My mate, who is on here as Marsh Lane, was the one that suggested moving to Zimo decoders, and having seen whats possible with your sound projects on his O gauge locos, I would whole heartedly concur!  I need to see if I can obtain US sound projects for Zimo.  Thanks for commenting tho, much appreciated.

 

Richie

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Right, 

Well what a waste of time this afternoon was ... and its all Microsoft's fault!!  I got JMRI downloaded eventually, for some reason Firefox would let me on the website, but just wouldnt download the file at all.  Then when I got the USB Locobuffer plugged in Windows, would not let me install or update the drivers for it - took me 90 minutes to sort that out, together with the machine wanting to do a reboot because of updates arrghh!  Now i know why I moved to Apple Macs 10 years ago!  Give me a mac anytime :)

 

I know I could use JMRI on a Mac, but the iMac isn't anywhere close to where i could connect it to the railway!  So first loco on, #5804 (which has TCS decoder), managed to updated a couple of CVs i think, removed the inertia and all worked fine.  Wayhey, we're on our way I thought.

 

Second loco on, which I think this may be a default Kato fitted DCC board as having taken the lid off the loco, there is no manufacturer or board model number on it at all.  I went to remove inertia the same way, sending the commands to the decoder, absolutely nothing. No beep, no movement, no nothing. Cutting a long story short, the decoder just stopped responding, couldnt control it by the Digitrax controller or anything. Reboot the PC (fourth time!) and I managed to get DecoderPro to do a reset and then write all the values to the decoder. It moved after each value and responded on #3.  Great, back in business ... however, not quite!

 

I have gone into Decoder pro, changed to long addressing, and updated the ID number from 3 to 5642 the loco number.  The command station beeps when the write commands are sent, the loco stutters as it should, but no response on 5642, change the handset to No. 3 and off we go.  Ok, so try programming from the handset.  Usual thing into Paged Mode, 4 Digit Addressing, 5642, OK. Beep, Beep, stutter stutter.  Loco still responds to No. 3 only.  I've given up for tonight and come to have a read of what Decoder Pro can actually do as Im wading about in the dark somewhat.  But does anyone have any thoughts?

 

In terms of speed 5804 and 5642 are my two BNSF locos.  Running about at 10 out of 99 on the Digitrax handset for 5804, and 14 out of 99 for 5642 (well No. 3)  and they are about even speeds.  Can anyone therefore suggest what I need to alter to bring them together.  Given the problems im having with the decoder on 5642, Im thinking that 5804 will be my yardstick for aligning everything with speed.

 

All help and suggestion appreciated.

Richie

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The fact that you don’t know how to use MIcrosoft Windows isn’t Microsoft’s fault.

 

It may also have escaped your notice that Firefox isn’t provided by Microsoft therefore that isn’t their fault either.

 

Also if Locobuffer had signed files then installing them would be a breeze.

 

Now I am not defending Microsoft rather stating some simple facts as installing software is easy on Windows  is easy IF the manufacturers follow the rules, when they don’t then you suffer the issues. But even when they don’t follow the rules they can still be installed as Windows is an open system which allows anyone to install anything (sometimes a bit harder than other times) unlike Apple who run a closed system.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, WIMorrison said:

The fact that you don’t know how to use MIcrosoft Windows isn’t Microsoft’s fault.

 

It may also have escaped your notice that Firefox isn’t provided by Microsoft therefore that isn’t their fault either.

 

Also if Locobuffer had signed files then installing them would be a breeze.

 

Now I am not defending Microsoft rather stating some simple facts as installing software is easy on Windows  is easy IF the manufacturers follow the rules, when they don’t then you suffer the issues. But even when they don’t follow the rules they can still be installed as Windows is an open system which allows anyone to install anything (sometimes a bit harder than other times) unlike Apple who run a closed system.

 

With all due respect, this is not about not knowing how to use Microsoft Windows - I have a Batchelor of Science first degree in Computer Networks, have been programming and using Microsoft Windows for more years than I care to remember, have had Microsoft certified Server training and worked for a major high street bank in an IT capacity - I know full well how to use Windows. It is the fact that Windows 10 (which has to be the most dumbed down version of Windows yet), has decided to do the stupid things that it does, and in this case disabled anyway of installing drivers for the Locobuffer.  The only way round was to dig into the registery through terminal and make several system alterations to enable the buttons, after which it installed as it should have done.

 

It had not escaped my notice either about Firefox, and I did not say that Microsoft did provide it - I said it would not for some reason download the file.  20 seconds later i was in Opera which did download fine.  What I said was that the problems I encountered that took up almost two hours were all Microsoft's fault.  Yes it would have been easier if the manufacturers had followed the rules and signed the drivers, but regardless - to anyone without a inner knowledge of kernals, registery data and command prompt, they would have been totally and utterly stuck.  No major software manufacturer should dumb a system down that much that there is no obvious/easy way to do something.  I had to laugh, when the Troubleshoot said - USB Locobuffer requires drivers to work.  The options are look for drivers or exit.  You tell it to look for drivers, and 10 seconds it says, no drivers found - they are sat on a CD in the CD Drive, which it did not check!  So having told me nothing was found, it then said Troubleshoot has no other options to offer.

 

So as for Windows being an open system that allows anyone to install anything, that was not my view today.  The system did not find the drivers, it did not search the CD drive for drivers, it disabled all buttons related to installing drivers and updating drivers. Ironically the only button in Device Manager it left operational was "Driver Info" that when I clicked it said "NO information available as no drivers are installed" !!

 

With the Apple Mac, I would have simply unlocked the pad lock on the necessary control panel and got the permissions to do what I wanted with buttons.  As a matter of interest, I did this evening installed the locobuffer on my iMac just to see what happened - it was a breeze, took just over 4 minutes, including getting the drivers off the CD.  Apple may be a closed system, but at least they make things easy and obvious for the user, without needing a computing degree to work it out.  Having said that Im not an "Apple is great, everyone else is rubbish" person, I am just stating a fact.

 

However, this thread is not about Microsoft, the manufacturer of the LocoBuffer or IT problems - it is about trying to resolve the issues with the CV values, on which I totally accept I am a novice, so if we may get back on topic, it would be appreciated.  I apologise to anyone who may have been offended by my three line rant at the start of the last message about IT problems!

 

Richie

Edited by Richie Kynaston
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39 minutes ago, Richie Kynaston said:

 

...

 

With the Apple Mac, I would have simply unlocked the pad lock on the necessary control panel and got the permissions to do what I wanted with buttons. 

 

...

 

You can do the same with Windows when you know what you were doing.

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Well I think i’ve managed to identify the decoder that is in the three locos, there is an N163K number in one corner of the decoder and while browsing eBay this morning I have noticed that Digitrax do a DN163K1C drop in board, so I suspect it’s a Digitrax. Unless different manufacturers use the same codes of course.

 

9 hours ago, pauliebanger said:

 Richie,

 

I don't have any US projects but there are free one's to download from the ZIMO site here:

 

http://www.zimo.at/web2010/sound/tableindex_EN.htm

 

Scroll down to find US projects.

 

Best regards,

 

Paul

 

Paul,

That’s really helpful, many thanks for taking the time to reply with that.

 

Richie

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Looking at the DCCWiki last night - it appears that Digitrax decoders use CVs15 and 16 as a programming lock - both have to match to programme the decoder.  So assuming the troublesome decoder is a Digitrax board, I'm wondering if when I did a reset through DecoderPro, it has changed these.  It seems odd that I cannot reprogramme the address of the decoder at all, either through DecoderPro or from the handset.

 

Thats the task for this evening to see if i can get that sorted out.

 

Richie

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You can see if it is a Digitrax decoder by reading CV's (7 & 8, IIRC).  

 

I've not had that problem with Digitrax decoders, but there are old decoders out there that are only programmable in 0-127 (or 0-99) for the range of addresses.  Hornby decoders are one set that I know of.  OLD digitrax might also suffer from that, some of the Digitrax decoder designs are >25 years old.  Think of a MS 3.11 vs WIN 10 :)

 

James

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13 minutes ago, peach james said:

.  Hornby decoders are one set that I know of. 

 

Only the old, obsolete Hornby R8215 decoders from years ago had restricted addresses.  All others are able to use the full address range.

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10 hours ago, peach james said:

You can see if it is a Digitrax decoder by reading CV's (7 & 8, IIRC).  

 

I've not had that problem with Digitrax decoders, but there are old decoders out there that are only programmable in 0-127 (or 0-99) for the range of addresses.  Hornby decoders are one set that I know of.  OLD digitrax might also suffer from that, some of the Digitrax decoder designs are >25 years old.  Think of a MS 3.11 vs WIN 10 https://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/uploads/emoticons/default_smile3.gif

 

James

 

Thanks James,

Decoder Pro identified it as a Massoth decoder, with a manufacturer id of 123, and then told me that nothing about the decoder was recognised.  I have to say im not sure that Decoder Pro (DP) is working with my Loconet correctly.  When i turn the Loconet monitor on within DP and use the handset, every single command, turn of a dial etc, shows up which suggests all is well, but when DP starts it defaults to Internal, rather than Loconet, and when you switch to Loconet is says power status is known - turning the power on and off does not appear to be doing anything. 

 

So i don't have too much confidence that what it is telling me is right - plus looking on the web, I cannot find that Massoth has ever made an N gauge decoder - their products all seem to be sound related for the larger scales, such as G.

 

Anyone any thoughts, as this is driving me nuts slowly!  I think if i could find away of doing a factory reset on the decoder, it would probably solve the issue about the decoder responding to any command on #3 but not accepting any programming data, but there is still this query over DP.   I have put one of the other locos on the layout, and successfully changed the ID with the handset, so I know that all is working fine there.

 

Rich

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