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Sprog 2 or Sprog 3


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OK so I am thinking about DCC, and also doing it using a Sprog and JMRI - nothing like going in at the deep end!!

 

I've been looking at Dynamic and NCE powercab plus some videos on the Hornby products and Prodigy basics - all have their shortcomings and all cost a lot more than a Sprog, it also seems to me that functions on chips are now getting so great that the more basic DCC systems that are physical rather than software based then lack enough function keys.  I might be wrong on this but I did read or listen to someone say that a TTS chip had more functions than their handset could allow meaning they had to forgo some of the chip's functions.

 

My intention is to use this on an N gauge end to end - I want to go DCC to cut down on the number of isolations, dump locos where I feel like it, utilise some of the sound options now coming out and maybe stretch my brain a bit.

 

Sprog 2 is 1 amp and says is recommended for N gauge or a small layout, Sprog 3 is 2.5 amps and suitable for a larger layout.  Both can take the 12 v power connector which I understand is the right voltage for N gauge or have I got that wrong somewhere?

 

Is a Sprog 3 going to be fine for N gauge or is it going to push too much (2.5 amps doesn't sound much but 1 amp sounds too little).

 

How many amps would a typical n gauge loco (with and without sound) draw?  My limited understanding is that the amps determines how many locos can be running at any one time so if a typical N loco is 0.5 amps then the most a Sprog 2 will run is 2 locos and a Sprog 3 is 5 locos - is that about right as an assumption?  I am not looking to have lots of locos running about but I am guessing if you're using sound then the sound of an engine idling is going to have some draw which cuts into your available power to move trains (at most 2).

 

Lots of questions and feeling stupid but I want to actually try this

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The layout, as a whole, will only take the current it requires so a SPROG 3 will not cause any damage, all thing being equal. As with any DCC system you just need to ensure the wiring is up to scratch, but that's a different topic :)

 

A SPROG II will easily cope with 4, or more, modern non-sound N locos that take say 200mA. I did this in early testing, a few years ago now. With sound maybe less. This is running locos, and you probably won't have them all belting along at full speed on an end-to-end layout. Parked locos take very little current, especially if the sound is off.

 

You can still have a physical handset, if you have a WiFi connection to the the computer driving the SPROG, and use one of the 'phone apps like Withrottle (iOS) or EngineDriver (Android).

 

Even if you outgrow the SPROG and buy a more expensive system later, the SPROG is still very useful for programming so will not be wasted.

 

I hope this helps.

 

Andrew Crosland

www.sprog-dcc.co.uk so I am obviously biased :)

 

 

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The plan is:

  1. Buy a DCC control
  2. Small stretch of track
  3. One chip in one loco
  4. Point Control & multiple locos

Learn how it all works then apply to a new build railway (the baseboards are not yet even configured).

 

The wiring is the next scary bit, I think I need to also purchase a newer iron with lower temperature and appropriate solder as I've been good at melting stuff over the years and I will have to hard wire at least one chip as I have a Farish 08 to do.  But I will start with a loco on a short length of track and go from there.

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Sprog arrived this morning, so stage 2 begun - wire ordered for the layout plus a DCC Concepts IP Digital point motor to test out the function side of things.  Also ordered some Peco SL-82 rail joiners with wires which should allow me an almost non soldering wiring job once I order T-Taps.

 

Two 6 pin decoders ordered - One of the new Rails ones and a Bachmann - I want to see how they differ and how they operate before deciding what else to order.

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By all means experiment with the Rails and Bachman decoders but, if you can, try to give one of the higher end (eg Zimo or Lenz) decoders a go too.

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15 minutes ago, BoD said:

By all means experiment with the Rails and Bachman decoders but, if you can, try to give one of the higher end (eg Zimo or Lenz) decoders a go too.


The current Bachmann 6-pin is a rebadged Zimo. The budget Zimo’s are actually cheaper. 
 

Izzy

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Perhaps the following would help with regard to the re-badged 6-pin decoders Bachmann have sold to date:

 

36-558  - produced by Soundtraxx. No longer available - old stocks excepting.

36-558A - as above but has analogue capacity hence the ‘A’.

36-556RA - as above but with right angled pins. Still available.

36-568A - current offering. Produced by Zimo. Appears to be the older generation Zimo MX622N. Superior to the Soundtraxx IMHO, far more options and better motor control. The latter is important for N with the generally lower current drain motors. 

 

Izzy

 

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14 hours ago, BoD said:

By all means experiment with the Rails and Bachman decoders but, if you can, try to give one of the higher end (eg Zimo or Lenz) decoders a go too.

They will come when I have to wire up my shunters - will need tiny ones then and as someone said whilst soldering his in, if you're going to hard wire it's not like you can simply swap out for another later (well you can it's just solder after all).

 

This is just to get me started on my older 6 pin Farish locos, still got to consider what I chance on my Dapol 26/27 boards.

 

The plan is to start offloading my none DCC ready stuff to fund the chips and purchase of some sound locos (40s and 31s), probably should also consider thinning out the 00 stocklist as well.

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Happy days, cheque in the post from HM Taxes - £420 rebate!

 

If nothing else it funds acquiring further point motors when the time comes.

 

But first I do need to unbox the Sprog, set it up and wire it to a single piece of track - I was thinking of digging out my Hattons 14xx as it has a chip, but I think I will just wait for Rails to deliver as I really don't want to have to open my big storage box of OO.

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45 minutes ago, Crosland said:

 

Knowing Zimo, I think "budget" does them a dis-service :)


Oh yes, totally agree. It’s what they call them. Not top of the Zimo tree on total specs, but head and shoulders above anything else IMHO. And believe me I’ve tried a few........

 

Izzy

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On 11/11/2020 at 08:57, woodenhead said:

...The wiring is the next scary bit, I think I need to also purchase a newer iron with lower temperature and appropriate solder as I've been good at melting stuff over the years...

 

Not melting stuff is all about using an iron that is hot enough to do the job. With modern 4% silver lead free solder you will need an iron at least 25W, a 40W iron will be a good starting point, and a temperature controlled iron is of course ideal. It takes a lot of skill to do a good job with a cold iron!

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Power to Sprog - USB to laptop - Windows 10 - apparently the drivers are perfectly adequate according to Microsoft and I've installed JMRI.

 

JMRI set up, just one thing missing - a chipped loco on a stretch of track.

 

I expect Rails will deliver tomorrow and then I can get on with it.

 

Question regarding the drivers - When I attempt to update the drivers, Windows tells me it's own drivers are the most up to date and won't install the drivers from the download, is that correct for Windows 10 v 1909?

 

Also with the Sprog connected to track should I be able to sense the electric circuit if I touch the rails - I thought with DCC you would get some feedback if you touched the track?

 

I've a voltmeter on the way but I just thought I'd test if there is power to track and at the moment I am not sure there is.

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No separate drivers are required for a SPROG with Windows 10. It uses Windows own built in USB serial driver. This was Microsoft being kind to users in that you no longer need to disable driver signing. The downside is they do not interrogate the device correctly so it appears in the device manager as a USB serial, rather than a SPROG.

 

I don't know why you think you would sense the voltage. It's only 12 or 15V. Maybe if you lick the track but I would not recommend it :o

 

A voltmeter may not give a true reading. Set  it to the AC scale. If it reads a little lower that 12 or 15V to match the power supply for your SPROG then it is reading OK. The track power is only on when the LED is flashing. When used as a programmer this is only when actually programming, or turned on manually from a throttle.

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I had it in my mind that with DCC you can feel the electricity in the track - but maybe that's with the more powerful systems and I'd rather not feel a sense of trepidation before touching track.

 

I had decided last night just to wait until I have a loco on the track and it's chip is not being read to panic.

 

Good to know that the drivers are fine, like you say it doesn't appear in the 'Other devices' after installation only in Serial - but both Sprog lights are on.

 

Just need to sit tight until the chips arrive, test track is ready, loco is ready albeit without said chip.

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  • 2 weeks later...

It lives - not helped that I had selected the wrong Sprog settings first on JMRI and then having put the Bachmann Chip in the wrong way round - what happened to the white spots they used to use?

 

Anyway, class 24077 moved at the behest of my mouse on my laptop.

 

Now can I get a throttle working on my ipad!!

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Just a note that it might be worth noting which usb socket you have used and sticking to it, I have found windows can occasionally be a little tetchy with usb serial connections if you change ports.

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Well that was easy - installed the free version of withrottle - one click on JMRI later and I am controlling 24077 via an ipad.

 

So I may be investing in the paid version, unless someone has something else to recommend.

 

EngineDriver is Android, only my work phone is Android unless I use my older work phone, hmmm.

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All in all not a bad evening:

  • Two locos set up on Sprog
  • Ipad throttle working
  • Android throttle working
  • One Bachmann and one Rails chip tested
  • Learnt how to alter addresses and run locos on a very short piece of track.
  • Need to learn about controlling more than one loco at a time on a single throttle (but thats for another day and a bigger run)

Tomorrow it's the cobalt's turn for a test connection, then it is building the layout.

 

If only I had a sound fitted N loco.........

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