A quick and easy DCC install (lots of pictures)

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beiland

Well-Known Member
#22
Oval Reflex Speaker

The speaker:





One of the things I've learned about installing sound is that a good speaker with a good enclosure/baffle with good placement is a primary key to good sound. With the size of the GE loco here, there are a few places for installing a speaker, round or oval, but I prefer this speaker for most installs because 1) it sounds good 2) it's already enclosed and wired and 3) the size is good enough for this job and other installs. I've got ones in Athearn an SD40 and SD45, and also a CF7. I posted the back of the speaker so that people know where to get them if they want to try. This company also makes other speakers with baffles
First off I've got to go thru this subject thread...looks like a lot of interesting material as well as photos for anyone considering sound/DCC installation.

Secondly I'd like to hear more about your praise for this oval reflex speaker you like so much. Have you had any occassion to install them in steam loco tenders?

I'm specifically looking at doing at least one such experiment in a Bachmann vandy tender with one of these style speakers. I've measured the base of the vandy tender and it will just accomodate the larger of their two oval speakers facing down. This would be an easier install job than the 2 bigger round hi-bass speakers I also want to experiment with.

I recently acquired 2 Backmann 4-8-2 Mountain locos with factory sound, ...not too bad, and they only have one small oval speaker facing down. They use the whole tender shell as the 'back space' which really isn't needed for a speaker of this dimension, but I figure the whole shell will be effectively used also with the Railmasters speaker as it vents its back sound into this cavity.

So I am hoping to get a good bass sound with this relatively easy install Railmaster speaker?

Here is one of my project engines for this experimentation:
http://www.modelrailroadforums.com/forum/showthread.php?t=27672
 
#23
Hate to resurrect this thread topic since it's been so long without replies.. but I have a question I need an answer to regarding this pretty simple installation. :confused:

I am doing this same installation with an Athearn AC4400 Heritage Unit and Tsunami AT1000 board. In fact, I did the install last night and it was "almost" a success. :rolleyes: I'm still a bit of a rookie at this stuff, but enjoy doing these things myself so I can learn.. but the problem is, when you make mistakes with some of this stuff they can cost you money you can't afford waste.

Anyway, back on track.

(1st) I missed the step about having to add the wire for the positive motor lead, so when I put the loco on the tracks, not surprisingly... it didn't move. I did find it odd that I only had one motor wire to sauder, but kept going. I am I understanding the situation correctly that I have to remove the metal strip that is clipped to the top of the motor and sauder the feeder wire to the center of the top of motor, or that piece of material on top of the motor? (Sorry, I don't have the loco in front of me at the moment). I'm not saudering the wire to that metal clip right?

(2nd) I'm confused about where to sauder the wires for the factory lights to the Tsunami board. I saudered them to the same locations they were in on the factory light board (the two center clips on each end) and looking at the Tsunami documentation, I thought that is where I was supposed to place those wires for 1.5v lights. is it correct that this loco has 1.5v bulbs from the factory and not LED? What I saw when I put the loco on the track was that when I turned the front light on, it came on and then went off very quickly, almost as if it blew or something and would not come back on. Sam thing for the rear light. So I obviously has something wrong with that wiring. Again, those wires are connected to the two center clips on each respective ends of the decoder (just as they were on the factory board).

Now.. to help make me not feel like a total failure, the sound did work correctly. :) So it wasn't a total failure.

Anyway, anyone who sees this that might be able to lend some specific insight to the troubleshooting I need, I would be grateful. I have tried zooming in the pictures posted on the first page several times, but i just can't see what I need to see clear enough to help answer my questions.

Thanks,
Chuck
 
#25
On the newer Athearn locomotives they have DCC ready plugs on the board, what type of decoder should I try to get to plug into it. I am NOT looking for sound or something expensive or complicated, so what should I get? (Sorry if I hijacked this thread)
 
#26
All newer Athearn RTR and Genesis locomotives that are DCC ready (they say DCC Quick-Plug Equipped) in the box will have a light board that will accept any decoder with a 9-pin JST socket. There is a small jumper plug board plugged into the plug. Just remove it and replace it with a decoder.

Some examples are:

Digitrax - DH123, DH163
NCE - D13SRJ, D15SR
TCS - T-series, KAT-series
Soundtraxx - MC2H104P9, MC2H104OP

Not all Athearn DCC ready locomotives will have an 8-pin socket that will accept an 8-pin plug, so your best bet would be to go with the 9-pin JST.

If you're having problems identifying the type of plug and socket, 9-pin has the plug on the WIRE end, and the socket in the decoder. The 9-pins are arranged in a row. 8-pin has the socket on the board, and the plug on the decoder or wires. The pins are arranged 2x4.
 
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#28
All of Athearn's steamers are either in their Roundhouse line or Genesis line. Both are DCC ready although some older Genesis diesels such as the SD70 do not have a plug. If they have sound, they're already DCC equipped. If there is no sound, then it's DCC ready, it will have the 9-pin plug. Newer Genesis will have the 8-pin socket as well. Older ones may or may not have this 8-pin socket.
 
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#29
Ok, here are a few visual aids to demonstrate what I was talking about.

On Athearn RTR with DCC Quick-Plug, and newer Athearn Genesis units, this is what you can you. All photos are from TCS's website.

Once you pop the shell, you will see this below on Athearn RTR, Athearn Roundhouse, and Athearn Genesis locomotives. Red is the 9-pin JST connector with the jumper board plug attached. Blue is the 8-pin socket.



On steamers, you will see something similar in the tender.



On older Athearn RTR, and earlier run Genesis diesels such as the SD70M, SD70I, and SD75M, you may see this instead. Red is the 9-pin JST connector with the jumper board plug attached. Yellow looks like an 8-pin socket but is not. The area highlighted in yellow is USELESS and is NOT a socket for DCC.



Older Athearn Genesis diesels such as the standard/spartan cab SD70, the first runs of the SD45-2, and the first runs of the SD60M/Is are DCC ready, but do not have a plug for either method. This photo is for illustrative purposes only. To install DCC in such locomotives would require replacing the entire board.



To install a 9-pin JST plug decoder, all you have to do is remove the 9-pin jumper plug.



And plug in your decoder where the plug once was. The decoder will only go one way, so look at the decoder to line up the pins on the socket with the holes on the plug.



If the locomotive has the 8-pin socket, you can plug in an 8-pin decoder as well. But, be sure to remove the 9-pin jumper board plug first!



The previous photo is an example of a decoder with an integrated plug. Some decoders come with harnesses or wires that terminate in the 8-pin plug as well. Because the 8-pin plug and socket are symmetrical, it is possible to plug it in backwards. To make sure you have the correct orientation, there is a small square or arrow pointing to Pin 1 on the socket. Pin 1 is where the orange wire is attached to on the plug. This example is an Atlas locomotive, but the same concept applies to Athearn locomotives as well as long as the socket is there.

 
#30
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#31
That depends. The decoder in the eBay auction you linked appears to be a bulk N13SRJ decoder from NCE. The bulk decoders are for companies such as the one selling that decoder to buy a ton of el cheapo decoders for resale. The el cheapo version is a very basic decoder with NO pulse width modulation drive (also known as quiet drive, silent drive, hyperdrive, etc). If you buy a regular production N13SRJ, it will have the PWM drive.

What is PWM (Pulse width modulation)? If you apply straight DC to the motor, you'll notice that the motor vibrates, it may be a bit noisy, and it might rattle a bit. PWM sends power to the motor, and then cuts it off, hundreds or thousands of times per second, so that the motor is "off" and freewheeling so that it's not vibrating against itself. To better picture this, turn on a fan and notice how the motor emits a sound. Then turn it off and notice how quiet it is when the fan keeps spinning even though the motor is off. Before the fan stops spinning, turn it back on again. Now imagine doing this thousands of times a second. The effect is that you get less motor noise.

Bachmann locomotives are a different beast. Because Bachmann uses the same boards as their locomotives in Europe, the boards must conform to European standards regarding electromagnetic interference from electronics. Bachmann puts filters on their light boards, which causes erratic and/or sluggish response on DCC. The best way to bypass this would be to completely bypass/replace the board, or at least bypass the board for motor control if you want to keep the lighting resistors.

Also, Bachmann advertises some of their locos as DCC Ready although there are no sockets to plug in a decoder.

As I do not have a Bachmann Mountain, I would not be able to tell you whether it has a socket unless I have it in front of me with the shell popped off.

Your best bet is to send that locomotive that needs repairs back to Bachmann for repair or replacement. Bachmann, until recently, had a lifetime warranty on their locomotives. (It's no longer "lifetime" on their newer stuff) They usually do not carry parts for older products and/or do not bother to fix things, so they'll most likely replace your model with a newer DCC Ready (with a plug) model.
 

beiland

Well-Known Member
#32
That depends. The decoder in the eBay auction you linked appears to be a bulk N13SRJ decoder from NCE. The bulk decoders are for companies such as the one selling that decoder to buy a ton of el cheapo decoders for resale. The el cheapo version is a very basic decoder with NO pulse width modulation drive (also known as quiet drive, silent drive, hyperdrive, etc). If you buy a regular production N13SRJ, it will have the PWM drive.

What is PWM (Pulse width modulation)? If you apply straight DC to the motor, you'll notice that the motor vibrates, it may be a bit noisy, and it might rattle a bit. PWM sends power to the motor, and then cuts it off, hundreds or thousands of times per second, so that the motor is "off" and freewheeling so that it's not vibrating against itself. To better picture this, turn on a fan and notice how the motor emits a sound. Then turn it off and notice how quiet it is when the fan keeps spinning even though the motor is off. Before the fan stops spinning, turn it back on again. Now imagine doing this thousands of times a second. The effect is that you get less motor noise.

Bachmann locomotives are a different beast. Because Bachmann uses the same boards as their locomotives in Europe, the boards must conform to European standards regarding electromagnetic interference from electronics. Bachmann puts filters on their light boards, which causes erratic and/or sluggish response on DCC. The best way to bypass this would be to completely bypass/replace the board, or at least bypass the board for motor control if you want to keep the lighting resistors.

.
Sounds like another confirmation that I should discard the stock PCB boards in those Bachmann tenders and hardwire the decoder in.
http://www.modelrailroadforums.com/forum/showthread.php?27672-Adapt-Bachmann-Vandy-Tenders-to-Run-Behind-Other-Engines&p=342562#post342562
 
#34
Did anybody buy the DCC++ command station on eBay? It has been listed as
"DCC Digital Command Station w/ WiFi. DCS Mega 2560. 5 amps. Z N HO O scales." I need review.
 
#35
Just found that this post and the install instructions are top shelf. Is that locomotive you used in the video made for DCC and sound since the speaker fit so perfectly?

Thanks.

Greg
 

tootnkumin

Well-Known Member
Staff member
#36
Did anybody buy the DCC++ command station on eBay? It has been listed as
"DCC Digital Command Station w/ WiFi. DCS Mega 2560. 5 amps. Z N HO O scales." I need review.
I was surprised to see the listing still active, although the seller does have 5 on offer. All I can say is that it definitely does not look like any of the usual manufacturers products (No case for a start and the brand name DCCPP is unknown), so I would conclude it is made by a private hobbyist perhaps. He only had 3 pages of feedback and only 2 references to this product. On the 3rd page the buyer described it as a Great Product for what that is worth. The reference to a DCS Mega 2560 seems to be about an Arduino. His price point is exceptionally cheap. Contact him via ebay messages if you want more info. You can be our reviewer (Guinea Pig) if you like. o_O
 

tootnkumin

Well-Known Member
Staff member
#37
Just found that this post and the install instructions are top shelf. Is that locomotive you used in the video made for DCC and sound since the speaker fit so perfectly?

Thanks.

Greg
Hello Greg, This is quite an old thread and the loco used as the example is also from an older version, although the motor type still survives in Athearn's later model RTR DCC ready versions. Newer ones also are DCC and sound ready, having new chassis, capable of mounting a speaker. Haven't checked one of those out but I would assume they have done something in the way of a mounting for the sound decoder to both insulate it from the motor itself and any other metal bits to make things easier. One of the problems with those older motors is securing the decoder safely. I think it was just luck that the speaker the OP chose was a good fit in that loco. Finding a convenient place can be a challenge sometimes.
 

beiland

Well-Known Member
#38
Originally, I had a TCS T1 decoder installed to the Athearn board. You won't need the board here since the Tsunami replaces it. The plastic clips that hold the wires on the board pickups can be removed and thrown out if you will solder. If not, you'll need to keep them when you reattach the wires to the Tsunami.
.
Had you ever considered adding a WOW (TCS) sound decoder to this loco? (rather than what you chose??)
 



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