Affiliate Disclosure: We may receive a commision from some of the links and ads shown on this website (Learn More Here)

There are many decoders you can buy that will run the motor and lights for cheap, like under $30. these will not provide the sound. To get sound you will need to buy the more expensive decoders. For brands there are so many and I'm not going to push one over the other because these are like a$$holes, everyone has an option on what one works best. I use a few different ones just to be open to try them.

To install the decoder is simple. If you know how to solder then even the hardest ones are easy to install. With the help here and YouTube videos you will be an expert in no time.

I'm no expert but I have no fear as I know I can get the help from here and YouTube to help me with about any issue. I feel you can't go wrong with DCC and the fun things you can do with it.



Well-Known Member
Staff member
I am doing N scale.
I can't find the boxes my locos came in to check, but I think they were DCC ready, I could be wrong tho.
That made me go and look. Showing my higorance, didn't know Athearn were offering "N" with sound. Didn't know Soundtraxx were offering "N" decoders with sound either.
I'm now going to have to check and be sure these two 8-40B's are decoder ready models.
This morning I did find this that I believe I bought for one of the Atlas 8-40B's about 8-9 years ago. I'll have to install it and give it a try on my test track.



Well-Known Member
Staff member
For brands there are so many and I'm not going to push one over the other because these are like a$$holes, everyone has an option on what one works best.
Agreed. A DCC decoder is a DCC decoder at the end of the day. They allow you to program an engine for independent control and; therefore, allow you to run and control more than one engine (independently of one another) at a time. That, in a nutshell and very basically, is DCC.

After that, it is all bells and whistles and what you want from the decoder. TCS has excellent speed control while the factory installed decoders in Bachmann engines is woeful, at least from my experience with them, by comparison. Some decoders do some things better than other decoders BUT, they all do the same basic thing and all serve the same basic function. It does all depend on which one works best for you and offers you the things you want.

Decoders are relatively cheap in terms of the hobby and changing them in N Scale seems (to me) to be easier than in HO - remove the shell and put the decoder in. Because of that, and you being new to DCC and (possibly) decoder installs - try one and see if that does what you want. If it for fills your needs then stick with it. If it doesn't, try a different make and so on. It's a learning curve and as Dave said, if you get one (anyone) and need help with it, be it installation or setup then there are many many people here who can, and will, help you.

Lastly, don't confuse what the physical decoder is capable of and it's install with using your controller to set it up and fine tune it. They are two different things and are dependent upon the decoder AND the controller/system you are using. Get the decoder that works with your engines, install it and then take the next step - getting the most out of the decoder using your controller/DCC system :)


Active Member
One other observation: you can actually use an N scale decoder in an HO locomotive. Yes, it's absolutely true! The key factor to know, hard and unambiguously, is whether or not the stall current of the motor exceeds the safe limit for the decoder. That's true even of HO scale decoders you may be installing; make sure they are a decent match, the loco's drive requirements in terms of amperage, and the decoder's ability to throughput that higher amperage. In many cases, an N Scale decoder will handle the draw in a smaller HO engine used, say, on industrial tracks or for switching. This smaller decoder makes otherwise very tight frames accessible for DCC conversions in some HO locomotives. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to