Help with installing JMRI's Decoder Pro?

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NP2626

Well-Known Member
#23
I wrote an Email to Larry Puckett, the DCC Guy who writes the DCC Corner Column for Model Railroader Magazine, asking him about Videos showing how to use Decoder Pro. He said that I needed to go to the the "Search Box" at the upper right hand corner of his website <www.dccguy.com> and type in decoderpro video in the Search Box. Be sure to type it exactly as I have written it. This will take you to 5 videos where how to use JMRI's Decoder Pro is discussed.

If you are interested in being able to use this comprehensive decoder programming software using your computer, this is the best source of information on its' use I have come across!

If you know of other information Videos on decoder Programming software and you wish to share it, by all means present it here!
 

NP2626

Well-Known Member
#24
I think I have the operation of JMRI's Decoder Pro working enough that I can now program my decoders. I have found a chink in my armor, however! Without a Soundtrax PTB-100 wired into it, it's best to not mess with Sound Equipped Locomotives. I have a PTB-100 wired into my Program Track off of my layout and I have to decide if I want to remove it and install on my computer, PR 4 and program track, up here in the computer room.
 

NP2626

Well-Known Member
#25
By the lack of traffic here at this thread, I'm going to take it that JMRI's Decoder Pro is not very popular. Larry Puckett, the DCC Guy has wondered how popular it is also. Is Digitrax's SoundLoader software more popular? I don't think there is another more comprehensive decoder programming software than JMRI's Decoder Pro, and once you learn how to use, you can quickly program your decoders and at a glance tell all the variables of your decoders. In the end you end up with an nice inventory of your locomotives.
 

D&J RailRoad

Professor of HO
#26
Ya have to keep in mind Mark the size of the Decoder Pro community. I would think well over 95% of model railroaders with DCC don't have the technical inclination to try software like Decoder Pro. Most people with DCC have to rely on a dealer to program the loco number, Heck, a large part of the model railroader community won't dare venture away from DC, and that is primarily because their layouts and operating practice doesn't support the cost of changing over.
 

NP2626

Well-Known Member
#27
"Most people with DCC have to rely on a dealer to program the loco number." All I can say is WOW, it's not that difficult to learn how to program!

"Heck, a large part of the model railroader community won't dare venture away from DC, and that is primarily because their layouts and operating practice doesn't support the cost of changing over". DCC isn't that expensive, unless you insist on every loco having sound. A Digitrax Zephyr Xtra is $171.00 through Yankee Dabbler. two MRC Power Packs are only $71.00 cheaper. Digitrax non-sound decoders are $16.00 each and up.
 
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Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member
#28
Ya have to keep in mind Mark the size of the Decoder Pro community. I would think well over 95% of model railroaders with DCC don't have the technical inclination to try software like Decoder Pro.
I disagree with that statement. It seems to me that most of the people who don't want to understand any of the technicalities of DCC are the ones that use Decoder Pro. I have never met anyone who takes their locos to a dealer to program.

Personally I've always found it easy to just type in SET CV x to value y and be done. I did install JMRI on a computer years ago. I think I used it once or twice. The computer (or was that two computers ago) died and I never re-installed it. Maybe someday I'll take a look at it again.
 

NP2626

Well-Known Member
#29
I guess I don't care what other model railroaders do; or, do not do!

For me, the attraction of JMRI's Decoder Pro was that it was supposed to make decoder programming easier. However, there is a fairly steep learning curve to becoming adept at using it. Like most computer programs, it becomes confusing because the software designers feel that they must include 15 different ways of doing things. I had been using my Digitrax Zephyr to do all my programming on my Programming Track on my layout. This worked fine; but, I can not retain the key strokes needed in my mind, from one year to the next and have to constantly refer to the Manuals to get my programming done. I may go back to using my Programming Track on my layout and the manuals, once I get my Zephyr Xtra back from Digitrax. It seems I likely will have to re-learn how to use the JMRI Decoder Pro every year, too. The aging process is not for the week! The aging process is not for the week! The aging process is not for the week!
 
#30
Prior to purchasing a Digitrax PR-4 for programing decoders I used the Digitrax UT-4 throttle that had limited programming capabilities and could only program two digit addresses. Then I graduated to using the Digitrax DT-402 throttle and could program four digit address with ease as well as other CV's.

The DT-402 was a learning curve and once I used the throttle for programming several locomotives, the entire process became second hand. The PR-4 works actually better than the DT-402.

I think a lot of modelers are afraid to change CV's thinking that they may "destroy" the decoder if they make a mistake. The fall back for any mishap is to just reset the decoder to factory defaults. You lose the unit's address when you reset to the factory defaults since the address returns to the original factory default of 03, but again that's easy to correct.

I order a lot of locomotives from a LHS and I ask them to set the locomotive's address to the unit's number. I do this to have the dealer run the locomotive before sending it to me and maybe they will catch any problems with the locomotive while the dealer still has the locomotive in his hands.

I mounted my Digitrax manuals on the layout's fascia in a plastic brochure holder for easy reference and I do refer to the manuals often.

I stayed away from the JMRI programs due to their complexities. I had to deal with too many strange software programs when I was working and don't want to deal with any when retired.

Greg
 
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NP2626

Well-Known Member
#31
Greg, wholeheartedly agree, stay away from things you'ld rather not be involved with. However, with the help of www.dccguy.com and the five videos on the subject Mr. Puckett has available, the learning curve is easily surmountable. I haven't found Digitrax's decoder SoundLoader all that easy to work with, either!
 

NP2626

Well-Known Member
#32
So far I have not been overly impressed with the JMRI Decoder Pro. I can't seem to be able to get the programming I've done, to take effect in the four decoders I've programmed. I don't know what I am doing wrong and there seems to be many places to have done something wrong. I'm wondering if my Digitrax PR-4 is at fault? I'm going to watch DCC Guys videos once more to see what I've done; or, haven't done, that is causing the failure! Previously I had though that I was actually able to program some of my decoders, and at first I did. However, I think something changed in my download of Decoder Pro.
 
#33
Mark:

Use the Digitrax PR-4 as a alone device with the SoundLoader files that come with the PR-4 and then loaded on your computer. I don't think that the Digitrax PR-4 is designed to communicate with JMRI.

Greg
 

NP2626

Well-Known Member
#35
I agree with you jdetray, the PR 4 will work with JMRI's Decoder Pro, never saw any problems making me think otherwise!

As of this morning, I have uninstalled JMRI's Decoder Pro. There just seemed to be something wrong with the program and one thing that Larry Puckett said to me, was not to start the program without it being connected to the program track. I may have done this when I first started messing with the program. I don't know if this is the problem; or, not. Right now I am finding Digitrax's SoundLoader program to do most of what I want. At some time in the future, I may download Decoder Pro again. I did like how the files for your locomotives where inventoried and the easy ways you could load CV's into your decoders. I guess time will tell.
 
#37
I guess I would forget about JMRI with all the problems you encountered. The Digitrax PR-4 will serve all your decoding needs as well as the JMRI. Some decoders need proprietary programming software (basically for sound) and for these decoders neither JMRI or PR-4 will work.

Save each decoder file for the individual locomotives and name them for the decoder's address (engine number) and print them if you desire and all the CV information is at hand for reference.

Greg
 

NP2626

Well-Known Member
#38
Greg,

I did find things about Decoder Pro that I liked, it just wasn't allowing me to program a decoder the way it should. Also, like I said, I may have screwed it up. I may well download it again and try it once again.
 
#39
Hi Mark -

If you ever attempt to use DecoderPro again, and if you still have trouble, I strongly urge you to bring your problem to the JMRI discussion group:
https://groups.io/g/jmriusers

The group includes the actual creators of JMRI, along with many other expert users. They will guide you step-by-step to analyze and correct your problem(s). They seldom fail to get someone up and running with JMRI/DecoderPro.

- Jeff
 





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