What I've learned about MTH, DCS, DCC

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#1
I've spent a couple days gathering information on MTH's DCS system for HO, and it's compatibility with DCC controllers. I know there is an article on this subject already, but I think I can be a bit more specific about "what you can't do" if you have DCC. Hopefully this will be useful to someone considering an MTH HO locomotive (as I am) for use on DCC:

First, I have a Prodigy Advance 2 "squared" DCC system, which I have no intention to replace with a DCS.

Here's what I've learned:

First, the MTH implementation of DCC uses function numbers 0 through 28 to activate sounds and lights, as usual. You also control some (but not all) of the volume levels using function buttons. Here is where the Prodigy Advance 'squared' is a good choice, because it supports all functions, unlike some other controllers. So, if you're going to run MTH on DCC, you probably want to make sure your controller supports functions 0 through 28.

Here's a quick list of function numbers from the manual for one of their steam locos. I am told by their tech support that the diesels will be set up very silimarly, with some obvious function name changes:

# (F0) Headlight on/off. # (F1) Bell on/off. # (F2) Whistle/Horn on/off. # (F3) Start-up/Shut-down. # (F4) PFA initiate and advance. # (F5) Cab Light on/off . # (F6) Engine Sounds on/off. # (F7) Volume low, med, high, off. # (F8) Smoke on/off. # (F9) Forward Signal Sound. # (F10) Reverse Signal Sound. # (F11) One Shot Doppler. # (F12) Crossing Signal w/City Horn. # (F13) Extended Start Up. # (F14) Extended Shut Down. # (F15) Labor Chuff. # (F16) Drift Chuff. # (F17) Smoke Volume low, med, high. # (F18) Single short whistle toot. # (F19) Coupler Close. # (F20) Feature Reset. # (F21) Idle Sequence 1. # (F22) Idle Sequence 2. # (F23) Idle Sequence 3. # (F24) Idle Sequence 4. # (F25) Brakes auto/off. # (F26) Cab Chatter auto/off. # (F27) Clickety-Clack auto/off. # (F28) Train Wreck

MTH supports CV's too. Here's a list of the CVs supported:

CV............Description
1..............Short Address 1-127
3..............Acceleration Rate 4 smph/sec
4..............Deceleration Rate 4 smph/sec
17 & 18.....Extended Address (upper bits must be set to 1)
29............Bits 5 = ext. addr; bit 1 = speed/dir method
49............Short Address (controllers that prohibit addr POM)
50 & 51......Extended Address (controllers that prohibit addr POM)
55.............Reset - send value = 55 to addr 55

Now, note the absense of CV19 CONSISTING! This I think is one of the main complaints I would have about the MTH implementation of DCC. However, I have found a partial workaround for this. The MRC Prodigy Advance 'squared' has something called "Universal Consist". Using that you can still do a basic consist of MTH locos. Only one "universal consist" is supported by the Prodigy Advance 'squared', so if you wanted to run two consists of MTH locos with this, you're out of luck. You can still run some advanced consists (CV19) of other brands though, and keep the MTH's on the universal consist. I think there is adequate flexibility there to make life with an all-MTH consist not so bad after all. Some who want full consisting flexibility and who want to bring together a bunch of different brands of locos in one consist will find the MTH to be frustrating of course, due to the lack of CV19, and because you can't program a speed curve into it, and so on.

I hope I don't come across as a plant for MTH. I'm not at all happy about the "not quite DCC" implementation, but I also know I want some HO SD70ACe's. As you saw in a prior post, I was very concerned about their capabilities (or lack of them) with DCC a few days ago, and I got some opinions and information from the forums that were reassuring but not 100% clear. Hopefully this is useful to someone. I'm going ahead with my order of a couple MTH HO SD70ACe and will be happy to share any first-hand info I have at that time on how they behave with my Prodigy.

Mike
 
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#2
Thanks for the info. Makes me more certain I'll just wait for Athearn to do theirs. It will look better and sound better now that Athearn is using Tsunamis!
 

kbkchooch

"retired" conductor
#4
However, I have found a partial workaround for this. The MRC Prodigy Advance 'squared' has something called "Universal Consist". Using that you can still do a basic consist of MTH locos. Only one "universal consist" is supported by the Prodigy Advance 'squared', so if you wanted to run two consists of MTH locos with this, you're out of luck. Mike
Most likely other systems can also work around this too. What NCE calls "old" style consisting (as opposed to "advanced consisting) would work. Or you can just change the address of the 2nd engine! :rolleyes:

Therein lies the reason behind why I will NEVER buy an MTH product, no matter how pretty. While everyone else was working within the framework of the NMRA's DCC standards, Mike Wolfe had the audacity to thumb his nose at the rest of the industry and develop his own system. For the sake of what? From what I have heard, they still have not matched the sound quality of a Tsunami. Now they do have a lot of what I consider "circus" sounds (train wreck? oh brother!) but I have no use for them. What serious modeler is going to want the sound of a train wreck anyway?? Gomez Addams? :confused:
The only part of the MTH K4 that intrigued me was the synchronised smoke unit. I bet that could be done with just regular DCC!
Now MTH has a control system that is not completely compatible with DCC, so where does that leave Joe Public who just got a DCC system and an MTH engine?? Confused, bewildered, and wondering where he put his old MRC Dualpack!
Thanks MTH.....................for nothing!:mad:

Caveat Emptor !!!!
 
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#5
Agreed. It's ashame because the First diesel will have an automatic uncoupler that is DCC compatible. Great thing in the hobby, especially if they come out with a switcher doing the same thing. Time to let go of the ego and fully support DCC. The detail looks great, sound seems very good, and good new features. The hobby will not abandon their controllers for one or 2 engines.
 

bnsf971

AKA Gomez Addams
Staff member
#7
What serious modeler is going to want the sound of a train wreck anyway?? Gomez Addams? :confused:
Hey! I resemble that remark!!!:eek:
I'm glad I'm in N scale, so I won't have to deal with DCS. I don't even like the "all aboard" sound effect (F6) in my Athearn Challenger...
 
#9
MTH consisting on DCC

Mike

I was considering purchasing a mth ho mikado to consist with an mth mohawk. I have ddc nce system and was wondering whether in a universal consist whether the horn, bell and other sounds will work only in the lead engine. Thank you for your advice.
 

kbkchooch

"retired" conductor
#10
Mike

I was considering purchasing a mth ho mikado to consist with an mth mohawk. I have ddc nce system and was wondering whether in a universal consist whether the horn, bell and other sounds will work only in the lead engine. Thank you for your advice.
NCE Dcc has 2 consist modes. "Old Style" and "Advanced" consisting.
Old style = yes
Advanced = no

Or (the easier way) just program the 2nd engine to the same address of the 1st.
However, if speed matching is an issue, you may wish to rip your hair out.
 
#11
MTH SD70ACe

Does anyone know how to send F21 reset command to the SD70ACe using the MRC Prodigy Express?. I tried the SD70ACe on a DC track when I first got it, and I heard all the sounds and it worked great. When I put it on the DCC track
I only had the Bachmann EZ-Command controller and that totally screwed it up. Now I can't get any sounds from it. The only thing I think I can do is reset it (F21) to defaults. I bought the MRC Prodigy Express, and still can't figure out how to get it working. It moves forward, reverse, lights come on, but no sound.
 
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#13
Reset CV55 = 55.

Happy Running. :)
Looks like I do not have good luck with these MTH SD70s. I just got an FEC SD70M-2 in today. It is brand new from ebay. I placed it on the track tonight and started it up using its default address of 3. It started up fine and ran good at low speed back and fourth. Next I went to program the unit to its cab number. MTH has instuctions stating that using CV29 enter value of 38 and the cab number will be automatically assigned. So I did so just like I have on my other SD70ACes and M-2s from MTH but for some odd reason the unit did not respond to its newly assigned cab number of 105 yet it honked the horn when I programmed the CV..(The horn lets you know it programmed something). So it was still idiling with sound and I kept trying to get it to respond to address 105...Nothing worked. I tried address 3 thinking it did not program or something. No reponse. I tried other FEC M-2 cab numbers(ya never know right?) lol but sadly nothing worked. I shut down the track and now I am typing this hoping someone could tell me what to do. I did try the reset but I have no cab number to do it to so it does not matter really.....

Thanks
Tim
 
#14
MTH SD70Ace

I had to send the SD70Ace back to MTH.
When they received it they said it had a bad control board.
When I received it back, it worked fine. Now I am very happy with it.:)
 

Selector

Well-Known Member
#15
Tim, address 105 is not a long address. You were telling the decoder to respond only to an extended address. Consult your decoder manual and you should have another value for CV29 that is more suitable. I have a Digitrax system which does this semi-automatically, so I don't really know what the short address value should be....sorry.

Here is a link to some information that might help you: http://www.mthtrains.com/service/ho/ps3/dcc-trouble-mrc-2

Crandell
 
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#16
A short address is 1-127. 128-9999 is a long address.

Tim, are you programming with a booster? I've found that some sound equipped engines need a programming booster to accept programming.

With Soundtraxx Tsunami, I've found that they refuse to program without the booster on, but when I turn the booster on, the DCC system doesn't detect the loco. (this has to do with the club using a PowerPax booster and not the soundtraxx one). To program my tsunamis, I have to lug the zephyr down to the club and program it in OPS mode on broadcast. (If I programmed in OPS mode at the club with an address of 03 or no address inputted into the throttle, it would program all of the locos on the layout)
 

kbkchooch

"retired" conductor
#17
With Soundtraxx Tsunami, I've found that they refuse to program without the booster on, but when I turn the booster on, the DCC system doesn't detect the loco.
Oh thats really wierd!:eek:

Maybe I've led a charmed life, but the PowerPax has been just the ticket for me. :D I've had no issues programming Soundtraxx or QSI decoders since getting one!:D
 
#18
Actually, I have 3 tsunami equipped locos, only one of which actually programs with the PowerPax. I have read on the soundtraxx yahoo group that PowerPax is a hit or miss with Tsunami.
 

kbkchooch

"retired" conductor
#19
Actually, I have 3 tsunami equipped locos, only one of which actually programs with the PowerPax. I have read on the soundtraxx yahoo group that PowerPax is a hit or miss with Tsunami.
Maybe the big equalizer here is that I do a fair amount of fine tuning using JMRI software
or
like I said, maybe I'm just leading a charmed life!:rolleyes:
 
#20
For what it's worth, I am on my second MTH motor and it does not behave nicely. First off, I have installed and programmed very succesfully many locomotives with digitrax and mostly Tsunami decoders. So this is not a programming or wiring issue. My first SD70M burned out 2 decoders, the first a Tsunami, then a digitrax. Both were installed by removing the board and hardwiring it. I then removed the motor as it was running very hot unitil it actually burned out running on the bench in DC. I did get a new motor, no thanks to the LHS that I purchased it from, installed it and worked fine, for a couple of months. Then it started stalling, jerky movememts again, so I took the motor out, ran it on the bench again, and sure enough, the motor was binding slightly and running very rough. Even stalling at about 30% throttle. I added a small drop of oil to both shafts and it smoothed out, a bit. I added another drop and it ran even smoother. I actually had to add about 4 drops of oil to get it to spin, somehwhat normally without sounding lilke a cheap drill. Could it be that many of the "percieved" decoder and wiring issues are simply dry motor shafts binding the engine???? With my stats it appears to be 2 for 2, or should that be 0 for 2. We'll see what longer term affects this has as I am putting the locomotive back to work.

Steve
 





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