How to Install a DCC Decoder in Any LocomotiveJun 10, 2021
Welcome back to Third Shift Hobbies, today we are going to discuss
installing a DCC
locomotivein front of us. Here we have this old GP 35 thorn blue box and we have decided that we are going to
installa TCS jack. 22 on this
locomotivein this video we are going to discuss how we arrived at the TCS cat 22 to be the correct
decoderfor this locomotive and also tips and tricks for installing a decoder to keep your engines running at their peak performance. Let's go over the schematics and how to not get obsessed with the schematics by understanding the standards of how the locomotives are connected.
Now the first thing we need to address is DCC Ready. VCC Ready is a bit of a strange term because it means different things. to different manufacturers and many people get obsessed with the idea that DCCC has to say DCC ready on the package in order to install DCC on that locomotive, it is not true as long as the electric motor inside the locomotive can be isolated. from the track feed you can install DCC on any locomotive. Now some of the most common DCC ready applications are with 8 pin and 9 pin plugs. Here we have a proto 2000 SB 7 which is a DCC ready locomotive with an 8 pin plug.
Look, the decoder is located right here. You can take the decoder directly from the locomotive. When you take it out of the package, there is a dummy plug in that socket. You pull out the fake plug. You take the decoder. Put it into the 8-pin socket. It's ready to go, it's DCC, another common one. If you have any later on RTR engines, this plate may look familiar. There is also a 9-pin connector here for 9-pin decoders. I would remove this dummy plug, take your decoder and slide it in. Powered on and go, you are ready to go, now you are equipped with DCC.
The good thing about 9 pin, they have a key here, you can't put this decoder in the wrong way, it will only fit in one direction, 8 pin on the other hand as is. In the case of this protomotor, they can now be installed backwards. If you put one of these upside down, you won't mess anything up. The locomotive will simply run in reverse. The next thing we need to address is determining the correct decoder for your locomotive, the most important thing when trying to determine which decoder will work for your locomotive is that the decoder fits well on the locomotive.
There are now many decoders on the market that are direct fit decoders that replace the light plates that are installed on locomotives. It comes from the factory and that may or may not be the right choice for the particular locomotive you are working on depending on the features you want. Does the decoder have superior motor control? Do you have enough lighting features that you want? You may want strobe lights and ditch lights and of course front and rear lights and perhaps any other lighting features on your locomotive, that's also something important to consider and there are usually additional lighting features available in a decoder in the same size package, in addition to the total number of functions that the decoder can control another thing to consider is how those functions can be programmed what will they support will support ditch lights will support the light of Mars will support a light strobe How are the headlight and taillight functions controlled if they are purely directional?
Dim in the opposite direction Can you set another function key to dim the headlights completely at both ends? A great resource for evaluating almost all set-top boxes on the market is to download the JM RI software to your computer. It is free software and I suggest donating to those who wrote it because it is a valuable resource for those of us who have DCC systems, even if you don't have a computer, your system is set up for computer control, jmr. It would be a great resource to help you evaluate decoders to determine which one would work best for you now let's talk a little bit about engine control, as we said earlier the decoder I want to install on this particular locomotive is a TCS cap 22.
I would like to talk about how I came to install the TCS cat 22 inside this locomotive now. If we remove the case, we will see that this is just an old iPhone blue box locomotive. Now on this locomotive, I estimate it's probably about 40 years old considering the truck's metal side frames, lack of lightweight wheels, and a few other things. It's a little difficult to date an engine, but this one has some age. Now we tested it on a DC track and it works like a top. It is an excellent locomotive. Now notice the lack of ruffles.
Some may say why. Don't you just replace that with a new motor with flywheels already installed? That can be a bit of a pain just because newer engines have a hex drive at the end of the flywheel and you have to change the driveshafts. and you have to change this coupling here that the driveshaft would attach to and it would probably be beneficial to use a little bit of super glue to make sure you don't wear those couplings out on the shaft, being careful not to get them into the bearing. and grabbing its worm gear inside the truck, which leads me to the conclusion that we don't want to change that and you're probably wondering why we're talking about flywheels when we're talking well about decoders to determine the type. of the decoder you want to use on a locomotive, this has some merit.
We need to talk a little bit about what fliers do. Five wheels tend to smooth out the running of the locomotive now, if we use a decoder that has superior motor control. Vibrations and inconsistencies can virtually be eliminated. The other thing the flywheels do is that when you hit a dead stop on the track, they can help the engine get past that dead spot so you don't end up with choppy operation, hence how we got to the TCS cat 22 the TCS cat - has additional built-in keepalive capacitors that will allow the locomotive to operate on a siding for approximately 10 seconds, virtually eliminating all those problems that the TCS now also has due to the lack of flywheels.
The best motor control of any of the digital decoders available, so it will perform even better. It is already a good working locomotive, but we can improve it by installing this particular decoder now that we have determined the type of decoder we are going to use. this locomotive I want to briefly touch on some of the tools you need to install the encoder on a locomotive. Now remember, if you have any questions up to this point, feel free to leave us a comment below or send us an email. If you need a quicker answer, the first thing we want to see here is that you probably need a good set of wire strippers, these are very useful for stripping very small cables and, if you're wondering where do I have a couple of those?
Well, it turns out I know exactly where you could probably get a pair of those. Just visit our website and another thing that might be useful is a digital multimeter with the continuity tester, it will help you. you figure out which wires go where and we'll get to that here shortly. Put that aside and the other thing is that you are probably a good welder. This is a temperature controlled soldering iron. We make them professionally, so they're probably for the average hobbyist. It's not cost effective to buy something like this but a simple 15 to 20 watt iron pencil would be more than enough, just make sure you get something with a very small tip because you're going to be soldering some pretty fun stuff, another thing that would probably be nice to have one of these vices that has alligator clips that you can attach wires to while you're soldering because nothing is harder than trying to solder something that moves all the time, another thing would be heat shrink tubing.
I buy. on gigantic paper because I use a lot if you need it we sell it in smaller quantities your own hair will reach the tape here we have tape this is your enemy do not use this these decoders are small computers You are very sensitive to heat if you install a decoder and try to tie it up with electrical tape, it's likely to overheat and fail, it's not a good thing that happened, so we use some of this, we'll probably bring this locomotive back. Here, like for example below, we would want to isolate because the motor makes a connection with the frame.
We want to make sure it's isolated. We will most likely use electrical tape under the motor to help insulate the connection. That's the only place we use it. Kapton tape is a little expensive, but it's the best thing you can use to hold down decoders, insulate motors, anything you can think of inside locomotives, it's probably one of the best things you can use right now, we've got this. Keep in mind that you may have I looked things up on the Internet and said, Wow, that's expensive. Well, I've had this position for probably three years and there are still many years left.
Please note that we install set-top boxes professionally, so we make a lot of them. This will last you a long time. Maybe a double sided tape, don't we use that tape to hold your decoder unless it is absolutely necessary to do it once again with heat? This doesn't allow heat to pass through it and can cause your decoders to overheat and fail now if I think you have to use it if we use it to hold speakers and a few other different things. Make sure you buy the gray outdoor fuse, the white indoor type, it can disintegrate and leave a crumbly white residue everywhere.
It is good to install your electric motors inside your local motors now that we have talked about the tools and materials you need to install the decoder. Now we need to talk about where the cables go when you buy your set-top box most of the time. When they do come with a schematic, the schematic is usually pretty generic, it tells you the colors of the wires and where they can act, but it doesn't really give you enough information to do the job properly, so we'll leave it aside for now. , now to determine where the wires go, before the most important wires are the motor connections and the track connections, to determine that we are going to go back to the old DC world and look at a standard that NMR was implemented during many years.
It basically says that if you apply positive voltage to the engineer's side of the locomotive, it will travel forward, that will help us a lot here now, the engineer always sits on the right side, with the steering wheel on the right, like a car in the United Kingdom. So being the front engineer, you're going to sit here, you're going to apply positive voltage to this side, you're going to travel in this direction now for the high hope guys, I know there are several of them, they're going to say okay and in WN south nail. it's just random, it's good forward, well, in order to install a decoder, we will consider this to be the front, once we install the decoder, we can program it to run in the opposite direction, so that traveling in this direction is forward. now going back to what we were talking about applying positive voltage to this side, our wires on a decoder correspond to that now there are four wires here that are important, they have a red wire, an orange wire, a gray wire and a black wire , red and black.
Are your via connections red, which means the positive and the black are the negative, which is pretty standard, so going back to NMR, a standard, we know that if we apply positive voltage to the engineer side of the locomotive, it will travel forward, which makes this red wire its positive connection, its orange wire is the motor's positive wire, its black wire is the negative one that connects to the rail opposite it, and the gray wire is the engine's negative wire. engine that connects opposite the orange wire, so use what we know about MRI is a standard, we can look at any locomotive and also, even if you can't tell, we have a blue box here, the old afternoon blue box, just For simplicity, it's easy to know where the connections are on one of these now, just in case.
This is where your continuity tester would be helpful in determining where those connections are now on this particular unit. We know that if we apply a positive voltage to this side, that's why we put the casing on and take it off again, the locomotive will travel forward. So this is where we want to hook our positive wire. Looking at this locomotive we can see that these metal arms coming out of the cars are tied to this rail just by looking at it and if you can't tell use your meter to check it normally as this is where its positive voltage would go when the engines they run the locomotive traveling forward, that would be where I would connect a red wire, now your black wire would connect the chassis because the chassis is lifted by me on the rail now from your motor connections your orange wires your positive motor connection you can see that Athens and some others always have this metal strip that goes from these truck arms to the top of the engine now when we do this we will always remove it we want to isolate the engine from the track feed and again we would probably take the that we would remove from this motor and put electrical tape underneathto isolate it so we don't do it because you can short circuit and blow up the decoder if you're I'm not very careful in isolating the motor, so again your red wire goes to the right rail, which would be right here.
Your orange wire also goes to the motor, it would connect right here, which leaves these two. The gray gray is the negative of the motor you would connect. Down here to the bottom of the motor or the other tab on the motor and the black one, which is the left rail, would attach here on the frame, so it's pretty easy to tell, once you understand the NMR standard and what make these four wires, you can look at any locomotive and find out how those wires are installed on that locomotive and if you can't see it visually, just use your multimeter and you will be able to with your continuity tester and you will be able to probe, place one on the wheel on the right rail and try there and see exactly where you make a connection now for the lights, the rest of the wires on your decoder are on your function wires.
This turns out to be a working decoder. So this purple and green wire are extra, they don't really matter. The white is the headlight, the yellow is the tail light and the blue is the common one that would connect to both lights, so wiring the decoder really isn't that complicated now to wire the lights. a really nice diagram that comes from the TCS website and you can plug it in, download it and print it. I check it very often, you can do it if you know the voltage of your LEDs or bulbs depending on what you want to use and it is also broken. down by the number of them, if you know your track voltage up here it will tell you what resistor you should use in this table for that particular light diagram and also here they give you an idea how to connect an LED or the blue wire is its positive, its function wire would be any other color you are using a white light on the front, yellow for the rear light, the resistor goes on that side and they also show that usually in a standard LED one wire is longer than the other.
They also diagram it, but you can also see inside the LED there is a flag and then a shorter piece, so if you look at an LED and you probably can't see it on camera, the inside of this LED looks exactly like this diagram. That is very helpful. It's definitely worth downloading and printing from the TCS website now that we've looked at where the wires go on a locomotive. Hopefully that helps you understand more about how to install the decoder. Might eliminate some of the mystery now. We need to see some installations that have been done before.
I'm going to show you some examples here and we'll do the latter, but definitely one of the most important things we can address here is neatness. mind you a locomotive that has a neat installation will always work better than another of the design you know this is one that was just done recently using a TCS decoder excellent motor control but we have used heat shrink tubing to join the wires we have used some connectors that slide into the box, the trucks sometime have to be removed for maintenance, you don't need to unsolder any connections, but everything is nice, neat and organized in the housing, it will slide in without a problem, here is the exact same locomotive. locomotive model with a different installation and you can see that number one doesn't look very good, but secondly, you have things that touch the flywheels and rub and this is like the LEDs in the headlights are swinging all over the place . the place and you have to be careful when you put the case on so you don't pinch the wires and it gets a little annoying when you try to service your locs, things just don't fit into it like they should, here's another switch, a prototype that someone else installed and what we're going to redo, it doesn't work very well because when you put the case on, the cables rub against the transmission here at the back and that makes it slow down and creates additional stress on the motor, we're going to redo this one to make it look more like the hood of the first locomotive you look at, so it's nice and neat and the casing actually fits the locomotive without having wires hanging out. and tying up against the drivetrain and those other miscellaneous things, so remember that cleanliness definitely counts, this locomotive will.
If your installation looks like this, your locomotive will serve you for a long time. Well, I hope we've clarified a few things here and we'll do another video showing the installation of the decoder on this locomotive, not necessarily step by step, but the subsequent installation of the decoder and we'll show you how and that's just a little overview. Thanks for watching. I hope you enjoyed it. This video and I hope it has clarified a lot of things about installing the decoder and I hope now everyone realizes that as long as the motor can be isolated from the track power, you can install DCC on any locomotive again.
Thanks for watching, please check it out. our website at third shift hobby communication if you have any questions or comments please leave them below or if you need a quicker response and it's an email and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel thank you.
If you have any copyright issue, please Contact