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Reply to "DCS Novices"

Here's a question related to DCS:

With the transformer at 17 or 18 volts running DCS, the illuminated caboose is so bright it looks like a nuclear fusion reaction is happening in the caboose. What can be done to make the light in the caboose less bright?

Does changing the bulb to an LED make it less bright?

Same questions for the lights in passenger cars.


When I first installed command control on my layout, I noticed the same with my older postwar lighted rolling stock. They were made to operate on layouts with much less voltage and the bulbs were all 14 or 16v. I changed a bunch to 18v. You can get them cheap on Amazon. I’ll see if I can post the link to the ones I used  when I get a chance. The LED option should also work if you get the bulb made for 18v or install the right resistor.  The traditional bulbs from Amazon are much cheaper and an easier solution, imho.

Edit - Here is the link to the 18v bulbs -

You can find the ones with the Ba9 base (non screw) also with a quick search at similar prices.  One other point though, I have found that for smaller layouts, you do not need to run the DCS at 17-18 volts. I regularly run mine "cool" at 16 v. I believe lower voltages significantly extend the life of the the electronics (i even have 2 engines with the dreaded  ps-2 5 volt boards that are over 20 years old that run superb after heavy usage).  If you are not running many trains simultaneously or lashing up, lower voltages easily work. Also, don't judge track voltage by the z-4000 readout - use the track voltage as measured by the dcs handheld as read by your respective engine. Its in the engine's menu and its far more accurate of a measurement of track voltage. Try it out and  see for yourself. At 16 volts, you may find that you don't need to change any bulbs after all.

Last edited by Strap Hanger
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