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There's a few ways to get started depending how your layout is setup. 3 Pieces you'll need (primarily) if your going for a standard setup with Protosound2 / Protosound3 engines is:

  • MTH DCS TIU (MTH #50-1003)
  • MTH DCS Remote / DCS WIU (If you want to hold a remote vs run the trains using the app on your tablet/phone)
  • MTH TIU-TMCC Adapter (MTH #50-1032) (If you want to use your MTH remote to control the TMCC engines)

Setup depending on your current layout can be pretty straightforward. Your CAB-2 base connects to the TIU using the serial TMCC adapter for using your DCS remote to control TMCC engines (you can't do vice-versa) (if your using LCS, you'll need to get the SER2 and PDI cable to connect it), the common wire gets run to the common output of your TIU. Power can be run in a number of ways, personally I have my PH180 connected to the TIU Fixed #1 input, then wired from the TIU output to your track. If your looking for an in depth guide book there's the DCS Companion that was written by Barry.

I should note this is a very high level overview, there are many ways to get connected and running, I would recommend listing what you have setup now as far as legacy, as that can help you plan what your looking to move into as far as DCS.

Last edited by SirCaptain

Another option is you can also have your MTH locos converted to TMCC (operable by Legacy) using equipment from ERR (owned by 3rd Rail). Will lose whatever sounds are in the MTH locos, but you'll have command control.  Since you say you are not technically adept, having someone do these conversions is probably the best strategy.  Not inexpensive compared with operating in conventional, but allows you to continue to use only the Legacy system to control all.

You could also just operate the MTH locos in conventional mode if you have a traditional O gauge three transformer.  Would need to operate them separately (in terms of power supply) from your command Legacy/TMCC locos.  No additional purchases needed for this option.

The Remote Commander is a low cost simple solution. It's an infrared remote and receiver. You can only operate one MTH locomotive at a time, much like operating conventional locomotives. However, with the Remote Commander you put 18VAC on the track and vary the speed with the remote. NOTE; the locomotives must be factory fresh. If not, you need a dealer or someone with a DCS system to reset the locomotives to factory defaults.

Before this thread starts to make you dizzy.

DCS  also has a "preferred" wiring style. Star wiring.

The layout should be broken up into separate isolated blocks with one pair of hot and common feeders to each block from the TIU, which is the DCS "command base". I believe the blocks should be limited in length and/or track joints.

(As dizzy as it might make you. You might be better off selecting a previous thread that is easiest for you to understand.)

Having said all that. Roy's and PC's recommendation of the Legacy powermaster isn't a bad way to get your feet wet with MTH products without modifying your layout.

The Legacy powermaster allows conventional operation of MTH locomotives via the legacy handheld. You'll have access some passenger and freight announcements, as well as the whistle, bell and electrocoupler.

MTH locomotives have PS2/3 a battery or BCR integrated into the electronics so there are no sound dropouts when changing directions conventionally. Also in my experience, MTH locomotives run very smooth under conventional control, and once under way its hard to tell they're not under DCS .

*There are other potential issues with adding a DCS system that may need to be addressed. I.E. possible signal interference from Legacy locos and fastrack LEDs, that don't effect MTH products in conventional operation

Last edited by RickO

If you want DCS command control of your MTH engines, to me the simplest solution is to just add a TIU to your existing system and run the MTH engines with the DCS handheld, and the Legacy/TMCC engines with the Cab 2 handheld.  Yes there is a connecting cable that will allow you to run TMCC engines with the DCS handheld (but not the other way around), but the diagram below will get you started with little effort.  Just connect either fixed channel output to the track power wires going to your layout.

Add TIU to Legacy

This is called a TIU in passive mode since power does not go through the TIU.  If your layout is not wired with the "recommended" way for DCS, you may find some signal issues.  However, many people have added DCS to a layout without "DCS wiring" and have had no problems. Give it a try.

A TIU wired in passive mode can not control conventional engines.  If you have a transformer with a throttle (ZW/Z-4000/Z-1000), you can control conventional by adjusting the throttle.

So, to answer your question you need to buy a TIU/handheld set and some way to power the TIU (remember, power is not going through the TIU when in passive mode).  In the diagram, a Z-500 brick is used (easy connection)


Images (1)
  • Add TIU to Legacy
Last edited by CAPPilot

Plan B (or "Plan L") ...

With ERR parts, convert your MTH DCS loco to a Legacy loco with a "brain transplant" so that the MTH loco will respond to Legacy control commands from a CAB-1L or CAB-2.  I hired GunRunner John to make the switchamaroo, and my converted MTH SW-1500 diesel switcher works great with TMCC.

I didn't want to buy the MTH DCS gear necessary to run just one MTH loco on my Lionel-oriented layout.

Mike Mottler    LCCA 12394

I very recently went through the process you may be about to experience. To get the few (but valued) MTH engines operating to their full capabilities on my TMCC layout I had to add the MTH TIU, an MTH Remote, an MTH Z500 transformer (without the Z500 Controller) to provide an aux power input to the TIU, and the additional cables SirCaptain mentioned above to successfully interface the MTH devices to my TMCC elements.

Given my decision to operate the TIU in the passive mode (as my Lionel transformers/powerhouses/powermasters/etc already controlled my layout), I used the Z500 MTH transformer plugged into the TIU's Aux Input to simply power the TIU.  In the passive mode the TIU is sufficiently powered to receive and send commands, but not forward voltage to the track(s) to operate engines.

Among the various interfaces on the TIU there are 4 (track voltage/signal) outputs....two are for fixed voltage and two for variable voltage (this might make more sense after reading the TIU user manual).  Given what I was trying to do with my specific TMCC layout (plus information found in the TIU user manual and forum discussions), I was led to believe I needed 4 fixed voltage output TIU channels ......which a single TIU is capable of providing....1 fixed TIU output for each TMCC track block I planned to connect to.  The TIU firmware/software allows for variable channels to be reconfigured as fixed outputs and the Remote can be used to do this ( directions for this are in the TIU or Remote user manual).  

The wiring is my case, I wired each TIU output's pos & neg terminals in a star pattern to one of the four TMCC track/power blocks already in use on my layout.....TIU output 1 to two places on layout block 1, TIU output 2 to two places on layout block 2, etc.  My layout actually had 6 intended track blocks (or power districts) and interfacing the MTH TIU to the track exposed some existing, unintentional "cross-block" wiring I had in my layout which prevented the DCS from working. It had been inconsequential to TMCC operations as I used the trains.  However, I found power feed (i.e. center rail) isolation of each of the blocks was key in getting MTH DCS operations working correctly.  

You'll also need to make sure the software/firmware versions of each of the MTH devices (TIU, Remote, other?) are the latest.  MTH has the software/firmware freely available on their website and instructions can be found in the manuals and online.

One additional item to consider procuring is Barry's book on DCS.

As it stands today, I can easily operate my MTH engines using the MTH DCS Remote and my TMCC/Conventional engines with my Lionel remotes, but both remotes are required to access full respective capabilities.  I subsequently added the MTH WIU (yet another experience) and am enjoying being able to operate the MTH engines through the app on an iOS phone.

I hope this helps.

Thanks again everyone -- i just bought another MTH engine (EMD F40PH Diesel Locomotive, Massachusetts Bay No. 1000) which makes #4 MTH for me, so i really want to make this work.

@CAPPilot thanks a ton for the illustration

@Myke do you happen to have an illustration similar to Cappilots?  I have three mains and an Atlas turntable (i am going to wire each of the whiskers on separate toggles).  I already purchased the MTH Z4000 transformer.  Is the lastest MTH TIU the MTH O 50-1003?  And is the most recent MTH Remote the model 50-1002?  I just found one of them on ebay.

Thanks a ton everyone

As Engineer Joe showed the link that is the BEST option and the easiest one to expand upon.

This is something else to think about. If you use the equipment in this link, wired as indicated, and get the DCS Wifi component with the upgrade premier app (comes with free standard app) you can run LEGACY and TMCC from your phone or tablet with 99% of functions working! I love it and it makes life easier for me as I only need the phone or tablet. BUT as John stated you need two hands with a phone or tablet (at least I do).

One thing on the link picture. Since you have a Z4000 just use that on Fixed one and two. YOU DO NOT NEED TO POWER ALL FOUR CHANNELS. I would also use a Z500 or wall wart to power the AUX input.



I don't currently have a diagram (and may never have anything as nice as CAPPilot's unless I learn some excellent new tricks).  I am, however, in the midst of re-accomplishing portions of the layout and am roughly documenting it in the process.  I will forward what I end up with once I have it captured and I hope that will be within the week or so.  If you're going the MTH Z4000 route, I'm not sure what I can provide will be useful to you.  My layout was started in the last century ( ;-) ) and things simply got cobbled into it. It's powered with the older "new" ZW and powerhouses, a post-war ZW, an SW, a 1033 and controlled with the original TMCC command base, powermasters, a Legacy command base, CAB-1s primarily and SC-1s....not very modern by today's standards.....and of course the newly added DCS items. But it works.


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