There was a guy who was trying to sell DCC decoders to 3 railers in the early 2000s. I am talking 2001-2002. He had small ads in OGR and CTT. The decoders were available and worked well. I saw his display at York several times. I don’t recall if he only had decoders for engines that had can motors or not but they did exist at least for Can motored locomotives. Unfortunately, they didn’t have sound and TMCC already had a stronghold in the market so after a few York’s he stopped showing up. He kept his website up for many years but even that is gone now. There just isn’t a market for DCC in 3 rail.

 

My opinion on control systems is there there are pros and cons to each system but what is the most important thing to me is when I send a command to a locomotive that the locomotive responds immediately and every time. I get that with DCC. Sure there are some really cool things that the 3 rail systems do that DCS doesn’t but what’s most important to me is getting the commands reliably to the locomotive. 

Phil

TCA Member

NYCHS Member

MTH RR Club

It nice to have more interest in DCC for 3 rail.  I posted a video about a year ago and this thread went quite for awhile.  I do wish Lionel would support DCC as well in there decoders, but you can run Legacy with DCC.  This is my current setup.  I'm also looking at taking an ESU XL decoder for recent purchase of a engine I got that was PS2 from MTH.

Paul Boes

Just talked to MRC and they say it will work with Prodigy Express also! I might have to give it a try as I have everything else already!

Mike

USMC 5/11 Battalion Oscar Battery 155 Big Guns!

Semper Fi !

Menards addiction Meeting member! /  LCCA# 41824

I run my 3-rail stuff using DCC. I dislike proprietary protocols, for one. Also, when I was making the transition to command control, I had engines from all the major manufacturers that I wanted to keep and run. DCC was the only real option for that. The variety of accessories available for DCC is also pretty amazing. Finally, I like being able to design my own stuff if i want (goes back to the open protocol), like this.

I use an NCE system with the 10 amp booster and a couple of the wireless cabs. Macros are easy to program and are really handy for yard work, and setting up consists is a snap. It's a solid system that just works, and it's great to be able to walk around the house wherever and still control things. I posted a little more detail about my layout here.

I use JMRI for decoder programming and layout control. Here's a screenshot of one of my JMRI panels for this year. Controlling everything from an ipad is pretty cool.

Capture

MTH PS3 locos have decent DCC support out of the box, except that I have never been able to read their config on a program track (despite using the recommended programming booster). Other engines I use exclusively ESU decoders, either the Loksound XL or the new Loksound L Select, which is perfectly sized for O gauge stuff (the XL is too big for some engines). Consists are a blast and work great with multiple head units, mid/rear pusher units, mixed PS3/ESU locos, and so on.

 

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Hi,

I am strongly considering going this route but I have a couple questions:

 I have read in the past that there are issues with pickup rollers arcing over switches and the DCC signal quality.  Is this still an issue?  If so, how are you mitigating it?  I have Atlas O 3rail track.

Has anyone tried controlling operating cars with accesory decoders and ardunio?  I like the switch control thor73 has, very impressive!  I thought about gutting a Lionel milk car and using a decoder/ardunio/servo to control the mechanism. 

I have done lots of research with what decoders and system to use.  I’m all set there. 

Thanks again, 

Larry

I think pickup rollers arcing on switches is also a problem for some that are using non-DCC 3 rail layouts. Not sure that is strictly a DCC problem? Probably a long way into the future, but I want to do the same thing with 3 rail and DCC someday and I also have Atlas track. I've got my eye on an NCE system.

My grandson has HO and he is wanting a command control system so I may get some practice in a little earlier.  Bad news there is I will probably be the one that has to buy him the NCE system...

GNERR posted:

 I have read in the past that there are issues with pickup rollers arcing over switches and the DCC signal quality.  Is this still an issue?  If so, how are you mitigating it?  I have Atlas O 3rail track.

I've run my layouts with a scope on the track occasionally, and I've never seen anything that I would attribute to noise from pickups (although I admit I wasn't looking for such). I've definitely never had any issues with missed commands or anything like that. I don't think noise, intermittent electrical contacts, etc. are unique to 3-rail, regardless of the contact configuration.

GNERR posted:

Has anyone tried controlling operating cars with accesory decoders and ardunio?  I like the switch control thor73 has, very impressive!  I thought about gutting a Lionel milk car and using a decoder/ardunio/servo to control the mechanism.

You could certainly 'roll your own' with an arduino and servos, if you wanted, like what I did for the turnouts. It would take a little circuitry in addition to the arduino, tho - at a minimum, an opto interface for the dcc signal, and a 5v power supply for the arduino and servo. Take a look at the paper I wrote for an idea of what's involved.

You could also go 'off the shelf' with (just for example) the ESU decoders I mentioned above. The Loksound Select will drive two servos, along with about a dozen outputs for lights, etc. You could even add custom sounds triggered in conjunction with certain actions like opening/closing doors, dumping a load, or whatever.

For less money but much more basic, there are decoders like this, which I have also used. It's intended for turnouts, but you could install it in a car just as well.

Now that ERR is no more, and I don't want to switch to DCS, upgrading my fleet of conventional locos with DCC looks attractive. I operate on a large club layout with simultaneous running of TMCC/Legacy and DCS 2 & 3 locos. Will there be a problem adding DCC through the rails, or must I go over-the-air?

rex desilets posted:

Now that ERR is no more, and I don't want to switch to DCS, upgrading my fleet of conventional locos with DCC looks attractive. I operate on a large club layout with simultaneous running of TMCC/Legacy and DCS 2 & 3 locos. Will there be a problem adding DCC through the rails, or must I go over-the-air?

Legacy & DCC has been done, but I'll let the guys who have done it chime in on it. DCC & DCS wont work together, however, MTH proto3 engines are also DCC enabled.  So running Legacy along with MTH proto3 or other DCC locos at the same time should be doable. 

paulboes posted:

It nice to have more interest in DCC for 3 rail.  I posted a video about a year ago and this thread went quite for awhile.  I do wish Lionel would support DCC as well in there decoders, but you can run Legacy with DCC.  This is my current setup.  I'm also looking at taking an ESU XL decoder for recent purchase of a engine I got that was PS2 from MTH.

could you explain how you are using DCC and legacy at the same time or are you switching between the systems. this would be a good route for me as i have two Nce systems from my old 2 rail layout. are you using the base and power supply from NCE or are you using the lionel brick and just sending the signal from NCE to the rails. now that the upgrades are gone i would like to use the DCC as its an open system with lots of support ,accesories and software options.  thanks  Rick

FCTT HIRAILERS ROCHESTER NY        TCA16-72004

If I ever get to expand my layout, which I am hoping to do, I may consider moving into DCC, but maybe with 2 rail instead of 3.  More realism; and with TMCC going away, I would hate to put a lot of money into a proprietary system like Legacy or even DCS.  Just about all of the features that Legacy can offer are available in DCC from what I have been reading.  Currently running conventional.

I have three steam locomotives that I have converted to DCC in 3-rail, and I got started with that because of the demise of the original Electric rr co.

I've had to use a bridge rectifier, a 2200 microF cap, and an Airwire G3, but it has been worth it, although it costs almost $300 per engine, but this isn't much more than the old QSI systems, and the sound is not only superior, you can buy a Tsunami or WOW decoder that's meant for ho, which is great for smaller steamers.

The best part is that you aren't locked in to only one type of engine sound like you are with all the 3-rail specific systems. You get nine different chuffs, eighty different whistles, nine types of bells, eight air compressors, multiple types of turbogenerators, all in the same package. You just dial up each sound on your handheld, and select the one you want. 

My K4s now sounds exactly like a real K4s, not sort of like one. My Blue Comet now has a proper Hancock 3-chime whistle, and twin single-stage air compressors, which you couldn't get in TMCC.  My camelback has a proper cnj whistle, single-stage air compressor, and a mechanical bell that's almost spot-on for the bell sound you hear when the troop train leaves in the movie The Long Gray Line.

So I'm not going back to 3-rail specific sounds. Also, each sound has a volume that can be adjusted sperately, so you can hear each sound as it was on the real engine, and I don't know of any 3-rail specific systems that have a generator whine begin when you switch on the headlight, or air brake apply and release sounds.

DCC is the system in my layouts future, and with Airwire, I can still run my older TMCC and conventional trains.

Nice work Trainman2!!

Thank you for sharing that. I was on another path trying to power a Railpro board from a regulated circuit powered by track power. It’s a different animal and I have not been successful. 

My requirements are similar to yours with having the need to run older TMCC engines. Another requirement of mine is using operating boxcars and dumpers. This means AC power needs to be on the rails - I don’t want to convert everything to another system.

I will take another look at Airwire. 

Thanks again.

Larry

GNERR posted:

Nice work Trainman2!!

Thank you for sharing that. I was on another path trying to power a Railpro board from a regulated circuit powered by track power. It’s a different animal and I have not been successful. 

My requirements are similar to yours with having the need to run older TMCC engines. Another requirement of mine is using operating boxcars and dumpers. This means AC power needs to be on the rails - I don’t want to convert everything to another system.

I will take another look at Airwire. 

Thanks again.

Larry

Glad to help. The initial investment will be a little over $400 including the handheld. Airwire basically has the lcd screen unit with or without backlighting, and the backlighting is about $30 more. I got the one with the backlight, as my train room only has single bulb overhead lights, but you might not need that if yours has good lighting.

Airwire has a less expensive handheld, but it can only run trains, it can't program them. This is good if you have operating sessions, and have several people running trains at once.

Finally, Stanton S-cab has a set of decoders that are modified tsunami Soundtraxx units that can operate with the Airwire handheld. Stanton makes his own handheld, but like the cheaper Airwire, it mainly runs, and has limited programmability.

What railroads do you model? That might also dictate which brand of sound you need.

I run Delaware and Hudson trains on my layout. Mostly ALCO, some EMD. I have the TMCC Camelback, but the board is shot in it. It hasn’t ran in over two years.  I have been looking at Soundtraxx and Loksound decoders to use with the G3. My first project would be to get the Camelback running again on a different control system. 

Larry

 

Soundtraxx is what I mainly use, and I haven't tried their diesel sound yet, but they make a good Alco package, with all the prime movers and horns. I had to use tcs for the camelback, because Soundtraxx doesn't have a CNJ specific whistle.

You should be ok with Soundtraxx for your diesels, as for a D&H camelback, not sure what it had for a whistle, but you can always use a builder's whistle like alco, Baldwin, etc if in doubt. I like to listen to recordings of the real engine and match the sounds up, if you can find them. YouTube is a good place to look, or maybe you can find some DVD films of the camelback. I used the 1980's recording of 1361 for my K4s. I already knew to use the PRR 3-chime whistle, but the video helped me with the air compressor and the chuff.

When I start converting my diesels, I plan on using Jersey Central Diesels by William Brennan as a guide, because he lists all the diesels, what prime movers they had, what horns they had, and if they had dynamic brakes and radios, which comes in handy if you need to disable some sounds. I'm sure there's a comparable book out there for D&H diesels.

Gary E posted:

I'm converting from TMCC to DCC. Mostly using a $50 NCE board but retaining the Railsounds. So no extra expense for some other sound system. Just designed a Microchip to convert the DCC outputs to Railsounds commands. 

Would you mind sharing the schematic and programming? Email in profile

Gary E posted:

I'm converting from TMCC to DCC. Mostly using a $50 NCE board but retaining the Railsounds. So no extra expense for some other sound system. Just designed a Microchip to convert the DCC outputs to Railsounds commands. 

Any you chance you will be selling this board? I have two TMCC locomotives I would like to run off of DCC. If not I would be interested in the schematic as well. You should write an article for the model railroad press about this. 

Phil

TCA Member

NYCHS Member

MTH RR Club

Trainman2,

What is the maximum AC voltage you are setting on the rails? I am doing some tests with a bridge rectifier/capacitor circuit (AC maxed out at the controller) and the DC voltage is around 29V. That is over the recommended 24V from Airwire.

Thanks,

Larry

GNERR posted:

Trainman2,

What is the maximum AC voltage you are setting on the rails? I am doing some tests with a bridge rectifier/capacitor circuit (AC maxed out at the controller) and the DC voltage is around 29V. That is over the recommended 24V from Airwire.

Thanks,

Larry

16 volts AC max on the rails is my usual setting. I would check your rectifier output once you set your rail voltage just to be sure that the level is safe for Airwire, but normally that's where I keep mine set.

As a side note, with the tsunami soundtraxx, if I go a hair over the 16 volts, the sounds start to cut out when the train is standing still. If I hear the sounds fade in neutral, I ease the track power down a little until the sound comes back. 

 

 

 

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