Wired DCC Decoders I

JR East Sobu E231-0 (Micro Ace A-4012)

This is the first of what I expect will be several posts about wire-in DCC decoders. Up to this point I’ve either been using the Digitrax-made Kato decoders that snap into Kato trains, or lightboard-replacement decoders for locomotives. But I have a large number of trains that don’t take either of those, many of them the commuter trains I’ll want to run on my new commuter line (once I finish the DCC wiring for that). The Micro Ace Sobu E231 above is an example of one of them, and likely going to be one of my first conversions.

So I’ve turned my attention to wire-in decoders, and specifically to those for multiple-unit trains needing separate cab-headlight and motor-car decoders. I’m hardly the first person to do this, and there’s a lot of prior experience to be found, most notably on the JSN Forum (threads on Motor Decoders and Cab Decoders) and on two related post’s on Don’s Akihabara Station (Motor Decoder and Cab Decoder).

I’ve spent some time digging through manufacturer websites and manuals based on that info, as well as a bit of Googling to turn up other resources (surprisingly few on some of the more interesting topics). Most of my notes are collected on a new Wired Decoders page, but I’ve also added a page about wiring decoders to existing lightboards in a train, and I’ve added a bunch of notes on Back-EMF to my DCC Decoders page (which is applicable to the other decoders I’ve used, and something I should have looked into before this).

The net result of all this is that I’m fairly sure I want to use the Digitrax DZ125 (MSRP US$25, typical $20) as my motor decoder, and the TCS FL4 (typical price US$18) as my cab-car decoder. However I’ve ordered a number of decoders, and assuming I can find the time, will do a bit of experimenting to see how well they work in practice.

October 2012 Monthly Status

As you may have guessed, nothing much happened in October, beyond the fooling about I did with video cameras related in the previous post.