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Passed Driver
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Hi All. I am just  about to hard wirie my first Decoder. But although I have a test track wired into my layout, I cannot get my head around testing the Loco , for example, why is the current supply any different to that on the main ?All the current is supplied from the same Powercab handset.   Best wishes Kevin 
PS “ absolutely “ was not my intended word, my iPad is selecting the wrong words, it just don’t make sense 

Last edited on Fri Sep 6th, 2019 09:28 pm by Passed Driver

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OK, Kevin, I am going to assume your test track is what is normally called the programming track.
As you have a NCE Power Cab, the section in the manual Use Program Track, ( maybe Page 46 in your manual) explains why the difference in power between programming and main tracks.

And the test/programming track doesn't test the loco but the decoder.

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Hi Kevin,and

NCE gives you the option of programming on the main (while running) or on the program track (not running). The program track option limits the current such that the locomotive does not move. It still receives the binary signal as normal. The current required to overwrite the eprom with the new binary code is minimal. At most it will twitch as the CVs are changed and there is a momentary current spike, especially when changing the motor parameters. More pronounced in my experience when a capacitor is present (stay alive).

Use the programming track mode (page 46) as doing it on the main can get disconcerting on an end-to-end layout. I use the rolling road for doing that.

Do not use a power booster with NCE.

Nigel

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Hi Nigel. Thank you for your reply. Before I went on a “ space saving exercise “ my programme track was a separate entity. But now I have wired it as the longest siding on my Inglenook, with a circuit c/ o Ron , and until I set up my “ Cab” according as you said, following page 46 in the manual the current is the same on the programme track as that on the main. Unless of course I knew how to, was to wire some resistance? Into the circuit?   Best wishes Kevin 

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Kevin, how do you know the current is the same?

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Hi Ron. Thank you for your reply. I am presuming the current is the same, apart from when it is in Programme mode.As there is no other device wired into the circuit, as I replied to Nigel. Of course I am no expert, if I was the job would have been done already, I am just being cautious.  Best wishes Kevin 

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Another important thing about having a programming track Kevin.

Is if you program on the main it is possible that you can inadvertently program every single decoder that is present on the layout for example if there were 20 locos sitting on the layout you could change a setting on every loco which you obviously dont want to do.
If you have a programming track that cant happen you only program the Loco/decoder that is on the programming track.
Hope that helps you understand why you need one.

Brian 

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Hi Brian.  Thank you for your reply. That much I understand. But my initial query was about DCC and Hornby, I am looking to DCC. A Terrier, and as it would be my first attempt, I don’t want to COOK up the motor. And a very good friend of YMRC Jeff ( SR man ) advised to use the programme track, but, me being as “ thick as two short planks “ it has come to this. Unless my Powercab is set for programming, as far as I can see? it will have the same current as the main. Surprisingly I have used the programme track for that purpose, and it works.  Best wishes Kevin 

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I would not recommend a terrier as your first attempt at converting a dc loco to dcc as its all pretty tight from recollection i would go for something that has a bit more space first to get the hang of what needs to be done.
I just looked and my terrier decoder is in the cab but bear in mind i fitted that decoder probably several years ago and smaller decoders are now available so there may be enough space elsewhere in the loco body.

Converting locos which are not dcc ready is the same as most things the hardest one to do is the first one.
Thats why i am saying go for an easier one first so not to knock your confidence.

Brian 

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Hi Brian. Thank you again. I do have half a dozen “ cheaper “ Pugs, that I could attempt first. But I don’t know if they have any more space to fit a Decoder. I really prefer the Ready Locos for obvious reasons. Best wishes Kevin 

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Kevin, from the NCE DCC forum.........

Current is restricted but not a single fixed limit value.

The initial (not completely clear) NMRA Standard suggested some sort of energy limit (current*time*voltage).

With the advent of sound decoders, practice had to be modified to deal with greater current drain, particularly at startup. Many older DCC systems had trouble, leading to the development of add-on "programming track boosters" (never use one with a Power Cab).

The NCE Power Cab seems to have earned the popular reputation of having the best-in-market programming track circuitry, compatible with the widest range of decoder bands models (with SPROG a close second).

However the use of a single booster output switched between main and program modes is a problem; high risk of a situation where every loco on the layout is accidentally reprogrammed plus the risk of an untested decoder installation being damaged by full power instead of programming power.

For that reason the low cost of the add-on NCE Auto-Switch is very strongly recommended:
<https://sites.google.com/site/markgurries/home/nce-info/nce-accessories/nce-autoswitch>

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Hi Kevin,

In a small layout you can use whatever track is convenient that is receiving power (i.e. the layout is the programming track). I use the bit of track closest to the input wires from the controller. The programming signal goes around the whole track when you are running the locomotive anyway. All that happens in programming track mode is that the current is reduced below the limit for running the locomotive. Just make sure you only have one locomotive on the layout otherwise they will all get changed.

As Ron has pointed out playing around with boosters is not required or recommended for an NCE system. I sometimes have problems with some of the old decoders (such as some Digitrax ones), where the NCE system will not read back any changes to the CVs or the source and type of decoder. Most of the time it actually rewrites the CVs. I have never had any problems with decoders from Lenz, ESU Loksound, Soundtraxx or QSI. Sound or no sound.

The NCE system is deliberately intended to be user friendly, if you follow the instructions in the booklet it works without any hitches.

I just reread your first post. Hard wiring a decoder*. Old school then. Some heat-sinks on the wires should keep you out of trouble. I use metal clothes pegs.

Nigel

*I don't but that's me.

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Hi Ron. Thank you for your reply. Before we all get carried away, including me, with layout sizes. When I returned to model railways after forty odd years, I had great plans, now I have come back down to earth as I don’t live in the wide open spaces. And my idea of a “practice layout” to get me back in touch with the hobby, became the norm, and I settled on a four foot by fourteen inch Shunting Puzzle, sad to say, but, which is full of moves , I am doing my best to squeeze in a single line, and it is a squeeze, at the back of the baseboard, the latest add on being a fiddleyard of the same dimensions which will allow a train service of sorts? One day maybe, I will have an extension on the other side of the Puzzle and a BLT. To round it off, if I don’t kick the bucket first?  On that note. Best wishes Kevin 

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Kevin, another reason for using the programming track with lower current is when first testing adecoder installation, you have less chance of blowing up the decoder if you got the wiring wrong. The Power Cab will show errors and not be able to read the decoder if it is wrongly done, whereas if you try that with programming on the main, if it is wrong the chances are the decoder will instantly disappear in a puff of magic smoke. So, always do the initial testing and programming on the programming track only.

With my Power Cab / Power Pro systems, I always make sure I have set the programming output first, before placing the loco on the track.

We have discussed the Terrier hard-wiring by PM, but for the benefit of others here, I have done three Terriers, all using TCS Z2 decoders, although nowadays, I would probably go for the even smaller CT Elektronik decoders. The first two Terriers have the decoder threaded up through a slot drilled under the firebox door, sitting vertically in the cab between the driver and fireman. The third and most recent one I did has the decoder sitting flat on top of the motor, with a strip of thin plastic card (20 thou) sitting on the motor to prevent the decoder or wires slipping into the armature and stopping the motor. This last one is a lot neater because I didn't need to modify the Terrier body at all, and also makes separating the body and chassis a lot easier.

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Hi Nigel. Thank you. Ron has given me a circuit for the programme track, which uses a toggle switch, one way all track is live “ M” the other way only the programme track is live “ P “ , simple? Once you remember to flip the switch?Just plain wire, no fancy bits of kit or switches etc . Manual points, signals to come? later, manual again. Lots to do,I haven’t painted the Sky or completed the ground cover either, let alone buildings . Best wishes Kevin 

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Hi Jeff. Thank you again. It is all a bit much for me to get my head around. Although I have Programmed a few Loco’s now, I have a lot more to do, let alone buying more Decoders for them. I seem to be busy all day doing stuff like housework,shopping,eating, it don’t stop. And now I am not watching the Gogglebox, I still fall asleep, even  midway through replying to emails . And I need to do more work on the railway , and leave the house to itself?Best wishes Kevin 

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Kevin, you have just got to get your priorities right. Give up luxuries like sleeping and eating!

:twisted:  :twisted:   :mutley  :mutley

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Hi Jeff. Thank you very much. I know that I should, but life is like that. But I can fall asleep for England 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿.Best wishes Kevin 

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Hi Kevin,

The other way is just to use a short section of spare track slightly longer than your longest locomotive, and to connect the PowerCab via the ends of the rails using crocodiles. If I use mine it's so I can program the locomotive in real time on the rolling road. That way everything on the layout is running track, no messing around with an isolated section for programing that has to be switched back.

A programing track is essential if changes to a decoder are required when the layout is in operation. NEC is American, the assumption is that it is a 30 x 20 foot layout, multiple operators, with room to spare for a programing track. Usually the RIP spur which usually has a few freight cars doing nothing. IMO a programing track is best kept well away from the layout, especially if it is a small one.

Your fiddle yard to be would be the ideal place for a bit of programing track. Tucked out of the way, no chance of doing damage to the scenery with errant elbows, dodgy digits/fumbling fingers or wayward wrists. Or flying feet for that matter.

Nigel



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Hi Nigel. Thank you again. I really don’t know what idea I may have next, every day is a total surprise to me?I rip up some track, clearing the mess and beginning again. After all, it began as a testbed for my return to the hobby. And I have picked up a lot of  tips along the way. Best wishes Kevin 

Last edited on Wed Nov 7th, 2018 09:28 pm by Passed Driver

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Hi Kevin,

RIP track - repair in place. 

Nigel

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Hi Nigel. Thank you for your reply. I have edited my previous message, It didn’t make it clear what I was trying to say.What I meant was “ Rip Up and Relay anew “ . Incidently there is a YouTube video, out there, on Programming Locos where the Modeller has a rip track, quite different to what I meant.  Best wishes Kevin 

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Hi Ron.  A further reply regarding the NCE Auto switch, having just got out of bed , which means I am fully awake, and now that I have read about this device .Which does make more sense to considering the fact about “ only two wires “ coming from the Powercab. But where does that leave me with the new circuit that you very kindly recommended to me? Can I wire the auto switch in okay.
Best wishes Kevin 

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As I know nothing about the Auto switch, only what I have read on the NCE DCC forum, I guess it replaces the manual switch & wiring I suggested.

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Hi Ron. Thank you. But that leaves me “ up a gum tree “ ? Looks like I had better start again, better to be safe than sorry, unless I have some practice at DCC ing the Hornby Pugs first?  Best wishes Kevin 

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Hi Kevin,

The NCE autoswitch is wired to the main track and program track. Two wires in, 4 out. If it detects a program track signal it cuts power to the main track. Vice versa. Basically an automated DPDT switch to protect against programming on the main when using the program track.

Never used one. Although it could be useful as a dead end program track on a siding. A DPDT switch would be a lot cheaper.

Nigel

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Hi Nigel. Thank you. I went for the cheaper option, as per YouTube recommendation. Even NCE tell you of that option in the manual.  I will have to think about my options.  Best wishes Kevin 

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I opened up the last Terrier I converted to DCC to get a couple of photos. Here is Boxhill, an original Dapol model, with its TCS Z2 decoder sitting neatly on top of the motor. Note I have used a couple of blobs of Blu-tack to keep the wires out of the way to ease refitting of the body. Sorry the first photo is a little fuzzy, but it still shows clearly how the decoder sits.


Terrier Decoder Fitting - 1 by Jeffrey Lynn, on Flickr


Terrier Decoder Fitting - 2 by Jeffrey Lynn, on Flickr


Lion sitting behind the Terrier has nothing to do with this topic; it is sitting there because I am about to install a Soundtraxx Econami UK diesel sound decoder and speaker in it.

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Kevin, a Terrier with sound

http://yourmodelrailway.net/view_topic.php?id=3832&forum_id=52

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Hi Jeff.  Thank you for your reply. The photo of your workmanship looks okay to me. But as I stated previously being as this would be my first conversion, maybe I had better try a Pug first.  Best wishes Kevin 

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Hi Ron. Thank the very much. I will get around to converting my Pug, even if it takes a   “ New Years Resolution “ ?I say “ my Pug “ what I really meant was PUGS, I have got so many. By the way have you seen the L & Y Pug with sound? It really looks an excellent job, and it is weathered too. There is a video of it on YMRC. Best wishes Kevin 

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Kevin i would agree do a pug first just to get the hang of it.
If after doing that you still feel uncomfortable about fitting decoders im sure your local model shop offer a chip fitting service perhaps costing £10-15 a loco that way you will not be getting sleepless nights worrying about fitting decoders.


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Hi Brian. Thank you very much, sound advice. But I will have a go. Best wishes Kevin 

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Hi Jeff.   Following your advice, I went to the Doc. I told about my sleeping problems and she gave me a short course of sleeping tablets, to.” Kick Start “ a pattern of sleeping at night. But, now after a week without taking the tablets I feel worse than ever, it could be something else? Best wishes Kevin 

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Hi Jeff.  Sleeping and eating? Thinking about adding DCC to my Hornby Terrier is keeping me awake at night, ie. last night I woke up, and made a cuppa tea at 0300 hours truth of the matter is that I am still worried about burning out a Decoder and where to solder the pick up wires. Best wishes Kevin 


                 

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