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Petermac
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Just thinking ahead - as per the norm with me............... :oops:

Thus far, I have programmed my decoders (where necessary)  using pen and paper to record the various CV settings and alterations.
  
I have just been watching a video presentation on Trainmasters TV where the guy did it all on the computer using Decoder Pro.

I thought it looked interesting (and, more to the point) easy whilst also creating a record of each loco and it's settings.

My system is Lenz and I note that the interface doesn't come cheap - around £150 !!!

Decoder Pro, from what I can glean, is an interface in itself as well as a programmer.  Am I right in thinking this ?

Which programmers do those of you who use them, recommend and why compared with others ?


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You can use decoder Pro with your Lenz system Peter it is a very good free open source program part of the JMRI suite free to download.
All you need is to buy the Lenz computer interface i used to have one to use when i had the Lenz system if you want i will look and tell you which one it is if someone does not say in the meantime.

Brian

Petermac
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Thanks Brian.

I thought Decoder Pro was a free download - at least, I hoped so !!

It's the cost of the Lenz interface that rather stunned me.  Around £140 it seems - just to connect my LS100 command unit to my computer ........................................... :shock: :shock: :shock:

It seems odd that the bit that does all the work is a freebie download but the wire to connect it up costs more than the price of a half decent bottle of Margaux..


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That is expensive Peter from memory the one i had was a serial port connection whereas the one they sell now is usb interface im pretty sure it was around £40 mind you that was quite a few years ago.
Max may know of another unit other than an actual Lenz one you can use to do the same thing at a cheaper cost. He is heavily into Lenz so he will know if there is something.
That seems a lot of dosh for something that is basically a simple interface.

If cost is an issue it is possible to have a fully NMRA standard dcc system with computer interface for less than £50 that links in well with JMRI type DCC ++ into google

Brian

Last edited on Sun Feb 17th, 2019 12:06 pm by Briperran

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Hi Peter

The old interface is now redundant.  You are right.  The new ones are much more expensive, but they will do more.

I'm pretty sure that John Dew has one and can explain the workings to you.

It's been months since I have been able to do any rail modelling, so I'm very out of touch.

Cheers

Ed
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I use(d) Decoder Pro with my Digitrax system, Peter.

The RR-Circuits Locobuffer to connect was about £60.

The Lenz interface does seem a bit expensive, but it is a one-off cost.

If you haven't got that many locos, you could always just put all the information in a MS xcel or similar spreadsheet.



Ed

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Thanks guys.

I know that Lenz equipment is generally expensive - "German Engineering or, if you prefer, "Vorsprung durch Teknik".....................could be the reason.

I really have no idea how it compares with other systems - Lenz is all I have (apart for a "suck it and see" Bachmann EZ controller I bought before I dived in at the deep end).

Max, the new Lenz interface may well do more but do I need it to ?  I have a mobile phone - it makes telephone calls which is why I bought it.  The latest iphones will even cook your dinner it seems, but they don't make better telephone calls than mine does ............................

I'm not really sure what I'd want to do with a computer link other than what seems an easier and more efficient system to programme decoders and store that information.  RR & Co is a very long way off - especially now I don't even have a layout or a home for one............sure, it's still a future dream but there are more pressing demands on my time and resources at present.

I wonder how sensible it is to spend £140 on something to make my life a little more "orderly" given that I don't actually have dozens of locomotives to programme.  There is of couse, the potential to play around with sound files as well using the same interface ...........................and. as you said Ed, it's a one-off investment although I wonder how long it will be before it too, becomes obsolete.  :hmm

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Although i have no experience of this equipment it does seem to be getting a great deal of following as a good dcc system with all connections at a reasonable price worth considering if you are considering spending £140 on a single interface Peter

https://www.digikeijs.com/en/dr5000-adj-dcc-multi-bus-central.html

Brian

Last edited on Sun Feb 17th, 2019 01:20 pm by Briperran

Petermac
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I'm not sure this system includes a computer interface Brian - unless it goes under a different name ................ :hmm

As a system, it's certainly competitively priced but I already have the Lenz 100 system and several accessory decoders to go with it so I don't want to bin that lot .................... :It's a no no

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Thats the beauty Peter every connection you need including computer interface is built into it and if you decide to go furtther into things they manufacturer all the add on modules for all the differant things at a reasonable cost.

If my Ecos went bang i would certainly consider this system myself.

To replace my ecos would probably be £700 so i would really have to think hard about paying that amount out.

Brian

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The Ls150 is a pretty standard accesory decoder i have loads myself i would be surprised if they did not work with that system if you are going to seriously look at that i will check and make sure they work with it for you

Brian

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Buy a Sprog II Peter, about £45 plus postage + a separate power supply which you may already have kicking around.It comes with the cable to plug in to your computer, works with both decoder pro and panel pro which are free downloads and you can use it ( via panel pro) as a stand alone DCC controller, separate from your main Lenze system. I'm getting one to use away from the main layout for programming and testing etc so I dont have to disconect the main system in the workshop. The Sprog II is only a 1 AMP whereas the newer more expensive sprog III is a 2.5Amp. But for programming, testing etc the Sprog II is ample and acts as a backup if your main system goes faulty

Link  HERE

Cheers

Matt

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It does look interesting Brian - especially if the computer interface and the ability to run LS150's is included at that price.

I don't actually know what terminals the computer would use as an interface.  Would I have to make up a special lead using a USB plug or what ?

The Lenz interface is £140 whilst the Digikeijs command station is currently available at £169.

However, looking at it again, I wonder if it would be compatible with my LH100 and Lenz "Compact" hand throttles.

It's probably just a case of cobbling up the necessary leads - certainly worth putting the situation to them and see what they say ...............

Thanks. :thumbs

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I will ask the neccesary questions Peter on a group that has lot of users of that system .

The sprog 11 matt has just mentioned will give you a separate computer connection which is seperate from your Lenz system that would probably be one of the cheapest routes to connect to a computer JMRI wise other than an arduino DCC++ set up

Brian

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Barchester wrote: Buy a Sprog II Peter, about £45 plus postage + a separate power supply which you may already have kicking around.It comes with the cable to plug in to your computer, works with both decoder pro and panel pro which are free downloads and you can use it ( via panel pro) as a stand alone DCC controller, separate from your main Lenze system. I'm getting one to use away from the main layout for programming and testing etc so I dont have to disconect the main system in the workshop. The Sprog II is only a 1 AMP whereas the newer more expensive sprog III is a 2.5Amp. But for programming, testing etc the Sprog II is ample and acts as a backup if your main system goes faulty

Link  HERE

Cheers

Matt


The plot thickens ..............................

Also very interesting Matt.  Some more bedtime reading - I wonder what exactly I'd need to programme my locos with a Sprog ?   I also wonder what it will programme - not mention of Lenz decoders although it says it will do most.   I note one can't add/modify sound files so, to do that, I'd need another bit of kit ................ :roll:

It says "stand alone" so presumably it will work with any DCC system and either a rolling road or programming track plus, of course, my laptop .................. :hmm

Petermac
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Briperran wrote: I will ask the neccesary questions Peter on a group that has lot of users of that system .

The sprog 11 matt has just mentioned will give you a separate computer connection which is seperate from your Lenz system that would probably be one of the cheapest routes to connect to a computer JMRI wise other than an arduino DCC++ set up

Brian

Thanks Brian. :thumbs

You say the Sprog is separate from the Lenz - surely I'd need the Lenz to power the locos to programme the decoders ....................... :???:

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No the sprog is totally separate you have a separate power supply which puts the power to the programming track


Brian

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The Sprog is completely separate Peter. If you dont have a power supply kicking around then they sell the one you would need for £10 ? I think or you get one on Ebay. Power supply plugs into sprog, sprog plugs into computer using a network cable (or Usb if you get the Sprog III) and then you connect  to your test track. Fire up computer and download JMRI (decoderpro and panelpro) and away you go. I think I'm going for the Sprog III, a bit more money but connects via Usb and more Amps, so can run my O.16.5 stuff with it

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Ok replies coming already

my question

A Question for the Digikeijs users within the group. A fellow model enthusiast has a Lenz 100 system and was considering connecting it to a computer but the Lenz interface alone is around £140 so i said why not look at the Digikeijs system which the command station is around £169 with all the connections already built in. His questions were will his Lenz ls 150 accesory decoders he has work with the system and is it possible to use his Lenz hand controllers with the system or will they be redundant?
many thanks in advance

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1
Neil Smith all full compatible, that is the idea of the dr500


2
Jan Har The DR5000 will support the Lenz LS150 switch decoders (bog standard DCC items) as well as the Lenz controllers (especially with the right Xpressnet settings as described in section 7.5 or the DR5000 manual).



Neil Smith also using a DR5039, you can use the Lenz 100 as a booster at a later date if required. PS they are DR5000 are £147.99 from Amzon


So in just a few minutes all the answers are there Ls150 yes compatable and you can use your Lenz handsets with it.
I will post any more answers later when i look


Brian










Petermac
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Thanks guys.  :thumbs

I do have a spare power supply but had assumed the loco would need a supply from the Lenz. :thud

"And then you connect to your test track" you say Matt.  With just 2 wires or is it a special cable ?

It does look like a very interesting option although I'm not sure the Sprog III would be necessary.   For the cost difference, it seems you only get the extra power ................ :roll:

As I wouldn't use it as a controller, the 2.5 amps seems a bit OTT although - they do say some newer decoders respond better to the higher output .....................and for just £10 extra ...................... :hmm

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Good Morning

Afraid I missed the earlier part of the conversation.

Max is correct.....I have the Lenz USB interface connection although I am not sure if it the most up to date one. I need it to connect the Lenz system to RR&Co. It has some other features but I dont use any of them. It just sits there quietly in the background.

I definitely wouldnt buy one Peter just to connect to Decoder Pro. At this stage a spreadsheet should be sufficient.

I would recommend spending some time investigating and deciding how you want to eventually run the layout.
Download the demo version of RR&Co.... it is free and can be used without restriction in simulation mode........that and the free manual should be sufficient for you to decide whether that is the way forward.

Once the decision is made it will clarify your budgeting.......in every sense. Once I was hooked there were no locos bought for at least two years!  If you go down the computor control route you will need an occupancy detection system.......it makes sense to at least wire this in when track laying.

You definitely need to make a decision/committment on your DCC control system

Lenz DCC is very robust but somewhat old fashioned (although the long awaited update is now fairly imminent.) However if you go down the RR&Co route there is really no need to look for an alternative DCC system  If on the other hand you decide you dont like RR&Co it may be worth while looking at some of the other DCC systems which could give you an element of automatic control (route setting for instance) at less overall cost than full fat RR&Co.

One final point (oops sorry)  Lenz Turnout decoders LS150 will operate with all the major DCC systems like ECos, NCE ,Digitrax etc. You do need to remember that LS 150s were designed to operate twin solenoid point motors (Peco /Seep etc).............they will operate stall motors like Tortoise and Cobalt but you have to do that fiddle with resistors and more importantly they pass on commands sequentially rather than simultaneously.........this causes delays and can cause derailments far more readily than Marty's Miss Davies :lol:

I am not sure of your ratio of Solenoid to Tortoise or how many LS 150s you have?

With a green field site like yours I would try and keep the LS 150s for solenoids and isolated Tortoises.....ie dont have Tortoises operating a xover or ladder on the same LS 150...........I learned this the hard way and ......in the end I bought a NCE switch 8 for the critical tortoise had to do a lot of re wiring to redistribuite the others.

If you are buying more tortoise/cobalt I would buy either a NCE or DCC Concepts decoder

Long rambling email but hope it helps

Best wishes

John   



Last edited on Sun Feb 17th, 2019 04:46 pm by John Dew

Petermac
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Briperran wrote: Ok replies coming already

my question

A Question for the Digikeijs users within the group. A fellow model enthusiast has a Lenz 100 system and was considering connecting it to a computer but the Lenz interface alone is around £140 so i said why not look at the Digikeijs system which the command station is around £169 with all the connections already built in. His questions were will his Lenz ls 150 accesory decoders he has work with the system and is it possible to use his Lenz hand controllers with the system or will they be redundant?
many thanks in advance

replies

1
Neil Smith all full compatible, that is the idea of the dr500


2
Jan Har The DR5000 will support the Lenz LS150 switch decoders (bog standard DCC items) as well as the Lenz controllers (especially with the right Xpressnet settings as described in section 7.5 or the DR5000 manual).



Neil Smith also using a DR5039, you can use the Lenz 100 as a booster at a later date if required. PS they are DR5000 are £147.99 from Amzon


So in just a few minutes all the answers are there Ls150 yes compatable and you can use your Lenz handsets with it.
I will post any more answers later when i look


Brian











Many thanks Brian. :thumbs

Most certainly an option to look at very closely. :hmm

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If you scroll down to the picture of the Sprog II in the link Peter you should see the small green block connector at one end. Two wires connected there and then connect however suits you at the track. My Z21 is connected via Male female jack plugs so I can unplug and plug in my dc controller if I want DC running. Simple but foolproof as I can ONLY have one or tother plugged in at any time   :thumbs
Cheers

Matt

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Many thanks for your input John - much appreciated from someone I consider one of our "Lenz Gurus".

All my equipment is currently boxed up so I can't be exact but I think I probably have more SEEPs than Tortoise motors - I have around 18 Tortoise I think.  I have 4 x LS150's but do recall reading about your woes with RR&Co when they wouldn't fire rapidly enough so maybe, I won't buy any more.  I note your preference for Switch 8's.

I have come to terms with the necessary diodes for the Tortoi and was quite proficient at wiring them before Maxmill was dismantled.  I was quite impressed with DCC Concepts Cobalt surface mounted motors - they looked much more business-like than Peco and, sure as eggs is eggs, I'll need a motor exactly where I've put a timber frame at some stage !!!

I have now, half decided that the Lenz interface is not for me - at least, not at their price !!!  My favoured option at the moment, is the Sprog 2 or maybe, 3.

Whilst the Digikeijs system does look very interesting, and, if I were starting out, may be the front runner, somehow, I don't think I could bring myself to sell the Lenz just so that I didn't have to buy their interface.  I do like the system now that I'm more used to it and, having bought it already, I'm not looking at Command Station investment differences now..

Regarding future plans (RR&Co in particular), whilst I do like what it can do and it's high on my "wish list", apart from the cost of it, I'm honestly not sure I'd have the patience, or understanding, to go through the very steep learning curve to master it.  I will however, have a play with the trial version to see if anything between my ears clicks.

Having said that, I do plan to install the necessary infrastructure on the new layout so that, should I go that way, everything will be in place.  RR&Co or A.N.Other system would still need detectors.  If I don't go down that route, I'll have wasted the difference between purchase and re-sell price - I've wasted far more in my time ................. :roll:

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Wow - what a fantastic response to my question.  I'd always said we have more skills and people willing to help on here than one could ever dream of.

I really am very, very grateful to you all. :cheers


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Petermac wrote: Many thanks for your input John - much appreciated from someone I consider one of our "Lenz Gurus".

All my equipment is currently boxed up so I can't be exact but I think I probably have more SEEPs than Tortoise motors - I have around 18 Tortoise I think.  I have 4 x LS150's but do recall reading about your woes with RR&Co when they wouldn't fire rapidly enough so maybe, I won't buy any more.  I note your preference for Switch 8's.

I have come to terms with the necessary diodes for the Tortoi and was quite proficient at wiring them before Maxmill was dismantled.  I was quite impressed with DCC Concepts Cobalt surface mounted motors - they looked much more business-like than Peco and, sure as eggs is eggs, I'll need a motor exactly where I've put a timber frame at some stage !!!

I have now, half decided that the Lenz interface is not for me - at least, not at their price !!!  My favoured option at the moment, is the Sprog 2 or maybe, 3.

Whilst the Digikeijs system does look very interesting, and, if I were starting out, may be the front runner, somehow, I don't think I could bring myself to sell the Lenz just so that I didn't have to buy their interface.  I do like the system now that I'm more used to it and, having bought it already, I'm not looking at Command Station investment differences now..

Regarding future plans (RR&Co in particular), whilst I do like what it can do and it's high on my "wish list", apart from the cost of it, I'm honestly not sure I'd have the patience, or understanding, to go through the very steep learning curve to master it.  I will however, have a play with the trial version to see if anything between my ears clicks.

Having said that, I do plan to install the necessary infrastructure on the new layout so that, should I go that way, everything will be in place.  RR&Co or A.N.Other system would still need detectors.  If I don't go down that route, I'll have wasted the difference between purchase and re-sell price - I've wasted far more in my time ................. :roll:

Glad to be of help Peter

I think al of the above is a very sound strategy.

One advantage of checking "if anything clicks" with RR&Co is that you may find it a useful tool in planning the layout.......its not scale layout planning tool .....the track plans are purely schematic but the switchboard diagram does provide a useful overall glimpse of possible operations and equally important potential choke points.

Best wishes

John


                 

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