Are all DCC decoders created equally?

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by Shahn, Jul 17, 2006.

  1. Shahn

    Shahn New Member

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    I have recently purchased an Atlas Master Loco silver series, that is DCC ready. I installed a MRC AD350 decoder, and I must say that the loco doesn't run as smooth and as quiet as my other Atlas decoder equipped locos. Is there a possibilty that I have installed lower quality decoder?

    Regards,
    Shahn
  2. jflessne

    jflessne Member

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    You will get a lot of opinions with that question. I'm not going to say MRC is junk because I have never used one. I will say NCE and Digitrax seem very popular. I guess popular for a reason. :)

    I'm a NCE guy only because my former club seemed dead set on these as a standard. I also own a Power Cab. (The coolest controller by the way.)

    By the way welcome to The-Gauge Good people here!
  3. kf4jqd

    kf4jqd Active Member

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    As for the electronic componets are concern, they are all the same. Digital technology iworks all the same way. It's the way they are constructed. One thing you should look for is the sheilding of the digital chips. Any type of outside interference will cause undesirable performance.

    I haven't yet converted to DCC. So I can't give you any reconmendations. I do however worked with digital electronics in technical college. I do know the workings of the electronics.

    Andy:wave:
  4. Shahn

    Shahn New Member

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    Thanks for the input, I will examine the installation again.

    Shahn:thumb:
  5. jflessne

    jflessne Member

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    Something I should of asked in the first place....did you run it on DC first? Recently purchased a new Athrean engine. Ran terrible on DC. I actually dissembled it and reassembled it. Added some lube etc and it seems to run better.
  6. kf4jqd

    kf4jqd Active Member

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    jflessne is right. Check all the conections before doing any surgery. Just pull the connection and reconnect it. It sounds silly, but it does work.

    Andy
  7. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member

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    I don't think there is any such thing as a "lower quality" decoder. Less functional, yes, but lower quality. No. As suggested, digital technology is digital technology, and on is on, and off is off. yes is yes and no is no. black is back and white is white. There is no hazy inbetweens when it comes to digital "commands".

    Some decoders have a "silent running" function, which uses a higher "frequency" for the DC "pulse waves" that it supplies the motor with, which can elimiate motor "hum". Some of the "less functional" decoders don't have this capability. If your loco is performing like a DC loco on, say, dirty track, then it's probably not the decoder, or maybe it's a loose connection. Also I've found, even though it may be exactly the same loco, with exactly the same mechanism, they can, and do perform differently with regards to speed, smoothness, and noise. Especially the cheaper locos, be they on DC or DCC.

    What make/type of decoders are in your other locos?

    Also, check to see of your new decoder supports 128 speed steps, and maybe you're using it as 28 speeds steps (or vice-versa), if it's not moving up and down smoothly through the speed steps.
  8. Shahn

    Shahn New Member

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    Yes, I did run it as DC first. The digital noise was what I thought I heard. That was a good point about 128 speed step vs. 28. Unforntunately, I am running w/ a Bachmann EZ Command control. I don't have the ability to change those types of settings. I will eventually upgrade to a more functional system. I have 3 other locos that were converted using the MRC decoder, they are noisy as well. I attributed that to the fact that the locos are 8-13 yrs old. Thanks for all of the input from everybody. This truely is a wonderful Forum!!!!:D :D
  9. Shahn

    Shahn New Member

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    AHHH HAAA, I got back under the hood and discovered that there was a broken solder joint on the 8 pin connector. After repair it runs great!! I guess there is something to be said about quality. I have considered changing to a NCE system, maybe I should use their decoders in the future. Thanks again.......

    Regards,
    Shahn
  10. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member

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    Shahan, I run NCE, and use their base decoder (D13SR). No "plug" as such, and have hard wired/soldered the decoders into my locos. And yes, old locos are still noisy. However, due to some fiddling, and twisting of wires etc, on two of them, a wire broke off right at the decoder. However, I got the magnifying glass out, and the soldering iron, and soldered the wires back onto the decoder itself. Still works fine. :) I'm not sure if that can be classed as a pretty robust decoder, or pretty shoddy considering the wires broke off so easily. :):)