Atlas 2-6-0 decoder mod

Discussion in 'DCC & Electronics' started by JohnnieWalker, Jul 5, 2005.

  1. JohnnieWalker

    JohnnieWalker New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2005
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    Brand new to DCC...developing an N guage layout centered around V&T 1880 or so...want to use some Atlas 2-6-0 locos...is there room to add a decoder? I opened the tender and it looks like there is room if the weight is replaced...can someone help fill in my ignorance?
  2. JohnnieWalker

    JohnnieWalker New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2005
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    Answer is yes...

    I logged over to Tony's Trains (www.tonystrains.com) and found that they offer to install a decoder, so, I guess in fact it is possible...after thinking about my investigation into the tender car, I think I can actually get a speaker and a SoundTraxx 090 decoder in there with some patience...
  3. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2002
    Messages:
    5,724
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hi Johnnie,

    Welcome to The Gauge!

    Glad you found your answer. If it is possible, use an "all-in-one" or a Soundtraxx Decoder plus speaker, rather than a decoder, soundtraxx sound decoder, plus speaker. But I think you have figured that out... ;)

    I installed a Soundtraxx decoder and speaker in the tender of my P2K 0-6-0 (HO scale) and found there is not a lot of extra room. I would be wary of removing too much weight, especailly in Nscale, as tracking of the tender is very important...!

    Wiring a decoder in direct can save space (simple soldered connections are smaller than the wiring harness and/or NMRA plug) but can be tricky. You must be very careful not to fry your decoder when you do it...

    If you are only looking at doing one or two, it might be worth having someone like Tony's, Loy's Toys, or Litchfield Station doing it for you. Even though I made the modifications to the tender myself, I still had a friend with years of soldering experience do the connections.

    Andrew
  4. JohnnieWalker

    JohnnieWalker New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2005
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks for the input...

    Hey Andrew,

    Yeah, figured out the combo part! [​IMG]

    I am more into the layout than the RR'ing, so I doubt I will be running too many locos, so your notion to "let Tony do it" seems prudent - at least for the first one and I can see what they did...

    I may just add the sound decoder since I am not convinced at this point that I will not be able to get away with a non-DCC approach - like I said, I think my tracking/operation will be rather simple, straight-forward, but I like the notion of "rolling sound"...but if I go to that trouble, I may as well do the enchilada!

    I did the Atlas N-17 layout about 25 years ago and really enjoyed it...I went on a little excursion recently to Virginia City and down Hwy 49 (gold rush), explored some ghost towns, mines and RR museums, so I got fired up to do some modelling again...

    Anyway, thanks for taking the time to reply...

    JW
  5. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2002
    Messages:
    5,724
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hi Johnnie,

    No problem... I am just a bit confused about your response here - and wanted to add a bit of clarification.

    Soundtraxx makes some decoders that ONLY do sound. That is, they rely on another (digitrax/lenz/whatever) decoder to control the direction/speed/lights of the loco. You must have a decoder already installed if you go this route. I do not believe that there is a sound-only decoder from Soundtraxx that operates on DC. (Broadway Limited is another story...).

    Soundtraxx also makes a full-function decoder that includes sound, that can be installed with a separate speaker. Finally they make an all-in-one unit that has the speaker and decoder on a bit of PC board that plugs right into your locos NMRA plus (if so equipped). This is the most straightforward, space-efficient install, but not all locos are ready, so to speak.

    Anyway, sounds like fun! Keep us up to date, with pics if possible - especially if you end up doing it yourself... ;)

    Andrew
  6. JohnnieWalker

    JohnnieWalker New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2005
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    Sound only...

    Hi Andrew,

    What I meant to suggest is that I may just go with DC for the loco motion control and use DCC only for the purpose of controlling a sound-only decoder, i.e., that installing a decoder only for sound would eliminate having to go deep into the cab for motor/light control hookups if I don't really plan on running a bunch of loco's - make sense? [​IMG]

    JW
  7. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2002
    Messages:
    5,724
    Likes Received:
    0
    I don't think that what you propose is actually possible... Unless you can use a decoder that is similar to the Broadway Limited units - they work on both DC and DCC.

    The main "incompatability" here I think is that DCC powers the track at full power and it is the decoder that governs how much "gets through" to the motor. With DC, you only send as much as you want via the rails. The incompatibility is that the decoder (sound or otherwise) is expecting to get a steady "high" voltage as its power source, not variable. The other problem is that without a DCC controller, how will you send the command signals to the sound decoder?

    If you explain what you would like to do to the guys at Tony's (or any of the others I listed above) I am sure that they can help you. They all have excellent reputations.

    As I mentioned, I have a Soundtraxx decoder in my 0-6-0 that works well. I use a Digitrax Zephyr, which is really simple to set up and use.

    Good luck! Keep us posted...

    Andrew
  8. JohnnieWalker

    JohnnieWalker New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2005
    Messages:
    5
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hmmm...

    Hi Andrew,

    Well, having not given it much thought before, you're probably right re the DC vs. DCC simultaneous deal...I had seen some references to running both types on the same layout and since I don't really know the electonics of it yet, I assumed it was a fairly common practice - e.g., isolating with capacitors or something...maybe they were just referring to having individual locos on different blocks, but, as I said, without thinking it through, I thought they inferred that a converted loco could run on both, so I ASSumed...[​IMG]

    Anyway, what I suspect is that I will figure out how to get - or will let Tony figure it out - one of the combo SoundTraxx installed and just run DCC...

    I will keep you posted! Thanks again for the dialogue...[​IMG]

    JW
  9. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2002
    Messages:
    5,724
    Likes Received:
    0
    The simultaneous running of "DC locos" with "DCC locos" is probably better described as a DCC (digital) system being able to run one analog (non-digital) loco. The Digitrax Zephyr for instance can run one non-decoder-equipped loco along with a number of decoder-equipped units.

    While it is possibe, it is not really recommended as it is very hard on the analog loco's motor. The motor basically switches instantly between full-on forward to full-on reverse to stay stationary. Things get hot relatively quickly...

    To look at things the other way, many, but not all decoders have a setting that allows them to be run on an analog (DC) layout. However, as far as I know, Soundtraxx decoders cannot operate this way.

    Glad this has helped you.

    Andrew