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I have a couple of LGB Ballenberg Rack Locos that do not have decoders. I bought a couple of Dietz sound systems for them because no on else made Ballenberg sound units at the time.

Since installing the sound systems I've come to the conclusion that they would work much better with DCC rather than with analog power.

My question is whether I have to convert the locos to MTS/DCC or if (under single loco operation) I could leave the locos on analog power (no decoders) and still get satisfactory DCC sound operation at the same time?

I am really reluctant to take the complex Ballenberg locos apart to add decoders and I don't want to ship them off to have decoders fitted to them.

Thanks,

Jerry
 

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Jerry, I don't think you can do this. The reason is, to run DCC the power to the track is on full power all the time and the decoder is what limits the power to the motor. So without a decoder the train would run full power all the time.
 

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Although I just remembered that some DCC systems can run loco 0 without a decoder. Does the MTS have this?
 

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Jerry, I just do not quite understand your question.

Most DCC sound decoders will perform SOME functions on DC. And yes, typically you need to use DCC to get all the features and control.

But, I'm confused as to what your question is. Is it "can I use DCC control to the sound system even though I am using analog DC to power the loco?"

If that is the question, the answer is no. You cannot put DCC commands over DC on the rails. You have to be running DCC on the rails to get DCC commands to the loco.

I hope this is helpful.

Regards, Greg
 

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Jerry,

First off, MTS (and most, perhaps all DCC systems) can accommodate one analog loco on the track using the "0" address. The issue that you will have with this arrangement is that in shifting the AC pulses to power the analog unit (the unit can be throttled) the loco will be quite noisy, humming its way down the track. I do not believe you would find this to be at all satisfactory, ESPECIALLY since you are trying to run a sound unit as well.

I do not know if your current sound unit is DCC (I am not familiar with the Dietz sound systems), but if it is you could probably address it while running the motor in an analog mode, but again, the motor will be humming as it is dealing with the "shifted" AC. Another unsatisfactory outcome.

If your sound unit is an analog unit, I do not know how it will handle the incoming AC power and if it would work at all, even with the pulses shifted. I would NOT recommend trying this if you value your sound units and/or they are not easily replaceable.

In regards to converting your units over to DCC, one thing to take into consideration is the age of your units. Some of the older LGB units need a bit more work to be converted over to digital as some motor/track contact isolation is required. You might want to check into that before "taking the plunge". I am sure your sound systems could be powered by one of the decoder's function outputs, allowing you to switch it on and off. But regarding any other functions (special sounds like a bell or whistle) would be much more dependent on your sound system abilities.

Out of curiosity, what information are you using to drive "...I've come to the conclusion that they would work much better with DCC rather than with analog power."?
I currently run MTS myself (I have found myself a glutton for punishment...) and really enjoy digital control, but understand that it can be a large step and should be looked into with "eyes wide open". What are you trying to accomplish in moving to DCC?

Greg (a different one than above :) )
 

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Some older DCC systems would allow DC engines to run on one channel. The newer systems no longer have that capability. The reason is the feature caused too much delay in response to commands.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
To clarify my situation - I do not know much about MTS/DCC.

I run 99.9% analog track power. I seldom use it but I have a LGB Central Station 2 along with transmitters, receivers and remotes.

Some of my locos came with decoders and the Ballenbergs are "decoder ready."

When I talked to Mr. Dietz years ago he told me the sound unit was designed for maximum benefit with MTS/DCC operations (partially because it does not have battery or capacitor backup for the sound unit). I can get low voltage sounds with a non-rechargeable battery but without a battery charging system in the sound unit the cost of batteries or constantly replacing and recharging batteries would be an annoyance.

http://1stclass.mylargescale.com/JerryMcColgan/Ballenberg.pdf

The Central Station 2 is designed to operate one loco on analog power and the rest on MTS.

I have no desire or intention to convert to digital operations but I may add a switch to run MTS/DCC occasionally when I feel like it and have decoder equipped locos & sound systems and then flip back to analog power for normal operations.

Analog sound allows for bell and whistle but a decoder would enable a greater variety of sounds.

Having to buy decoders for two sound systems and for two Ballenberg locos would be more expense than I want to jump into unless and until I am satisfied the results are going to be worth the expense.

At this point I don't even know which decoders I would need for the locos or for the sound unit to get all the functions of the sound units.

Some of my MTS stuff is parallel and some of it is serial.

Jerry
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I might add that what brought this issue to a head is that years ago I added LGB Mogul Tenders to my LGB Ballenbergs (to house the sound systems). It may not be prototypical but I don't care - it works for me.

I recently bought a LGB Mogul without a tender so I used one of the Ballenberg/Mogul tenders and removed the Dietz sound unit and replaced it with a Soundtraxx Sierra K-27 sound unit for the Mogul.

Later I bought another LGB Mogul Tender so I will be reinstalling the Dietz Ballenberg sound unit which has me wondering if I want to reinstall it as analog powered or if I want to go ahead and add a decoder to the Dietz sound unit and run it under MTS.

I could add a decoder to one of the Ballenberg locos and have one Ballenberg/Dietz that runs on MTS/DCC and the other running on analog power but even if I do that the sound decoder conversion will be independent of the loco decoder conversion.

Jerry
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Hi Greg,

The power to the rails would be via LGB Central Station 2.

The loco would be powered as an analog loco under MTS but the Dietz sound unit would be controlled via a MTS activated decoder.

Jerry

Posted By Greg Elmassian on 04/09/2008 10:27 AM
I'm confused as to what your question is. Is it "can I use DCC control to the sound system even though I am using analog DC to power the loco?"
If that is the question, the answer is no. You cannot put DCC commands over DC on the rails. You have to be running DCC on the rails to get DCC commands to the loco.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Yes. The LGB Central Station 2 does have it which is why I am thinking I may be able to run the loco as analog and the sound as DCC (at the same time but with a different address).

Jerry

Posted By jimtyp on 04/09/2008 9:58 AM
Although I just remembered that some DCC systems can run loco 0 without a decoder. Does the MTS have this?
 

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Hi Jerry,
I think you would get the most flexibility by going to a Massoth XLS decoder. Their decoders are capable of operation on analog or digital, and can still accept the serial pulse train that your MTSii delivers. I don't think the dietz sound system will work on analog (at least the new ones don't).

Keith
 

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Posted By Jerry McColgan on 04/09/2008 1:11 PM
Hi Greg,
The difference is six digital functions vs two analog functions:
http://1stclass.mylargescale.com/JerryMcColgan/Ballenberg.pdf
Jerry
Posted By gswartz on 04/09/2008 11:02 AM
Out of curiosity, what information are you using to drive "...I've come to the conclusion that they would work much better with DCC rather than with analog power."? :)" border=0>" border=0> )





Hi Jerry,
Thanks for the additional info. I'm a pretty big fan of digital and believe you gain much more than you lose by converting. Especially in your case where you have almost all of the equipment already and, from your answer above, gain functionality! Since your locos are already prepared for a decoder, I'd say give it a try! From the sounds of it, all you need is one decoder (and perhaps the 55026 LGB MTS decoder interface cable so you wouldn't need to permanently change anything on your loco) and some time to try it all out. If it ends up as a big disappointment, just unplug the decoder and go back to analog! If you like it, convert the other unit!

We can tell you about all the bennies and wizz-bang yahoos we've played with in digital-land, but until you try it out and see if it's what YOU want, you're just gonna keep wondering! /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/laugh.gif

Enjoy!

Greg
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Hi Keith and Greg,

In my case both total MTS/DCC and battery conversions are cost prohibitive (either would cost me over $10K to convert). Even if it was free I would still not convert to either (or to DCS) because I like having access to all power and control systems which enables me to pick and choose what I want to run according to what I want to do.

http://1stclass.mylargescale.com/JerryMcColgan/DCS-MTS1.JPG

All have some benefits and all have some limitations. For me an important side issue is resale value vs total net and operating costs. I prefer to keep everything as close to factory original as possible and to do as little work and maintenance as possible.

Regards,

Jerry
 

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Jerry,

I'm not quite sure how we got from adding a decoder into 1 loco to run DCC/MTS to "...conversions are cost prohibitive (either would cost me over $10K to convert)". One decoder and possibly a cable might run $100 total. You've stated that you already have the Central station and apparently an AC power source.

You were asking about 1 or 2 locos and the possibility of running them on DCC/MTS with sound, right? I think this got a bit derailed somewhere...

And from what I can tell, "factory original" didn't have the Dietz sound systems you want to run anyway. I'm a bit puzzled... If you just want someone to tell you your current arrangement won't work, well, asked and answered. You suggested above that you could possibly add a decoder into one of your locos and I was agreeing with you. When in the heck did the $10K price tag get thrown in the mix??? Just one decoder and a little time. No destruction. No "can't get back to factory original". Looked like a win/win before the price tag jumped by a factor of 3!

Humbly confused,

Greg
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Hi Greg,

The confusion may be from my mixed interpretations of what various people were suggesting I should do.

Going back to the basics of my questions it would seem that I should be able to use a LGB Central Station 2 powering the loco as analog and driving a decoder to power the Dietz sound system which was my original concept for this topic.

What I want is for someone to confirm that my proposed arrangement would work without adding a decoder to the loco.

Step two (if I like the decoder equipped sound unit) might be to follow up with a decoder in the loco which after looking at the parts diagram may not be difficult to do.

Since there is nowhere on the Dietz sound unit to plug in a decoder that will be a further complexity for me to deal with.

My total experiences with decoders to date has been with those that plug directly into a circuit board.

It is easy for me to get confused when I do not understand the topic I am discussing.

Jerry



Posted By gswartz on 04/09/2008 5:05 PM

You were asking about 1 or 2 locos and the possibility of running them on DCC/MTS with sound, right? I think this got a bit derailed somewhere...

If you just want someone to tell you your current arrangement won't work, well, asked and answered.
Greg
 

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Posted By Jerry McColgan on 04/09/2008 5:50 PM
Hi Greg,
The confusion may be from my mixed interpretations of what various people were suggesting I should do.
Going back to the basics of my questions it would seem that I should be able to use a LGB Central Station 2 powering the loco as analog and driving a decoder to power the Dietz sound system which was my original concept for this topic.
What I want is for someone to confirm that my proposed arrangement would work without adding a decoder to the loco.
Step two (if I like the decoder equipped sound unit) might be to follow up with a decoder in the loco which after looking at the parts diagram may not be difficult to do.
Since there is nowhere on the Dietz sound unit to plug in a decoder that will be a further complexity for me to deal with.
My total experiences with decoders to date has been with those that plug directly into a circuit board.
It is easy for me to get confused when I do not understand the topic I am discussing.
Jerry
Posted By gswartz on 04/09/2008 5:05 PM
You were asking about 1 or 2 locos and the possibility of running them on DCC/MTS with sound, right? I think this got a bit derailed somewhere...
If you just want someone to tell you your current arrangement won't work, well, asked and answered.
Greg






Jerry,

What you originally proposed IS possible, but I believe hardly satisfactory. As I stated in an earlier post, running an analog loco on an MTS/DCC circuit WILL work, but the motor will be humming so loud that your sound unit will be next to useless. (and, in my opinion, it just HURTS, us... not the loco... to run a loco like this!)

***-side note-***
Digital Decoders are not all that mysterious...
They interrupt the input from the track (which would now be AC with some "added stuff" from the Central Station) and, after interpretting it (said stuff), output DC voltage to the motor to go at the speed commanded in the direction commanded. In thier simplest form, that's IT! Everything else is icing for the cake! (Forward and reverse lighting and other functions, etc.) So all us "digital" folk do is interrupt the wires from the track contacts to the motor and insert a decoder! Two wires in, two wires out! Not all that complicated, really.


Step two is possible, but a little bit of "connect the wires" would be involved. There are no plugs that I know of to resolve your issue in plug-and-play fashion. The wiring would not be difficult, but it would neccesary. And as I've stated before, since you would get more functionality from the unit running it under DCC/MTS than you would currently, I believe it would be a worthwhile step. A degree in Electronics is NOT needed, but honestly (and I'm NOT trying to be sarcastic here), if you are colorblind, do NOT attempt this! It is all about two decoders and matching colors. If that is done correctly, I believe the outcome will be wonderful! And a heck of a lot of fun!
If you have no desire to attempt the addition of a motor decoder, than I do not believe there is an answer currently that will meet your needs.

Humbly (and always happy to help, if I can)

Greg
 

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Jerry,
I re-read some of the past posts and believe I understand where some of your confusion is from.
From a previous post of yours... "The Central Station 2 is designed to operate one loco on analog power and the rest on MTS. "
This is NOT correct. The Central Station 2 does NOT supply analog power for one loco and run the rest on MTS. MTS/DCC is AC based. DC (analog) power is NOT utilized to power a single loco. To accomodate a single analog loco on an MTS/DCC system, some time-shifting is done on the positive and negative sides of the AC waveform sent onto the tracks. This appears to an analog loco as DC, although it is NOT very clean DC power. So it will move your analog loco. But, to the loco, the DC power is VERY noisy, so the motor generates quite a bit of noise. Since this particular noise is very consistent (the Central Station is just shifting the AC waveform in a very consistent fashion), there are resonances that are excited. The loco virtually "sings" as it moves. I have not seen a form of this "analog" power source that I would use for any reason other than to get a loco out of a tunnel or other such predicament. Then take it off the tracks. Immediately. It won't hurt your loco (as far as I know, anyway), but it IS unpleasant reagrdless, and, bottom-line, we do this for FUN! And listening to your favorite loco making all kinds of totally inappropriate noise just to move down the tracks... well... It's just not right!

You can give it a try, and if you like it, you are FAR more tolerant than I am!

Regards,
Greg
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Hi Greg,

I do understand about the pulsed power vs true analog power and the hum (I have heard it on some of my locos). A LGB loco with MTS hum is a LOT quieter than some non-LGB locos I own.

The Ballenbergs are rack locos and tend to be a bit noisy anyway plus the Dietz sound systems are quite good and pretty loud (I tend to run my sound systems at full volume).

The rack rails only run 50 feet or so which means that the Ballenbergs will not be run often anyway. This is mainly due to the fact that I did not install the rack rails very well. Still, since I have the Dietz sound systems I would like to get more from them.

Part of what I am trying to accomplish is to avoid spending any money if possible.

It happened that one of my LGB Mikados arrived with a defective decoder and I got a replacement (55021). The replacement arrrived but I never put it into the Mikado.

I have other LGB locos that I do not run on MTS but came with decoders.

My thought was to try to use the spare (free) 55021 decoder to power the Dietz sound unit and if necessary to pull another decoder from a different Mikado and put it into the Ballenberg loco hopefully ending up with a decoder operated Dietz sound unit and perhaps a Ballenberg that is also decoder equipped at no out of pocket expense.

Naturally LGB decoders do not come with instructions on how to (or if they can) run Dietz sound systems with them.

I don't know enough about decoders to know if sound systems require different decoders from loco decoders so I am feeling my way through this situation.

From what I can tell, it looks like the 55021 decoder is intended to send power to the motor, lights etc. and would not be suitable for the sound unit which probably only needs momentary contacts to substitute for reed switches.

On the other hand it could provide a free decoder for the Ballenberg loco.

That would leave me needing to buy a decoder for the Dietz sound unit.

Jerry
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Hi Keith,

My Dietz units do work on analog as well as digital.

The Massoth XLS appears to be a sound system as well as a decoder (more than I need).

I think all I need is a decoder capable of activating 6 different sounds (simulating six reed switches) plus recognizing speed variations of the motor circuit.

Thanks,

Jerry


Posted By Cougar Rock Rail on 04/09/2008 1:10 PM
Hi Jerry,
I think you would get the most flexibility by going to a Massoth XLS decoder. Their decoders are capable of operation on analog or digital, and can still accept the serial pulse train that your MTSii delivers. I don't think the dietz sound system will work on analog (at least the new ones don't).
Keith
 
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