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fun with DCC

2685 Views 18 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  Road Foreman
Well I finally had some time and some decent weather today to mess around a little bit with the CV's in airwire. I had a lot of fun adjusting the acceleration and deceleration and the maximum voltage. It's nice to be able to kid proof it, so they can't run the engines at 800 miles an hour. Pretty basic stuff I know, but a lot of fun. It's great to run a loco with realistic momentum. Takes me half the layout to come to a stop. There's obviously going to have to be some compromise betwen realism and crash avoidance.

The great thing about the QSI card is that you can program it on the fly, on your layout, and it talks back to tell you the values you just entered. It's very weird to have your loco talking to you, and people walking by are knd of bewildered, but it's very useful. Also managed to adjust the relative volume of some of the sounds. Now I need to speed match a couple steamers, so I can run them in a consist

The QSI/Airwire combination is interesting. The throttle is sometimes a little balky, in that I have to enter the CV values twice now and then. If I were ever to use batteries, I'd have all the advantages of DCC. There's a lot ot be said for the Airwire. If I could fgure out an easy way t get the Airiwre trhottle to trigger a DCC booster, it'd be very cool. CVPs website is less than clear--they make a receiver for the airwire throttle and a booster. I think.
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I know where you're coming from, it's great once you get each loco set up just the way the you want to! The thing I like about DCC is that you can tailor the speed for each individual type of loco. For example a yard switcher would have a reduced top speed and be geared lower for more grunt, whilst a road loco such as E8 or a PA would be, I imagine, the opposite with a much quicker acceleration rate and top speed for express passanger service. A GP9, as road switcher, would be somewhere in the middle with elements of both. I started off by using some of the suggested settings in an old digitrax manual that gave the CV numbers for a switcher, road switcher and road unit. These turned out quite well and I still use them as a starting point when I'm programming new locos.

Mike, I am happy you are experimenting and having fun. It's really got a lot of customization available.

I am confuste when you say: "If I were ever to use batteries, I'd have all the advantages of DCC." ... are you running track power?

On your other point: "If I could fgure out an easy way t get the Airiwre trhottle to trigger a DCC booster, it'd be very cool"

Are you saying you want to use the airwire thottle to control a DCC booster to produce DCC commands on the track?

Regards, Greg
y path into this is a little circuitous, and involved much blundering. I started out on conventional DC, then went to the 75mhz TE on track power. Then I figured out that if I wanted good sound, QSI/Airwire was cheaper. THEN I realized what QSI/Airwire really was. Now I run using constant DC on the rails, just 21 volts. So I use the QSI with the "Airwire" card. It's just interesting that if I ever went to batteries, which I don't want to do, the Airwire would have the same functionality.

I've been thinking of going to straight through-the-track DCC, mostly for the simplicity of reverse loop operation, but I can't figure out how to go to "conventional DCC" and still keep the Airiwre throttle. I dn't want to nvest in a whole new system, and it ought to be possible to have the Airwire throttle commands sent to a receiver/base station/booster or some combination thereof, which then sends them to the track. I'd be saving the 90-100 bucks for the Gwire card and I could trigger switches, reverse loops etc. more easily.

So yes, I am "saying I want to use the airwire thottle to control a DCC booster to produce DCC commands on the track"--just not very well!
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Mike, either way you will need a booster.

Either way you need a power supply.

The AirWire throttle costs about the same as a premium wireless DCC throttle from NCE, Digitrax so that's a push too (Although I will tell you either of those 2 throttles are way easier to use, especially when working with CVs)

So the difference would be interfacing the AirWire throttle to a booster vs. the DCC hardware to do this.

On the dcc side you would need the wireless base station and a command station. That's about $300.

So, you could "graduate" to where you want to go for $300 for your entire layout.

Now, you are indeed saving $90 bucks PER LOCO this way.

Well, it only takes 3-4 locos total in your layout to make DCC with wireless throttles (NCE or Digitrax system ) cheaper.

Are you going to have 3 or more locos? If so, the financial decision is made for you.

Your cost is where the "multiplier" is, and that is the number of locos you want to run. That's the cost you want to optimize.

Regards, Greg
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This is where I get confused. The airwire throttle as I understand it IS a command station. If it's sending DCC signals through the air, to a receiver in the loco, I ought to be able to send the DCC signals to a reciever and then a boosterm, and then to the track.

I can't figure out what equipment I'd need to do that. It seems to me that the G wire card itself could do it--recieve signals from the trottle and relay them to a booster, instead of to the QSI card. What am I missing?
Yes, you could probably make that work, but how well will it work? The "quality" of the AirWire throttle as a command station is not great.

For saving $300 it's not worth it in my opinion... but you want to do it.

Take your AirWire receiver... take the DCC outputs and feed them into a DCC booster... that's it.. It will probably work.

If you want to be sure, then get AirWire to tell you the voltage of the DCC output, and contact the booster manufacturer on what the input requirements are.

You will have a system that operates inferior to a "real" "system", and a controller that is one way comm, not bidirectional, and there will be little nuances like the CV29 thing.

Sell your AirWire throttle, get a real DCC system... the AirWire throttle was never designed to be a command station, to have the compatibility and accuracy of something designed as a system.

Regards, Greg
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As [HISTORY] has shown us, all may not be spelled out as is it may seem to be!!!!!!!!!
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I agree with Greg, the AirWire throttle is ok for an RC throttle, but a real command station it isn't. Better to sell it and the Gwire RX and use the funds to offset the cost of a real DCC system IF you really don't want to use batteries. But keep the QSI decoder(s).

- gws
Thanks very much, I'll look into it

Send me an e-mail & I will send you some pictures on how to hookup the AirWire to a booster..

Pins 4 and 5 from an AirWire decoder go to your booster. Of course you need to make sure the booster will accept it, MRC boosters will, and some 5 amp ones are on sale.

You might also be able to do it with the Gwire receiver.

Bob, how about sharing with us your experience and what components you got to work together? Right here is a great place, we are not going to beat Mike senseless about why it's a bad idea or not cost effective, the suggestions have been given.

Regards, Greg
Greg I'm not ignoring your advice, but 300 bucks is 300 bucks and also I want to reiterate I have never, as far as I know, even SEEN a DCC booster in real life, much less ever operated under track powered DCC. You underestimate my ignorance!

If I could take one of my existing Gwire receivers and make it operate a booster, I could get a good idea of whether or not track powered DC would be a good thing/would work well on my layout etc. If it did, I'd have a bit more information for making a decision about plunking down more dough. Or maybe it's not a good idea--I'm just gatherng info
I did not think you were ignoring my advice.

But, it's my opinion that you should NOT use this lashup to determine if track powered DC is a good idea, because I believe you will run into the following problems:
[*] erratic operation caused by out of spec timing from the AirWire transmitter. If Stan Ames says this is so, and you realize his involvement with DCC you would be concerned. [*] erratic operation caused by non-conformance with all DCC commands from the AirWire. Nowhere does AirWire claim (to my knowledge) that they support AND transmit [*] all DCC commands per NMRA spec. [*] erratic operation caused by power levels between the connection between the AW and the booster [*] erratic operation caused by the output characteristics (electical and data timing) of the AW receiver. [/list]
So, you might get this to work, it SHOULD work to a certain degree, but evaluating DCC as a technology with this setup is not going to give you a good evaluation.

It will be cheap to try, look for the thread on the MRC boosters on sale from Jerry McColgan (hope I spelled it right)....

The MRC site may have them on sale on the site. This would make it another $100 to experiment.

Of course, now it's a $200 differential between doing it right and not!

All the luck to you ....

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Send me a e-mail with your e-mail address & I will send you some pictures..

Great Bob, I appreciate it!

my email is [email protected]

I will look for that MRC booster special too, if Mike wants to try this, the least I can do is save him some $$....

Regards, Greg
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