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Hi Everyone,

I have found discussions about several brands of decoders but nothing about MRC decoders.

Apparently these can handle up to 8 amps and 2 motored G scale locos:

G DECODER: 8A NO SOUND AD324

G DECODER: 8A DIESEL AD322

8 amps, 2-digit (1-127), and 4-digit (1-9999) addressing, advanced consisting (CV19), 14,28 and128 speed steps, 6-functions (F0-F4) with MRC Light Effects (Rule 17 lighting, ditch lights, mars light, strobe light). Easy programming. Adjustable start voltage, momentum and top voltage. Handles 2 motored G scale locos.

Do you have to have a MRC system to use them?

How to MRC decoders compare with other brands?
 

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I'm not out to slam anything undeserved. I have the MRC G gauge generic diesel sound decoder. I never used it. I had installed about 8-10 of their decoders in my HO engines and they started failing before I finished the fleet. I installed a HO diesel sound decoder and it failed too. I have stopped buying their decoders. It is too big a hastle to change them and they don't last for me. I have their prodigy system I and it's out of use. I used to love their powerpacks?
Buy what you want, but first I'd buy an NCE, or Digitrax, or Lenz, or =, how about qsi with sound. I've since switched to DCS, so wait for an unbiased opinion. Maybe the newer models got better? Maybe the G gauge was built better. It's in its' box still (2 years?), and maybe when........., I'll try it. Joe
 

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I don't know how good they are but I just bought some MRC AD322's (they were super cheap) so I will see how they turn out. So far I am still testing a few of them to see what sort of results I get with them.

Regards,

Jerry
 

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I bought the MRC decoders and installed one in Bachmann Annie and another one in a USA S1 diesel. The one in the annie was giving me trouble and I replaced it with a Dgitrax decoder. I still have some problems and don't think the problem was the decoder. The usa model still has the MRC and runs great. both engines have seperate sound systems installed and they work fine.
 

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I have now installed a few MRC AD322 decoders and so far I have to say that I have been very pleased with them.

Of course I would not compare them to or expect the same quality and features as $100 - $300 decoders but for the price I have to say that I could not be happier with them.

I now have converted a friend's old LGB 20551 White Pass two motor diesel to run both on MTS/DCC and analog power for less than $20.00. This is a bare bones conversion with just motors and lights - no fancy DCC remote controls etc.

Time will tell how well the decoder holds up but the friend I installed the decoder for will be running this loco many hours day after day once he gets it back so that should prove to be a fantastic durability test.

By the same token I have no actual running experience with them so I am not suggesting or recommending that anyone should run out and buy them.

If anyone is interested I will provide more details on my installations and results.

Jerry
 

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Hi Joe,

So far I am very happy with the MRC AD322 decoders. I have only had one fail and that was after I had accidentally had at least 3 major shorts with it.

I put one in a friend's loco that he will be running for many hours so I look forward to hearing from him (I will see him today) to hear how well it is holding up for him.

Apparently these decoders are not LGB serial capable but he has no problems running his locos including switching his lights on and off with a LGB Central Station 1 (serial only). He tells me he can even ring the bell of the AD322 sound system. He is happy with the quality of the AD322 sound system preferring it to the lack of sound he had before. Since I wired his loco conventionally I had to replace his LGB 18 volt lights with 24 volt lights.

My primary way of using these 8 amp decoders is to insert them between the track leads from the motor and the loco track lead input. This way it tricks the loco into running under MTS/DCC as if it is running under analog track power which means I do not have to worry about excess (MTS/DCC line) voltage going to smoke units, lights or other electronics.

One word of caution is that I am not happy with the way that the decoder switches between analog track power and DCC. It has a tendency to want to go backwards before it goes forward in analog track power mode. I believe this is a result of the decoder being programmed to NMRA specs and I suspect that if I reversed my analog track operations (physically changing loco motor polarities to NMRA standards which is the reverse of what LGB and most G Scale manufacturers use) that the decoder would default to forward in analog mode rather than to reverse.

My solution is to disable the analog ability of the decoders (CV29=0 for LGB 14 step MTS) and to put a DPDT switch in the loco to bypass the decoder entirely when I want to run in analog mode.



So far I am convinced the MRC AD322 decoders are the best G Scale bargain I have run across.

I bought 28 of them for $307.72 total (about the price of 3 conventional G Scale decoders).

http://www.modelrec.com/search/product-view.asp?ID=1271

I ordered 14 because that met the free shipping minimum but then I ordered 14 more when I realized that 14 might not be enough for myself and for my friends.

Regards,

Jerry



Posted By Enginear on 09/08/2008 3:53 PM
Hi Jerry, just wanted to see how they hold up in G scale, let us know, Joe
 

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I have used a few MRC decoders and the only thing I have noted is that sometimes they do not respond to the f keys well and sometimes just stop running but then after a new power up work fine again ..... so just a little flakey

I also have to say the sound is not the best .....

but at $10.99 ea how can you go wrong even HO scale decoders are $20 ea ......

and we all have a few locos that are not good enough to drop a full pop decoder and sound into ......
 

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What's the sound like with the AD322? I assume it's pretty basic, but how basic? Does the engine noise change with change in speed and things like that?
 

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Posted By eatrains on 10/10/2008 4:29 PM
What's the sound like with the AD322? I assume it's pretty basic, but how basic? Does the engine noise change with change in speed and things like that?


The engine noise does change with speed and there is a bell and horn but the results are somewhat erratic and the sound is not great.

Also I think the sounds work one at a time. There is a word I can't remember for multiple sounds at the same time but I don't think these decoders do it.

I look at them as a $10.99 motor only decoder and with that frame of mind anything else is a bonus. Lets face it, $10.99 for a 8 amp decoder is unheard of.

Regards,

Jerry
 

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Rod, it's a strong possibility. You might have to put a resistor on the motor outputs to simulate a motor. The DCC functions to ring the bell and sound the horn should work, since those are pretty much standard.

As Jerry says, it's only $11 so why not try it?

Regards, Greg
 

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Two comments regarding the MRC AD322 decoders.

1. The friend who has run them the most reports no problems after dozens of hours of use. He does have limitations because he is running them with a LGB MTS Central Station 1 so he only has serial capability. The good news is that he burned up the first Central Station 1 by wiring it incorrectly but at $50 each he only has $100 in the burned out Central Station 1 and his new Central Station 1.

On his locos I made a regular installation with the lights connected to the decoder and even under serial operations he has motor and light controls. As a result he had to replace all his 5 volt lights with 24 volt lights. The decoders are in diesels without smoke units so that was a problem avoided.

In my personal installations I connect everything (lights, smoke, motor etc.) to the motor output of the decoder so I have no idea what works other than the motor output. This way I don't have to change any lights or smoke units to compensate for the DCC voltage.

2. The one thing I have found unsatisfactory with the AD322 decoders is their analog track power operations. When I switch to track power the locos try to run in reverse until a few volts are reached at which time they snap to forward. I am guessing that this is because they default to reverse under track power and this is probably caused by the fact that I wire them opposite to the instructions (NMRA standard?) because if I follow the instructions on track polarity I end up with reverse directions under analog track power compared to my other locos. This results (I presume) because NMRA track voltage is reversed polarity from LGB, USA, Aristo and most of the manufacturers.

When running a diesel AB or ABB or ABBA this erratic track power switching could damage couplers etc.

My solution is to either disable the track power capability of the decoders and only run AD322 decoder equipped locos under MTS/DCC or to put a DPDT switch in the locos to disable the decoder and switch directly to track power.

Strangely I discovered a benefit I had not thought of to disabling decoder equipped locos from track power operations.

Since I run primarily on track power when I want to switch to MTS/DCC I have to play a switching game of moving (driving) the track powered locos off the mainline while driving decoder equipped locos onto the mainline. This leaves me at times with both decoder and non-decoder locos on the mainline at the same time.

The result is that analog power enabled decoder equipped locos want to run under track power when I want them to stay still while I move the non-decoder locos off the mainline.

The solution has been to turn off the analog function of any decoders that are likely to be on the mainline. That means a flip of a switch to track power disables all decoder equipped locos while allowing me full control of non-decoder locos.

After I clear the mainline of all non-decoder locos I then flip power to MTS/DCC and resume MTS/DCC operations without concern for any non-decoder locos.

When I want to revert to track power operations I drive the decoder equipped locos onto sidings where the siding can be de-powered. I then move the analog locos back onto the mainline.

It sounds a lot more complicated than it is. It is working out very well.

I mainly run MTS/DCC like I did yesterday when I had a few friends over and gave them each a LGB remote and assigned a decoder equipped loco/train to each person. After they are gone I then move the locos around repositioning them for my normal track powered operations.

Jerry
 

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The erratic DC operation may well be the reason they are being "fire saled". I intend to buy a bunch. Thanks to Jerry for the "find".

Regards, Greg
 

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Posted By Greg Elmassian on 10/12/2008 7:37 PM
The erratic DC operation may well be the reason they are being "fire saled". I intend to buy a bunch. Thanks to Jerry for the "find".

Regards, Greg


Hi Greg,

I am glad that you are going to be buying some. I am reluctant to discuss them much because I know so little about DCC and I do not wish to give incorrect information about them to anyone.

It will be great if you get some and can then give us some knowledgeable information regarding what can or cannot be done with them along with tips on how to fine tune them for various applications. I have found that the various diesel speeds are more sensitive than I would like them to be but so far I have not tweaked them to anything different from the way they came from the factory other than changing Loco ID and enabling/disabling analog operations.

http://www.modelrec.com/search/product-view.asp?ID=1271

I converted an Aristo-Craft F-1 ABBA (four locos, eight motors) to DCC for a TOTAL COST of only $43.96! Not even a penny for shipping or sales tax.


I'm surprised they have any left.



I should mention that these are relatively large decoders which is reasonable in that they are rated at 8 amps. For reference the speaker is 2 1/4" wide.

MRC Tech Support was far more responsive than I had expected them to be.

Someone else actually told me about both the inexpensive Digitrax and MRC decoders but since he told me via private email I have left his name out of my comments.

Regards,

Jerry
 

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Posted By Rod Fearnley on 10/13/2008 11:48 AM
I think I must have just got the last four! They are now listed as no longer available.
Jerry thanks for the heads up .

Rod




Hi Rod,

Glad I could help.

Regards,

Jerry
 
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