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Discussion Starter #1
I am always a sucker for a bargain. I like the MRC AD322 decoders even though they are quite a bit less impressive than their competitors - because they have been so cheap!

The biggest limitation with the AD322 is the size. It is nice that it is an 8 amp decoder but it it simply too large to put in some of my smaller locos.

I recently ran across the fact that MRC now has their AD321 3 amp decoders on clearance for $8.99. The AD321 decoder is tiny compared to the AD322.


HO/G DECODER 321 3A
Brand: MRC
Item # AD321

Price: $8.99

This is a clearance item. It is available while supply lasts and is a final sale.


HOT WEB SPECIAL: Regulary $39.98

3 amps, 2-digit (1-127) or 4-digit (1-9999) addressing, 14, 28 and 128 speed steps, advanced consisting, 5 accessory functions, (F0-F3) at 0.2 amp rate.

http://www.modelrectifier.com/search/product-view.asp?ID=1270



I have ordered 15 of the AD321's along with a couple of their Universal Voltage Reducers:

UNIVERSAL VOLTAGE REDUCER (AC/DC)
Brand: MRC
Item # AT880

Price: $9.98





Capable of lowering a power pack’s top voltage output by 4 volts



If you’have been having top voltage issues, here’s a solution. The Universal Voltage Reducer lowers the top voltage output of the unit by approximately 4 volts. It works for any gauge and is especially useful with N Scale applications where top speeds are too fast. Installs in series between the power source and the track.

http://www.modelrectifier.com/search/product-view.asp?ID=1261

The AT880's may lower my MTS?DCC voltage to a level less likely to burn out 18 volt lights in my Aristo coaches.

All of this for a total price of $154.81 including free shipping.

It may sound like I am pushing MRC but I am not. I still prefer (and buy) LGB & Massoth decoders for my more expensive locos etc. but the MRC AD322's and AD321's are so inexpensive I am putting them into locos I never would have paid the price of LGB & Massoth decoders to use them. If anything these new AD321's may take the place of some Digitrax DG583S decoders I was going to buy but that have not been available.

As always I am not making any specific recommendations for anyone to rush out and buy anything. I have not yet received any AD321's but I think they are going to solve some issues for me such as I may put them on the bottoms of some Aristo Heavyweights and Streamliners to control or turn off those lights to reduce the power drain on the 5 amp limit of my LGB MTS Central Stations.

The AD322 was a better bargain for only $2.00 more but when a AD322 does not fit I now will have the option of the AD321's

I am also hoping that just perhaps the AD321 might be more compatible with analog track power as well as with MTS/DCC since it does not seem likely to have a mechanical relay. I also hope it may have less motor noise but if not I can live with it.

In those instances where the AD322 does not fit and sound is not needed the AD321 seems very promising.

Jerry
 

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Jerry
they are not silent decoders. I installed one of these in a LGB amtrak 3 car, and it buzzs like crazy. and it doees not do DC
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Posted By dbodnar on 01/19/2009 5:35 PM

Good find, Jerry - I'll be waiting to hear your observations. thanks!

dave




Hi Dave,

You are welcome. I look forward to getting them.

Jerry
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Posted By Bills on 01/19/2009 7:19 PM
Jerry
they are not silent decoders. I installed one of these in a LGB amtrak 3 car, and it buzzs like crazy. and it doees not do DC


Hi Bill,

I wish I could say that surprises me but I pretty much expected it.

Still, for a decoder to put into a $50 Lionel 0-4-0 or similar locos (mainly for kids) it should work OK especially since it will be used in locos with a sound system to cover up the noise.

Most will probably end up being installed to run sound systems instead of motors which should work out OK.

All observations (the bad as well as the good) are welcome. I'm not trying to sugar coat or promote anything.

Thanks,

Jerry
 

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Jerry, the voltage reducer can be "made" with 3 full wave bridge rectifiers from radio shack, depending on the amperage you need, you could make the same thing for cheap.

How many amps is the mrc unit? 4 amp rectifiers are $2 from RS, so you could make a 4 amp equivalent of the MRC goodies for $6 and it would be about the size of the end of your thumb.

Just another alternative.

Regards, Greg
 

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the older AD320 is noisy too. It hammers away at 30 Hz.

However, the noise is only a problem on SOME motors. I have not figured out what the difference is but the noise is not nearly as bad in some locos as it is in others.

Even at $9, I would not consider these decoders to be a bargain.

- gws
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Posted By Greg Elmassian on 01/19/2009 7:45 PM
Jerry, the voltage reducer can be "made" with 3 full wave bridge rectifiers from radio shack, depending on the amperage you need, you could make the same thing for cheap.

How many amps is the mrc unit? 4 amp rectifiers are $2 from RS, so you could make a 4 amp equivalent of the MRC goodies for $6 and it would be about the size of the end of your thumb.

Just another alternative.

Regards, Greg


Hi Greg,

The AD321 decoders are rated at 3 amps. The main differences between decoders and rectifiers would be that the decoders would give me 14 levels of lighting PLUS the ability to turn them off entirely.

The nice thing about the decoders I put into the LGB 3080 series coaches is that I can dim (to any level) or turn off the lights entirely off via a decoder. The Aristo lights take a lot more amps but with 3 amp AD321's I can probably MU the Heavyweights in sets of 3 and have two decoders per train. The main issue would be to keep the total MTS amps down below the 5 amp limit which may involve turning the coach lights off or running them very dim. This is just a thought and I am not sure what if anything I will do with the Heavyweights.

I may just play with a single Heavyweight and see what develops.

One concern would be that a rectifier circuit might develop more heat (especially without a head sink) but the chance are that heat would be generated one way or another.

The AD321's were just a surprise when I discovered them and they seemed useful and cheap enough that I had to buy some to find out what I can do with them.

Regards,

Jerry
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Posted By George Schreyer on 01/19/2009 8:10 PM
the older AD320 is noisy too. It hammers away at 30 Hz.

However, the noise is only a problem on SOME motors. I have not figured out what the difference is but the noise is not nearly as bad in some locos as it is in others.

Even at $9, I would not consider these decoders to be a bargain.

- gws


Hi George,

When it comes to decoders I think the old adage of "you get what you pay for" is very true. I would never suggest that the MRC AD322 and AD321 decoders are of comparable quality to other brands of decoders (or to the latest models of MRC decoders).

While I have spent a fair amount on MRC decoders, at the same time I have spent quite a bit more on LGB, Massoth and Digitrax decoders. In all cases I have felt that I got my money's worth.

In my case every MRC decoder represents a situation where I installed a decoder where I would never have been willing to pay the price of a LGB or Massoth decoder. When it comes to a LGB Forney, Mogul, Mikado or F7 they get a LGB or Massoth decoder but when it comes to a sound system that only needs a chuff input on a sound board, that does not have a chuff sensor, a MRC decoder can provide the chuff signal at a fraction of the cost. The same is true when it comes to a $50 - $100 loco in that I am unwilling to pay more for a decoder than I paid for the loco I'll be putting a decoder into. Most of these are trains that are run very infrequently and then mostly by visitors or kids.

On the other hand a friend has been running his LGB and Aristo diesels (that I put AD322's into) for several months now and after MANY hours of use he is still extremely pleased with them and they seem to be holding up very well.

I just fitted another AD322 into an Aristo SD-45's DCC socket and the AD322 is working very well with his motors, bell, horn and lights. He is quite pleased with the sound using the Aristo speaker. The only thing I did not get to work was his smoke unit but I might try connecting that to the AD322's motor output and see if it works.

Each of us have different preferences for sound quality etc. and the more I listen to the AD322's sound the more I tend to like it - especially considering that the bell, horn and lights can be made to work as well if I put the extra effort into the installation.

The inexpensive MRC decoders simply represent a cheap alternative for those of us who are willing to pay less and settle for less.

Regards,

Jerry
 

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As a trigger for steam chuffs they would be fine. No motor buzz. might not scync with the engine. I agree about using them in a 50 dollar loco. I use the 322 in an old aristo F1, however in anthing more expensive my next choice is the MRC 1817 for sound at $65 or the digitrax 538s at $52. The 538s is great for lgb engines that have the 10 pin DCC socket as it has a common and groun terminal.
 
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