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Discussion Starter #1
has anyone installed non-LGB/Massoth decoders in LGB 2-4-0 starter set locos? This would be for LGB 2-4-0's that do not have LGB factory sound systems.

I have nothing at all against LGB/Massoth decoders (they would be my first choice). I am just curious if there are significantly less expensive alternatives that someone has been successful in using with their LGB 2-4-0's that they are running with the LGB MTS System (50111 & Central Stations 1, 2 or 3).

I found the following on Tony's website (there may be other brands and models in this price range that I am not aware of):

scale mfg model name max Amps peak Amps # func's msrp
G/O Digitrax DG383AR 3 5 8 $59.99
G/O Digitrax DG583AR 5 10 8 $64.99
G/O Digitrax DG583S 5 10 8 $66.99
O/S/G NCE D408SR 4 8 8 $69.95

Other than the convenience of a plug in installation and incompatibility with the LGB PC software would there be any other disadvantages or incompatibilities with using them?

Thanks,

Jerry
 

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Jerry,

Those are all good DCC decoders & will work on the MTS system.. But MTS is called "crippled" DCC for a reason.. You can not excess all the functions of the DCC decoders with the system..

BulletBob
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hi Bob,

That is worthwhile information to have but in my case it is not a liability.

The primary power of my layouts is and will always remain analog track power and the majority of my locomotives do not and will not ever have decoders (and they already have analog track powered sound systems) plus my electric LGB turnouts (150+) are already wired for plain DC voltage operation. Track magnets operate the loco's bells and whistles so there is not much need for full DCC functions. Most (if not all) of the locomotives I add decoders to will have the simple LGB (chuff only - no bell or whistle or other sounds) 4135s type of analog sound systems.

My only purpose for MTS/DCC is for occasional use by my granddaughters and occasional visitors where I may want to be able to give multiple visitors individual LGB Loco or Universal Remote controls to run various trains at the same time on the layouts.

My granddaughter Emily is severely autistic and anything beyond the basic forward and reverse is beyond her ability so I have little interest in advancing my layout operations beyond her ability to enjoy it. Anything complicated frustrates and upsets her which upsets and frustrates me.

Best regards and once again I appreciate your help,

Jerry

Posted By Road Foreman on 07/21/2008 5:52 PM
Jerry,
Those are all good DCC decoders & will work on the MTS system.. But MTS is called "crippled" DCC for a reason.. You can not excess all the functions of the DCC decoders with the system..
BulletBob
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Hi Bulletbob,

I think it is interesting (to me anyway) and coincidental that I just read the following in the Spring 1995 LGB Telegram (page 23) under "Keep it Simple":

"Who is the Multi-Train System for?

In the past, electronic train control systems were highly complex devices aimed primarily at advanced users. The LGB Multi-Train System is designed for BEGINNERS. Both the connections and controls are intuitive. In other words, you can use it - and enjoy it - without ever reading the instruction manual."

Granted, this was written about the LGB Central Station 1 with Mouse controls (I don't know if LGB changed their MTS philosophy or not) but it describes perfectly my preferred approach to MTS/DCC. Then too this was written before LGB came out with MTS controls for turnouts and other accessories but it does reflect my personal concept of what I want from MTS.

I guess I am still in a 1995 frame of mind regarding running my trains.

Regards,

Jerry



Posted By Road Foreman on 07/21/2008 5:52 PM
MTS is called "crippled" DCC for a reason.. You can not excess all the functions of the DCC decoders with the system..
BulletBob
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I have finally started the job of putting a decoder into the first LGB 2-4-0 (without factory sound).

A ATSF loco just happened to be the one I picked up. After a few false starts I finally got the boiler, cab and firebox off.

That led to a surprise - there is NO fitting for a LGB decoder. This is OK because I am going to attempt installing a Digitrax DG583AR decoder into it anyway.

My first stumbling block is where the heck to connect the decoder.

At first I was going to put the decoder between the motor and track leads but then I remembered I need straight track contact feed to the tender so that the LGB 4135s sound unit in the tender will work properly under analog track power and under MTS/DCC.

Some people would probably suggest replacing the circuit board with the decoder but that is more than I want to do. I'm not concerned about lights and smoke being controlled by the decoder (even if the headlight stays on all the time). If I don't remove the circuit board I should not have to worry about the voltage of the cab light or the smoke unit (or the tender light).

Instead I think I will leave the circuit board connected to the track leads from the drive unit contacts and simply add the decoder contacts to those track leads.

Next I will probably disconnect the motor leads from the motor (and leave them insulated and not connected to anything). Instead I will connect the decoder motor out leads to the motor.

The whole operation should involve disconnecting 4 wires, insulating two and connecting 4 wires.

Does anyone see anything wrong with this?

Thanks,

Jerry
 

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Discussion Starter #6
The decoder is installed and the LGB 2-4-0 is working fully to my expectations.

First I cut and ignored the two outer wires which are from the circuit board to the motor.

Then I soldered one pair of wires to the pins I cut the motor wires from (these new wires will power the motor from the decoder).

Next I soldered another pair of wires on top of the inner pins which will feed track power to the decoder. I left the circuit board connected because I want the circuit board to power the lights and smoke unit.








Then I fed the two pairs of wires to the front of the loco because I will place the decoder in the smoke box.














Finally I reassembled the loco and tested it. Everything worked as expected.






The LGB analog sound unit works with the Koopmann circuit and a Digitrax DH123D decoder - both under analog track power and under MTS/DCC.

The LGB 2-4-0 loco runs under both analog track power and under MTS/DCC.

The only negative issues I've noticed that might concern some people is that while the lights work perfectly under analog track power, when under MTS the headlight stays on all the time and the tender light never comes on. Also the loco (under MTS) is a bit jerky as it goes through the speed steps. Some day I may try to tune this up (it may be programming or it may just be because I used a cheap Digitrax DG583S decoder).

I have to say that I am very satisfied with my results. Since I already owned the 2-4-0 and the LGB 4135s sound unit, my total expenses to convert this loco and sound system to MTS/DCC was just about $75 including both Digitrax decoders and the Koopmann circuit.

Of course there are far better decoders and sound systems to have done this with but my objective was plain and simple - to see just how cheaply I could convert this loco and sound system to MTS/DCC. The difference is that (because of the cheap overall cost) I may now convert my other eight LGB 2-4-0's so they too can run under MTS/DCC. If I had used better decoders and/or sound systems I would never have considered converting these locos to MTS/DCC.

Next will be the testing stage to see how well everything holds up and performs as I put some hours on the loco.

Jerry
 

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Hi Jerry-

You wrote:

The only negative issues I've noticed that might concern some people is that while the lights work perfectly under analog track power, when under MTS the headlight stays on all the time and the tender light never comes on. Also the loco (under MTS) is a bit jerky as it goes through the speed steps. Some day I may try to tune this up (it may be programming or it may just be because I used a cheap Digitrax DG583AR decoder).



Based upon how you wired the loco, the headlight and tender light should both be illuminated on MTS. Are you also using zero stretching for another locomotive? (This may explain why the tender light works properly in analog mode, but is not illuminated in digital mode.)

The loco is jerky because MTS only has 14 speed steps. It's not the Digitrax decoder. You can probably smooth things out a bit with better decoder programming.

Did you use a Digitrax DG583AR or DG583S? Judging from the pictures, it appears you used the DG583S. The -AR decoders are designed for "plug-and-play" installation in Aristo locos and do not have screw terminals.

Best regards,
Bob
 

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Discussion Starter #8
It turns out that there is something other than the decoder that is causing the jerkiness of the motor.

I temporarily took the decoder out of the circuit and the loco has a jerkiness even under analog power.

Jerry
 

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Jerry-

You wrote:

As I had said "I left the circuit board connected because I want the circuit board to power the lights and smoke unit." None of the lights are powered via the decoder. All the lights get their power from the track and/or the LGB circuit board.



I understood your original explanation. However, if the circuit board is wired directly to the rails, it is receiving a bi-polar signal when running on DCC track. As a result, the front and rear lights should be illuminated. You stated the rear lamp was off when running on DCC.


You wrote:

I believe the jerking must be in the decoder because I ran a Corpet-Louvet (with LGB factory installed decoder) on the same track at the same time and the Corpet-Louvet does not jerk and neither jerk under track power.



Trust me, the jerkiness is the result of only having 14 speed steps. If you put the Digitrax-equipped loco on a system that ran 128 speed steps, it would be much smoother.

Later model LGB locos with onboard decoders are shipped from the factory with improved CV settings to compensate for the 14 speed steps. You will need to perform similar reprogramming of the Digitrax decoder to reduce the jerkiness.

I wouldn't expect either loco to jerk while running under DC, unless there was a mechanical problem.

Best regards,
Bob
 

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I was going to put a MRC AD322 decoder into the 2-4-0 to replace the more expensive Digitrax decoder but the AD322 was too large to fit into the smoke-box so I put the Digitrax decoder back into the 2-4-0.

Jerry
 

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Jerry-

You didn't answer my question. Do both front and rear lights illuminate when running DCC? If the rear lamp does not illuminate on DCC, does it work when running the loco in reverse with analog power?

Best regards,
Bob
 

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I've more or less decided to leave the LGB 2-4-0's that have the decoder interface alone (not put decoders into them - at least for now).

For the other 2-4-0's (I'm not sure how many as so far I have just looked at the ATSF (no decoder interface) and D&RGW (with interface) I will most likely put Digitrax DG583S decoders into the locos and MRC AD322 decoders into the tenders (to power the LGB 4135s series of sound units I have in the 2-4-0 tenders).

Jerry
 

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Jerry-

Based upon how you wired the loco, both forward and reverse lamps should be on when running on a DCC powered track.

If you pick up the loco and place it on the track facing the other direction, which lamp is illuminated when running on a DCC powered track? I am guessing the rear lamp will be lit in both directions.

If this is the case, the MTS Central Station is putting a biased DCC signal on the rails. The biased signal is from zero stretching. In non-technical terms, this is when you run an analog (non-decoder equipped) loco on a digital layout. (In order to get the loco to move, the normally "balanced" DCC signal is given a positive or negative bias, creating a net DC voltage across the rails.

Best regards,
Bob
 
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