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Discussion Starter #1
First of all I want to say thank you, again, to everyone that's helped me with questions so far. I'm brand new to digital controls and I feel like even though I've owned several kits as a kid I'm brand new to the hobby.

Doing research before buying anything led me to decide that I would be most interested in DCC instead of DC, and N Scale, and to start with a steam locomotive but definitely others later.

My Digitrax DCS 52 arrived a few days ago and I've been having fun with it.


YouTube has helped me figure out how to reprogram my locomotive from the default address of 03 to an address that matches the number on the side of the locomotive, 722.

I've also seen in some videos where they've changed the top speed of the locomotive from what the controller will allow by default. After some testing I see that with the controller at 20% that is a good "normal" speed and I don't think I want to drive it faster than 35% on the controller. So if I could adjust the speeds in the decoder to accept 100% as what is now 35% I'd be happy.

The manual seems to be written for people who already know how to do all this, and the instructional YouTube videos aren't much better. For example, the manual mentions setting a CV52 value without explaining what that is or how to do it.

Is there someone who can dumb it down for me and assume I've never been involved in programming a digital train controller before? :) There's a few other things I want to know how to program, but this will be a good start.

Thanks in advance if you can help!!!
 

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I recommend that you look into the JMRI "Decoder Pro" app.
It's FREE and runs in JAVA on both Macs and PCs.

I've found it very useful for some programming tasks, particularly speed tables, functions, and assigning/re-assigning lighting.

One other thing:
Either set up a dedicated track for programming, OR, BE SURE you remove ALL OTHER LOCOS from the main track before doing any programming for a particular engine...
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you!! I'll definitely look into that app!! I'm sure I can find a USB cable with that square end on it somewhere around the office.

I do have a piece of straight track wired into the programming connections to be a dedicated programming track. And for now I only have the one loco so it was more to keep me from having to move the wires back and forth when I wanted to try to program something. But... definitely a good tip too. Thanks!
 

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I'm sure I can find a USB cable with that square end on it somewhere around the office.
You will need more than a cable to connect your computer to the DCS 52. The port that looks like a phone jack on the DCS 52 is for LocoNet, which is a communications protocol from Digitrax. Your computer has a USB port. You'll need a interface box that "translates" USB signals/commands to LocoNet. There are a couple of companies that make these. Digitrax makes the PR4 (USB to LocoNet Interface with Decoder Programmer) which will work. There's also RR-Cirkits that makes the LocoBuffer-USB (http://www.rr-cirkits.com/locobuffer-usb/LB-usb-rev-N-flyer.pdf). I'm using the LocoBuffer-USB on my layout.

I agree with J.Albert that the JMRI Decoder Pro software works really well. It can read the values already in your decoder and gives you a table/form that you can use to alter those values. It can then write them back to the decoder. This is a really handy way to make a number of changes without the tedious method of changing CVs one at a time.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
What's the USB-B on the back of the DCS 52 used for?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
No worries. I've connected it and can't get it to read the info from the locomotive. Grrrrr. I'm a mechanical engineer, and this kind of controls software confounds me at work, and it's frustrating me at home now. Haha.

I've got to figure out what setting of the multitudes during initial start up that I messed up on.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Well, I solved one problem and got the DecoderPro to be able to see my locomotive.

But now it's giving me a possible 38 decoders that it thinks is inside my locomotive. The paperwork that came with it doesn't specify. Dangit. So now I have to hunt that down online hopefully.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Whew. What a ride. Maybe someone like me who has never done this and wants to learn can follow along. After figuring out how to read a CV value I determined which specific decoder I had.

Using this page which is only good for Soundtraxx decoders...
... I was able to read CV 256 = 1 and I have a "CO-100 Steam" decoder.

Hooray!

Now I have to figure out how this program works.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Should it matter which way the locomotive is facing on the programming track? It seems like the software can't read from or write to it unless it's facing one direction. I found that out accidentally.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
So I think I finally figured out how to get things changed on the locomotive, so a big thank you to J.Albert and to Mark for pointing me in the right direction!!!

It's weird that it only reads/writes to the locomotive when it's facing one direction on my programming track. It's the opposite direction than what is easy for me to move the locomotive to from the main track so I have to turn it around each time.

I swapped the leads going to the programming track and it didn't make a difference. Weird. I also tried to read/write from the main track and it wouldn't find the locomotive no matter which direction it was pointing. But that's something I can live with for now.

I found a good video on speed tables and I set up a table that I think will work well and I even managed to mess up and then fix the rate that the steam chug chug sounds come out and got them to match the wheels pretty well.

My next mystery is finding out where to specify some sort of momentum. Even with the speed table low value at 01 it still starts too quickly. It's quicker than it would start on the DC track so I know it's possible to start slower. If anyone knows where to look for that I'd appreciate it. I'll have to try and change it tomorrow evening.

This DCC stuff is much more fun than I expected!! At first it was too frustrating but I can certainly see spending a LOT of time tweaking and changing any locomotive that I get.
 

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You can change the acceleration and deceleration rates with CV3 and CV4, respectively. Try increasing the values to get slower rates. If you Google DCC CV list, you’ll find definitions for these two values, but it seems easier to do some trial and error to see what you like best.
 

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I should not make any difference which direction the locomotive is pointing. Make sure the wheels and track are clean. Even new locomotives have had dirty wheels!
 

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Discussion Starter #15
You can change the acceleration and deceleration rates with CV3 and CV4, respectively. Try increasing the values to get slower rates. If you Google DCC CV list, you’ll find definitions for these two values, but it seems easier to do some trial and error to see what you like best.
Awesome, thanks! Before work this morning I decided to look into this. I looked up the existing values for CV3 and CV4 on the list shown in DecoderPro and then started looking at the different pages for fields with those values. I found the acceleration and deceleration as you mentioned. They were both set at 10 and I changed them to 3 and that seemed to be much better! I'll play around with those values some more but that's definitely the ticket.

Thanks for that!!!
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I should not make any difference which direction the locomotive is pointing. Make sure the wheels and track are clean. Even new locomotives have had dirty wheels!
I figured it wouldn't matter at all which direction, and it also shouldn't matter if I'm programing on the main track or the programming track because there's no other locomotives (DCC or otherwise) on the track. Just the cars. But it will still only see the locomotive on the programming track and only when it's facing to the right on that track. It's very possible both tracks are still dirty as they have been sitting boxed up in my coworker's garage for 10 years. Even though I took a cleaning block to the tracks maybe it's worse than I thought.

Good tip on cleaning the wheels. I'll do that tonight and see if it helps. I'll also clean the tracks off some more.

Thanks!!!
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Another issue I have with the software is using it's built in controller. I was able to "steal" control of the 722 and can use the software control board to activate the light and the sounds, but it will only go forward to a maximum speed of 1. Moving the throttle slider up, or changing it to buttons and clicking the Faster button only makes the 1 blink a little but doesn't increase the value. The loco moves down the track slowly and as I'm clicking buttons to try and figure out how to make it go faster than 1 and it stops. So then I have to move the throttle back to 1 and it will not go faster.

Any suggestions there?
 

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The usual problem I.ve had with JMRI/Decoder pro is that it set to the wrong interface type. Hopefully someone else here can help. You might mention what computer/OS your using also. As I recall win 10 automatically picked the right drivers for JMRI. Decoder Pro makes for a nice way to keep track of all your eventual Locomotives;)
 

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Another issue I have with the software is using it's built in controller. I was able to "steal" control of the 722 and can use the software control board to activate the light and the sounds, but it will only go forward to a maximum speed of 1. Moving the throttle slider up, or changing it to buttons and clicking the Faster button only makes the 1 blink a little but doesn't increase the value. The loco moves down the track slowly and as I'm clicking buttons to try and figure out how to make it go faster than 1 and it stops. So then I have to move the throttle back to 1 and it will not go faster.

Any suggestions there?
Try doing a "release" of your locomotive from your DCS 52. If you have 2 throttles trying to control the same engine, they will conflict and give you strange results. When you want to switch back to using the DCS 52, you'll need to release the engine from your computer.
 

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I figured it wouldn't matter at all which direction, and it also shouldn't matter if I'm programing on the main track or the programming track because there's no other locomotives (DCC or otherwise) on the track.
It shouldn't matter which direction the locomotive is facing. That's really strange.

There is a difference between using the mainline and using a programming track. Its been a while since I looked into this for my locomotives, so my memory may not have all the details exactly right. I believe that you can only read CV values when on the programming track. The programming track for some controllers doesn't supply the same amount of current that the mainline does. I have one locomotive that can't be programmed correctly on the programming track because its decoder draws too much current. If you do a Google search, you can read more about the specifics and idiosyncrasies of decoder programming. I've also found that CV programming isn't 100% reliable. Sometimes the wrong value gets written. So my procedure is to always read back values after programming them to verify the values. Even reading isn't always 100% reliable either, so if I don't get the value I expect, I'll try reading again to double check if it was the writing or the reading that was incorrect.
 
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