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Discussion Starter #1
Purely anecdotal on my part, but it looks like the difference between DC and DCC locos is a fair bit more than the cost of the decoder, and the Kato my brother just bought doesn't even take advantage of all the features of the Loksound direct micro it came with.

Assuming that one is handy with a soldering iron and no stranger to micro electronics, generally speaking, is one better off to buy DC locos and separately do your own decoder/speaker install vs buying locos with a preinstalled one? Both from the perspective of cost and quality of implementation?

Thanks
 

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Not sure I follow. If the decoder has functions that aren't being used, then can't you turn them on?
In his case the decoder has separate connections for ditch lights, but Kato uses a single LED (with a plastic optical spliter for the main forward light and ditch lights).
 

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Ah. I can't really say what is the better approach. I have added sound decoders to soundless units, but if I have an option I try to buy units with sound, and live with them if they are missing advanced functions.

But to your example, if you are skilled enough to add a decoder you would also be skilled enough to wire up the extra lights if the existing decoder has the connection for it, yes?

Added: Also, I think many/most new DC units may already be DCC ready (may be). They'd certainly be easier to add a decoder to instead of having to deal with isolating the motors and other things necessary to convert an older DC unit (at least as far as I've heard, never done one myself)
 

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The most difficult part of installing a sound decoder
in a loco is the speaker. The degree of difficulty
depends on the motor and weights under the shell.
In some locos the weight must be machined to make
room. Forum members have been through it all and
can guide you when you need help.

The non sound decoder wires use a standard color code which
is described in the manual. 2 wires to the motor,
2 wires to headlight and rear light. 2 wires from
the trucks. Installation is typically an hour or
so chore. Sound decoders have an additional
2 wires for the speaker. The decoder itself could be on
a circuit board or simply a plastic covered lump about
the size of two postage stamps.

Don
 

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Generally speaking, one is better of doing what works for them. Some people don't want the hassle of installing the decoder (and FWIW, you're not just paying for the decoder, but the added labor necessary to install and test it.

Personal,y, I'm in the "install your own" camp, because I can chose the features I want in the decoder. Significantly, I do NOT want sound in my locos, and it's tough to find a model these days that comes with DCC but not sound.

That doesn't make my approach better, though. Just best for me.
 

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ESU has two lines; Loksound, and Lokpilot for locomotives. It should not be a problem to find any decoder configuration from ESU that you would want to install in a locomotive.

Same with Viessmann.
 

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The new locos from ScaleTrains & Rapido are so advanced it makes installing your own decoders obsolete. Lights every where their certainly loud enough. I bought 2 of these locos I will not be installing another decoder.

George
 

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In ess doesn't it all come down to $$ ? I was going to say the same thing about the speaker install being the hardest job. Never did anything with installing decoders/speakers. But in the end, for me personally, is to avoid all that hassle and pay, what?, $30 more and let the manufacturer do it (comes out about the same $ either way). But if you enjoy the challenges, then do install everything yourself.
So there's your answer...No ? M
 

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I’ve done (hard wired) about 10 locomotives, and have some dcc / sound pre-installed locos. I actually like like it. Personally, if sound is important, I prefer the pre-installed. The manufacturers do a good job of decent speakers/and good decoders. The price of a sound decoder, and speaker can be expensive. If sound isn’t a big feature, installing a decoder is typically just plug and play. And if it needs to be soldered, soldering is a skill like any other, practice makes you better...cheers
 
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