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Old 17-06-2018, 09:32 PM   #1
ScottC
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Default Which Decoder?!

Hi All,

I'm sure the subject of decoders has probably been mentioned umpteen times before, but my searches didn't pull up what I was looking for.

As I have said on other posts, I am started from scratch, having had a DC layout approx 10 years ago, but still have all my locos and rolling stock. With this new layout I am going DCC and have recently purchased the NCE PowerCab (Which came with a free Zen ZN8D decoder from DCC Concepts).

I have a few DCC ready locos and have had them running, thanks to a friend who donated a couple of decoders to me. However, I need/want to convert the rest of my fleet - a mix of A1, A3, J94, Fowler 4P, Pacific, Class 08, 37, 158 and 221.

Only the Bachmann Class 158 has directional lighting, so I assume the rest only need basic 8 pin chips?

If so, what ones do I go for as there seems to be numerous to choose from?

I won't be running sound, but I may add some directional lighting to some of them in future. Also, is the Class 158 difficult to convert to DCC?

Thank you.
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Old 17-06-2018, 09:48 PM   #2
cadman
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Basically you buy each decoder with pins to suit the socket in the loco i.e. 8 pin or 21 pin......they will all cover directional lighting......I use all the cheapest decoders without problems from Hornby, Bachmann, Hattons, Gaugemaster etc.......some small tank locos even only need 4 pin decoders if no lights are required.........the Bachmann class 158 apparently is not easy to convert to DCC as there is no socket......HB
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Old 17-06-2018, 09:49 PM   #3
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as for which decoder its down to choice and how much you want to spend,
what I would say for wiring them in is to look ad decoders that have the 8 pin plug directly attached and then wire a harness with the 8 pin socket in, makes changing a decoder much easier than directly soldering one on
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Old 17-06-2018, 10:00 PM   #4
ScottC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cadman View Post
Basically you buy each decoder with pins to suit the socket in the loco i.e. 8 pin or 21 pin......they will all cover directional lighting......I use all the cheapest decoders without problems from Hornby, Bachmann, Hattons, Gaugemaster etc.......some small tank locos even only need 4 pin decoders if no lights are required.........the Bachmann class 158 apparently is not easy to convert to DCC as there is no socket......HB
Thanks for the info, i'll research those some more.

Apart from 2 or 3 of my locos, none of them have DCC sockets, so I am planning on converting them with a harness so I can then buy a decoder to suit. Then, if, further down the line, I 'upgrade' the loco, I can change the decoder if required.
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Old 18-06-2018, 12:22 AM   #5
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Have a read of this
https://clarahost.clara.net/www.brom...llation4mm.htm
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DC is good - so is DCC - it depends on your operating process.
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Old 18-06-2018, 12:42 AM   #6
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The 158 conversion has levels of difficulty depending on how much realism you want.

The original yellow and red lights aren't that realistic, being overly bright and overscale but replacing with realistic ones is quite involved.
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Old 19-06-2018, 04:02 PM   #7
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All I will say with decoders is “ you get what you pay for “ you see plenty of posts on forums regarding bought cheap and now it doesn’t work. You choose........”
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Old 19-06-2018, 05:31 PM   #8
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Just to clarify. What is a harness? Most of my decoders either have wires from them which one solders in or they have those 8 pin plugs.
I have quite a number of locos using the Lenz 103XF decoders and they work fine. They are the hard wire type of decoders. I've not send them advertised lately so they may no longer be sold.
Most of my 8 pin plug type decoders are either Lenz 104XF, (Which are 103's with a plug) or Bachmann 2 function or the Bachmann 3 function decoders. I've hard wired some in by cutting off their plugs. A few of my models have the 8 pin sockets.
I do have two locos I bought that after buying I had to wait well over six months to buy decoders. They are 21 pin decoders as the locos only took that type. They were very expensive to buy and didnt do any more that the 8 pin types did. I understand the 21 pin sockets were better for DCC sound decoders.
I have one Bachmann loco ready fitted with a DCC sound decoder from the factory.

[The LE103XF and the LE104XF decoders are no longer made].

Last edited by Mountain Goat; 19-06-2018 at 05:43 PM.
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Old 19-06-2018, 06:52 PM   #9
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Which decoder is not only a matter of choice but also what will fit the particular model; the simple fact that a loco has a 8 pin socket does not mean all 8 pin decoders will fit. Also bear in mind any on line installation guides are potentially some years old and the decoders used may have been superseded or indeed a more appropriate decoder has come on the market. If space exists I normally use Lenz Standards and for time where space was limited TCS DP2X-UKs which fit directly in the socket and are hardly bigger than the blanking plug but they have now virtually doubled in price. TCS M1s are also a favourite of mine for tight spaces although they too have gone up in price. I also trim the speed to get a realistic performance from a loco - 03s and 08s are set so that with the speed control knob turned up full they crawl along rather than fly off like a F1 car; this requires a decent decoder, a number of the cheap ones are severely restricted in their range of CVs and do not facilitate such.
I have not tried the Zimo MX600 but it does get good reports and starting today I would be tempted to use it - the MX600 just has wires (think that is referenced as harness above) while the MX600R is the 8 pin version.

Price wise Lenz Standards are currently c 18 , the MX600 c 20. and the slight extra cost on that of the awful Hornby R8249 is well worth it IMO.

Decoders can be often be sourced cheaper from Europe which I have done in the past.
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Old 19-06-2018, 07:37 PM   #10
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I agree with what you say Mike but would add that the decoder should also match the technical ability of the user, some are very complex with a plethera of CVs to play with which many like me are never likely to delve into.......plug & play suits me with minor adjustments to the basic CVs inc CV29......so there is a place for the basic models such as the Hornby X9659 4-pin decoder which is easily soldered into many of the smaller tank locos that do not require lights very cheaply..........HB
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