Welcome to SouthwestTrakers blog. We are dedicated to sharing N-Scale model railroading through the use of T-Trak modules. We are in Lubbock, Texas, USA and currently number 7 modelers, well over 50 presentable modules, with over 24 modules cut out and in some stage of becoming presentable.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Good baby steps

The DCC system and I are becoming better acquainted. Over the past two days,
I have re-addressed five locos, and they are now show-ready. There is soooo
much to learn!
These locos are:
1) N&W #165 - F-M Train Master - Atlas 49639
2) NH #598 - F-M H16-44 - Atlas 52106
3) NMRR #108 - F59PHI - Athearn 23709
4) ATSF #3515 - GP-38 w/blue cab - Atlas 53454
5) ATSF #3520 - GP-38 w/yellow cab - Atlas 49873
In addition, there are numerous others, some "decoder ready," some not but
potentially convertable, and some (mainly steam) that will never see a decoder.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Starting up in DCC

It's been an interesting day in DCC-land. Some of it was good, some not so good, but
a lot of discovery.

I spent a good bit of the morning trying to connect a Digitrax PR3 interface to my
computer. It never happened. Apparently, the PR3 and Windows 7 do not like each
other. I needed to program the addresses on some locos, but that isn't going to
happen through the PR3.

So, I ventured to the shop and began to try to learn how to do address detection and
programming on the DCS200 command station (also Digitrax, as is the whole system.)
I had four locos to work with/on. The first came from the dealer pre-programmed to
the road number on the side, 108. No problem, it runs fine, like a champ. I used it to
figure out how to read an address already in a loco. And, no, I didn't mess it up, which
is a small victory in and of itself.

The next loco I bought last year, new and figured it would have the factory address of
03 in it. Wrong. It took me a while, but I finally remembered that it was re-addresses
(with my permission) at the OKC show last December. Wouldn't you know, the
dummy of an owner didn't write it down. What an empty head, he is. Anyway, I
found the address (3199,) then reprogrammed it to its road number, 3520, with a
short address of 20. Runs fine, now that I've quit messing with it.

The third loco was an eBay acquisition. A similar story here, as it had been changed
at some point before I bought it. Again, the number (I forget what it was) bore no
resemblance to the road number, 165. A quick reprogram to 0165 and a short address
of 65, and all is well.

Lastly, there's the little Kato pocket motor chassis to which I had added a decoder. I
programmed it to 1303, and 03.

At this point, I started to test run the beasties, starting with the last one. Nothing,
and I mean nothing, went right.

A thorough track cleaning helped a little, but the Kato just wouldn't go, or it would go
200 mph. And, it finally seemed that it didn't really care what address was being told
to speed up or slow done. I spent a long time messing with it, and finally got it to run
under control, sort-of.

Getting rather frustrated, I set it aside and tried the first three locos.

Aw, sweet. Each responded to the throttle, ran fast, ran slow, and crawled beautifully.
My faith in DCC and Digitrax is being restored. As for me, well, there is still a steeeeep
learning curve ahead.

I have a couple more factory-equipped locos to run through, and a "drop-in" that didn't
to debug. By the time I finish with these, I may want to withdraw and lick my wounds
for a while.