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First Time with DCC, after some troubleshooting tips


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So after much time reading this and a few other forums I thought it was about time I get around to computer controlling my layout.


As most of my trains aren't DCC ready I thought I'd give wiring a go on a cheap tram body (https://www.1999.co.jp/eng/10389871). Easy right?

Well I think I did a decent job as this isn't my first time playing with electronics, I cut the tabs that connected the motor to the pickups so there was no chance of a short, and I scraped off the surfaces on the pickups and motor bus bars so that there would be a good connection.


Now my problem is the Digikeijs DR5000 isn't detecting anything on the program track, and I'm unsure if I made a mistake in wiring (I followed the diagram) or if it's a software issue (or something else..?). I don't have any DCC locos to troubleshoot with, nor do I have any friends with DCC setups (being in lockdown at the moment doesn't help either, yay NSW).


Decoder is a Digitrax DZ126T, which I have another of if a faulty unit could be the issue. Your advice much appreciated.

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  You probably did something wrong if the DR5000 doesn't pick it up.  That has been my experience.  Something is shorted or maybe the decoder was burned out by a short.


The easiest thing to do is to take a DCC-ready train (wither Euro with NEM socket or KATO with EM13 type decoder) and put a decoder in it and make sure your command station and everything works.  Then you can start testing your conversions knowing that the command station works.

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You have connected four wires, right? Power pickup (two wires, red and black) and motor (two wires, orange and grey). Anything else? Do you have a way to check the connection between the power pickup wires and the rails?

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He should start over and establish his test environment first. You should always test your decoder first. That way you will know if it is an installation problem verses a DOA (Dead On Arrival).


The DR5000 can be dangerous as you can increase the programming current. This can create problems on new installs. Typically the programming current is low

to prevent frying the decoder on a install mishaps. If you increase the current setting too high you will lose that safety measure.


If it were me I would uninstall the decoder and connect the red and black leads of the decoder to the Programming track on the DR5000. Then I would try to read CV 8 which is the manufacture ID. Digitrax's ID Code is 129. That way I would know that the decoder is good.


Building some kind of decoder tester would be good and it will teach you the basics making the installation process easier.

Here is an example







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Thanks for the replies. I only have 1 loco that is DCC ready so I've ordered the Kato drop in decoder to test with that. In the meantime I decided to try the second decoder I have on a shorty chassis. I figured it's 4 wires and I've deleted the parts that made contact, so the only thing that can go wrong with the install is if I don't know how to tell red from black.


Still doesn't work. I haven't altered any settings on the DR5000, just put the loco on the program track, which is wired to the program track output on the device. I am getting power to the track. It reads "NOLOAD" when I try to read the decoder, and it won't move when I try to test the default address of 3. Programming a new address also reads "NOLOAD".


The DR5000 is not in demo mode, it is connected to the PC and I can turn it on/off.


I'll look into the decoder tester, but they're a bit pricey here and going by the video inobu linked Larry said he's only had 2 DOA in 20+ years. How common is getting a dead decoder (I only plan on buying new)?







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You know its good to get stuck into the cleaning when you can't go out; cleaning the bathroom, cleaning the kitchen, cleaning the track...


I removed the pickups from my first go and connected them directly to the program track output (as per inobu's advice) and got a read of the decoder and the motor moving. I think this is a good substitute for a decoder tester (free is always good). So after cleaning the track it worked perfectly.


As for the shorty not working, it does intermittently now. Holding it down lets it run, not sure if that's because it doesn't have the weight of a body on top, or because of the traction wheels (even though both bogies are connected to track power). I don't plan on keeping that decoder on the shorty, have a Modemo tram to put it in while I wait for some bus bars to arrive so I can get to testing the rest of the gear on a trial loop.


Sometimes it's the simplest things causing issues. Thanks again for the input.

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Any install that fails to go smoothly the question of the decoder will always come to mind. So testing the decoder just saves you time.

After a while the tester become a tool of convenience. Build your self a test rig as it will pay off in the long run.


I got tired of missing the simple things that cause me to waste so much time so I built a test rig. 

It does not have to be fancy just functional.





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