Decoder Advice

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Bigmet
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Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2007 2:19 pm

Re: Decoder Advice

Postby Bigmet » Thu Jun 24, 2021 11:13 am

SRman wrote:
Suzie wrote:PluX-16 is also an N-Gauge socket with quite a few decoders available for it, but not many locos use it yet, unfortunately the Next-18 socket appears to be more popular.


The PLuX format is a little bulkier than Next18, but is also more flexible, with 12, 16 or 22 pin versions readily available, and all usable in any of the PLuX sockets. Next18 is really nice and compact, so ideal for the smaller models, including small HO/OO models.

As I said earlier, where there is space, I think the PLuX format is the way forward, with Next18 filling the gap for smaller models. Certainly it is time, in my opinion, to retire the 6-pin and 8-pin sockets (Hornby, please note ... and get rid of that ridiculous 4-pin version of yours).

But here's the problem, which those with dreams of standardisation - in all fields - typically ignore.

None of those previous connector formats can be 'retired', because there's an up to 30 year legacy of installations of them in customer's hands, and a raft of model toolings with those connector formats, which will continue to be reissued unchanged. (Margins are tight, not going to spend anything on retooling!) So all previous formats must still be produced. Attempts at 'standardisation' by introduction of a new and better connector format simply increase the number in use: de-standardisation! And we pay for this, it doesn't come for free.

A far better move would be to dump most connector formats for new model introductions, and only use 8 pin, 21 pin MTC and Next18, the first two because they are de facto standard by volume in the HO (and OO) market place, and Next18 because it is needed for N gauge, since some will insist on doodads beyond motor control.

SRman wrote:...Now all we have to do is get manufacturers to not be lazy in their pcb designs, and separate the various function outputs such as tail lights so they can be independently controlled.

That would be good, but everything I know about model railway world tells me not a snowball's chance in hell. Manufacturers all tend to have a 'my way' fixation, especially if they can sell their decoder as the only one that works the various functions on their new 'Student Riot' Class 68, without having to reconfigure the outputs.

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SRman
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Joined: Fri Oct 03, 2008 2:26 am

Re: Decoder Advice

Postby SRman » Thu Jun 24, 2021 2:01 pm

Bigmet wrote:None of those previous connector formats can be 'retired', because there's an up to 30 year legacy of installations of them in customer's hands, and a raft of model toolings with those connector formats, which will continue to be reissued unchanged. (Margins are tight, not going to spend anything on retooling!) So all previous formats must still be produced. Attempts at 'standardisation' by introduction of a new and better connector format simply increase the number in use: de-standardisation! And we pay for this, it doesn't come for free.

A far better move would be to dump most connector formats for new model introductions, and only use 8 pin, 21 pin MTC and Next18, the first two because they are de facto standard by volume in the HO (and OO) market place, and Next18 because it is needed for N gauge, since some will insist on doodads beyond motor control.

That would be good, but everything I know about model railway world tells me not a snowball's chance in hell. Manufacturers all tend to have a 'my way' fixation, especially if they can sell their decoder as the only one that works the various functions on their new 'Student Riot' Class 68, without having to reconfigure the outputs.


I agree with the sentiments. Of course the market remains for retro-fitting existing models for years to come. I disagree about standardising on 21-pin though, as that is not exactly standard itself, with several variations, as people who tried to get lights working on Dapol's class 121 found out. Some 21-pin decoders have full auxillary outputs, others have logic outputs at 5V. The PLuX standard is more consistent. Zimo get over this problem with some of their 21-pin decoders, though, with a simple CV programmng trick to convert their 21-pin decoders from one standard to the other.

I think Bachmann were on the right track with their 21-pin PCBs, though, as all models of one type (e.g. class 37) use the same PCB with solder or contact pads for speakers, where Hornby used 8-pin PCBs for their base models, and 21-pin PCBs for the previous ESU sound-fitted models with reversed polarity for the lighting connections - much better would have been to follow Bachmann's lead. Instead, they reverted to all 8-pin boards (except for th smallest models), which to me was very much a retrograde move.

Standardisation should be applied to new releases. Maybe some updates could be phased in over time for older, continuing models - Hornby have been doing something of the sort, moving decoders to their tenders and altering the loco to tender connections, but sticking to the 8-pin socket.

I also agree with you that much of this idealism of mine will not happen. :)

HansP
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Re: Decoder Advice

Postby HansP » Wed Jul 21, 2021 8:46 am

Another vote for Zimo from me. I need ABC braking to help operate my storage yards - the Lenz decoders don't do this well enough, whereas Zimo is more configurable and much more consistent. I have standardised on Zimo's MX633 PLuX22 decoders for all my locos and am even considering refitting existing 8-pin PCBs on some of my older locos for Plux22 boards, to gain advantage of switchable tail lights, cab lighting and machine room lighting. Also, for Swiss locos that need complex lighting patterns PluX22 seems like the only way to do it.

Part of the benefit of Zimo decoders is their configurability, but this means lots of CVs to read and set - I've found this very difficult using just the display on my Lenz controller, so I invested in a DCC Sprog interface so that I can do this much more easily on my laptop. This also allows you to "flash" saved settings from one decoder to another, so if you have several models of the same class of loco, you only need to configure one of them, then "copy / paste" these settings onto the others.

Regards,

Peter


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