21 pin direct decoder

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Southern Region
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21 pin direct decoder

Postby Southern Region » Thu Sep 13, 2018 6:22 pm

Hi all. I have 4 x emu's all fitted with a Bachmann direct 21 pin decoder, I think it is a 36-557 decoder and it's come to my attention that there are very basic cv adjustments available notably cv5...top speed. I have to raise the speed steps to 128 to obtain a realistic departure from a start I realise they were cheap at the time of purchase but I am now looking for a suitable replacement to improve performance of the locos. Any suggestions please.

Paul-H
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Re: 21 pin direct decoder

Postby Paul-H » Thu Sep 13, 2018 8:59 pm

Hi

The new £20 Zimo will be a vast improvement and dare I say it but the £13 Laisdcc will probably be an improvement as well.

Paul

Mike Parkes
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Re: 21 pin direct decoder

Postby Mike Parkes » Thu Sep 13, 2018 9:46 pm

Probably a 36-554 which was a ESU LokPilot Basic V1.0 (cat. no. 52692) with a blue pcb . It was replaced by the 36-557 which was a Soundtraxx MC1/MC2 hybrid with 4 functions (green pcb sold in a white box) and which in turn has been replaced by another 36-557 (well done Bachmann, why not 36-557A) which is an ESU LokPilot Standard (cat no. 53614) with a blue pcb and features railcom and has 2 logic outputs as well as the four normal function outputs and features Railcom CVs - is packaged in a transparent bubble on a blue card backing.
Whats the problem with using 128 steep steps?

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Peterm
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Re: 21 pin direct decoder

Postby Peterm » Fri Sep 14, 2018 12:08 am

Agree about the Zimo. Very good value for money.
Pete.

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Bigglesof266
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Re: 21 pin direct decoder

Postby Bigglesof266 » Fri Sep 14, 2018 12:17 am

For best value more fully featured quality decoders look to Lenz or Zimo. Bang for the buck hard to beat.

Bigmet
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Re: 21 pin direct decoder

Postby Bigmet » Fri Sep 14, 2018 11:20 am

The first Bach 21 pin decoder the 35-554 (de-featured ESU lok pilot) is a good unit, but does need careful set up to give of its best, and has limited range in CV's 3 and 4. Really suits big centre motor + flywheel both bogies driven D+E traction, very tweaky when in small motor steam models.

That Soundtraxx based 36-557 was poor. I was asked to try and make one work for a friend in a Bachmann O4 2-8-0, and the adjustments available were not sufficient to get it smooth over the lower speed steps (it actually degraded the model's smooth running compared to what it did on vanilla DC, that's how poor it was) and there was always an irregularity in the speed curve higher up. Not impressed.

Have heard that the later ESU based version is better, but no one has waved one in my direction yet. With the Lenz Silver21 totally reliable, haven't needed to look elsewhere, but...
Paul-H wrote:The new £20 Zimo will be a vast improvement ...

That's a decoder I will be trying out shortly, as a cheaper alternative to the Lenz Silver21. (Lenz annoyingly don't offer their 'standard' decoder in 21pin form, but this Zimo introduction may just provoke them into doing so? I only use 21 pin decoders when the space is tight, tearing out 21 pin sockets in tenders for example where there is bags of room and hardwiring a Lenz Standard which only comes in 8 pin wired form.)

Small downside for Zimo users expecting stay alive provision, the necessary connections are not featured on this cut price 21 pin decoder according to the blurb I have read. That said, I'll bet someone will find a way, Zimo enthusiasts tend to be big on this kind of mod work...

Mike Parkes
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Re: 21 pin direct decoder

Postby Mike Parkes » Fri Sep 14, 2018 6:52 pm

The 36-554 is a 21 pin version of the 8 pin 36-553 and Bachmann list CV values for a number of their steam locos
http://service.bachmann.co.uk/wp-conten ... ttings.pdf

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Bigglesof266
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Re: 21 pin direct decoder

Postby Bigglesof266 » Sat Sep 15, 2018 12:41 am

Bigmet wrote:That Soundtraxx based 36-557 was poor. I was asked to try and make one work for a friend in a Bachmann O4 2-8-0, and the adjustments available were not sufficient to get it smooth over the lower speed steps (it actually degraded the model's smooth running compared to what it did on vanilla DC, that's how poor it was) and there was always an irregularity in the speed curve higher up. Not impressed.

Ditto.

After trying a few different brand and model loco decoders out there when I first kicked off into BORM in Dec 2008, because I was all DCC with a seemingly exponentially increasing number of decoders required, needing something not as duff as Hornby's dreadful R8215 or R8249 in 8 pin or the dearth of inexpensive 21 pins then available, I bought and operated many of Bachmann's 36-553s and 36-554s.

As I was given to understand at the time, essentially they were a since superseded design of the ESU Lokpilot Basic. Accepting their limitations, they were inexpensive, reliable and consistent, so they became my go to cheapie. I have an ESU decoder tester where I check and set up all my decoders prior to installation. In so doing, I observed that Bachmann made changes to them over the years they were produced. Bachmann did have an annotation protocol with them in terms of sub-revision indication, e.g. v1.0 but it was erratic. I can't recall now if sub-revision "v1.x" suffix was annotated either on the white box, PCB or just within the info recall parameters. However, the 36-553/4 model numbers never changed over the course of those changes, i.e. 35-554 remained just 36-554.

When Bachmann changed from the ESU design to rebadged Soundtraxx, first with their 8 pin, I tried them. The experience induced me to cease buying Bachmann cheapies entirely. Fortunately, coincident with that time an increasing number of generic options were entering the market as well as the availability of and price of decoders generally becoming end user friendlier.

I haven't tried Bachmann decoders again since their return to a Lokpilot Standard rebadge. Agree with Mike. How about a completely different model number or at least a logical suffix indicating change other than a version PCB or chip component sub-revision. i.e. 36-557ELS or just E or LS?

Although I've got quite a mix of decoders installed, these days for loco decoders where the need and thus volume I am buying is now significantly reduced, Lenz is my no brainer go to unless there's a pressing economic or technical inducement tempting me to try something else. e.g. Zimo or DCC Concepts Zen.

Bigmet
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Re: 21 pin direct decoder

Postby Bigmet » Sat Sep 15, 2018 10:38 am

Bigglesof266 wrote:[...Bachmann's 36-553s and 36-554s...

As I was given to understand at the time, essentially they were a since superseded design of the ESU Lokpilot Basic. Accepting their limitations, they were inexpensive, reliable and consistent, so they became my go to cheapie. I have an ESU decoder tester where I check and set up all my decoders prior to installation. In so doing, I observed that Bachmann made changes to them over the years they were produced. Bachmann did have an annotation protocol with them in terms of sub-revision indication, e.g. v1.0 but it was erratic. I can't recall now if sub-revision "v1.x" suffix was annotated either on the white box, PCB or just within the info recall parameters. However, the 36-553/4 model numbers never changed over the course of those changes, i.e. 35-554 remained just 36-554...


That's good information. That there were changes to the 36-553/554 during its period on sale was something I became convinced of by on line interaction.

I had started in DCC with Lenz and it was around £25 a throw for a Lenz Silver by careful shopping around.Then Bachmann produced the 36-553/554. Tested one and found exactly as you write that here was a quality drive, stable and reliable, and available under £10 which was a hefty saving. Having found that for my purposes they were an ideal match to the centre motor drive mechanisms then becoming ever more widely available in diesel traction, I knew how many I would likely end up with*, so bought a suitable heap of these decoders at this low price. (I would have purchased more yet, except that the CV 3 and 4 range was too small - 64 step - for steam locos, for my purposes. The diesels are all continuously braked passenger units so settings of about 45 for acceleration and 60 for brake were adequate.

So there i was with a stash of these decoders, happily installing them in various centre motor drive diesel models as they came out or I 'bashed' them from what was available. But then the on line grumbles started: prone to address loss, 28 step speed curve truncated at about step 20, unstable with smaller motored models; though I feel that last one was by those unable to manage setting the BEMF constants as described in Bach's guidelines. No such problems with any that I had, but then I had bought them all in one lot within months of their first going on sale. So whatever the later revisions were, I hadn't got any of those to see the problems.

*Afterword. What I hadn't allowed for in my bulk purchase was the production of the Cravens (105) DMU as a RTR model. No one was ever going to make a RTR model of these old rattletraps were they? I would simply pretend they didn't exist, and stretch the operating span of the dear old N2 'bigmet' tank locos a little further than really happened. But Bachmann did, and rather well too. Happily by this time Lenz had the standard decoder out, and at a satisfactorily small price, so all was well with the world.

Mike Parkes
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Re: 21 pin direct decoder

Postby Mike Parkes » Sat Sep 15, 2018 12:55 pm

Bigmet wrote:
Bigglesof266 wrote:[had started in DCC with Lenz and it was around £25 a throw for a Lenz Silver by careful shopping around

The 8 pin Lenz standard is now virtually a silver and can still be sourced for less than £20 i.e. £17.95 + £1.60 postage https://www.modelmarket.co.uk (note their postage rates inflate significantly on greater quantities so ordering them at £18 each with a flat £3.99 postage rate from https://www.modelrailwaysdirect.co.uk is cheaper), and in my experience is pretty indestructible and very reliable so is my default choice where sufficient space exists. Have even got one fitted to a 21 pin socket by linking it to an adopted blanking plug

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Southern Region
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Location: Kent

Re: 21 pin direct decoder

Postby Southern Region » Sat Sep 15, 2018 9:57 pm

Thank you all for the vast amount of information, plenty there for me to digest. Alan.


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