Athearn SD50 - DCC-ready or Digitrax-ready...?

Athearn SD50 - DCC-ready or Digitrax-ready...?

Post by Nicholas Lorvi » Mon, 08 Dec 2003 05:41:28



I just got one of the new SD50's from Athearn, and to my surprise, it wasn't
as "DCC-ready" as I felt the advertisment and the slogan on the box is
trying to impress. As it turns out, there is a plug which fits directly into
any Digitrax decoder with 9 wires, and some cloudy instructions regarding
the soldering of 8 wired decoders (Lenz, Uhlenbrock and others).

I feel that Athearn should have stated the these locos are optimized for
easy use with Digitrax, but have provisions for fitting other decoders
through soldering. This would of course be unfair trade, but sooner or later
someone (like me) will blow the whistle on this.

I'm hoping someone could correct my view on this, or provide additional
input on this matter.

Apart from the decoder issue, all I can say is.....Wow! Great looking
locomotives, nice, crisp coloring, and nicely installed details. But still
lacking a bit in running quality, although Athearn are getting a lot better
quite fast.

Nicholas
Lier, Norway

 
 
 

Athearn SD50 - DCC-ready or Digitrax-ready...?

Post by Jon Mille » Mon, 08 Dec 2003 06:12:24


Quote:
>I feel that Athearn should have stated the these locos are optimized for

easy use with Digitrax<
    Actually almost all the decoder manufactures use this plug.  Digitrax,
TCS, NCE, Lenz.

 
 
 

Athearn SD50 - DCC-ready or Digitrax-ready...?

Post by Jon Mille » Mon, 08 Dec 2003 06:17:48


Quote:
>"DCC-ready" as I felt the adverti***t and the slogan on the box is

trying to impress.<
    DCC ready is probably the most mis-used phases there is.  At one time I
tried to work on this but nobody at NMRA seemed interested so forgot it.
Actually they like it like it is as the manufactures are basically free to
do what they like.  In general it has a 8 pin plug but maybe some other plug
and generally means the engine won't short when a decoder is plugged in but
don't count on that either.
    Remember Athearn is not unique here as most manufactures say the same
thing!
 
 
 

Athearn SD50 - DCC-ready or Digitrax-ready...?

Post by Joe Ell » Mon, 08 Dec 2003 07:06:49



Quote:

>I just got one of the new SD50's from Athearn, and to my surprise, it wasn't
>as "DCC-ready" as I felt the advertisment and the slogan on the box is
>trying to impress. As it turns out, there is a plug which fits directly into
>any Digitrax decoder with 9 wires, and some cloudy instructions regarding
>the soldering of 8 wired decoders (Lenz, Uhlenbrock and others).

>I feel that Athearn should have stated the these locos are optimized for
>easy use with Digitrax, but have provisions for fitting other decoders
>through soldering. This would of course be unfair trade, but sooner or later
>someone (like me) will blow the whistle on this.

>I'm hoping someone could correct my view on this, or provide additional
>input on this matter.

>Apart from the decoder issue, all I can say is.....Wow! Great looking
>locomotives, nice, crisp coloring, and nicely installed details. But still
>lacking a bit in running quality, although Athearn are getting a lot better
>quite fast.

>Nicholas
>Lier, Norway

No, it's equipped for an NMRA standard plug-in decoder. Any manufacturer
_may_ make a decoder so equipped. It's up to them to CHOOSE to do so. It's
not a Digitrax proprietary plug.
 
 
 

Athearn SD50 - DCC-ready or Digitrax-ready...?

Post by Nicholas Lorvi » Mon, 08 Dec 2003 22:02:18


Well, I've been enlightened about the plug and which decoders actually fit,
so I'm not to concerned any more. It's actually a rather good idea, but it
should have been explained on the instruction sheet.

Nicholas

 
 
 

Athearn SD50 - DCC-ready or Digitrax-ready...?

Post by Frank Ev » Tue, 09 Dec 2003 01:54:33



Quote:
> I just got one of the new SD50's from Athearn, and to my surprise, it
wasn't
> as "DCC-ready" as I felt the advertisment and the slogan on the box is
> trying to impress. As it turns out, there is a plug which fits directly
into
> any Digitrax decoder with 9 wires, and some cloudy instructions regarding
> the soldering of 8 wired decoders (Lenz, Uhlenbrock and others).

You don't have to go with a DigiTrax decoder - I prefer the D15SR by NCE.
It's a 9-pin decoder, and it offers silent running, among other things. I
have an article online about this new "DCC solution"...

Frank Eva
Digital Railroader
http://www.trainweb.org/digitalrailroader/

 
 
 

Athearn SD50 - DCC-ready or Digitrax-ready...?

Post by Frank Ev » Tue, 09 Dec 2003 02:00:48



Quote:
> Well, I've been enlightened about the plug and which decoders actually
fit,
> so I'm not to concerned any more. It's actually a rather good idea, but it
> should have been explained on the instruction sheet.

It's not really much of an "idea", though. It's essentially the same type of
harness they used in their Mikados. I am personally disappointed that this
"revolutionary concept" (ahem), uses an almost obsolete form factor. Most
manufacturers have embraced the 8-pin NMRA socket, and most DCC hobbyists
probably have 8-pin decoders in their parts bin, while they will probably
have to buy decoders for these engines. One thing remains true - Athearn
rarely innovates... except in their advertising! ;-)
--
Frank Eva
Digital Railroader
http://www.trainweb.org/digitalrailroader/
 
 
 

Athearn SD50 - DCC-ready or Digitrax-ready...?

Post by Edward A. Oate » Tue, 09 Dec 2003 03:45:50


While the 8 pin socket may be the standard, in nearly every instance in
which I've seen them you wind up with a bundle of at least 4 tiny wires
which need to be tucked away. Many of the regular male sockets have the wire
stand straight up and are thusly tall when mounted. Soldering decoders to
these male sockets almost always result in a deformed (from heat) plastic
piece.

By using the 9 pin "Digitrax" (and now many others) connector with the
manufacturers analog board plugged in from the factory, the decoders you
want to use already have a place to go and the wires are of the correct
length. I wish that the Genesis F3/F7 had used these instead of the light
board.

What we need for the 8 pin socket world is a suitcase like connector which
could crimp the 8 tiny wires in a right angle connector. Place the wires in
the correct slots and squeeze like phone jack.

Ed.



Quote:


>> Well, I've been enlightened about the plug and which decoders actually
> fit,
>> so I'm not to concerned any more. It's actually a rather good idea, but it
>> should have been explained on the instruction sheet.

> It's not really much of an "idea", though. It's essentially the same type of
> harness they used in their Mikados. I am personally disappointed that this
> "revolutionary concept" (ahem), uses an almost obsolete form factor. Most
> manufacturers have embraced the 8-pin NMRA socket, and most DCC hobbyists
> probably have 8-pin decoders in their parts bin, while they will probably
> have to buy decoders for these engines. One thing remains true - Athearn
> rarely innovates... except in their advertising! ;-)

--
Ed Oates
http://home.earthlink.net/~edoates
DCC wiring information is at http://www.wiringfordcc.com

(hee hee hee: Happy spam bot message)
 
 
 

Athearn SD50 - DCC-ready or Digitrax-ready...?

Post by SleuthRaptorma » Tue, 09 Dec 2003 14:22:05


Quote:



>>I just got one of the new SD50's from Athearn, and to my surprise, it
>>wasn't as "DCC-ready" as I felt the advertisment and the slogan on the

 >>box is trying to impress. As it turns out, there is a plug which fits
 >>directly into any Digitrax decoder with 9 wires, and some cloudy
 >>instructions regarding the soldering of 8 wired decoders (Lenz,
 >>Uhlenbrock and others).

Quote:

> You don't have to go with a DigiTrax decoder - I prefer the D15SR by NCE.

Funny you should mention NCE.  I just wrote them a *** letter because
they advertise one of their decoders for "Athearn Genesis".  The catch
is, it fits perfectly until one realizes that if it is just dropped in
it will fry all the 1.5v. light bulbs.  I don't want to go through all
the hassle of doing ohms law and fitting appropriate resistors, that's
why I bought a "Athearn Genesis" rated decoder.

In my opinion if it is made for the "Athearn Genesis" it should drop in
without modification.   Fortunately I can use these decoders in other
equipment, but it will probably be my last NCE purchase unless they make
"some" ... "any" response to my e-mail.

 
 
 

Athearn SD50 - DCC-ready or Digitrax-ready...?

Post by SleuthRaptorma » Wed, 10 Dec 2003 14:46:37


Quote:

> The DA-SR instructions cover modifications to deal with 1.5v bulbs.

That is not the point.  I don't WANT to do ANY modifications.  I've been
doing that for 10 years.

Quote:
> Either
> you are very new to the world of DCC or are just being picky. Essentially
> ALL decoders want 15v bulbs and all lower voltage bulbs (including LEDs)
> need a resistor.

*Flame on* That is pure hog wash, and by the way, I've probably been "in
the world of DCC" longer than you've been able to spell it. You must not
be very famililar with DCC. *flame off* Any Digitrax decoder with a
model ending in L0 has 1.5V. output for lighting. In this day of

Quote:
> If you want to complain that it is not a "drop in," why not complain because
> you have to attach wires, too, and that the motor leads for the Genesis F7
> must be reversed?

OK I will.  I didn't get any further in the installation so I didn't
realize the motor leads had to be reversed  but more importantly Athearn
is STUPID for manufacturing a locomotive that doesn't use the standard 8
pin NMRA plug.  And NCE is STUPID not to make a decoder with four tiny
surface mount resistors to lower the voltage to 1.5V and reversing the
motor leads to make it truly replace the factory board.
 
 
 

Athearn SD50 - DCC-ready or Digitrax-ready...?

Post by John Deecke » Wed, 10 Dec 2003 19:15:35


On Mon, 08 Dec 2003 22:46:37 -0700, SleuthRaptorman

Quote:


>> The DA-SR instructions cover modifications to deal with 1.5v bulbs.

>That is not the point.  I don't WANT to do ANY modifications.  I've been
>doing that for 10 years.

>> Either
>> you are very new to the world of DCC or are just being picky. Essentially
>> ALL decoders want 15v bulbs and all lower voltage bulbs (including LEDs)
>> need a resistor.

>*Flame on* That is pure hog wash, and by the way, I've probably been "in
>the world of DCC" longer than you've been able to spell it. You must not
>be very famililar with DCC. *flame off* Any Digitrax decoder with a
>model ending in L0 has 1.5V. output for lighting. In this day of
>supposed plug and play I'm just sick of still having to modify every


Does Digitrax have more than one decoder like this .. the only one I
am familiar with is the  DH163L0 .. and it is designed to work
explicity with the Proto bulbs .. and will not work with other 1.5v
bulbs ... actually the board regulates the amperage   output to match
the LL bulb and the voltage is actually 2.0V with the LL bulb.

Quote:

>> If you want to complain that it is not a "drop in," why not complain because
>> you have to attach wires, too, and that the motor leads for the Genesis F7
>> must be reversed?

>OK I will.  I didn't get any further in the installation so I didn't
>realize the motor leads had to be reversed  but more importantly Athearn
>is STUPID for manufacturing a locomotive that doesn't use the standard 8
>pin NMRA plug.  And NCE is STUPID not to make a decoder with four tiny
>surface mount resistors to lower the voltage to 1.5V and reversing the
>motor leads to make it truly replace the factory board.

This would only work for modellers using a specific track voltage and
a specific amperage bulb .. many Ho modellers run Digitrax systems on
N setting to have a lower track voltage and different brands of DCC
have a range of  different track voltages ..  A programmable voltage
regulator would be really neat .. then the user could program the
proper voltage for their own choice of bulb , std LED, white LED etc.

John & Sandi Deecker
Hemlock Junction Railroad
Milton ON Canada

 
 
 

Athearn SD50 - DCC-ready or Digitrax-ready...?

Post by Jens Wul » Thu, 11 Dec 2003 00:15:03


Quote:

> >"DCC-ready" as I felt the adverti***t and the slogan on the box is
> trying to impress.<
>     DCC ready is probably the most mis-used phases there is.  At one time I
> tried to work on this but nobody at NMRA seemed interested so forgot it.
> Actually they like it like it is as the manufactures are basically free to
> do what they like.  In general it has a 8 pin plug but maybe some other plug
> and generally means the engine won't short when a decoder is plugged in but
> don't count on that either.
>     Remember Athearn is not unique here as most manufactures say the same
> thing!

Don't forget that there are now 4 different NMRA plugs, including this one,
see http://www.FoundCollection.com/(Approved July 2003)
then goto section D for the 9pin plug Athearn uses and full in spec with
the NMRA (and NEM also, actually NEM653. The medium NMRA plug is equivalent
to NEM652, and the small NMRA plug is covered by NEM651)

to make a long story short: this loco *IS* DCC ready and the provided
connector fulfills the current NMRA RP's, and quite a few manufacturers
(already mentioned, TCS, Lenz, DigiTrax, NCE, ...) are offering decoders with
that interface

and my GP60M/B have the same board ...

/jw

 
 
 

Athearn SD50 - DCC-ready or Digitrax-ready...?

Post by Edward A. Oate » Thu, 11 Dec 2003 01:38:50


My point is, that if you expect "drop in" to mean "no work at all, including
reading the instructions," then you are na?ve. If you have that much
experience with DCC (I've been using and spelling it since 1995, working
with computers since I built my own in 1961), then *flame on* you must be
not particularly observant. *flame off*

WRT: motor leads: yes, Athearn messed up on the F3/F7's (the other Genesis
diesels, too? I don't know). NCE is not stupid (note that I avoided that
word in my flame above). The DA-SR is a drop in for several locomotives,
including the Genesis. Note that the wire attachment pads are too thick for
the plastic grips, too.

*flame on*I suggest you stick with analog train sets: the trains work out of
the box as long as you read the instructions and don't apply AP to the track
(some sets come with a transformer with TWO sets of terminals, AC and DC--I
guess they are not plug and play enough for you. In short, RTFM to avoid
confusion. *flame off*

Ed.


Quote:

>> The DA-SR instructions cover modifications to deal with 1.5v bulbs.

> That is not the point.  I don't WANT to do ANY modifications.  I've been
> doing that for 10 years.

>> Either
>> you are very new to the world of DCC or are just being picky. Essentially
>> ALL decoders want 15v bulbs and all lower voltage bulbs (including LEDs)
>> need a resistor.

> *Flame on* That is pure hog wash, and by the way, I've probably been "in
> the world of DCC" longer than you've been able to spell it. You must not
> be very famililar with DCC. *flame off* Any Digitrax decoder with a
> model ending in L0 has 1.5V. output for lighting. In this day of
> supposed plug and play I'm just sick of still having to modify every

>> If you want to complain that it is not a "drop in," why not complain because
>> you have to attach wires, too, and that the motor leads for the Genesis F7
>> must be reversed?

> OK I will.  I didn't get any further in the installation so I didn't
> realize the motor leads had to be reversed  but more importantly Athearn
> is STUPID for manufacturing a locomotive that doesn't use the standard 8
> pin NMRA plug.  And NCE is STUPID not to make a decoder with four tiny
> surface mount resistors to lower the voltage to 1.5V and reversing the
> motor leads to make it truly replace the factory board.

--
Ed Oates
http://home.earthlink.net/~edoates
DCC wiring information is at http://www.wiringfordcc.com

(hee hee hee: Happy spam bot message)