Retro fit decoders or buy new.

Dave S
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Retro fit decoders or buy new.

#1

Post by Dave S »

Having seen comlex aruino PCBs at low cost, I expect DCC decoders to be less.
It seems they are circa £20 without sound (smaller trains with no room for speaker) and £40 with sound on locos with spare room under shell.

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/402471198424 ... SwlWdfd1c0
https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/353861945946 ... ition=1000
or are there generic cheaper?

If you already have non-DCC's trains then there is little choice but, as I'm starting afresh, I'm wondering whether second hand non DCC locos are worth it, when you factor in time to fit, test and then it's still a second hand motor that may not run smooth, versus a 2 year g'tee and time spent on less fiddly aspects of hobby.

For comparison, I looked for price of new hornby pannier tank with DCC and any extra bells and whistles, but can't see any at time of writing.
I can only guess m/f's are having to spend time going through their usual DC products to convert/upgrade to DCC.

Do I have those costings right or are they currently inflated with pandemic shortages etc.
I'm open to generic versions and assume the firmware generating the sound can be swapped from downloadable library of effects.

Dave
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Rog (RJ)
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Re: Retro fit decoders or buy new.

#2

Post by Rog (RJ) »

Hornby decoders are poor value. Look at Zimo, Lenz & ESU for quality decoders.

Lais are cheaper but not liked by some users. TCS are reasonable but I don't like them.
Dave S
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Re: Retro fit decoders or buy new.

#3

Post by Dave S »

These are all new names to me, each zimo I've seen says N guage.
I should have said, I'm OO and assume they need beefier decoders than N guage to pass the power through - or are they all the same and only mention N guage as they are small?

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/154504800453 ... SwH-Rfkq4L
brian1951
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Re: Retro fit decoders or buy new.

#4

Post by brian1951 »

If as you say you are starting a fresh, buy Dcc fitted locos and save yourself some hassle, ideally from a reputable source not blindly off ebay,
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IanS
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Re: Retro fit decoders or buy new.

#5

Post by IanS »

brian1951 wrote: Fri Jan 21, 2022 6:23 pm If as you say you are starting a fresh, buy Dcc fitted locos and save yourself some hassle, ideally from a reputable source not blindly off ebay,
If funding allows, then new is best - either DCC ready and fit a decoder yourself of DCC fitted (with or without sound).

E-bay does have some reputable dealers who also sell direct. Some are even cheaper if you go direct as they don't have the same fees to pay.

If funding is tight, then it will depend on your soldering skills and how nervous you are to convert DC to DCC as once you've converted them it will depend on how well it is done whether it enhances the value.

The two decoders you've highlighted are very different. 4-pin decoders fit into 4-pin sockets, only the smallest locos have them.
The Hornby decoder is for a particular steam loco and the sound files can't be changed as far as I'm aware. ESU decoders are much more expensive and sound files can be changed on them - but it maybe it is cheaper to buy the right one for your loco than to buy an ESU + sound file.
Mike Parkes
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Re: Retro fit decoders or buy new.

#6

Post by Mike Parkes »

The Hornby 4 pin is exclusive to them; a complete bodge which allows them to use their very basic vastly overpriced decoder in small locos whereas every other manufacturer uses the far smaller 6 pin or Next18. Every 4 pin Hornby loco I have removed the socket and a suitable decoder hard wired instead.

A good reference to the variety of the better decoders avaiable is the decoder selector Coastal DCC have. https://www.coastaldcc.co.uk/decoderselector.php

Thereis no "gauge" in terms of decoders and one marked "N gauge" for example are merely advisory - the key issue is what is the stall current drawn by a loco and ensuring that a decoder is rated to exceed that. Provided that is done then it does not matter whether the decoder is advertised as N or OO or whatever and what does matter is how much space is available for a decoder and consequently what overall size of decoder is needed.

£20 will buy a Zimo decoder that is far far superior to those Hornby decoder
6 pin MX617
8 pin MX600R
Plux12 MX600P12
Next 18 MX618N18
21 pin MX638D
Plux 22 MX637P22
Dave S
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Re: Retro fit decoders or buy new.

#7

Post by Dave S »

Thank-you Brian and Ian.
Ian your points re reveal my knowledge gaps.
I'd assumed they all could have sound files changed.

Technically I'm good, if I say so myself, but new to hands on with decoder.
Swapping the 2 power wires for the decoder should be easy, but then finding extra decoders need to be connected later for sound and new features would be a bad move financially and time wise.

I'm happy to do it once and get it right first time, hence I value your experience.

On the one hand we have 2nd hand loco + dcc and no room to fit speaker on retro fit, say £30 +£25 + speaker cost if room
Then there is new with dcc and sound enabled ?? can't find pannier tank in OO guage with DCC decoder but assume most locos £150-£250+ in various states, from DCC ready, so no decoder and no speaker, to the all inclusive with extras such as glowing firebox.

I'm planning on 10 trains to start with so unclear if DIY route will save me £500 or £1000+.
I'd like to do that, if it's not a false economy.

Hornby website:
https://uk.hornby.com/catalogue/train-s ... 8DxuvPhOED

On DCC status, the drop down list shows NO trains with decoder and others with 4, 6, 18 and 21 pin sockets - presumably no decoder.

Considering they need volume to profit and need new blood, they alienate the customer rather than help.

Example:
https://uk.hornby.com/products/lner-pro ... ra-3-r3842
£240 is not cheap to buy a loco and it says "DCC Ready 8 pin socket".
No options to have it complete with decoder, no mention of sound.
How long has DCC been going? 30 years?

It looks the "new" option doesn't come with DCC decoder, (but have seen model shops offering a fitting service).
Am I missing something?

Dave
Dave S
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Re: Retro fit decoders or buy new.

#8

Post by Dave S »

Thank-you Mike.
Your post crossed with last entry.
Comments noted and usefil link saved, thank-you.
On the ebay link for zimo I posted there is no mention in description of current but zooming in to packaging I see it says 0.7A motor rating.
In a recent phone conversation I was told 250mA was norm, so plenty of leaway though assume it will use some of that for sound/lights etc.
Dave
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IanS
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Re: Retro fit decoders or buy new.

#9

Post by IanS »

Dave S wrote: Fri Jan 21, 2022 7:50 pm Swapping the 2 power wires for the decoder should be easy, but then finding extra decoders need to be connected later for sound and new features would be a bad move financially and time wise.
To be clear, the existing decoder would need to be removed and the replacement sound decoder fitted
On DCC status, the drop down list shows NO trains with decoder and others with 4, 6, 18 and 21 pin sockets - presumably no decoder.
Those without decoder but with a socket are generally described as 'DCC Ready'
It looks the "new" option doesn't come with DCC decoder, (but have seen model shops offering a fitting service).
Am I missing something?

Dave
Sometimes shops fit the sound decoder of their choice and market a loco as Sound fitted (which it is). These won't be found on the Hornby site.
Don't limit yourself to one manufacturer.

0-6-0 Pannier tank locos generally don't have space for speakers even if a decoder can be fitted.
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Re: Retro fit decoders or buy new.

#10

Post by Walkingthedog »

"0-6-0 Pannier tank locos generally don't have space for speakers even if a decoder can be fitted"

That statement isn’t really correct. There is usually room somewhere, particularly with a sugar cube speaker, in a tank or the cab or coal bunker. Just need a bit of mini engineering. There is one sound fitted on the Hattons site now.
Nurse, the screens!
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