Newbie Question - DCC and LGB

R

robboz4

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A very long time ago I purchased an LGB engine that was "digitally" ready for the LGB system. I never did buy the rest of the system to make it work. But the engine does make a sound depending on the analog control setting. So my question is will this locomotive work if I set up an Arduino DCC system? I have the parts except the recommended Polu (?) power board. I just wanted to ask in case I needed to buy additional pieces.

And while I'm asking , will my current analog transformer be sufficient if I just leave it cranked up and let the DCC control the power?

Regards,


Dave
 
Greg Elmassian

Greg Elmassian

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1. it's not clear if you have a DCC decoder in the loco, I would guess "ready" only means there is a decoder "available" to plug in.
2. if you have a DCC system it will run DCC equipped locomotives
3. you will most likely need a different transformer to power the DCC system... the transformer is not connected to the rails, but the DCC system, and the output of the DCC system powers the rails.

Greg
 
idlemarvel

idlemarvel

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Is your analog controller in two parts, transformer band controller? If so you may be able to reuse the transformer part depending on what its output is. When I started in gscale I got a PIKO analog starter set with transformer and controller, and I was able to reuse the transformer with a DCC command station. I've since upgraded but as a cheap starting point it was fine.
 
Zerogee

Zerogee

Clencher's Bogleman
25 Oct 2009
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Following on from Greg's comment no.1, there are two ways to tell if your loco is actually "DCC equipped" (with a factory-fitted decoder) or just "DCC ready" (ready to plug a decoder in as an aftermarket addition). Before the advent of their current proprietary MFX system, LGB tended to use separate decoders and sound boards, so it is quite possible that your loco might have a sound system installed which works on analogue DC, but doesn't actually have a decoder fitted yet.

There are two ways to tell what was actually installed in your loco at the factory - the label on the end of the box (assuming you have the original box for the model) and the sticker(s) on the underside of the loco itself. If you could possibly post a photo of either or both, then we can help answer the question. Did you buy the loco brand new from a dealer? If you bought it second-hand, of course, then a previous owner may have fitted a decoder himself even if one is not indicated on the box or labels, but it's a starting point!

Jon.
 
muns

muns

Moderator
Staff member
GSC Moderator
1) What is the LGB model number of the loco?
2) Are there any stickers on the underside of the loco? If so do any of them look like 2,3 or 4 below...?.
114859_ac725a4d8104ba67c2d8f37cb69c6972.jpg
 
R

robboz4

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6 Dec 2018
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1. it's not clear if you have a DCC decoder in the loco, I would guess "ready" only means there is a decoder "available" to plug in.
2. if you have a DCC system it will run DCC equipped locomotives
3. you will most likely need a different transformer to power the DCC system... the transformer is not connected to the rails, but the DCC system, and the output of the DCC system powers the rails.

Greg
Hi Greg,

Thanks for the reply. I guess I should have asked the question this way:
Is LGB MTS compataible with DCC?

As for power I would connect my LGB analog transformer to the inputs of the power bridge. Turn the power knob to full. That way it should be providing max voltage and current to the power bridge which is in turn driven by the DCC code on the Arduino.

Cheers
 
ntpntpntp

ntpntpntp

Registered
24 Oct 2009
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Yes MTS is DCC, but early MTS locos only run on 14 speed steps, only a limited number of short addresses, and also use a peculiar "serial pulse chain" to activate functions. Later MTS locos will understand the more normal "parallel functions" and 28 speed steps (if not 128 steps).
 
R

robboz4

Registered
6 Dec 2018
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America
Is your analog controller in two parts, transformer band controller? If so you may be able to reuse the transformer part depending on what its output is. When I started in gscale I got a PIKO analog starter set with transformer and controller, and I was able to reuse the transformer with a DCC command station. I've since upgraded but as a cheap starting point it was fine.
Actually I have several LGB starter kit sale with transformers. The one with a dial on for adjusting power. I'll have to go get all the gear out to check what I have. It's been in a cupboard for years...
 
R

robboz4

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6 Dec 2018
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1) What is the LGB model number of the loco?
2) Are there any stickers on the underside of the loco? If so do any of them look like 2,3 or 4 below...?.
View attachment 247873
It is the 25552 Yukon/White Pass Engine. The box as #4 image on it.


Thanks!
 
R

robboz4

Registered
6 Dec 2018
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62
America
Following on from Greg's comment no.1, there are two ways to tell if your loco is actually "DCC equipped" (with a factory-fitted decoder) or just "DCC ready" (ready to plug a decoder in as an aftermarket addition). Before the advent of their current proprietary MFX system, LGB tended to use separate decoders and sound boards, so it is quite possible that your loco might have a sound system installed which works on analogue DC, but doesn't actually have a decoder fitted yet.

There are two ways to tell what was actually installed in your loco at the factory - the label on the end of the box (assuming you have the original box for the model) and the sticker(s) on the underside of the loco itself. If you could possibly post a photo of either or both, then we can help answer the question. Did you buy the loco brand new from a dealer? If you bought it second-hand, of course, then a previous owner may have fitted a decoder himself even if one is not indicated on the box or labels, but it's a starting point!

Jon.
Thanks!
 
PhilP

PhilP

G Scale, 7/8th's, Electronics
5 Jun 2013
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That must be the 'Alco'-alike diesel LGB did? - It might already have a decoder in it..
We really need to see a photo of the box label, of the underside of the loco, to offer more definitive information.

Which livery is it in? - I quite like the green/yellow.. :)
 
Zerogee

Zerogee

Clencher's Bogleman
25 Oct 2009
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North Essex
OK, if the Analogue and Digital "D" symbol is on the box, like symbol 4 in Muns' post, then it has an onboard decoder (or possibly two older type decoders, one per motor). It should be operable on any DCC-compliant system provided enough power is available.... It is a twin-motor loco - if both motors are in good condition then it should draw less than 1 amp when running light-engine at lower speeds, but to allow enough extra for pulling a decent length of train with sound and lights on you really want a minium of 2 amps available, with up to 5 amps being desirable if you're going to want to run a second loco at the same time - which is of course one of the main points of using DCC in the first place.
Do be aware that it will only run on 14 speed steps, so make sure that whatever DCC system you get or build is capable of providing that rather than just the more modern 28/128 step options.
The sound board in the loco MAY, depending on age, also only respond to serial commands rather than the current parallel standard.
Both of the limitations above can be got round by replacing the presently fitted decoder(s) with a single more modern unit, but that may defeat the intention of doing it on a limited budget....

Jon.
 
R

robboz4

Registered
6 Dec 2018
23
0
62
America
That must be the 'Alco'-alike diesel LGB did? - It might already have a decoder in it..
We really need to see a photo of the box label, of the underside of the loco, to offer more definitive information.

Which livery is it in? - I quite like the green/yellow.. :)

Yes it's the Yellow and Green Livery. And from other responses I might be in luck to have run with out mods for now. Will have to get the board ordered.

Thanks
 
R

robboz4

Registered
6 Dec 2018
23
0
62
America
OK, if the Analogue and Digital "D" symbol is on the box, like symbol 4 in Muns' post, then it has an onboard decoder (or possibly two older type decoders, one per motor). It should be operable on any DCC-compliant system provided enough power is available.... It is a twin-motor loco - if both motors are in good condition then it should draw less than 1 amp when running light-engine at lower speeds, but to allow enough extra for pulling a decent length of train with sound and lights on you really want a minium of 2 amps available, with up to 5 amps being desirable if you're going to want to run a second loco at the same time - which is of course one of the main points of using DCC in the first place.
Do be aware that it will only run on 14 speed steps, so make sure that whatever DCC system you get or build is capable of providing that rather than just the more modern 28/128 step options.
The sound board in the loco MAY, depending on age, also only respond to serial commands rather than the current parallel standard.
Both of the limitations above can be got round by replacing the presently fitted decoder(s) with a single more modern unit, but that may defeat the intention of doing it on a limited budget....

Jon.

Thanks!


I'll order a power board and see what I can get working.

Cheers

Dave
 
LGB333

LGB333

Member
Dave - Please provide some more specifics about your power supplies/transformers: If you only have the LGB starter set units, they are only 1/2 - 1 amps and for powering a DCC Central Station/Command Station, most normally require at least 2 amps to normally a maximum of 5 amps. Some Central Station require only DC power inputs, such as my Massoth unit, but some like my Piko unit (made by Massoth) will accept DC or AC power inputs...….so be careful about reading the instructions with your DCC Central Station or you could blow it.

Second, your locomotive(s) owner's instructions should tell you whether they are either DCC ready or DCC installed. But if you bought the loco(s) used, then as someone already stated, the original owner might have installed a DCC decoder into them. So, while the symbols on the loco box and/or owner's instructions are helpful to your situation, they are not foolproof whether the original owner installed a DCC decoder into them or not. I personally don't know electrically how to "test" a loco without harming it to determine whether there's a DCC decoder installed or not without opening up to see what's inside, but I'm sure one of the forum's electronics experts can give advice on that.

If you don't have the locos' owner's manuals, for LGB products, there are numerous Websites where you can sometimes find a specific one and download the PDF file.….sometimes you can only find the LGB loco's Parts Diagrams for disassembly. Here are some I use:
1. Bottom left menu "LGB Manuals": LGB Model Trains, LGB Locomotives, Garden Train Sets, G Scale Model Trains,
2. Top menu "LGB Info": TRAINLI - LGB and G-scale Experts
3. LGB Master Products List (Up to 2006): Web-Suche Englisch
4. LGB Manuals, Hunters Train Depot: http://www.hunterstraindepot.com/new_lgb_manuals_lgb_model_trains__lgb_locomotives__garden_train_sets__g_scale_model.pdf
 
PhilP

PhilP

G Scale, 7/8th's, Electronics
5 Jun 2013
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2,673
Tamworth, Staffs.
Dave - Please provide some more specifics about your power supplies/transformers: If you only have the LGB starter set units, they are only 1/2 - 1 amps and for powering a DCC Central Station/Command Station, most normally require at least 2 amps to normally a maximum of 5 amps. Some Central Station require only DC power inputs, such as my Massoth unit, but some like my Piko unit (made by Massoth) will accept DC or AC power inputs...….so be careful about reading the instructions with your DCC Central Station or you could blow it.
Do NOT use an AC supply with a new Piko CS!

The original would use either, and you could 'up-cycle' your LGB transformer. Second-generation (as-in bought now) will NOT be happy with AC.
This caught-out suppliers and customers when they changed.
 
LGB333

LGB333

Member
Do NOT use an AC supply with a new Piko CS!

The original would use either, and you could 'up-cycle' your LGB transformer. Second-generation (as-in bought now) will NOT be happy with AC.
This caught-out suppliers and customers when they changed.
Philip - Does the new gen Piko units' instructions specifically state to only use DC to power it, or is it from your experience? Just curious because the one I bought four years ago states to use either DC or AC. However, the Piko America technical folks told me at the time to be careful about using an LGB 50111 5 amp AC power supply because it's an unregulated supply and spikes in volts in some units had "blown" the Piko CSSs. I usually connect my Piko CS with an older LGB 2 amp DC power supply, although sometimes I'll connect an LGB 50111 5 amp AC unit to it and have had no operating issues.
 
PhilP

PhilP

G Scale, 7/8th's, Electronics
5 Jun 2013
21,801
2,673
Tamworth, Staffs.
When the new units came out, they had an A5 'flyer' on yellow/orange paper, stating they should only be used with a DC supply.

This was slipped-in with the rest of the paperwork, in the box. Unless you removed, and read every bit of paper (who does?) you could easily miss it.
Neither Hobby Co, or the retailer I was dealing with, were aware of this. - The retailer had both 'old' and 'new' stock in the shop. It was only by going through both boxes, the difference was noted.

Under the circumstances, the supply-chain did the right-thing, and did swap it for the customer.

It was considered poor communication, that it was not passed from Piko down the chain, in big red letters.


I am not sure if it wasn't mentioned on this Forum?

<edit>

Piko 35010 and lgb 50110 - G Scale Central

Here you go...
Post #27 - even has a scan of the 'flyer'..
 
Last edited:
D

Dan

Registered
28 Jan 2010
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19
Eastern MA
The LGB 25552 was made with the LGB/Massoth onboard decoder. his means that you can do 14 or 28 speed steps for sure and depending on the revision (cv7) it may do 128 speed steps. This assumes that no one has changed the engine.
On another note, how to tell if an engine has DCC. With a DCC system, the motor will buzz and lights are all on if it is NOT DCC equipped.
 
LGB333

LGB333

Member
The LGB 25552 was made with the LGB/Massoth onboard decoder. his means that you can do 14 or 28 speed steps for sure and depending on the revision (cv7) it may do 128 speed steps. This assumes that no one has changed the engine.
On another note, how to tell if an engine has DCC. With a DCC system, the motor will buzz and lights are all on if it is NOT DCC equipped.
Dan - Yes, I'm aware of that non-technical approach but I was looking for some method a DC user could determine whether it's got a DCC decoder installed without opening up the loco. I don't recommend, and others have also stated on this and other large scale forums, not to operate a DC only equipped loco on a DCC powered layout. I tried it on my DCC layout on an old LGB powered tender and it buzzed loudly but would operate........but not good on the motor from what I understand.