Programming & testing decoders outside a loco

Andrew_au

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12 Nov 2021
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I'm keen to get a setup where I can program & test decoders without having them installed in a loco.

Goals:
  • easy to test decoder behaviours and attach measurement devices (e.g. multimeter, oscilloscope) without fussing with the physical and electrical constraints of a particular loco
  • program decoders for both testing and deployment without needing to use a loco as a test harness
  • try stuff that particular locos don't support but the decoder does
  • [maybe] interface for updating decoder or sound decoder firmware
Can you recommend some good options for G-scale?

Additional requirements:
  • Must be able to handle 24 volts
  • Must be able to handle legacy LGB 55020/55021 interface - via an adaptor is OK
I've seen a few options on the net, but since very few places here in Australia will have stock on hand I'll probably need to order something specially, so I want to make sure it will do what I want.

Thanks
 
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dunnyrail

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I have a spare LGB chassis that I use for such purposes, an old LGB Stainz or such like will work very well, even a Playmobil Chassis would be fine.
 

Greg Elmassian

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Many decoders have pins to fit sockets, Zimo makes a test board that can be used with many different decoders:

mxtapv.JPG
 

PhilP

G Scale, 7/8th's, Electronics
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But many large-scale decoders do not have pins, screw terminals instead..

If the range(s) of decoder you will be dealing with all fit standard sockets, the board is fine..

Two blocks of wood. An old chassis..
Will give you 'something' with a motor on.
A project bread-board, or something on strip-board, could give you a series of LEDs to connect. - 1k series resistors should give you an output, and be big enough, to protect the LEDs.
You can then add either sockets for power, connecting meters etc.
Or wire in one of the cheap dual display Volt/Amp digital displays from China..

PhilP.
 

phils2um

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I have an ESU 53900 decoder test board with the 53901 LokSound XL/L expansion board. Like the Zimo board these have plug-in sockets for all the common decoder interfaces but also includes screw terminals for all the most common connections.

Actually, a careful look at the Zimo board in the picture Greg posted shows push in wire terminals for the most common decoder connections too.
 

Greg Elmassian

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Yes, that board is just ONE of my test bench gadgets!

Here's the one I use for the QSI Revolution and Titan;

DSC01409.JPG


LEDs for all function outputs, pushbuttons for common triggers, and support for pins and screw terminals.
 
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Dan

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The Zimo unit does have a 12 pin connector strip that uses wire connections, but is limited to 4function keys. Since I use maunly Zimo decoders, most will plug in to the sockets provided.
 

Greg Elmassian

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I will be using the Zimo board for most "universal" applications, with some extender cables to clip or connect to other units. The QSI unit is pretty specialized, as the QSI has 2 amplifiers, and 14 function outputs.

These kind of tools make things easy. Also, I'm adding the MUXULFA to the setup so I can do some programming without a computer. This makes a nice small portable unit to do some programming without a computer (the CV programming is universal for all decoders of course)

MXULFA.jpg