Someone asked me recently about DCC bus terminators (or, more accurately, ‘filters’ or ‘snubbers’), whether you should use them and, if so, how to wire them. So, I knocked up a quick diagram for them and I’ve uploaded it to the website in case it’s of use to others. It’s a very simple circuit!
There are different schools of thought on whether a terminator/filter/snubber is required. My own take is that for most small to medium layouts, they’re probably not necessary as a default. However, for bigger layouts or if you’re having reliability issues/unexpected performance problems, it’s probably worthwhile installing them.
If your DCC bus is a loop, then no filter is required (it’s also moot whether this is a good way to do it or not). If it’s a single run, then you only need a single filter at the end. If you’ve got for a T-shaped bus or you have more than one bus, then you’ll need a filter for the end of each run. Simples!
Note: Some people have reported conflicts and false positives with block/occupancy detection when a filter is installed – it’s something to be aware of. It perhaps also goes without saying, but remember that if you’re using block or occupancy detection technology, the filter should be installed on the end of the DCC bus and not on a leg from the detector module.
Welcome to Part 2 of our in-depth mini-series looking at improvements and upgrades to Hornby TTS sound decoder-fitted locomotives. In Part 1, we looked at speaker upgrades, and in this second part we’re looking at making a stay alive capacitor unit and fitting it to the decoder.
Whilst focused on the Hornby TTS decoder, the principles and steps outlined in these videos are applicable for most other stay alive scenarios, including other types of decoder, coach lighting circuits, end of train (EOT) lamps and so on. It’s ideal viewing for anyone interested in this areas of railway modelling.
Making the Stay Alive/Keep Alive Capacitor Unit
As well as showing you how to make the stay alive unit itself and assemble all of the components, in this video there’s a brief explanation of the background to stay alive devices generally and the role that each of the components plays in the overall circuit.
+ Video Contents +
00:00 – Video introduction
01:08 – Intro to making a stay alive unit
02:18 – Overview of the components required
04:11 – Using resistors to manage in-rush
05:00 – The components in detail
06:26 – Circuit diagrams
08:40 – A quick word of capacitor sizes
10:58 – Putting it all together: soldering
15:40 – Adding hookup wires & heat shrink
17:22 – The finished article
Fitting the Stay Alive Unit to the TTS Decoder
In this final video, we look at adding the stay alive/keep alive unit that we made to Hornby’s TTS sound decoder. We look at where to solder the two wires and also how to adjust CVs on the decoder to ensure that the stay alive unit functions correctly.
While the specific steps relate to Hornby’s TTS decoder, if you wanted to add a stay alive unit to their entry level R8249 decoder, the steps would be fairly similar (although the negative leg would have to be soldered directly to the negative side of the rectifier). If you’re using a different brand of decoder, the principles will be very similar, but the solder points will be different.
+ Video Contents +
00:00 – Introduction
00:20 – A quick recap
01:20 – Examining the decoder
06:08 – Soldering it all together
14:52 – Testing the solder work
16:10 – Fitting it all into the chassis
18:05 – A word about CV settings
19:08 – Testing the stay alive unit
20:53 – Conclusions
Please note: the steps involved in fitting the unit do require a steady hand and competence with a soldering iron. Working with DCC decoders and tiny surface-mount components leaves little margin for error and it is very easy to permanently damage sensitive electronics if you are not extremely careful.
We’ve produced a couple of circuit diagrams to accompany this tutorial series. You can download copies for free using the links below:
This project does require a steady hand and competence with a soldering iron. Working with DCC decoders and tiny surface-mount components leaves little margin for error and it is very easy to permanently damage sensitive electronics if you are not very careful. If you choose to follow any of the steps or suggestions outlined in the video, you do so at your own risk and any damage or injury to yourself, your models, your equipment or others is your own responsibility.
Hornby have just released a brand new Class 43/HST set with TTS sound. It’s a fantastic model and the sound decoder is pretty decent too for the money, but, as is the case with most sound decoders, the factory-fitted speaker is a little tinny and doesn’t have much bass response to it.
In this in-depth video, I show you all you need to know about upgrading/replacing stock TTS & DCC sound speakers with a far superior Mega Bass speaker, including rewiring, body preparation (for anyone who doesn’t have a sound-fitted model) and installation. The improvement to sound and bass response from these new speakers is fantastic.
The HST set featured in the video is not a TTS-fitted model, however the steps involved in replacing the speaker are exactly the same for a TTS chip as they are a LokSound or Zimo decoder.
We look at both TTS and LokSound V4 decoders; the only difference being that a TTS (and Zimo) decoders must use an 8 ohm speaker, while the LokSound V4 can use anything between 4 and 16 ohms.
Speaker impedance and decoder specifications are explained in more detail in our free guide, which you can download here:
Please note: If you choose to follow any of the steps or suggestions outlined in the video, you do so at your own risk and any damage or injury to yourself, your models, your equipment or others is your own responsibility.
This is a wiring diagram for the decoder/loco test boar and rolling road featured on this website. Your own test board wiring requirements will vary depending on the components that you use and also the specifics of your design. The diagram provided above is only a guide and you must work out your own wiring needs yourself to avoid costly damage to programmers, testers and decoders.
I’ve been doing an increasing number of DCC decoder installations and model locomotive repair jobs – both for myself and others – and setting up my tester and rolling road each and every time I needed them was becoming a bit tiresome (not to mention the rat’s nest of cables).
After pulling what’s left of my hair out for the final time, I decided to put together a small loco and decoder test board, incorporating my LokProgrammer and SPROG, as well as accommodating off-board control integration (DCC and DC/Analogue).
The board also features a rolling road, using DCC Concepts rolling road modules, and my own take on a means to permanently integrate them into a test set up and improve usability, using acrylic sheet, spacers and screws.
You can download a PDF version of the wiring diagram for the test board featured in the video via the link below:
This is only one way of approaching a decoder test board setup and there other examples out there. I do recommend that you consider something like this if you’re intending to do a lot of decoder installation and maintenance – it saves a lot of time and hassle!
CORRECTION: in the video, I mention the acrylic/perspex sheet as being 6mm when it is actually 4mm. A thickness of 6mm is likely to be too thick and may interfere with the wheel flanges.
You can buy some components for this how-to project via the links below. Buying via Amazon affiliate links means I get a (very) small donation and helps to support the website and channel:
Please note: If you choose to follow any of the steps or suggestions outlined in the video, you do so at your own risk and any damage or injury to yourself, your models, your equipment or others is your own responsibility. Your own test board wiring requirements will vary depending on the components that you use and also the specifics of your design. The diagram provided above is only a guide and you must work out your own wiring needs yourself to avoid costly damage to programmers, testers and decoders.
Please note: This document is provided without any warranty or guarantees whatsoever. If you choose to follow any of the steps or suggestions outlined in the document, you do so at your own risk and any damage or injury to yourself, your models, your equipment or others is your own responsibility.
We’re working on a short tutorial looking at DCC decoder installation in older locomotives, such as Lima and Hornby, that are powered by ringfield/pancake-style motors.
To accompany the tutorial, we’ve produced a PDF containing a series of basic wiring diagrams to help with the installation process. They cover the more modern can-style motors (as found in Bachmann, Heljan, Dapol etc.) as well as the older ringfield ones (similar to those found in many Hornby and Lima models).
There’s also a basic diagram for directional lighting and a single Aux channel, such as the Aux 1/green wire available on most low/mid-range decoders, such as Hornby’s entry level R8249 8-pin variety.
The wiring principles would be the same for older ‘grain of wheat’ bulbs, although the resistor value would need to be altered to suit the bulb and track voltage.
In our last blog post, looked at the TCS-brand 21-pin breakout board, which can be used to permanentconvert an 8-pin DCC decoder for use in a 21-pin chassis.
We’ve now put together a short YouTube video on how to carry out the modification, which you can watch below. We’ve also produced a wiring diagram to accompany the tutorial, which is available by clicking here.