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I sell DCC systems and decoders, and perform decoder installs.

DCC systems available from me are:
NCE (North Coast Engineering),
possibly others.

Decoders available from me are:
NCE (North Coast Engineering),
and TCS.

Installing decoders you provide:
I prefer not to do this, not because I want to make money by selling you decoders, rather if something goes bump in the night and a decoder needs repair, the original purchaser, you, is responsible for getting that done. That is aggravation for you, and for me, it delays a job into which I have already invested time and money meaning I will get paid later than planned.
You will still get a price break on decoders you buy from me, but possibly not as much as you can get buying from a basement operator who may not be in business tomorrow.

Extent of Programming
Modern decoders are complex devices. Programming every single feature can be time consuming (consuming your money) and possibly result in something you don't like. So I only do basic programming and leave the nitty gritty things up to your taste and judgement.
I program:
  1. Locomotive address to be the number on the side of the cab
  2. Reasonable (to me) amounts of acceleraton and deceleraton momentun such that the loco doesn't jerk every time you make a minor adjustment to its speed.
  3. Reasonable (to me) overall sound volume. The volume of the individual sounds is not changed from the factory setting.
  4. If the information is available the correct horn/whistle sound is selected.
  5. When determined, inconsistent sounds are changed or eliminated (volume set to zero). For example, for an oil fired steam locomotive, the sound of the fireman shoveling coal is out of place.
  6. If you want other programming done please discuss with me.

Other Install Considerations
IMHO only incandescent bulbs look like an incandescent bulb. I install LEDs when a bulb won't fit. My DCC layout is 25 years old and all locos have bulbs that have been installed using my standard good practices and engineering good practices. In that time two bulbs has failed out of about 40 installed in several locos, leading me to the conclusion that a 500 hour bulb life (for the smallest bulbs) is adequate for most layouts. An important part of installing high current (consider multiple bulbs operated by one function) bulbs is that a current limiting resistor, normally 22 ohms, should be installed to protect the decoder output function from being overloaded and damaged while the bulb is heating up after being turned on.
Also please note that wiring is very expensive when done is a rugged and reliable way. E.g. more bulbs equals higher cost.
If desired I will fabricate and install shiny reflectors and clear covers for the headlights and backup lights, and will provide simulated lenses for things such as classification lights. I will only install lights the customer has requested and that we have discussed. I will use my judgement as to what looks right and strive to achieve that look when installing lights.

I make my own speaker enclosures into which I install a Tang Band 1925 driver - I have been greatly impressed with the sound, particularly the sound of a steam loco's exhaust bark.
When it will fit I will install instead a Tang Band 1925 speaker and enclosure.
As far as I can tell, I pioneered the placement of speakers in the boiler, with the first one installed in 2001. If anyone knows of an earlier example of the speaker in the boiler please let me know.
Of the O scale and medium size S scale locos into which I have installed DCC sound I haven't encountered a boiler into which a speaker won't fit. No doubt there are models out there whose design/fabrication/drive design will prevent placing a speaker in the boiler.

My first preference is 2-rail O scale since that is where I have the most expertise at DCC installs. I have done a number of installs in S scale locos. After having worked the larger scales for many years I have learned that HO and N scale models are frustrating and time-intensive. I don't do new installs in HO locos; I will replace a decoder in an existing install providing it is the same model decoder. Upgrades are not offered. I don't do any work on N or G models.

Loco Types
I do installs in both steam and diesel locos. Note that some diesel installs in any scale can be difficult - an example is the O scale Red Caboose GP-9. Its interior space is broken up into many small spaces by the center mounted motor and drive shafts to a gear tower on each truck. Fitting a high current decoder and a reasonable speaker into that loco takes time and ingenuity.
For a contemporary loco in any scale it is generally cheaper for you to swap your non-DCC/sound loco for one with factory installed sound than to pay me to install DCC/sound.
The age and condition of your model is important. Many modelers want DCC/sound installed in models that precede the era of factory installed sound. Many of those older locos may have worn mechanisms, have been damaged by improper maintenance, or damaged during shipping. If your loco is one of those it may need mechanical and/or restoration work before it will run properly with DCC/sound. If when I inspect your loco before staring work on it I determine that other work is needed I will advise you before spending more of your money.

Some of the locos that have been sent to me have caused me to shake my head. I suspect that some other custom builder either gave up on them or refused the job. I only reject (by telling you to not ship it to me) some locos whose design and construction are not feasible to correct; all other locos that have come into my shop have left in excellent running condition.

I prefer to do extensive testing of my installs. That means running the loco under varying loads and over enough distance to determine that it is behaving properly. Since I have a good-sized 2-rail O scale layout, I am able to perform extensive testing of O scale 2-rail models. S scale models are tested but on a smaller layout. HO scale models are tested on a 3 foot long piece of straight track, so I prefer to do these installs for local customers whose location makes it easier if the loco needs adjustments after the customer runs it on their layout.

Separately Programming Decoders in Multiple Decoder Installs


Back in the good old days it was not possible, with a few exceptions, to obtain a decoder capable of handling high current motors. The solution was to install a high current decoder for motor control and a second decoder for sound. High current sound decoders are now widely available, making this section obsolete. I leave it in place in the event that someone using older decoders can find some value here.

With two decoders in the same loco, one is usually presented with the problem of how to program, say CVxx in one decoder without modifying the same CVxx in the other decoder and in which CVxx has a different function than the CVxx in the first decoder. The information below tells you how to do that.


The information below presumes that you are familiar with both DCC programming methods and that you understand how they differ and why a special programming procedure is needed when one loco has more than one decoder in it.

I prefer this method over the decoder lock mechanism commonly available because addresses are easier for me to remember. The model you receive from me will not use the lock mechanism, rather it will be set up with short addresses in all decoders so this method works. You are free to convert to the lock mechanism if you prefer.

The DCC programmng method called Programming on the Main, which is abbreviated below as POM, is used for the procedure.

The requirements for this procedure to work are that each decoder in the loco has a unique short address in CV1, e.g., decoder A's short address is 10, decoder B's short address is 20, and decoder C's short address is 30. All decoders in the loco have the same long address, e.g., 1111 because you want them all to respond to commands without your having to change the address your cab is controlling. E.g., decoder A may control the headlight while decoder C controls the backup light; you want A to turn on/off the headlight when you command address 1111, the same for C and the backup light.

Suppose you want to change value of a CV in decoder A and not change the value of the same CV in any of the other decoders. You need a way to address each decoder separately in order to do this using POM.

For this to work you need to know the value of the short address (CV1) in each decoder, and the value of CV29 in each decoder.

To change the value of, e.g., CV33 in decoder A without altering the value of CV 33 in any other decoder in the loco, do the following:

  • Using POM while controlling address 1111, change the value of CV29 to 2.
    This will cause each decoder in the loco to listen on its short address, e.g.,
    decoder A will then listen at address 10,
    decoder B will then listen at address 20,
    and decoder C will then listen at address 30.
  • Change the address being controlled by your hand held cab to the short address of the decoder you want to program.
  • Using POM, change the CV you want to change. It may be possible to test the change using the short address.
  • If the result is what you wanted, now you have to change all the decoders, e.g., 10, 20, and 30, to listen to address 1111 again. To do that, using POM for 10, then for 20, then for 30, change CV29 to the value it had in each decoder before you changed it to 2.

    Once you are done with that you are back to where you started but with one of the decoders now altered to perform differently. You have not had to take the loco apart or disconnect any wires!

    There is a decoder lock feature that will allow you to control which decoder is programmed with POM. Only the decoder that is unlocked, assuming all decoders were locked when they were installed, will be programmed, and then only that decoder has to be locked. More efficient, however, this will not work if all decoders in the loco do not have the lock feature.


    Interested in learning more about 2-rail O scale? Please visit the O Scale Kings web pages.

    These web pages were designed and implemented by Rod Miller.