November 2012 Status


November, as you may have noticed from recent posts, went largely to laying the groundwork for installing wire-in DCC decoders, and a bit of testing of same. After a few delays, most of what I was waiting for finally arrived, although a few things are still backordered. In particular, the six-pin NEM651-compatible plugs and sockets mentioned in the comments last time have arrived. For the curious, the parts list has been added to my page on DCC Decoders. The S9008E is the one shown here.

The photo above shows a TCS M1 wired motor decoder at the top, a Lenz Silver Mini+ decoder in the middle, and a Digitrax DZ125IN six-pin decoder at the bottom. On the lower left is an ESU 51951 wired NEM651 socket with correctly color-coded wires (pin 1, orange, at the bottom). In the middle is one of the headers I ordered.

Now the official NMRA standard says that the pins and sockets are supposed to be round, not square. The Digitrax does this, by using short lengths of copper wire as its pins. The Lenz however uses square pins. The ESU socket has round holes, but the header I ordered has square ones. Some casual testing of these didn’t reveal any problems, although I haven’t wired one up yet to test for real.

In fact, the ESU socket was a very snug fit, to the point where I worried that I was going to snap the pins off the decoder. The header socket was a firm, solid, fit, but much easier to install and remove. That’s an argument in its favor.

The ESU socket runs for US$3.50 to $5 depending on source, while the header I bought cost me all of $0.87 each in quantity 10+. I’m not sure the finicky work of soldering wires to it will be worth the savings, but I’m going to try making a couple to see how hard it is. My first task, I think, will be to build an adapter with an NEM651 socket to plug into the 4-wire socket I installed in my E231 last month. That will let me do some comparison tests using the Silver Mini+ and the M1 (I need to add a NEM651 plug to the M1, but I was planning on doing that anyway.

December is going to be more work along these lines, and more programming and testing of decoders.