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Decoder recommendation for Brawa/Roco/Trix

2578 Views 8 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  neil_s_wood
I'm now up and running with the Fleischmann Profi Boss and am about to start converting all my HO loco's over to digital. All but one from Trix/Brawa/Roco have decoder sockets(8 pin/652) but was wondering what brand/decoder model would be a good option? I was thinking of Lenz but not sure how the Gold/Silver editions vary.


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I used to use Lenz Gold as my default decoder but am now changing over to Lokpilot/loksound as I am concerned about Lenz's future. ESU seems more solid to me.
Hi Simon

From the Lenz website

-The Gold Series decoders deliver exceptional motor control with a 23kHz silent Back EMF motor drive and revolutionize model railroad control with RailCom, USP, Asymmetrical DCC and SUSI sound interface. New Gold Maxi now available.

The USP is a great feature

USP is an exciting new feature in DCC. In the past decoders have uses contact to the rails to be able to detect and act upon the DCC signal. Capacitors are sometimes added to decoders to provide them more of an ability to operate over dirty track sections. The problem with all these approaches is that while on the dirty track the DCC signal is lost and adding capacitors can have adverse effects such as problems in programming or excessive loads on startup.

To solve the age old problem of poor operations on dirty track, Lenz GmbH is pleased to announce USP.


USP is different from all forms of control that have come before. USP allows the decoder to pick up the DCC signal even when there is no electrical contact to the rails. Gone forever are jerky operation caused by poor electrical pickup.

There are two parts to operating with USP. The first part is a decoder that uses USP technology to pick up and decoder the DCC track signal. The second is a smart power module that powers the decoder while it is operating on dirty track. The size of this power module depends on the amount of time the locomotive needs to be powered while on dirty track. For N and HO scales, with their efficient motors, the storage module can be small. For large scale outdoor railroading where dirty track is much more frequent the power module will be larger.

Because the power module and USP technology are now on board the locomotive, space consuming items such as flywheels are no longer needed and the decoder becomes an electronic flywheel.

DCC decoders with USP are totally compatible with all existing NMRA DCC systems and requires no changes to your existing wiring or control system. Locomotives and rolling stock equipped with USP act the same as any other decoder equipped models with the exception that poor pickup and dirty track will no longer be an issue to smooth and flawless performance.

In addition, since decoders will now be able to receive all DCC packets independent of dirty track or poor electrical pickup, the repetition rate for DCC packets can be reduced which will open up wide new possibilities for DCC operation.

There is more info Here

Regards Zmil
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*** Zmil have you priced the USP modules??? - almost as expensive again as the decoder. They are also very hard for the average modeller to solder to the tiny pads provided by Lenz. Theywork but in my opinion they are an expensive solution to a not significant problem and not good value except perhaps for outdoor railway/large scale where track is often less than reliaby clean.

I have to say too that I found Lenz Gold a very unreliable decoder compared to all other name brands... they run hot and fail far too often for an expensive decoder.

Personally I don't rate USP as good value at all. There is very very little "jerkiness and lost contact" when a properly installed decoder is in a properly constructed loco anyway, and certainly I have never seen any notable pickup problem with any of the loco brands metioned by Simon.

As to decoder choice: Any reputable brand will work well. Avoid stripped down decoders and buy quality. TCS and ESU LokPilot would be my first choices, but you will also get great performance from Lenz, Zimo and others.

As a general rule of thumb, avoid decoder brands by the train makers (they often run OK but also have less functionality) and stick with specialised DCC brands.

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I thought they would be pricey , The Lenz Gold decoders are expensive enough as it is

I use mainly TCS decoders and have had no problems , The ESU has nice motor control as well

Regards zmil
Like Neil, the Lenz Gold used to be my decoder of choice but it is pricey. ESU then became my choice but recently I have been using the Bachmann 3 function which is in any case a "badge engineered" ESU, they retail for around £11 which is good VFM.

TCS are the choice of many & they are well priced & have a "goof proof" warranty.
Thanks for the feedback. That Bachmann is a possibility and also the TCS DP2X for those locos with NEM652 interfaces, good value and amazing when you see Fleischmann want £40 for a decoder. Whats the difference between the 2 function and 3 function decoders? Is forward/reverse one function and the lights a 2nd function?

Who sells TCS is the UK?

One other thing, I have the Trix snowplough(its a wagon not motorized) which has an LED light in the front. When I put it on the track there was a buzz for a second and the controller cut the power to the track. Don't this things work on a AC system? I guess if you wired a rectifier into them it would work OK?

Hi Simon

Forward lighting is one function and reverse the 2nd function
with the LED light in the snowplow , there maybe a capacitor in the circuit which would cause a momentary short for the DCC system or at least cause problems for the DCC signals on the rest of the track
Put a bridge rectifier in the circuit before the Capacitor and it will solve that problem

TCS are sold by a number of online stores Bromsgrove Models is a forum member that has them in stock

Hope this helps


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QUOTE (Brian Considine @ 8 Dec 2008, 20:39) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Like Neil, the Lenz Gold used to be my decoder of choice but it is pricey. ESU then became my choice but recently I have been using the Bachmann 3 function which is in any case a "badge engineered" ESU, they retail for around £11 which is good VFM.

TCS are the choice of many & they are well priced & have a "goof proof" warranty.
Getting them replaced can be quite time consuming though.
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