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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a Lenz 100 and a Lenz black box for programming. However I am having difficulty in reading any of the chips so far with the latest Athearn Genesis and MTH sound equiped locos. One suggests that a power booster should be used. Any ideas on this
 

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Hi Kauri
Is this the programmer you mean
Black box Programmer

The Info given is that it will help program sound loco's
but I have not been able to find any extra info on this unit
If you have some info on your Black box programmer, a manual etc I would like to have a look

There is another program booster available from DCC specialties to help program sound loco's

PowerPax DCC Programmer

That may be another alternative
Hope this helps
Regards Zmil
 

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QUOTE (Kauri @ 13 Aug 2008, 04:27) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I have a Lenz 100 and a Lenz black box for programming. However I am having difficulty in reading any of the chips so far with the latest Athearn Genesis and MTH sound equiped locos. One suggests that a power booster should be used. Any ideas on this

***Here are the instructions for programming MTH with the Lenz 100. Basically you have to use programming on the main with Lenz

Also - here is a copy of the MRC instructions for their decoder - it does NOT support DC readback unlike other DCC sound brands like ESU, Quantum or Tsunami (Their excuse is that sound decoders cannot support readback - but given that the 3 brands quoted + others do, its a Porr excuse they give!)

Both files are at the bottom of this post as PDF files.

My advice -

MTH - MTH sound is good, as are their loco's... but they are NOT truly DCC decoders so are a bit different to other brands in function choices. If you just want to set the number to long address, its usually already programmed into the loco and just needs CV 29 set to 38 to activate it. If U do nothing else it will run well - their presets are good.

MRC/Genesis/Gaugemaster sound - all are the MRC sound decoder - basically rubbish. Avoid if you can as they are quirky and unreliable and impossible to synchronise well with the loco - their loco drive decoder they build in is poor.

Regards

Richard
DCCconcepts
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Good Day Zmil/Richard,

The Lenz black box programmer is the one I have. It was acquired at the Pennsylvania NMRA conference a few years ago and I should have its manual at home (Not at home for a few days yet). I will get back to you on this. This unit has allowed me to programme all chips until the latest batch of MRC sound equipped engines (Athearn and MTH) I have a vast range of sound equipped locos from most Manufactures and programme/install all types of sound and ordinary chips. Every chip I install is tested as most of what I do requires hard wiring to the Loco's. No use cutting the plug off and going to the trouble of installing the chip only to find that the chip is dead.
I have noticed a few years ago that the MRC sound chips were not performing correctly and having a lot of failure on install with them. I approached the MRC stand at the NMRA Conference and was advised to return later as the engineer was with another client. (Never physically saw the engineer) I returned to the stand numerous times over 2 days and guess what he was never available.

The information Richard has supplied me with has worked a charm and thanks Richard for that advice. However the Athearn unit would not behave as the MTH one did. Tried to introduce the address and it switched off the loco and would not respond to the new 2 digit address or the No 3 address. So I introduced the No 3 address as you advised and it worked. I contacted Athearn technical department and having explained what process I went trough they advised me to send the info via email and they will try and come up with a solution. It is pity that one cannot read the CV for those chips as it would make life a lot easier. When I get a response/solution I will let you know.
Again gentlemen thanks for your response.


Kauri
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Zimil

Home at last. The Black Box Programmer Operators Manual version 8 is in my hands. Can you contact me and I can arrange to fax it to you or by email. On the programming of the Athern Loco getting conflicting advice from Athearn at the moment, will update ASAP.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
The latest update on the programming is as follows.
(A) Contacted Athearn on the problem after a few emails it came down to this response.
"Please note that to program a new address you use CV #1 for a two
digit address and CV's #'s 17 and 18 for a four digit address. Either
way with the Lenz system you need to place their recommended resistor
across the rails of the program track or get their black box program
track booster to change the address."
(
Contacted Lenz who gave me a resistor value and preformed the above.
© Result, none of it worked.
(D) Lenz also gave me a link http://cs.trains.com/forums/1483644/ShowPost.aspx which discusses the programming issue. I tried the advice on removing all locos and whatever uses current from the DCC system but it failed.
Conclusion:
The Lenz system (including the black box programmer) cannot put an address on the Athearn Genesis UP FEF-class 4-8-4 Locomotive which uses a MRC sound decoder.

This begs a few questions.
(1) Is the Lenz system defective or not up to date?
(2) Are MRC sound chips way ahead in their technology?
(3) How and why did the NMRA grant approval to MRC and Lenz introduce technology that cannot talk to each other (from the point of view of reading and changing address)?
 

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Hi Kauri
The MRC decoders do not support read back and are not truly NMRA complient
the Lenz system is and is the only Manufacturer to offer a 10 year warranty

I can understand your frustration , I have a MultiMAUS system (produced and designed by Lenz)
Which has difficulty in changing CV1 on half of my loco's ,The MultiMAUS has, in Cv mode(service mode of Lenz) as apposed to POM there is only a small output current to the programing track (I have borrowed a Lenz system to do the job instead)

The Black box programmer (thanks for the file by the way , I finally found out how to read the dorx document)
Puts a higher current to the programming track in the Lenz "Service mode' This is what you need for changing CV1 of the sound decoders which have a greater current draw than a standard decoder

There may be an issue with the Athearn loco/MRC decoder you have . Try hooking the outputs of the black box directly to the Loco's power pickups , or wheels if you cant get to them , that may give a better transfer of power
Hope this helps
Regards Zmil
 

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QUOTE (zmil @ 25 Aug 2008, 09:08) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Hi Kauri
The MRC decoders do not support read back and are not truly NMRA complient
the Lenz system is and is the only Manufacturer to offer a 10 year warranty

I can understand your frustration , I have a MultiMAUS system (produced and designed by Lenz)
Which has difficulty in changing CV1 on half of my loco's ,The MultiMAUS has, in Cv mode(service mode of Lenz) as apposed to POM there is only a small output current to the programing track (I have borrowed a Lenz system to do the job instead)

The Black box programmer (thanks for the file by the way , I finally found out how to read the dorx document)
Puts a higher current to the programming track in the Lenz "Service mode' This is what you need for changing CV1 of the sound decoders which have a greater current draw than a standard decoder

There may be an issue with the Athearn loco/MRC decoder you have . Try hooking the outputs of the black box directly to the Loco's power pickups , or wheels if you cant get to them , that may give a better transfer of power
Hope this helps
Regards Zmil

***When you followed the advice and changed CV17 and 18 (Which despite athaerns advice you don't have to do with a lenz, as it will programme a lond address directlyanyway) .....did you also change CV29?

try this:

do a factory reset on the decoder

programme CV17 and 18 directly as advised - (that means of course working out the hex values for them and entering those)
go to CV29 and make it 36

does long address work now?

RIchard
 

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QUOTE (Kauri @ 12 Aug 2008, 20:27) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I have a Lenz 100 and a Lenz black box for programming. However I am having difficulty in reading any of the chips so far with the latest Athearn Genesis and MTH sound equiped locos. One suggests that a power booster should be used. Any ideas on this
Apologies if this sounds like a shameless plug, but I think it is on topic. With a properly designed programmer, there is no need for resistors, power boosters or black boxes.

The latest rev SPROG II will program Soundtraxx, QSI and most other sound decoders. There have been problems along the way, and there are a number of issues with the way some decoders implement service mode (programming track) programming and the way the manufacturers interpreted the DCC Standards (Blueline decoders for instance).

Many command stations have issues in the way they detect the acknowledge from the decoder during programming, hence the various kludges suggested.

Despite what some manufacturers say, there's NOTHING to stop a sound decoder being designed to fully support programming on the programming track. If MRC don't support it, its definitely a deficiancy in the decoder. Some MRC decoders do in fact support readback (at least with a SPROG II).

Regarding the Athearn Genesis, in particular, I do have one SPROG user reporting problems and I think, in this case, it is definitely an issue with the decoder. Another user, with a different problem, reported that MRC were quite abrupt, rude even, when approached for assistance.

Andrew Crosland
http://www.sprog-dcc.co.uk
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks for the advice gentlemen. The reason for the late response is that I have found the solution. I acquired a Prodigy Advance from Gaugemaster from a friend. It programmed the Athearn Genesis and a Broadway Blueline. I believe that this product is MRC compatible.
Richard: Tried your advice and unfortunately it did not work. On the programming track it cannot read any CV value at all. Tried it without the black box and various resistances from the Q terminal.
Andrew: The Sprog II sounds like a good device and an item that I might invest in. However I do not have an issue with any other chip other than the MRC chip that is in the Athearn Genesis. (I have 2 of them) I have installed MRC chips in about 12 locos and 5 of them failed on install.
Zimil: Tried your suggestion on direct feed to the loco but no go.
Discussed this with other likeminded parties and the conclusion arrived at is that most DCC systems that have programming facilities is that the power to the track is too high, but as I have already said no mater what size resistor I used it did not work, I suspect (for what is worth) it is a software issue. However the issue is solved for the moment

Kauri
 

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I stand to be corrected and am not conversant with the loco here but with my Athearn n scale big boy i couldnt get any results reading on the programme track, and so went to the main track to programme the address and CV values.

Could this be a quirk of Athearn as a manufacturer ?
 

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QUOTE (upnick @ 28 Oct 2008, 05:07) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I stand to be corrected and am not conversant with the loco here but with my Athearn n scale big boy i couldnt get any results reading on the programme track, and so went to the main track to programme the address and CV values.

Could this be a quirk of Athearn as a manufacturer ?

*** The real instruction for MRC decoders is similar to the original hornby decoder.

(1) Place on solid surface
(2) Hit with 5lb hammer

The MRC decoders will not reliably read on ANY system. If you ignore the "cannot read" comment or use programme on the main, you can programme them though. They try to claim in their instructions that this is a characteristic of all sound decoders but MRC is the ONLY sound decoder with the problem, so who is kidding who?

The failure rate over time is very big - and they have some wierd habits that are simply not acceptable. I routinely remove them from Athaern loco's and consign to the rubbish bin for that reason.

Richard
 

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QUOTE (Richard Johnson @ 28 Oct 2008, 13:34) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>'
''They try to claim in their instructions that this is a characteristic of all sound decoders but MRC is the ONLY sound decoder with the problem, so who is kidding who?

Richard

Case of do what workks not whats directed by Athearn then ..........
 

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If programing on program track, try programing in PAGED mode.
I have a Genesis Challenger, paged mode is the only way it will program with my Lenz.
When my budget will allow a Loksound replacement will be fitted.

Iansa
 
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