Large Scale Wireless DCC Options (was: QSI Status Update)

Kevin Strong
 

Options in large scale for wireless DCC? There are more now than there have ever been. I’ve been doing battery R/C in large scale for 30+ years, and I’m a kid in a candy store with what’s available now!

 

Receivers…

 

Tam Valley Depot – 3 amps continuous, 5 amps peak. I know you said you use these and find them unsatisfactory. The “channel 16” thing I understand. It is a limitation in your situation, but also an advantage in certain instances, as you do not need to give the receiver a specific DCC address as you do the Airwire Convertr. (Gilbert, what’s limiting you to 40 scale mph in your installation? I’ve used them pretty much exclusively for the past three years, and have had no issues related to power.) The receiver is limited to 18 volts in, so that could potentially limit your top-end speed depending on how the loco is geared. However, you can pair Tam Valley Depot’s small receiver with their separate 3-amp booster, which can handle in excess of 24 volts. The voltage input to the small receiver is limited to 18 volts, but that’s easily handled with a voltage regulator between the battery and receiver.

 

Airwire Convertr – Airwire just released a new 6 amp continuous version of their Convertr receiver. If you’re having power issues with the TVD receiver, use this instead. It has a peak capacity of something ridiculous like 55 amps. They’ve also got their 2.5 amp continuous receiver (suitable for small locos like 0-4-0s, 0-6-0s, etc.) and a 1.5 amp version for small critters and the like.

 

Airwire G3 and plug-in receivers. These are certainly an option if you don’t want sound, as they combine the receiver, motor, smoke, and light control in one board for about the same price as a Convertr. If you’ve got a Phoenix sound board lying around, they’re easily paired for realistic sound, though you do not get the benefits of BEMF response as you do with today’s modern motor/sound DCC decoders.

 

Both the Tam Valley Depot and Airwire receivers work with the current Airwire T-5000 and T-1300 throttles, as well as the legacy T-9000 and RF1300 (except the latter does not go up to channel 16). They also work with the old NCE G-wire throttle, again, subject to the limitation of channel 16, and you may have difficulties programming the decoders with the G-wire throttle, as sometimes exists with programming the older Airwire motor/light boards.

 

 

Decoders…

 

Absent QSI, your options for motor/sound DCC decoders for large scale are TCS, Soundtraxx Tsunami2, Soundtraxx Econami, Zimo, Massoth, and ESU. (Piko also makes a large scale decoder, but it’s made by Soundtraxx, and if you’re going to go that route, go with the Econami or Tsunami2. Much more bang for your buck.)

 

I would note that the large scale version of the Tsunami2 is not yet available, but I spoke with Soundtraxx three weeks ago, and the board was undergoing final FCC approval, and would have it on the market within 2 months from receiving that approval.)

 

Of those, I’ve used all of them except the ESU decoder. (I’ve not used the large scale version of the TCS or Tsunami2 yet, as they’re just hitting the market, but I’ve used the smaller-capacity versions in my On30). I have no arguments with the quality of any of these decoders, either in terms of sound quality or performance. They are every bit on par with QSI, arguably superior in various arenas.

 

Gilbert, if motor control is your paramount concern, look at the Zimo boards. Their motor control is the smoothest “out of the gate” of the decoders I’ve used. (Again, I can’t speak to ESU since I’ve not played with them.) I would caution on the Zimo sounds, however. Zimo’s sound files are developed by third party contributors, not Zimo, so there’s little guarantee of consistency from file to file. Also, few sound files have recorded samples on the web site, so there’s no way of knowing what the file sounds like prior to loading it onto the decoder and firing things up.

 

 

Bottom line, there’s a lot you can do now with DCC in a large scale wireless environment to the point where the loss of QSI and their G-wire receiver should hardly cause more than a ripple. With the exception of a Titan I picked up last year for half price at Caboose Hobbies’ clearance sale, I’ve not bought a QSI decoder in two years. There’s been no need to. The latest offerings from the other folks fill the gap, and then some.

 

Later,

 

K

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