Norm Stenzel

Installing a DCC Decoder

Norm Stenzel
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Duration:   4  mins

This video will teach you how to install a DCC decoder. Norm Stenzel uses Digitrax decoders on his Brandywine and Benedictine model railroad. Red is a DN93, which is a one amp suitable for N scale for his smaller locos. Blue is a DH94, which is a standard one-amp decoder for most of the other locomotives. In the MU sets where he has more than one loco tied together, he uses the DH83 which is a two amp. Norm demonstrates how to install a DCC decoder in a steam loco.

The first step is to disassemble and install a headlight. He has already drilled out the brass headlight and there is a 18th-inch hole going through the back so he can slide the bulb in. Bulbs are added in the headlight on both ends. Norm makes the connection with the locomotive and tender by taking a section of plug bought at local electronic stores, cutting them to the needed size, and installing them into the tender.

On a Digitrax decoder there are many wires. Red and black go to the track, white and yellow to the headlights, orange and gray are motor leads, and the purple green and blue wires are for the extra functions. These extra functions aren’t needed for his locomotive, so they are cut off. First he connects the rear headlight. The wires are soldered together and a small propane torch is used to shrink the shrink tubing over the connection.

A piece of double-stick tape mounts the decoder to the inside of the tender. Next the motor leads are soldered to the plug in the tender. After reassembly, the other track lead needs to be connected. Norm makes a plug using a piece of rail and a rail joiner, which will be superglued to the bottom of the tender. Finally, the two motor leads are attached to the motor. That is how to install a DCC decoder. For more techniques for installing decoders or how to use decoders on DCC systems, visit the Model Railroad Academy website.

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