Once a DCC is installed on a layout, decoders have to be installed in the locomotives. In this video, modeler and DCC expert Steve Barkley demonstrates decoder installation. The easiest way to have a decoder equipped on a locomotive is to buy one. The locomotive Barkley shows has one already installed and is ready to run out of the box with a factory-default address of 3. It is usually common to have the number of the locomotive itself, which makes it easier for him and operators to remember the address of the locomotive. For decoder installation, he first changes the track to program and hits program on the throttle. He then changes the address to the desired number and hits enter. It asks if a four-digit address is wanted, and he presses yes. The locomotive is now programmed to run with that address.
Barkley has been using a combo test track and programming track to program the locomotives for decoder installation. If he didn’t have this, he would program on the programming track and then test on another piece of track on the layout. This device makes it easier to program and test a locomotive without moving the engine from programming to test track. Most manufacturers today who sell locomotive without a decoder installed will provide for plug-and-play decoder installation. Barkley shows a switcher with such an installation. Inside the hood is an NMRA 8-function plug. He removes this plug. Decoder manufacturers make many decoders to fit various types of locomotives. Plug-and-play decoders make it extremely easy for decoder installation in any locomotive. To learn more about installing a model train decoder or installing a switch decoder, visit the Model Railroad Academy video archives!