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The best DCC decoder for outdoors?


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Now being a bit ignorant on these matters, I would like to know if anyone has experience of the best DCC decoder to run on an outdoor track before I spend any more money!? :)

I bought a few of the cheapie £10 decoders that worked fine indoors and programming (when I didn't release the magic blue smoke with my wiring skills), but outdoors the loco needs a kick up the backside before it will go, and will then stop dead a yard up the track, and that's after cleaning the track!

Having looked on the DIY DCC decoder sites, they say it tends to be down to the tolerance of the resistors used - it says that the higher quality decoders will read data from the track even if the track voltage drops to almost zero, the cheap ones won't. I'd also like the ability to add a capacitor to 'stay alive' for a second or 2 to get over the dirty bits.

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I've never noticed any discernible difference in any of the decoders I've used outdoors. I would think that if they work well indoors then they should do likewise outdoors.

You say the track is clean but are you sure you have good electrical continuity between track sections? I would certainly be looking into that first of all. I would also be looking at whether the track is level.

When I first started outdoors I wrongly assumed that you just needed to lay the track and everything would be okay but I subsequently discovered that the track also needs to be as level as possible both lengthways and across the two rails. Outdoors we aren't always working with a perfectly level base upon which we start fixing our track and even the slightest undulation is enough to lift a loco's wheel(s) out of contact with the rail which results in erratic running similar to the symptoms you describe. I had many mysterious derailments until I began looking at the track more closely and placing a level across the rails to check for problems.

I've used cheap decoders and factory fitted decoders but never felt the need to look at anything more expensive. I've had the dreaded blue smoke only once. Perhaps other members have had different experiences?

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