DCC troubles on an Athearn SW1500

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jim_cap

New Member
So I bought an Athearn Switcher at a local train show and when I put it on my layout, the engine starts buzzing. I put the loco through my routine program setup (I'm using Prodigy Express DCC) and it does not respond to any commands on the throttle, but the lights are on. I have a DC power pack and I put the loco on the track and it runs, smoothly and quietly. The lights come on as well. What could be the problem? Is it an easy fix or is it more than that?

Plus the guy I bought it from said that the loco(s) that were for sale, were bought, used once and then put away. He also said that it 'ran,' but I guess he meant on DC, not DCC..?
 

D&J RailRoad

Professor of HO
You would need to take the shell off of it to see if in fact it has a decoder. By the sounds of it, there isn't one in there.
 

Greg@mnrr

Section Hand
I agree with the others that the loco may not be a DCC equipped loco. If it is, try reprogramming its address to see what happens.

I brought a similar loco at a hobby shop and took it the same night to a friend's layout. It too just made noise. Turns out it was a standard loco that someone put in a DCC box and switched out a standard loco for a DCC loco and paid the price of a standard for a DCC equipped loco.

Try setting your throttle's address to 00 and see if the loco responds. If it does, its likely a standard loco.

Greg
 

NIKO_SUAV3

Member
I brought a similar loco at a hobby shop and took it the same night to a friend's layout. It too just made noise. Turns out it was a standard loco that someone put in a DCC box and switched out a standard loco for a DCC loco and paid the price of a standard for a DCC equipped loco.
Greg

Sad that some people these days lack any shred of integrity... but to be honest I would have never thought to double check this at any point when buying from a LHS
 

Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member
So I bought an Athearn Switcher at a local train show and when I put it on my layout, the engine starts buzzing. I put the loco through my routine program setup (I'm using Prodigy Express DCC) and it does not respond to any commands on the throttle, but the lights are on. I have a DC power pack and I put the loco on the track and it runs, smoothly and quietly. The lights come on as well. What could be the problem? Is it an easy fix or is it more than that?

Plus the guy I bought it from said that the loco(s) that were for sale, were bought, used once and then put away. He also said that it 'ran,' but I guess he meant on DC, not DCC..?
I would say yes he meant DC. I don't see anything in what you have related that the seller said or implied it was a DCC locomotive. Does it say DCC on the box?
 

jim_cap

New Member
IMG_2139.jpgIMG_2140.jpg
 

Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member
Nope, no DCC there. That circuit board is basically diodes for directional lighting.

The good news is there are two options for adding a plug and play decoder. The 8-pin NMRA plug or replace the directional lighting board with a decoder. The only thing I would be worried about would be the decoder not burning out the light bulbs. Athearn Genesis units use 1.5V bulbs. Is it Genesis?

http://www.tcsdcc.com/Customer_Cont...W1500_DCC_Ready/Athearn_SW1500_DCC_Ready.html
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Greg@mnrr

Section Hand
If you select the correct DCC decoder, you shouldn't have to worry about your 1.5 volt lamps. The decoder will have build in resistors.

I just installed a plug and play decoder in an older unit and the decoder has resistors, but the headlights are 12 volts, guess what no lights!

Greg
 

Genetk44

Active Member
Yeah...it is DCC ready without a doubt.....install a DCC decoder( easy peasy) and you are DCC capable.
 

tootnkumin

Well-Known Member
Staff member
That is Athearn's lighting board, fitted to both their Ready To Roll line (DCC Ready) and also their Genesis line (DCC Ready). It has the 8 pin socket (the black one) and the 9 pin socket for the "Quick plug" option. The Decoder I use in these engines is the NCE D13SRJ 9 pin, non-sound, which replaces that small circuit board you can see attached to the colored wires. There is no need to change the light bulbs with that decoder. Here is a Ytube video link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfRnHFneI_E There are several of these on Ytube.
 

tootnkumin

Well-Known Member
Staff member
The term "DCC ready" is a somewhat used and abused description. Technically it's possible to install DCC decoders into any 12Volt DC loco. The main physical requirement is that the motor must be electrically isolated (insulated) from the frame. Earlier models such as Athearn's Blue Box ones used the frame as part of the circuit supplying current to the motor and had to be modified. Later ones, such as you have are constructed that way.
 

k4kfh

Member
There's also LokSound Select, if you want sound. That's a board from ESU that totally replaces the stock Athearn board, and it does require basic soldering skills. It'd be a bit of decoder tetris to get the speaker to fit in there, but other than that it would work in theory. I do not recommend using the 8 pin plug; it's too much hassle to fit a decoder in there with that board and the bulky 9 pin JST plug, I know from experience. If you can solder, replace the entire board. If you can't, use something that's small and has a 9 pin JST plug on the board.
 




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