Monday, October 12, 2009

California Visit Recap and Changing the Address on the Mainline

Trade show season is looming upon us. We get to pack up and travel to many cities to meet and greet modelers. As much fun as it is to talk with our customers and hearing about their layouts and experiences, it is also hard work. Packing up everything we need, including our booth displays, can be exhausting. As tiring as it can be, it is all worth it in the end. Our upcoming train show schedule includes iHobby (International Hobby Exposition) in Chicago, Trainfest in Milwaukee,, the Oklahoma City Train Show, and The Big Railroad Show in West Springfield, MA. The dates and locations of each of these shows are available from our website. We invite anyone in attendance of these shows to come by the SoundTraxx and Blackstone Models booth to say "hi," see what's new, and ask questions.

SoundTraxx’ Great California Extravaganza!
This past week, George and Nancy took a trip to Southern California to visit some of our dealers. We were able to visit many fine hobby shops in Southern and Central California. 

The week started in the Los Angeles area. On Thursday, we held two clinics at Milepost 38. Attendance was great and everyone walked away learning something.

Friday we were at it again. We were able to visit a few more of our dealers and we held a clinic for Allied Model Trains and The Original Whistlestop at the Radisson in Culver City. Thank you to all of those that were able to attend. We hope that you enjoyed our presentation.

On the road again Saturday morning, we drove from the LA area to San Francisco area for the Open House at Just Trains in Concord (pictured). Along the way, we were able to stop in to a couple more hobby shops.

Sunday saw a large turnout for the Open House and we were able to speak with many model railroaders in the area.

Afterward, we were invited by a member of the Carquinez Model Railroad Society to view their layout in progress. The sheer size was amazing, but the fact that it will only get better was astounding! This is a mushroom-style layout in a 36' x 60' space. Pete was a great host and tour guide. You can find out more about the club at

On Monday, we were able to stop by two more hobby shops before flying back home. Overall it was a good trip, meeting many of our customers. We stopped at 12 hobby shops, presented three clinics, and attended an all-day open house in 4 ½ days.

We want to say a special "Thank You" to Allied Model Trains, The Original Whistlestop, Just Trains, and Milepost 38 trains for their hospitality.

Tech Tip: Changing the Address on the Mainline
Since we have been building the Tsunami for the Genesis models, more and more modelers have been introduced to DCC and sound. The biggest question we get is a simple one: How do I change the address?

First, let's talk about addresses. Most modern decoders support both a long and short address, but what does all that mean? CV 1 stores the primary, or "short" address. The short address can be any number from 1-127. For example, locomotive road number 91 is considered a short address.

CVs 17 and 18 store the extended, or "long" address. These CVs use a mathematical algorithm to calculate the individual CV values. Most of today's command stations do this calculation for you. The long address is usually 128-9999, but can include 0001-0127, depending on the command station’s capabilities. This allows you to use the locomotive road number as the decoder address. Following this example, a road number of 5675 is considered a long address.

In a prior post, we discussed the PTB-100 and why it is recommended. This product allows easy programming of the address for the Tsunami decoder, long or short, at any time. However, with Operations Mode programming (aka, "Ops Mode" or "programming on the main"), it is possible to make necessary changes to the decoder, including the address. It just involves a couple more steps in the process. Let me explain:

The Tsunami decoder is programmed to ignore changes to the address it is using on the mainline to ensure you do not lose control of the locomotive. Therefore, if we want to change the address to 20 from the default value of 3, it will ignore the command. The reason for this is if we are programming CV 41 in a hurry and accidentally do not fully press the 4, we would be programming CV 1, short address, and would instantly lose control of the locomotive. There are many ways this could happen. I have done it myself and I'm grateful for this safe-guard!

Thus, changing address 3 to 20 on the mainline involves an additional step. To start, select Ops Mode programming. Be sure to follow your DCC manufacturer’s instructions on how to do this because all systems are different and some systems do not allow it. Because the decoder will not change the address it is using, you must first change the long address. Choose a number for the long address that is easy to remember, such as 1000. Following your DCC system’s instructions, change the long address to 1000. Then program CV 29 to look for and use the long address. Since CV 29 controls several settings, refer to the chart in the User’s Guide to enable the preferred settings for your locomotive (for this example, I will use a value of of 34 for CV 29). Be sure to check the documentation for your system since some systems make this change for you and activate the address you just entered, long or short. 

Next, dial up address 1000 on the cab and get control of your locomotive. Once you have control of the locomotive, use Ops Mode programming to change the short address to 20. Using a similar procedure used to change the long address, now select short address, or CV 1, and program this to a value of 20. Then referring to the CV 29 chart in the Users’ Guide again, change CV 29 to 2 or 6 (6 allows use on DC, whereas 2 does not). Then gain control of the locomotive under address 20. Now your locomotive is running under address 20. 

Using this method will allow you to change the address any time you need. When programming in this method, be sure the locomotive accepts the program by watching for it to lurch forward. This is the visual acknowledgement from the decoder that it has accepted the change that you have made.