How many of us throw money at a problem in an effort to get it resolved? I’ve been there and done that! On this occasion surfing the Internet seemed to yield a solution to my problem. I purchased a couple of highly recommended DCS (Digital Command System) resources. They were a DCS video from OGR (O gauge railroading) and a book, The DCS Companion.
The first lesson learned from these resources had to do with sound boards. MTH (Mike’s Train House) locomotives are equipped with Protosound boards. These enable features such as lights sounds and functions such as couplers and smoke. I learned just because the box says “equipped with Protosound” it doesn’t mean it will work with the DCS system. Only “Protosound 2” and “Protosound 3” sound boards are compatible. So what I thought was a defective DCS system or damaged engines turned out to be a system incompatibility issue.
Thankfully, I can still use these engines but I will need to run them on a separate track not hooked up to DCS.
I have one engine with a Protosound 3 board in it. It should have worked but it didn’t. After consulting my resource materials again, I learned much of the trouble model train hobbyists have with DCS are bad batteries powering the Protosound boards. My engine had been boxed up for at least 3 years. I ran my Proto-3 engine around the track with DSC unhooked to charge the battery. Magically, the DCS remote later found my engine and the DCS starting working.
*** Warning, while it is possible to charge a ProtoSound 3 sound board by running it on the track while trying to use DCS, DO NOT try to do this with ProtoSound 2 engines. The battery in Proto-2 engines must be charged using a charger or replaced with a new battery before attempting to run the engine with DCS. ***
After charging the battery in my protosound-2 steam engine it, too, could be loaded into the DCS remote. Now that I have two engines running DCS, the system is everything I imagined it would be. I’m amazed at how slow I can make the engines crawl. The sounds, lights, smoke come alive with the push of a button. Having my couplers work by remote control will greatly enhance my plans to have an operating layout (being able to pick up and set out cars according to a train schedule).