Advanced Consisting

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Advanced Consisting - The Solution to a Problem

Question: My consisted (MU'd) engines all blow their horns and ring bells at the same time regardless of what unit is leading. What gives?

If you use your command station to set up a consist and NOT the decoders themselves via CV 19, it is expected that the headlights, horn, and bell may not behave 'realistically.' When using a command station to set up a consist, it often won't let you control a locomotive individually, and instead always re-directs you to the whole consist. This can also result in undesirable behaviour, and will result in some amount of incompatibility between systems if you transport your consists between multiple places.

When setting up advanced consisting using CV 19 (sometimes included in the command-station-based consisting methods), the decoders will respond on TWO addresses.

  1. Address 1: The Base Address (as programmed to either short or long)
  2. Address 2: The Consist Address as programmed in CV 19

On Address 1, all of the sound and light functions will respond all of the time on THAT decoder only. No decoder with a non-zero value in CV 19 will respond to speed commands on their base address.

On Address 2, ALL of the engines on that consist address will respond to functions as programmed in CV 21 and CV 22. Speed commands must be sent on this address.

TCS' Suggested Advanced Consisting Setup Method

TCS' preferred advanced consisting setup recommendation and use case is to:

  1. Save your non-consisted settings to a User Preset. (Sound Decoders Only!)
  2. Set up the each of the DECODERS in your MU to a consist address by programming CV 19.
  3. Set up individual decoder's Consist Function Response using CV 21 and CV 22 if desired. (This step is optional.)
  4. Save these new settings to a different User Preset. (Now you can instantly switch between single-unit and consisted operation by selecting a Preset without needing to touch CV's!)

Use the lead unit's base addresses for functions like the light, horn, and bell

Use the consist address for speed control, brakes, muting, etc.

Switching between the base address and consist address is very simple if you have a dual throttle or a Recall button.

  • NOTE: Due to the reprogramming of CV 21 and CV 22, the Audio Assist feature in Version 4 and older decoders will break when controlled via a consisted address. It is for this reason that it is a requirement that our decoders always allow control of every function on the base address. The unit currently addressed will operate the Audio Assist features as expected regardless of the consist CV settings.
  • For Diesel decoders, you probably want to set the Throttle Mode to Traditional or Manual Notching to keep the engines' RPM in sync; however, depending on the era of consist, the behaviour of each unit throughout the consist will vary.

Using an Automatic Command-Station-Based Method

If you would prefer to use the command-station-based consisting method instead, use the following recommended practice for running two units (which you never plan to run from the trailing unit):

  • Save your non-consisted settings to a User Preset.
  • Turn on "Send Functions to Consist" in the command station's settings (if supported). If a user does not turn on "Send Function to Consist" in the settings, the ONLY thing they can control on any engine in the consist is the speed. No function commands are received (or sent) by/to the decoder when consisted in this way. If a user DOES turn on "Send Functions to Consist" in the settings, ALL functions will be sent to ALL the locomotives in the consist every time. If the decoder settings are set for CV21 and CV22 to receive all functions (as they are by default for TCS), they will indeed all work on every engine every time.
  • If you have any light functions which you explicitly NEVER want to come on under any circumstances, program the lighting effect CV for that function to 255 to disable it.
  • Set CV 21 = 252 and CV 22 = 60 on [Loco 2]. These settings should disable consist control of both headlights on the rear unit as well as the horn and bell. On [Loco 1], all commands respond all the time, even if [Loco 2] is selected. On [Loco 2], the headlight as well as the horn and bell will only operate when that loco is addressed directly, but when [Loco 1] is selected there will be no response. This setup assumes you will never be controlling your consist from the trailing unit.
  • Assuming the two units are oriented in such a way that the short hoods are opposite each other and the "lead" unit is selected, what may be expected is that in FORWARD, the forward light of the lead unit would be on, and all the lights on the rear unit would be off; similarly, in REVERSE, the Forward light on the "rear" unit would be on, and all the lights on the "lead" unit would be off. Essentially, the headlights on the "inside" are always off, and the lights on the "outside" are directional. This is how most people run their consists, but is open to modification based on personal preferences or the road of the prototype of course. To achieve this, you need to set CV 50 on BOTH units on either end to 255 to disable their output. If you do so, the behaviour of the decoders will match the description above. You would think that it would be CV 50 on the lead and CV 49 on the training unit, but since the consist address will reverse the motor and lighting direction, it is in fact CV 50 for both units. Note that these settings also work the same way if automatic Rule17 dimming is active.

If you plan to use three or more locomotives in a consist, and/or plan to operate the consist from either "end" depending on the direction, do the following:

  • Set CV 22 on ALL members of consist to deny access to function 9 (and optionally 0, especially for DPU's, unless you have already disabled the light outputs you do not want to have come on). Currently, it is required that any directional headlights that you do NOT want to have turn on have their function outputs physically disabled in software using the corresponding CV's 49 and/or 50 with a value of 255. Alternatively, you can map the lights to different function buttons.
  • For consists with more than two members (including DPU's) Set CV 21 to disallow control of Functions 1, 2, 3, and 4 on ALL members of the consist to prevent other engines from ringing bells or blowing horns. Only the addressed consist member should be allowed control if configured in this way.
  • NOTE: If functions of the decoder have been reassigned, or are preferred by the user to [not] be allowed control on a consist address, they may be disabled at said user's discretion in CV 21 and CV 22.

NOTE: Some throttles, such as TCS' UWT-100, or command stations offer configuration options on how to send specific functions to the consist address. Your throttle or command station manufacturer may offer instructions or documentation on how to change these settings.

Related Pages and Other Helpful Links