TRC >> What do I need to get started in Märklin Digital?
Getting started with Märklin Digital usually happens in steps. This means that one might convert train control operations first and then accessory control operations are converted later. Märklin Digital is ultimately designed for the existing Märklin 3-rail AC assortment, the 2-rail 1 Gauge system and Märklin's Maxi trains, but, the Märklin Digital system can also be incorporated into 2-rail systems and decoders are available for both AC or DC operation. One decoder for DC motors is small enough for N gauge operation and limited track control is available for Z gauge, but decoders are not available for locomotive control in Z.
Locomotive OperationTo get started in digital operations, all you have to do is buy the Control Unit (6021) and a loco equipped with a digital decoder have an existing conventional locomotive equipped with a Digital decoder or a DELTA decoder. A train control transformer with an output of 30 VA (approx. 30 watts) can be used as a source of power for the Control Unit. The Control Unit reaches full power capability when it is powered by a Transformer (6001/6002). All Märklin DELTA and Digital locomotives can be used with the 6021. In addition to the standard four DELTA addresses, the decoder in the DELTA locomotive can also have an additional 10 addresses set with the DIP switches when controlled by the Control Unit. Digital locomotives have all 80 addresses available on their decoders. Ease of operation can be increased by adding Control 80f (6036) locomotive controllers to the setup. These will allow a single user to simultaneously control several trains, or multiple operators to control several trains at once.
As you start to operate several locomotives simultaneously, you will have to acquire a Booster (6017) with its own Transformer to cover increased power needs.
Accessory OperationKeyboards are added to the left of the Control Unit to operate solenoid accessories in the Digital system. Each Keyboard can control up to 16 double solenoid accessories or 32 single solenoid accessories (such as the uncoupler). In addition, each accessory requires its own decoder just as a locomotive requires its own decoder. The k83 Decoder allows 4 turnouts or signals to be connected and the 6073 Decoder handles a single accessory (usually installed under an M track turnout).
Note: With a DELTA HO starter set and the Control Unit (6021) the beginner has all of the components necessary to go directly into the world of Märklin Digital
Question - Can a conventional locomotive without a decoder be operated with Märklin Digital or Märklin DELTA?
A conventional locomotive operates on a Digital or DELTA layout with a constant speed that cannot be changed. Technically, the only locomotives without decoders that can be controlled on multi-train control systems other than Märklin's are those with DC motors. Our experience from recent years has shown us, however, that this places a heavy load on these models. Even when the locomotive is standing still there is still an electrical load on the DC motor which results in a shorter working life and can even lead to the motor burning out. Many motors therefore cannot be used (which most customers first realize after the motor has burned out). For these reasons we decided during the development of the multi-train control system to forgo operation of conventional locomotives on Digital or DELTA layouts. At present the decoders can be made so small that they can even fit into smaller models. The installation of such a decoder alone guarantees that the model railroader will be satisfied in the future with the reliability of his/her models.
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