low-cost source for your fine Marklin, Roco, and Fleischmann 3-rail model trains
Frequently asked questions
about moving to Marklin Digital Systems
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to Marklin Digital Operation
A Practical Approach
© 2002 Karl Jahr
You may use this information or link to it.
But you may not modify it, and the copyright may not be omitted
This information is provided as a service
and not meant to be exhaustive nor necessarily without error.
If you have a comment or detect an error or omission, please send email to
my website at www.germantrains.com
Option 1: Start with Delta
Delta module for each locomotive ($40 each; I have 7 available)
Delta control 6604
Märklin transformer that delivers 16 Volt (brown/yellow) and 30 Wattsor 32 Watts of power. (10 or 16 Watt transformers are only suitable
Option 2: Start with full-fledged
Delta module for each locomotive. Delta modules are fully compatible
for digital operation
Digital control unit 6021
recommends 16 Volt/42 Watt transformer 6001, but any Märklin
transformer that delivers 16 Volt (brown/yellow) and 30 or 32 Watts of
power would initially suffice.
German model 6002 transformer for 220 Volt house current delivers 52 Watts
and can be used if an inexpensive ($12-15) step-up transformer is used
with it to convert US 120 Volt power to 220 Volts. I can refer you to a
seller of step-up transformers. While do not stock any Märklin transformers, but sometimes they come my way.
As the system grows
You may need:
Locomotives consume about 10 Watts. The two options described above
can support about 3 (Delta) to 5 (6021) simultaneously operating
locomotives (if there are no additional lights connected). Once you go
beyond this, you would require a booster with additional transformer.
Also, very large layouts may require more than one booster. You can
either go on the cheap by using a Delta control 6604 and a 30-32 Watt
transformer, or use a 6017 booster with the 6001 transformer. While
you need only one central unit 6021, each booster/transformer
combination receives the digital signals from the single 6021 and
needs to be connected to an electrically separate section of your
For information on the
use of Delta controls as boosters send email
With Delta systems you cannot get additional throttles, because you
use the throttle on the transformer together with the dial on the
Delta unit for train control. With the 6021 central control you can
theoretically control up to 80 locomotives from one 6021. With many
simultaneously operating trains this quickly becomes impractical,
because you have to constantly select different addresses to control
different locomotives. So you may want to acquire additional 6036
Control-80f units that consist of a throttle and a keyboard for
Track control without computer
To get started
same central control unit 6021 and transformer that you use for train
control. (Note: Track control requires the 6021. Delta control 6604
doesn’t support it)
k-83 decoder 6083 for every four electromagnetic articles (turnouts,
signals, etc; you can use two uncouplers for every one of these
keyboard 6040 for every 16 electromagnetic articles.
Lights on turnouts and signals require extra power. To preserve digital
power for digital operations, it may be advisable to disconnect the yellow
wire from the lamps and power them from a separate transformer.
6043 can be used to define up to 24 sequences of commands to operate up to 20
electromagnetic articles with the push of only one button. This certainly
simplifies the operation of your layout and avoids crashes. Up to four
memory units can be used.
Train and track control
Both train and track control
can be simplified when a computer is used. This option is also very cost
effective, as one can avoid the use of expensive keyboards and additional
Interface with cable.
with mouse and monitor
A 17” monitor is preferable if you want to keep several windows
open. A separate serial (COM) port is necessary for the connection of
the 6051 interface cable. The actual hardware configuration depends on
the requirements of the software. Relatively small and inexpensive
386/486 systems with DOS and Windows (up to Win 98, but not
NT/2000/XP) should suffice. It would be desirable to support 1024x768
resolution, because otherwise your screen real estate becomes gobbled
up quickly. (I run Martin Meyer's software described below on a 486
with Windows 3.1 installed).
software program that supports the Märklin system.
are several programs available. I prefer the shareware programs by
Martin Meyer (about $30 each for train control and track control).
Disadvantage: only in German, but quite intuitive.
about Martin Meyer's program send email
Sluggish electromagnetic articles
articles were not designed for digital operation, and some of them are
sluggish and require relatively long impulses to turn (double slips are
notorious in this respect). In a conventional environment and when the
6040 keyboard is used that is no problem; you just push the button on the
control panel or keyboard a little longer, until operation is complete. In
the digital world, it works differently, and when you use a computer, it
doesn’t push the button, but it issues the command for a rather short
period, which may not be long enough to accomplish the desired result.
Martin Meyer's program has solved this problem by allowing you to define
up to five impulses, depending on the ‘sluggishness’ of the individual
This description covers most
common possibilities. Advanced possibilities include digital control of
turntable, crane, lights, slow-down before stop signals, feedback modules
and much more.
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