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Frequently asked questions about moving to Marklin Digital Systems


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Moving to Marklin Digital Operation
A Practical Approach
© 2002 Karl Jahr
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and not meant to be exhaustive nor necessarily without error.
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Train control without computer

Option 1: Start with Delta

You need:

  • One Delta module for each locomotive ($40 each; I have 7 available)
  • One Delta control 6604
  • Any 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 digital operation

You need:

  • One Delta module for each locomotive. Delta modules are fully compatible for digital operation
  • One Digital control unit 6021
  • Märklin 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.

Note: 
The 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:

  • Additional power.
    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 layout.

For information on the use of Delta controls as boosters send email

  • Additional throttles.
    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 address selection.

Track control without computer

To get started

You need:

  • The 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)
  • One k-83 decoder 6083 for every four electromagnetic articles (turnouts, signals, etc; you can use two uncouplers for every one of these instead)
  • One  keyboard 6040 for every 16 electromagnetic articles.

Note:
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.

Growing pains

Memory units 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.

 

Computer operations

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 throttles.

Hardware

You need:

  • 6051 Interface with cable.
  • Computer 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

You need:

  • A software program that supports the Märklin system.
  • There 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.

For information about Martin Meyer's program send email

 

Additional information

Sluggish electromagnetic articles

Electromagnetic M-track 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 article.

Other possibilities

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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