Select Page

Layout In A Box – Demo Micro Layout Project (part 32 ) – DCC Concepts Shuttle System

Scale Model Scenery Demo Micro Layout Project – DCC Concepts Shuttle System

Part Thirty Two

Following on from part thirty one of this series, in which we looked at installing copper clad sleepers we now look at another shuttle system for automatic operation on the layout when at shows. In two of the recent articles we looked an analouge shuttle system & also a time based shuttle system on the Hornby Sapphire Decoder. This third shuttle system we are looking at is for DCC users & produced by DCC Concepts & comes in the form of their Zen Black Shuttle Pack. This is a DCC (Digital) based system which includes every thing you need in one pack. The pack contains a Zen V12 Black Decoder, & three ABC control boards  with these being one station stop module & two shuttle control units.  The Zen black decoder is a 21 pin type with 6 functions which is packed full of clever lighting features & also has asymmetric DCC which allows it to work with the ABC shuttle control boards.

We’ll look at installing this shuttle mode system from DCC Concepts on our demo layout in a box project, & how to install the supply decoder in a Dapol DMU model as well. We’ll also look at how to use & set this system up with an intermediate shuttle stop.

The DCC decoder supplied in the pack is a 6 function 21 pin MTC type & comes supplied with a decoder to 8 pin harness, so this decoder will work with both 8 & 21 DCC socket/pin ready locomotive models. This decoder has the following spec…

  • 1.1 Amps peak power
  • 750mA continuous power
  • 6 functions at 100mA each
  • 22mm x 16mm
  • 21-pin direct, 8-pin & harness
  • One-Step Loco Setup
  • Shuttle mode (requires ABC boards for this to function – Supplied in the shuttle pack which is the feature of this article)

The decoder has lots of other clever features such as different lighting effects as well as an optional plug in stay alive unit for supplying short bursts of power across electrical dead spots, dirty track etc.

We’ll look at first of all at how to install the decoder into a locomotive, in our case a Dapol class 121 DMU single car DMU.

Body Removal

The body on the Dapol Class 121 is one of the more easy to remove body shells, with no undoing of screws needed. The body is held in place by four clips (two on each side of the body). The photo below shows the location of the clips which is the same for both sides of the model. To remove the body, carefully pull the body back slightly from the chassis & insert a piece of card or plasticard strip between the body & the chassis. This will lift the clips away from the clip recesses on the chassis. The body should then lift off.

With the body now removed, it would be worth fitting passengers & train crew inside.  

The decoder we are using as mentioned earlier is the DCC Concepts Zen Black 21 pin/8 pin 6 function MTC decoder. DCC Concepts say as well as their own decoders, any decoder that has ABC (asymmetric) DCC will work with their shuttle system. The extra wires on the decoder are for connecting to the optional stay alive unit (available separately).


The DCC decoder socket/pins is hidden in the guards compartment under a grey box labelled DCC. This box is held in place buy two clips which we’ve arrowed in the photo below.


The box should unclip & remove easily buy carefully sliding a flat blade screw driver under one side & gently prize it up slightly. The box will then easily remove from the chassis. 


You’ll now see the analouge blanking plug which allows the model to be run on tradtional controlled layouts that don’t use DCC. One thing of note here is that there is two switches on the blanking plug (highlighted in the orange circles). These two switches are for turning the cab lights on or off on DC controlled layouts. 


The blanking plug needs to be removed & replaced with a DCC decoder. Carefully pull the blanking plug away from the 21 pin plug, making sure as not to bend the pins as you do so.


With the blanking plug removed, you can now see the decoder plug pins. With it being a 21 pin type, you’ll see that the second row of pins has one pin less. This indicates which way round the DCC decoder will plug in. In the second photo below, you’ll see the DCC 21 pin decoder, this has the socket on it. The socket hole highlighted with the orange arrow on some decoders have this hole missing, or in this case is just a blank hole. This indicates which way round the decoder will plug on to the decoder plug pins, so the decoder can be only plugged in one way. Don’t try to force the decoder on to the pins as you may end up damaging the pins.

Fit the decoder fully home onto the pins.    


With the decoder now fitted, it’s a good idea to place the model on the programming track & make sure the DCC controller can read the DCC decoder address. Factory default address is number 3 which is industry standard on any DCC decoder. Once happy all is okay, program the model with the DCC loco address you wish to assign it. Test run the model & then refit the grey cover box over the decoder & refit the model body shell.


Installing The Shuttle ABC Module Boards

Having now installed the Zen Black decoder into our DMU, we now turn our attention to the installation of the DCC Concepts Shuttle ABC boards. These boards enable a shuttle to be easily installed on a layout. In the trackplan below of the demo layout the main feature of this series, Dunn Street Yard, the orange arrows mark the places i’m wanting the the DMU to shuttle between.

The area to the right of the main baseboard with the two orange arrows is the twin track fiddle yard. The fiddle yard we showed in a previous article in this series, how to scratch build one. Since that article was written, we’ve now released two Fiddle Yard Baseboards these being a sing track version & a doube track version. These can be found here:

Single Track Version BB019 (Size 400mm long by 100 mm wide):–fiddle-yard–dcc-programming-track-baseboard-400mm-x-100mm-9183-p.asp

Double Track Version BB022 (Size 400mm long by 150mm wide):

http://BB022 Twin Track Photo Plank / Fiddle Yard / DCC Programming Track Baseboard (400mm x 150mm))

For the shuttle system to work on our layout here we’ll be using all three supplied ABC Shuttle Boards, these will be fitted on the underside of the baseboardat the location of the orange arrows in the diagram. below.


The diagram below shows the simple shuttle wiring set up on a straight railway track run. The two wires from the track outlet from the DCC controller (Sometimes referred to as a Command Station) are shown as two lines, Red for + Positive & Black for – Negative. These form what we call a power or track bus (bit like the electric ring main in your home) which supplies power to the track all around the layout. At both ends of the straight track run you’ll see an ABC Module, these are the stopping triggers for the shuttle train. The red + Positive wire is fed to both these ABC Modules. Then from the Modules is another red + Positive wire which is connected to one rail as shown in the diagram. 

To one side of the ABC Modules you’ll see a gap (marked with a yellow arrow) in one rail. In between the two gaps in the rail another + Positive (Red wire) power feed, this supplies power to this section of rail. 

On the opposite side of the track in what we’ll call the – Negative side, you’ll see the black wire – Negative supply to the track from the DCC controller (Command Station). We’ve shown the – Negative supplying the track three times in the diagram,  but you could get away with just the one – Negative supply to this straight track.


With the shuttle ABC Modules installed & the Zenblack decoder installed in the DMU there are three things we now need to do. Set the switches on the ABC boards, activate the shuttle mode & the waiting time the DMU will wait at either end of the shuttle

Activating Shuttle Mode

Setting the ABC Board Switches

On the ABC boards you’ll see there are three coloured switches, these being one red switch & two blue switches. To set the switches start with the red switch, by pulling upwards off the board so that pins it was sat on are expossed. Refit the red switch to ABC On. With the two blue switches using the same procedure set them as shown in the photo below.


To turn on the shuttle on…

  • Place the loco on the programming track & use direct programming mode on your controller
  • Call up CV27 & set it to the value of 4. This activates & turns on the  shuttle mode on the decoder.

To Set The Waiting Time At The End Of The Shuttle Run

  • Place the loco on the programming track & use direct programming mode on your controller
  • Call up CV59. Each value for CV59 is equal to 10 seconds. So 1 = 10 seconds, 2 = 20 seconds, 3 = 30 seconds, & so on. We’d like the DMU to wait one minute at either end of the shuttle run, so for CV59 set it to the value of 6.

You can experiment with adjusting CV59 to increase or decrease waiting times.

Now place the DMU back on to the layout at one end of the shuttle run & set the speed on the throttle to the speed you wish it to travel at. The DMU will then wait untill the set waiting time is up & then travel along the track until it reaches the second gap in the rail & the section of track with the other ABC module. The DMU will then slow down & stop & proceed to wait. After the set waiting is up, the DMU will automatically change direction & travel back to the other end of the track until it reaches the first gap in the rail & other ABC Module. Here it’ll stop, wait, then change direction & repeat the whole cycle again.


If you are wanting the train to stop at particular point, in our case the small station. Adjust the deceleration rate in which the train stops. This is CV4. Play about the settings to increase or decrease how long it takes the DMU to slow down & stop. To adjust the rate of acceleration the CV for this is CV3. For both CV3 & CV4 a good figure to start off with is 10. Adjust the settings on CV3 & CV4 either way from 10 upwards or downwards to suit your requirements. If you you get stuck, lost or confused, you can reset the loco decoder back to the factory default settings. To do this call up CV8 & set it to 8. This will reset the decoder back to it’s default factory settings. 

Another neat thing is this DCC Concepts shuttle system allows you to take over control at any time. As well as adjusting the DMU/loco at any speed on the throttle whilst the shuttle is in operation. The ABC modules will not effect any locos fitted with normal decoders, so these can be driven as normal over the track section fitted with the ABC modules. 

Installing The shuttle System On The Demo Layout.

First of all the power bus/track feed needs to run through on to the fiddle yard double track board. Two wires are (Red + Positive & – Black Negative) are connected into the main distribution choc bloc connector on the BB017 layout baseboard. These wires are then run through a drilled hole in the end of the BB017 baseboard & connected into a plug & pin type chocbloc connector. This will allow the fiddle yard board to be electrically plugged/unplugged into the BB017 baseboard. The photo below shows the Socket part of this plug/socket choc bloc connector on the fiddle yard board.


After fitting the chocbloc connector to the fiddle yard board, two wire holes was then drilled for the red + positive & black – negative power bus wires to go through.


Next the wires are then fitted into the chocbloc connector, fed through the drilled holes & fitted into another chocbloc. This chocbloc is acting as our fiddle yard distribution power feed for the fiddle yard board. In the photo with the chocbloc on the right we have made it so it’s two wire in from the power bus & four wires out to feed the two tracks of the fiddle yard board.


Now moving back to the trackside of the fiddleyard board, we need to cut one rail ( The + Positive Rail). You can see arrowed is two small pen marks on the fiddle yard board, these pen marks indicate to the layout operator where the DMU has to start stopping. Here we’ll cut a gap in one rail which we’ve highlighted in the orange circle.


Here we cut the + Positive Rail using a rotary tool with fitted with a cutting disk at the two points highlighted with the orange arrows in the photo below. 


With the positive + rail now cut on both the fiddle yard boards, the gap now gives us the isolated braking section we need for the end of the shuttle run. 


Next drill the holes for the track power feed wires. One hole either side of the cut gap in the rail (the + positive rail) & one hole for the – Negative wire, as shown in the photo below.


Now strip the wire ends & solder them to the rails as shown in the two photos below. The photo with the two solder wires holes either side of the cut gap is the red + positive wires . On the other photo is the single soldered black – negative wire.


Next glue or screw one of the ABC shuttle boards to the underside of the baseboard. Then connect the red + positive wire from the power bus/track power feed to the T1 terminal on the the ABC shuttle board. Unscrew the terminal screw on the T1 terminal on the Shuttle board, inserted the stripped wire end into the T1 ternminal & retighten the screw.

The other wires shown & labelled in the photo below, have already been soldered to the track. The two holes without the wires (also labeled) are located the the other side (stopping side of the cut gap in the rail. 


Next glue or screw one of the ABC shuttle boards to the underside of the baseboard. Then connect the red + positive wire from the power bus/track power feed to the T1 terminal on the the ABC shuttle board. Unscrew the terminal screw on the T1 terminal on the Shuttle board, inserted the stripped wire end into the T1 ternminal & retighten the screw.

The other wires shown & labelled in the photo below, have already been soldered to the track. The two holes without the wires (also labeled) are located the the other side (stopping side of the cut gap in the rail. 


Now insert the + Positive wire from the + positive rail on the stopping section into the T2 terminal on the ABC Shuttle Unit. Tighten the screw on the connector on terminal T2 on the ABC shuttle to grip & hold the wire.

We now connect the second ABC shuttle unit to the second track on the fiddle yard board. This completes the installation of the ABC shuttle boards on the fiddle yard. We now move on to install the ABC shuttle unit to the track at the station area on the main baseboard. 


Installing The ABC Shuttle Board At The Station End Of The Layout.

Having done the ABC shuttle units on the fiddle yard, we now turn our attention to the installation of the third ABC shuttle board which is going next to the station. So as before we must decide where we want the DMU to start stopping. In our case it’s just after the cross over set of points. Like the fiddle yard board we cut a gap in the + Positive Rail. This time using a pair of Xuron vertical track cutters. The photo below shows the location of where we are cutting the track for the braking section.


The photo below shows the + Positive Rail being cut by a pair of Xuron vertical track cutters. These are great for cutting track in situ. 


Next job is to drill a hole for the + Positive wire which will feed the stopping section. As the track already has the other power feeds in place, this is the only hole that needs drilling.


Cut the wire to suit the length required to fit the run from the track to the ABC shuttle board. Strip both ends of the red + positive wire. Feed one end of the wire up through the hole & solder to the + Positive Rail. In the photo you can see the wire after being soldered to the + Positive Rail.


As before, install the wire from the + Positive Rail (braking section) into terminal T2 on the ABC Shuttle Board. Then connect a wire from terminal T1 on the ABC shuttle board to the + Positive Power feed/Power Bus wire.


Before switching on, set the three switches on the ABC Shuttle Boards to as shown in the photo to engage shuttle running mode. The photo below shows the switches set for shuttle mode.

On the DMU set CV27 to 4 which turns on the shuttle mode on the Zen Black decoder.

To adjust & set the timer for the end of shuttle stop & reverse use CV59. Remember on CV59 that 1 = 10 seconds, 2 = 20 seconds, 3 = 3 seconds & so on. 


That concludes our look at installing The DCC Concepts Shuttle system on our demo layout. We’ll be taking a look at a couple more installations of this system in a future article, which includes station stops on the shuttle run, combined shuttle modules on a passing loop with station stop as well as using them in conjunction with point motors. 

You can find out more about the DCC Concepts range here:

Happy modelling

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About The Author

Leave a reply

Become A VIP Today!