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Digitrax RJ12 LocoNet
On these next few pages, we're going to present some topics on how to wire the LocoNet into your modules or layout.  Some of the stuff might sound pretty technical but if you hang in there, you'll quickly come to understand what this simple but amazing control system is all about.  We've broken the topics out into a few chapters to make things easier for you. 

LocoNet Basics DCC is all about controlling trains by a computer (we call it the command station.  In this section, we give some basic concepts about the communications system that send messages from your throttle (or other devices) to the command station. 

Wiring Standards Blue to blue, red to red, pin-1 to pin-1, RJ12, UP3s and a whole bunch of other terms can get pretty confusing.  Here's where we give you an idea of what those different coloured wires do. 

RJ12 Jacks Once you've got a basic understanding of what the LocoNet is all about and what those wires do, you'll want to start installing some jacks.  But before you do, it might help to understand how these jacks are put together.  And how to distinguish between an RJ12 and an RJ45 jack. And what a good crimper looks like (with a tip to make sure you're always crimping those wires in the right order). 

Test Probes Here's where you get step-by-step instructions on making some test probes that will help you to make sure that you're LocoNet wires have been well crimped.  Good practice for stripping and tinning those tiny telephone wires. 

Gender Bender Module railroad clubs use a female/female gender bender to connect the LocoNet between modules.  Here we give you the details about telco-style and data-style gender benders. (Perhaps a little complicated for some of us but give it a try.)

RJ12 Faceplate We prepare the faceplate of an RJ12 telco jack so that we can install it into our module. 

Single Plug RJ12 We wire up a single-plug female RJ12 telco jack so that we can install it into our module

Double Plug RJ12 We graduate from a single-plug to a double-plug female RJ12

RJ12 Install Once you've got the jacks wired up, you'll need to install them in your modules.  We'll take you on a tour of the underside of one of our modules to show you how the wire goes from one end of the module to the other end. 

Troubles? We show you some tips on how to uncover where you might have problems with your LocoNet wiring

LocoNet Basics
So, you've just bought that Digitrax set from your local hobby shop.  You take it out of the box and look at what you bought.  Suddenly, you notice some flat black telephone cables with those plastic telephone plugs on the end.  When you look into the DCS100/ DB150/ Zephyr command station/booster, you see 2 telephone jacks.  There's a big cable on the end of your DT100/ DT300/ DT400/ UT1 throttle.  There's 2 telephone jacks on that UP3/UP5 panel.  There may be a short piece of cable with a plastic plug on one end a some coloured wires on the other end.  What's all this telephone stuff about?

Welcome to the world of Digitrax DCC - where trains are controlled by a computer(s).  That DCS100/ DB150/ Zephyr command station is really a computer.  That DT100/ DT300/ DT400/ UT1 throttle is really a computer.  The decoder you just installed in your loco is really a computer.  DCC is all about computers. 
If you're familiar with computers, especially networked computers at your school or office, you're well on your way to understanding DCC.  (If you're not familiar, we've got a layman's explanation of DCC on our website.  Click here to get to the webpages.)
Computers talk to each other through data communication lines.  Typically these lines are similar to a telephone line - either a flat-ribbon cable like the line to your telephone set, or a thick cable like the one behind the wall into your telephone jack.  In computer language, this type of wiring and the signals that travel through the wires are a Local Area Network or LAN.  You may not realize this, but there are industry standards which specify the details about what these signals do, which wires in the cable they travel through, what the colour of the wires should be, the type of connector plugs to use, and a whole bunch of other things.  These standards are part of the LAN. 


Digitrax DCC is a Local Area Network that is no different from a computer LAN.  In fact, the standards are very similar.  Except that, instead of calling their Local Area Network a "LAN", Digitrax calls it a "LocoNet"  That's all the LocoNet is - a Local Area Network.  And that's why you've got a whole bunch of stuff that looks like telephone cables, plugs, and jacks. 
We won't get into the mysteries of what types of signals go down these wires - because we don't have to.  All we have to know is how to connect these components together.  We're more interested in installing those telephone cables/jacks so that we can get to running the trains.  What we'll do over the next few pages is to introduce you to some of these wiring standards, show you how to wire in the LocoNet, and, in the process, try to take some of the mystery out of this wiring. 

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