Frequently Asked Questions
I love the Drop-In decoders. I have a brand XX or model YY. When will they be released?
We are working through the list of USA-Tains locomotives and deciding which ones to add to the Drop-In line.
The decision is based on popularity and availability.
The candidate locomotive must still be in production.
If you don't want to wait, use the G3 decoder.
The G3 is smaller than the Drop-In and can drive nearly any form of lighting circuitry with its 4 independent ELITE outputs.
For Aristo locomotives that have the DCC/RC socket, combine the G3 with the Adapta-1 board for easiest installation.
Click on the Adapta-1 link on the left side bar for more information.
I have an earlier production release of a USA-Trains locomotive and the wiring is different. What do I do?
All of the USA-Trains Drop-In Decoders are based on the current production runs.
Earlier versions may use different voltage light bulbs, or may use different connectors.
Always check for an errata sheet for your specific locomotive.
Download from the document center or from the Drop-Ins information page.
The errata sheet describes the modifications that you can make to your decoder to use the older locomotive's internal lamp wiring.
We can also modifiy your decoder for you although there is a charge for this.
If you want a current quote, please contact us by email.
What do I need to add AirWire to my garden railroad?
The most basic installation requires one AirWire900 throttle for controlling locomotives and one AirWire900 decoder installed in the locomotive to be controlled.
You also need an appropriate battery and charger.
Although we recommend and offer Lithium batteries, nearly any type of battery can be used.
What radio frequency does AirWire use?
AirWire system presently uses the 915MHz ISM band.
If you have other types of wireless equipment, check to see that it uses a different band or you risk jamming AirWire and poor operation of the equipment.
How do I program the sound decoder?
For DCC sound decoders other than the Phoenix P8 used with for Drop-In decoder, the AirWire throttle has a built-in programmer and can program all configuration variables any DCC decoder.
For the Phoenix P8 decoder you need the P8 programming adapter and software.
How many trains can I run?
There are up to 16 unique frequencies available.
Each frequency can control up to 10,000 unique addresses.
When switching to a new address, the previous locomotive continues to run using its own internal memory - it remembers the last command.
Can I use brand X decoder that has sound or more functions?
Yes, any brand of DCC compatible decoder can be used with AirWire900 including sound decoders and function decoders.
The AirWire decoder provides an auxiliary DCC booster output that provides drive power and passes along the DCC control commands to the external decoder.
How many different radio frequencies are there?
The T5000 has the original 8 frequencies plus 9 more for a total of 17 frequencies.
The new G3 decoder works with all 17 frequencies.
The Drop-In decoder allows the use of the first 16 frequencies.
The G2 decoder, and all earlier decoders work only with the original 8 frequencies.
What is the output power of the motor driver?
The AirWire decoder can provide 120 Watts of continuous power.
For example, a 12 volt battery means the decoder can supply 10 Amps of motor drive.
If using a 24 volt battery, the decoder can provide 5 amps of motor drive.
What is the highest battery voltage that can be used?
All AirWire decoders can tolerate up to 28 volts.
Naturally, the motor must be capable of safely handling the battery voltage used.
Most motors are rated at 12 to 22 volts.
However, higher voltages cause the motor to generator more electrical noise which will cause a reduction in the radio reception range.
We recommend the 14.8V lithium battery pack.
It is a perfect compromise between radio range and pulling power.
It is also one of the more economical packs and one that we offer for sale.
How long will the battery last?
Battery life is dependent on the type, size and chemistry of the battery used and the motor load.
Batteries are rated in Amp/Hours.
For example, our Lithium battery is rated at 4.4 Amp-hours.
That means that if the motor pulls one amp, the battery will last about 4 hours.
Can I control turnouts?
Yes with the addition of the AirWire Linker and the AirWire Activator.
Can the decoder pick up power from the track?
This is not recommended or supported.
But, yes it can be wired to do this.
However, do not assume the batteries can be charged - lithium cells will not allow intermittent charging and doing so will damage the battery.
However, 12 volt lead-acid gel cells can be used in this way.
But, not only do you have to keep the track and wheels clean, but now you have to worry about electrical safety and reversing loops too.
Thus, we don't recommend doing this since it negates all the advantages of battery operation.
Can I buy direct from CVP Products?
Yes. Download an order blank, fill it in and send it to us.
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P.O. Box 835772 · Richardson, TX 75083-5772
email: firstname.lastname@example.org · www.cvpusa.com