Setting up an Advanced Consist the NCE way

Setting up an Advanced Consist the NCE way   - Thanks to Dave Heap for this great article
- Assume we have three locos, numbered A, B & C we wish to consist.
- On the NCE throttle press CONSIST SETUP.
- Press ENTER to select an advanced consist.
- The system will suggest a consist address X. You should NEVER change this and you should NEVER remember it. For a technical justification of these assertions see my addendum. Simply press ENTER and proceed to the next step.
- Follow the prompts to set up the three locos in consist with loco A as the lead, Loco C as the rear and loco B as mid-consist.
- Let us assume the loco decoders only support three functions; headlight, bell and horn. These three functions are all only relevant to whichever loco in the consist currently is driving the consist, i.e. contains the crew to manipulate the lights, bell or horn. In this case you should have already programmed CVs 21 & 22 in all three locos to a value of 0. If not, never too late, you can do it with POM now. (For the slightly  more complicated situation of how to handle decoders with other functions applicable to all locos in the consist, such as dynamic brakes or sound mute, see my addendum.)
Driving an Advanced Consist the NCE way
- Assume the consist will be hauling a train with loco A leading and loco C coupled to the train. Climb aboard loco A with your scale crew. To do this you press SELECT LOCO A ENTER. The throttle should display CON: A. Select DIRECTION FWD, turn on the bell, blow the horn, turn on the headlights and head off down the track. Loco A is the only loco that will respond to the function commands you just gave. Locos B and C will remain dark and no horn will sound.
- Assume you have reached your destination and you wish to run around your train preparatory to returning with the train (maybe after some loading, unloading or shunting). Do exactly what a real loco crew would do. Pick up your kit (not forgetting to turn the headlight off first), disembark loco A with your scale crew, walk to the other end of the consist and climb aboard loco C. To do this you press SELECT LOCO C ENTER. The throttle should display CON: C. Select DIRECTION REV, uncouple, back off from your train, run around and couple up to your train. When ready to depart, select DIRECTION FWD, turn on the bell, blow the horn, turn on the headlights and head back off up the track. Loco C is the only loco that will respond to the function commands you just gave. Locos A and B will remain silent and dark.
That is all there is to it. You have driven the consist in a prototypical fashion, simulating climbing aboard each end of the consist in turn by selecting the appropriate loco address displayed on the loco cab side. Note that the FWD direction is defined by which loco your crew is aboard, and the headlights, bell and horn function only on the loco the crew is currently aboard.
How to set CV21/22 correctly for consist-wide function commands
- Configure the bits in CV21/22 in every loco so that only those functions applicable to whole-of-consist are on. Leave the rest off.
- For example, with my LokSound V3.5 diesels, the only functions applicable to whole-of-consist are F5 dynamic brakes, F6 prime mover startup/shutdown, F7 air brakes and F8 volume/mute. So I configure CV21 to have a value of 240 and CV22 to have a value of 0 on all my LokSound diesels. (I didn't calculate that value the hard way with pen and paper, I just told JMRI Decoder Pro which functions I wanted to respond to the consist address and it did the hard work for me. I never program using the throttle, that is too difficult when there is a much easier way.)
(N.B. I am upgrading to V4 decoders with Full Throttle so these values will not be the same in them.)
Why you should never remember or need to use the short consist address X
- You should never change the consist address suggested by the NCE throttle when setting up a consist. The command station knows better than you. It keeps track of which consists you have set up and makes sure you do not accidentally try to set up two consists with the same short address.
- When you wish to break up a consist, you simply press CONSIST CLEAR followed by either the lead or rear loco address. The command station looks up its internal consist table, determines the short consist address and sends an NMRA standard Consist Clear instruction to that address.
- If you wish to remove an individual loco from a consist, you simply press CONSIST DEL <loco number> ENTER. The command station simply sends an NMRA standard Consist Clear instruction to <loco number>, even if it does not think the loco is in a consist.
- If you wish to take your consist to another layout, you should always re-create the consist on that layout so that layout's command station knows about it and you are not using an address conflicting with a consist already on that layout. Even if that layout does not have a consist aware command station, the host should have a list of in-use consists and can advise you accordingly.
- If you bring a consist onto your layout from another layout, either your own consist returning or a guest's consist, you should firstly attempt a CONSIST CLEAR <lead loco> instruction (in case it is yours returning) and then recreate the consist.
- If you have decoders which to not honour the NMRA standard Consist Clear instructions (such as some MRC decoders), you can still use POM CV19 commands addressed to the loco address. Locos always respond to both normal and consist addresses with POM.
- If you really want to know the short consist address, you can always do a BROWSE CONSISTS (shortcut is PROG 9) and it will tell you all you need to know.
- If you try to drive the loco by selecting the short consist address (and you have correctly set up  CV21/22 as NMRA RP9.2.2 intended) you will not be able to control functions such as lights or bell or horn.
- Why waste time and effort keeping paper records when the NCE command station is already keeping records for you?
- You can recover from any situation by using solely the loco address already displayed on the loco itself (unless you have somehow changed the normal loco address and in that case is back to the program track.
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