Consisting Primer - read first

Some VERY important tips.

  1. Do not use any loco number below 128 in a consist AND use the “short address” of  “128”  use the “LONG” address of “0128” instead
  2. Do not change the consist ID selected by the command station when setting up the consist.
  3. Ay time you create, modify, or clear (kill) a consist all locos involve must be ON the tracks.
  4. Never try to create a consist multiple times without clearing / killing the consist that did not work or is setup wrong.

Before trying to setup a consist the locos must work 100% correctly as single units.



  1. You should only program the consist on the system you want to RUN the consist on.
  2. ALWAYS choose advanced consisting when creating a consist and never change the consist ID.
  3. NEVER manually enter or change CV19 in a loco. This is where the consist ID resides in the loco decoder.
  4. You must create or kill a consist when all locos that are involved are ON the tracks.
  5. Never try to create two consists that contain any of the same locos. If you make a mistake, the first consist must be killed before trying again.
  6. Only use loco numbers to run the consist.

If your DCC system is not remembering consists, you might need to change the back up battery if it is a 5-amp PH-Pro system.

It can also be a hardware failure of the systems long term consist memory storage.


Below is a Table showing the NMRA Consisting terms versus each manufacture name for it.  Most of the terminology confusion occurs within NRMA's Basic consisting in that there are many different names used by the different manufactures for various reasons.  The NMRA term is at the far left while a specific DCC manufactures consist type name is shown under the Manufacturer name.

 NMRA TERM  CV's USED Memory Location Usable
Prog Method  NCE               
 Address  CV1 or CV17/18 Decoder  Short or Long   Serv. or Ops No Name               
 Basic  CV1 or CV17/18  Cmd Station   Short or Long  None  Old Style              
 Advanced  CV19  Decoder Short Only  Ops Mode   Advanced              
 Unified ALL  BOTH  BOTH  None + Ops  Nested              
 Analog in Consist?  N/A N/A  N/A  N/A  No               
Table Title Notes: 
"Memory Location" refers to where the consisting information is stored or "based".  
"Prog Method" referes to the programming methods used to set up the consist be it automatic or implicitly done.  Serv. = Service Mode.  Ops means Operations mode.
"Analog in Consist?" refers to the option of running a single DC locomotive as part of the consist.  
Table Field Notes:
"N/A" = Not Available.   
"No Info" means I could not find any specific information to make any determination.  Typically if no information is provided, it means the option is not supported.  
If you want to learn about the advantage and disadvantages of each type of NMRA consisting, go here: NMRA DCC Consisting

Information on Unique Consisting features, Slang and Marketing terminology

has a feature that allows you to use the lead and rear locomotives long address to control the Advance Consist via it's consist address. Think address Aliasing.  Stated another way, you are not forced to control the Advanced Consist using the consist' assigned short address.  NCE has not created a marketing name for this feature.  It just is a part of consisting the NCE way.
NCE has a another feature called "Consist Manager".   The creates a scrollable list of all the Advanced Consist that have been setup first by showing the assigned short address along with the ability to to see the Lead and Rear locomotive addresses of the Consist.  This allows you to quickly find a given consist even if you do not remember the consist assigned short address.  You can then edit the list.  When you select a given Advanced Consist, it then shows you a complete list of all the engines including the middle engines.
NCE uses the terms "Old Style" when referring to NMRA Basic Consisting.  The terms serves as a historical based antonym for Advanced consisting which came later in DCC development timeline.
Digitrax's "Universal Consisting" is not actually a form of consisting in of itself but a name for the automatic method that it goes about chosing the type of consisting for a given decoder in a consist.  Digitrax's Universal Consisting defaults to using NMRA Basic Consisting.  Digitrax Universal Consisting will use NMRA Advance Consisting for those locomotives in the consist that have their "decoder status" set to enable Advance Consisting.   Digitrax's "Universal Consisting" also allows one Analog (DC) Locomotive at short address "0" to become part of any DCC consist giving it ultimate "universality" even though a DC locomotive has nothing to do with DCC.

Lenz has a feature called "Smart Consisting".  Lenz keeps track of every locomotive in a consist so you can pick any locomotive in the consist by its locomotive number to control the entire consist.
EASYDCC has a limited form of a Consist Manger that is only accessible at the main system panel.  You can ask it if a given engine is part of a consist or not and it will tell you which one.
Brute Force Consisting : Slang term that means Basic Consisting.  The command station "Forces" the engines involved to act as a single consist.

Reference Source for NMRA Terminology
Digital Command Control
(Alt om Hobby & NMRA 1998 1st printing)
By Stan Ames, Rutger Friberg & Ed Loizeaux with NMRA backing.
Chapter 6.3: How consist control affects functions.   This is basis for my position on consisting names & terminology given the books roots in the creation of the DCC standards and RP's.
To learn more about the book, go here:DCC Books & Reviews
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