NCE consisting VS. the Others


Moving consists between different DCC systems can be quite challenging. The best course of action is to kill the consist FIRST at home, then verify they run as single units
Then create the consist at the club. Some systems prefer old style consists (Digitrax) which use loco numbers ONLY. Advanced consists use a consist alias (1-127) which is stored in the command station it was CREATED ON . Then in the locos the same alias is also store in CV19.Advanced consists can be run BOTH WAYS. You can use the loco number or the Consist id (alias). The Consist id stored in CV19 SHOULD be “portable” and might be able to be used on any DCC layout. Sometimes however this is not true or not possible. One weird thing about the consist ids: they start at 127 and go down 1. BUT they occupy the SAME SPACE as loco numbers 127 to 1. So, any loco programmed to 127 will also run at the same time as consist 127!


You have come across one of the weird obscure parts of DCC.

ALL DCC decoder no matter what brand WILL work on other DCC systems as long as they are DCC compliant. NCE, Digitrax, TCS and Soundtraxx all follow the NMRA DCC standards very closely. 

You issue lies with consisting only. Consisting is done differently based on the Manufacturer of the DCC system. Only PART of Consisting is covered by the DCC standards. This is where is gets ugly.

The best practice is to  remove / delete / kill ANY consisting information from loco when going between layouts. On the  “home layout” do this first with all locos on the tracks.

When you get to the “host” layout rebuild the consist on that system. Do not forget to kill the consist before you leave! This is especially important when going to or from different type of command stations!  NCE/Digitrax /CVP etc…   ALSO be sure to keep track of the consist id or consist numbers for you set of locos being used both home AND away! Always ask your host about what consist number you can use and how to consist properly on the system you are using.

Locomotive numbers 1 to 127 are used and treated differently by different DCC manufacturers. The reason is that 1 through 127 are ALSO used for locomotive consisting.  Yikes!

Without going into the long-winded explanations and reasons the short version is:  Don’t use them!

For ANY loco number between 1 and 127 use a LONG ( 4 digit) address.  So 127 is now  0127 /  52 is 0052  /   etc..  you must enter the leading zeros.

The long 4 digit address is consistent from manufacturer to manufacturer and does not conflict with consisting / lash-ups / MU sets          

If you get in trouble and a have a loco that is non responsive due to a consisting error, set CV19 to 0 to remove the consisting information and it will then respond to its active loco address. 

The message “Cannot read CV” is an entirely different topic. Read this:


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