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Technical Support and FAQ

  • Where can I find documentation for my decoder?
    If you know what kind of product you have, you can use the Search function to find your product on our website. On the product page, you can open the "Documents" tab to see all of the related literature, documentation, and programming guides for your decoder. When visiting any product on our website, just click the "Documents" tab on the product page to list and download any relevant documentation. For example, a sound decoder will have: Basic decoder literature The Comprehensive Programming Guide The Complete Sound Guide for that sound type (Steam/Diesel) The full list of sounds for all individual Versions The Audio Assist tree diagram for that sound type (Steam/Diesel - Current production version only) The 4-CV Guided programming tool for that sound type (Steam/Diesel) We also offer specific pages for decoder documentation. Follow the links below to visit the listings for: Decoder Documentation Decoder Programming Tools & Resources Help and support for more "technical" questions can be found in our extensive online documentation Wiki: TCS' Documentation Wiki
  • How do I update the Firmware on my TCS throttle or Command Station?
    How to Update Firmware on LCC Products (Such as the UWT-100, UWT-50, and CS-105) TCS' Command System products currently support three methods of Firmware Updates. You can click the links below to find instructions on how to use these methods: Updating with TCS D.E.P.O.T. Updating with JMRI PanelPro Updating with integrated Web Interface Using the first method, TCS D.E.P.O.T. does not require the manual downloading of firmware files since that process is handled by the program itself. If, however, you choose not to use D.E.P.O.T., both methods 2 and 3 require the manual downloading and installation of the firmware files. To view the currently-available firmware files, click the following link: Firmware Files
  • Question: What is the difference between a WOW101 and a WOW121 and which should I choose?
    WOW101 and WOW121 decoders are identical in practical application, meaning they are both capable of providing the same power output, same sounds, and same motor and lighting characteristics. The fundamental difference between them is that the WOW121 relies on a 21-pin motherboard to interface with a locomotive. If you are someone who is planning to 'update' a DC-only model to DCC, there are a few factors to consider: Does this locomotive have a mounting solution for a motherboard, such as a clip or flat surface above the motor? WOW101 decoders are intended as direct plug or hard-wire installations. If the locomotive features a mounting solution for a motherboard, that option is preferable. If a motherboard is used, will there be enough clearance to put the shell back on? TCS decoders fortunately feature an industry-leading low-profile design, and as such can fit into lower shells and tighter spaces much more easily. If width is a concern and a motherboard will not fit, WOW101 decoders are slightly narrower and may be preferable. Does the locomotive need to be re-motor-ed? If you need to replace your existing drivetrain with a newer or upgraded drivetrain, that system may have a mounting solution. See the first bullet Point. Would it be easier to wire physical elements of the locomotive directly? Some times it's easier to just run wires directly to the pickups for track, motor, lights, etc. into a single harness rather than individual wires. If it is preferable to wire direct, the WOW101 is likely the better option. Am you going to replace any incandescent bulbs with LED's? TCS motherboards have on-board resistors for use with LED's. WOW101 decoders do NOT have integrated resistors. If using anything other than 12V bulbs, external circuitry/resistors MUST be added. NOTE: Your answers to these questions will determine whether a Hard-Wire Job or a WOWKit installation are right for you and your Locomotive Model.
  • Question: I have (x) locomotive. What decoder do I need?
    First answer these questions: What scale is the locomotive? Do you want sound? If you answered "No" to sound, select your scale and search our non-sound installation resources. If you answered "Yes" to sound, search only the WOWSound Installations. Will this engine be run on DC or DCC? Have you already searched our Installation Resources for your model? If yes, and you did not find your locomotive documented in our list of installation resources, you can submit pictures of your model with the shell removed to our team via Facebook or via Email and our staff will do our best to guide you on choosing an appropriate decoder and a general overview of the installation process. TCS hosts the largest online resource of decoder installations. Choose the "Installations" option from the main menu, then use the search box at the top of the page to narrow the list down by manufacturer or locomotive type. We recommend browsing by manufacturer to see all of your options, in which case there may be similar locomotives to yours documented if it is not specifically documented as the same "phase" for example. In most cases, model makers use and recycle a handful of chassis between multiple "generations" of the same locomotive model, making either minor tweaks or none at all. Much of the time, you can find a locomotive in our installation documentation which closely resembles or is identical to other locomotives from the same manufacturer with different outward appearances.
  • How do I wire my speakers? Especially multiple speakers at once.
    When wiring a multi-speaker arrangement, the resistance and wattage of each individual speaker must be observed. TCS amplifiers are rated for 8 Ohms of output impedance at 2 Watts, and at 100% output can actually pump out about 3 Watts through and 8 Ohm load. The power dissipation (Wattage) available will change dynamically based on the speaker(s); ergo, a 4 Ohm load may swing the output above 4 Watts. Keep this in mind. TCS recommends NEVER running the amplifier at 100% output/volume to prevent damage to your speakers or the decoder if not rated appropriately. Some Examples: A single 8 Ohm speaker can be used with any rated Wattage. HOWEVER, if you use a speaker not rated for at least 2 Watts, you MUST reduce the Master Volume of the decoder appropriately. If using two 8 Ohm speakers, we recommend wiring them in series, unless the total wattage exceeds 3 Watts, in which case they can be wired in parallel. Two 4 Ohm speakers MUST be wired in series. It is not recommended to use speakers with different impedances in the same circuit, as the power dissipated will be disproportionately distributed to the speaker with the higher impedance. Our amplifiers have a minimum impedance rating of 4 Ohms, meaning your total circuit impedance MUST be greater than or equal to 4 Ohms. Going above the impedance rating (4-8 Ohms) will not cause stress, but may reduce the maximum volume output. Using speakers rated for a higher power (wattage) than the amplifier will not cause damage to the amplifier. Note that there are also two high-probability failure conditions for speakers: Overdriving - If too much current is being passed through a voice coil that it is not rated to handle, it will fail immediately, or over time as the insulation on the wire or physical cone material breaks down. Our amplifiers put out over 2 Watts at full volume when playing loud sounds. Take note of the Wattage rating of your speaker and reduce your master volume as needed. Heat - When soldering wires to a speaker, it is best to overheat your iron in order to reduce your contact time. If your iron is too cold, it will increase your contact time, and result in more heat transferred into the voice coil and connecting wires. This can break down the insulation, or physically detach or break the wire at/near the pads on the speaker itself. We at TCS run our irons at 720 degrees F or higher to minimize contact time.
  • Which decoders are compatible with Keep Alive® and how do I hook it up?
    Please read through our support article on the subject by clicking the link below: - Keep Alive
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