Wireless DCC with Dynamis

Wireless technology enhances layout operations by not
tethering controls to connection panels in the layout fascia.
You can move to any point on the layout where operations,
such as shunting, take place.
Wireless DCC with Dynamis
An introduction to the use and benefits of the
Bachmann Dynamis wireless system by Nigel Burkin
INTRODUCING DYNAMIS
ot having the inconvenience of
cables connecting handsets to
panels in the layout fascia opens up
the enjoyment of layout operation.You can
stand exactly where operations are taking
place. The Dynamis DCC system package
(36-505) is an entry level set that will allow
you to enjoy that freedom. It is a fullyfledged DCC system capable offering 4-digit
addressing, control of up to 100 accessories
(25 accessory decoders of 4 outputs for
each), control of 20 mobile decoder
functions and a 2.5 amp power rating which
should be sufficient for six modern
standard locomotives equipped with 5-pole
skew wound motors to be operated at the
same time. Dynamis has been used on my
own portable N gauge layout and the fleet
of 20 or so locomotives and multiple units
in contact with the track, with three in
operation at one time does not exceed the
current rating of 2.5 amps.
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The entry level set comes complete with an
advanced handheld wireless handset (called
a throttle or cab because it represents the
driving controls of a locomotive), a safety
lanyard (so to avoid dropping the throttle)
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together with the base station/receiver
assembly, a wall plug transformer and an
instruction booklet.
The entry level set is an important part of
the Dynamis system because it is the heart
of Dynamis. The base station (labelled on
the casing as the ‘Command Station’)
contains the command station and booster
that are the key components of any DCC
system. In making the entry level set the
core component of the system, it only takes
a hardware upgrade, the Pro Box, to
dramatically expand Dynamis with many
additional features and benefits. At the same
time, the Dynamis Command Station box
does not become an ancillary controller of
limited value after the Pro Box has been
purchased, which is sometimes the case
with other DCC systems. Nothing is
thrown away or made redundant when
upgrading with a Pro Box.
The low cost of the entry point Dynamis
set makes it the perfect way to make a start
with wireless DCC and with its supplied
transformer together with advanced DCC
features included in the set at the start, the
system beats many other entry level
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packages. Plus, there’s the added interest of
wireless control using infrared technology
together with a core system based on ESU
ECoS DCC technology which is tried,
proven and highly regarded. Dynamis (and
the Pro Box) has an NMRA conformance
seal, the symbol for which is displayed on
the box. NMRA conformance is highly
valued in the DCC community and
indicates that a good level of DCC
compatibility from the command station, to
track and decoders has been achieved.
SO WHAT DOES WIRELESS
MEAN AND HOW DOES
DYNAMIS MAKE THE
OPERATING EXPERIENCE
DIFFERENT?
Wireless = no cables and flexible operation…
Removing a throttle cable from the
equation introduces some different factors
for layout operations. Roaming operation
becomes the norm. This means that you can
following a train around the layout, obeying
signals and enjoying the experience of train
driving right to the point where the action
is taking place. Another benefit is being
able to observe operations on parts of the
layout otherwise inaccessible unless a
tethered throttle was put down
momentarily. This is helpful when checking
for faults or observing the passage of trains
over a point on the track where
derailments are taking place so a repair can
be made. In short, wireless operation is the
ultimate in flexibility of train control and
can increase the enjoyment of layout
operation considerably.
Wireless throttles require power and
batteries are the obvious choice. The
Dynamis throttle accepts four AAA
batteries that last some time, especially if
operators remember to switch the throttle
off during breaks and after the operating
session has concluded. However, when
planning an operating session, remember to
have a good supply of fresh batteries to
hand because you can guarantee that at
least one set will die during an evening of
operation. The Dynamis handset will take
rechargeable batteries, so have a ‘spent
battery’ container to hand near the layout
during operating sessions if using
rechargeable batteries.
THE CONTROLLER
(THROTTLE)
Only one controller can be supported by
the entry level set even through more than
one train can be set moving at a time.
Control will be restricted to one train even
if two or more are running on separate
circuits. The Dynamis system stores up to
40 locomotive addresses in a ‘roster’ stack;
the numbers being recorded as locomotives
are called up. There is the option to enter
identification names in Dynamis for easy
locomotive identification. Switching from
loco to loco is simple when the roster
stack holds the various locomotives’
identity. The Pro Box enhances much of
this, but more on that later!
The Dynamis handset is quite a sophisticated
beast by DCC standards; incorporating
ergonomic design, a joystick controller and a
large, clear LCD screen that is back-lit. A
great deal of information on the control of a
train, including a sliding scale and numeric
read-out for locomotive speed steps is
displayed. Despite the high level of
sophistication, the handsets are intuitive to
use and provides one button, one touch
control for all the important features such as
double heading (consisting) and turnout
control selection. Newcomers to DCC
should find the handsets enjoyable to use.
The use of extensive menus for operational
features is becoming less of a feature in
modern throttles and single button presses
for turnout (accessory) decoder control,
lights and so on makes it easy to use and
closer to the controls of full-size
locomotives (except turnout control, of
course, which is a convenient addition for
railway modelling). There is a menu in the
throttle for entering data such a locomotive
identities and that is simple to navigate too.
The joystick provides locomotive control,
push it forward and the locomotive
accelerates according to the decoder
settings. Pull the joystick back and speed is
lost. The handset supports 28 and 128
speed steps, the latter is better for finer
levels of locomotive control. To select from
the locomotive stack in one motion, push
the joystick to one side or the other to
scroll through the saved locomotive
identities. Choosing options, be it entering a
locomotive or accessory decoder address
or a saved locomotive address, is simple
through a single button press for enter as
indicated by a tick on the LCD screen.
IR RECEIVERS
Locating the Command Station correctly
with the receiver mounted on top when
using the entry level set is very important
to ensure there is a clear line of sight
between Dynamis handset and the receiver.
There is always the chance of loosing
contact between receiver and handset, even
allowing for the signal bouncing off light
coloured walls. When signal loss does
occur, the selected locomotive will run as if
a tethered throttle had been unplugged - it
will run in accordance to the last change on
the throttle. To avoid problems should
contact be lost for more than a very short
period of time, the system has a ‘Track
Timeout’ that is a timed delay between the
loss contact and the track power being cut.
This ensures that only small interruptions
will spoil the enjoyment of using the
system. The timeout period can be adjusted
to suit individual requirements.
To prevent such interruptions, locate
receivers as high up the wall of the layout
room as you can and install additional
receivers using the IR Expansion box and
cables should there be any risk of loosing
contact due to a corner location, layout
back scene or other obstruction. The Pro
Box package includes the IR Expansion box
and an additional IR receiver.
addresses, the modeller should be aware that
any and all locomotive decoders in contact
with track power at the time a programming
instruction with a 4-digit address is broadcast
will receive and act upon the instruction.
Consequently, all but the intended recipient
of the programming instruction should be
removed from the layout. This avoids having a
fleet of locos all taking the same 4-digit
address with all the inconvenience that can
cause when a new model is introduced! To
avoid the inconvenience of removing all
locomotives from the layout, consider adding
an isolated siding or programming track to
the layout for Ops Programming. A double
pole, double throw switch should be
included in the power leads circuit between
the layout and Dynamis so power can be
switched to the track to create a
programming zone isolated from the rest of
the layout. There is no longer any need to
remove every locomotive from the track to
programme a new 4-digit address or other
CV change to a new locomotive or decoder.
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2: The Bachmann Dynamis entry-level
system is a 2.5 amp set which includes a
command station, receiver, hand held
wireless throttle and wall mount power
supply. This article looks at the
fundamentals of Dynamis and how to put it
to work.
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LIMITATIONS OF THE ENTRYLEVEL SET:
The Dynamis entry-level set does not have a
programming or service track output, (‘Pro
Box’ provides all DCC programming modes
and readout required for advanced CV
programming).Address programming is
through the main track output.While this is
not a problem for small layouts operating only
a handful of locomotives using short 2-digit
3: The Pro Box expands the entry-level
Dynamis system with advanced features
including multiple train control and
advanced programming using a service
track. The expansion set comes with the
Pro Box itself, an additional IR Receiver,
cables and an adapter for expanding the IR
receiver network.
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4: The same handset (throttle) supplied with
the entry level set is used when the system
is upgraded with Pro Box. Features of the
wireless IR handset include:
A: Alpha numeric key pad.
B: Headlight button.
6: The Command Station unit supplied with
the entry point set is the heart of the
system even when a Pro Box is attached.
The ports in the rear are simple: a power
supply and two outputs for track power
bus offering two options for making a
connection to the layout. Note that there is
no separate programming track port – the
track output port becomes the
programming (service) track port when a
Pro Box is added.
C: Joystick locomotive power controller –
up/down to increase or reduce speed, left
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or right to scroll through the locomotive
stack.
D: Direction button.
E: Emergency stop button and short circuit
cut-out re-set.
F: On-off switch.
G: Locomotive address selection button for
entering a new numeric address.
H: Headlight or running light indicator.
I: Indicator shows the stop feature is
activated.
J: Two visual scales for measuring speed
steps on the large back-lit LCD screen.
K: Lanyard attachment to the base so the
handset can be held the right way up.
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5: You will need batteries for the handset!
While the first set of batteries are
supplied with the handset, rechargeable
batteries will be the best solution in the
long term. Should there be a need to
store the system for any period of time,
remove the batteries to save power and
reduce the risk of leakage.
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7:The IR receiver sits on top of the command
station when set up in entry-level mode.
INTRODUCING THE PRO
BOX EXTENSION PACK
The Pro Box (36-508) is an extension pack
to the entry level Dynamis package (36505) that adds many more features to the
system. It enables the use of up to four
wireless throttles at the same time and the
addition of more receivers (36-509) to
improve infrared coverage thus increasing
the system’s functionality dramatically.
The Pro Box package includes the Pro Box
itself that has the same type of casing as the
command station. Both the command
station and Pro Box are labelled on the
casing, so there should be no confusion. The
two plug neatly together, with the
command station on top. Also supplied is an
additional IR Receiver, an IR Extension
module providing four ports into which IR
Receiver cables are plugged. No additional
handsets are supplied with the Pro Box kit,
although they are available separately.
Pro Box provides additional features
including full programming capability that
allows the readout of CV values as well as
programming on a separate, electrically
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isolated programming or ‘service’ track.
Advanced programming is also possible on
the main layout track – no longer are the
programming commands ‘broadcast’ so
every decoder will pick them up, but are
targeted to a specific locomotive. Pro Box
provides ECoS compatibility too – there is
an ECoS port in the back of the Pro Box so
ECoS devices can be connected to
Dynamis, an area that needs further
investigation by the author!
Upon starting the system for the first time,
the throttles are synchronised with the Pro
Box as they are switched on so any
locomotive roster originally entered into
the throttle used with the Dynamis system
prior to the upgrade is shared with all
throttles. Synchronisation is automatic and
may take several minutes. The same can
happen if a throttle goes out of range from
the Pro Box and then returns after it has
been deleted from the system. A request
for synchronisation will be made at
reconnection. During synchronisation,
throttles must not be switched off.
The instructions should be read carefully
regarding the setting of handset IDs,
synchronisation and the correct order of
starting up and shutting down. Also supplied
is a simple jumper for setting the system
address, called ‘BaseID’ to avoid conflict
with similar systems should the layout be
used at an exhibition. The BaseID jumper
default setting is zero and does not need to
be changed unless there is another Dynamis
system in use nearby. To change the BaseID,
fit the supplied jumper plug to the 8-pin
terminal on the top of the Pro Box. The
terminal offers four BaseID address options
(0 to 3), three of which are set with
jumpers.
With more than one handset connected to
the system, the process of taking control of
a locomotive being driven by another
operator (also called stealing) is introduced.
A locomotive can be ‘stolen’ simply by
selecting it and operating any one control
or function.
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8: The Pro Box is a module built with the
same casing as the command station. There
are two multi pin connectors in the top.
The 8-pin connector on the right is used to
set the BaseID address if the system is used
within range of another Dynamis system.
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9: The rear of the Pro Box with track
power bus port and ECoS link port.
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10: A view of the underside of the
command station. It sits on the Pro Box
when one is used and communication
between the two is by a multi-pin
connector in the base of the command
station (C). Note the power supply port
(A) and track power bus port (B).
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11: Key to expanding the IR Receiver
network is the IR Extension module that
sits atop the command station. It allows up
to five IR Receivers to be connected to the
system including one located directly on
top of the command station.
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12: The Command Station sits neatly on top
of the Pro Box. There are no cable
connections between the two and take care
not to bend any pins!
PUTTING DYNAMIS TO
WORK:
The perfect layout to demonstrate Dynamis
and Pro Box is my small N gauge portable
layout called ‘Dudley Heath’. It has two
scenic sides with the fiddle yard located at
one end. Overall, it is 100 inches in length
and 33 inches wide, a typical sized layout
for home and exhibition use. The base
station and Pro Box were placed in a tray
fitted to the control panel which was
designed to safely accommodate a control
system – it is important to have a safe place
to accommodate the DCC system.
To start, the basic Dynamis set was installed
with the power lead plugged in the back of
the box. The ends of the power bus were
screwed into the supplied plug and that was
plugged into the rear of the base station.
Once the single receiver module was
plugged in the top of the box, the system
was ready for power and operations. The
2.5 amp power rating was more than
adequate to power the layout and multiple
train operation. I ran one train continuously
on one line whilst the other was under
control. There’s enough power for two
main line trains to run and control of
shunting in the yard. Should I need more
power in the future, I can upgrade using a
5amp booster and introducing a second
power district.
Now, should a friend or two turn up
wanting to join in the fun, the basic system
must be expanded with the Pro Box to
enable the use of additional controllers. By
this stage, due to the double-sided nature
of Dudley Heath, I determined that an
additional receiver would be beneficial too.
To install Pro Box, I disconnected all of the
leads and unplugged the transformer. The
single receiver was removed from the top
of the Dynamis base station too. Closely
following the instructions, the Command
Station box was fitted to the top of the Pro
Box. The IR Extension box was placed on
top with the original receiver plugged to
the top of that. The additional receiver and
lead supplied with Pro Box was connected
to the IR Extension box with the lead fed
along the layout to expand coverage.
Next came the connections to the layout
wiring itself. Dudley Health was built with a
separate programming track.The two wires
feeding the programming track were
connected to the track port in the Command
Station.The power bus leads plug into the Pro
Box. Upon powering up, synchronisation takes
place between Pro Box and the throttles.
Once complete, friends are able to operate
trains independently of the original throttle
supplied with the starter package.
In the next article on Dynamis, I will look
at the basic wiring of a layout together
with installing layout programming
accessory decoders. After all, there’s so
much more to this system than may be
covered in one article!
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13: Setting up the entry-level package on
the Author’s N gauge layout Dudley Heath.
A small screwdriver is required to connect
wires to the screw connectors supplied
with Dynamis.
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14: Should friends turn up wanting to enjoy
the layout, a Pro Box is added enabling the
control of up to four trains simultaneously
using wireless throttles.
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15: To improve coverage for the throttles,
an additional receiver was installed using an
IR Extension box and cable.
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16:The setting up is complete with IR
Extension box and cable (A) plugged into the
Command Station that sits on top of the Pro
Box.The programming track is plugged into the
Command Station (B) and the layout power
bus into the track port in the Pro Box (C).The
power supply for Dynamis is still plugged into
the Command Station box (D).
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17: It is good practice to label your wiring!
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USING THE HANDSETS
(THROTTLES) IN PICTURES:
21: The standard screen showing a selected
locomotive, numbered 6008. Symbols
showing on the screen are as follows:
A: Power is switched off.
B: Diesel loco symbol.
C: Locomotive 6008 is selected.
D: Locomotive name as set by the system.
E: Speed steps selected and current speed.
F: Speed steps bar.
G: Locomotive address selection.
H: Main Menu.
18: The additional IR Receiver is located
for maximum coverage. It is important to
have clear lines of sight between the
receivers and handsets to minimise the
risk of signal loss.
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24: Renaming a locomotive for simple
identification in the roster stack.
A: Delete old name using back button.
Alpha numeric key pad is used to enter a
new name.
B: Back button.
C: Action cancel button.
D: Confirm by pressing the ‘tick’ key.
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19: The benefits of DCC can be enjoyed
using Dynamis including sound and
constantly illuminated and independently
controlled running lights.
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20:The addition of the Pro Box makes
multiple train operation with more than one
wireless throttle possible.The design of the
author’s layout supports the simultaneous
operation of three trains: two on the main
line and one in the yard, requiring the Pro Box
expansion to the entry level package and two
additional throttles.
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22: Accessory control is activated by
pressing the left hand button (E).
A: Accessory number and device number.
B: Turnout indicator and associated button
(reverse or thrown position).
C: Turnout indicator and associated button
(normal position).
D: Menu button.
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23: Locomotive naming option is found in
the menu.
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25: Changing the locomotive symbol is
simple. Use the menu once again.
A: Use the button to switch between
symbol choices.
B: Each symbol is clearly displayed.
C: Use the ‘tick’ key to confirm the
selection.
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26: The symbol will be displayed on the
main screen together with other
information relating to the driving of the
selected locomotive.
A: Note the low battery level indicator!
B: Locomotive symbol.
C: Consisting symbol and related button
(add to consist).
D: Menu button and symbol.
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27: Speed step changes are made through
the menu – select the edit speed screen.
Changes are specific to the selected
locomotive.
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29: Locomotive address selection menu
offers either Ops Programming (On Main
Track).
31: Selecting a new address, using figures 09999 via service track programming.
A: Enter the new address using the keypad.
B: Mistakes can be deleted using the back
button.
C: Confirm the new address by pressing the
programming button.
Product Details
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Bachmann Dynamis DCC 2.5A entry-level
set with transformer and one controller.
Catalogue number 36-505.
Bachmann EZ Command Pro Box.
Catalogue number: 36-508
Additional handset (throttle).
Catalogue number: 36-507.
28: A: Speed step choices are made using
the selection buttons.
B: Cancel choice.
C: Confirm choice.
30: A second setting offers programming or
service track programming of the
locomotive address.
Additional wireless IR receiver.
Catalogue number: 36-509.
More helpful information can be found at
www.bachmann.co.uk/service/digital_top.php
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