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The German Railway in H0


Function mapping with Märklin decoders and the Central Station 2

Function mapping is a great way to add effects and features to your locomotive which were not originally factory-programmed. In this article I will show you how to give life to your shunting function by turning on the correct warning lights on the locomotive.

When German locomotives are shunting in the yard they turn on what is called the "double A", meaning that the front light on both ends of the locomotive is on. The front light, two lower- and one top lantern, forms the letter A, hence the double A when both ends are on.

If you have a Märklin decoder from the mLD, mSD family and a Central Station 2 you can easily mimic the double-A behaviour when pressing the shunting mode button. Using the Central Station 2, it only takes a few minutes to make the correct adjustments in the decoder.

In this example I will add the double-A feature to a class 185 from Trix. I have already fitted the locomotive with a 21-pin mLD (Märklin #60942). With the loco on the track, click the little wrenge button to get into the locomotive configuration screen.

Clicking the wrenge button will open the locomotive configuration screen.

From the locomotive configuration screen you are already able to do some adjustments on the functions, but to be able to do actual function mapping, you will need to go to the CV-list. Click the CV button to open the CV-list.

Note: The locomotive is registered as an mfx-locomotive for this example.

Function mapping can only be done from the CV-list.

The CV list will take a few seconds to load. You will see a progress bar on the screen while the Central Station 2 loads the values.

Wait for a few seconds for the values to load...

With the values loaded, you are now able to configure function mapping for each function. In the column to the right, you will see the available functions. Since we are going to configure the shunting function, we click the shunting icon (the turtle). This will load the function map for the chosen function.  

The function map for the shunting function.

In the actions column you can add functions to be activated by the shunting mode key. I have already added the functions I need to turn on the double-A and the shunting mode ("Rangiergang" in German).

You add additional functions by hitting the "+"-key and choose the function from the drop-down list. All functions in the action-list will go on when the function key is hit (in this case, when I press the turtle key).

To add a double-A feature for this particular locomotive I needed to:

  1. Make sure the general light is on.
  2. Turn on the headlights at cab 1 (auxilary 3).
  3. Turn on the headlights at cab 2 (auxilary 4).
  4. Turn on the shunting mode.

Which exact outputs to turn on for the light will depend on the make of the locomotive. Almost all newer Märklin and Trix locomotives have seperate outputs for the light functions making this a really easy feature to configure.

A rule of thumb: If a locomotive have a 21-pin decoder plug you can almost always make configurations like this, because the lights will be on separate outputs.

Notice: Some locomotives (especially older locomotives that has an 8-pin plug) will have their headlights and taillights linked by the motherboard in the locomotive. These cannot be configured without making modifications to the motherboard. Therefore I normally stay away from making changes to locomotives of this kind. Märklin and Trix locomotives from the "Hobby"-range actually have separate light outputs, even though they only have the headlights and no taillights. These locomotives can be configured as well.

Again: The above guide will work with Märklin retrofit decoders (mSD and mLD) that support mfx. It may also work with the LokSound M4 4.0. It will not work with DCC decoders. To configure function mapping using a DCC decoder, you will have to refer to the manufacturer's documentation for help. The Central Station 2 does, of course, support DCC programming, but it does not have a nice interface for configuring function mapping for a DCC decoder. Usually the decoder manufacturer provides software for programming and setting up their decoders (e.g. the ESU LokProgrammer).

If you have the Märklin Central Station 2, and your locomotive uses a 21-pin decoder, try giving the Märklin decoder family a try, I think you will be happy with the result. I find it to be both fun and easy.

Happy Modelling!

Installing a High Hide from NOCH

The NOCH Laser Cut Minis range of products includes lots of small structures that you can use for a small one-day project. In this article I will install a high hide on the exhibition layout.

A high hide is a fun detail to a forest scene.

On my exhibition layout I want something more than just nature. A great way to add a few details is to take a look at the "Laser Cut Minis" range from NOCH. I bought a high hide (NOCH #14341) because this kind of structures is almost everywhere in the outskirts of a forest and I think it is a kind of interesting detail. I also bought a box of deer.

You will find lots of interesting structures and small details in the NOCH Laser Cut Minis range of products.

The high hide from NOCH is made of cardboard and easy to assemble. You can buy glue for the laser cut structures (NOCH #61102) or you can use normal white glue. I recommend that you find a way to add tiny blobs of glue while assembling the model, so you do not ruin the structure by spilling glue all over it.

To place the high hide on the module, I needed a level spot for it to stand on. I did not have that, so I scraped off some of the ground foam and added strips of plaster cloth (Woodland Scenics #C1203) to level the foundation.

I constantly checked to see if the structure was level and kept adding strips of plaster cloth until it was.

The easiest ways to check if the foundation is level, is to simply place the structure on it.

When the plaster cloth had dried I painted it using Earth Undercoat (Woodland Scenics #C1229 or NOCH #96131). I basically use the same technique as for bigger projects. This helps blending the new landscape into the existing one. 

When the Earth Undercoat has dried I start adding new ground cover and detailing. This includes high grass and other plants that you may find underneath a structure such as the high hide.

When detailing the ground I try to think of trips to the forest and my trips to Southern Europe which is the theme of the layout.

The ground cover is from Woodland Scenics (Fine Turf Earth Blend #T50, Coarse Turf Earth #T60, Coarse Turf Burnt Grass T62,  Field Grass Medium Green #FG174 and Field Grass Natural Straw FG171).

I put the field grass down in clumps using Scenic Glue (Woodland Scenics #S190).

I still need to add more trees to get the look I am going for, but the landscape sure is starting to take form.

It is important to keep things leven when placing structures. We can't have the hunter falling out of his high hide. The little Köf and the Trix Grade measurement-wagon (Trix #24080) helps keeping things level.

I also added some deer to give life to the forest scenes. The deer package is from NOCH (#15730 "Hirsche").

If you are looking for some simple details for your model railway, you should give the Laser Cut Minis from NOCH a try. They have something for every purpose, and I think you will be happy with the result.

Happy modelling!