DCC Packet Analysers

Below is a list of tools (hardware and software) that some people might find useful.


1) HW: NCE DCC Packet Analyzer (Track + NCE Cab Bus)
2) HW: Pricom DCC Pocket Tester (Track only)
3) SW: Loconet Checker (Track Packet Analyzer)


HARDWARE: NCE's DCC Packet Analyzer.

The NCE Analyzer is compatible with all DCC systems when looking at the DCC track packets.  It requires a PC and a terminal emulation program that is typically free.  It decodes the DCC packets in real time and dumps each packet to a terminal display in transmission time order.  You can selectively filter out idle, reset, accessory, function and/or speed packets.  Information can be displayed in hexidecimal or our special "verbose" mode that makes it easy to decipher track activity.  However, there is no technical analysis as to the quality of the packets.  Both good and bad DCC packets will be displayed.  As a bonus to NCE users, the packet analyzer can also be configured to dump Cab Bus commands.  Opto-Isolation is offered to prevent track power shorting to "grounded" PC's when analyzing track power.  For complete information, download the NCE manual.

NOTE: NCE will soon introduce a new Packer Analyzer.  But the above can still be found in some stores.

Requirements:
1) PC/MAC with a terminal emulator program.

2) PC/MAC with a RS-232 (DB-9) or USB Serial Interface.  Recommend purchasing a RS-232 DB-9 extension cable regardless of what type of  serial port your PC has.  PC's and MAC's with just USB ports will ALSO need to buy a "USB to Serial Adapter" such as Keyspans' (Tripp-lite) USA-19HS.  You can do a search of the internet (Amazon for example) for the best prices.  Here is the manufactures link:

3) Flexible Power Supply Options.  
a) Cab Bus Power  b) Track Power  c)+12VDC external wall adapter power with a positive tip 3.5mm connector (Not included).   
Strongly Recommend option "c" along along with "opto-isolation" configuration when looking at track power.



HARDWARE: PRICOM's DCC Pocket Tester

The Pricom tester tests the DCC Signal from an electrical perspective, a protocol perspective, and a data content perspective. This allows you to verify signal timing, voltage levels and other Electrical Tests. Then verify packet protocol adherence, preamble bits, checksum errors, packet timing, packet update rate, and gaps between packets. The DCC Pocket Tester also lets you monitor address utilization, broadcast counts, and watch how many of what addresses are used. Finally the actual mobile and accessory data packets themselves can be monitored, captured, decoded, and viewed.  

Although not required, A PC with a serial port will allow various expanded analysis.  A terminal emulator program (typically a free program) will allow real-time dumps each DCC packet to a terminal display in transmission time order.  There are also 3rd party software tools that can further help analyze activities and data such a Loconet Checker (see elsewhere).    

Unfortunately the Pricom adapter is NOT opto-isolated and track short circuits are possible when connected to a "grounded" PC.   The manual will warn you of this and what to do.


 
Requirements:
1) Power Requirements: NONE.  Track Tester uses the track power to run.  There is no battery support.  The battery compartment is used to store the test leads.

2) 
PC with a RS-232 (DB-9) or USB Serial Interface.  The Pricom tester comes with a special Telco to RS-232 DB-9 extension cable.  PC's with just USB ports will need to buy a "USB to Serial Adapter" such as Keyspans' (Tripp-lite) USA-19HS.  You can do a search of the internet (Amazon for example) for the best prices.  Here is the manufactures link: