Decoder Connection Method

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Short Definition
Decoder connection method


There are several methods of connecting a decoder to a vehicle, such as a locomotive.

Hard Wired

The decoder comes with wires, which are soldered to the appropriate points to connect the rails and motor to the decoder. Other connections can include lights and speaker connections.

Wiring Harness

This can consist of a harness with a plug and wires which are soldered to the appropriate points, and a decoder with the matching receptacle is mated with the harness.

Light Board

The vehicle comes from the factory with a light board, containing all the needed components to operate the lights.

Several connection methods exist:

  • NMRA Plug: The blanking plug is removed and the appropriate wiring harness used to make the connection.
  • Hard Wired: The decoder is soldered to specified points, and modifications are made to the traces on the board to disconnect the motor from the rails.
  • Light Board Replacement: Some decoders are designed to directly replace the light board, using the snoods or by soldering the wires to make the connections.

Plug In

A number of standardized plugs exist where the decoder is mated to a motherboard within the vehicle. The motherboard has all the needed connections. There may be a blanking plug installed if there is no decoder.

The type of connection usually specifies details such as the size of the decoder, for ease of fitting.