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There are three types of consists used on DCC systems:
In this type of consist, each Locomotive is assigned the same address on the programming track, or on the main with OpsMode Programming (if supported by the command station and decoder). You can use either a long (CV17 and CV18) or short (CV1) address for a primary address consist.
A Command Station Assisted Consist (CSAC).
A command station assisted consist is built using a function of your command
Command Station Assisted Consists go by the trade names listed in the table below. The table also lists the known limitations imposed by each manufacturer.
|Manufacturer||Trade Name||Usage Notes|
|Digitrax||Universal Consist||Limited to number of slots supported by the system.||Allows any address to be used.|
|Lenz||Double Header||Limited to 2 Locomotives||Allows any address but 00 to be used.|
|NCE||Old Style Consist||Limited to 8 Locomotives||Allows any address but 00 to be used.|
|EasyDCC||Standard Consist||Limited to 8 Locomotives||Allows any address but 00 to be used.|
The common trait shared by all versions of CSAC is that a separate speed and direction command is sent to the track for each Locomotive that is in the consist.
JMRI provides support for consists using the Consist Tool, which is accessible through the Tools or Actions menu of any JMRI application. (There is also a NCE-specific Consisting Tool that works somewhat differently from the tool described here)
The Consisting tool provides a visual tool for manipulating the Decoder Assisted Consists
and, on some command stations, Command Station Assisted Consists.
Backing up the Consist Tool is a consist manager. The consist manager is responsible for maintaining information about existing consists and for communicating the necessary information between the consist tool and the Command Station.
To select the consist manager in use, we first need to open the defaults tab in the preferences.
Once the preferences are loaded, the choices for the consist manager will be selectable in
the "Consists" column (inside the box labeled 1 in the figure above). Here we see two
choices, one for a LocoNet connection, labeled A and one for the Internal connection labeled
If you have more system connections available, other options may be available as well.
If you choose option A, then you choose to use the consist manager associated with the system. This will either be a system specific consist manager or one of the generic consist managers, depending on the support of the system.
If you choose option B, then the Internal Consist Manager manager is used. In this case, if there is a selection made in the Command Station column (in the box labeled 2 in the figure) then the consist will be created on the system with the selected command station. This selection will cause consists to be created using a special DCC packet for creating consists.
If you choose option B and there is no selection for the command station, consists will be created on the system with an Ops Mode Programmer selected in Column 3. This selection will cause consists to be created using Operations Mode Programming. Note that if the Internal system is selected in this case, no consists will be created.
JMRI users sometimes create Advanced Consists using the programmer to set the value of CV19. Begining with JMRI Version 4.17.3, the JMRI consisting tools provide some tools to synchronize the advanced consists created by programming with those of the advanced
Users can import consists created with the programmer into the Consist Manager by selecting the Scan Roster for Consists option in the Consist Control's File menu.
Once the scan completes, any consists discovered will be added to the list of consists available to the Consist Control. Please note that this tool does not write the consists to the DCC system.
Users may choose to have JMRI update consist information in their roster when creating and removing locomotives from Advanced Consists. This optin is activated by checking the Update CV19 in roster when modifying advanced consists box in the Consist Control section of the JMRI preferences.
Selecting this option may cause a performance impact when modifying rosters, due to reading and writing the roster file. This option is disabled by default.
You find this tool
When you first open the Consist Tool, you will see a screen similar to the following:
The radio buttons in the top row are used to select between an Advanced (or Decoder Assisted) Consist and a Command Station Assisted Consist. If the Command Station Assisted Consists are not supported by the tool for your system, these selections will be grayed out.
The box next to the label Consist: lets you enter the Consist ID. For
Decoder Assisted Consists, this should be the short address used to identify the
consist. For Command Station Assisted Consists, this value may automatically be filled in
with the lead Locomotive address when you try to add it to the consist.
To specify how you wish to use an address from 1 to 127 (excluding 3) that can be either short or long, use the drop down list next to the Consist text field to select your choice:
Setting a typical ID for a Decoder Assisted Consist should now look like the following:
The second line of the consisting tool is used to add Locomotives to your Consist. A Locomotive may be added either by entering it's number in the box next to New Locomotive:
or by selecting it's number from the roster drop down box:
Clicking the Add button will add the Locomotive to the Consist, and it will appear in the list below the second line:
Clicking the Reset button will clear the information on the New Loco entry line.
The Direction Normal checkbox
allows the user to specify if the new Locomotive is traveling in Forward or Reverse when the
Consist is traveling Forward.
You may notice from the previous screen shots that this box is grayed out until a lead Locomotive is selected. When adding subsequent Locomotives, you can (un)check this box to indicate the direction of each new Locomotive relative to the lead Locomotive.
After adding a second Locomotive to the consist, with the direction reversed, you should see something like the following:
If you made a mistake, and add a second Locomotive to the Consist with the wrong direction
set, you can change it's direction simply by clicking on the checkbox in the Direction Normal
The direction of the first (lead) Locomotive cannot be changed once added.
To delete an individual Locomotive from the consist, you can select the Delete button in the right most column of the appropriate row of the table of addresses.
To delete an entire Consist you can use the Delete button at the bottom of the screen.
The Throttle button at the bottom of the screen can be used to bring up a JMRI throttle for this Consist address.
To add a new Consist, select the first, blank entry in the drop-down box next to the current consist's ID:
To recall an existing Consist for inspection, select the appropriate entry from the drop-down box next to the current Consist's ID:
To do this: