Installing a DCC decoder in a Dapol Sentinel Loco
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Last updated 26 January, 2020
Sentinel loco and decoder choice


Installing the decoder in this loco is extremely easy. If only all installations were as straightforward as this.

Removing the body is extremely simple, but needs to be done with care. Grab the chassis in one hand and with the other gentle wiggle the body from side to side to separate the two parts.



Location of DCC socket Location of DCC socket


Running quality of the loco, however, is dependent on the decoder selected. The loco has a short wheelbase and small wheels. It was soon discovered that keeping both track and wheels VERY clean was extremely important.





Connecting keep alive wires Connecting keep alive wires

Moreover, different decoders produced different running qualities. The TCS DP2X-UK and DCC Concepts decoders tested produced staccato type running and the loco stalled on insulfrog points. Running was improved with the Digitrax DZ125PS which provided better control and less stalling.

However, the ultimate in DCC control was provided by the new TCS DP2X-UK-KAC decoder used in conjunction with the KA1-C Keep Alive from TCS. Not only did the loco fail to stall at all but slow running, required of a loco used for shunting, was superb with the possibility of controlling the loco on speed step 1 continuously across all types of track and points, regardless of cleanliness.

To connect the keep alive wires from the decoder to the keep alive just match the colours across the connectors, as shown left.

This isn't a cheap option and the decoder and Keep Alive only just fit into the loco but the quality of control cannot be beaten.

Decoder installed

Purists might object to seeing the Keep Alive through the cab window but this has to be balanced against the best slow running that can be achieved.

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