December 23, 2010 - M.T.H. Electric Trains has released new DCS Software (Version 4.20) and DCS Loader Software (Version 2.30), both of which can be downloaded for free from the M.T.H. website. You can learn more about each of these releases by clicking on the following links.
It should be noted that using a DCS Loader Program earlier than version 2.20 to upgrade the sound file in a Proto-Sound 3.0 engine (HO or O gauge) would result in damage to the PS3 engine’s electronics. In an effort to provide a better understanding of why this is so, what exactly is the damage to the PS3 engine, how to avoid damaging the PS3 engine, and what to do if damage does result, please review the following information.
Why Damage May Result
The new DCS Loader Program (Version 2.20) is the first Loader Program developed that is aware that PS3 engines exist, and that their on-board memory format is very different from that of a PS2 engine’s. This allows the Loader Program 2.20 to effectively update the sound file in a PS3 engine where previous Loader Programs are unable to do so. If a Loader Program version earlier than 2.20 attempts to update the sound file in a PS3 engine, the wrong memory locations will be overwritten causing the PS3 engine to become non-functional.
What Exactly is Damaged
The PS3 engine’s electronics are not permanently damaged. Rather, the engine’s firmware code is overwritten and the engine’s processor no longer has an operational program to follow. Therefore, the board’s processor shuts down and the engine is no longer operational. Unfortunately, the correction is beyond the ability of the DCS operator to effect, since doing so requires the use of factory-type procedures that are currently available only to M.T.H.
How Damage May be Avoided
When upgrading the sound file in a PS3 engine, a successful outcome is expected if, and only if, the Loader Program 2.20 is utilized and the TIU being used for the sound file update is running DCS 4.20. It is important to note the following:
- Any combination of Loader Program, TIU hardware model and DCS version may be used to update the sound file in any PS2 engine.
- Any TIU model may be used in the sound file update process for PS3 engines.
- If Loader Program 2.20 is used with a DCS version other than DCS 4.20 in an attempt to update the sound file in a PS3 engine, the sound file update will fail with an error message. However, the PS3 engine will be unaffected.
- It is only if a Loader Program earlier than version 2.20 is used with any release of DCS to attempt to update the sound file in a PS3 engine that the PS3 engine will be rendered inoperable.
- The only way to update the sound file in a PS3 engine effectively is to use Loader Program 2.20 and any model TIU with DCS 4.20 installed.
What to Do if Damage Does Result
If a failed sound file update attempt of a PS3 engine causes the engine to become inoperable, the only recourse is to contact M.T.H., obtain an RMA (return merchandise authorization) number and send the engine to M.T.H. for reprogramming of the engine’s PS3 board. At present, neither the DCS user nor any M.T.H. Authorized Service Centers have the factory-type capability to effect the required repair.
Why it’s Not Possible to Completely Avoid the Problem
The architecture of the DCS TIU does not permit the TIU to initiate communication with the Loader Program. All it can do do is respond to queries from the Loader Program. Therefore, it’s impossible for the TIU to learn the version number of the Loader Program, and advise the Loader Program to halt the sound file update operation if the Loader program is a version earlier than 2.20.
Further, since Loader Programs previous to version 2.20 were completely unaware of the differences in the memory structure of PS3 engines as compared to PS2 engines, they have no way to avoid the problem.