The Multi-protocol Digital system
for Motorola, Selectrix and DCC

F requently  A sked  Q uestions

about the "IB"

Having problems with your IB? Check these additional notes

Q: I know the IB works with the Marklin system and Motorola protocol. I know it's supposed to work as well with the DCC/Lenz system. Is that right?
A: Absolutely, the IB supports the Marklin/Motorola and DCC. The best thing about this though is the fact that you can run both protocols together at the same time.

In fact, the IB supports Selectrix decoders too. An interesing point regarding the Selectrix decoders is that they are very small in size, so they are particularly well suited for N-scale users. (These decoders also feature "load compensation" la Maerklin 6090, Lenz LE130, LE030, LE040, ZIMO MX-61, etc...).

So, the IB can in fact actually support all 3 digital signals at the same time.

Q: I can buy any NMRA-warranted DCC decoder, program it with the IB and be off and running?
A: Yes. The only potential problem here is that some DCC decoders could get "confused" when trying to interpret a Motorola signal (they could start at max speed, for example), since they could interpret it as a "conventional" DC supply. This should not occur with decoders having the "DCC conformance seal". On the contrary, old DCC decoders like Maerklin (actually Lenz) c82 suffer from "Motorola illness": in fact they show a jerky behaviour when both DCC and Motorola formats are present on the track. On the Maerklin-Motorola side, our experience is that they are able to reject every DCC signal.

When a "compatibility mode" Configuration Variable (CV) is available, you should switch it off. In practical terms, for all modern decoders, this means: reset bit #2 (i.e. the 3rd bit (starting from bit #0) of CV #29). You can use the "CV prog (bit)" menu of the IB for this purpose. If the decoder does not support bit writes, then you can simply program the value 0 (for 14 or 27 speed steps mode) or 2 (for 28 or 128 speed steps mode) into the whole of CV #29 (i.e. the whole byte, not just a single bit).

Another problem is with Arnold decoders. These are compatible with BOTH Motorola and DCC standards -- but ONLY one at a time!. In this case you should switch off the compatibility mode with Motorola and use the decoder as a "pure" DCC device (CV49, bit4 should be set to 1). This is specifically mentioned in the IB manual, along with the exact procedure for switching off the automatic recognition of Motorola packets.

Q: The IB has both the control circuts ("command station") AND a booster inside?
A: That's correct. For Marklin users, the term "booster" here means that the Intellibox will support any other Marklin peripherals such as 6040 Keyboards, 6036 Controllers, etc. Using the external connection, you can add additional Marklin boosters exactly the same way as you add them to the Marklin 6021.

Do not be confused into thinking that the IB has TWO power outputs. This is not the case.
We are saying: "with integrated Booster", since there are a few Command Stations (e.g. the Lenz LZ100) which do not have ANY power output. Such a
Command Station would always have to be connected to an external booster for any practical use.


Q: So, all I need to add is a power supply - basically my existing power pack can be used?
A: Yes, it's recommended that you use a (no larger than) 50W internally protected (thermal shutdown) transformer. The Marklin Digital 6001 (42W) or older (30W) transformers work ideally for this purpose.
Q: What about remote throttles? Am I limited to the LocoNet products?

A: No, you can use:
    1) up to 8 Roco/LGB Lokmaus
    2) all Maerklin control units (Keyboards, Control 80, etc.)
    3) Fremo/Uhlenbrock FRED (Loconet device)

This last item is not yet available. Expect it around September/October of this year. At about that time, also the IB-Control (a LocoNet Lok/turnout control device - looks like an IB) and the multi-protocol Booster **should** be available.


Q: Or could I use a Lenz/XBus hand-held?
A: No, for the moment being the XBus adapter has not been produced.


Q: Is the computer connection already built in, or is it an add-on?
A: A serial interface is built-in (up to 19200 baud). Is is fully compatible with the Maerklin serial protocol and supports all the commands utilized by the Marklin 6050/6051 Interface units.


Q: Can I use k83s to control switches at the same time I use DCC decoders?
A: Yes, you can use Marklin k83's (#6083) or third-party compatible units along with DCC decoders.


Q: Can use the Digitrax hand held controller with the Intellibox to control Marklin trains/decoders operating in standard Marklin AC digital format or is the Digitrax controller only capable of controlling DCC trains?

A: Great question. The control device used -- whether the Intellibox itself, an added LocoNet controller (e.g. a Digitrax throttle or the "soon available" FRED and IB-Control), a Lokmaus or a Maerklin C80(f), etc. -- does not impose any limit to the type of the controlled device (locomotive).

These are just "human interfaces", in other words, merely locomotive control devices which send commands to the Intellibox. The Intellibox, in turn, taking note of its configuration (meaning: what type has been choosen for each Lok address), simply "converts" these commands to the appropriate format.

Therefore, you can use a Maerklin C80(f) -- connected to the IB, of course -- to drive a DCC Locomotive or a Selectrix Locomotive or a Maerklin Locomotive. This holds true also if using a Lokmaus or a LocoNet controller (Digitrax or Uhlenbrock/Modeltreno).


Q: Do you have any info on how to connect the IB to an EDITS Booster? I need to know the output of the booster connections on the IB and the technical details of how the IB short circuit alarm is activated when the booster gets a short on the output.

A: The IB Marklin Booster connector signals are (outputs are "HCT" levels):

1 - short signal from the Booster (active high, threshold at about 3.5V)
2 - GND
3 - (not connected)
4 - power on/off signal to the Booster ("high" = power on)
5 - digital signal to the Boosters (when at level "high", the Booster "red"
output should be at +V).

Pin #1 is close to the s88 connector of the IB.

The DCC Booster connector uses only 3 signals:

1 - (what Lenz calls "C"): positive of the digital signal
2 - (what Lenz calls "D"): negative of the digital signal
3 - (what Lenz calls "E"): short from the booster, active low (i.e. when
pulled to ground by one Booster)

Pin #1 is close to the IB heat sink.

C and D "swing" between GND and about +15V (unloaded). When C is positive with respect to D, the Booster "red" output should be at +V. During a power off both C and D are kept high: a DCC booster turns itself off as soon as no digital signal is seen for more than X milliseconds (with X being something approximately in the range of 5-20 ms: depends on the booster, manufacturer, etc...).
The booster would turn itself back on as soon as a digital signal ("polarity" change of the C and D lines) is generated once again. Both C and D get "disconnected" if a short (overload) is detected on these two lines - C and D are also featured on contacts #1 and #6 of the "LocoNet B" IB connector: besides for feeding LocoNet boosters, they can also be used in order to provide (limited) power to LocoNet devices (max 0.2 A) - the "LocoNet T" connector is better suited for the latter task. Some DCC boosters (typically all DCC boosters produced in the USA) do not feature any "E" line, therefore, they cannot inform the Command Station about an eventual "local" short (a short which takes place on the piece of layout supplied by that booster). In case of a "local" short, they turn themselves off "all by themselves". After this, they check from time to time whether the cause of the short as been removed: if this is the case, then - provided that a digital signal is still being generated by the Command Station - they turn themselves on once again.

Note that the original EDITS booster is switched off if and only if the input signal (pin #5 of the Maerklin Booster) is at zero potential.
There is NO short circuit detection! The author of the EDITS booster provided a trick to solve the problem: i.e. to connect the RED output wire of the EDITS booster to the RED of the Maerklin Central Unit THROUGH a diode, with the cathode connected to the RED of the maerklin CU. Therefore, in case of short circuit, the RED of the CU is forced to ground by the diode => the Maerklin CU detects a short circuit => the Maerklin CU stops the digital signal to pin #5 => finally, the EDITS booster stops delivering power. This "trick" works only in the case in which the voltage delivered by the EDITS booster is higher or equal to the voltage of the Maerklin CU, otherwise the diode is conducting during the negative parts of the RED waveform.

Finally, though it is mentioned in the IB manual, it should be further noted that only optoisolated DCC boosters (either through the DCC booster connector or through LocoNet - or whatever) are supported! While european DCC Boosters (Lenz, Arnold and Maerklin Digital=) are optoisolated (I do not know about other european manufacturers), standard USA DCC Boosters aren't - though it is sometimes possible (e.g. Digitrax) to ask for special optoisolated versions of these.

Q: During the demo we were playing with the double-heading feature and noticed something peculiar. I had 2 loks running as a consist but they were not coupled together, they were a short distance apart. Both are Marklin loks with 6090's. We noticed that if the speed is below 6, if you press the encoder knob both loks stop abruptly, however, if the speed is above 7, one loks stops abruptly while the other decelerates slowly to a stop. This was something worth more investigating.

A: Depending on the Marklin Chip used on a Marklin decoder, such a decoder would or would not accept a direction change command depending on whether its current speed was lower than speed 7 or not. Specifically: 701.13 and 701.17 chips do NOT accept (perform) a direction change if they are currently at a speed higher than speed 6.

The IB (Intellibox) DOES take this into account. In fact, if the specific address for which a direction change is issued is configured for "Mot old" (Motorola old), then a "Speed = Stop" command is always sent prior to a direction change command, thus insuring that a direction change command shall indeed be executed by the decoder. Conversely, if the address has been configured for "Mot new", then no such "Speed = Stop" command is issued. In fact, this is not needed since a decoder which understands the so called "new Motorola protocol" is capable of decoding the "absolute driving direction information" contained in each packet sent to the decoder by the Command Station. Therefore, it would change direction even if no "Speed = Stop" command has been issued.

A 701.13 chip only understands the "Mot old" protocol.

A 701.17 (as well as the more recent 701.22) understands also the "Mot new" protocol.

In practice, I'd suggest you to configure all 6080 and 6090 decoders for "Mot old" (all decoders featuring the 701.13 decoder - or older), while "not-so-old" Delta decoders and all 60901/2 decoders (as well as Uhlenbrock decoders) should be configured for "Mot new".

Q: Will my two 6040s work with the Intellibox?
A: Yes, no problem. You just plug them into the left side of the IB, just as you now do with your 6021.
Q: Will my two 6036s work with the Intellibox?
A: Yes again; here, you plug them into the right side.
Q: With the Intellibox, can I still use my 6021?
A: Absolutely. You will need an optional (that means it costs extra) plug that will allow you to connect the 6021 to the IB. I generally advise that you plug the 6021 on the right side of the IB, then plug your 6036's into the right side of the 6021. In your situation here, the IB would just go between the 6021 and your 6040's. If you purchase the 6021 adaptor at the same time as the IB, it's $10 extra.

Q: What is the IB-Control relative to the Intellibox?
A: The IB-Control is basically an Intellibox, but without the CPU (brains). From the top, it looks just like the IB, and you have ALL the same functionality -- dual controls, ability to control solenoid devices, etc. The back just has a phone-type jack that allows you to connect the IB-Control to the Intellibox. The IB-Control comes with a length of 6-conductor phone cord (I think it's 3' in length), but I can make up any length you want for a slight charge.

Q: What is Fred (looks like a remote control) and are the connections to the Intellibox an easy thing to do?
A: Yes, FRED is indeed a remote control. It too plugs into the back of the IB (or IB-Control). Please note, the IB and IB-Control have 2 phone-type jacks, so you can plug both the IB-Control and FRED into the IB, or plug FRED into the IB-Control and still have a 2nd IB-Control (if you want) plugged into the first IB-Control. These things literally just plug in just like any modular phone cord. You program FRED form your IB to set it up for (up to) four different engines. You can change which 4 you want, of course, or delete one and then add one as you wish. You can control the engine's speed as well as any digital functions it may have (lights, smoke, etc.).
Q: Is there any limitation on the distance from the Intellibox to the Boosters?
A: It is recommended that the total length of this cable (from the IB / 6021) to the booster (and from booster to booster) be kept as short as possible. Experience indicates that if the cable is too long, the Intellibox may indicate a short circuit and shut down when, in reality, no short circuit actually exists.
Q: Related to the previous question, how about the distance to / between s88s?
A: Here, again, you should attempt to keep it as short as possible. Experience with this cable also indicates that, where possible, you should attempt to keep the cable away from wires carrying current (e.g., the red and brown wires that connect to k83's, etc.). This will prevent any interference from affecting the status (false readings) of the signal returned by the s88's.
Q: I am using the IB Switch together with the IB Control on one part of my layout. I want the IB Control buttons to control switch numbers 41-49. When I set it, it works fine until I shut off the power, but every I turn the power back on it defaults to numbers 1-8. Is there any way to set an SO to have it default to 41-49 when it powers up? The IB manual seems a little confusing on the subject when it speaks to setting SO 810.
A: Set SO #810 to the address of the 1st turnout you wish to control. Normal range is 1 through 255. If you set that SO to the value 0, then you can choose a specific turnout address to be controlled through each key pair. This is called "Tab" (tabular) mode. The single addresses can then be set through SO's #871 through 878 (each SO is to be set to the desired turnout address -1).

The same set of SO's applies also to the IB.

Having problems with your IB? Check these additional notes

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