Review: PIKO G 36122 Loco Decoder

Review published: 12 July 2015


This review is from a point of view of a relative newbie to DCC. I purchased a digital system two months ago, and I only did one decoder install so far so I’m not experienced at DCC at all.

I heard many good things about the loco decoder from PIKO, as apparently it’s dead easy to install. So I thought converting my new V 20 diesel engine (Read my review here: Review: PIKO G 37550 V 20) to DCC using the PIKO #36122 decoder would be a good test.


Product Information:

Manufacturer: PIKO
Article Number: 36122
Product Description: Loco Decoder for Railbus, V 100, V 199, V 60, BR 194, TEE, BR 24, BR 64, V 36, V 20, Mogul
Year of introduction: ?
MSRP (2015): € 87,99

PIKO G 36122 Loco Decoder


Review:

The first thing to know, is that the PIKO decoder is designed and produced in cooperation with Massoth. PIKO’s decoder is very similar to the Massoth XL decoder, but it has a different layout as it should be a direct swap for PIKO’s analogue circuit boards to make the install a bit easier.

Let’s get unboxing…

PIKO G 36122 Loco Decoder Review

It’s quite a big box for such a small decoder!

PIKO G 36122 Loco Decoder Review

Included in the box is of course the decoder itself, a bag with four screws, a few wiring schemes, and an installation and configuration manual in German/English.

PIKO G 36122 Loco Decoder Review

The decoder is a direct swap for the standard analogue circuit board, which is nice. Other decoders (e.g. ESU, Massoth) usually have mounting points on different locations so screw holes don’t line up. This decoder is dead easy to install: remove the original analogue circuit board, and use the same screws to mount the decoder. You don’t even need the four screws supplied by PIKO in the package, as you can use the screws that were already in the locomotive.

One expects to find wiring schemes enclosed for each loco offered by PIKO, unfortunately a lot of them are not included in the package. All it offers are wiring schemes for the V 60, BR 199, BR 204 locomotives and the VT 98 railbus (see ‘Downloads’ at the end of this review). So that’s pretty useless, let’s take a look in the manual… Under chapter 1.2 “Installation”, they talk about connecting white/brown and yellow/green wires to the decoder. Unfortunately, in the case of the V 20 none of the wires have those color combinations.

So with both the manual and the wiring schematics not providing the information I needed to get the decoder hooked up, I was pretty much on my own. It’s not too difficult to figure out though, but still… I expected something like “plug wire A in socket X, wire B in socket Y”, certainly because it’s PIKO’s own decoder and they only have to supply a limited amount of wiring schemes with it.

The good thing is that no additional programming was needed to get it working.


Conclusion:

The MSRP for PIKO’s #36122 decoder lies at € 87, and therefore it costs quite a bit more than for instance the very similar Massoth XL decoder (€ 59,90 MSRP).

That extra cost would be justifiable if the DCC install was dead easy and well documented. Unfortunately, the provided documentation is lacking info on how to connect the wires for – in my case – the V 20.

Given this is a PIKO decoder aimed at PIKO locomotives, I expected PIKO to at least offer a wiring scheme for each loco individually, because in my opinion a straightforward install is a definite advantage (certainly for those new to DCC).

A missed opportunity…


Downloads: