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Marklin Delta and Digital Decoder Settings

How do I upgrade my locomotives to Delta or Digital operation?

When it is time to upgrade your conventional (analog) layout to Marklin Delta operation, or to Marklin Digital, you may find out that your locomotives will not respond, or run really fast. This is because the digital decoder inside the locomotive needs to be adjusted for digital (or Delta) operation.

Let's visit the basics of operation modes first.

Analog, Delta or Digital, I am lost!

It is not as difficult as it appears. Let's start with the locomotive:
Almost all Marklin locomotives use the 3-rail AC system. There have been a few that did not, like the Marklin Hamo series, made for DC operation. But these locomotives are rare. Just look at the bottom of your locomotive. If you see a slider (pick-up shoe) between the wheels, you have a Marklin AC locomotive.

Here are the basics of the different types of operation:

Analog Operation

Analog Marklin locomotives have an AC powered motor, and a relay that is used to change direction of the locomotive. A transformer with speed dial applies AC power to the track. When you increase the dial on the transformer, the voltage to the track increases, and the train moves faster. When you want to change the direction of the train, you move the dial in the opposite direction, against a springloaded stop. That sends a power spike to the track, activates the relay inside, and reverses the direction of the locomotive.

Because of the AC power and reverse system, you have to use a Marklin AC transformer to control the Marklin trains.

Delta Operation

In 1992, Marklin added a new dimension to HO starter sets and entry level operation with the introduction of the DELTA multi-train control system. With DELTA you can operate four or five trains simultaneously and independently on a layout. And when you are ready to expand your operating capabilities it's easy to move from DELTA to Digital. The system is now discontinued by Marklin. Delta equipped trains can run on all types of layouts: Analog, Delta and Digital.
With a Delta (or Digital) system, you have a special controller that sends a constant voltage power to the track.

When you would put an analog locomotive on that track, it will take off at a high speed, because of that constant power. If you have a Delta Digital Locomotive, and it still runs at a constant speed only, than the decoder inside is set to all zeros, making the locomotive analog.

The Delta Controller

The Delta controller also sends a digital signal along with the power. This digital signal contains operating commands, intended for the different locomotives on the track. Each operating command is addressed to a certain locomotive. You can choose the locomotive you want to control, by selecting it on the controller. Next you can control it with the speed regulator.

With the Delta controller, there are up to 4 different addresses possible. You can add the Delta Hand Controller 6605 to add another locomotive, and control up to 5 locomotives at the same time.

The Delta Locomotive

The Delta Locomotive has a small electronic circuit board (decoder) inside. It "listens" for messages send from the controller to the locomotives address. When a message (operating command) is send to the address of the locomotive, it reacts to the instructions. If the (typically 4) mini dip-switches of the decoder are set to off, the locomotive will operate on an analog layout. You can see the dipswitches on the top right corner of the circuit board, here on the right.
The address can normally be changed by adjusting the 4 tiny slider switches on the electronic circuit board inside the locomotive. Note: some older versions of Delta locomotives use solder bridges, instead of dipswitches.

Delta Address Settings

In the table below you see the possible addresses.

Picture Address switch 1 switch 2 switch 3 switch 4
1 Steam 78 on off off off
2 Diesel 72 72 on on off off
3 Railcar 60 on off on off
4 Electric 24 on off off on
5 Hand Controller 80 on on on on

Digital Operation

To get started in digital operations, you need a Digital Controller. The first popular controller used to be the Control Unit (6021).
But now, new starter sets come with the Mobile Station 60653, an easy-to-use hand controller.
You also need a loco equipped with a Digital decoder or a DELTA decoder. A transformer with a minimum output of 30 VA (approx. 30 watts) can be used as a source of power for the Control Unit.
All Marklin DELTA and Digital locomotives can be used with the newer control units like the Central Stations and Mobile Stations.

Delta Locomotives on a digital layout

In addition to the standard four DELTA addresses, the decoder in the DELTA locomotive can also have an additional 10 addresses set with the DIP switches when controlled by a Digital Controller.

Digital Locomotives on a digital layout

Older digital locomotives have 80 addresses available on their decoders. You will find that their decoders have a dipswitch block with a total of 8 switches.
The newest style decoders (made by Marklin, Uhlenbrock, ESU and more) allow for even more addresses, and can be programmed without opening the locomotive.

Setting an address

This is a relatively easy thing to do. All you'll need is a small screwdriver, to open up the locomotive. Locate the decoder (a small green circuit board), and find the dipswitches. You will see a small black square, with 4 or 8 tiny white slide switches on it. Use a small pointed tool (a toothpick works fine), to slide the switches to the desired position.

Address Switch 1 Switch 2 Switch 3 Switch 4
Locomotive operates conventionally with AC off off off off
DELTA = address 1, Digital 78 on off off off
DELTA = address 2, Digital 72 on on off off
DELTA = address 3, Digital 60 on off on off
DELTA = address 4, Digital 24 on off off on
DELTA = address 5, Digital 80 on on on on
Digital 02 off on on on
Digital 08 off off on on
Digital 06 on off on on
Digital 18 on on off on
Digital 02 off on on on
Digital 20 off on off on
Digital 26 off off off on
Digital 54 on on on off
Digital 56 off on on off
Digital 62 off off on off
Digital 74 off on off off

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