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Your Big Bear DCC Model Rail Controller

Your Big Bear Rail controller turns your Windows PC or Laptop into a DCC controller for routes and locomotives. Control your fleet of trains with the easy to use throttle, manage your track layout as if you were manning a signal-box and run pre-recorded sequences to create unlimited operating scenarios for your layout.


Connecting your Big Bear Route Controller to your PC


You will need to connect your DCC system to your computer by means of a Serial (RS232) or USB cable that can supplied by your model rail supplier. If you are not familiar with RS232 we recommend that you obtain an approved cable from your DCC supplier however any standard 9-pin data cable will suffice (example from Maplin in the UK, Radio Shack in the US etc). More modern DCC systems connect via USB connectors that plug into a spare USB socket on your computer.

IMPORTANT: USB adapters (and the USB connectors that come with some DCC systems) will be assigned a COM port (e.g. COM4) and it is important to ensure that you know the name of the COM port when configuring your Big Bear (note that the USB adapters can sometimes change port if you change the USB socket they are plugged into). Your USB adapter manual should explain how you determine the COM port number but if you are unsure see the Advanced Tinkering section below.

Configuring your Big Bear DCC Controller Software

You have connected your DCC controller to your computer and now you must now provide some details to the Big Bear program to enable it to communicate with your layout.

In the configuration tab then under general settings enter a layout name, this will appear at the top of the Control tab and can be anything you wish. Now select your controller type (NCE, Lenz etc); if your controller is not in the list choose a compatible protocol such as XPressNet v3 (XNet). Please see website for upcoming news on supported systems and upcoming additions.

You will need to specify a Serial Port, this refers to the RS232 socket on which your DCC controller has been attached and for a standard serial connector will usually be COM1, COM2 or COM3 but please check with your computer manual.

NOTE: If you are using a USB connector (either an adapter or a DCC computer interface), be careful with USB as the Port number can change from one session to the next depending on the DCC system you are using. So if you set it to COM12 say during one operating session, it is possible that it may be COM13 or something else the next time. If the layout isn't responding after switching everything on make this a first thing to check.

Finally set the BAUD rate (RS232 speed). Please see the manual for your controller as the default speed can vary between systems. If you are not sure just try all three options and find out which one works. If it works for several speed options, choose the fastest that works.

IMPORTANT FOR LENZ USERS Lenz software including the Lenz Server is disabled otherwise access to its serial port will be blocked and Big Bear will be unable to send it commands.

Configuring your Big Bear ~ Extras

Big Bear allows you to remember a number of Active Locomotives, these are locos that you have recently controlled and they will be highlighted in the Loco List within the loco throttle on the Control tab. You can specify the maximum number of locos that it will highlight for you. In addition you can choose how the recently used active locos are highlighted; tick/check the 'Group Active Locomotives' box to have them shown together above the main list of all locos and leave it unticked/unchecked to simply highlight the active locos within the main loco list.

HANDY HINT: For best results set a maximum active loco value that corresponds to the number of locos that you will most likely have under control at once. Use Grouping if you have a large number of locos to avoid having to repeatedly scroll down the Loco List box, otherwise leave the box unticked.

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