During the early years of the layout, I programed the DCC decoders during installation into the locomotives. I then used my outdoor layout to program the trains after they have been modified. This caused me to waste a lot of time and I would have sometimes have programming issues with the locomotives, had to have the computer available. Another problem, is when I find improvements or need to experiment with locomotive commands I don’t have an easy place to test the changes.
So I decided to create a bench testing area. After some research I found to products that will allow the locomotive wheels to turn allowing the locomotive to be stationery. I set up a dcc command station and the DC transformer. I created a set of switches that allowed different options to the tracks.
I added a RRMeter to the system that shows voltage of amperage used by the locomotive.
The system allows me to run DC engines, test the DCC Decoder, program the locomotive during installation, test the changes, and make changes as improvements happen. I can also upload improved software when available. I added a test track and a speed gage system that allows me to determine the speed of the locomotive.
Since I also work on my locomotives in Battle Creek, I set up a similar system at my condo there. In addition I have a circular test track so that I can speed match two different locomotives when I consist them together.