Tams Elektronik has updated its low-cost function decoder: review.

An updated classic

I had already mentioned the Tams FD-R Basic decoder in a former post. Basically, it is the cheapest European function decoder on the market (to my knowledge). It is used quite often in Germany, especially in N scale to equip passenger coaches with lighting.

Tams Elektronik has updated the decoder, and replaced it with the Tams FD-R Basic 2 decoder.
It boasts a similar low price (between €10 and €12), and an extra function output (now 3 in total).

Tams FD-R Basic 2 decoder back

The added third function means the decoder makes more sense in some cases. For example, the decoder can be used in a passenger coach with a driving cab (red lighs, white lights and interior lighting).


A detail about the manuals. Tams was one of the last manufacturer to deliver a printed manual with its decoder (in no less than 4 languages). In order to save costs, as we can all understand, they have recently opted out of the printed manual. However, instead of just offering up to date download links on their website, they deliver a 8cm mini CD-Rom.
This is a very weird choice, and completely out of date: it still costs money, and many people with modern computers without CD-Player (or with “slot-in” mechanisms) can’t read 8cm CD-ROMs.
Fortunately, Tams Elektronik recently updated their website, with the most recent manuals available as PDFs in all 4 languages: a very welcome update!

Tams FD-R Basic 2 decoder unboxing

Tams FD-R Basic 2 decoder unboxing

Anyway, the decoder is exactly as small as its predecessor. I ordered the version without wires, but versions with soldered wires are also available.


I installed my first FD-R Basic 2 in an old DMU from Arnold:

Tams FD-R Basic 2 soldered

Tams FD-R Basic 2 soldered

Tams FD-R Basic 2 in an Arnold DMU

Tams FD-R Basic 2 in an Arnold DMU

My problems began with programming. As its predecessor, the FD-R Basic 2 does not seem to confirm programming orders if a “big” load isn’t connected. In most cases in N scale, as for me, we now tend to connect LEDs that barely consume power. This means you will have to program the decoder “blindly”, hoping the orders were received, since the command station will show an error.

Other than that, the manual is extensive and the functions are quite diverse. One slightly annoying thing that got me confused, is that some CVs are not in a “human logical” order. For example, some CVs require Aux 2, then Aux 1 then Aux 3.


With a stable price, the FD-R Basic 2 function decoder may remain a good option in many cases for N and other scales.
However, the fact that they didn’t solve the programming limitations is frankly annoying. This is what drives the programming note down.
The choice of sending an 8cm instead of a printed manual (or no manual at all) is weird, since such CDs cannot be read on many modern computers. In any case, a plus point for the small manufacturer who finally updated their download page!


I always try to be fair and square when giving grades, see the details about the evaluation criteria here !

Reminder: I am a hobbyist and these articles only represent my personal views. I am not receiving any compensation, in any form, from the brands or stores mentioned here. The product names, marketing names, and brands mentioned here are the property of their respective owners.

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