DCC newbie questions

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by MasonJar, Jan 23, 2003.

  1. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    So I was lucky enough to drive a Bachmann Spectrum 2-8-0 equipped with a Soundtraxx decoder last weekend at the Ottawa HOTrak layout.

    So my questions now are:

    What would it take to set this up at home in terms of hardware required, decoders, wiring, etc. What is the cost of doing this for a 4x8 layout running 2-3 engines? Is it even worth it?

    Please provide as much detail as possible, since it takes a while for me to catch on...!


  2. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

    Hi Andrew,

    for a start read all the informations about DCC on the websites of the manufacturers.

    Try http://www.digitrax.com/faqindx.htm

    When you've read all that you can decide if you want DCC or not:D :D :D

  3. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Hi Ron,

    Thanks for your input. I had read most of what your link pointed to, and was now hoping for some real world experience. Digitrax (and other manufacturers) FAQs are often based on the assumption that you want DCC, but can't decide which set is best.

    I am wondering if it is really worth it at all for my small (4x8) layout with only a few engines. On the modular layout I wrote about (above) I can really see the benefits, since there were about 12- 15 trains running at once over several hundred feet of track. In my own little universe, I'm not so sure.

    Thanks again.

  4. msh

    msh Member

    Hey Mason,

    Look... don't listen to anyone else. Listen to and trust yourself most of all. If you believe you have:

    1) a good enough understanding of what DCC does
    2) considered systems based on features and how those features meet your needs, and THEN cost...

    If you want it, GO for it. Don't let anyone tell you you don't need DCC for a small layout - that's irrelevant. What YOU think is most important. You must realize most of the gang handing out this off hand advice left the 4x8 layout behind long ago and no longer accept that to be a usable layout size anymore. So what would you expect?

    I've got a 4x8, and though I will be expanding to 5x9 I still went with DCC from the start. Why or what I bought isn't important. It's just that I knew in my heart it was not only the coolest thing I had ever seen, but would make running trains that much more fun. And that's what this is all supposed to be about.

    Here's another link you may find helpful.
  5. Mike R

    Mike R Member

    Hello Andrew;
    MR has joined the DCC push. The March issue arrived here by mail yesterday [even though mail is down to dogsled now].
    There's a feature article, the editorial, and a new regular DCC column, also references to other books on DCC. You might find these of interest.
    You can: "Get started now for about $500"...of course that's about $760 Canadian....and I can't.

    Interesting to note: the back page MRC ad is for their second largest selling power packs, the Tech4 DC.
    The largest selling power pack by anyone, is the MRC Tech II standard DC.
    regards / Mike:D :D
  6. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member

    Garahbara MKII will be DCC. The reasons? I want to hear the choo choo choo and go TOOT at the push of a button. more than one loco on the same track with individual control going opposite directions, and plug it all into the pooter, just like the real ones. Passenger platform announcments and all. Which DCC? Dunno yet.:D
  7. DanRaitz

    DanRaitz Member


    There was a DCC buyers guide in the Nov 2001 issue of Model Railroader. It covered all the manufactures and systems then currently avail. As for going to DCC for a 4X8 layout, By all means, Yes. You can get into a basic DCC set for around $200.00. The Digitraxx "Zephyr" sells for $199.99 MSRP and it comes complete with controller and power supply. It does not come with a decoder, those you buy seperately. As for sound be prepared to pay a lot more, around $180.00 for a Soundtraxx decoder.

  8. msh

    msh Member

    Dan - I don't mean to appear rude and ask you forgive my candor, but in all honesty I don't believe anything dated November 2001 is going to be a good source for DCC information other than the theory behind it - even then only in a general sense.

    Buyer's guides, decoder listings/specifications and system listings/specifications are only valuable if they are up to date and reliable if they are current to the marketplace. I know I wouldn't go to a November 2001 issue of PC World for info on computers - which DCC components happen to be.
  9. Mike R

    Mike R Member

    msh provides me with yet another rationale for staying with DC,
    [not that I need another one], and that's the rapid obsolescence factor.
    One of my DC cabs is controlled by a 1980 MRC Tech II 2400, as good today as it was 23 years ago.
    To me, DCC is interesting, but I think the cost is prohibitive. I am admittedly an Old Dog, and my next layout, if there is one, might well be in an unused broom closet of a nursing home.:( :(

    Would anyone like to hazard a guess what it would COST me to convert to DCC based on the following:
    ( I have sold off a lot of equipment over the past few years, but have the following):

    A dual cab control layout, with Tech II and a Tech4 main cabs, each pack controls it's own MRC 8000 sound system. There are 12 speakers under the layout, switchable.
    In addition, there are two separate yard cabs with their own power packs.
    9 Athearn blue box diesels
    2 Atlas diesels
    2 Proto 2000 diesels
    1 Walthers diesel
    1 Bachmann diesel
    1 Bachmann gas electric
    1 IHC steamer
    1 Rivarossi steamer
    1 brass Olympia Gem steamer

    ....SOME THINGS ARE PRICELESS, for everything else there's Mastercard, debt, poverty, and famine.;) ;) :rolleyes: :rolleyes:
    regards / Mike:D
  10. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    I think if you want sound, you have to go with DCC. I think that now is the time to start, before you have a collection like Mike's or mine (at $50 a loco).
    It does make some things easier for when you get a bigger setup, but there can be conveniences now.
    Check our other threads on DCC. I suggest that you check with other modellers around; get a system that's locally popular and supported.

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