DCC or DC for my layout,hmmm

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by jhh72, Apr 10, 2007.

  1. jhh72

    jhh72 New Member

    Any suggestions about should i use a DCC for this design or DC,,I am from the old school and have absolutely no idea about DCC and how to wire this layout yet it sounds very usefull and interesting but like anything new,what brand to go for??!! stresses me sign1 However with DC i can make my own 5 amp walkaround h/helds (or look at whats available nowadays) and clearly plan my wiring to run up to 4 seperate individual trains and just let them go. ..my main goal is simply to have 2 HO running on bottom level,,middle level has outer ring dual gauge so i can run HO or swap over for some HOn3 perhaps now running the other way..and top level is all HOn3.As well as another train that runs between middle and top levels as both levels have reversing loops and i note using DC i would have to manually run this train between both levels etc.Im not one much for switching/shunting in yards etc or getting into running 2 or more on the one track,rather enjoy creating the layout,and have on display as mentioned at the annual model train show..and just let the running of all the trains occur with minimal control and mingle with everyone etc..i just remember when at these shows with the club it was more a practice to keep the trains running for the public,,naturally one would use the DC systems to stop at platforms,,,change tracks etc,,have a play now and then but it was continual train running for the eager kids and adult kids out the front.I know same can be had with DCC system[​IMG] but for my running descriptions/requirments is it overkill?

    Cheers Jas.

    Link to my layout design post http://www.the-gauge.com/showthread.php?t=27531
  2. Chad

    Chad Member

    In December, I went with DC on mine because it had been 23 years since I messed with model trains, DCC looked expensive and confusing and my 3 old loco's of course are DC. I have kept DCC in mind and anything that I purchase will be DCC compatible/upgradeable just in case. I also designed my layout so that it would be easy to add another section ;)

    If I were to make the same decision today? I think I would go DCC.
  3. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    DCC is easier to set up for automated train running if there is any shared trackage at all. And DCC auto reversers for reversing loops are readily available. Stationary decoders for throwing turnouts, computer interfaces, and software for running the railroad are all available now.

    The project can certainly be done in DC (and the required logic can be implemented in software or even hard-wired in relays), but you will have to build and integrate some of the components.

    Simple DCC throttles can be handed to "guests" to operate, perhaps more easily than a DC throttle. By pre-setting CVs appropriately you can limit top speeds of the trains. If somebody gets out of control, lay a coin across the rails!

    DCC will also be more expensive unless you buy all the DC components commercially, but will require considerably less labor on your part. All the necessary components are already available for DCC ready to use, and integrate well.

    just my thoughts
  4. jhh72

    jhh72 New Member

    ok thanks for the replies,im in the process of looking at the pros and cons of DCC versions,liking gaugemaster at the moment but have a few more to look at.Can my exisitng DC locos be easily converted to DCC? is it just a case of installing any brand of decoder out there that works wth the chosen DCC command station?i dont have to start changing motors etc?With a DCC ready loco bought new that means all is done and no decoders to fit etc just set a code and way you go?Is there a DCC wiring guru member that could give me a heads up on wiring traps to look out for on my layout at all? Im happy to go to a dedicated book as such for DCC model railroading to learn etc..

    Cheers Jason(Aus)
  5. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    Jason, I am not a dcc guru but one thing you said caught my eye. Dcc ready is not the same as dcc equiped. Dcc ready is supposed to mean you can plug in a controller and your done. Dcc equiped means it already has the controller installed.
    Hope that helps.

  6. baldwinjl

    baldwinjl Member

    I'll try to answer the questions, I'm not an expert, but I've got some experience, and I've read a lot.

    Wiring the layout is going to be much, much, easier for DCC than for DC. Operating multiple trains is easier still. There's no question that it will cost more, but it will not be as much more as is somtimes claimed. All of the switches and other things that you won't need do cost money, and it adds up.

    Converting can be a challenge, but it usually isn't that hard. I work in N scale, and installed a decoder in an RS-3 a couple of weeks ago. There isn't any room in there, and it was still doable. The good thing is that in most cases someone has been there before, and you can get guidance. Most if not all newer locos are pretty easy, the decoder either plugs right in, or (at least in N scale) is a replacement for the factory light board.

    Here is a link http://www.tonystrains.com/tonystips/dccprimer/index.htm to a document that gives a good beginner's overview. Obviously there's more than one way to do almost anything, but it is a good start.

  7. baldwinjl

    baldwinjl Member

    Something I meant to mention:
    All decoders (any brand) should work with any DCC system. That's the side of the system that the NMRA standards govern. The throttle/controller side is different for each system (though there are some areas where some systems cross, due to common heritage). The Digitrax Zephyr and NCE PowerCab are two 'entry' level systems often recommended. MRC's line has improved substantially recently. Lenz is also popular, and was one of the first. EasyDCC (CVP) also has a significant following.
  8. Torpedo

    Torpedo Member

    Here is another good web site on DCC, particularly this section.
  9. djk

    djk New Member

    Go DCC

    I am new to trains and went with DCC. I am very glad. A friend of mine with a 30 year old DC system is envious. I bought NCE Power Pack for $140, have been running two diesels (A+B), and two steam engines with absolutely no problems. All are new and therefore efficient from a current draw standpoint. I have 14 switches and all are wired with Tortouse. With DCC I can change any number of switches at once with one command so putting the train on a siding with 4 switches is a piece of cake. Changing polarity is a non issue with the purchase of a $40 devise. Some of the old-timers don't like DCC because there is a "computer" involved. Well, if you can run a TV remote, you can run the NCE. I highly recommend DCC.

    Good luck.
  10. rogerw

    rogerw Active Member

    I 2nd 3rd 4th that ,what ever number we are at.dcc rocks
  11. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    If you are going to run 4 trains simultaneously, you will need 4 throttles. 4 throttles big enough to run a multiple unit train will cost more than the cost of some dcc starter sets, unless you buy used throttles. Wireing the layout with dcc is much easier than putting in power blocks, and operation is a lot easier since you just run your train and don't have to worry about flipping block control switches.

    As far as hooking up dcc to your old engines, it depends on what your old engines are. If they are old Athearn, they are easy. You just disassemble them and reverse the brass ckips that hold the motor together so that the one on the bottom that makes the connection to the frame is on the top and the top one is on the bottom. Put a piece of electrical tape over the frame where the motor mounts to insulate the motor from the frame. You should receive instructions with any decoder that will tell you which wires ti hook where. You hook the power wires to the correct wires in the decoder. Hook the correct wires from the decoder to the motor, and then hook up the correct wires from the decoder to the lights. All of the wire colors are given in the instructions.
  12. djk

    djk New Member

    I am running four trains with only one NCE throttle. You simply enter the number of the engine that you want to "talk" to and give that engine commands. The other engines keep doing what they were doing. There is even a toggle button to go back and forth between two engines quickly.
  13. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    That might work with trains running on separate tracks, or for someone who multitasks better than I do. I tried running two trains on a dc layout where they were running in opposite directions on a double track main, but a double crossover switch I had was all one block, so I had to switch polarity when the trains crossed the double crossover and make sure that they both were not on the crossover at the same time. I was forever having trains come to the crossover and find wrong polarity. Controlling four trains at once on the same track where they could run into each other with one controller is more than I would want to try, but then trying to keep track of four controllers on four trains running simultaneously is beyond my capabilities as well.
  14. jhh72

    jhh72 New Member

    Great feedback everyone,,really appreciate you all taking the time to reply..very helpfull to hear other opions and i have checked out the links to DCC .....i am strongly leaning towards DCC over DC..i agree that running this layout will be a lot simpler with DCC..not have to worry about using 4-5 DC controllers and all the blocks!.My locos are a brass Hallmark 4-8-2,rivarossi 2-8-2 and 4-6-2,,bachman 2-6-2,some AHM dels,,a brass 2-6-0(old western era) a tiny little tank brass 0-4-0 all HO oh and a mantua Hudson that needs some cosmetic repair and all the drivegear replaced!! got this for $1 at garage sale.As yet no HOn3 purchased so ill be buying all ready to go stuff etc for that guage..

    I really like the look of the NCE equipment..thinking of the 5amp version..handhelds designed nicely etc,,although im yet to literally see and hold one,,actually any DCC systen yet :)
  15. jhh72

    jhh72 New Member

    actually so far for me its between the NCE and the MRC Prodigy.....
  16. baldwinjl

    baldwinjl Member

    Which Prodigy?
  17. jhh72

    jhh72 New Member

    The Prodigy Advanced wireless.Also i noted the NCE PH-pro R is a 5amp version whereas advance is 3.5 if one wants more amperage..both wireless.
  18. stanC

    stanC Member

    Help with decoders and throttle

    Also as a person thinking of changing to DCC I have read with interest your reply. Please can you clarify the different throttle systems. I read that the decoder is universal. If so does it make a difference what throttle system I buy. The Locomotive is an old HO LIMA engine so I will have to add a decoder
  19. baldwinjl

    baldwinjl Member

    Let me try to be more clear.....
    All decoders are (should be) compatible with all systems. There may be issues with access to some functions based on the number of functions that a particular system uses. You'll always be able to run the train, but on some newer (usually sound) decoders there may be functions that don't have a button.

  20. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    Old/older locomotives will require work beyond just adding a DCC decoder since the power in DCC comes through the decoder and then to the motor, the existing wiring must be changed and the motor isolated from the rails. The electrical pickup is still through the rails but goes to the decoder where directional control and speed signals are added and sent to the motor. Although I have never tried an old open frame motor conversion, I have heard that the older types of motors don't do well with DCC. Maybe someone else can clarify this.
    As for layout wiring, its much simpler with DCC. Your situation sounds like you could go either way until you suddenly decide that you want to run those trains together on the same track. If you have existing DC power supplies for all of your trains, you have quite an investment in them. If you do go DC and have to buy three or four DC power supplies, you will have the price of a good starter DCC system. Research before you decide.

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