DCC or DC to power trains

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by Edavillenut, Mar 11, 2003.

  1. Edavillenut

    Edavillenut Member

    i can not decide what to use DCC or DC track power. can you help me decide. any and all help would be great
  2. DanRaitz

    DanRaitz Member

    After using DCC. I won't go back to using DC. There is so much more flexibilty with DCC.

  3. Clerk

    Clerk Active Member

    In my opinion, if you can afford the DCC stuff, go for it. It is well worth it. The biggist hang up is $$$ for most people including me.
  4. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    I started "modeling" as a kid in the late fifties, I went DCC 3 or 4 years ago, it is the best thing that has happened in the hobby, ever. No, there is nothing wrong with DC. And the most impelling reason to go DCC is not simpler wiring. Heck wiring for even complex DC layouts is not difficult, there can just be quite a bit of it. The # 1 reason for going DCC is the freedom it offers for operation. I never cared for flipping block switches, and I have to say I suspect those who say flipping those switches is part of the fun, or gets them more involved in the operation, are rationilizing their dislike for DCC. I can't say for sure, but I think the biggest reason some people hold DCC in contempt is fear of the unknown. This is not to say there aren't valid reasons to be against DCC, primarily cost, and to a lesser extent, having to install decoders in the locos. But if the hesitancy is concern about the "complexity" of DCC, you can take it from me, it is no problem. Regulars here know I consider myself computer illiterate. Yet I bought Digitrax, supposedly the most user unfriendly of all the systems. I have no problems. Realize that the basic functions, selecting the loco you want to run, speed and direction controls and sound effects are incredibly easy. I had some trouble remembering how to consist locos at first, had to look in the manual. Like anything else, it becomes routine. The complexity comes when you want more than the basics, for instance block detection or throwing turnouts from your throttle. Now you start having as much wire as DC systems, plus programming. A lot of you would have no problem with the programming, but I avoid it. I only program addresses, starting voltages and sound effects in my locos.

    Bottom line I think is if you can afford it, go DCC. I'll never go back.
  5. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way


    On another forum I asked a simple question regarding the quality of DC in more expensive DC power packs. I got well over 100 responses most trying to convince me to go DCC. None answered my original question. There were two schools of thought, and they bickered between themselves. My stance was that I wanted to learn MRR from the ground up and I couldn't do that if I jumped into DCC from the get-go. I went out a bought a really good DC power pack, a Tech 4/350 that was on sale for $65. I took measurements to see how well it worked and played with all its features. I was so impressed I went and bought a second one. Now I can run a railroad, once I learn how to set up my blocks:rolleyes: I posted my findings on that forum since no one really answered my qestion, I figured they didn't know. What I got back was a lot more bickering and basically I was told I was foolish and could have gone to DCC for a bit more money buying used equipment, even though I said I didn't want to go in that direction right away.

    The point is that I can always go DCC when and if I want, but right now I can get the experience that I think I need first. One thing, I've got a good 40 years in computers and digital control systems so I'm not shy or lacking in this area; and DCC is intriguing but not essential for me right now. Because I bought good power controllers, I can always sell them if I want, but if I do go DCC I'll probably keep them and run one layout while I build a new one. Hey, the grandkids need something to keep them busy when they come here.:D

  6. RaiderCTE

    RaiderCTE Member

    reason for me going dc

  7. Mike R

    Mike R Member

    Shawn, good luck with whatever you choose, but a poll in a model RR forum isn't maybe the best avenue by which to accumulate data, and base a decision. It just gets too polarized, and the percentage of model railroaders actually participating, is so small as to be meaningless. Like 45 hobbyists out of 500,000!

    I'm a confirmed old DC guy, cab control, and would never change for more than one reason...not the least of which is the continuing obsolescence of DCC systems. Every year there's some thing "better", which becomes the NEW "must-have" system. ;) :eek: At my age I don't need this, and I've always liked common-rail cab control anyway.

    My old MRC Tech II and Tech 4 DC packs never go obsolete, the Tech II is 23 years old now, and works just like new. :cool:

    However, for a lot of people DCC is great, and I'm glad they can get what they like. :D ...You might like it too !

    This topic has been sliced, diced, and kind of done-to-death over on the Atlas forum more than once. It can get lengthy and feature a lot of windage.Whatever you hear, there's no bad system. they are both good, depending on personal preferences.

    :D :D Good luck & regards / Mike
  8. Dave Flinn

    Dave Flinn Member

    DCC or DC

    I voted for DCC, but I have to put in the disclaimer that I do not yet have anything operating. I plan to use DCC, and all my locomotives are already equipped for it. Since I am "starting from scratch", it makes sense to go DCC for the flexibility and control. If I had an extensive DC layout already in operation, I probably would hesitate before making any change.
  9. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Shawn, Ron has a good point about a poll not being a particularly good way to go about deciding. However, you will get useful info from the responces. Now, I have seen the heated postings on other forums on this subject and there is no reason it has to be that way. While I endorse DCC, I tried to make sure I didn't criticize DC in my post. Both are valid operating systems. I tried to tell what I thought the advantages of DCC are. And this post is mainly to ask Ron just what obsolescence he is talking about in regard to DCC systems. Yes, there were (are) obsolescence problems with the early command control systems, (non DCC) which were all proprietry, and leaves the buyer high and dry when the manufacturer gives up the ghost. I am only familiar with Digitrax, and anything bought when the line first came out is compatable with anything you can buy today. I am not aware of any problems with obsolescence and would like to know if that is the case.

    Again, I am only offering my opinion because it was asked for, I will respond to any statements made which I think are incorrect, I will either learn something or someone else will, but all will benefit. I have no reason to care which way anyone goes, but want the statements made here to be as factual as possible.
  10. Mike R

    Mike R Member

    Hi Gary.
    In the interests of "keeping things factual here", my name is Mike....not Ron........:rolleyes:

    Perhaps obsolescence was an inappropriate choice of terms, but I think it fits with DCC systems. The mere fact that every year, "better and better" systems, decoders, what have you,
    are released, means older systems become obsolete. It doesn't mean they won't WORK...it means there are " better ones" available.......so get your $$$ out yet again!! :(
    This is progress, or "planned" obsolescence, but this is only my opinion.

    It's the same thing with every box of microchips out there...the computer I'm typing this on, was new in 2000, and was very well thought of, in terms of speed and capability THEN.
    Now, a technogeek would consider it an archaic box of junk, not much better than a Commodore 64. ;) ;) :D

    My old Tech II from 23 years ago isn't obsolete, it's state of the art for me, and I doubt it'll ever be improved upon.

    Most of us have ordinary toasters and table lamps...they don't become obsolete BECAUSE they are so low-tech, and they do the job for which they were designed, just fine. :D

    Regards, Mike, not Ron,
    Playing with his Electric Trains,
    And keeping his stick on the ice.:D :D
  11. Partsman

    Partsman Member

    My lack of modelling experience makes me a relative 'newborn' to building a working layout. I have so many basics to learn that I am not even considering DCC.

    The basic model train layout is enough for me. After all, they are NEVER finished are they?:D
  12. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    DCC all the way!

    Here's a little news flash from MRR magazine that may influence your decision - the next generation of DCC engines will have user-controlled couplers. How cool will that be?

    Like you I'm just starting out so we have the luxury of choice. A lot of people who have a sizeable investment of time and money in DC are sticking with it. That makes perfect sense. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

    But if you're just getting started I'd say go with DCC. It's easier to wire, and imho easier to control. You're driving the train, not the track which is a lot more direct.

    DCC technology is in its infancy right now. Announced at the Nuremburg Toy Show, they're coming out with user-controlled uncoupling now - just imagine what's next! You don't wanna miss out on all that fun do you?

    :D Val
  13. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    OK Mike (sorry about the wrong name!) Now I see what you mean. Yes, the decoders available now have more features but that has not induced me to replace the ones I use. When you compare it to computers I can easily see your thought. Bear in mind that I am indeed computer illiterate, but I think the main thing that makes your brandy new computer obsolete in six months is speed, isn't it? And I often get frustrated waiting for my dial up connection to load the photos and such I want to see on the Gauge and elsewhere. So I understand why the obsolescence came to mind. However, concerning the decoders, what has been added are features like additional lighting functions (mars lights, strobes, ditch lights) which indeed would require replacing your old decoders if you want those functions. I guess I haven't given them a thought because I model the 50's, don't need all that. Also, newer decoders offer back emf, a type of cruise control, if you pay heed to those who write into the DCC forums at Yahoo, you can't live without them. My "old" generation decoders give me as good or better control than I had on DC, and I had good MRC power packs. So I'm not inclined to replace existing decoders for that reason either. As I can afford it, I am replacing some decoders with Soundtrax ones, but the old decoders find their way into some of my older units, which had been in boxes previously. $$ are a good reason to carefully consider the decision to go DCC. I, like so many others in the hobby for so many years, have a large collection of older locos. My favorites I installed decoders in, the others remain in boxes. With so many really good models available the past several years, I am not so inclined to have to install decoders in my older units. We all seem to have a love affair with locos, and tend to buy them in quantities weel beyond our requirements. Those who want to be able to run 30 or more locos as soon as they convert to DCC will indeed have to have a large bank account. But I did mine a couple at a time, it's been almost 4 years I think and I now have about 25 locos with decoders. More than enough to operate the layout to its full capacity, but yes I have many others waiting for the day I'm willing to part with some more cash.

    I really do not mean any offense by my previous posting, please forgive me if I did offend you. I did indeed take your comment about obsolescence to mean that certain components may become useless. Sorry
  14. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    one more thing....

    regarding the "obsolescence factor", I think that just because a technology is getting better all the time is no reason to shun it. If my DCC system (which I have yet to buy) gets superceded by something better a year from now, I can either upgrade or not depending on available funds and how bad I want the new feature. There may be something better out there in the future, but that doesn't mean I can't still run trains with what I have. In fact, that applies to DC vs DCC as much as DCC now or later.

    I admit that planned obsolesence especially in computer hardware and software ticks me off sometimes, but what the heck - I don't have to upgrade. In fact I don't unless it becomes absolutely necessary - like say I can no longer open the files clients send me. In the graphics biz many companies have become reluctant to upgrade -- they have a huge investment and the downtime revamping the network can be prohibitive. Again, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

    yep, I do go on don't I? LOL!

    :D Val
  15. Partsman

    Partsman Member

    You make a valid point, Val, but I won't be swayed from my present course.

    I'm an old curmudgeon, remember. :D
  16. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    C'mon, Don, dontcha see what's happening here? Your not having any fun at all, you just think you are. They boyz on altlas know what's most fun for you, and that's for you to be just like them! :D :D :D God love the gauge, where fun is self defined and encouraged!

    My 2 cents would be, go cheap, get the cheapest reasonable throttle you can get, then decide after your layout is far enough along to decide. That's what I'm doing. I'll put the money into it when there will be some real payback. You can get a cheap used one, even an old old copper MRC for $5 off e-bay will work, and if the trains run too fast, you can just put a 12 Volt lamp across the output.

    You can use these old babies as a bulk supply, a box and a knob to build you own using one of the circuits on N-gaugers link. The other parts are peanuts, the supply and box are the most expensive components in a DYI throttle.

    If you're not that adventuresome, you could get a modern used one, or a cheap new one. You can always use it for a test loop as time progresses. It will not be money wasted.

    My second choice, for me, jon, the guy that loves modeling and doesn't know squat about operations, jon's second choice, would be to get a very good DC, like a high end MRC with momentum, brakes and maybe even sound.

    If you later go DCC or want better DC, you can always sell whatever is left to recoup part of the expenditure, but you will probably want to keep a DC or two around if you go DCC.
  17. Mike R

    Mike R Member

    Gary...no need to apologize to me at all....I wasn't in the least offended, and whenever I use a bunch of "smilies", like ;) :eek: :D , I'm just nudge-nudge-wink-winking at the topic, and the participants.
    Also, I wasn't trying to beat up on your point of view....I was raised on sarcasm being an art form, and it doesn't always play well in emails or forum posts.:( :(

    Now Val....do I want to miss the fun of DCC auto-uncoupling ?
    You bet I do, I want to try and stay true-to-prototype, so that means uncoupling by hand. [:D]

    Radio-remote scares me too...I'd be worried that if I had RC/battery locomotives on a garden layout, some neighbour opening his garage door, might inadvertently put my 2-6-0 into the turntable pit ! [;)]

    Note to those seeking prototype operations: Those modelling
    Canadian Pacific, in Ontario, in 2003 will be pleased to know that bad trackwork, poor wheels, and other derailment-inducing areas of concern, can now be ignored, as frequent derailments are normal on the real thing.:eek: :eek:
    Next up:....DCC-controlled toxic gas releases from the tank cars.:rolleyes:

    regards / Dinosaur Club ( DC ) Mike
    ...AND way to go, jon:D
  18. scoobyloven

    scoobyloven Member

    well guys

    as for me i have to go with dcc with the size of layout i have now plus the add on it is alot less work in wireing the thing i know in modle railroad craftsman they been doing a long study on dcc and with my own layout i switched it over i had wire running every where for blocks, revers loops, power feeds for the yards and everything else i took my old control panel and put it up after i went to dcc i also have a small box of wire that i no longer needed after the switch but with the add on i use the wire and later this year when i start on my brothers layout that wire will come in handy he wants to go with dc i think dcc is better in alot more ways if you can fit it into the budget of your layout .my 8 year old loves to run the trains on my layout when he is home he gose to grandpa's and runs his and he has dc he tell him to switch over to dcc my 8 year old hates to sit at one spot and flip switches as a train comes into that block he loves to get right up to the layout as the train passes and with a push of a button on the controler the train does what he wants with out going to the other side of the layout and then running back to where he was to see the train roll passed.

    but as for the ones just starting out in this hobby if the budget lets you go with dcc

    (but to all his own on witch way they power there layout )
  19. ezdays

    ezdays Out AZ way


    Yep, I guess I'm prepared not to have fun having chosen the route I have. :D :D

    I already had downloaded schematics for a DC throttle and started to build two, but when I found this Tech 4, I couldn't do as good a job for that kind of money, and I know I have most of the parts already. Besides, my wife is much better at electronic assembly than I am and I couldn't convince her that building throttles and power packs were in her best interest as well as mine:rolleyes:

    I usually subscribe to the ABC theory of buying (Always Buy Cheap), but in this case I think I went first class for a change.

    When I was kid we didn't have much in the way of toys, so in spite of what they think over there at Atlas, it doesn't take much to make me happy.

    Yes, yes, here's to The Gauge, live and let live, to each his own, mother, apple pie and.... opps, sorry, I got carried away...:eek:

    D:cool: N
  20. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

    This is Ron now with his 2¢ worth, not Mike! :D :D :D

    I'm back in model railroading after almost 30 years pause, and only a few weeks ago I laid my first few meters of track. So I dug out my archaic DC throttle, hooked it up with two wires - and away we went.

    Point 1: Mike is right - old DC throttles never die. They are easy to use and reliable. And I remember that on my old layout in the 70's part of the fun really was the switching work for allocating the blocks to the trains. (Gary note: I'm NOT rationalizing my disklike for DCC! :D )

    BUT: Of course I also dream of the possibility to command several locos independently from the same walkaround throttle. 30 years back there simply was no way of doing that. Block control was the way to go - period!
    Oh well, I know quite a bit about computing - and that's why I consider DCC to be a well thought-out system. (My kudos to the NMRA team which set up these standards! Their concept is easy and clear and therefore older decoders etc hardly ever can become obsolete.)

    Point 2: Gary is right - DCC offers fantastic possibilities without the need for constant updating (like computers :mad: ).

    So where does that leave Shawn (and me)? I think it would be best to compare both systems, trying both out. Shawn, try to find other modelers (or perhaps friendly hobby shops) where you can get the 'feeling' for both systems by hands-on experience.

    As for me: I already know DC, so I looked for an opportunity to run a DCC loco. And a few days back I had the chance to run some trains on a DCC layout. I confess, I am hooked! BUT: The big minus of DCC is the cost of it. Others pointed that out - and they are right. I don't have many engines,but even so the conversion sums up to a substantial amount. :(

    Best thing is that you can run both systems together. So I'll stay with DC for the next time. Then, after buying the basic elements of DCC (have to scratch the needed bucks together first :rolleyes: ) I'll follow the philosophy of Gary: Conversion of my locos one by one, leaving the rest in the boxes (or on a side track as a scenery item :D). With a little bit of planning this should work out - in how much time I don't know! But who cares, there's no deadline ahead!


    PS: Somehow the hissing and spitting in OTHER forums between DCers and DCCers reminds me of the 'holy wars' between the Apple- and Windows-users: Non-productive, useless and outright childish. :mad: What a relieve to have an objective discussion here! Thank you all and let's keep it that way! :)

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