DCC uses and suggestions

Discussion in 'DCC & Electronics' started by JKountz, Jan 12, 2006.

  1. JKountz

    JKountz Member

    Im trying to determine if a DCC setup is the way to go for me and Im hoping maybe some of the good folks here could offer a tip or two.
    Im doing a Civil War ear layout so things like signal lights and the such of course wont apply. I would like to have a light on my locomotives and I''l have a small campfire on the layout as well that will glow. What Im wondering is since I will have two trains, North and South, running on this layout together would I need DCC?? Also can I control things like the lights on the train and my little campfire with the controller? Im looking at the MRC Prodigy Express outfit. Suggestions?

    Thanks All!!

  2. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member


    One of the big advantages of DCC is that you can have as many locos on the track as you like, and they are all controlled independantly. i.e. going in opposite directions, one stopped, the other going, & vice versa. Drive one up behind the other, then move the other one off etc etc etc.

    One of the basic features of DCC is being able to turn the headlight on/off independantly of the whether the loco is moving or not. Even the headlight will automatically switch to the other end of the loco (for deisels etc) when you change direction (even if the loco is stationary, just change direction, without moving the loco off, and the headlight automatically turns on at the other end). Standard features for lights can be a number of things. You can have a "rotating" beacon-light (simulated) on top, as well as a headlight, or ditchlights that flash, all on/or off at once. or "rule 17????" where you can dim the headlight on approach to stations etc, as the real loco drivers must do.

    There is also a setting to have a light in "firebox" mode (for steam locos) which emulates a fire flicker. If you wish to have a lineside "fire", then just use a cheap decoder (without a loco) and wire up "function 3" and set it to "firebox flicker". All controlled from your single cab controller that controls all the locos etc. :thumb: You may want to use the other functions (1 & 2) which are usally for loco headlights (front & rear), as camp lights (lanterns) around your campsite, which can be turned on/off as you would the loco headlight, just you ain't got a loco there, that's all. :).
  3. JKountz

    JKountz Member

    Wow Woodie thats all very exciting!! Thanks for the in depth information, it sounds like I absolutely want DCC for the layout. How bout switch tracks (remote controlled of course) can you do this from the DCC controller too?

    Thanks again!

  4. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member


    I assume you are aware how to set turnouts electrically? With a switch and "switch machine", which moves the turnout lever for you, to turn the turnout.

    With DCC, there are "stationary" decoders. These are special decoders that are for operating equipment. With DCC, each decoder is assigned a number. (be that decoder in a loco or not). You select the "number" on your controller, then operate that decoder, be it in a loco, or "stationary". Speed the loco up, or slow it down, turn the headlight on/off etc.

    A "stationary" decoder has, usually, 4 functions, each with an on/off type of functionality, or apply power for a specified amount of time. What you use each function for, is up to you. the decoder will have a wire attached to it for each function.

    So you can select stationary decoder No 5, and function 1, and hook the decoder wire output up to the turnout motor. **click** and the turnout switches, or you may have it wired to the boom gates and flashing lights of your level crossing.

    Then you can select decoder No 6 (which may be your loco) and move the loco off to where you want it. If you then select decoder No 7, which may be another loco, the previous loco will continue on running, at the previously set speed, while you operate the other loco. Then select decoder No 8 (which may be your lineside camp) and turn the fire "on". Go back to the turnouts decoder, and switch another turnout..... and so on.

    DCC has constant full power applied to the track, and it's the decoder in each loco that varies the current, or turns power on/off to the wires leading from the decoder to the motor, or lights or whatever.

    DCC does this by sending computer commands along the track that the decoder picks up. The commands are in computer language, but look something like this.

    'decoder No 1' - 'set direction forward' - 'set speed 50%' and the loco with decoder No 1 in it will move off at 50% of full speed in a forward direction. You will have selected decoder No 1, then pressed the "forward" direction button on the controller, and turned the knob to half way. The controller generates the computer commands for you.

    So, for instance, your lineside camp may be decoder No 4.

    The command would be: 'decoder No 4' - 'turn function 1 on' - 'set light mode to firebox' and this will turn the fire at your lineside camp on. On your controller, you would select decoder 4, then push 1 on the number keypad. push 1 again to turn it off.

    Get the idea? :thumb:

    You can even take this all a step further, and plug the whole thing into your computer, and have a computer program, with a screen just like the driver controls of a loco on your screen, and move the controls with your mouse to drive your locos etc. There are computer programs around that do this.
  5. JKountz

    JKountz Member

    Do I get the idea? Perfectly clear Woodie, thanks again you should be a teacher! Maybe you are but I have a better understanding of DCC now than I did when I talked to my LHS owner and Ive talked to him twice about it. Hes a bit "old school" and a little slow to warm up to these "new fangled things" so he didnt help much. Now with your explanation I know exactly what I want to do with the system and what to look for when I buy one. Thanks again, you've been a huge help!


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