Please make this simple to understand...

Discussion in 'DCC & Electronics' started by vanda32547, Aug 24, 2004.

  1. vanda32547

    vanda32547 Member

    I am thinking about DCC control for a new layout I am building and am new to the whole DCC system. :rolleyes:

    Here are my questions;
    1. Do all DCC systems control turnouts, sound & lights from the engines?
    2. Does the sound come from the engines?
    3. Does the decoder in the engine do all of these things for me?
    4. What extras do I have to buy in order to
    1. Run about 6 trains
    2. Control turnouts
    3. Integrate track signals and crossings
    4. and finally have some cool sounds coming from my engines

    Attached is a rough drawing of my intended layout each square is 1 foot. Thanks for any clearification you can provide before I make this investment.


    Gosh... what a crappy picture this is :( but you get the idea.

    Attached Files:

  2. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Bob, I'm only familiar with Digitrax, all their systems will throw turnouts. I suspect all the others will as well. The switch machines are controlled by a stationary decoder, there are several you can choose from. Some for twin coil machines, others for slow motion motor types, some control more than one, some offer feedback to indicate which way the turnout is thrown, this can be used for signalling,etc. So all you are really doing is selecting the address of the stationary decoder and, with Digitrax throttles, selecting either thrown or closed, as I recall. I do not use this feature. Depending on how many turnouts you have, this can get pretty expensive. This is something I would consider if I had a dispatcher, as he would throw all turnouts and have readback on their status. Because I, so far, operate primarily with only one or two other people, I find it more satisfactory to install toggle switches in the fascia to control my slow motion motors and not deal with selecting a decoders address while running a loco and blowing for grade crossings, etc. Too much button pushing for me! And what engineer ever was able to throw switches from his cab? When I throw a mainline turnout, I pretend it was done by a dispatcher, otherwise I stop the train and allow time for the brakeman to throw the switch.

    The sound and lights, as well as the turnouts, are controlled from your throttle. The sound decoder and speaker are installed in the loco, or tender. Some people install sound in a freight car if they have small locos which will not accomodate a decoder/speaker. You need to improve the pick up on the freight car to get all wheel pickup, as sound that cuts out when travelling over turnouts is more annoying than pleasing. Yes, the sound will come from the engine if that is where you installed the speaker. You can check Tony's site for pictures of installations, that may help you understand.

    Extras: Decoder for each loco. Stationary decoders for throwing turnouts. Track signals and crossings is a topic unto itself. Digitrax offers a signalling system, check their pages.

    Now you're talking money. I strongly recommend that you stay away from this for now. Get to know the basics before committing any cash to this. There are other firms who make grade crossing signal activators and such, they will work with DC and DCC. They use infrared detectors and pcbs. This is really another subject altogether. I'm not sure which other DCC manufacturers offer what in regards to signalling.

    One last note about your track plan. It appears you have reverse loops at each turnback curve. Gap both rails at each end of both turnback curves, at least a train length long. connect the rails to the output of a reversing module, an extra I didn't mention above. The input of the module gets connected to the rail output of the DCC booster, or bus wire. This allows those crossovers to not be reverse blocks themselves, in other words the north rail of all trackage will be one polarity, the south rail the other. This is a bit different than what DC'ers are used to. I, or someone else, can explain this further if needed.You may want to read the Big book of DCC or similar material, it will help clear things up for you.
  3. CN1

    CN1 Active Member

    Congratulations on your choice! You'll love DCC :thumb:

    DCC system (irrespective of brand) will control the decoders. If the decoders is in the loco, it will control the loco directions, speed, momentum, lights (& light effects) and sounds.

    If the Decoder is a "stationary" one, it will control switches, semaphore signal, turntable and other accesories

    The sound will come from where you have installed the speaker. Most people install the speaker in the locomotive body.

    It depends on the decoder. Simplest one (and the cheapest) will control direction, speed, lights (on and off) and momentum. The more advance ones will control the same thing plus: various speed steps, ditch lights, strobes, dim lights, sounds and more..

    1-At least 6 Decoders and a DCC system
    2-Stationary decoders
    3-After-market block detection system or DCC manufacturer system
    4-Decoders with sound

    BTW nice layout diagram.

    Hope this help :wave:
  4. CN1

    CN1 Active Member

  5. CN1

    CN1 Active Member

  6. vanda32547

    vanda32547 Member

    Thanks for all the great info. Here is another question...can I buy locomotives with decoders already installed so they work right out of the box?

    How does the cost compare to doing it myself? (Keep in mind I am an electronics klutz)

  7. CN1

    CN1 Active Member


    Some locomotive do have the Decoder already installed (with or without sound) but the cost is more then "do-it-yourself". If you have the $$$ and are not keen on instaling the Decoders yourself, this may be the way to go.
  8. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    A quick look at Tony's site shows average $40 higher price for locos with decoders installed ove the same loco without decoder. Probably a $15.00 decoder, so he's charging $25 to do the install. Buy a loco with decoder installed, check it out then you'll be in a position to decide what you'll do in the future.

  9. Bikerdad

    Bikerdad Member

    Manufacturers are beginning to install decoders into locos from the factory. In N-Scale, only Atlas is doing this, in HO a variety of companies are doing it. HO locos can also be had with sound installed already as well, but to my knowledge, no N locos are thus equipped. On the stationary side of the house, scale doesn't matter.

    So, your options are constrained somewhat by your chosen scale, which you didna indicate.
  10. aluesch01

    aluesch01 New Member

  11. fifer

    fifer Active Member

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