Progress, I Guess??

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by Bob Collins, Feb 1, 2002.

  1. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member


    Allow me to ask a couple of questions.

    For instance you mention that one component of the DCC system is a powerpack. Can I use something like the one I have an MRC Tech II Railmaster 2400 as my power source or do I need one specifically designed for DCC?

    I assume that somewhere there are diagrams about wiring al, this together (power, boosters, loop modules, etc.). Can you point me to a good source. It may be on one of the websites you recommended and I just didn't see it or recognize it. I have looked through the series on DCC in the RMC and there is a lot of interesting info, but most more technical that interests me right now.

  2. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    I belong to the Lake County Model Railroad club, in Wauconda, Il., and we have converted the club layout to DCC. It beats dispatched block control six ways to Sunday.
    DCC keeps constant power on the rails, and control is through individual decoders in the locos. To quote the DCC buzzwords " control the trains not the track".
    In the case of a loop, there are devices which detect a loco in the loop, and automaticly switch power polarity. to prevent shorting. The polarity of the rails does not affect the direction the loco moves in, that"s controlled by the decoder. If you preferred, a double pole double throw switch could also be used to switch the loop power, or it could be activated via the turnout control.
    The only drawback with DCC (aside from expense) is the extremely high probability of cornfield meets if you are operating several trains at once. DCC is so much like real, that if you are the engineer, and are distracted, you will run into the train ahead of you.
    We have several decent grades on the club layout, and helper service is sometimes needed. It is a real trick to bring another loco up behind and provide a push. I would not recommend using an engine with traction tires for helper service.
    Finally, with dispatched block control, we could usually run 3, maybe four trains on the layout. With DCC we have run eleven trains at one time. It's crazy, but it can be done.
  3. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member

    I have a question of any of you willing to tackle it. It has to do with one of my very favorite model railroading subjects......reverse loops :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

    I was reading about the modules available to use with DCC for reverse loops where they are activated when the first engine truck crosses into the reverse loop area. Could you also use the same module if you we just block wired> I ask because I have made up my mind to go the DCC route, but if I could install the modules now I would at least be able to use those loops while I was getting the other equipment bought and paid for :D

    It appears fro a diagram I found in one of the books I have that the module is basically wired on both tracks on both sides of the insulated break s in the tracks and I can't figure out what, if any DCC requirements enter into the equation.


  4. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Bob, An interesting question and one I am not sure of the answer for. Until you asked, it had never occured to me that these modules might work with DC. I would think that if they did, they would be advertised as such. The DCC voltage on the rails is actually square wave AC, not DC. The best way to get a quick accurate answer to this would be to call Tony's at 800-978-3472.

    As to your other question about power supply(not powerpacks), yes, you can use the output of a DC power pack to supply the power for a DCC system, however you will not be able to fully utilize the systems abilities, as you will if you get a supply of 5 or more amps. The standard spec for Digitrax is 5 amp output, 8 is available. Both Tony's and Loys Toys sell power supplies designed for DCC, they are worth buying. They include circuit breakers for both input and output, you just need to wire and mount the components. I routinely operate 8-10 locos at a time(with a little help from my friends) along with lighted passenger cars this would probably not be possible if I were using an MRC power pack as a supply.

    As far as wiring goes, the best site I think is, also check the links from the Digitrax site, there are links to Don Crano and Allen Gartner, both are very informative. The power supply wiring is straightforward, realize you are working with 120 volts, so be sure all connections are insulated and mechanically sound. Either of the supplies I mentioned should come with a wiring diagram. For Digitrax, the Loconet wiring consists of 6 conductor telephone cable and modular jacks. You can buy the cable and connectors and crimp them yourself, or do as I do and just buy assembled cables of the length you need from Tony's. With Digitrax, the command station and booster are one unit, there are two jacks on the unit. You can plug throttle into these and be done, or you can use one for running Loconet all around the layout, installing utility panels wherever appropriate. Utility panels allow you to plug in a throttle. Standard throttles are infrared able, so a infrared receiver, which looks very much like the utility panel, can be attached to Loconet anywhere. The only other wiring is the track power, which, being capaable of 5 amps, should be large enought o handle this load. I have seen recommendations of using 12 gauge wire for a bus, with 22 gauge feeders from the bus to the rails. I used 14 gauge and have not experienced any problems.

  5. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member

    Well, as someone earlier put it so elequently, I dun went an did it!

    Bought my DCC equipment and have the notification it will be shipped tomorrow.

    With Gary's encouragement and excellent advice I bought the Digitrax Super Chief II with a power pack and several decoders for the two Bachman Spectrum steamers I have. Also bought a reversing loop mechanizm that will greatly assist me in that department.

    So, I will be watching for the UPS man about day after tomorrow and I'll be off and running ( I hope :D :D )

    So much for any thought the kids had about any inheritances, tee hee :rolleyes: :rolleyes:


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