Push Me Over the Top !

Discussion in 'DCC & Electronics' started by Davidglinn, Sep 22, 2004.

  1. Davidglinn

    Davidglinn New Member

    I am in the process of just about to construct a new layout measuring 16ft by 9ft. It will have at least 2 main lines and 2 branch lines, running, probably 6 locos. I am undecided as to whether or not to go for DCC or stick with the conventional method. One moment I am all for it and then I decide against it, mainly due to the likely cost. As I already have all the DC equipment it would mean ditching it all and spending out on lots of new equipment. I don't want to buy any new locos so I would need to add decoders to those I have.
    I need someone to push me over the top. Shall I go for DCC or not ? Is it worth the extra expense ? I am in the wrong forum for impartial comments but please do your best.
  2. hello Davidglinn, i was in the same spot as you once. i had my layout built, it was 8' x 12' and i was useing DC with the power block. then i decided to build a bigger layout, 11' x 19' around the walls type. i was once again faced with the same problem as you, should i go for DCC or not. well, after much reading and asking these guys questons, i decided that it would be more practical to go ahead and spend the extra money for a DCC system, rather than to go back to DC. there are many benefits to DCC over DC, and the prices of most DCC manufacturers have went down over time. there are many systems out there that would probably fit your budget better than you think. also, the decoders are really reasonably priced too, some starting around $15.00 or so. i personally think if your wanting to run 6 or more locomotives at the same time, i would definatly go for the DCC system and forget about the DC, youll be glad you did in the long run. do some re search on the web for DCC systems, im sure you can find one that you like and can afford. hope this helps some, im no expert on DCC, so im sure others on here can shed some more light for ya! good luck!:wave:
  3. Davidglinn

    Davidglinn New Member

    Thanks for that. I am half way there, I suppose. Trouble is that like most of us, I have a budget to maintain. The money spent on DCC could be used for other goodies, especially when I consider that I have a means of propulsion, i.e. DC. Thankfully, as you say the price of DCC equipment is coming down as other manufacturers come into the market.
    I think at this stage I will go ahead and carry on with the construction, leaving my options open until the very last. If I cut out luxuries like bread, butter and milk I am sure I could remain within budget.
  4. jdscales040

    jdscales040 Member

    I have a small (compared to a lot of other layouts I've operated on) shelf type switching layout. Heck its 8'x12' L shaped with a 6' extension. Before I switched to DCC I could run with two operators with a yard crew working the interchange. But that was it! It was always "whos got my train or who stole my block.

    With DCC I got rid of all the block wiring and toggle switches and have two buss wires the run the length of the layout. Since its a shelf railroad I don't even have remote controlled switches. I operated with three or four people and everyone has a bell. No more complaints.

    I've never regretted going the DCC route.

    John D.:thumb:
  5. Davidglinn

    Davidglinn New Member

    John D.,
    Thanks for that info.
    Just to go off the tracks slightly, if I had an end to end layout would DCC stop and start the train at each end automatically ? Could it stop it midway and then start up again ? I have never had an end to end layout before, they have been loops/continuous in various forms. What could a reed switch do for me in these respects ? My local electronics shop sell various types of reed switches but I don't have a clue what I would need. Do you think DCC will do away with my need for reed switches ? I envisage my proposed layout as having a continuous loop and two end to end sections.
    Any advice and guidance would be greatly appreciated.
  6. jdscales040

    jdscales040 Member

    I've never gone that route, but I would say you would need some kind of stop section to do what you want. In DCC the track voltage (AC) is constant. The receiver (decoder) inside the locomotive receives a signal from the power station and changes it to move, change direction, turn lights on/off, etc.
    John D.
  7. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I think a starter dcc set up like the Atlas or the MRC Prodigy would work fine for the layout you are planning. When the modular club I belong to went dcc, we had to use a more high end system because of the number of operators and the number of locomotive addresses that would be needed. I haven't priced the starter sets, but I think you can get a starter set that will cost under $150.00. The MRC Prodigy might even work with your dcc power pack as a power supply for track voltage. Dcc does make operation of multiple trains much easier to do. If you are going to use multiple operators, you might want cordless throttles to keep people from getting tied up in cords. If you get cordless and are running a point to point railroad where you don't want trains to run over the end, I would suggest a 12 inch dead section of track at each end, and some sort of retainer to keep trains on the table in case of a mistake.
  8. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member


    I've just started on "THE" layout.... It's got 2 mainlines each of about 60' each. with a main station/yard/switching area that allows for switching between mainlines. It's a "dogbone" which provides for sorta 4 mainlines through the town area. and switching between these 4 lines. I've decided to stick with DC, but also wire it that I can switch ALL the blocks on to one controller, and that will allow a move to DCC. I've also considered how block control uses electro-frog turnouts to power blocks or deaden them, and have insulated and wired each "block" accordingly to have it powered accordingly. so I do not great chunks of "dead track" when I move to DCC. I've also used DPDT switches in a couple of turnouts to "reverse" polartity automatically for the mainline switching to opposing tracks. It took me weeks of thinking and pretend running on paper to work it out. I have it all wired now, and it works perfectly. No shorts, and when the loco approaches on the converging side of a turnout, if the turnout is NOT switched appropriately, then the loco enters a section of "dead track" just before the turnout. :thumb: and doesn't get derailed or crash into whatever may be going through the turnout at the time. This will also work for DCC as well. I can switch one mainline to DCC and the other DC. I could not possibly explain here how I wired it up, but, i must say, I'm quite proud of how simply I can now operate with DC, and also how easy I could switch to DCC when I do move that way. 25 locos, though, puts DCC in the "bit to expensive" basket at the mo.

    e.g. If I enter a yard from "mainline 1", then the turnout the loco travels through powers the yard according to the block prior to entering the yard ("mainline 1"), and hence a single DC controller to go to/from the yards. If I then swtch to depart on "mainline 2", then the yard is automatically powered according to the block the train will depart onto "mainline 2". (the "mainline 2" controller). No "block switches", just flick the turnout. :)
    I also have a "yard controller". So the "block switch" for the yards, switches between either of the "yard controller" or "mainline controllers", and which "mainline cotroller" it uses, (1 or 2) is depenedant on the way the turnouts to/from the mainlines are switched. If the mainline to yard turnouts are switch for "through mainline" operation, then there is no way a loco in the yards will move using the "mainline" controllers. No matter how I have the "block switches" set.

    Are you :confused: :confused: :confused:

    Well I think its real neat anyway!, so NYAH!! :p :D :cool:
  9. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    I've just had a visitor from England here for a week who uses DCC at home. He has an English system (name starts with Z) which he feels is a bit expensive, and when one of his units expired, the repair price was only about 35 pounds short of a new unit.
    Are you modelling British or American? There are a few problems with older units, espcially Dublo and Wrenn where there is no wire between the wheels and the grounded motor brush.
    With some systems, you can use the old transformers to power the DCC.
  10. COlin_McLeod

    COlin_McLeod New Member

    I say GO FOR IT. I've just started to rebuild my 18' x 8' layout following a house move and have taken the plunge by purchasing the ZTC 511 unit from ZTC Controls in England.
  11. SteamerFan

    SteamerFan Member

    Once you go DCC you'll never want DC again. go for it
  12. dhutch

    dhutch Member

    yeah, go for it!!!

    - its the best way forward!!

    also. Colin i have the ZTC system, using the smaller ztc521 hand held controler, hope you like it like i do!!

  13. COlin_McLeod

    COlin_McLeod New Member

    ZTC control

    Hi Daniel
    It is the ZTC511 that I have. I hope to get a hand held at some stage but have not gt it yet./ I do like the 511 and its regulator type contol handle. Still getting to grips with programming and hope to setup control of points by DCC soon.
    Regards Colin
  14. Fred_M

    Fred_M Guest

    I use to have DCC. I went back to DC. Why? It's a big waste of money if you are the only one operating your layout. Even if your freind comes over it's still rather a waste. It's one of them keep up with the Johnsons things for most I think. SO... you spend X dollars for the unit. Then go spend X dollars more for a decoder times the number of locos you have. Dang, this loco isn't so easy to put a decoder in is it? So you spend 3 hours reworking it. Then you spend umpteen hours reprogamming them over and over, because try as you might, you can't get that trainset loco to run better than it did on DC. Then someone on a forum tells you you need a booster, then two. So now you spend X dollars time 2 on a couple of boosters for your 4 by 8 layout. That loco still don't run any better. Then you find you have to keep your track really clean for DCC to work right, cleaner than you did with DC. And your wheels too. Then decoders start going out. More dollars and time. Then you hear about using you DCC to run your points. So you go out and spend more dollars on decoders for turnouts. Ooops, forgot the reverse module. Add that cost. The one day your DCC burns out. You call the maker who is more than happy to fix it. Send it in they say. So you box it up and send it insured (if you're smart). But now I can't run trains. Sure, I could program then all to analog, if I had a DCC. Could package them all up and drive 40 miles to Jim's to reprogram them to anaolg. But my turnout would still need switched with the finger of god. Blow it off. Two weeks later, where is my DCC? Call the factory at 15 cents a min. and listen to badly rendered electronic classical music for 35 min before getting to talk to tech support. No, your unit has parts on backorder. Backorder you ask, you made it, right? Well, we did, but we don't make the parts, just assemble the units, and they all have the same part burn up and the factory in China is currently making talk chips for Dancing Elmo. So you bite the bullet rewire a couple units back to DC and run your trains. Two weeks later, same answer. So you put back a few of your turnouts. Two weeks later, still no DCC, redo some more locos and turnouts. 16 weeks later your DCC base shows up, but the hand controller is missing. Another frantic call to the factory. They can't find it. The tech that fixed it says it wasn't in the box, the tech that tore it apart remembers it was. And they are out of hand controllers and the factory that makes them is currently making parts for Tyco RC. So another 6 weeks and your (no, a new) hand controller shows up. By now 100% of your lococs are back on DC, 100% of your turnouts are back on cable or CDU. Your reverse loop is a switch. I reflect on how much work I now nedd to do to put my system back to DCC. I need to redo all my locos, switches, and ... so that I can be constantly flipping a rotary switch on my controller for turnouts which I have to write the number of on my facia. I have to reprogramm locos to run in consists. I have X dollars worth of stuff I now realize was just a waste of money: big time. I leave my DCC in the box and off to ebay listings I go. I got back about 60% of what I spent. I guess I'm the guy who don't exist. I went back to DC and am proud and happy I did. Fred
  15. grumbeast

    grumbeast Member

    Bore da David!

    I grew up just outside Caerphilly, anyhow, thats beside the point :) I started to convert to DCC last year but find it a very expensive propostition to convert loco's.
    What I've decided to do is to run both in parallel, that way I can use my full fleet of loco's whether they are converted or not. You do have to be careful about mixing the power types. I had already carefully wired the layout for dual cab DC with DPDT switches and cut both lines between blocks. All I had to do then was to use my Digitrax Zephyr on one cab and the DC controller on the other. Just remember to be disciplined. In operations I tend to use 1 controller or the other not both together so I also have an isolation switch for each controller and isolate it when not in use so that there is no risk of loco frying. This has worked well so far and it means I can take my time converting the rest of my locomotives to DCC as finances allow.

    Hope this helps!


  16. Matthyro

    Matthyro Will always be re-membered

    Wow Fred that was sure a bad experience you had. No wonder you don't like DCC. For me though it has made my model railroading much more pleasurable running two trains at a time and simpler wiring too so I guess I am hooked.

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