Software Contol

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by heli, Oct 19, 2006.

  1. heli

    heli New Member

    I am new to the model train hobby. I have recently put together a layout using bachmann track and an NCE DCC syatem and was wondering what would be the best software to use to control my trains via a computer.

    Would appreciate any thoughts.


  2. TruckLover

    TruckLover Mack CH613 & 53' Trailer

    :wave: Hi Heli,

    Welcome to the Gauge, I hope you enjoy the ride.

    I don't have the slightest clue about DCC/DC :oops: but there are so many people on here that are DCC/DC experts.:D You should get some answers shortly!!:thumb:
  3. Taylor

    Taylor New Member

    I too am curious about this. I am in the midst of setting up a fairly decent sized layout. I have an older gateway computer that I have sitting in a closet. I was thinking I'd break it out of the closet and use it as part of the DCC system but not sure exactly where to start.
  4. kchronister

    kchronister Member

    My suggestion is to download the JMRI software package at

    It's free, and includes DecoderPro. That's software to program your decoders - far easier than using the throttle (and I have NCE too which is, I think, among the more intuitive ones to use).

    It also includes PanelPro, which is software to operate the layout. You get virtual throttles and can even create a "CTC" type panel to operate turnouts, etc. A little bit of work involved in setting that up, but I did so on my old layout and it worked great.

    In fact, a "virtual CTC" setup is the only way I'd run turnouts by DCC again. Using the throttle to throw them in walkaround mode got real old real fast - my new layout has old-fashioned toggles in the fascia.

    I also liked the ability to call up as many 'throttles' as I wanted in their own windows. No more flipping your throttle between multiple locos or using the 'recall' function. You want to run 6 locos, call up 6 throttles and just flip between them like any other "window" on your computer.

    All you need is a standard serial cable to plug your computer into the NCE box and you're hooked up. In fact, I'd say an older PC is probably better. It will likely be far more than enough "power" to run this, and many newer machines don't have a serial input any more.

    My next experiment will be to get either a large 'handheld' or a small 'tablet' PC and see if I can't have computerized CTC type control AND walkaround capability all at once...
  5. Great Site Kchronister

    WOW kchronister, that is a super site you have shared with us, I'm sooo happy I happened accross this thread, I have been wondering about computer controlled rail roading for couple of years, thank's
  6. Taylor

    Taylor New Member

    I'm curious about what type of hardware would be involved. Would I still need to invest in a DCC controller such as digitrax, etc. Or is it just a matter of getting a hardware peripheral to run from the computer to the layout. Basically I was looking to save a few bucks on a decent DCC set-up and was hoping to do more with the computer.
  7. kchronister

    kchronister Member

    Yes and no, Taylor.

    It's certainly technically possible to write software that would turn your computer into a DCC command station. I've never heard of any being available, though. It's also been suggested that this is much, much more intensive for a computer system than simply functioning as an interface.

    In some cases, it's probably better to have dedicated 'hardware' to do a job. It's certainly true that the DCC command station has to send a constant stream of information and this might well overwhelm a computer or connection that isn't pretty darn robust.

    As a practical matter, it's probably faster, cheaper and easier to buy a DCC system and interface it with a computer. NCE comes with a serial port you can simply plug into. I know Lenz requires you to buy a separate interface adapter, and I believe Digitrax does too.

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