Taking the plunge to DCC

Discussion in 'DCC & Electronics' started by platypus1217, Feb 20, 2009.

  1. platypus1217

    platypus1217 Member

    I think I might convert my layout to DCC. The motivation is running consists of locomotives. Over the past few months I have four Atlas GP38-2's. Unfortunately they all run at slightly different speeds, and only two of the four are close enough in speed that I feel comfortable running them as a pair without worrying about stressing the motors.

    If I go to DCC I want to redo the track to remove all the insulating rail joiners that I used for DC blocks. I also might need to redo the bus wiring. I had 16 gauge speaker wire as the bus before, I don't know if that will hold up for DCC. I have seen 14 gauge in a lot of places but I have a small layout (only door sized). I think that is a wait and see how the load if I get the DCC system.

    How easy is speed matching in DCC?
  2. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    Hi....That's a good step you're taking, and I'm sure you'll enjoy running your "lash-ups" ( I know I do...and I have only one....). I wouldn't be in too great a hurry to re-wire the layout right off the bat. It'll work just as it is, just set your block switches to the position of one of your DC packs (I presume you have blocks to use multiple DC packs..) and wire the DC command station to that position. If you do have another DC pack(s) on the layout...REMOVE IT....DC and DCC don't really get along.
    As for the wire gauge, for that size layout I don't think there is a great need to beef-up the gauge. How many trains/engines would you be running at any one time..??
    In any event....try it as is and see....I think you'll be pleasantly surprised..!!
    As to your other concern (speed matching), I'll leave that to someone more knowledgeable, as I haven't done that yet...
    Good luck..!! :thumb:
  3. nkp174

    nkp174 Active Member

    I would suggest leaving your DC blocks in place. If you have trouble, it is easier to identify and isolate it if you have blocks. You can also install a DPDT switch to have either DC or DCC operation. I'm doing this to enjoy the sound functions of my galloping geese without losing the ability to run my conventional locomotives.

    The wiring is probably fine. DCC doesn't draw any more current than DC...it's just that you are more likely to have more locomotives drawing current than before. Your wiring isn't exactly light, and so it will be fine for your layout.

    I presume that you have n-scale?
  4. platypus1217

    platypus1217 Member

    Actually I just have one. I use the blocks so that I can park an engine on a siding and let another go by on the main line. That is another reason for me to switch: With DCC I can park the engines anywhere without having to worry about what block they are in.
  5. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    So much the better....Like NKP says...current draw shouldn't be much of a concern, and you can always cut power to a parked loco, just to lower the current draw, and to not have a decoder always on....
  6. platypus1217

    platypus1217 Member

    Well I ordered the equipment: A Digitrax Zephyr and 3 decoders, two for my GP's and one for my MP-15.

    I went with the Zephyr because of the "Jump Port" functionality that you can use a DC power pack as a DCC control To get another DCC cab it would have been at least another $60 for the cab plus the hardware to support it. This way I can have two operators right off the bat without having to upgrade. I wasn't too keen on the positional throttle on the base station, but I realized that there wasn't really a use case on my layout where I would want to leave one locomotive running and swap to another, and even if I did, I could use the jumped DC pack to control the other locomotive.

    Now comes the hard part: waiting for it to get here!
  7. platypus1217

    platypus1217 Member

    Everything got here earlier this week. The decoder installation was a little bumpy. Mostly issues with my engines and not the decoders. One of my engines had a loose wire on the motor and during the course of putting in the decoder I knocked it off and it took me quite a while to figure out what had happened. I was able to solider it back on and all was well.

    I still have to speed match the locomotives though. Maybe that will happen later this weekend.

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