To DCC or not to DCC...that is my question

Discussion in 'DCC & Electronics' started by Herc Driver, Jul 14, 2005.

  1. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    I have just started reading about the DCC systems and have been wondering...since I bought several Kato diesels with "a DCC-Friendly mechanism for easy drop-in of a DCC decoder" (according to Kato) can I buy a DCC system and convert my layout from basic dc to DCC? Would I be able to use my Bachmann Spectrum non-dcc diesels along with the Kato "DCC-Friendly" diesels? Does DCC require a special power pack? I have an MRC Tech 4 powerpack rated at 20 volt/amps output that I just bought and like, but would that be compatible with DCC requirements? Finally, any good websites that explain DCC and it's basics that you know of would be helpful.

    Thanks very much.
  2. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    I like my Digitrax Zephyr very much. It resembles a powerpack controller, with the large knob and the fact that it stays in one place. However it can do much more...!

    You will be able to use your MRC powerpack as a "jump throttle" - that is you can use it to control another loco. You can also add on regular Digitrax throttles (with IR and/or radio control) to the system. The Zephyr also has the ability to run one (1) non-DCC engine (that is, one loco without a decoder). You will have to put decoders in all the engines you intend to run on the DCC controlled layout. It is not that hard to do.

    For more info, check out the helpful links page:

    Look especially for Railway Bob's links that cover the basics of DCC, and show a decoder installation.

    I am really glad I went to DCC, as it allows you to drive the locos, not power the section of track where the loco happens to be...

    Hope that helps.

  3. Iron Goat

    Iron Goat Member

    "It's the only way to fly...." After returning to MRR from a 4 decade absence, I think DCC is the greatest improvement made duning that time.

    Bob : :thumb:
  4. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    Thank you all....DCC is on my short list of things to add to the layout. It would maximize my capabilities and add interest in my modest layout. Thanks for the link and suggestions.
  5. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    You say it is a "modest" layout... I think that DCC really shines in the small layout, or close quarters. You can have two switchers working a little yard, or a through freight coming in and a switcher pulling off a few cars. This scenario would be next to impossible with conventional blocked DC control.

    I have not thought about going back to DC at all...

  6. railwaybob

    railwaybob Member

    Try it, you'll like it! The key to deciding if you want to get into DCC is to read as much as you can about DCC. Forums such as this one, links to websites, on-line vendors websites, and other information can give you lots of information on what DCC is all about.

    It may get a bit confusing but hang in. Take it in a bit at a time. Do some comparisons between analog and DCC. If you have some friends who have wired their layout or converted it to DCC, a hobby shop that specializes in DCC, a model railroad club that uses DCC, pay a visit to them and ask them all kinds of questions. And, try the "taste test" - run some trains.

    Here's some links to my website which might help you out:
    Some basic principles about how DCC works and a general strategy to consider when thinking about buying into DCC
    How to Install a decoder into an Atlas loco (gives you some ideas about what's involved)
    How to install some lights into a locomotive (some further ideas about what's involved)
    How to get going with some Digitrax DCC equipment (gives you some ideas about what's involved in firing up a DCC system - but don't let the technicalities scare you. It's really quite simple).

    And a few links to online DCC vendors with some useful information:
    And a whole lot more that you can find.

    If you don't have the skills or inclination to install decoders yourself into your locos, there's always someone around who will do it for you.

    Locos that are advertised as being "DCC ready" may or may not be DCC ready. It all depends on how the loco is wired (usually through a PC board). Do some searches and you will find details of how decoders have been installed in specific locos and the problems that were encountered during these installations. And of course, you can always post your question to "The Gauge".

    Bob M.
  7. Iron Goat

    Iron Goat Member

    Andy and RR Bob hit it right on the head... I bought a MR Book (DCC Made Easy... by L. Strang) that was pretty informative, and it also covered decoder installations), but you can get a lot of info off the net [Tonys Trains, etc.].

    Personally, I went with Digitrax and haven't had one problem with it, or the DCC operation of my layout. I think I paid $170.00 for the set-up.

    High Greens, and Clear Tracks.... Bob
  8. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    Thank you all very much...I'm going to look into it. I probably should have started with DCC from the git-go but thought it would be a lot of cost for my 70"x38" empire. I truely admire the intricate layouts that I've seen posted here and thought DCC was better suited to them (That only shows just how little I understood DCC and what it could do for me). Now I can see, I might be able to switch my layout over without much problem.

    Thanks again for the I'm back to The Academy for more learning.
  9. CN1

    CN1 Active Member

    DCC is not for everyone.

    Having said that I like my PA a lot. DCC got me back in the hobby for sure.
    I have seen many home layout lately: large and small. Something that hit me was the unanimous comments by the owners: Keep it simple. They had various DCC system but no one had all the "gizmo's" and various add-on such has computer interface. The reason? They built their layout to run trains, not to run computers.

    I could'nt agree more.

    Have fun and keep us posted

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