DCC or DC? What to do, what to do.

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Marcus
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DCC or DC? What to do, what to do.

Postby Marcus » Wed Apr 22, 2015 7:36 am

:D Hi again. I'm at a bit of a conundrum, I can run my layout in both DC or DCC but is a pain having to keep swopping controllers over as well as making sure the relevant locos are safely in their isolated sidings.
My 350 1 Desiro looks great running in DC mode with both tail and front lights but to change to full DCC operation will cost an additional £60.00 for 3 decoders on a loco I just paid £130.00. That's £190.00 for just one loco. The only difference I can tell is that in DCC mode I can keep loco's lights on when stationary, is that worth £60.00?.
Just having started in N gauge and the hobby I need to decide if it's DCC or DC or do I keep both and just do as I'm doing at the moment? Or will operating layout in both prove troublesome, I currently own just 3 DCC and 2 DCC ready loco's but this will no doubt grow. Decisions decisions. :?:

ParkeNd
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Re: DCC or DC? What to do, what to do.

Postby ParkeNd » Wed Apr 22, 2015 8:48 am

I am sure that every DCC user will say you should definitely go for DCC. For OO fans who have pockets deep enough to fund the top levels of sophistication of DCC the arguments seem to me stacked heavily in favour of DCC - and the statements that the sound created in DCC locos with room for speakers does not match the thunderous deep base of a real loco always come across unconvincingly as a logic for not doing it. DCC points control via software programmes also sounds compellingly better.

However as an N gauge fan low cost DCC with minimal abilities has always just seemed different rather than better compared with DC. Although I would like to try DCC on another layout with say 3 only locos I have never been desperate to convert the current DC layout to DCC. The advantages in N seem too minimal and more philosophical than practical.

That's just an N gauge DC users view of low cost DCC - like a minimal Prodigy Express setup which is the only way you can dismiss the oncost of DCC.
Last edited by ParkeNd on Thu Apr 23, 2015 9:44 am, edited 1 time in total.

Richard Lee
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Re: DCC or DC? What to do, what to do.

Postby Richard Lee » Wed Apr 22, 2015 8:50 am

DCC offers benefits, but at some cost in terms of money and effort (for instance fitting chips to non-DCC-ready locomotives that don't have an lot of space inside). For some layouts I am sure that DCC makes things easier or allows you to do things that are not easy with DC. I am afraid that I can't make up your mind for you. All I can do is work through the reasoning for my circumstances, so that you can do something similar.

I have an 'L' shaped branch-line terminus to part of junction station. I also have a smaller branch-line terminus to fiddle yard layout. Both are steam era. The earliest (least up to date in terms of quality) models that I have are Hornby Terriers.

As I operate my layout on my own, it is convenient for me to run one train at a time. If I could run two at once I suspect that it would lead to disaster. Therefore, DC control is cheap for me because I only need a single controller. All I have to do is have a few isolating sidings, so DC wiring is not much more complex than wiring for DCC. On the other hand, the idea of run-aways under DCC worries me.

Neither layout has a loco shed or sidings to park lots of locomotives of different sizes next to each other. If I had, for instance, a twin-track loco shed then the DCC ability to have different locomotives doing different things on the same piece of track would be of great interest to me. However, for my layouts, this isn't applicable. Running short branch-line trains means that I don't want to have 2 locomotives for one train.

Many DCC enthusiasts claim that they get better slow running. This might or might not be true, but with reasonable track and wheel cleaning I am satisfied with what I have. The lengths of my layouts don't lend themselves to accurate simulation.

Concerning sound, I tend to think of sound as expensive, perhaps a bit of a novelty, and likely to give better results with diesels than with steam. I don't particularly want it.

Lights on steam trains didn't tend to be particularly bright. In my opinion, it is arguable whether or not they were noticable in reasonable daylight. The only working lights on my trains are the interior carriage lights. There is a company called 'Traintech' that sells vibration activated battery-powered lights that stay on about 2 minutes after the train stops moving. On the other hand, for people with layouts tending towards a more modern image, the lighting facilities that DCC offers may well be important.

I chose DC for my layouts. If I had a different type of layout then I might well have come to a different decision.

Bigmet
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Re: DCC or DC? What to do, what to do.

Postby Bigmet » Wed Apr 22, 2015 8:55 am

DCC's advantages are far more than keeping the lights on. It's the complete freedom from isolated sections and track power everywhere with individual control of each motorised vehicle that is the winner for me. If operating MU's you can make them up into sets and split them anywhere, no need to park precisely on a section isolating one of the MU's. The full track power at all times is a major advantage over DC, which shows up in far more reliable slow speed operation, unlike DC where you have a reduced voltage on the track when trying to start and move slowly and smoothly. You can also switch off the vehicle end lights inside such a set if you have wired them appropriately, switch off interior lights in coach bodies for trains not in service, and so on. Either you like this enough to pay the extra or you don't.

Sound is no advantage of DCC - it fails to sound anything like the real thing and I am amazed it sells at all! Points control too, unless definitely going for some form of control by software, regular analogue panels are cheaper by far.

You do need to make your mind up, because sooner or later you will get it wrong and burn out a motor on a DC loco by exposing it to the DCC power. The motors being relatively small for N are more vulnerable than OO motors.

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hairyhandedfool
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Re: DCC or DC? What to do, what to do.

Postby hairyhandedfool » Wed Apr 22, 2015 9:07 am

It's a decision you need to make for yourself. Does DC offer you everything you need? Would DCC offer you more? Can you afford DCC?

Bear in mind that in most cases (all cases in N I think), DCC fitted locos can have the DCC Decoder removed and plenty would operate on DC anyway.

If you go down the DCC route, you need to start earlier rather than later, it may work out the same cost, but £20 here and £20 there is more affordable than £200 in one go.

My four class 350 units (and my 220 units) have only one decoder (each) in at the moment because that's all I could afford at the time, now I can afford more but the units are in a box not being used so I haven't bothered yet, but there is another option to spread the cost.

DCC does have benefits for some, notably being able to get rid of isolating sections and operating a train on the same section of track as another train you don't want to move, but it's not for everybody.
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UrbanHermit
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Re: DCC or DC? What to do, what to do.

Postby UrbanHermit » Wed Apr 22, 2015 10:46 am

Some interesting points here.

First of all, I agree with Bigmet that sound is never going to be realistic enough to justify its high cost. I'd rather carry on doing what we've always done before: using my imagination. I like to use a bit of imagination: it adds to the fun. (That's also why I'm not drawn towards modelling real locations, but that's another issue).

Neither am I drawn at all towards computer control of points and signals, or even ordinary DCC control of them. For a steam age modeller like me it's counter-intuitive. A control panel with switches feels far more appropriate, and, of course, it's cheaper.

I don't particularly feel the need for lighting either, perhaps also because I do steam age.

But I am using DCC for the trains, even though, like Richard Lee's, my layout-in-progress is an L-shaped terminus where I'm unlikely to run more than one train at a time. It does have a fairly extensive engine shed yard though. For me, the simplified track wiring and train control, and the enhanced realism of driving the train rather than the track, justify the cost, especially since I've never felt the need for upmarket decoders (though as I get used to using an NCE Powercab rather than a Hornby Select maybe that'll change).

This is just my take on it. Your layout, your choice.
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Peterm
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Re: DCC or DC? What to do, what to do.

Postby Peterm » Wed Apr 22, 2015 11:06 pm

I'm talking OO gauge here so it might be different, but I installed a decoder in a friends and there's only one decoder, which is a 21 pin job. The interior lights are permanently on, but the head and tails light with direction of travel, well they should do anyway. We had and still have trouble with the Loksound decoder because I did a reset, and that caused the whole thing to chuck a wobbly. Evidently a CV should have been set to lock the sound part so that a reset didn't cause this, but it wasn't done. My mate (the owner) was conversing with the person that loaded the files, trying to sort it out, but he stopped getting replies. The decoder concerned was a Loksound v3.5 I believe and I think the later versions have been improved in this regard.
Pete.

b308
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Re: DCC or DC? What to do, what to do.

Postby b308 » Thu Apr 23, 2015 8:48 am

I have never tried to swap over for several reasons, firstly the cost (I have 50 or so locos), secondly the complexity of fitting a decoder (and time involved) as i have locos of various ages and makes, so some would be fairly straightforward and others wouldn't - and none have "plugs".

Thirdly I enjoy wiring a layout for DC, both the skill required to do it and the pleasure of it working right at the end of it, to me that's part of what Model Railways is all about.

Lastly, and connected with the third one, I feel that a DC layout operates closer to a real railway in most respects (the odd exception is being able to move two locos at once in a confined space but even that didn't happen that often and in the circumstances it did you can use two controllers in DC).

If you want convenience and ease of use and have few locos then by all means convert, but despite what the DCC brigade say DC has as many advantages as DCC and with decent controllers (Gaugemaster or the like) operates just as reliably...

BananaRepublic
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Re: DCC or DC? What to do, what to do.

Postby BananaRepublic » Thu Apr 23, 2015 1:45 pm

b308 wrote:....I enjoy wiring a layout for DC, both the skill required to do it and the pleasure of it working right at the end of it, to me that's part of what Model Railways is all about. .....

I agree that wiring is a part of the hobby, whether people enjoy it or not; but there can be just as much skill and satisfaction derived from wiring up a layout for DCC, or adding stuff like track detection or RailCom.

b308 wrote:..... I feel that a DC layout operates closer to a real railway in most respects (the odd exception is being able to move two locos at once in a confined space but even that didn't happen that often and in the circumstances it did you can use two controllers in DC). .....

I'm afraid I'll have to totally disagree here.
I couldn't imagine a less prototypical way of operating a layout than with DC and all its attendant workarounds and limitations.

b308 wrote:....despite what the DCC brigade say DC has as many advantages as DCC......

DC has a few advantages, but DCC has a far longer list of its own advantages.
What really matters is which of the pluses and minuses work for you as an individual.
For some DC will be a more suitable, cost effective or convenient option.
For others, the attractions of DCC and its long list of advantages, will be enough to justify the cost.




Last edited by BananaRepublic on Thu Apr 23, 2015 3:02 pm, edited 2 times in total.

BananaRepublic
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Re: DCC or DC? What to do, what to do.

Postby BananaRepublic » Thu Apr 23, 2015 1:53 pm

Bigmet wrote:.....Points control too, unless definitely going for some form of control by software, regular analogue panels are cheaper by far.

Don't forget that a hardware track control panel (mimic panel) using switches, buttons and in some cases (e.g. using DCC Concepts Cobalt Alpha), stud and probe), can also be used for DCC control of points, routes and signals.
DCC operation of these is not limited to only using a handset or a software panel.




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bike2steam
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Re: DCC or DC? What to do, what to do.

Postby bike2steam » Thu Apr 23, 2015 2:44 pm

This is an on going argument that no one can win. It has gone on every model railway forum, some getting quite heated, with boring repetition. It's all down to personal taste, but the most common excuse being ' I bought a train-set with it's inclusive DC controller, and wanted something better - so went DCC' well if you have such a throw away item as that, of course you'll need better. Unless you have a large engine shed layout, or want to use bankers on a layout, there is no great advantage in DCC when just operating trains, good DC operation will give you superb smooth running with gentle acceleration/ deceleration - so what else is needed, you know what they say - if it aint broke -. 8)
Now I'll duck behind the nearest wall :) .

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alex3410
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Re: DCC or DC? What to do, what to do.

Postby alex3410 » Thu Apr 23, 2015 3:13 pm

another vote here for you having to make up your own mind (sorry :lol: )

but i can telly you the reasons for me switching to DCC - 1)reduce the wiring needed (DCC just all connects up to a single bus loop) 2) being able to run / store multiple locos on a single bit of track (kind of connected to the first point i know)


there are other benefits to using DCC, firstly you can tune the performance of the locos but its not something i have really gotten into apart from setting a few locos to have realistic acceleration & deceleration which makes operating them a bit more interesting. Other benefits are have much more control over the lights and depending on your set up being able to easily add additional controllers for example i have just added a second handset to my layout


there are downsides however 1) cost of chips 2) having to actually fit the chips 3) troubleshooting if things are not running right

as to the sound, i have two locos fitted with it and its a bit of fun (mainly the whistle) but i wont be getting anymore sound fitted locos as the cost is not worth it

which ever way you go good luck with it :)

BananaRepublic
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Re: DCC or DC? What to do, what to do.

Postby BananaRepublic » Thu Apr 23, 2015 3:21 pm

It's horses for courses.
DC or DCC, choose what's right for you.

The thing is, Analogue will increasingly become a legacy choice, regardless of remaining in common usage for many.
However for new entrants, many have their first experience or exposure with a train set, but these are increasingly being offered with some form of DCC control.
How long will the cheap train set continue to sell in anything but minute numbers?
Those RTR companies (I no longer think of them as manufacturers, because many of them don't manufacture anything these days) who do sell train sets, know that they have to offer something different and more attractive than the traditional train set, if they are to stay in that part of the business.

Also for anyone starting out in "serious" modelling; why would you start out from scratch with your legs tied together and choose the DC route as a long term choice?

Bachmann, who are a main player in train sets in the USA, have seen sales and interest in trains as toys dwindle over the years and think they have come up with what appears to be a very cheap way of updating the product and making it more attractive to newcomers.
The potential knock on impact for the adult model train market is pretty obvious IMHO.

It might all come to nought, but I'm watching this one with interest.

ParkeNd
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Re: DCC or DC? What to do, what to do.

Postby ParkeNd » Thu Apr 23, 2015 5:49 pm

I have had an interest in this thread because if I do another layout it will be N gauge again but I would like to try something other than DC which has been reliable and simple.

From what people have written I remain convinced that the benefits of current DCC are minimal for N gauge whilst if you get problems with it then DCC has some evil little downsides for mere mortals.

DCC seems to me like a good core idea that has been poorly executed, so waiting to see what comes next, be it something completely different or a sizeable update, is for me.

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PinkNosedPenguin
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Re: DCC or DC? What to do, what to do.

Postby PinkNosedPenguin » Thu Apr 23, 2015 9:17 pm

I'm another DCC fan - and my layout is N gauge :D. Sorry ParkeNd but I don't see the N vs. OO issue . . .
I started from scratch so did not have a large loco fleet to chip - as someone said above an extra £20 every now and then does not break the bank.
Having gone down the DCC route I love it, and would never consider returning to DC again. The main reason is simply that I can drive a train anywhere I like without any restriction (except colliding with other stock of course :lol:). I have two reverse loops which require no intervention by me at all - a train will happily run around them and return down the same track in the opposite direction without hesitating (due to a 'fit-and-forget' dual frog juicer). You really feel like you are driving the train, not just controlling a section of track that happens to have a train on it. Even on my really small layout (4ft x 3ft) I regularly have three locos moving simultaneously = one on lower circuit, one on upper and a third shunting. No complex switching sections between controllers, no isolated sections on sidings, in fact only one controller (locos 'remember' their settings once started off). So really it is the ultimate flexibility of control that DCC offers that has sold it to me 8). Oh and the fact that the lights stay on when the train stops :lol:


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