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

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

Postby b308 » Tue Apr 28, 2015 5:53 pm

I'd suggest just one rider to that list, E2E, that is it depends on what you are modelling which affects "Would I choose DCC over DC for starting out? Probably." An N or OO/HO RTR layout I may well agree with you, but for others perhaps not... I switched gauges recently and DCC was considered but ruled out as it would entail conversion of old as well as new locos which don't have plugs and the cost of the new scale was bad enough without making it even worse with the extra control equipment! Otherwise a fair summary and one the OP has to decide on!! ;)



Shaunster, my whole point is that it's not about one method of control being better than the other! You are yet again trying to put one against the other as if it is some sort of computer or video game competition... It's not...

As I have said numerous times (and others have agreed with me from their own observations of their own personal situations) I find there is no benefit for me to switch to DCC. It has no clear benefits over my DC setup and would entail a great deal of work and lots of money for no gain. I operate a one engine in steam type layout, nothing that DCC does I can't do just as easily in DC as I'm only operating one engine at a time! Section wiring isn't difficult and I enjoy both the planning and application of the wiring so there's no issue there, in fact, as I said earlier I regard that sort of thing as two of the skills I use when building my layouts and see DCC as a backward step in that regard as it removes two of the challenges... Maybe you see that differently, that is your prerogative...

I really don't understand why you DCC-ers can't understand that everyone is different and a "one size fits all" approach in Model Railways simply doesn't work!

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

Postby PinkNosedPenguin » Tue Apr 28, 2015 6:28 pm

b308 wrote:I really don't understand why you DCC-ers can't understand that everyone is different and a "one size fits all" approach in Model Railways simply doesn't work!
We do understand that. The point of this thread was to advise the OP (who is in a dilemma), not to preach to a die-hard DC-er such as yourself.
Dare I say you do seem to have a bit of a chip on your shoulder about DCC... :?

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

Postby End2end » Tue Apr 28, 2015 6:31 pm

Yes I think your right there b308.
Perhaps I should have added a ..
Would I change to DCC with the limited skills I have for the conversion?

Obviously I can only speak personally, which I did actually have four 0-4-0's (and 2 full intercity sets that were too big for the layout I had planned anyway) that I considered for conversion albeit the hard wired route.
These got sold to fund other things though, and I have only bought DCC fitted or DCC ready loco's since.
Plus I was EXTEMELY lucky in the fact that I managed to purchase a DCC starter set for under £30 which included everything I needed to get started.
I still have a couple of DC controllers for testing purposes, running in etc.

And just to pick up on your second point, I think, would not this cover it?
Would I choose DCC over DC if I was building a new layout with lots of older loco's. Probably not due to the high cost of conversion.
On the understanding that if you wer'e building a new layout from using equipment you alreadd had then the cost of changing is indeed phenominal :o
So this drew my thoughts to the timing of the choice of control as well as the other considerations put forward.
Thanks
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Last edited by End2end on Tue Apr 28, 2015 8:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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b308
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Re: DCC or DC? What to do, what to do.

Postby b308 » Tue Apr 28, 2015 8:15 pm

PinkNosedPenguin wrote:
b308 wrote:I really don't understand why you DCC-ers can't understand that everyone is different and a "one size fits all" approach in Model Railways simply doesn't work!
We do understand that. The point of this thread was to advise the OP (who is in a dilemma), not to preach to a die-hard DC-er such as yourself.
Dare I say you do seem to have a bit of a chip on your shoulder about DCC... :?


I've no chip at all, I've worked several DCC layouts including the two fully DCC'd ones, County Gate and Cliffhanger. As I said before I see no useful gain over DC for my layouts but I do see increased costs and more electrical complications in converting to DCC... But I do see an overwheliming bias by DCC-ers who seem to think that DCC is the only way forward, quite frankly that's rubbish...

I've said that it's up to the OP what he does, they are different methods of control, that's all, one is no better than the other except in certain circumstances such as large layouts with many locos which I have already accepted suits DCC... On smaller layouts it's just personal preference and the depth of your wallet...

Perhaps it's you who has the chip on your shoulder in that you can't accept that for some people DC is actually better?

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

Postby PinkNosedPenguin » Tue Apr 28, 2015 8:47 pm

b308 wrote:I've no chip at all...
Is that a pun b308 :lol: (Trying to lighten the mood :D).

I really don't care whether other people prefer DC or DCC - each to their own 8) - but its interesting to hear the arguments both ways.

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

Postby Catweasel » Tue Apr 28, 2015 10:54 pm

[quote="b308"]Catweasel, "wiring chips to locos" is not "easy enough" - it depends on the loco you are trying to wire up and how they are set up in the first place, sweeping (and inaccurate) statements like that are not a all helpful for anyone thinking of changing from DC to DCC...



Sorry. I should have written "relatively" easy, although I've not been stumped yet.

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

Postby ParkeNd » Tue Apr 28, 2015 11:45 pm

Another angle on the discussion.

As someone who has built his layout DC controlled via Gaugemaster D Twin Track which controls speed and direction whilst also providing the power for the points motors, what I would be looking for to interest me in DCC would be :-

1. Handset with 3 speed control knobs so I could vary the speed of 3 locos without having to mash buttons before I could address each loco.

2. Simple DCC points control system - ie one everyone wants to use rather than one everyone avoids.

3. Newly designed DCC points not relying on blade contact nor butchering with revised wiring as a work round.

4. Industry standard loco chips - straight plug and play. No CVs required.

5. Total system oncost - £15 per loco. ie £225 for everything required for a 15 loco layout.

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

Postby Richard Lee » Wed Apr 29, 2015 5:59 am

I fully agree that whether DC, DCC or digital radio control is the best choice for a layout depends upon the nature of the layout, and the circumstances of the owner. The point that I made in my first post is that the original poster would do well to look at their own requirements, and make their own mind up.

If I had gone for DCC then I would have probably gone for either a Gaugemaster Prodigy Express or an NCE Powercab. Apparently, you can read CV values with both of these starter systems. I would have needed to chip 5 locomotives, all small to medium tank engines, so would have looked for smaller chips as being easier to install, probably at about £20 to £25 each. The total would have been approximately £250. I am not in a position to buy everything I see, and sometimes have to make choices. Coincidentally, Bachmann announced a locomotive and set of 3 carriages that I really wanted for the layout. The locomotive cost me about £93; Bachmann haven't yet put a price on the coaches but Hattons expect them to be about £50 each. The point is that I felt that that combination of locomotive and carriages was much more useful to my layout than DCC.

I feel sure that various firms will be producing decoders for DCC for a while yet, so it should be possible to go DCC later if circumstances warrant it. However, I am redoing my smaller layout specifically for DC. Certain parts of the layout that I want to be isolating have one of the rails connected to the frog-feed of the points leading to them. This means that it will be as if the points switched the power as if they were insufrog rather than the electrofrog ones that I used. As well as giving me isolating sections, this should also help me reduce the number of points set the wrong way that I run.

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

Postby PinkNosedPenguin » Wed Apr 29, 2015 7:54 am

ParkeNd wrote:Another angle on the discussion.

As someone who has built his layout DC controlled via Gaugemaster D Twin Track which controls speed and direction whilst also providing the power for the points motors, what I would be looking for to interest me in DCC would be :-

1. Handset with 3 speed control knobs so I could vary the speed of 3 locos without having to mash buttons before I could address each loco.

2. Simple DCC points control system - ie one everyone wants to use rather than one everyone avoids.

3. Newly designed DCC points not relying on blade contact nor butchering with revised wiring as a work round.

4. Industry standard loco chips - straight plug and play. No CVs required.

5. Total system oncost - £15 per loco. ie £225 for everything required for a 15 loco layout.

Responses to your points:

1. You can get a main controller and then add on two extra throttles. No matter how many knobs on the same unit, you still need to select which loco each knob will control.

2. I agree DCC accessories is not for everyone (myself included) - seems to make most sense if you use software on PC or tablet to control it all, but this does not stop you using DCC for driving trains

3. This is nothing to do with DC or DCC - frog switching is a benefit for both

4. N gauge has a 'effective-standard' of 6-pin decoders - almost all current RTR locos come with a plug-and-play socket. Those that don't (e.g. Gronk) can be wired in by you or a model shop (I did the latter). You can operate on factory default settings without changing a single CV

5. Some chips are under £20 but the best ones are nearer £30

Hope this is of some use...

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

Postby b308 » Wed Apr 29, 2015 8:14 am

PinkNosedPenguin wrote:
b308 wrote:I've no chip at all...
Is that a pun b308 :lol: (Trying to lighten the mood :D).

I really don't care whether other people prefer DC or DCC - each to their own 8) - but its interesting to hear the arguments both ways.


:lol: It was unintentional, but perhaps a good thing!

I agree with you on both comments in the second para... I went back to the OP earlier as we've rather strayed from it, looking at it again he's starting from new and has not too many locos which are DCC or DCC ready so there's not reason he shouldn't go straight in and do DCC... The only rider, and that's his choice is whether that's what he wants to spend the money on for the return it would give him...

Best advice would be to try out someone else's DCC layout to see if that method of control suits him personally and if the "extras" are worth the investment, only then will be have a decent chance of choosing...

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

Postby ParkeNd » Wed Apr 29, 2015 9:41 am

Thanks PNP for the additional info on DCC.

I have had a look at additional throttles on the internet and they seem to be aimed at additional operators rather than additional trains and cost about £100 each. DCC seems to have mashing buttons to address individual locos at the heart of it and this seems to be a weakness. What I had in mind was a single unit with 3 or 4 throttle knobs - when you put the locos on the track so they have power, the control unit detects that locos with pre-assigned names are now active and automatically allocates each one to a throttle - overrideable by user if required. Now we have what you get for free on DC. Cost to be less than £200 for first base unit + £100 each for additional handsets as now.

The apparent fact that DCC points control is a feature of DCC but is ignored almost universally suggests this exposes a major weakness of the concept. It should be better than current DC based systems to warrant being the way forward. To have newly designed chipped points which have an address and can be flipped one way or another without additional wiring would seem not to be beyond comprehension.

To my mind DCC should have been such a huge advance that everyone would want it and thus these debates shouldn't be necessary. To quote a parallel - digital sound and digital photos. Initially CDs did not offer "perfect sound for ever" because the hardware was so poor, and digital cameras were plagued by "noise" and low resolution. Both were worse than what they sought to replace. Now digital sound is as good as the best vinyl systems (but different) and digital photos are probably better than film. But both are infinitely more convenient, user friendly, and far more accessible than what they have succeeded in replacing. DCC hasn't got there yet by the standards of CD and digital cameras. But it needs to if DC is to become history. But I have confidence that it will.

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

Postby Bigmet » Wed Apr 29, 2015 10:34 am

ParkeNd wrote:... DCC seems to have mashing buttons to address individual locos at the heart of it and this seems to be a weakness. What I had in mind ...when you put the locos on the track so they have power, the control unit detects that locos with pre-assigned names are now active and automatically allocates each one to a throttle - overrideable by user if required. Now we have what you get for free on DC...

And just how does the user 'override' the automatically detected addresses? There shall be button mashing of one form or another, until affordable thought control becomes available. Putting in the cabside loco number is a trivial task, and most systems now have a top level register of recently used locos which you can flip between or scroll through quickly.

ParkeNd wrote:... What I had in mind was a single unit with 3 or 4 throttle knobs...

That makes a large console unit. The DCC users I know split into two camps: most go for a small handset they can walk around with, the rest a desktop behemoth with big levers (ZTC) or a big screen. I love having all the control in a pocket sized hand set, and can flip from loco to loco instantly as required. (That facility in use had to be learned, until I became unconciously competent with it, like driving a car. Took me a fortnight of regular operating sessions to master it. There's no getting around the need for a learning curve,)

ParkeNd wrote:...To have newly designed chipped points which have an address and can be flipped one way or another without additional wiring would seem not to be beyond comprehension...

The track makers are lagging well behind the curve on a plug and play capability. There's not even a standard for their design at present. That's non-trivial, because there has to be an installed capability to individually address a point for programming which is hard wired into the network to overcome a point decoder malfunction like a corrupted address.

ParkeNd wrote:... DCC hasn't got there yet by the standards of CD and digital cameras. But it needs to if DC is to become history. But I have confidence that it will...

I don't agree.
1. DC will never be history relative to DCC, as this system is only an overlay on 12V two rail DC.
2. Unlike the market for consumer products whose development is funded by the purchases of billions of people, there isn't the money for model railway adjuncts like DCC development. We only got DCC because the system was developed for industrial controls.
3. What may happen is that 'something else' derived from advances in mobile phone tech and personal computing rewrites the small motor control book. Likely to remove the need for permanent track power for traction in my opinion. Various companies are experimenting with forms of this, but we are clearly still some way from the 'knock out' solution.

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

Postby Bufferstop » Wed Apr 29, 2015 10:36 am

I'm in almost complete agreement with ParkeNd's last paragraph. The original concept of DCC was based around the way that large American "basement" layouts were operated. Drivers had a throttle linked to their allocated train. Signals and points were operated by the signalman in a "tower" who passed the trains from one tower to another as they moved around the layout. The throttles, decoders and the protocols linking them were deigned and specified to this end. It was a system which allowed the users to operate in the way they wanted to. It could be done in DC but not easily and section switching to permit it wasn't easy to set up. The operation of points and signals without specific wiring was a by-product of the control system.
This model translates reasonably well to the large, usually club built, UK exhibition layout, it brings very little additional operating capability to the typical small UK layout. It does eliminate the need for section switching, and so simplifies the MPD/TMD type of layout where many locomotives make small movements in a highly populated area. The "one engine in steam" branchline can only take advantage of the constant track voltage, and the ability to simulate braking and inertia. (which can be achieved with a DC controller with the appropriate circuitry.
It is a little ironic that the area in which DCC can eliminate a lot of wiring, the operation of points and signals, is the one which many users choose not to use. As a former IT service manager I can see the problem, the human interface for point and signal switching is woeful, using a computer screen and pointing device improves it slightly but lacks the simplicity and immediacy of the either track diagram and lever frame, or the mimic diagram with physical switches.
Coming from a working environment in which digital is king, for relaxation and enjoyment I turn to older simpler ways which provide a tactile and visual experience, if I wanted to make more use of electronic systems I would deploy them to simulate the look and feel of the regulator and brake and the effects of inertia, for the operation of points and signals it would be the feedback to the lever which tells you something is moving, but small scale mechanical methods already do this.
In the end it comes down to what the individual wants to get from it. I have a choice of vehicles sitting outside my home, one has "old fashioned" clutch and gears, the other electronic "flappy paddle" automatic transmission. guess which I most enjoy driving, guess which one I take to go into town. It's courses for horses and long may it remain that way around.
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b308
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Re: DCC or DC? What to do, what to do.

Postby b308 » Wed Apr 29, 2015 5:00 pm

I do like the idea of "thought control" for the locos, let me know when that appears!! ;)

Going back to the numbers for inputting, I assume they would use the last couple or so digits, however I have three ending in "002" so could be a problem there! (Only joking lads!! :) )

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

Postby pete12345 » Wed Apr 29, 2015 10:23 pm

Bufferstop wrote:It does eliminate the need for section switching, and so simplifies the MPD/TMD type of layout where many locomotives make small movements in a highly populated area.


This is one major advantage for me. It's so much simpler to park locomotives in close proximity without having to worry about power routing. It's of lesser benefit to a signalled section of the layout, as there should only be one train in each block anyway.

Bufferstop wrote:It is a little ironic that the area in which DCC can eliminate a lot of wiring, the operation of points and signals, is the one which many users choose not to use. As a former IT service manager I can see the problem, the human interface for point and signal switching is woeful, using a computer screen and pointing device improves it slightly but lacks the simplicity and immediacy of the either track diagram and lever frame, or the mimic diagram with physical switches.


The ergonomic factor is what kills DCC point control for me. Just as controlling mobile things is more user-friendly on DCC, operating a conventional switchboard is much more intuitive for control of points and other stationary things.
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