DCC Locos with DC point switching?

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Vonsworld
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DCC Locos with DC point switching?

Postby Vonsworld » Sat Oct 04, 2014 9:14 am

Hello

I'm in the process of converting my layout to DCC and can see the real benefits of DCC loco control.

However I am not so sure about the points. I have quite a few of them and they need to be switched in the right configuration to setup the routes I need.

My question is, if you have a lot of points being switched by DCC, how do you keep track of all your current point positions? This is easy if you are using old style levers, since you can just look at the lever positions.

However on my DCC controller after you have entered the point id number and changed the direction there is no record (except from my own dodgy memory) of how the points are set.

So I was considering having DCC loco control, but keeping the DC point switching levers. Has anyone else taken this approach and what do you advise?

Thanks :)

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Roger (RJ)
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Re: DCC Locos with DC point switching?

Postby Roger (RJ) » Sat Oct 04, 2014 9:58 am

Lots of people use lever switches for point control with DCC loco control. IMHO it's easier and quicker than pushing buttons on the DCC controller. The only reason I would use DCC point control would be if I was using, or was thinking of using, PC layout control where it's pretty much essential for automated running.

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Bufferstop
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Re: DCC Locos with DC point switching?

Postby Bufferstop » Sat Oct 04, 2014 10:56 am

It's really just another step in making the layout work in a prototype manner. From the very outset right up to the advent of DCC we had the control of locomotives wrong. We failed to put the driver on the footplate. That is what DCC does well, it uses a communication system to put the driver's hands on the footplate. What it doesn't do well is imitate the signalman in his box.
You are right in saying that the basic DCC system leaves no permanent visual record of the point and signal settings, whereas manual mechanical methods do, they are after all what the prototype grew up with. Just like their real world counterparts they can even become power operated without losing the visual indicator of their setting. Using DCC for signal and point settings loses the "look and feel" of the signal box, restoring it involves much more complication and technology, usually involving a computer to enable the state of settings to be viewed. It is of course using the exact system used in modern day railways (at least those that have had some investment). It's your (the modeller's) choice, purely mechanical, electro mechanical (still using wired circuits) or computerised (using digital control and monitoring)

"restoring it involves much more complication and technology" " NO IT DON'T-OH YES IT DOES! Wiring it up might be easy, programming it isn't too difficult but those little black boxes contain a huge portion of technology that you simply buy and plug in. By the way I'm assuming that everyone knows by now that black boxes don't have to be black and might not even look like boxes"
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alex3410
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Re: DCC Locos with DC point switching?

Postby alex3410 » Thu Oct 09, 2014 11:22 am

I use DCC for locos and DC for point switching (well did and will when i get my new layout to that stage )

several reasons:
1) cost of the decoders to control the points (after buying the points and the motors it just starts to add up!)
2) simplicity of separating them out from control of the locos
3) like the switches feeling rather then pressing buttons - it just feels right :lol:

in fact i really fancy one of these:
Image

as i think it would give a better feeling to the control of the trains - if it controlled two at a time it would be perfect

i guess my point is its what ever feels best for you

Tricky Dicky
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Re: DCC Locos with DC point switching?

Postby Tricky Dicky » Thu Oct 09, 2014 12:11 pm

Bufferstop wrote:It's really just another step in making the layout work in a prototype manner. From the very outset right up to the advent of DCC we had the control of locomotives wrong. We failed to put the driver on the footplate. That is what DCC does well, it uses a communication system to put the driver's hands on the footplate. What it doesn't do well is imitate the signalman in his box.
You are right in saying that the basic DCC system leaves no permanent visual record of the point and signal settings, whereas manual mechanical methods do, they are after all what the prototype grew up with. Just like their real world counterparts they can even become power operated without losing the visual indicator of their setting. Using DCC for signal and point settings loses the "look and feel" of the signal box, restoring it involves much more complication and technology, usually involving a computer to enable the state of settings to be viewed. It is of course using the exact system used in modern day railways (at least those that have had some investment). It's your (the modeller's) choice, purely mechanical, electro mechanical (still using wired circuits) or computerised (using digital control and monitoring)

"restoring it involves much more complication and technology" " NO IT DON'T-OH YES IT DOES! Wiring it up might be easy, programming it isn't too difficult but those little black boxes contain a huge portion of technology that you simply buy and plug in. By the way I'm assuming that everyone knows by now that black boxes don't have to be black and might not even look like boxes"

A lot depends on your chosen system. I had an ECOS demonstrated at a recent show and it definetly showed the position the points were set wether it maintained that information between operating sessions I have no idea. With DCC you can still use display boards with for instance LEDs that show the position of points, of course you would need micro switches connected to the tie bar to provide the information to the display board but so would a computer. Systems that do not have feedback only show what your last action was but not necessarily what happened. So for instance pressing a button to move a point may well be displayed on a screen or other indicator but without detecting the actual movement of the point you do not know if it moved or is jammed. I suppose this makes a powerful argument for mechanical systems where the fact you cannot engage a lever indicates something is amiss. The bottom line is that operating points and signals with DCC does not mean you cannot tell what route is set it just means you have to show it differently if your system does not display the settings once set, this is no different to any other system.

Richard

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mikem64
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Re: DCC Locos with DC point switching?

Postby mikem64 » Thu Oct 09, 2014 2:27 pm

I've been running a DCC layout with DC point control via a switch board for years, I'm now moving onto DCC control which my ECoS will handle without trouble as it does show point setting via it's diplay screen.

I'm not sure if it remembers where they are after switching off & then back on, but given it does remember my loco setting like lights & direction I have to assume the DCC controller will also hold point info.

If your system doesn't have point display I still think it will be possible to build a LED diplay panel showing which route is set, I know this will need more wiring which DCC is supposed to eliminate but it will give you an indication board to watch.

I know what you mean regards points & forgetting what you've operated as I do it all the time, I do it with loco's that don't have directional lighting, I have a 50 : 50 chance it setting off in the wrong direction..LOL

Good luck with the point control.
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gppsoftware
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Re: DCC Locos with DC point switching?

Postby gppsoftware » Fri Oct 10, 2014 6:46 am

Personally, I believe that the User Interface (UI) provided on DC throttles is aimed at driving trains and is completely unsuitable for controlling signalling and turnouts, so I would suggest that using conventional DC approaches to signalling and wiring is quite acceptable and indeed, is actually very popular.

All DCC systems will control signalling and turnouts, but unless you have your layout displayed on a computer screen and use the computer to set routes etc, I wouldn't bother putting then onto DCC.

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pete12345
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Re: DCC Locos with DC point switching?

Postby pete12345 » Sat Oct 11, 2014 10:12 pm

One advantage of DCC point control is on portable or modular layouts, where the number of wires crossing board joints is reduced. However, I personally find using a DCC controller to operate points to be completely unergonomic. I much prefer the visual aid of a switch panel. I tend to go for the most user-friendly and intuitive control system, and for me that means DCC trains and conventional switched points.
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Re: DCC Locos with DC point switching?

Postby UrbanHermit » Sun Oct 12, 2014 11:28 am

Here's another vote for DCC trains and DC points. I find the idea of DCC point control totally counter-intuitive, at least for a steam age layout. Apart from anything else, the flick of a switch is actually quicker and easier than entering a code into a controller, surely.
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Mike Parkes
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Re: DCC Locos with DC point switching?

Postby Mike Parkes » Sun Oct 12, 2014 3:00 pm

Depends a lot on how you operate the layout, if its on the hoof using a wireless handset (or a very long cable) then having to return to a fixed control panel to change the points is a time consuming in itself. Some dcc systems allow for route setting, ones which do not can be made to route set by driving relays from the point modules instead which work a diode matrix like a non dcc system.

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Free_at_last
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Re: DCC Locos with DC point switching?

Postby Free_at_last » Sun Oct 12, 2014 3:38 pm

When route setting, after selecting a route are the points then reset to normal before selecting another route or are some points just left at random positions based on their last use?
Pete.
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pete12345
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Re: DCC Locos with DC point switching?

Postby pete12345 » Sun Oct 12, 2014 8:36 pm

Mike Parkes wrote:Depends a lot on how you operate the layout, if its on the hoof using a wireless handset (or a very long cable) then having to return to a fixed control panel to change the points is a time consuming in itself. Some dcc systems allow for route setting, ones which do not can be made to route set by driving relays from the point modules instead which work a diode matrix like a non dcc system.


Not sure how I'd operate things in this situation. I'd probably go for a couple of 'signalboxes' at strategic points of the layout. That way you can move to the area of interest and operate the points locally. If it's a large exhibition layout, I reckon there should be one central operator who at least controls the main line points to avoid total anarchy ;)
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Mike Parkes
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Re: DCC Locos with DC point switching?

Postby Mike Parkes » Sun Oct 12, 2014 9:47 pm

Free_at_last wrote:When route setting, after selecting a route are the points then reset to normal before selecting another route or are some points just left at random positions based on their last use?


The points change for the route you want, if you subsequently set another route the points will change to that route - the ones that are already correctly set will have the point motor activated but obviously no movement takes place othe than a possible twitch of the point blades.

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Free_at_last
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Re: DCC Locos with DC point switching?

Postby Free_at_last » Sun Oct 12, 2014 11:20 pm

Mike Parkes wrote:
Free_at_last wrote:When route setting, after selecting a route are the points then reset to normal before selecting another route or are some points just left at random positions based on their last use?


The points change for the route you want, if you subsequently set another route the points will change to that route - the ones that are already correctly set will have the point motor activated but obviously no movement takes place othe than a possible twitch of the point blades.


Are the points that were reversed in the first route but not part of the path for the second route not set to go back to normal when the second route is selected, or is "Normal" and "Reverse" not used in route selection?
Pete.
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Bufferstop
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Re: DCC Locos with DC point switching?

Postby Bufferstop » Mon Oct 13, 2014 12:09 am

If anything was going to persuade me to move up to 0 gauge or larger it would be the possibility of building working point rodding and signal wires, just can't make it small enough for 00. Have to do it right though, full interlocking and facing point locks.
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