Complete beginner in DCC

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Montfort
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Complete beginner in DCC

Postby Montfort » Mon Sep 10, 2018 10:30 am

Hello,
As I am an "old school DC guy", I need your help to start in DCC. I have only one Bachmann switcher fully DCC equipped. What do I need to use it with DCC? Thanks for your help.
Remember: model railroading can become contagious. So be careful...

Bramshot
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Re: Complete beginner in DCC

Postby Bramshot » Mon Sep 10, 2018 10:44 am

Oh Wow!

For a start, a dcc control system. And that’s it, you are away! There are many to choose from, all with their supporters and detractors, you need to find one that suits you, both from the usage and financial point of view. You should aim for one that is capable of programming the full range of CVs ( that’s the internal settings in the dcc decoder), some aren’t capable of this, so get one that is NMRA compliant.
For the future depending how enthused you become, you may want one that supports a wide range of function buttons, I think the max is 32, but many systems do not support all of them.
I use a Bachmann Dynamis Ultima, which is quite an old design despite what Bachmann say as it is based on and old ESU unit.
If you might be interested at some point in using a computer with your system you will need one with some sort of an interface. the Dynamis has a USB port.
You might also want one that can control your points and other accessories via dcc at some point in the future, so be sure it can do that for you too.
Alternatively, start with something more basic and cheap and upgrade later if you get the bug and want to go further. Something like the Gaugemaster Prodigy Express, if it is still available, can’t see it on their website at the moment.

triuph1050
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Re: Complete beginner in DCC

Postby triuph1050 » Mon Sep 10, 2018 10:50 am

Another thing is power supply, started with a 1amp but a few more locos followed with all singing and dancing lights and sounds and the 1amp don't cut it. Now have a 4amp and 'Happy Days" :)

Bigmet
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Re: Complete beginner in DCC

Postby Bigmet » Mon Sep 10, 2018 1:28 pm

What sort of scale of operation are you likely to want?

As an example, I have always and only wanted main line operation, whether HO or OO: multiple trains running on a big layout so plenty of current supply required . At the time I switched to DCC I had a three cab DC set up - my trial layout for re-entry to the hobby after the typical mid-life interruption - and was already finding that restrictive. As a result I went straight to 4A+ systems to ensure adequate capacity for many trains on the move.

Based on career experience of equipment procurement, my first step was to read around, and particularly the user manuals of the DCC systems then on offer. It quickly became apparent that at that time all of two DCC manufacturers had the wit to properly describe their product's complete functionality in well organised and easily comprehended terms. There's nothing like a good instruction manual when the equipment is a 'black box'. 'So those two were the short listed 'possibles'.

As part of the reading around I had noted that the essential facility for decoder fitting locos was a 'program(me) track' capability. And that made the choice between the possibilities. It happened to be the one with the superior control interface for my taste* too, which was good. Over a dozen years later, and no further DCC system spending has been required.

*There is more choice now, and while all suitably specified systems will 'do the job' it is well worthwhile getting hands on to find those that you actually enjoy using. It's supposed to be a fun hobby after all! A small lightweight tethered handset that I can operate single handed while wandering about, lovely for me. Leaves the other hand free for a cup of tea, uncoupling paddle, mimic panel switches for route setting, whatever. But it's different strokes for different folks, a good friend has a positive boat anchor of a console which he has to walk back to when operating, all because he loves its control levers. It would drive me nuts, but then he does also drive a Morris Minor...

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Montfort
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Re: Complete beginner in DCC

Postby Montfort » Mon Sep 10, 2018 1:52 pm

Many thanks gentlemen for all your replies. They are very interesting.
A wise guy gave me this very useful link: http://www.brian-lambert.co.uk/DCC.html
But right now I'm totally, completely and absolutely lost in a big black hole in the deep space.
Maybe I'm too old for DCC... :oops:
Remember: model railroading can become contagious. So be careful...

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Mountain
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Re: Complete beginner in DCC

Postby Mountain » Mon Sep 10, 2018 3:45 pm

DCC can be as simple or as complex as one makes it. A simple beginners DCC controller plugged into ones oval of track in a trainset style manner need be no more complicated then doing the same with DC.
The complicated bits come with larger layouts with more complex controllers (Which are generally more powerful and can do much more and more expensive to buy) where one can spend so much time buying, fitting and programming DCC decoders that one starts to ask why one bothered attempting the DCC route to begin with. Converting to DCC can be for some like converting from tension lock couplings to another type. The potential work is enormous but the end result can be worth the effort depending on the requirements of the user.

I must admit that these days I prefer simplicity so DC is fine for me. I'm almost tempted to convert to clockwork if it had a little more control. :D
Enjoying 7mm narrow gauge.

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Montfort
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Re: Complete beginner in DCC

Postby Montfort » Mon Sep 10, 2018 3:48 pm

I totally agree with you Mountain.
Remember: model railroading can become contagious. So be careful...

abenn
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Re: Complete beginner in DCC

Postby abenn » Tue Sep 11, 2018 8:37 pm

I used DC/analogue when I had an OO layout, but when I replaced it with an N-gauge layout I converted to DCC. In my view DCC makes building the layout so much simpler than DC because you don't have to think about having separate isolated and switched sections to run more than one loco at a time; All tracks are simply connected to a single main power supply buss, which is usually somewhere around 16v AC. As others have said, the amps capability of the power supply depends on what gauge and how many locos you expect to run simultaneously.

Also, once you've got a suitable DCC controller you don't have to buy a second one to run a second loco. The controller's handset will allow you to select which loco you want to control at any particular time, and all other locos that are already running will keep on running in accordance with the last instruction they received, until you select them on the handset and change their speed or some other parameter.

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Mountain
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Re: Complete beginner in DCC

Postby Mountain » Tue Sep 11, 2018 8:54 pm

Mind you. A second handset is great when you have visiting friends. :)
Enjoying 7mm narrow gauge.

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Montfort
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Re: Complete beginner in DCC

Postby Montfort » Wed Sep 12, 2018 7:42 am

Thanks gentlemen. But don't forget the price of all that DCC stuff (for example: Hornby R8213: £98.00 :o ).
Remember: model railroading can become contagious. So be careful...

triuph1050
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Re: Complete beginner in DCC

Postby triuph1050 » Wed Sep 12, 2018 9:12 am

Add another £30 or so to replace the 1amp power supply that comes with the Select to upgrade to the 4amp. As I found to my cost when I started adding more locos and couldn't work out why I could not have all functions working

Bigmet
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Re: Complete beginner in DCC

Postby Bigmet » Wed Sep 12, 2018 12:51 pm

Montfort wrote:Thanks gentlemen. But don't forget the price of all that DCC stuff...

It is definitely worth scaling it against planned use.

In my case, a really enthusiastic operator, with a layout that is operated every day I am home unless force majeure intervenes, something of proven robustness was required. What is probably approaching 5,000 operating sessions later, still working as it did on day 1, with no faults at all at any time. At just over £200 at time of purchase for full system capability, I feel that value for money has been delivered.

Another scaling is against the decoders. With over 90 decoders installed (mostly in locos, several to control coach lighting, one per group of multiple coaches) at present price for my preferred decoders that's about £1800. The system is barely 10% of what has been spent in total on DCC. (Just shy of 80 locos all with customised control settings for consistent performance. Features such as groups of locos with matched accelerations and maximum speed settings, otherwise requiring great expense in mechanism or motor replacement, and some skills in small mechanism adjustment.)

Then we come to the scary bit, what has been spent on model railway kit in total by steady purchases over near twenty years on a deliberately modest budget. (With three friends I gave up our 'boys night' at the pub where we frequently talked railway, real and model, and we all got on with building our layouts and socialising around them instead. The money 'saved' went toward our layouts instead of pushing up the value of brewery shares. I have been known to point out to my wife that every wagon represents at least a pint not added to my waistline, but not winning on this one..)

Fact is I simply couldn't operate the layout design made possible by DCC if I were to still use DC: that would require a large quantity of bespoke control equipment costing more than the DCC kit, and far short of its performance. ( I saw how it could be done many years ago on a permanently exhibited model railway; and economically it largely hung on the builder having had the know how and access to GPO mechanical components being replaced by more modern electronics...)

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End2end
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Re: Complete beginner in DCC

Postby End2end » Wed Sep 12, 2018 1:17 pm

Montfort wrote:Thanks gentlemen. But don't forget the price of all that DCC stuff (for example: Hornby R8213: £98.00 :o ).

If your looking at the low end of DCC controllers to start you off may I suggest looking at the Bachmann EZ command instead of Hornby.
I have both the main and slave units and both work well although you cannot program MOST C.V.'s on them and only control upto 9 DCC loco's.
Although limited, they are cheaper than Hornby and dare I say more NMRA compliant.
I don't run sound but I do run lit loco's so you can also buy a booster for the controller if needs be, but if you have the money for both (controller and booster) then I would suggest a better controller.

If you have the choice (financially) then another thing to consider is how you'd like to control the loco's. Knob, fader, phone etc.
I prefer a big knob to control them so with the bachmann and slave controllers I get 2! :)

I am now finding though that I need more control of C.V.'s which the Bachmann doesn't offer so I have been looking at second hand prices for the Gaugemaster prodigy 01.
The average second hand price at the moment is roughly £90-100 on ebay, bidding.
Thanks
End2end
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Montfort
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Re: Complete beginner in DCC

Postby Montfort » Wed Sep 12, 2018 5:56 pm

Thanks. Too much money for a poor guy like me.
Remember: model railroading can become contagious. So be careful...

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End2end
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Re: Complete beginner in DCC

Postby End2end » Wed Sep 12, 2018 6:54 pm

A quick search on the bay and I found a New bachmann ez command controller £60
https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Bachmann-36- ... SwWqpavUhN
Used would be cheaper but I cannot seem to find one on ebay with all the wires that should come with it apart from this one @ £69.99 + £3.69pnp OR make an offer.
https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/BACHMANN-36- ... SwSz1ay3jJ
Thanks
End2end
"St Blazey's" - The progress and predicaments.
Welcome‎
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