DCC - Main controllers and accessory decoders.

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MertonPark
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DCC - Main controllers and accessory decoders.

Postby MertonPark » Sat Dec 29, 2018 4:26 pm

I am building an N gauge layout in my loft. I’ve wired it for DCC, but not having chipped my locos, I am running one loco at a time using a DC controller.
I have fitted Peco Insulfrog points so I could have isolated sections before a point to prevent trains ploughing into a point set against them.
The points are fitted with SEEP motors and in a few cases two connected points are linked so they both change at the same time. I’ve tested the operation of the motors but they are not currently connected beyond the 6 wires going to nearby chocolate boxes. This is so I can keep my options open – either to connect the wires to accessory decoders or use the more traditional system of a control panel with a track diagram and lights and switched on it in appropriate places. The latter system has been used by the club I belong to and has involved an enormous amount of wiring, which puts me off.
The club uses a Digitrax DCS50 so part of me is inclined to get a DCS51 – Yes, I know there will be a delay because of factory problems in Florida!
Looking at general stuff about DCC I understand that you simply connect the accessory decoder to the track bus and that could provide both the power to throw the points and to convey the DCC messages. I’ve read that it is suggested that you have a separate power supply with its own transformer and PCU for the accessory decoders. How would you do this with Digitrax?
Do you have to use loconet to connect to the accessory decoders? If you have Digitrax controller how do you connect to non-loconet compatible accessory decoders?
Do loconet compatible decoders have a connection point for a separate power supply?
To keep costs down I would want to use 4 or 8 turnout decoders.
I would be grateful for replies to the points raised and comments in general (apart from present supply issues) about proposal to use a Digitrax controller.

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Re: DCC - Main controllers and accessory decoders.

Postby TimberSurf » Sat Dec 29, 2018 11:04 pm

Which controller you choose is very personal. Throw in wireless and smart phones and it gets complicated!

For a simple controller that is not limited in function but is cheap to start, think Prodigy or NCE. The route to smart phones gets complicated and a decision is needed before choosing the system. Check out the comparison chart on here and use the links to suppliers
Accessory controllers can be had from ANY supplier to work on DCC and are driven by DCC Bus, not the cab Bus.
Delving into individual accessory manuals will determine if you can use an auxiliary supply. Look at DCC Concepts first, as their paperwork is excellent.
The better point controllers have built in CDU (or per point), so don't task the DCC so much and perform well
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Re: DCC - Main controllers and accessory decoders.

Postby Ironduke » Sun Dec 30, 2018 12:11 am

With Digitrax you can use Digitrax brand or Digitrax compatible accessory decoders which will have the extra connection for the Loconet bus but you don't have to; you can use other brands as well.
Also it doesn't matter if your club uses Digitrax but you use something else. The only advantage might be that you can take your own throttle to the club and use it there but you can use your phone for that now anyway.
Seep point motors are notorious for requiring a large amount of current so I would definitely recommend an accessory decoder with a secondary power supply input and CDU(s).
All of the above options also allow you to control the points using ordinary switches on a control panel.
Regards
Rob

MertonPark
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Re: DCC - Main controllers and accessory decoders.

Postby MertonPark » Sun Dec 30, 2018 5:00 pm

Thanks for your replies. I thought I could practice using the Digitrax at the club so that was more of my reasoning for perhaps favouring it.

Reading other forum posts I picked up the point about SEEP using a lot of power so I will take on board the advice about that.

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Re: DCC - Main controllers and accessory decoders.

Postby Flashbang » Sun Dec 30, 2018 7:53 pm

MertonPark wrote:Thanks for your replies. I thought I could practice using the Digitrax at the club so that was more of my reasoning for perhaps favouring it.

Reading other forum posts I picked up the point about SEEP using a lot of power so I will take on board the advice about that.

Seep or any other solenoid point motor only take power while the coil is being powered (energised) Normally for less than 0.5 second.
Any accessory decoder with a built in CDU won't even be noticed by the DCC system when it operates a Seep or any other solenoid motor, as the CDU is already charged and that charge provides the pulse of power needed as it discharges into the selected solenoids coil.

IMO using a DCC throttle to set points is very, very long winded! Example... Press accessory, select point number (if you can remember it quickly) press 1 or 2 for throw direction and press Enter etc. Far to much work while the trains are running! DCC point operation is fine for PC controlled route setting though, or where the accessory decoder allows conventional manual switch operation via a mimic style panel, as the DCC Concepts AD-S range do.

Or just control the point motors via 'old fashioned' (Conventional) analogue switches or levers etc :o
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Re: DCC - Main controllers and accessory decoders.

Postby TimberSurf » Sun Dec 30, 2018 8:04 pm

As Flashbang says, I also think using DCC via a throttle may save wiring, but is a terrible way to control points, the exception being if you then add PC/tablet control to use a virtual mimic to control them or have highly complex point work that needs multi-point switching that can be done as a macro from a throttle.
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Re: DCC - Main controllers and accessory decoders.

Postby Ironduke » Sun Dec 30, 2018 8:37 pm

Flashbang wrote:Seep or any other solenoid point motor only take power while the coil is being powered (energised) Normally for less than 0.5 second.
Any accessory decoder with a built in CDU won't even be noticed by the DCC system when it operates a Seep or any other solenoid motor, as the CDU is already charged and that charge provides the pulse of power needed as it discharges into the selected solenoids coil.


The Digitrax Zephyr DCS50/51 outputs about 12-13V DCC signal on the track and I've found that it doesn't quite charge up the DAC20 CDU enough to run a solenoid point (and certainly not two Seep point motors in a crossover). So I use a 16VAC/500mA power pack to power the aux input on the DAC20s and the point motors make a very satisfying clunk when they are activated. I can operate a Kato scissor crossing, i.e. four point motors, from a single output.
Other brands of decoder may have a more substantial CDU but you can't really find that out before you buy.
Regards
Rob

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Re: DCC - Main controllers and accessory decoders.

Postby MertonPark » Mon Dec 31, 2018 9:05 am

Thank you Flashbang for this comment:
IMO using a DCC throttle to set points is very, very long winded! Example... Press accessory, select point number (if you can remember it quickly) press 1 or 2 for throw direction and press Enter etc. Far to much work while the trains are running! DCC point operation is fine for PC controlled route setting though, or where the accessory decoder allows conventional manual switch operation via a mimic style panel, as the DCC Concepts AD-S range do.

Is that a general experience? That is that the time taken in manipulating the controller when the layout is up and running outweighs the effort of wiring to a control board - 4 wires for each point or (set of two connected ones) - one to send a pulse to the close side of the motor and for the throw side and then two more wires to illuminate lights on the board to show how the points are set. Finally there's a common return that loops round all the point motors and a power wire that goes to each of the motors to provide the power that eventually gets to the lights on the board via the motos. (Each SEEP is wired with 6 connections). It all seems an awful lot of wiring and I've witnessed and helped in doing it at my club - but maybe most people think it is worth it in the long run unless you are going for a fully computerised system - which I might consider - but that would be far in the future

Will somebody please explain this point below a bit more?
where the accessory decoder allows conventional manual switch operation via a mimic style panel, as the DCC Concepts AD-S range do

Can you reproduce a track diagram style panel using the DCC concepts decoders - and how do you do it?

Many thanks to those who have replied.

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Re: DCC - Main controllers and accessory decoders.

Postby RAF96 » Mon Dec 31, 2018 9:09 am

where the accessory decoder allows conventional manual switch operation via a mimic style panel, as the DCC Concepts AD-S range do


Some acc decoders have additional terminals whereby you can connect a switch so as to be able to operate points via the decoder manually in addition to via the controller.
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Re: DCC - Main controllers and accessory decoders.

Postby Flashbang » Mon Dec 31, 2018 4:32 pm

MertonPark wrote:Thank you Flashbang for this comment:
IMO using a DCC throttle to set points is very, very long winded! Example... Press accessory, select point number (if you can remember it quickly) press 1 or 2 for throw direction and press Enter etc. Far to much work while the trains are running! DCC point operation is fine for PC controlled route setting though, or where the accessory decoder allows conventional manual switch operation via a mimic style panel, as the DCC Concepts AD-S range do.

Is that a general experience? That is that the time taken in manipulating the controller when the layout is up and running outweighs the effort of wiring to a control board - 4 wires for each point or (set of two connected ones) - one to send a pulse to the close side of the motor and for the throw side and then two more wires to illuminate lights on the board to show how the points are set. Finally there's a common return that loops round all the point motors and a power wire that goes to each of the motors to provide the power that eventually gets to the lights on the board via the motos. (Each SEEP is wired with 6 connections). It all seems an awful lot of wiring and I've witnessed and helped in doing it at my club - but maybe most people think it is worth it in the long run unless you are going for a fully computerised system - which I might consider - but that would be far in the future

Will somebody please explain this point below a bit more?
where the accessory decoder allows conventional manual switch operation via a mimic style panel, as the DCC Concepts AD-S range do

Can you reproduce a track diagram style panel using the DCC concepts decoders - and how do you do it?

Many thanks to those who have replied.

MertonPark - that's where I was born and went to school - not where I am now!


Yes I firmly believe that it does.. I have two DCC systems that I readily use- NCE PowerCab and a MRC Prodigy Advanced and both are a real pain to set points when running trains as well. Personally, I see no joy at all in watching a train crash or derail while fiddling with a series of button presses to set a point and also the need to remember each points address number too! Even worse if two points are to move separately, though for more complex route setting Macros can be written and stored in the PowerCab. But it still involves a series of button pressing.

The DCC Concepts AD-S decoders provide special terminals per port that allow push buttons or sprung to centre off toggle switches to operate that decoder port directly from a mimic panel. Wires are run from the decoders special terminals back to the panel switches. LED indication lights switching is also available too - More wires decoder to panel. Additionally the decoder also can set the frog polarity too for Live frog points.
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Re: DCC - Main controllers and accessory decoders.

Postby Ironduke » Mon Dec 31, 2018 9:25 pm

MertonPark wrote:Each SEEP is wired with 6 connections


In normal use the switch on the SEEP would be used for switching the polarity of a live frog. The DCC concepts ADS type decoder also has a switch that can be used for this purpose but I'd be inclined to use the switch on the local point motor if it has one, just in case the point jams even though the decoder thinks it is switched.

As far as using a throttle for point control, I agree it is generally very inconvenient.

MertonPark wrote:unless you are going for a fully computerised system - which I might consider


PC control is much easier because you can have a software mimic panel that both controls the points and indicates their current positions. It is much more flexible and requires much less wiring and hardware than a traditional control panel, provided you have a PC and the means to connect it to your DCC system.

MertonPark wrote:- but that would be far in the future


All you need is a PC/laptop and a track plan to get started.
Regards
Rob

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Re: DCC - Main controllers and accessory decoders.

Postby MertonPark » Tue Jan 01, 2019 12:58 am

The 6 connections on the SEEP are 2 to carry the pulse to change the point & a return and then one for incoming power to go down one of 2 remaining wires to lights on a layout diagram to indicate either a closed or thrown point. Won't that work?
Polarity change isn't an issue as I am using insulfrog turnouts with a short isolated section before a point that stops a loco if the point is against it.

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Ironduke
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Re: DCC - Main controllers and accessory decoders.

Postby Ironduke » Tue Jan 01, 2019 2:54 am

MertonPark wrote:The 6 connections on the SEEP are 2 to carry the pulse to change the point & a return and then one for incoming power to go down one of 2 remaining wires to lights on a layout diagram to indicate either a closed or thrown point. Won't that work?


yes it will
Regards
Rob


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