New to dcc large layout

Post all your DCC only problems, solutions and discoverys here.
Stano100
Posts: 13
Joined: Sun Nov 11, 2018 9:41 am

New to dcc large layout

Postby Stano100 » Sun Nov 11, 2018 4:58 pm

Hi all this is my first post,

Hello to you

I am building a large loft layout containing 4 complete circuits, 3 of the circuits are over 60 feet in length, with the other being about 25 feet

I would like to make the layout dcc, I was going to provide a power bus for each circuit with 32./02 bus cable and 16./02 dropper cable. Would each power bus need a booster?

I would like to run 3 trains at once on the longer circuits with maybe 2 on the, so that would be 11 trains running at once is that possible?

I also am not sure about which controller and boster if required, I have looked at the Hornby Elite and gaugemaster. Is there a cheaper way to provide boosters without buying Hornby booster at over £100 particularly if I need 3

I do not have dcc trains yet I think I will be putting chip in older diesels that I already have. Again if possible

Thanks for your help

User avatar
Flashbang
Posts: 3371
Joined: Thu Oct 18, 2007 1:07 pm
Location: SE United Kingdom
Contact:

Re: New to dcc large layout

Postby Flashbang » Sun Nov 11, 2018 5:09 pm

Hi
If your layout is to be fixed then consider using 2.5mm2 solid wire taken from former mains cable stripped of its outer grey sheath.
You don't normally have more than one pair of bus wires and all tracks are tapped off of that pair.

I would hold fire on considering a booster at this stage. The Elite provides 4.0Amps to track, while the GM Prodigy Advanced 2 offers 3.5Amps. Both are capable of allowing at least fourteen standard modern locos to run all at once and slightly less if sound fitted. Working on an assumption that a modern loco consumes 250 milliamps (0.25A)
Trying to keep direct control of more than three locos all moving at the same time is beyond my brain and even three locos at times gets me muddled!
Obviously, if PC control is being considered then you'll be able to have many locos all moving at once.
[Image << Click the Icon to go to my website
Broken? It was working correctly when I left it.

RFS
Posts: 871
Joined: Tue Jan 12, 2010 3:09 pm
Location: Derbyshire, UK

Re: New to dcc large layout

Postby RFS » Sun Nov 11, 2018 8:11 pm

I very much agree with FB. If you're operating manually, then 3 trains running simultaneously is about the limit for my brain. To run more you either need some form of automation, or a bunch of friends round to assist but then you would also need multiple throttles.

What I would recommend is dividing the layout into two halves, each with its own pair of bus cables. The wiring would essentially be a "U" shape, with the feed from the DCC command station being the bottom of the U. At each end make sure there are IRJs on all rails as they cross the top and bottom of the layout. You can then start with a single booster feeding both bus pairs from the bottom of the U. If you decide in the future you need more power (probably only needed if you automated the layout) then it's a simple job to split the feeds to the two boosters.

Another advantage of wiring like this is fault detection. Supposing you suddenly encounter a DCC short and can see no reason for it? Being able to disconnect one half of the layout would help narrow it down.

I have a large layout like you are proposing, but run under full automation with Railroad and Co Traincontroller. My DCC system is a Lenz LZV100 with a 5A booster, and this controls track operations on the whole layout. This is divided into two as I've mentioned, but purely for fault-finding purposes. The most trains I've had moving simultaneously is 14, and some of these were also consists (ie trains of 2 or more EMUs). But the DCC booster has never tripped on overload, so I assume I'm not pushing 5A.

Turnouts are all DCC-controlled using Tortoise slow-action motors. For these I do have separate accessory bus (Lenz LV102 and 3A transformer) as it means a track short circuit does not prevent me from changing turnouts, wrongly set turnouts being the main cause of shorts. The separate booster also means the full 5A on the LZV100 is available for trains.
Robert Smith

Stano100
Posts: 13
Joined: Sun Nov 11, 2018 9:41 am

Re: New to dcc large layout

Postby Stano100 » Sun Nov 11, 2018 8:35 pm

Hi tanks for your replies

I am new to dcc so I may be expecting too much, I thought I would be able to start 1 train on 1 circuit then as I have a long circuit start start a second train on the same circuit at the same speed when the first is half way round. Then leave these running at set speed then repeat on the other 3 circuits that would be 8 trains?

I got the cable for the a railway scenics site that recommend the cable size and multi bus system.

I am interested in the z21 control system, being able to control trains from an iPad which I think I can also add boosters to in the future

Thank you

User avatar
TimberSurf
Posts: 2436
Joined: Wed Jan 08, 2014 5:47 pm
Location: N.Wales
Contact:

Re: New to dcc large layout

Postby TimberSurf » Sun Nov 11, 2018 9:10 pm

Stano100 wrote:Hi tanks for your replies

I am new to dcc so I may be expecting too much, I thought I would be able to start 1 train on 1 circuit then as I have a long circuit start start a second train on the same circuit at the same speed when the first is half way round. Then leave these running at set speed then repeat on the other 3 circuits that would be 8 trains?

I got the cable for the a railway scenics site that recommend the cable size and multi bus system.

I am interested in the z21 control system, being able to control trains from an iPad which I think I can also add boosters to in the future

Thank you

With such long runs you should be able to run 2 trains per track, it's just that you will have to monitor speeds manually to make sure non catch up with each other. If that occurs at the same time on two tracks you will have your hands full! I will run one 100m long loop with potentially 20 trains on it (3 boosters) but I will employ a block control system!
Image
Lumsdonia <--- Hit link to go to my website for full story and wiring advice!

RFS
Posts: 871
Joined: Tue Jan 12, 2010 3:09 pm
Location: Derbyshire, UK

Re: New to dcc large layout

Postby RFS » Sun Nov 11, 2018 9:12 pm

But supposing one train encounters a problem - derails, stalls, suffers a coupling failure (eg drops a few vehicles off) etc. All other trains will continue running even if you stop the one that has a failure. And if you are operating single-handedly, then one failure requires your full attention, so having 7 other trains running with two of them potentially tail-chasing the one that has failed will be a real problem. (Have a DCC emergency stop button always within reach!).

8 trains should not however require a second booster though, unless they're power-hungry diesels such as Heljan ones.
Robert Smith

Stano100
Posts: 13
Joined: Sun Nov 11, 2018 9:41 am

Re: New to dcc large layout

Postby Stano100 » Sun Nov 11, 2018 10:49 pm

You have got me thinking now you mentioned automation earlier. I guessing I could program train to move for set times, speed and distance. So it runs a a set programme with many trains at a push of a button This sounds more interesting to me, what make of controller would I need to be able to do this

User avatar
TimberSurf
Posts: 2436
Joined: Wed Jan 08, 2014 5:47 pm
Location: N.Wales
Contact:

Re: New to dcc large layout

Postby TimberSurf » Sun Nov 11, 2018 11:51 pm

You would need feedback of train positions or software that controls set distances of running, both require special software and a PC connected to any DCC you choose, I think the software can get very expensive but some are free. You may need encoders with Railcom.
I will leave the details to those that know more or just look up DCC automation.
Image
Lumsdonia <--- Hit link to go to my website for full story and wiring advice!

RFS
Posts: 871
Joined: Tue Jan 12, 2010 3:09 pm
Location: Derbyshire, UK

Re: New to dcc large layout

Postby RFS » Mon Nov 12, 2018 8:23 am

To automate a layout of the size you are proposing, the first requirement will be fairly deep pockets! The hardware and software requirements would roughly as follows:

- A PC running Windows. Doesn't have to be particularly powerful, but should be W7 or W10
- Interface from your DCC command station to the PC (usually USB). Some makes have this built-in, with others it's an add-on
- Block detection. Basically you divide the layout into blocks much like the real thing, and current to each block is fed through a block detection module which tells the software when a block is occupied. Blocks are separated from each other by IRJs, usually just on one rail. If you're thinking about automation as a possible future upgrade, it might be a good idea to include the IRJs when you first build the layout.
- DCC-managed turnouts
- Automation software. You have a choice between free and paid-for products. You get what you pay for though: free products can have limited functionality, and often require more hardware than the paid-for ones.
- None of the available products require Railcom. Some can use it to detect new trains being added, but it's not needed for train tracking. The software knows the starting positions, and then tracks the trains as they move around.

Above all, you do need reliable hardware. Locos that stay on the track, well-laid track, decoders with good BackEMF, reliable turnout motors (slow-motion, for example) etc.

I run Traincontroller from Freiwald software (http://www.freiwald.com/pages/index.html). You might like to browse one of the manuals to get a feel for what's involved.
Robert Smith

Bigmet
Posts: 6892
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2007 2:19 pm

Re: New to dcc large layout

Postby Bigmet » Mon Nov 12, 2018 8:55 am

RFS wrote:...Above all, you do need reliable hardware. Locos that stay on the track, well-laid track, decoders with good BackEMF, reliable turnout motors (slow-motion, for example) etc...

Yup. This cannot be emphasised enough. At bottom it has to have mechanical reliability. I will give you my opinion based on experience.

Cannot be done with set track. Needs a good track system like Peco streamline, ideally using only the large and medium radius points with easy curves - aim for a 36" minimum radius - throughout the automated sections. (You can use smaller points and tighter radii in yards where it is solely manual operation.) The size you are talking of should allow this, and there's a bonus, it will cost less than using set track.

The locos and rolling stock need to be of consistent standard, free rolling, all matching couplers, locos with rock solid pick up that start every time the motor gets current.

The track laying is in your hands and needs to be proven for reliability with the stock you plan to run, which you can fully test out with DC control, as the layout build proceeds, giving you time aplenty to read up on DCC and automation.

Stano100 wrote:I do not have dcc trains yet I think I will be putting chip in older diesels that I already have...

'Older diesels' what does that mean? If this is motor bogie powered Lima, and Hornby made pre 2000, you will be looking at work to make them run reliably enough for automation of a DCC system. For a start the traction tyres have to go, unless you are a major enthusiast for track cleaning. Get them performing reliably on DC before fitting a DCC decoder: dead easy on Lima, can be problematic on older Hornby designs with concealed rail connections in some motor bogie constructions.

My best advice if this is to be a diesel operated system, go for the modern centre motor models. These have the intrinsic reliability required for automation, and cover all the classes you are likely to need. (In fact many of the smaller classes there is no choice in RTR OO, it is a centre motored model or nothing.)

Stano100
Posts: 13
Joined: Sun Nov 11, 2018 9:41 am

Re: New to dcc large layout

Postby Stano100 » Mon Nov 12, 2018 12:23 pm

Ok I think I need to stop running and learn to walk first

The layout I have is 3 quarters laid and is a mixture of Hornby and Peco 100 flexi, I do not want to start again with streamline track, not only the cost but also the time it would take

I need to get the tracks running well in Dc before I consider switching to dcc

Also there seems to to be a lot of cost in dcc before you even get to dcc automation

I thought I would be able to get 3 or 4 trains running on the same line x 4 at once but I think that is beyond the money I would want to spend £1000 max for electrics

The older diesels are hornby 125, Eurostar not sure of age and also engines from I was younger 1980s

User avatar
TimberSurf
Posts: 2436
Joined: Wed Jan 08, 2014 5:47 pm
Location: N.Wales
Contact:

Re: New to dcc large layout

Postby TimberSurf » Mon Nov 12, 2018 1:51 pm

I think you have seen the light with those comments :)
Definitely progress slowly, it's part of the learning curve so you don't fall down a deep hole! :o
Get it up and running on DC first, but if you want 4 separate running lines, you will need 4 controllers (do you have 4?) each with its own connection to one track (if permanent, then multiple droppers or a bus {x4}).
There is the advantage of DCC, it would only need one! (controller and Bus)

Re 3-4 trains per track......

that would mean a 10ft long train would have a gap of just 5 feet behind it before the next!!!

One train per track will give.......
Real World 40MPH = 40MPH
Feet per Min 40 x 5280 = 211200FPH
In OO 211200/76 = 2779FPH
Per Min 2779/60 = 46FPM

Real World 70MPH = 70MPH
Feet per Min 70 x 5280 = 369600FPH
In OO 369600/76 = 4863FPH
Per Min 4863/60 = 81FPM

Slow train every 1min 20 sec
fast train every 40 seconds

Even this will seem to frequent verses the real world :P
Image
Lumsdonia <--- Hit link to go to my website for full story and wiring advice!

User avatar
Flashbang
Posts: 3371
Joined: Thu Oct 18, 2007 1:07 pm
Location: SE United Kingdom
Contact:

Re: New to dcc large layout

Postby Flashbang » Mon Nov 12, 2018 3:12 pm

I feel you may wish to consider how you spend your hard earned money! :o

Options...
A four track DC controller or four separate ones will cost around £140ish (New Gaugemaster model Q from GM is listed at £199.95!) its £149 from Hattons. A Morley four track controller is £135 plus P & P. Unless you buy something secondhand then there are considerable savings to be made. But be cautious on what you buy if looking at secondhand DC controllers. Ask yourself if I use DC, will I need more than four controllers extras for shunting operations is sidings/fiddle yards or operating other parts of the layout separately? Additional cost involved then. No other conversions are needed though other than possibly servicing older locos.

A new DCC GaugeMaster Prodigy Advanced 2 will set you back around £247 ish (Model Railways Direct) but prices will depend on where purchased, while a new Hornby Elite is around £232.00 (Trackshack) or can be more. To this you need to add a decoder per loco.. While 'budget' decoders are available for around £12 or so each (Hornby and Bachmann) they really are often not worth the money due to a lack of CV settings. Consider something more up market at around £18 to £22 per loco.

Remember older locos will have to have the DCC Decoder hard wired and they can at times need a lot of prep work to ensure they are electrically correct for DCC, especially locos with Ringfield motors (Pancake looking motor) or older Bachmann locos with split chassis. However, the main thing before any DCC conversion is considered is to ensure the loco runs absolutely faultlessly on DC power before conversion. Any hesitancy to start or general poor running on DC will become far worse on DCC! So these problems need to be resolved. If they cant then do not convert. Either keep the loco in the display case or sell it and use the cash to put towards a new DCC Ready or DCC Fitted loco.

So in all its your money. If you go for DC then decide to change to DCC later, how much will you lose? You can of course sell items but at no where near their new value.

Start simple in whichever control system you eventually opt for. Then build on that first stating point.

BTW all track and points are suitable for DC or DCC operation or when converting from DC to DCC. :D
[Image << Click the Icon to go to my website
Broken? It was working correctly when I left it.

Mike Parkes
Posts: 649
Joined: Sat Sep 01, 2007 8:25 pm

Re: New to dcc large layout

Postby Mike Parkes » Mon Nov 12, 2018 6:53 pm

The other thing is consider is with dc do you need any isolating sections - each will need at least one wire running all the way back to the control position and a switch. Not sure if anyone has worked out these hidden costs of dc v dcc and also there is the likely need to build a control panel. If you decide to make a change to the layout that then has implications re wiring and control panel. If you go the whole hog with dcc and work the points off it you can work the whole thing from a single handset and any changes are simply achieved. With dc layouts I seemed to spend far too much time looking at the guts of the control panel and running cables all over the place from the switches whereas with dcc ones the time is spent looking at the layout.

Dad-1
Posts: 5903
Joined: Sun Aug 24, 2008 8:05 pm
Location: Dorset - A mile from West Bay.

Re: New to dcc large layout

Postby Dad-1 » Mon Nov 12, 2018 7:42 pm

Frustration is planning and starting something that's too big to get
running time.
Hone your skills on a single expandable track where you can at least get some action.
Something you planned at the beginning of this post is almost a lifetimes work. Let
alone an expensive money pit.
First of all it's meant to be 'Fun'
Just the views of someone who spent 7 years on a lot smaller, but portable layout.

Geoff T.
Remember ... I know nothing about railways.
viewtopic.php?f=22&t=32187 and Another on viewtopic.php?f=22&t=28436&start=60&st=0&sk=t&sd=a


Return to “DCC Forum”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest