Jump to content

New to DCC, all the questions you never wanted to hear .....


Recommended Posts

I'm sorry all you voice operated afficianados, it is not a alternative to the finesse you get from manual control, however you do it.

There's an inevitable delay as speaking the commands takes time whilst the manual control has already done it!

  • Agree 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
19 hours ago, Nigelcliffe said:

3 - Turnout control can be what you want it to be.   Finger-poke, rods under the layout, motors with wires and switches, digitally controlled through either a digital panel, a real switch panel talking to the digital system or a computer/tablet.  Whatever you would like.   The more electronics you throw at it, generally it gets more expensive, but perhaps more flexible.   

 

7 hours ago, Butler Henderson said:

That's more reasonably a should not must in respect of turnouts. It makes sense with live frogs to provide the frog switch with direct feed from the "DCC bus" ( a couple of high current wires wound together running under the length of the layout carrying the track supply).

 

There is also the advantage of using frog juicers on sprung turnouts to run through them in a trailing direction without stalling, such as the exit of a fiddle yard or run round loop. One general criticism of model railways is you control the track and not the trains, DCC may be less so in this respect but a train is still going to short itself out on the frog and stop when meeting a turnout that is set against it, when in reality it would carry on running (with the resultant carnage). I'm a terrible driver and would quickly be sacked by a real railway for this kind of mistake, so anything that creates less of an issue for me is good.

 

Edited by 298
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
21 minutes ago, PMW said:

I'm afraid in my mind if it controls the train, then it's a controller. A controller contains a throttle, but other things too, such as direction selector, perhaps even light and sound control. Hornby and Bachmann both seem to use this phraseology so trying to change it, at least at the level I am contemplating seems counter productive.

 

Sorry, but you mentioned in your opening post that you were considering using a smartphone for control.

You have already separated the function of user input from control signalling & power provision, so the concept of a "controller" is already inadequate.

The terms throttle (or cab), command station & booster have therefore become the recognised terms for each component & are understood by all those who are trying to answer your questions.

 

You may find Hornby & Bachmann's entry level systems are very basic. I started off with a Hornby Select just to see if DCC was for me. It did this but it was not long before I wanted more than it could do. About 2 hours to be exact.

 

  • Like 2
  • Agree 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • RMweb Gold
52 minutes ago, melmerby said:

I'm sorry all you voice operated afficianados, it is not a alternative to the finesse you get from manual control, however you do it.

There's an inevitable delay as speaking the commands takes time whilst the manual control has already done it!

Maybe not the finesse on individual control but for being able to give commands to multiple locos there is no quicker way that I've found, especially when running a large layout as you don't need to look at the throttle/screen/phone/laptop to do so.

 

Andi

  • Agree 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, Dagworth said:

Maybe not the finesse on individual control but for being able to give commands to multiple locos there is no quicker way that I've found, especially when running a large layout as you don't need to look at the throttle/screen/phone/laptop to do so.

 

Andi

Did it need much voice training?

That's one of the things that puts me off as I haven't yet managed to get things to operate correctly to my commands

 

e.g. You get an automated phone call that says "speak your 4 digit pin number"  I say "four - seven - nine - three" it says "three - seven - five -three" if correct say yes and it goes on.

 

My car has voice operated sat-nav/audio. I have never got it to do what I ask. One press of a key on the steering column is quicker.

 

The "experiment" I did with word on a PC some years ago was just as bad.

"New paragraph" - Say again - "New paragraph - Say again. Hits return key in frustration.:(

  • Friendly/supportive 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • RMweb Gold
1 minute ago, melmerby said:

Did it need much voice training?

That's one of the things that puts me off as I haven't yet managed to get things to operate correctly to my commands

 

None at all, we had it out on demo with multiple people using a handheld radio mic as the input source, it was quite happy with non-English accents too.

 

There is a relatively limited dictionary that it recognises and it uses names for locos rather than numbers. It is possible to set up different words as the "all stop" command, (for which "B*ll*cks" works :) )

 

Andi

 

 

  • Funny 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, grriff said:

If you are going to use a SPROG why not also try PanelPro which is packaged with DecoderPro? You can then use it to control your accessories and locos from the same screen. Worth trying before buying another system. 

Simply because the Multiimaus is simpler IMO to use, can walk round the layout with it and not having to be tied to a laptop screen. 

  • Agree 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Butler Henderson said:

Simply because the Multiimaus is simpler IMO to use, can walk round the layout with it and not having to be tied to a laptop screen. 

 

It may be simpler to use if you only have 2-3 points, but it can become difficult to remember them all on a larger layout.

With DCC point control, everything is managed from the command station, so you can have multiple panels & choose which one you want to throw the point. You can even throw a point with the throttle & see the route update on screen.

For anyone who is already using JMRI, PanelPro is already there. It only costs time to set it up.

 

Remember we were trying to help somebody by giving them options with DCC setup. They did not have many posts so are unlikely to be used to how opinionated we can all be on here. I hope we have not scared them away.

  • Agree 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Butler Henderson said:

Simply because the Multiimaus is simpler IMO to use, can walk round the layout with it and not having to be tied to a laptop screen. 

In which case there is the alternative of the 'Engine Driver' app on a smartphone linked to JMRI. Possibly simpler than the Arduino option mentioned in another post. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, PMW said:

.... Wiring this kind of system would be fairly straightforward though the more I think about it the more I am convinced for now at least to stick with DC most probably with a purpose built 4 channel controller, one channel each for outer loop, inner loop, sidings yard and the partial third loop and engine depot.

Don't overlook the advantages of DCC. In your plan of DC control, moving from one controller to another would be more difficult as you could only have one loco in both sections, unless others were in isolated sections which makes wiring more complex. I also find DCC much better for slow running than DC.

  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, grriff said:

In which case there is the alternative of the 'Engine Driver' app on a smartphone linked to JMRI. Possibly simpler than the Arduino option mentioned in another post. 

You are still looking at a screen. That's the whole point.

You can use a Multimaus one handed without looking at it.

That's why I have got a WLAN Maus, even though I have tried a smartphone & tablet app.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, grriff said:

Don't overlook the advantages of DCC. In your plan of DC control, moving from one controller to another would be more difficult as you could only have one loco in both sections, unless others were in isolated sections which makes wiring more complex. I also find DCC much better for slow running than DC.

 

For me the obvious advantage would be the ability to tun a train round part of a loop occupied by another train into sidings etc. It can be done with DC but you would need to isolate a section of track, usually in the station via a switch. The idle trains sits their whilst the train heading into, or out of sidings can then cross that loop and run on it if needed. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, Pete the Elaner said:

 

It may be simpler to use if you only have 2-3 points, but it can become difficult to remember them all on a larger layout.

 

There are solutions to that, a point numbered track plan pinned on a suitable location or a small number sticker in line with the point on the baseboard edge - the latter does not have to be every point if for example they are numbered consequentially from a certain location. Some Multimaus offer route settings while an alternative I have used is to drive relays rather than solenoid point motors which then route set a CDU through a traditional diode matrix.

Edited by Butler Henderson
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Butler Henderson said:

There are solutions to that, a point numbered track plan pinned on a suitable location or a small number sticker in line with the point on the baseboard edge - the latter does not have to be every point if for example they are numbered consequentially from a certain location. Some Multimaus offer route settings while an alternative I have used is to drive relays rather than solenoid point motors which then route set a CDU through a traditional diode matrix.

 

You are missing the point, which is that DCC doesn't force you to decide on 1 method.

Many people new to DCC see people throw points with a throttle & assume this is the only method available. It isn't.

 

This thread was supposed to be offering alternatives & suggestions for someone considering DCC.

  • Like 1
  • Agree 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Butler Henderson said:

There are solutions to that, a point numbered track plan pinned on a suitable location or a small number sticker in line with the point on the baseboard edge - the latter does not have to be every point if for example they are numbered consequentially from a certain location. Some Multimaus offer route settings while an alternative I have used is to drive relays rather than solenoid point motors which then route set a CDU through a traditional diode matrix.

In a way this is back to front. I have a whole load of solenoid points that I may or may not use when I convert to DCC. You have created a way to continue to use the stuff you already installed, inserting relays to be able to drive them from the Command centre, whereas I am going to control them direct through the Command control centre without needing the relays. The whole point of the Command centre for me is that you can junk all the DC stuff like the diode matrix. I'm sure it worked perfectly. The other aspect of course is that my approach will be more costly as relays are pence and a separate control unit to run the solenoids is tens of pounds.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • RMweb Gold
2 hours ago, Pete the Elaner said:

This thread was supposed to be offering alternatives & suggestions for someone considering DCC.

All too often DCC-initial-help threads descend into the best way to achieve this or that side issue, leaving the OP even more baffled by jargon and complexity that need not bother him. All too often brands are recommended, too, which can never be more than the most random of straw poll, i.e. beliefs of those who choose to post.

 

Talking to a specialist dealer remains my answer in most cases.  

  • Agree 11
Link to post
Share on other sites
40 minutes ago, RobinofLoxley said:

In a way this is back to front. I have a whole load of solenoid points that I may or may not use when I convert to DCC.

I had a load of Seeps which were my choice of point control under DCC, using Lenz LS150 point decoders.

Unfortunately I found they were not reliable enough, so I tried others, Peco & Hornby as well as good old HM1 solenoids (left over from DC operation) and wasn't satisfied.

I took the plunge and at some greater cost, bought some Tortoises operated with NCE Switch-8s, I never looked back.100% reliable operation every time.

 

I had a couple of early basic Cobalts, they were not very good, after about a year, both started sticking at the end of travel, so were replaced with more Tortoises. I also tried a couple of Traintronics TT200, which started to fail after about a year.

 

My latest foray is a couple of MPB1 turnout motors driven by a home brew Arduino DCC decoder, so far so good, very positive operation compact and versatile. The only drawback is that they are noisier than a Tortoise but not excessively so.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Actually the only issue I have had with Seeps was unrelated to the function - I blocked the travel with ballast somewhat carelessly.

 

I have 40 Pm's now, and will have 56/57. So testing other designs will be a necessity. But that wasn't really what my post was about.

Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, RobinofLoxley said:

Actually the only issue I have had with Seeps was unrelated to the function - I blocked the travel with ballast somewhat carelessly.

 

I have 40 Pm's now, and will have 56/57. So testing other designs will be a necessity. But that wasn't really what my post was about.

I had quite a lot (30-40?) and had already bought more to complete the layout, but never even opened the packs of the later ones. Maybe the problem was related to the fact that each had to drive a microswitch (or two) for frog switching, which didn't seem to bother the Peco or Hornby ones. I tried some Seeps with a built in switch but wasn't impressed.

 

Of the solenoids I tried in order of merit I would put H&M first along with the very similar Codar both of which are obsolete, then Peco (high & low resistance), followed by Hornby and last are Seeps.

(That is also interestingly the cost in decending order)

 

EDIT

Sorry. This is well off the OPs topic and a bit irrelevant.

 

 

 

Edited by melmerby
Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, RobinofLoxley said:

In a way this is back to front. I have a whole load of solenoid points that I may or may not use when I convert to DCC. You have created a way to continue to use the stuff you already installed, inserting relays to be able to drive them from the Command centre, whereas I am going to control them direct through the Command control centre without needing the relays.

Fine,   but entering in one turnout address to set a route is IMO a lot simpler than having to enter in each address for each point that needs changing. Obviously a lot simpler if the DCC system allows for route setting although IME that is a bit hit and miss.

 

10 hours ago, Pete the Elaner said:

You are missing the point, which is that DCC doesn't force you to decide on 1 method.

Many people new to DCC see people throw points with a throttle & assume this is the only method available. It isn't.

Agreed no its not and I wasn't intending to imply otherwise 

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 04/10/2020 at 15:17, PMW said:

I'm afraid in my mind if it controls the train,

 

Mind control of trains......

I wish I had mind control of my operators........................

 

Voice control of them sometimes works, but often involves swear words when they're not doing things to plan.

  • Agree 1
  • Funny 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, newbryford said:

Voice control of them sometimes works, but often involves swear words when they're not doing things to plan.

 

Don't worry, my Alexa is getting used to some choice words.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Reliability. 

 

Comparisons with zero 1 are chalk and cheese.  Reliability in DCC is like anything else in that some products are better than others and even the best can produce the odd late Friday afternoon example.  However I would say in general reliability is very good.  

 

A few of my experiences

I bought a Digitrax DCS100 command station in 2000.  It has been powered up virtually continuously since and still works flawlessly. 

I bought a Digitrax DT400 throttle in the early 2000s.  It failed in 2011 due to the infamous "bad bunch of capacitors" problem.  Being an electronics tinkerer I managed to repair it myself and it has worked perfectly ever since.

I bought 10 Lenz LS100 acc modules in 2000.  3 have failed and 7 are still functioning.

I bought 4 Digitrax BDL16 train detection modules in 2000 and 1 is now starting to show the initial signs that it might be on the way out.  The other 3 are fine.

I have bought somewhere in the region of 150 loco decoders in the past 20 years and all are still working

 

You pays your money and takes your choice.

Edited by DY444
  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 04/10/2020 at 08:17, RobinofLoxley said:

I am a newcomer to DCC as well and just gleaning all the info I can from people here.

 

One comment made very strongly is that continuity of power supply is critical and must be supplied direct to every turnout and most track sections.


People say they wire every piece of track but I'd like to hear whether anyone has tested wiring every other piece, or even every 3rd piece.

I wonder if this is an old mechanic from those who still think DCC is being sold as "two wires only" - which if you think about a simple Hornby Train set, DCC could work the same way if if's a small layout.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • RMweb Gold
4 minutes ago, Sir TophamHatt said:


People say they wire every piece of track but I'd like to hear whether anyone has tested wiring every other piece, or even every 3rd piece.

I wonder if this is an old mechanic from those who still think DCC is being sold as "two wires only" - which if you think about a simple Hornby Train set, DCC could work the same way if if's a small layout.

I put one feed per rail per approx 4ft baseboard, not one for every single piece of track. I always solder all my rail joiners. I've had precisely ONE rail joint fail to conduct in the 20 years I've been DCC.

 

Andi

  • Like 1
  • Informative/Useful 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.