Jump to content

Dcc what you guys think.


Recommended Posts

Okay so like I said once I have completed my current project my I'll be saving for my next one


Which means expensive.


I am not one to skimp on electronics so this is what I had planned




With this supply



Any thing I'm missing ?


Besides cabling and decoders.


I'm planning 3 lines one track and a second 2 track line

Link to comment
Martijn Meerts

My only question would be, why is that throttle so bloody ugly? =)


I don't know much about Digitrax (not very common in Europe), but judging by the specs this looks more like a garden scale DCC system :) If you're planning 3 single track and 1 double track line, you'll never be able to run enough trains to get even close to what this thing can output. A modern train with LED lights uses maybe about 100mA for the motor and cab cars, plus around 20mA per car with interior light. With an 8 Amp booster you'll be able to run some 80 non-interior-lit trains theoretically.


I'm all for future proof purchasing and all, but for the layout you're planning, you can get away with spending half of what the stuff you listed costs, and still have more power than you're likely going to need.

Link to comment
Hobby Dreamer
why is that throttle so bloody ugly? =)


I don't know anything really about DCC except for articles in RR magazines, but almost without exception most units look very 1970s Heath kit, or anything but streamlined. There are probably a ton of reviews on this unit (I seem to remember it got favorable  reviews); maybe this particular Digitrax is overkill so it might be worth heeding advice here and elsewhere.


DCC sounds fun once you have attained a layout goal..


Have fun with whatever you buy...

Link to comment
Martijn Meerts

Another thing to consider is whether or not you want to add automation and/or computer control sometime down the road, as well as controlling turnouts using DCC. For turnouts, you'll need decoders as well (Digitrax has Kato/Tomix compatible decoders) which adds more cost. If you want automation, you'll also need occupancy detectors so the system knows where trains are. And for computer control you'll also need an interface.


The only problem with automation/computer control (or, a block system), is that it can be difficult to convert an existing layout to a block controlled layout.


All that said, automation/computer control is only really handy when you have lots of trains and 1 or more large-ish hidden yards, or if you want to simulate prototypical running of multiple trains on the same line.

Link to comment

setting up automation is definately something i want to be doing.


this kind of project needs to be well planned though so i have my layout now to work out everything i will need and start the looooong saving process.



I want to buy most stuff I need all at once this time rather then bit by bit like on my current layout

Link to comment

That's essentially the system I now have (I have the DCS100), after upgrading one piece at a time from an original Zephyr. I think it's a good system, although I don't have a lot of experience with the wireless part yet. It's not perfect; there are some annoying default behaviors, but you can fix those by setting CVs (throttles "forget" which train they were running if you stop for more than a few seconds by default). But this specific list of equipment has a couple of issues to be aware of.


You're never going to need all of the output of the PS2012, and you could probably find a good 5-Amp supply for half the cost.  Also, you don't need the 8-amp DCS200 for N-scale (in fact, it's dangerously high-powered; too many amps make shorts a problem).  I'd recommend a DCS100-based system, or the new Zephyr Xtra. Add a booster later if you somehow need more power, but that's unlikely. If you do get the DCS100 and a PS2012 (and it's nice to have a reserve of power you don't need yet, if you can afford it), don't forget to buy the "Y-cables" that go with it.  You'll need one to start. These have a 5 Amp circuit breaker to protect the DCS100 from overcurrent (another issue with the DCS200 is that I don't think they have any similar protection for it).


As Martijn says, it's overkill for most layouts (including mine).  However, if you're going Digitrax, it's the DCS100, DCS200 or the Zephyr, as the systems based on the DB150 are fundamentally crippled (the DB150 is a booster with some basic command station features, not a full-featured command station; it's weak on programming since it can't read CVs).


Now that Digitrax has the Zephyr Xtra, that's a really good starter system, as it lifts the 10-train cap of the original Zephry to 20, which is more than anyone other than a club is likely to run simultaneously. And with N-scale non-sound trains, you'll likely hit the cap before running out of power. If you were running HO sound, you'd be much more limited (maybe 2-3 trains rather than 15-20).  The DCS 100/200s main benefit is the larger cap (120 locos) and adjustable voltage (I set mine to 12V, rather than the 14 of the Zephyr).


And yeah, the U.S. DCC manufacturers don't seem to have caught up with 1980's design, much less the 21st century.  The European manufacturers are a little better, but frankly I think they're still falling short of what they could be doing. DCC isn't a high-volume business, which makes it hard to invest a lot of effort in a system design.

  • Like 1
Link to comment

Hey Keitaro,


I have the same power supply.


I have the 5A version of the Super Chief Extra - with the DS100.  It's plenty of power for all my needs ATM.  I went for the DS100 because the power supply will handle 2 of them - but not 2 of the DS200.


You will need power management:  I'm using the PM42 with one of the four zones powering my subway - which will run up to a dozen consists.  Read up about this puppy because it will also handle auto-reversing loops.  To be sure to be sure, I've separated my inner, outer, and upper subway loops with 1A automotive fuses as well, but I could have used a second PM42 in series.  The other three power districts on my PM42 will be used by surface rail and shinkansen.


If you want the option of computer control and occupancy detection then you MUST read this thread: http://www.jnsforum.com/index.php/topic,4499.0.html ... especially Martijn's links at the end, it is the BEST way I've found to ensure your consists stop where you want them too.  It results in HEAPS of wiring, which I'm still doing, and the need for a good wiring diagram as well as track plan.


For turn out control: DS64 is great but I want to introduce you to another company at this point, CML in the UK.  These guys make Digitrax compatible accessories.  One of my favourites is the DAC20, which will control up to 8 turn outs.  Spend a bit of time reading up on their products before you buy.  They also support LocoNet.  http://www.cmlelectronics.co.uk/


Computer interface: PR3


Occupancy detection: BDL168 - you might need plenty of these, especially once you're read Martijn's thread.


Transponding: RX4 - but you don't need for every block.  You also need to be careful how you wire these up.  I'm leaving about 10cm between each.


Wireless: I'm not using any.  With PC control I doubt I'll need it.


Wiring: I went and bought 100m rolls of red and black AWG10 copper.  I'm glad I did.  It's the maximum gauge that easily fits all the sockets and plugs and it stays where you put it.  I use the plugs for your PC pwer supply - the ones that connect to your CD drive etc, to connect things together: http://cgi.ebay.com.au/4-Pin-IDE-Molex-Power-Supply-Y-Splitter-Extension-Cable-/220502824070?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3356fe1486 and http://cgi.ebay.com.au/10pcs-Power-Connector-ATX-Case-Molex-3-4-Pin-Head-Plug-/270736003255?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item3f091f90b7  As my layout comes apart, I use motorcycle plugs for connecting groups of wires:  http://stores.ebay.com.au/towzatronics/Mini-/_i.html?_fsub=291886719&_sid=672484169&_trksid=p4634.c0.m322 ... the 9 pin connectors are quite handy.  You'll also need telephone cable and the crimping tool to make up your own LocoNet cables.  All this work is quite theraputic, I might add.


Wife is calling me, so I'll back this up with another message later.  In the meantime, a track plan might be helpful if you'd like some feedback on how to implement DCC.  KenS, Martijn and the Cap'n all know more than I do.





Link to comment
Martijn Meerts

Good to see those old posts about blocks and computer control are still useful ;)


Like The Ghan said, feel free to post track plans and questions about how to set up the blocks and the like. When I first started with digital and computer control, there were few resources to get help, so I ended up having to experiment a lot (which added quite a bit to the cost of everything :)), now that I know a bit more about it, I'd be happy to help :)

Link to comment

I'm going to use DIY DCC hardware, but if I had to choose a commercial system, it would be a Lenz system, e.g., the Set100. It receives lots of positive feedback and includes features I'm missing in other systems, e.g., it allows you to limit the track voltage to 12V (most command stations are designed for H0 scale and deliver around 20V, which can be too much for N and Z scale decoders). However, I'm not familiar with Digitrax command stations.

Link to comment

My ZTC system has the advantage of being able to lower the Max volts to 10V which was why I originally bought it , Marklin Z gauge transformers had a 10v limit.

It will work with all decoders - I have in the Z gauge stuff  a mixture of Digitrax and Lenz mini Gold decoders.

The worst to fit was a Digitrax DZ1243 in a Union Pacific F7 because I had to modify the metal chassis.


Personal thoughts are so long as you can set a 12V max you should be OK.

Link to comment

That setup is basically what we are using on the N scale layout at the Ipswich club but with a different power supply. It all seems to work well.

Link to comment

Have you looked at the NCE DCC systems?  The throttles are a little nicer in my opinion.  We've been using it for years, including their decoders for the kato turnouts.  Setting up routing (multiple turnouts at the same time) is very easy and very cool.  A 5A system for N-scale is more than enough.

Link to comment

I'm going to have to disagree with The_Ghan on one one point, although we otherwise agree.  For a reasonable-size track power bus carrying up to 5 amps, 14 gauge wire is fine, and even 16 gauge would work. Going with 10 gauge, or even 12 gauge is just going to make it harder to work with the wire, and add more cost. The 14 ga wire loses twice the power of 10ga, but that's still a total of 0.4 volts per ten feet of bus at 4 Amps. See this page for some useful tables.

Link to comment



I strongly suggest combing through the various manufacturer's websites, checking out both range of product and degree of support available.  A few reasons that influenced my decision to go Digitrax:


1.  Range of product;

2.  Compatibility with Kato;

3.  Availability of product;

4.  Web based support;

5.  Easy to understand;

6.  LocoNet;

7.  Other people making LocoNet products - like CML;

8.  Affordability.


Digitrax may not be everyone's cup of tea, but look into all aspects before making a committment.





Link to comment

so i have read through the threads listed before from marti damn good read.


Explains alot and i will definately be going for a b directional.


Two question though.


1. You mention in chapter 3 isolate is in blue circles do you mean the each block has to be seperately powered? and not geting power from the previous block? or can it all be 1 connected loop?



2. Say for example I was doing a large station 16 car shinkansen for example would it be possible for the staion block to consist of the following. and i will list one direction only.


start of block > brake 50km/h > another brake half way at 20km/h > stop at end of platform?


Obviously for bi direction i would need double that. But can the system handle 2 seperate break detectors?


Also just to clarify I only need the standard decoders in the car for this I don't need anything extra per car installed?

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Martijn Meerts

1. If you look at http://www.jnsforum.com/index.php/topic,403.0.html, the top diagram shows what I mean with isolating. You only isolate 1 rail, not both. It's most common to use the minus (blue wire) rather than the plus (red wire) for this.


Obviously, the diagram is very basic, but what you want is to make sure each section in each block is isolated on 1 rail. The reason for this is that an occupancy detector detects whether there's a consumer on the section it's connected to. When a train enters the section, there's be a current running between the red and blue track. Each section has to have the isolated (blue) rail wired to an occupancy detector (they usually have 8 inputs), and the occupancy detector is then hooked up to the central. The red rail is hooked up to the central directly. If you want, I could draw a simple diagram showing how I would do it, and how to hook things up.


There are other ways of doing it, without having to isolate track at all. You could use reed contacts or infrared, but I've found the occupancy detector to be the most reliable, although not the most flexible.



2. This depends on the software used, but expect it's possible with most programs.



You don't need any special decoders in the car. In fact, it works even without decoders in the cars, as long as there's a current between the red and blue rails. A common way to be able to detect freight cars is to paint resistance paint on the wheels/axles, but it's not necessary.




The best thing to do though, is to set up a test track and try the whole occupancy detection first hand. Things start to make a LOT more sense seeing it in action :)

  • Like 1
Link to comment

Train Controller is top software.  That's where I hope to be with my layout in a year or two.





Link to comment

Wow... I just stumbled into DCC while watching youtube for some nice N gauge 'opening sets' videos, where they took video while opening certain sets..


Besides that, i just truely amazed by this!



Oh Man! True work of electronic engineering! Enough to give me a headache just by looking at the diagram... But sure is fun driving lotsa of trains using one single controller!

Link to comment
Martijn Meerts

If you want to manually drive a lot of trains using a single controller (and not go for computer control (initially)), something like the ECoS or Central Station would probably give you the most satisfaction, but they're not cheap.

Link to comment



Oh, so, you didn't know what all the fuss was about?  Well, now that you do, start saving you're pennies mate, you're going to need them.


Follow some of the links on these stickies to learn what you can do with DCC.





Link to comment

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...