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I am running a NCE Twin DCC system for the track, and JMRI on a Macmini so I can use a 11in tablet and my cell phone for controllers. I really have NO interest in hand controllers such as the hammer heads. I will be adding a NCE power house controller and 5 amp separate booster to this layout in the future. Which is why I am not worried about converting my turnouts at this time.
Holy CRAP John. Next time tell us you're an expert! :)

Just kidding, but you're doing pretty well! Now, post up some of the stuff you've done, so the rest of use can learn something! ;)

Seriously, I'd like to read about your JMRI stuff.
 

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Discussion Starter #22
Holy CRAP John. Next time tell us you're an expert! :)

Just kidding, but you're doing pretty well! Now, post up some of the stuff you've done, so the rest of use can learn something! ;)

Seriously, I'd like to read about your JMRI stuff.
I am a NOOB. And totally scared to do my own soldering on my classic models. I tend to pay people for that work... :-(

More so, you have heard of Book Smart, well I am YouTube smart. I have been collect parts for 5 yrs now trying to prep for building my dream layout. And watching a lot of youtube. And what I have learned is that alot has changed since my childhood double loop layout in the 1980s. I bought this as a starting layout where I could start practicing what I have learned.
 

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Well, I am both book smart (with trains, in some ways), and have some experience in hardware because of my job experience.

Take a few piece of old track or old circuit boards and practice soldering. Get some stuff like solder wick and just play around soldering and un-soldering stuff. You will be an old hand before you know it. But, don't breath the fumes... unless you're into that :)
 

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Discussion Starter #24
Seriously, I'd like to read about your JMRI stuff.
To be honest, its really not that fancy. A simple install, and configured it to listen to my NCE USB module.

Its actually going to be a bit problematic as when it comes to buying DCC specialties PSX-AR auto reverse's and PSX-1 circuit breakers, I wont be able to easily program them via JMRI. According to the Vendor who I spoke with. There are plans to address this in the future.

Of course a wifi network and WiThrottle automatically starts when JMRI starts. And thats setup to start up when I start my computer.

I have spent alot of time learning about configuring my decoders by decoder pro.

John
 

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John

Not at all sure what you might have read or seen
on Youtube, but, other then 'fine tuning' loco decoders,
there is nothing programmable in a DCC system,
with or without JMRI. And decoder fine tuning is optional,
and not necessarily important for many operators.

You can add wireless controllers and the JMRI stuff
but that's about all of the adjustments you can do.
Reverse loop controllers and circuit breakers may
have a 'sensitivity' adjustment but that's
done with a screwdriver; there is nothing
to program. That's why DCC is such an easy
system to set up and to use. Except for track
drops every 6 feet or so there is no need for a lot
of wiring, power districts, additional breakers
and other 'goodies' unless you have
a 'club' size layout.

Youtube is a great tool, and we've all benefitted
from it greatly.
But, it also can get overly techie and totally confuse
the new guys.

Don
 

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I've also seen a lot of things on YouTube that were worthless or flat out wrong. You need enough knowledge to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff!
 

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Discussion Starter #27
Regarding utilizing youtube as a source of information, I do believe I am educated enough to analyze different forms of information from many different sources and make a decision on my own. More so I think I know when to take what I understand and meet up on a forum such as this and ask questions for a better idea or path based on others experience where I can interact about as close to in-person as possible.

As too this thread, I am going to setup my old DC controller for the time being until I am ready to roll out a better power solution. I will probably go about the computer power supply solution. Right now I have more important changes to the layout ahead of power.
 

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ive been on the youtube binging of JMRI and ordered up flex track, a cheap $20 dcc decoder for a train (don't need any bells and whistles yet... still to experiment..)..
have the raspberry pie, Arduino mega (screwed up as I thought I got the shield but got 2 more Arduino uno's..whoops) and will be setting something up eventually.

I too am on the hunt to learn what turnouts to get. I like how you can fire up the jmri app and control a full route in one click.

I have the Pie, windows 10 surface pro, ipad and android phone to bea ble to sit back and control..once I learn all of this too!!! hah..
 

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As too this thread, I am going to setup my old DC controller for the time being until I am ready to roll out a better power solution. I will probably go about the computer power supply solution. Right now I have more important changes to the layout ahead of power.
Yup - controlling your trains using DCC doesn't mean you have to change the way you control turnouts, as that's entirely independent. It can entirely be left the way it was running off an old DC power supply you already have.

Unless you *want* to change things up...
 

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Turnout recommendations

ive been on the youtube binging of JMRI and ordered up flex track, a cheap $20 dcc decoder for a train (don't need any bells and whistles yet... still to experiment..)..
have the raspberry pie, Arduino mega (screwed up as I thought I got the shield but got 2 more Arduino uno's..whoops) and will be setting something up eventually.

I too am on the hunt to learn what turnouts to get. I like how you can fire up the jmri app and control a full route in one click.

I have the Pie, windows 10 surface pro, ipad and android phone to bea ble to sit back and control..once I learn all of this too!!! hah..
Riggzie;

Among commercial turnout brands, You can't go wrong with Peco. They are very reliable & seldom, if ever, cause any derailments or other problems., Peco offers a full range of turnout types, including wye turnouts, and curved turnouts. Pecos also have rugged construction.

Micro Engineering turnouts are a very close second in overall quality. They are actually better than Peco in terms of realistic appearance, but offer only a #6 right, a #6 left in N-scale, and, in HO-scale only, a #5 compressed yard ladder. They are also not as rugged as Peco, and require reasonable care in handling during installation.

Most of the turnouts on my own layout are scratchbuilt, but I do have a few Peco, and Micro Engineering turnouts, and both brands are excellent. To learn more about turnouts read the attached file, "All about turnouts."

By the way, "route control", which lines up all the turnouts for a desired route at once, is not limited to any form of digital control. I have route control on my layout and the most sophisticated components involved are two capacitors and a few diodes. The concept of route control goes back way before the digital age. Of course you can use your "pie" system if you like, it's your railroad. To me pie is just something to eat, :eek:hwell:

Traction Fan :smilie_daumenpos:

View attachment All AboutTurnouts rev 5.pdf
 

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Discussion Starter #31
It sounds like the Tortoise switch machines have a decoder in them with a DCC address which can be configured from the DCC hand unit to allow automated route control from JMRI as well as just general switch control. In my case with 2 reversing loops, once the DCC Specialties Auto-Reverser detects the short, it can throw the switch (assuming its DCC addressed) in the trains favor.

For this as the primary reason, I will be migrating away from my twin-coil switches and moving to Tortoise switch machines as one of the last changes on my layout. As I have said earlier in this thread, I have some physical track issues to address first.

An example of my issue to fix. I have a turn out that no matter which direction the switch is thrown, my E7 will not go straight thru but turn off and derail. But that is not for this thread, I am sure I will start a new thread when i go into track repairs.


Thanks
John
 

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Discussion Starter #32
Traction Fan, you have been a huge wealth of information. I now have a bunch of reading material for looking into turnout control. In the future I will be going DCC controlled turnouts, even I still have a switch board with momentary switches. And you pointed out something else I didnt know, that there are multi turnout controllers. That will be great for my train yard switches where I have 4 of them in 1 spot. I can use that and DCC to setup route control to make sure the switches are properly set for the route the train is going in and out of the yard.

For the time being I am going to run my old DC controller to drive the turnouts. And I have decided on a future plan as well.

The decision as to my solution for my power needs for into the future (and its not expensive at all) is something the RC community does which is use Server Quality (mainly HPs) power supplies for charging the 24v needs. And bitcoin miners use them for their power needs. As such breakaway boards have been designed and built to start them up without being plugged into servers.

So for under $40, I am going to have a 1200watt 12v power supply that is not going to deviate voltage levels under the load I am going to give it. I doubt my peak Amp draw will be 15A for this layout. Really what I am getting here is stability more than quantity. And $40 is cheap. And I dont have to modify anything, just plug the board into the power supply, add the wires from the layout switches to the breakaway board terminals, and plug the power supply in to my APC UPS which protects my train layout from brownouts due to poor power where I live. I could have used ATX power supplies, but under minor load changes the voltage changes too much for my wants unless I added a 12v UPS and conditioner on the output to ensure 12v at all times.

Once its here, I will get pictures.
 

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I hope you got the messages!

Traction Fan, you have been a huge wealth of information. I now have a bunch of reading material for looking into turnout control. In the future I will be going DCC controlled turnouts, even I still have a switch board with momentary switches. And you pointed out something else I didnt know, that there are multi turnout controllers. That will be great for my train yard switches where I have 4 of them in 1 spot. I can use that and DCC to setup route control to make sure the switches are properly set for the route the train is going in and out of the yard.

For the time being I am going to run my old DC controller to drive the turnouts. And I have decided on a future plan as well.

The decision as to my solution for my power needs for into the future (and its not expensive at all) is something the RC community does which is use Server Quality (mainly HPs) power supplies for charging the 24v needs. And bitcoin miners use them for their power needs. As such breakaway boards have been designed and built to start them up without being plugged into servers.

So for under $40, I am going to have a 1200watt 12v power supply that is not going to deviate voltage levels under the load I am going to give it. I doubt my peak Amp draw will be 15A for this layout. Really what I am getting here is stability more than quantity. And $40 is cheap. And I dont have to modify anything, just plug the board into the power supply, add the wires from the layout switches to the breakaway board terminals, and plug the power supply in to my APC UPS which protects my train layout from brownouts due to poor power where I live. I could have used ATX power supplies, but under minor load changes the voltage changes too much for my wants unless I added a 12v UPS and conditioner on the output to ensure 12v at all times.

Once its here, I will get pictures.
John I hope you get this message. three others have not shown up in this que as they should have. They were about tortoise machines not having DCC decoders. Did you receive any of them? I'm tired of re-typing the same long, clever,( I think anyway) message and very frustrated by their disappearance.

Short form:

Tortoise= no DCC decoder

Snail = yes DCC decoder

Hare = plug on DCC decoder fits Tortoise

Traction Fan :confused::mad:
 

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Yup - controlling your trains using DCC doesn't mean you have to change the way you control turnouts, as that's entirely independent. It can entirely be left the way it was running off an old DC power supply you already have.

Unless you *want* to change things up...
for me, I am starting from NEW so I have nothing to change up!!! HAH... I am waiting on a 5 pack of Atlas 100 Flextrack to get started...

my plan is
  • Make a big oval
  • Fire up each train on DC and see which one I like the best
  • Install Digitrax economy $20 dcc decoder
  • get oval working on dcc
  • figure out turnouts to use and setup

Riggzie;

Among commercial turnout brands, You can't go wrong with Peco. They are very reliable & seldom, if ever, cause any derailments or other problems., Peco offers a full range of turnout types, including wye turnouts, and curved turnouts. Pecos also have rugged construction.

Micro Engineering turnouts are a very close second in overall quality. They are actually better than Peco in terms of realistic appearance, but offer only a #6 right, a #6 left in N-scale, and, in HO-scale only, a #5 compressed yard ladder. They are also not as rugged as Peco, and require reasonable care in handling during installation.

Most of the turnouts on my own layout are scratchbuilt, but I do have a few Peco, and Micro Engineering turnouts, and both brands are excellent. To learn more about turnouts read the attached file, "All about turnouts."

By the way, "route control", which lines up all the turnouts for a desired route at once, is not limited to any form of digital control. I have route control on my layout and the most sophisticated components involved are two capacitors and a few diodes. The concept of route control goes back way before the digital age. Of course you can use your "pie" system if you like, it's your railroad. To me pie is just something to eat, :eek:hwell:

Traction Fan :smilie_daumenpos:

View attachment 522308
THx will read up on that...

I know there are many ways to do things...
and while I also agree, Pie is best eaten...
I am a techie gadget freak and this Arduino/Pie way will get my foot in the door at a lower cost price and I do see a commercial controller brought in at some point.
for me is to get the 3 track layout I hope to get going, get all 11 locos converted to dcc with cheap decoders.... get turnouts controlled as well....
Then I plan on a very nice smoking/sound/whistle full loaded steam locomotive and move from there....

I am planning on bringing my 13y old in on all of this and realism, terrain, trees, water, etc are all not something im banking on ever doing but as he ages, he may want too... don't know... but this would be our time together. Albeit we spend a lot of time together, including kicking and punching each other on the Krav Maga mat!!!!!! HAH:cheeky4:
 

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Discussion Starter #35
John I hope you get this message. three others have not shown up in this que as they should have. They were about tortoise machines not having DCC decoders. Did you receive any of them? I'm tired of re-typing the same long, clever,( I think anyway) message and very frustrated by their disappearance.

Short form:

Tortoise= no DCC decoder

Snail = yes DCC decoder

Hare = plug on DCC decoder fits Tortoise

Traction Fan :confused::mad:
I dont recall seeing the messages your speaking of, but I am reading this one and now needing to re investigate for options at that time. It looks like you have some suggestions such as SNAIL and HARE. I have never heard of them but maybe those are what I need/want to look at.
 

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Discussion Starter #36
Riggzie,
I had been waiting for 5 yrs and collected way too much stuff to let it sit much longer. I will say this, I was to be OK with just cheap decoders till I fired up my InterMountain F5 Southern Pacific Black Widow units with LokSound. OMG I fell in love. Those things were the coolest thing ever. Then Firing up my Union Pacific Spirit of 76 SD40-2 and hearing the additional sounds it made, sold me.

Now I am trying to find economical ways to get all my loco's to sound.

John
 

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Riggzie,
I had been waiting for 5 yrs and collected way too much stuff to let it sit much longer. I will say this, I was to be OK with just cheap decoders till I fired up my InterMountain F5 Southern Pacific Black Widow units with LokSound. OMG I fell in love. Those things were the coolest thing ever. Then Firing up my Union Pacific Spirit of 76 SD40-2 and hearing the additional sounds it made, sold me.

Now I am trying to find economical ways to get all my loco's to sound.

John

i hear ya. family is out so I thought Id fire up and connect the track to make a circle and see what train runs the best... 11 trains and not 1 worth a damn. might just need oil from sitting but man am i dissappointed. ive got 1930's-1940s toys im gonna sell and some lionel stuff from that era in O gauge to get $ to buy a new train or 2. then maybe someday try and fuss/care with these old trains...
 

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Discussion Starter #38
i hear ya. family is out so I thought Id fire up and connect the track to make a circle and see what train runs the best... 11 trains and not 1 worth a damn. might just need oil from sitting but man am i dissappointed. ive got 1930's-1940s toys im gonna sell and some lionel stuff from that era in O gauge to get $ to buy a new train or 2. then maybe someday try and fuss/care with these old trains...
I would suggest show case what you have here on this forum. May find its worth keeping, tearing down, cleaning, and re lubricating.

I am purposely buying Life-Like Proto 2000 E series locomotives from the 1980's due to model quality. In my opinion Athearn Blue Boxes with the motor in the middle have been a really good running loco's. In my fleet of 20 loco's, thats the majority. Out of 20 loco's I have less than 7 new ones.

John

John
 

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Sound car, sound dummy unit, sound not on board

Riggzie,
I had been waiting for 5 yrs and collected way too much stuff to let it sit much longer. I will say this, I was to be OK with just cheap decoders till I fired up my InterMountain F5 Southern Pacific Black Widow units with LokSound. OMG I fell in love. Those things were the coolest thing ever. Then Firing up my Union Pacific Spirit of 76 SD40-2 and hearing the additional sounds it made, sold me.

Now I am trying to find economical ways to get all my loco's to sound.

John


John;

Equipping a bunch of locomotive with sound is very expensive, no doubt about that. I don't own any ESU LokSound decoders but they have a reputation for unusually good sound, and higher than average prices.
There are alternatives to mounting a sound decoder and speaker in every locomotive, or disposing of all your DC locos and buying a new fleet of ESU loksound-equipped engines.

One is a sound car. The DCC decoder, and speaker, are mounted in a car, and that car is coupled right behind the locomotive. There are two variants of this basic idea. For diesels, a largely-hollow "dummy" unit towed behind the motor-powered locomotive can provide the sound. For steam, a tender can do the same job, provided it has a front coupler rather than a drawbar to connect it temporarily to any steam locomotive. The steam locos would also need rear couplers installed to be able to switch tenders.

Some, mostly older, steam loco/tender combinations pick up power from one rail with the loco's wheels and power from the other rail with the wheels of the tender. Many recent production models pick up power with nearly all the wheels on the locomotive and all the tender wheels as well. This configuration would be necessary for the "roving tender" idea to work.

It would be possible, but labour-intensive, to retrofit all-wheel pickup to older steamers. Using this system, one or two second diesel units or steam loco tenders can be coupled onto whatever locomotiv(s) are pulling a train. Most of your locomotives could remain "mute", without decoders or speakers. This would save a lot of money, and the extra effort required to add sound to lots of locomotives.

Another system, which I intend to use, is having the sound decoders and bigger & better-sounding speakers mounted to the layout, but not in the locomotives.

All these alternatives involve compromise. If you are particular about having the exact sound produced by a turbocharged SD-45's prime mover come out of your SD-45 lettered for a railroad that bought all their SD-45s with turbochargers, then you're pretty well stuck with having decoders and speakers in each locomotive.

I'm an old, half deaf, guy who only wants some chugg chugg and woo woo from any of my steamers and a grrrrnnn wahn wahn from my diesels. My favorite locomotive type, electrics, didn't make all that much noise in real life, and there are DCC decoders with sounds recorded from electrics, so I'll settle for three decoders, 1 steam, 1 diesel, and 1 electric, along with as many surplus desktop amplified speakers as needed.

Track detection circuits for signals can double as speaker sound "conductors" in the symphony orchestral sense, rather than electrical, or railroad employee, conductors. They can have the sound move along with the locomotive.
Remember too that I model in N-scale, and fitting a sound decoder and speaker into all my "filled-solid-with-frame/weight locomotives does not appeal to me any more than it does to my wallet. I have a lot of locomotives!

Another thing about onboard sound, that I've read multiple times on this forum, IT'S NOISY!
After the initial "gee whizz" effect fades away, a small group of sound-generating model locomotives becomes a cacophony of irritating noise to many folks. So much so, that they tend to turn their expensive sound off most of the time. So, you might want to ease into sound gradually.

regards;

Traction Fan :smilie_daumenpos:
 

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The Tortoise and the Hare (+escargot) 4th attempt!

I dont recall seeing the messages your speaking of, but I am reading this one and now needing to re investigate for options at that time. It looks like you have some suggestions such as SNAIL and HARE. I have never heard of them but maybe those are what I need/want to look at.


John;

The popular "Tortoise" Stall motor switch machine, sold by Circuitron, does NOT have a DCC decoder inside it. It runs on plain old DC power and is typically controlled by a simple DPDT toggle switch on a control panel. Circuitron also makes a different DC stall motor switch machine called a "Snail." The Snail DOES have a DCC decoder built-in. There is also a third device called a "Hare." This is sold by a different company called "Digital Solutions.com?" The Hare is a plug on DCC decoder designed to connect directly to the Circuitron Tortoise machine. There are two revisions of the Hare. The new Rev.II Hare has a digital feedback capability, which tells you which way the turnout has been thrown. The two microswitches inside every Tortoise can do the same thing, along with changing frog polarity, operating line-side signals, and panel indicators. They do it the old fashioned way with wires, rather than digital transmissions, however.

regards;

Traction Fan :smilie_daumenpos:
 
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