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Discussion Starter #1
So what is needed to go from dc to dcc? What is a good system to be able to go back & forth?
I’m sure it has been asked before , I just thought we could have a new discussion on it
Also maybe help a newb out lol!!! That would be me


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DC and DCC are two very different model train control systems.

Most are familar with DC. A power pack puts a positive current on
the right rail and a negative current on the left rail when it is set
to FWD and the speed control is raised. Pressing the REV
button reverses the polarity and the direction of movement.
The output of the speed
control varies the voltage, thus the loco moves faster as the voltage
increases. There is NO POWER on the rails until the speed control
is raised. Every loco on the track will move the same as the
others, there is no individual control unless you install a complex
of power packs, switches and wires. There's more but that's the basic.

The DCC system (Digital Command Control) puts around 14 volts
modified AC on the layout rails at all times. It does not vary.
The rails also carry the digital infromation produced by the controller.
Each loco has a DCC decoder with a specific 'address' either
a 2 or 4 digit number. You can run loco A by punching in it's
number, then raising the speed control. The decoder responds
to the digital information sent by the controller and powers
the motor at the speed and direction you select.
No other loco will move. Loco A will continue to run as you
then punch in the address for loco B and raise the
speed control You can add even more. You can actually
run loco A clockwise on your track as you run loco B
counterclockwise on the same track. Again there is much
more to the system.

Some DCC systems permit the operation of one DC loco, but
it is not advisable to do so. A DC loco sitting on an AC powered
track can be damaged. However, some DCC locos can be
safely operated on a DC track.

If the modeler wishes to operate both DCC and DC locos on
the same layout, there must be a special Double Pole Double Throw
switch, (DPDT) that thrown in one direction powers the track with DCC and
in the other directions powers it with a DC power pack. You cannot have both
connected to the layout at the same time. The DCC controller
would likely be fatally damaged. It is again important that any DC
loco be on a 'dead' track when running DCC.

If you have any further questions we'll be glad to help you.

Don
 

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So what is needed to go from dc to dcc? What is a good system to be able to go back & forth?
I’m sure it has been asked before , I just thought we could have a new discussion on it
Also maybe help a newb out lol!!! That would be me


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1. A DCC control system. Depending on your power requirements, you have to get into the manufacturers' listings to see what they offer. Generally, you need about 0.5 amp/sound-equipped locomotive. That's very generous, but better a bit over the top than being unable to run your favourite consists.
2. All currently offered DCC systems, U pick 'em, are reliable, quality products, and they work as advertised. Again, YOU have to figure out current and potentially future power needs (amperes), and then seek the system that provides it. Most go with at least 2 amps, but 5 and 8 are not by any means rare. I'd counsel you to try for 3 amps and you'll be happy for the foreseeable future.
3. If you have some DC locomotives, they must become digitized. That's because the DCC systems impose a digital signal over the square wave AC current that runs full-time, full voltage, to the rails...unlike DC where you dial up the voltage to gain speed.
4. Each locomotive must have a circuit on board that decodes the digital signals your system sends down the rails. They're called 'decoders', and each locomotive gets one. At the same time, each decoder will be given a name, or what we call an 'address'. Usually we pick the cab number decaled on the side of the loco. Many install their own decoders, some pay for that service...probably most pay. Or purchase one that is either decoder-ready or is sold 'sound-equipped'.
5. Last, and probably most important, you must read the flippin' manual. Seriously...it's disappointing how many people fear, or disdain, to do that, and then badmouth Brand X because 'it's so complicated, not user-friendly...I HATE IT!!!' Or, "I can't figure out DCC. DC is so much simpler. I'm going back....to umpteen toggles, selectors, reems of wire..."
 

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Mesenteria, as usual, sums it up pretty well. I don't use sound, so I've found 3 amps to be plenty for my needs / demands. I would at least think about a brand that offers a wireless option as well; you may find moving controllers around a larger layout gets old.

My one caveat here is the Bachmann Dynamis system. I bought one for my son to use on his layout, and rapidly found the interface unwieldy and the handheld unit far too bulky. Also, making any upgrades to the system, even something as basic as adding a throttle, requires a $400 upgrade, before you even purchase the additional components. That was a deal-breaker for me. My son now has (and loves) an MRC Prodigy Express2.

Generally, the best answer for running both DC and DCC on the same layout is not to do it. Convert your old locos to DCC. While new DCC locos will run on plajn DC, the reverse isn't really true and you can cook the motors. Feeding DCC (actually a modified AC wave) and DC to the same rails at the same time is a good way to fry your DCC controller, your DC powerpack, or both. If you must have both, wire them to a common bus through a DPDT switch to select inputs. If you do this, you have to be careful to isolate your DC locos before switching to DCC. Also, make sure the switch is of the break before make variety, to avoid the possibility of feeding DC power to the DCC controller and vice versa.
 

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As CTValley said "Generally, the best answer for running both DC and DCC on the same layout is not to do it. " At some point you will switch to DCC and forget that a loc or two are still on the track. The warning, if your lucky is a lot of noise, but the smell of cooking motor may be the only warning. Its just not worth it. You could have seperate tracks and eventually as your DCC fleet increases, switch over to all DCC and put in a connector track.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thank you all for the input! My situation is I have DC on my current layout. I also have 3 locos that are dcc. They have all the stuff inside them. Bachmann 2-8-4’s I also have 7-12 regular DC locos. I was looking at upgrading to DCC so I could run more than 1 train at a time.
My layout is just one big main track, a couple of sidings & a small yard. (3 lanes for cars)
I figured if I ran DCC I could have 2 trains on the same rail & match the speeds easy so they would not hit each other. As it is now I have to try & run the exact same trains so they don’t catch one another. I would like to add sound someday. It sound like upgrading might be more of a pain than a gain for me at this time.


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I typically run two different trains on one mainline using DCC to match speeds of the two to keep them separated. The layout is large enough that there is a large space etween the two, but I use an on-line speed calculator to help match speeds. It's never perfect, but they will usually run for at least 20 minutes without a speed adjustment for one or the other.

I have run two trains on the second mainline concurrently, but it is a lot to keep up with and I usually only run a single train on the second main but switch trains after the first pulls into a small halt for passengers on a siding.

Here, I've stopped Br.111 for passengers on the station siding, and Br.187 is waiting to go, while a through train passes on the outside main that I run two trains on concurrently.

 

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You can tried to build the DCC++ system for a cheap entry point and experimentation purposes -- besides the various parts which you can find described on the link below, you'll need a PC and something to build the software. I built oe using the motor controller from Pololu -- and then use JRMI to run it.


(jmri -- www.jmri.org)

Or just buy something cheap used, I see NCE power cab systems from time to time for sale.
 

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Thank you all for the input! My situation is I have DC on my current layout. I also have 3 locos that are dcc. They have all the stuff inside them. Bachmann 2-8-4’s I also have 7-12 regular DC locos. I was looking at upgrading to DCC so I could run more than 1 train at a time.
My layout is just one big main track, a couple of sidings & a small yard. (3 lanes for cars)
I figured if I ran DCC I could have 2 trains on the same rail & match the speeds easy so they would not hit each other. As it is now I have to try & run the exact same trains so they don’t catch one another. I would like to add sound someday. It sound like upgrading might be more of a pain than a gain for me at this time.


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It sounds like you drew exactly the opposite conclusion from all the advice...

MY advice was actually to bite the bullet and upgrade. Just avoid trying to use some kind of dual power hookup if you can.

DCC will allow you to control those two or three (or more) trains independently, starting, stopping or changing speed with one while the other(s) continue what they were doing. Add a second throttle , and a second person can issue commands to a second locomotive while you run the first. One throttle can control many locomotives, but only one can be given commands at any given time (switching locos is a matter of hitting one or more buttons).

Another huge advantage of DCC is that you can park a train or loco simply by stopping it, anywhere, any time. In DC, you have to electrically isolate that locomotive or it will just move again as soon as you move the throttle.

To me, that's worth the price of admission, right there. You will have to upgrade your old locos, but that isn't too difficult. Newer ones may be as easy as plugging in a circuit card; otherwise, a little surgery and soldering will be involved, although these are places that will do it for you (for a fee, of course).
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thank you CTvalleyRR
I still want to upgrade I just don’t know if I can/want to at the moment. It seems a bit over whelming. I worry about wiring. I stink a soldering!!! I also don’t want to go buy everything & then just let it set......
I wish I had a place I could go & get a feel for it , so I know how it all would need to work.
Thanks for you input! It really helps!


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Now would be a good time to work on that soldering technique. It's a handy skill and lost of youtube help. first tip, use more flux and less solder, alligator clips can both hold things and act as heat sinks.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Now would be a good time to work on that soldering technique. It's a handy skill and lost of youtube help. first tip, use more flux and less solder, alligator clips can both hold things and act as heat sinks.
You know I think I have been going at it all wrong! As a welder I just assumed turn up the heat & add more stick!! Lol
I will try what you are telling me!

I can weld a pop can.... but for the life of me I can’t keep two wire together!


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Welding is sort of the same in terms of cleaning the parts, but that's about the only similarity. You're only trying to melt solder, not the base metal! I could do a little brazing and a little welding with a torch. AL stuff was beyond me. All useful when I lived on a farm and out in the country, now i'll stick to just soldering.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I am a in fabrication/ weld I have welded aluminum, steel , galvanized, stainless, even zinc..... that stuff is awful!!!
Over head ,tig/mig , flux & arc. Yet soldering gives me all sort of issues!!! Lol


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I am a in fabrication/ weld I have welded aluminum, steel , galvanized, stainless, even zinc..... that stuff is awful!!!
Over head ,tig/mig , flux & arc. Yet soldering gives me all sort of issues!!! Lol


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A skill which you only mastered after years of training and practice. You probably felt the same way about welding the first couple of times. Just practice... you'll get the hang of it.

For wires, don't try to make the solder do the joining. Make a mechanical connection, then solder it.
 

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I am a in fabrication/ weld I have welded aluminum, steel , galvanized, stainless, even zinc..... that stuff is awful!!!
Over head ,tig/mig , flux & arc. Yet soldering gives me all sort of issues!!! Lol


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I just did the jump into the DCC pool and went with the Digitrax Zepher dcs 52 command station which is billed and sold as a beginner starting point with options to be added as you grow. I have 3 DCC ready locos that I have added encoders to and 2 locos that I soldered the wiring harness in after isolating the motors and they all run great. I went with Digitrax encoders to guarantee compatibility. I also at the same time added about 75' of Atlas flextrack to my layout that was Bachmann EZ track and after soldering all the joiners together and soldering up the locos my soldering skills have much improved. I have also learned the Bachmann electric switches are crap and have switched to Peco and am slowly replacing the Bachmanns. I can run 5 trains with DCC whereas before I needed 5 DC controllers on 5 separate track layouts similar to what you are doing, now after making crossovers up and going with DCC I can go anywhere I want with the trains. It can be frustrating at times learning the basics but you being a welder have a big jump on me as I was the worlds worst solderer but with practice I am getting better.I just added a DT402 throttle and is that a nice piece, it allows me to control 2locos and to to move around with the throttle in your hand and I am adding up5 outlets to let me move away from the command station with remote hookups the up5 outlets. I still control the other 3 locos from the control station and with the recall mode I can get to any of the quickly but the most valuable button the the emergency button that stops all trains in an instant when panic strikes (confusion) I am not a IT expert and I hate computers and if I can make the change so can you. If you need any help just holler and I may have faced your problem.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks guys!! I probably will go to DCC I just need to make sure I know what I’m doing! Lol my closes support for train related problems are..... well where are you guys?? Lol!!

I don’t think we have any shops around anymore in my area! There is hobby lobby that sells starter kits..... but we know they know nothing! lol

Other than that ..... nothing that I know of. I know of a few clubs around, but unless you pay their dues they don’t talk to you. I’m not a guy that wants to drive 1-2 hours to play with someone else’s tracks....

I enjoy this hobby with my girls.. they get bored at clubs! To many rules. Lol
At our layout if Thomas wants to haul a tea cup he can!! Lol


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A skill which you only mastered after years of training and practice. You probably felt the same way about welding the first couple of times. Just practice... you'll get the hang of it.

For wires, don't try to make the solder do the joining. Make a mechanical connection, then solder it.

It helps a lot to tin the wires first too.
 
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