Model Train Forum banner

1 - 20 of 52 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
559 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Ok so first is first.. I did read, and read a LOT... just want to confirm a few things that I was thinking...

I am going to go DCC definitely. I have about 11 trains already that are DC. One says 2007 on it so possibly dcc ready? cant figure out how to open it.. HAH...

anyway.. I spent a ton of time reading and see all the costs, etc...
and as they all say.. its about preference and how many trains, etc...

so the house I was looking at got an offer, well above what I am going to give, thus I am moving on and staying in my home. With that I have to keep it small so a 4x8 dual O so like {O} ….

I want to run 2 trains as there will be 2 tracks. May do a 3rd elevated but will see...
since DCC can tie a few trains together, I may even take my two Santa Fe and put one in front/back in tandem...

still with that, I read you can consider each train a half amp.

My current thoughts and choice seems simple...

nce power cab
Pro:
  • up to 4 trains at once as its 2a
  • Everything included in starter kit to run it
  • Expandable with SB5 adding 5a for more trains???
Con:
  • I am not sure about the throttle
  • Not wireless - I think

so I maybe just fine with this unit. How do all of you feel about the throttle? I prefer a slider or knob that you can move easier and not that little scroll wheel...

may not need the SB5 but nice to know that I can add if I get to a need for a larger environment.

Wifi - I read the ProCab and Power Pro units are Wifi but read someone had issues with people loosing control of changes in Wifi so Wifi isn't all that great. At home for home networking I am a wired guy. some things are wifi but I prefer wired.. so I wont miss it..

does my analasys seem right?

my goal is 2 simple loops...
use an Atlas 305 with motor turntable and 10 side tracks that eventually will have 10 dcc trains (11 but will use a Y when that time comes)


now I also want to ask this. Read up a bit on DCC Decoders. People say that some of the cheaper ones make a hum, some for sound don't sound good, etc...
But what if you have a train that you do not want sound. just be able to control and maybe lights if it has it...

I see ebay with DCC Decoders from $12-$40 then I see ones from $40-$80 with sound and other bells and whistles...

if you do not require sound and a ton of options... are the cheaper ones ok?
that should get us started...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,391 Posts
The motion/lights only decoders are fine. Sounds costs more. Half of my locomotives have sound, the other half don't. Those that do are ESU sound files or Henning Sound. Both sources are outstanding compared with videos of the actual locomotive's sound.

Buy a quality decoder. I don't have any experience with American brands so I can't recommend any. I'm using ESU and Zimo and one other brand who's name escapes now. It's installed in a TRIX Br.187 so it's probably something Märklin uses.

The Powercab scroll wheel may fail if too much pressure is applied. The decoder the wheel is attached to may also fail as mine has. I never liked that wheel much and I use the buttons to control speed. Can't say anything about the booster or wireless. Nowhere on my layout is farther away than the included cord will reach. The control panel is mounted about in the center of the layout fascia and it's a seven foot cord, so I have a 14' radius to move about in and the layout is only 11'x13'.

You can operate up to six trains with the Powercab and I've done it. It's a lot to keep track of though and I do not have automatic block control, so I usually limit operation to three or four trains at a time. Mostly four. You are able to store up to six addresses in memory to scroll through (with a button) to select the locomotive for control. If you have more than six, you can also manually call up the locomotive by the address numbers.

I've never heard a decoder hum before. I guess ESU and Zimo don't. Locomotive motors hum though.

I like the throttle other than what I've mentioned. I do wish the case was made of aluminum instead of the cheap plastic they use. It seems sturdy enough though as long as you aren't going to drop it every session.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
559 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
The motion/lights only decoders are fine. Sounds costs more. Half of my locomotives have sound, the other half don't. Those that do are ESU sound files or Henning Sound. Both sources are outstanding compared with videos of the actual locomotive's sound.

Buy a quality decoder. I don't have any experience with American brands so I can't recommend any. I'm using ESU and Zimo and one other brand who's name escapes now. It's installed in a TRIX Br.187 so it's probably something Märklin uses.

The Powercab scroll wheel may fail if too much pressure is applied. The decoder the wheel is attached to may also fail as mine has. I never liked that wheel much and I use the buttons to control speed. Can't say anything about the booster or wireless. Nowhere on my layout is farther away than the included cord will reach. The control panel is mounted about in the center of the layout fascia and it's a seven foot cord, so I have a 14' radius to move about in and the layout is only 11'x13'.

You can operate up to six trains with the Powercab and I've done it. It's a lot to keep track of though and I do not have automatic block control, so I usually limit operation to three or four trains at a time. Mostly four. You are able to store up to six addresses in memory to scroll through (with a button) to select the locomotive for control. If you have more than six, you can also manually call up the locomotive by the address numbers.

I've never heard a decoder hum before. I guess ESU and Zimo don't. Locomotive motors hum though.

I like the throttle other than what I've mentioned. I do wish the case was made of aluminum instead of the cheap plastic they use. It seems sturdy enough though as long as you aren't going to drop it every session.

thx for the reply. So you are agreeing with my assumptions about the scroll wheel...
so that got me thinking and im liking this thought.
for $50 you can get
https://tonystrains.com/news/using-jmri-with-nce-power-cab-sb5-and-ph-power-pro/

and use an android tablet or cell phone and swipe for throttle.

could integrate an android tablet or ipad into the control panel

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,403 Posts
Another advantage of the PowerCab is that if you eventually build a larger layout and replace the starter kit with a full NCE system (or visit a friend who has a full system), the PowerCab throttle can be used as a regular throttle on the full NCE system.

And you can still use the hookup part that comes with the PowerCab to run an isolated test track on the workbench if needed. So you have both a standalone system as well as a throttle for the full system.

I don't think most other systems upgrade in quite the same way.

(I mean yes, in this scenario the upgrade is buying a new "full system" but your existing PowerCab throttle is still used as a regular throttle with the full system.)

Edit - I just saw the SB5 "Smart Booster" - that's an interesting upgrade path for the PowerCab, and can still be upgraded to a full PowerPro system and be used as a standard booster in the full system. I like NCE's upgrade path of being able to always reuse the original pieces in the full system.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,403 Posts
thx for the reply. So you are agreeing with my assumptions about the scroll wheel...
so that got me thinking and im liking this thought.
for $50 you can get
https://tonystrains.com/news/using-jmri-with-nce-power-cab-sb5-and-ph-power-pro/

and use an android tablet or cell phone and swipe for throttle.

could integrate an android tablet or ipad into the control panel
Yeah, using JMRI, Wifi connection and throttle app, you can use a phone or other mobile device as a throttle, but personally I prefer the throttle with physical buttons. Once you're used to the throttle and its layout you can operate with one hand not even looking at it. The operating buttons like the speed wheel and buttons, and reverse, etc. are all right where your thumb is when holding the throttle.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8,613 Posts
A 4 X 8 HO layout is going to seriously limit the
locos that you can run. 22" radius curves would
go right to the edge of the top, but you need that
for any of the new large diesels and most steamers.
I would suggest adding a foot to the width and
thus be able to have suitable curves safely. Further,
a 2 track main would mean the inside track would
necessarily have tighter very limiting radii.

You might consider a single track main with 2 or
3 passing sidings. DCC makes it possible to run
train A clockwise while train B is going counter
clockwise. As you can imagine this offers all sorts
of operating fun.

Any of the currently available DCC systems would
provide sufficient power to run 3, 4 or more
non sound locos at the same time. At the low
speeds that look the best on a layout the per
loco amp draw is closer to .2 or .3 amps, not .5
A DCC booster would not be needed unless you
are running several sound locos...sound does soak
up power.

You can depend on loco decoders from Both
Digitrax and NCE. The non sound versions run
around 20.00 or less. Most can pass 1/5 amps
for the loco motors. That makes them suitable
for older less efficient motors. Further, they
replace free any defective decoder, even if you
accidentally damage it.

Adding DCC to a loco is a pleasant 2 or 3 hour chore.
Each decoder comes with clear instructions to
show you where each of the color coded wires
go. Most are about the size of a fat postage stamp
so they'll fit in most locos.

Don
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,773 Posts
I'm with Don about the restrictions of what you can do in a 4x8 layout. Not really too many options there. You're definitely not going to have room for a turntable and roundhouse or a wye, so I'm guessing those are future expansions.

I'll also echo CV-ACR's sentiments about the advantages of physical buttons and knobs. Might not bother you, though. A tablet, in my opinion, is just too big to make a good throttle.

As far as decoders, it's not the price per se. There are plenty of perfectly good, inexpensive, non-sound decoders out there. Just stick with name brands: Digitrax, NCE and TCS are good. MRC are hit or miss. Bachmann, to be nice, stink. They buzz... objectionably loudly to my ears.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
630 Posts
Sorry, but I can't get my head around all this..
You have a layout. It's DCC. You have an NCE system, PowerCab or larger (I have the PCab)..You have locos and cars..You turn power on.. You run your railroad....
All these other gadgets are a mystery.. I mean, why ?? It's all there on the NCE keypad and screen. No offense meant to those into all this, but I can't get why I'd want to hold a cellphone in my hand or have this I-pad mini interface doodah ..
I can see these components being used by a dispatcher in a large club.. But to run a home layout, sorry, I just don't get it...You have the throttle. You walk along either wireless or plugging in/out of fascia panels and run your trains..
What am I missing about the significance or necessity of all this other tech stuff just to move trains down the track ? M
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
559 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Sorry, but I can't get my head around all this..
You have a layout. It's DCC. You have an NCE system, PowerCab or larger (I have the PCab)..You have locos and cars..You turn power on.. You run your railroad....
All these other gadgets are a mystery.. I mean, why ?? It's all there on the NCE keypad and screen. No offense meant to those into all this, but I can't get why I'd want to hold a cellphone in my hand or have this I-pad mini interface doodah ..
I can see these components being used by a dispatcher in a large club.. But to run a home layout, sorry, I just don't get it...You have the throttle. You walk along either wireless or plugging in/out of fascia panels and run your trains..
What am I missing about the significance or necessity of all this other tech stuff just to move trains down the track ? M

its cool... lol....
why not.
dc works.. dcc is more complicated but why not?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
691 Posts
DCC is actually less complicated than DC. No need for blocks on your trackage. Just connect the power to the track and you are set to run and control as many locomotives as the system will support.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,403 Posts
What am I missing about the significance or necessity of all this other tech stuff just to move trains down the track ? M
There's absolutely no necessity - but it is an option and some people like being able to use the throttle app on a phone. Personally I prefer buttons because I can use them without looking.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
798 Posts
You will want to "inventory" your current loco fleet to ascertain which are "dcc ready" (have a plug in which to connect decoder), and which aren't. Some may have 8-pin sockets, some may have 9-pin, 21-pin, etc. Others may have no socket at all -- for some of these, "the job" involved in getting them to dcc may not be worth it.

You'll want to decide whether you want sound or not.
Some folks live for this.
I found that (for me) sound is not that important -- but smooth loco control is (that's where the non-sound dcc really shines).

You'll want to decide on what kind of dcc control system you want.
Either a "pushbutton system" (such as NCE), or perhaps a wifi system such as the Roco z21 or the digikeijs controller (which works with the z21 app).

The wifi control systems can be run from a smartphone or tablet (iOS or Android).

Some folks want the pushbuttons.
Others prefer the "buttonless" interface offered by the wifi systems (I fall into this group).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
559 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
Thanks all. Much for me to toy with.
I just ordered track to get something going. I know many are saying a 4x8 is not big enough but this layout is what i want...


and I will add a turntable. Albeit my current turntable is the Atlas 305 with motor udded. I tested it last night and wow is it noisy. Really really noisy and too noisy.. so stuff to work on for that too.

I was going to do a 6x9 for O and 4x8 off to another wall but I am thinking the O will take a back burner as it is just too big. This will allow me to use that space 6x9 for HO.

giving me a bit more to play with and more to do. will see as track isnt going to be here for at least another week.

this gives me time to get all the xmas stuff put away, box up the O, cleanup the basement and start a table.

more to come...
thx..
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,303 Posts
You're going to have a lot of issues with that particular layout. I'm assuming the outer loop goes up and over the two inner loops? The grade shouldn't be too terrible if you put both the outer and inner loops on slopes (so the front of the layout where the loops join is actually at a middle height).

The double S-curves near the top-left are really going to be an issue. I would suggest using some flex track and simply smooth out the curves there (eliminate the S's and just create a gradual curve up to the turnouts).

Near the bottom-left it looks like there is a curved turnout that is then forced in the opposite direction to meet up to the next turnout. The easiest thing here would be to try and cut off the length of the curved turnout so that it more naturally matches the angle of the turnout it is supposed to join to. You might also move the curved turnout further back into the long curve so you have more room to massage the track into the connecting turnout. Again, flex track might save you here.

The yard looks like it could provide a lot of functionality, however it would work even better with a run-around. Here I would suggest taking that top spur that goes off by itself, and bringing it back into the top yard track with another turnout. The idea is that you could move a few cars onto the right-hand diagonal track, disconnect your loco and 'run-around' the cars on the left-hang diagonal, then grab the cars from the other end. This makes it easier to have a switcher in your yard moving the cars around and getting them stacked up for a mainline loco to come pick up.

I can't read what radius the inner loop curves are supposed to be -- hopefully they are 18" and not 15"? If you are running HO scale then you shouldn't go with less than 18", however if you are planning to build this as On30 then 15" curves could be appropriate for an old mining layout.

Honestly if you're not dead-set on using sectional track, most of this layout could be built with flex track which would give you greater freedom to smooth out some kinks and allow for easements in some of the curves. Plus with fewer track joints, it should be more reliable overall.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,391 Posts
I like the track plan but those inside curves are too sharp for nearly any locomotive besides 0-4-0. That could be problematic since one of them is your yard lead.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
559 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
Honestly if you're not dead-set on using sectional track, most of this layout could be built with flex track which would give you greater freedom to smooth out some kinks and allow for easements in some of the curves. Plus with fewer track joints, it should be more reliable overall.
nope.. i plan on using all flex track... i tried copying that into AnyRail but as you said, hard to read so I couldnt. Tried with flex track but its a tad hard to figure out in AnyRail.. so Ill wing it.

figure when the track comes in (only 5x 36")... I plan on just getting a loop setup and test each train out. See how they run as I have NEVER fired them up and got them over 15y ago...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
559 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
I like the track plan but those inside curves are too sharp for nearly any locomotive besides 0-4-0. That could be problematic since one of them is your yard lead.
This is the one thing I have yet to read up and learn. You say 0-4-0 and I have no clue what that means! hah... once the track comes in, I will try and copy that inner loop and see how things run. like I was mentioning.. i guess i could go 6' wide vs 4 which will give more room... and 9' long...vs 8..
 
1 - 20 of 52 Posts
Top