Mike;Hi…another guy returning to the hobby after a 20 year absence. I saved everything from my NTRAK club days. Used to be a member at Sun n Sand in Scottsdale, then moved overseas. Now back to Colorado. Hoping to join Pikes Peak Ngineers NTRAK. I model international passenger trains and Western Us freight and passenger. My future layout will be fantasy. I’m not a rivet counter, just like things to look good and run well.
Im an idiot when it comes to electronics. Need to learn DCC and begin a long expensive road adding decoders to 50+ Kato engines…going to be a long project. I’m only N Scale and hoping to learn everything again and get building.
Welcome to the forum from another long time N-scaler.
DCC is actually easy, compared to traditional DC dual cab control. No insulated track blocs, no panel full of toggle switches to assign power to a given block. Just connect two wires from DCC controller to the track. Congratulations! you have just done all the wiring needed to control several trains on a DCC layout.
Things like switch machines*, & structure lights, will still need some wiring, but the two wires just described are all that's needed for train control, of multiple trains.
Installing DCC controllers in all those Kato locomotives may be a bit easier than you think. There are "Drop In" decoders made to fit many Kato locomotives. Typically you replace the factory circuit board
with a decoder designed to fit that specific locomotive. However, 50+ locomotives sounds like you are truly suffering from an advanced case of model railroader's disease! I'm afraid there is no cure for that. 😄
Do all of those locos need to be converted? For example, if you have a dozen F-units, could you install decoders in a few of them, and swap shells when you want to swap road names?
I recommend you order a copy of the Kalmbach book, "Basic DCC Wiring" by Mike Polsgrove. It could well be re-titled "DCC for Dummies." It explains the layout wiring, decoder installation, and all other things DCC, in plain English, and many clear color photos. Its available at www.amazon.com
The file below also explains how DCC works, and how it differs from traditional DC control. You might contact your prospective new N-trak club and ask which DCC system they use. The main brands are Digitrax, NCE, MRC prodigy, and Bachmann EZ-command. The first three are all excellent, but the Bachmann is limited in functions, and Bachmann DCC sound decoders have a bad reputation for emitting unwanted high-pitched squealing noises, so you might steer clear of that brand.
Good Luck & Have Fun;
Traction Fan 🙂
* It is possible to control switch machines with a DCC system too. You would need a "stationary decoder" for each switch machine, or possibly group of switch machines if you use a multi-channel stationary decoder.
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