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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all-
OK! I think my son and I are ready for DCC. A bunch of you fine folks gave me a lot to think about when we started with a set (I bought 2, one of each of my kids, baachmann, it worked out great). But now, we want to make things a bit more complicated, with track changes and lots of track.

We want to this slow and steady - and easy on the pocket. (here's what we already have:

https://smile.amazon.com/Bachmann-Chief-Ready-Electric-Train/dp/B004NHDW1K/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=bachman+ez+track+ho+scale+sets&qid=1558918199&s=gateway&sr=8-3

https://smile.amazon.com/Bachmann-Trains-Pacific-Flyer-Ready/dp/B001RG0LLE/ref=sr_1_9?crid=322KWPBRX1PDH&keywords=bachmann+ez+track+ho+scale&qid=1558918226&s=gateway&sprefix=bachmann,aps,211&sr=8-9

Yeah, basic sets. I want to reuse track if I can, can DCC engines to start with, and then a controller. I started thinking about this when I wanted to get an bachmann ez track remote turn out, but then it turns out (no pun intended) that I don't have the right controller that can feed the remote power... so I was thinking...OK... lets look into DCC.

Any and all ideas welcome. Budget is the thing. I am fine with started with the cheapest engine on the market. I am happy to go all e-bay, slow and steady.

Thanks in advance!
 

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DCC is a good choice. The power packs you have should have an AC fixed output on them which will work fine for your turnouts. The steel track that came with the first set should be set aside, never to see light again. You will need a DCC controller and a couple DCC locos. I recommend the NCE power cab but others have good suggestions also. A Bachmann DCC loco isn't all that expensive but sound will cost more. The rolling stock you have is fine for now however it may have horn/hook couplers, can't tell from the ads.
 

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I just recently decided to add an On30 loop (uses HO track) to my 1:48 O-Gauge layout, and bought a DCC Bachmann Spectrum 4-6-0 On30 loco and an NCE DCC "complete Starter Set."

I was hoping there would be no technical glitches" and there were not. I was very easy. Just plugged it all together and the controller worked on the train the moment I fired it up. All I would recommend is, buy a DCC read train from Bachmann.

I am impressed with DCC so far. Works well, and simple enough to use. I think it gets complicated if you want to run more than one train at a time, but that wont be my problem, so . . . Good luck to you and your son.
 

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Running more than one train isn't complicated at all.

Each locomotive has their own unique address and each locomotive can be addressed in turn using the one controller. You simply and can quickly add the locomotive to the menu selection and that allows you to cycle through them on the main display like any other computer menu display.

I run up to four locomotives at the same time using the NCE Powercab, two turnouts, and several lamps and signals. No problems.
 

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OP:

Looking at the links you provided in post 1, I'm wondering if either of those engines has a "plug" for easy conversion to dcc.

If they do, conversion to dcc is easy -- just find a suitable dcc decoder and plug it in.

But... if they DON'T -- this makes conversion to dcc much more difficult, because you have to "hand wire" a decoder into it.

In that case, it might be easier to just buy engines that are already "dcc-equipped" (most of those have sound as well), or... buy new (or used) engines that are "dcc ready", and plug in the decoders yourself. This still involves taking the shell off, connecting the decoder, and setting it up using your dcc controller.

I'm in the minority in this forum, but I prefer and recommend the Roco "z21" system for wireless dcc, which you control with either a smartphone or a tablet (can be iOS or Android) via a graphical interface. Younger kids will take to this immediately.

I suggest you go to YouTube and view a few videos searching on "roco z21". There is the expensive version (black "Z21") but there's also a much cheaper version ("z21 Start") that does almost everything the more expensive one does.

The app is a free download, you can try it right now on a smartphone or tablet (go to iOS App Store or Google Play and search on "z21").

But again, be aware that the equipment that you already have (the locomotives) may not be easily "converted" to dcc. You'll have to check them and see...
 

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The details of the sets you posted do not seem to indicate
that either of the two locos is 'DCC ready'. However,
you might check the manual that came with them
to make certain. If not, that would
mean you would need to add decoders by wiring
them in, which is actually easier than you would think.

In the case
of the GP40, it likely has a 'light board'. There is an
NCE DCC decoder that is designed to replace the Bachmann
light board. I'm not familiar with the steamer so
others will have to comment on it.

The major sellers of DCC systems are Bachmann,
Digitrax, NCE and MRC. All but the Bachmann are
full feature systems. The Bachmann can run all of
the train functions but lacks ability to fine tune
decoders as can the other systems.

Be aware, however, that no DCC system provides
power for turnouts or accessories. The two power
packs that came with your trains are ideal for those
purposes.

Many of us recommend that those who are more
serious about their layout plans avoid all of the
track systems such as came with your sets. Instead
go with flex track which comes in 3 foot sections that
can be cut and 'bent' to match your track design. It
also is compatible with all track accessories such as
turnouts from various makers. My recommendation
is to use Peco Insulfrog turnouts.

Don
 

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NCE Powercab will provide power for decoder-equipped turnout machines. In fact, it must or you would not be able to control them using the decoder.
 

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NCE Powercab will provide power for decoder-equipped turnout machines. In fact, it must or you would not be able to control them using the decoder.
Yes and no. It provides a DCC power output, which can be wired to a stationary decoder, which will drive a switch machine, which will move s turnout's points, but you can't connect it directly to a switch machine and power a remote operator. Most other DCC units work this way too.
 

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Me I decided to move onto DCC a few years ago after collecting allready around 40 Locomotives.

I found out that there were different plugs inside the DC Engines and some others without any plugs, so I will have lot of work the next coming years equipping my locos with sound secoders and loudspeakers.

Me I am using the more older Roco DCC system with the MultiMouse.

Much better in modern times is the Z21 generations but attention to how the Z21 will be written, it gives a few differences to all of them.

The white box of the z21 START is a very easy Start Version for getting same functions like the white z21 you need to download some extra software after buying the software codes separately.

The z21 START does not incluede the funktion to use your android smartphone you need to use the cable version of the red (Roco) or grey (Fleischmann) MultiMouse.

The white z21 allows to use Android Smartphones only (Caution: At the USA mobile phones using 1300 Mhz, the z21 is desighned to use european standard of 900 Mhz or 1800 Mhz, only, tri-band mobile cell phones have all three frequencies aboard...the 1300 Mhz are prohibited frequencies in most european countries)
The z21 are not desighned to use a repeating bus for detecting equipment.

The black Z21 is the full version of all available features and has the bus for decting equipment.
 

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For the OP, any DCC set from Digitrax, MRC, or NCE will work for your purposes. The z21 is fine, too, IF you find a touch screen interface acceptable (many of us don't, which is why we don't consider it when recommending systems). Bachmann and MRC also make limited feature systems (EZ Command and Prodigy Explorer, respectively -- but neither of these allows multiple controllers, so they probably won't be good in your case). The only system I don't recommend is Bachmann's Dynamis system -- it has too many limitations on expansion to be any good.

My personal recommendation is not for any one system, but to try as many as you can and pick the one that feels best to you -- both the look and feel of the devices and how easy it is for you to operate. Also, if you have a nearby club, you might consider getting what they use, because you will have access to a lot of help and advice.

On the stuff you have... honestly, you have started at the very low end of the quality scale, and much of what you have isn't going to be worth keeping. The track that came with those systems is steel, and since DCC is much more sensitive to dirty / corroded track than DC, you will probably have trouble with it down the road. My advice is to start over with some quality nickel-silver track. If you really like the roadbed stuff, Kato Unitrack is probably the best available, and Atlas True Track is second best.

With the roadbed track, though, you are limited to the geometry of the available pieces. My recommendation would be to learn to use flex track, and use high-quality turnouts (Walthers or Peco). Use slow motion switch machines (Tortoise or Smail) fro Ciruitron, or servo-based ones from Tam Valley Depot (my preference) or Walthers to control the movement of your turnouts.

The rolling stock you got with your train sets can be made to run well with a little modification (couplers and wheels); the locos are a little more dicey. You will probably have to solder your own decoders in there, which really isn't a job for a beginner.

I understand the desire to be easy on the pocket book, but unfortunately, like golf and skiing, this isn't a cheap hobby. Make a wish list and buy better stuff as you can afford it. This will serve you better in the log run than buying cheap stuff.
 

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One more time...

NCE Powercab will provide power for decoder-equipped turnout machines. In fact, it must or you would not be able to control them using the decoder.
 

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I just recently decided to add an On30 loop (uses HO track) to my 1:48 O-Gauge layout, and bought a DCC Bachmann Spectrum 4-6-0 On30 loco and an NCE DCC "complete Starter Set."

I was hoping there would be no technical glitches" and there were not. I was very easy. Just plugged it all together and the controller worked on the train the moment I fired it up. All I would recommend is, buy a DCC read train from Bachmann.

I am impressed with DCC so far. Works well, and simple enough to use. I think it gets complicated if you want to run more than one train at a time, but that wont be my problem, so . . . Good luck to you and your son.
+1 for the NCE starter set. I had a DCC ready loco, put all the plugs in the correct places and I had control. I think what this posted wanted to say is " buy a DCC ready train from Bachman".. EDIT: JUST READ over the thread again and I guess the term I should use is " buy a DCC equipped engine to get the basic control with the NCE. Buy a DCC equipped engine with sound for the most fun. Not sure of some definition DCC ready, but I would go one more and get one favorite engine with DCC and SOUND. I finally got one and it is a whole new ballgame of fun with the lights, horn, bell and more I have not explored. any kids will probably wear out the horn button having fun. Good Luck - yes expensive start, but you do need the quality equipment as you go.
 

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The definition of 'DCC Ready' is a locomotive that has a plug for the jack on a decoder card.
 

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I can only add, if ya try to go with the cheapest system, you will be disappointed in a very short time, then ya go out and buy a better system. End result, you will have paid much more for a DCC system than you really should have.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
DCC is a good choice. The power packs you have should have an AC fixed output on them which will work fine for your turnouts. The steel track that came with the first set should be set aside, never to see light again. You will need a DCC controller and a couple DCC locos. I recommend the NCE power cab but others have good suggestions also. A Bachmann DCC loco isn't all that expensive but sound will cost more. The rolling stock you have is fine for now however it may have horn/hook couplers, can't tell from the ads.
Thanks. Question on the powerpack. The ones I have is this model:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/BACHMANN-EZ-TRACK-POWER-PACK-SPEED-CONTROLLER-HO-N-SCALE-transformer-44211-NEW/352046319324?epid=26011376213&hash=item51f79886dc:g:tB0AAOSwnONZCPBD

It doesn't have a place for me to insert the power clips from the turnout. So maybe I might need something else?

I am bit away from DCC, probably a month or two of research, maybe. I am thinking instead of a NCE power cab, I can do an app on my iphone? Like WIThrottle? I use an iphone, and I do have WIFI at home...

Thanks for your tips.
 

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First, I agree that the easiest and quickest thing for a newcomer is to get a "DCC equiped" loco. Also make sure it has the sound car with it. I saw one that had fine print that said you had to buy the optional sound card to slip into the ready slot to get sound.

I played with my Bachmann ON30 4-6-0 DDC & sound equiped loco some yesterday with several different power options. The NCE starter set I bought works well: plug and play, intuitive if you just read the button labels.

However, I put it back in the box for now and am going to go with just DC operation. The reason is:
1) DC is simpler, I'm going to have just onepower supply initially connected to my ON30, and DC runs everything . . . some of my locos won't hve DCC.
2) The Bachmann loco runs fine in normal DC too, with sound, good controllability.
3) Surprisingly, while slowest speed in DCC was lower than slowest speed in conventional DC (1.3 vs 3.3 scale mph), top speed was lower in DCC than in conventional DC. I checked all the setting snad tried 28 and 128 step ranges, etc. No go: DCC top speed was no more than 19 scale mph. DC only was up to 25.
4) DCC really give me no advantages running a train I want. What it controls that conventional does not is not things I really care about.
In the future I will probably have both DCC and DC connected so I can use either. No doubt I will run into locos that run much better in DCC than DC. But that is not any I have so far . .
 

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If you would controlling your turnouts with you DCC hand held throttle than you will need to add Turnout decoders, so that you can controlling them. If you will controlling Signals, too you are in need of signal decoders and specially other detecting equipment and your DCC Unit need to provide the detecting signals.

Not all DCC Units can doing this. The Roco Z21 can it.
The more cheaper z21 or z21 START can't it.

Reading out the CVs of decoders is another big problem of some european DCC Systems, speciallyfor the cheaper Roco/Fleischmann DCC Uinits.

By programming CVs to the Decoders it is sometimes a pain and several done resets are the rusult until you got the complicated way for programming it.

With the CVs you caan programming the locos highes speed onto a lower level and the other speed CVs reducing their speed, too that you can run your locos in much lower speed than on DC.

I am using DCC for running my locos, only, the switching of signals or turnouts is not from my interest with DCC.

Sure my Signals will get DCC Decoders so that train will stop on red signal but my Interlocking I am trying to build mechanical or electromechanical like the real RR did it onto their mechanical interlocking towers, too.

The SIEMENS Interlocking System of 1892 I want to add onto my Layouts, that is my goal.
 

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Atlanta wrote:
"The z21 START does not include the funktion to use your android smartphone"

Not sure what you mean by this.

I have a "z21 Start" (white box) and I use it with two Android devices:
- Samsung S2 tablet
and
- A VERY OLD Samsung "Galaxy player" handheld (looks like an old smartphone but it's not a phone, just a music player with old version of Android.

The z21 works just fine with both. In fact, the version of Android on the Galaxy player is so old that most (other) apps won't even run on it any more. But the older z21 app runs without a hitch. Kudos to Roco for having the foresight to make their software backward-compatible.

I did buy the companion TP Link router (came pre-programmed and with the unlock code as well). Everything went together quite easily.

The z21 system seems to work with almost anything:
iOS/Android handheld or phone
iOS/Android tablet
Wired Roco Minimaus (perhaps some other wired controllers as well)
Computer (Mac or Windows, wired or wifi).

Also, the z21 Start can be found at very good prices (may have to buy from European sellers via ebay).
The router can be found for sale in the USA.
The control software is freely downloadable (can be used to "see what it's like" even if you don't have the z21 yet).

The OP is "just getting into things".
I doubt he would need the extra capabilities of the "black" Z21.
The white z21 or z21 Start should do just fine.

I don't know why CTValleyRR keeps inferring that the z21 isn't suitable for those who prefer "regular" (i.e., non-touchscreen) controls.
Roco offers several wired "MiniMaus" button-style handhelds as well.
As such, it can be used as can any of the other "wired, button" type controls.
 

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The Bachmann EZ DC controller doesn't appear to
have the accessories terminals common to most
DC power packs.

To power your turnouts you can use any surplus
wall wart with an output of 12 or so volts, either
AC or DC. If you don't have one, there are often
stalls at Flea markets offering a selection of them.
The output information is always on an attached label.

Don
 

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