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Discussion Starter #1
Hello......I'm brand new to the hobby (exception 30 plus years ago I toyed with it). I'm super intrigued with the DCC system, specifically using a software program such as Traincontroller. I was wondering if anyone else here is using it and might have some advice as to what I might need to setup a system. I've been doing some reading and YouTube video's to try and figure everything out.

Currently I have on order from (Train World) a 4-8-4 Royal Hudson British Columbia DCC compatible and some Micro-Engineering code 83 track......but that's it.....so any suggestions as to what I need to order would be much appreciated

Cheers
 

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I have the Traincontroller Silver on my empire. Use it only for the signal control it provides. Really adds a nice dimension to train ops.
I use Digitrax for the DCC. I have the BDL168 for the block detection and the SE8C for the signal control. The SE8C also provides turnout control which works into the signal system as well. That way the turnouts can be controlled from the computer screen, throttle or with a momentary contact right there at the turnout.
 

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I'm using TrainController Gold to automate my railroad. As you probably know, TrainController is software used to fully automate a model railroad. You need a lot of hardware to go with it to automate your layout. TrainController needs to be able to track where your train(s) are on your layout (block detection) and also be able to throw turnouts to route the train(s). There are a lot of different products to accomplish this, so it will take a fair amount of planning to be able to choose the products you think will be best for you. I chose to use products from a single manufacturer (Digitrax) to guarantee they would all work together since my current railroad was the first I built with full automation. Its certainly possible to mix products from different manufacturers, but you need to understand how they'll work best together.

For Digitrax, here's a list of products you would need:
DCS240 Command Station - This provides the power for your track and transmits commands to your trains.
PS615 Power Supply or similar to power the DCS240.
PR4 USB to LocoNet Interface - Interfaces your computer running TrainController to the DCS240 Command Station.
BXP88 LocoNet Occupancy Detector - One or more of these for tracking where your train is located.
DS64 Quad Stationary Decoder - One or more of these for controlling the switch machine motors for your turnouts.

This list should get you started. There are alternatives within the Digitrax catalog for the above parts like the occupancy detector and stationary decoder. Look for equivalent equipment if you want to go with a different brand.

Note that you don't need to have a throttle since TrainController will have that functionality.

Your first task should be to figure out what track plan you want to build. That will determine how many turnouts you'll have and how many blocks you'll have which will determine how many occupancy detectors and stationary decoders you'll need. You'll next need to figure out where your block boundaries will be located on your track plan so that when you start laying down track, you know where you'll need to put isolation joiners to electrically isolate the blocks from one another. If you have questions about where to place blocks, we can help you if you give us the track plan you want to build. Then its a matter of wiring up a lot of connections to make it all work.

This should give you plenty to think about. Good luck and keep us posted on your progress in the "My Layout" section of the forum. As you've done with this post, its good to create new threads with specific questions when you have them.
 

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Traincontroller is computer software that would be connected to
A DCC system such as Digitrax using a special interconnecting
device of that make. It's purpose is to
create a computer program that will actually run more than one
train on the same track and prevent them from colliding.

Here is a link:


Seems interesting, but to me, after sitting back and watching
the trains run for a while, I think I would soon be bored. After all,
the reason for all those trains, turnouts and yards is to provide
challenging operations, switching and the like. We don't often
use the term but we 'PLAY' with the layout...Hands on the
controller, fingers pushing turnout control panel buttons, and
timing to avoid those 'no nos'.

Don
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks Fellas.....I greatly appreciate the tips, lots to learn and figure out. I'm super excited about the hobby

I work at a mine in northern Canada that (believe it or not uses similar technology to remotely control relays in our substations via computer software)

So this aspect of the hobby has me intrigued.......as for the layout I'm not that far along yet. First I just want to make a simple oval and be able to start and stop my locomotive using Traincontroller

What do you recommend, Bronze, Silver or Gold version?

Terry McRobb
Train enthusiast
 

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Train Controller recommends starting with the Bronze version, then as you learn it work your way up. The price is the same if you buy the Gold version today, or stair step your way up. My next layout is in the early planning stages, but I want to use Train Controller to automate/simulate/animate the loading of a grain train. Therefore my whole layout won't be controlled, just one aspect.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Makes sense, going to start small and keep it simple too (Bronze)......first thing I want to be able to do is simply control my locomotive. After that I will advance to more complex layouts and use it for various switches

Ultimately I want to model a mountain/forest setting with a mine operation.....all controlled through this software
 

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You should first download and install the demo version of TrainController. It should be able to do the basics and give you a feel for the software. Also download and read (or at least skim over) the user manual. There are different versions of the manual for Bronze vs Silver/Gold. You'll probably find a number of topics that will make you go "Hmmm... I need to think more about this."

The thing about "starting small" is that you'll still need 75% of the full hardware set to get it functioning. You'll still need the Command Station, power supply, USB interface module, and occupancy detector board for just a simple loop. I started straight in with my full layout. Sure there are some minor things I would do different, mainly how I chose to place a few of my blocks. Unfortunately, in my opinion, a very simple layout won't teach you the intricacies that matter most on a more complex track plan. I found it better to study what others have done and ask questions of them. That said, everyone's style of learning is different, so do what works for you.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for the advice Mark its much appreciated....going to download the manual and read it over

I'm actually brand new to the hobby so I'm basically starting small anyways by default.......I will accumulate more gear as time goes on and add complexity. Once I'm confident with how everything works I will plan out a layout and jump into the deep end.

Cheers

Terry
 

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Terry, I'm really looking forward to watching this proceed!! Sounds like you have some intriguing visions and I would love to see them come to life!
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks Cid......looking forward to joining the model railway community. The hobby sure has changed since I was a kid, I was pleasantly surprised
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Thanks again Mark.......going to order one right now

Watched enough YouTube video's.....I think it shouldn't be too difficult to setup
 

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If you have to have something ordered for you that is out of stock there is no telling when, or if you will ever receive it.

What's worse is that some retailers will charge your card before they even receive it not knowing if they can actually get what you ordered. Now your money is tied up for God knows how long and you have no product.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Yeah.....luckily Train World had 4 out of the 5 components in stock.....I got the 5th one from Amazon

Just got to download the software "Traincontroller" than hook everything up. Probably be a few weeks before I get everything together and make my first successful run. Just going with a simple temporary oval first until I understand the technology. Then perhaps this winter I will start on the actual model.....a forested mountain with a mining operation setting
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I think ultimately everything should be automated.....probably need to pick up a cheap laptop specifically for Traincontroller
 

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If you have to have something ordered for you that is out of stock there is no telling when, or if you will ever receive it.

What's worse is that some retailers will charge your card before they even receive it not knowing if they can actually get what you ordered. Now your money is tied up for God knows how long and you have no product.
It is illegal to charge your card for back ordered or not in stock merchandise. Most of the time, what people think is the charge is actually just the hold on the funds, which is cleared by the issuing bank if they don't see an actual charge within 96 hours.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Thanks for the clarification on that......I found Train World helpful, they had everything I needed except one component which I got from Amazon.

I've been watching YouTube video's on my next locomotive.....really liking the 4-8-8-4 Union Pacific Big Boy. It would go well with the 4-8-4 Royal Hudson I have on order......I'm a huge fan of steam locomotives (provided they're DCC Traincontroller compatible)
 
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