DCC guidance please

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by UKSteam, Dec 22, 2006.

  1. UKSteam

    UKSteam Member

    Dec 22, 2006
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    Hi there everyone.
    I'm new to the forum so I thought I would tell you a bit about the layout I have planned.
    It's basically a 2+2 double oval (2 up,2 down) with the two ovals coming together at two places on the layout. One a large through staion, the other a large switching and changover section supplied from two fiddle yards. It's all going to modelled on British steam from the 40's and 50's era. I'm going to take some artistic license by putting in colour light signals rather than semaphore, and running two different pre nationalisation companies namely the Great Western and London Midland. I'll flesh out the details of the geographic location where these two might have shared track at some later date [​IMG]
    What I want to achieve for the layout is a mix of autonomous control on the mainlines, with starting and stopping at staions and some passing sidings as well. Mostly manual control in the fiddle yards/ staging areas. The mainlines are going to be long enough where I can have at least two trains running around on each line and I would like to have the abilitlity for one to pass the other via passing lines in the main station (automatically). I also need to have effective (and accurate) stopping prior to red lights, and slow approach for points/switches that are other than straight. Or where a train is leaving the sidings to join or cross a main line.
    Now to the meat of my questions and they are many and varied. I've read through anything that might be applicable in the various forums and manufacturers sites online. But I still am at a loss really if I am leaning in the right direction as far as hardware. Here's what I have deduced so far. For the braking and stopping accuracy I first considered the Lenz ABC (asymetric braking control) method, however talks with ESU/Loksound have steered me away from that as I want to use their sound decoders as they have the most accurate as far as British steam downloadable and programmable files I have yet found on the web. So ABC is out, as the Gold and silver series are SUSI compatible. Oh and Tsunami just don't sound 'right'. So ESU/Loksound get my business
    The stopping accuracy required for signals and stations it appears (from the reading I've done on various online sources) can be achieved with a BEMF decoder (is this one and the same as a load and speed compensated decoder ?) and one of the many trypes of computer software on the market. On that front I'm leaning towards Traincontroller.

    Ok so as far as hardware I'm thinking of going for the Lenz 100 set for the DCC control.
    For occupancy and detection, killing two birds with one stone and purchasing the LDT RS8's for tightly packed areas of points/switches and the smaller lenz units for just a few isolated points/switches.
    By not using the Asymetric DCC it opens up the floor for suggestions of which decoders would be best for use on my collection of steam locos. Most are Hornby and Airfix and as many as possible will be getting onboard sound, and a few wil be getting Seuthe smoke units, despite the obvious drawback of extra track contamination from the smoke oils themselves, I am wiling to make the sacrifice of some extra time spent cleaning track for the benefit of nothing better than the smoke units I have seen operating just look so cool [​IMG] (and my nephews will love 'em )

    So am I going in the right direction folks ? I really would like the input of all of you who have been using the various products in DCC, I've been out of it for 15 years (old Zero One user) and I would hate to make a large purchase of all the components only to find I have made some highly costly mistakes.
    Thanks in advance for all your thoughts and inputs on any aspect of the laundry list of thoughts you've just studiously read through.
    Regards Mike
    P.S and yes I realise that a layout of this size will have to be broken in to at least 2 power districts.
  2. NYNH&H

    NYNH&H Member

    Dec 11, 2006
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    Digitrax is the most capable system as far as stuff like this goes. First, you need to figure out if a train is in a block. You will need at least twice as many blocks as trains, probably even more than cab control. These can get wired back to a Digitrax BDL168 block detector board. If you want to add transponding, you can figure out what loco is where, and thus, you can have autonomous control. Using transponding REQUIRES a Digitrax decoder, but if you want to use ESU/Loksound decoders, you can either use the Loksound decoder for the sound, and a Digitrax decoder for the motor and lights, or you can add a funtion-only Digitrax TF4, and use it exclusively for tranponding. They are tiny and cheap. The next peice of the puzzle is signalling. Digitrax makes the SE8C, which is an odd-looking peice of hardware, that can control signals. Anther option is the RR-Cirkits TC-64. It is a general input/output device that can do all sorts of things, but is best suited for signals. For turnouts, you need to know which direction a turnout is set in, thus you need Digitrax DS-64 decoders, which feed back the position of the turnout to Loconet. You can also wire pushbuttons in, and loconet devices will know when the turnout is thrown. With those devices (plus a Digitrax command station, and power mangement from Tony's or Digitrax or Wal-Mart (tail light bulbs)), you need something to interpret and display the infomation being fed into loconet, and feed information back out, as far as telling trains what to do (slow down for instance). This is a computer. Railroad and Company has awesome software, and it works well with Digitrax and Loconet. It can automatically control trains, as well as be used as a CTC system for singalling human-controll trains, or limit human- controlled trains from crashing into each other. Google it, you will find a lot of great info. Keep in mind that Digitrax's Loconet is the only system that is truly peer-to-peer, and not polled, and thus it is the only system with the capacity and speed to do serious signalling, detection, etc, and it is the only system that can figure out where a loco is, or what loco is in a block, and thus they can be remotely controlled. Head on over to Digitrax.com and start reading the manuals. All this stuff is quite complex, and very expensive, but if you want to go this direction, it is the cutting edge in computer controlled model railroads!