Newbie needs help

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by CloudStrife155, Jul 23, 2001.

  1. CloudStrife155

    CloudStrife155 New Member

    Jul 23, 2001
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    I'm a newbie and i would like to know if there is a way to have 2 working trains on 1 track and have 1 train moving while the other is stoped. Is there a remote switch or something
  2. roryglasgow

    roryglasgow Active Member

    Jun 4, 2001
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    There are two basic methods for controlling a layout: block control and digital command control (DCC).

    Block control is the older, and less expensive, method of control. Basically, you electrically isolate sections (aka, "blocks") of the layout from each other, and run the wires to switches that let you select which power pack you want to control each block. Check out the article in the Academy by Shamus on the subject. He explains how it's done:

    DCC is the modern, high-tech method of control. You install a circuit board, called a decoder, into each locomotive. The decoders control the locomotive's speed and direction, lighting, and (if applicable) sound. Decoders are controlled from a command center. Signals from the command center are sent to the decoders via the rails. DCC is more like real life--you control the locomotives, not the rails.

    Although DCC gives you better control, it is considerably more expensive. Command centers start at around $100 (U.S.), and decoders start at around $20 each, depending on features. Also, unless your locomotives are DCC-ready (meaning that they have a plug installed for a decoder), you should feel comfortable using a soldering iron and taking apart and modifying your locomotives before committing yourself to this system.

    Block control is easy to set up, but working the switches can be an adventure if you have a complex layout. But, that can be half the fun!

    Atlas ( manufactures a line of controls that greatly simplify block control wiring. Some of these controls are even handy for some functions in DCC systems. In addition to Shamus' article, check out the Beginner's Page at the National Model Railroad Association (NMRA) website: Among other things, they describe how to wire up block control.

    Have fun!