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Author Topic: Returning to HO after 50 years...have questions  (Read 4067 times)
CNE Runner

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« Reply #15 on: August 06, 2012, 11:42:32 AM »

Hi Hank - Welcome back 'into the fold'...we missed you. Think of DCC as an Olympic-sized swimming pool. You can have fun at (or near) the one end; or you can 'go for the gold' and swim the entire length of the pool. The choice is yours.

DCC, at its basic level is really simple. You run some buss wire(s) [+, -] under the layout and attach track feed wires to this (theoretically you could only use 2 track feed wires - but this isn't recommended). I like to run a power feed for every length of track; but that may be overkill. You can spend all kinds of money on a DCC system; but they all work about the same (at the intro level). The Bachmann units are fine, I use the MRC Prodigy Advanced, others swear by Digitrax or NCE. It comes down to how far into the pool you want to go and how deep your pocket are. Start simply, and less expensive, as you can always upgrade later.

All DCC locomotives come with a default address of '3'. If you are only going to run one locomotive on the layout at a time, you can keep this address. You will eventually want to run more than one unit at a time and will need to change from the default address. Cross that bridge when you get to it.

I guess what I am saying is take 'baby steps' in the beginning. I would not change, disconnect, or modify anything on your locomotive for now. It should run fine on DC as well as DCC. If it doesn't, send it to the fine folks at the Bachmann Service Center. I've been in the hobby for over 50 years and I don't install decoders, speakers, or do advanced programing...and I thoroughly enjoy the hobby. Remember: go as far into the pool as your comfort level/skills allow. This hobby is meant to be fun.


PS: Here is a good website to learn the magic of DCC
« Last Edit: August 06, 2012, 11:45:23 AM by CNE Runner » Logged

"Keeping my hand on the throttle...and my eyes on the rail"
« Reply #16 on: August 06, 2012, 01:16:19 PM »

Hi Hank

Get two or three of these meters and a set of clip leads.

I have three of these meters. One is in my car.
Mine read about 13.6 VAC when checking the NCE Power Cab DCC controller.
The only downside is they do not measure AC current which has never been an issue for me.
Invaluable for trouble shooting.
Most here will guarantee that they will be useful some time in the future.

One important thing to consider, when building the layout, keep checking for shorts between rails. Some wire a layout and find out there is a short, After the layout is finished.
The previous message, there is a very good link and I believe he shows how to make a short detector.

The old method of block wiring and common rail is not used much anymore when wiring for DCC.
Something called booster districts is the in thing but depends on how big a layout is. Reversing loops and crossovers can complicate wiring.

As was said, don't jump into the deep end of the pool.


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« Reply #17 on: August 06, 2012, 05:01:03 PM »

Thanks for the encouragement, suggestions and links to related info.

I took the line(s) of least resistance...called Bachmann service line (I think I woke up the old guy who answered) and was told it would take 6-8 weeks for them to "get to it".  Called Walthers, talked with both Service and Sales and obtained a Return Authorization for an exchange/replacement unit.  No troubles at all!  They confirmed that it "should" run on normal DC trackage and that there is an issue with it.  It went out in today's mail.

As for my layout planning...I was going to do the bus wiring from the get go even while running regular DC and check every section of track for continuity and power feed....part of the reason for getting a new engine in the first place. (I actually did a variant of the bus wiring on my last layout in 1960 so each 3 foot flex track had a power feed, not relying on track connectors)
It will then be ready for DCC and sound when I get comfortable with those systems.
The layout will only be 5 x 10 and is based on the Lilliput Logger plan shown in the Aug 1998 MR.  I am altering it to include a narrow gauge logging area along with the standard HO gauge for "normal" traffic.  The layout is designed to become part of a growing empire if I decide to go there later, but for now this will certainly be enough of a challenge.
Building acoustic guitars for nearly 2 decades has kept my woodworking, finishing and fine detail skills intact so now it just the old eyes that may slow me down.  I hope to cultivate some "John Allen" skills throughout this project as photos of his work used to adorn the walls of my layout room (basement) circa the late 1950's.

Thanks again for all the responses.
CNE Runner

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« Reply #18 on: August 07, 2012, 09:52:45 AM »

Hank - I originally built the Monks' Island Railway to run on DC. As you can imagine, this involved breaking the layout up into smaller 'blocks'. Each block was controlled via SPDT electrical switches (with 'A', 'B', and OFF positions).

Recently I decided to 'spring forward' to DCC. The easiest way to accomplish this was to remove the two DC controllers, put all the block electrical switches in one position (in my case the 'B' position) and wire my MRC Prodigy Advanced controller to the 'B' feed. Now all the old blocks receive DCC 'flavored' power. I can even shut off a single block with those electrical switches (center position is OFF). Why have an OFF position? DCC/sound equipped locomotives always make sound...even when not in use. Having a couple of locomotives idling (even with the volume programed to minimum values) can be disturbing. Being able to turn off a siding (or roundhouse bay) eliminates the extraneous noise.

See? Easy peasy,

"Keeping my hand on the throttle...and my eyes on the rail"
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