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Author Topic: Is DCC worth the price/time?  (Read 17925 times)
Big Sol

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« on: August 07, 2007, 05:36:20 AM »

  Okay, I've only been on this site for a few hours, I haven't really gotten into the hobby yet (I'm a newbie, really, with only a hint of past experience with model railroading) and I've been looking at DCC for the future. The simplicity of DC has always sort of irked me, and the idea of being able to control different engines at different times while all on the same track is much more appealing than having to either have them all go or all stop at once.

However, I've read that DCC is unreliable and, apparently, it 'burns out' fairly quickly and can be costly to maintain and repair.

Is this true? If so, perhaps I need to wait until the technology is a bit more stable before I go out and spend money on some of these locomotives and other kits.

BTW, I work as a network designer and I support computer networking equipment for a living, so I understand the whole 'network/train address' and how commands are sent over DCC. It sounds extremely versatile and like it'd be great to use if the rumors of reliability are overstated.
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David(UK)

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« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2007, 05:39:50 AM »

In answer to your question, the rumors of reliability are overstated! Cheesy
Unless of course you're buying Hornby DCC equipment where the rumors of reliability are understated Huh?
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David(UK)
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Big Sol

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« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2007, 05:41:36 AM »

My local shop has a ton of Bachmann stuff, and all of Bachmann's stuff seems fairly priced and plentiful, so I'll probably go with that.

I'm now regretting not having paid $5 for the Bachmann 2007 catalog they had there...I'll have to remember to pick that up once I get off work (Graveyard shift...what fun!)
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ebtbob


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« Reply #3 on: August 07, 2007, 06:31:33 AM »

Good Morning All,

        I have been in this hobby since the mid 1950s.   The best thing I did in the past five years or so is go to DCC.   It has made the hobby soooooo much more fun for me and my son.   The ability to run trains without having to remember which toggle switch to throw,  etc is hugh plus.   The ability to have sound is also a plus for us.
        I guess the question of reliability would be a hard one to answer save to say,  I have had no particular catastrophic problems with my Digitrax system.   The same brand is used at my club and considering the amount of trains run,  we have had basiscally no problems in 10 years.   Will a booster or command station go bad.....sure,  but it is not an arm and a leg to get replaced.   It all depends on the manufacturer and store where you buy your equipment.
       My mentioning of Digitrax is not a suggestion to buy that brand.   There are a number of brands that are worth considering.   The best thing to do is try to get to someone's railroad with DCC and play with it.  Then try to hook up with another system  and so on until you find one that fits your wallet and you feel comfortable with.
       If you want questions answered about Digitrax,  go to www.gatsme.org,  my local club's site and contact the the site manager,  Val Pistilli.   He is very well versed in Digitrax and can answer all you questions.

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Bob Rule, Jr.
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SteamGene

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« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2007, 07:46:30 AM »

Big Sol,
I wondered about DCC when I first heard about it.  I'm sold on it now. 
Let me address one comment you made - that of having all locomotives running at once or all stopped.  In DC, that problem is solved by dividing your layout into blocks and individually powering every siding or yard track that you have.  This takes a lot of wire and a lot of switches.   None of that is needed for DCC. 
The layout I'm building right now, which is 26x17 with two penninsulas, has a total of five power districts, including the reverse loop, but excluding the turntable.   There will also be a test track and one short piece of DC track for initial testing of a locomotive.  This is compared to individual wiring for the staging yard tracks, the yard tracks, two passing sidings, an interchange track, three industrial sidings, and either two or three coal tipples, and a turntable. The price of DCC, like the price of computers, is coming down.  Start small. 
Gene   
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Chief Brass Hat
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conradin


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« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2007, 08:08:05 AM »

My local shop has a ton of Bachmann stuff, and all of Bachmann's stuff seems fairly priced and plentiful, so I'll probably go with that.

I'm now regretting not having paid $5 for the Bachmann 2007 catalog they had there...I'll have to remember to pick that up once I get off work (Graveyard shift...what fun!)
The catalog is on the website.
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Big Sol

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« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2007, 08:08:25 AM »

Well, as I mentioned in another post, I plan to start off pretty small by using a 10x10 self-built table, though I may actually make it an L-shaped corner table to make access easier. Most likely, it will be a simple plywood surface, upon which I'll place corkboard to lay my track on. I suspect my first layout will most likely begin with a single, unbroken L-shaped oval, which I'll add switches and secondary routes to once my finances will permit it.
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SteamGene

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« Reply #7 on: August 07, 2007, 09:07:14 AM »

Good rule of thumb.  No track should be more than three feet away from the edge of the benchwork, and two feet is better.   So go with the L shape unless you are building a 10x10 in a gym. 
Gene
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Jim Banner

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« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2007, 09:22:11 AM »

Is DCC worth the price/time?

ABSOLUTELY!
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Growing older is mandatory but growing up is optional.
Big Sol

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« Reply #9 on: August 07, 2007, 10:32:03 AM »

Here's a diagram of my currently planned layout. Please excuse the crudeness of the drawing since I did it in MS Paint on my break at work.



The image doesn't look quite right when compressed in the forum, so if you can't read it, here's a direct link:

http://i88.photobucket.com/albums/k193/bigsol81/TrainTableLayout.jpg
« Last Edit: August 07, 2007, 10:33:53 AM by Big Sol » Logged
Jake

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« Reply #10 on: August 07, 2007, 11:49:00 AM »

Replying to your questions...

1. Trackage curves. From what you have shown in the picture, you have room for about 15" radius, which, unless you are in the range of N-scale or under isnt much, but is fine for a beginner layout like yours.

2. If you have the right type of support for bench/framework. No.


3.Considering you are 6ft tall, it will probably pose some problem. You may want to consider an access portal. (A removable rectangle or triangle of benchwork where you can crawl under, pop it up and get to a stuck train or something.)

4. Well as you described in the question, laying tie-by-tie, rail-by-rail which is handlaying track, No you don't have to do it. As I have said before you can use rigid sectional track, or flextrack. Which all you have to do is nail it down to the cork, and add balast (or if you don't want to do that there is sectional track that comes with roadbed attached, like Bachmann E-Z Track.)


5. Switching yards/terminals. I posted a link to a book called "Track Planning for Realistic Operation" in your "New to the Hobby - Questions" thread, that book should help. And as I have said before, I suggest you put some money into some books to get you going with all of the technology, & other things.
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Big Sol

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« Reply #11 on: August 07, 2007, 01:35:26 PM »

Laying ballast...

Now...just so I'm clear, that's the model equivalent of gravel, right?

That being said, is ballast necessary on a model railroad or is it merely for aesthetic value? Either way, I'll most likely add it anyway. I know I never saw it used on my great grandfather's set, and I never saw any problems occur, but then he never did anything exactly 'by-the-book'. My grandfather had ballast, but then he was going for a very aesthetically pleasing look too, so it's a toss up.
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r.cprmier

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« Reply #12 on: August 07, 2007, 02:53:01 PM »

On ballast:

Jake; Trackwork-and this will be "hear here'd" by most,if not all, here-is paramount, and if it is at all sloppy, it will eventually show up on your doorstep-in the form of an albatross. Or a big millstone.  Take your pick!

Your best bet; do your DD, get the best track you can find per your piggybankEAD and absorb as much about this art as you can; then PLAN a layout that you will consider satisfactory per your desires.  Do not compromise on trackwork; if you have any doubts about how something came out, revist it, and if need be, re-do it.  As Howard Zane once said: "The second worst sound in the world is a brass locomotive hitting the floor!".  I say that there is nothing more aggravating than trying to fish a stalled train out of a long tunnel, or a bridge-of which I have several-because of garbagy trackwork-of which I speak from experience!!
We had an expression in the Air Force:  "Zero Defects-Do it right  the firsttime!".  I have learned-by the scars of experience-to carry that into every aspect of life I can-especially this aspect!

Ballast:  Nothing will top off the look of trackwork better than a nice top-notch ballast job-nor detract from same and cause untold grief better than a slpooy second-rate one.  get good quality ballast; many manufacturers here-Woodland Scenics, John's,High Ball, etc; all found in Walthers catalogue-or on line.  Follow the manufucturer's recommendations-to the letter-and you will be satisfied to the nines-big smiles, etc.

OK:  enough of me.  If you need help, have questions, get on line, either with us or any other like forum, and you will probably come away fulfilled.
Good Luck, and now, go slay yon dragon!

Rich
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Rich

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Jim Banner

Enjoying electric model railroading since 1950.


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« Reply #13 on: August 07, 2007, 04:53:50 PM »

Fifteen inch radius curves will limit you to N-scale or industrial H0-scale or possibly 0-27 in 0-scale.

Unless your knuckles drag on the ground when you walk, you will probably need an access hole near corner 3.  The reach to this corner is about 4-1/2 feet, assuming you can get your body into the square corner near 5.
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MBB


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« Reply #14 on: August 07, 2007, 09:56:38 PM »

THEN DCC IS NOT FOR YOU

If you are the type of person who only reads the instruction manual after you have tried everything else you can think of ----- then DCC is not for you.

If you are the type of person who has difficulty understanding what you read ----- then DCC is not for you.

If you are the type of person who reads into instructions what you think they are going to say instead of what is actually written --- then DCC is not for you.

If you tell yourself and everyone else you understand DCC but you actually do not --- then DCC is not for you

If you are the type of person who can not program a VCR/DVD or set the clock on it --- then DCC is not for you.

If you are the type of person who talks when you should be listening --- then DCC is not for you.

If you are the type of person who can not reassemble what you have disassembled --- then DCC is not for you.

If none of your locomotives have an electrical motor --- then DCC is not for you.

If you are enrolled in anger management class --- then DCC is not for you.

If you do not know the difference between a plug and a socket --- then DCC is not for you.

If you only have a $100 or less to spend --- then DCC is not for you.

Some people live and learn --- if you are the type of person who just lives ----- then DCC is not for you.

If you are the type of person who has looked at one DCC system and thinks all others are the same --- then you are mistaken!

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