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Author Topic: Is DCC worth the price/time?  (Read 23663 times)
Hunt
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MBB


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« Reply #30 on: August 08, 2007, 10:42:21 PM »

making the only curve you can really use 15"

And would you care to explain why you ignored this?  It seems to me that this is very specific. There seemed to be a lack of understanding of radius and diameter.  I didn't think that trying to explain that 18" dealt with the center line vs the inside track or the outside track would be very helpful.  After all, what is the difference between the center line and the outside track?  Not much.
Gene


Sheesh Gene,
Quote
… making the only curve you can really use 15"

Has nothing to do with how someone is to understand a curve track radius measurement.

I am starting to see why you say the folks at your model railroad club will only let you turn the building’s lights off.  Grin
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Big Sol

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« Reply #31 on: August 09, 2007, 12:41:20 AM »

Easy, guys. Yeah, I had the terms 'radius' and 'diameter' mixed up. 15" radius = 30" diameter, and I've got a 36" wide board, so yeah, I'm stuck with 15" turns for now. Probably for a great while. I wanted to go with a 10x4 table, but A) I don't have the space, and B) It's against a wall, which would make reaching the far end of the table very difficult if it were 4' wide.

I'll compromise for the time being and stick with shorter engines and cars. Also, I'm only going to be running one engine, a standard DC engine, until I can afford DCC. It definately sounds like the way to go, and I'd probably be far more interested in that than standard DC. On a side note....I think I didn't buy enough straight track segments, now that I look at my almost completed table.
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Big Sol

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« Reply #32 on: August 09, 2007, 06:14:55 AM »

Again, I honestly wish I could go with something wider than 3 feet, but this is an absolute firm restriction at this time that can in no way be modified. While there is 'physical' room for the table to be that wide, it is required to be against a wall, and I can't reach across more than 3 feet of table without leaning on it heavily or lowering it, and since I just spent almost two days and a fair amount of money building a train table, it's going to stay where it's at for now.

I understand the loss, and one day I'll expand my table and have room for larger curves, but for now, this is where it is.
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Jay

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« Reply #33 on: August 10, 2007, 02:24:31 PM »

The only reason I can really see for one not to go to DCC is if you have an established DC layout where the cost for conversion would be a factor.  When just beginning I would highly recommend going DCC because I think if you dont now you will want to later.  That is what we had found out quickly and am very happy for the decision.
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Jay Johnson
The Roundhouse
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r.cprmier

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« Reply #34 on: August 10, 2007, 04:10:59 PM »

Other than the cost of the DCC equipment and decoders, what cost would be entailed?  If you have a dependable wiring system, it can, most likely be converted over to DCC without any hassle to speak of, let alone cost.  Most layouts of any size would have some means of controling for multi-train ops, such as a block system.  This can be easily adapted into DCC by virtue of using the circuit breakers for blocks.  There are some common-sense considerations, like passing sidings, etc, that will remain wired as is.

RIch 
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Rich

NEW YORK NEW HAVEN & HARTFORD RR. CO.
-GONE, BUT NOT FORGOTTEN!
Jim Banner

Enjoying electric model railroading since 1950.


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« Reply #35 on: August 10, 2007, 05:45:49 PM »

Rich, block wiring, even for only two operators, can get pretty pricey.  There is the cost of toggle or rotary switches, panels to mount them on, extra wiring for each block, and of course, two power packs.  None of these is required with DCC.  By going directly to DCC, you save the cost of these extras.

When converting to DCC, one DCC circuit breaker per dc block would be very extravagant.  A medium sized layout with a couple of dozen blocks my well be rewired to 4 or so power districts, served by only 4 circuit breakers.  This usually entails running power buses for each district and chopping off the block wiring so that only short power drops remain.  The old block wiring from a central control panel can replace buses on a small layout but as the layout becomes larger, the possibility of trouble with this type of wiring increase considerably.  Strange decoder reactions, or even decoder damage can be caused by large birds nests of wiring "ringing" with the high frequencies DCC applies to it.

With small layouts, by all means start off with dc, particularly if you start with a train set that includes a power pack.  But the minute you want to run two or more trains at the same time on the same trackage, it is time to start thinking about DCC before investing in dc multi-train operation. 
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Jay

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« Reply #36 on: August 10, 2007, 07:08:55 PM »

I agree with JIm.  The cost is two fold.  One is investing in one system then scrapping that to move to another.  The other is time ... the amount of time wrapped into building the DC system only to be switched around at a latter time. 
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Jay Johnson
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r.cprmier

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« Reply #37 on: August 12, 2007, 03:26:38 PM »

Jim; that might be a lopsided statement.  The context  I was writing in was that of an existing layout; the wiring is already there; and with some alterations, DCC is a very viable option. 

To compare DCC to earlier cab control would be pointless. Both have an initial outlay.  Now, to do this right, you would still need a panelboard that at least gives you a lighted location and status of turnouts and blocks-especially those out of sight!  You still also need some toggle switches-there is no way  I am going to totally rely on high-speed circuit breakers to ensure the block is dead.

On scrapping a system:
No one is mandating you use one system or another-that is your choice.  If you feel it to be cost prohibitive, then you should stay status quo.

Rich
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Rich

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renniks


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« Reply #38 on: August 12, 2007, 04:27:55 PM »

  Now, to do this right, you would still need a panelboard that at least gives you a lighted location and status of turnouts and blocks-especially those out of sight!  You still also need some toggle switches-there is no way  I am going to totally rely on high-speed circuit breakers to ensure the block is dead.


      Why all these complications? If you read previous posts you will see that this is a 'starter' who has so far just built a 3x8 table.
      All he will need for some tims is a Bach EZ-Command set.
      By the way, he hasn't said what scale he is going to use. The smaller On30 stosk will fit just as well as HO. I have a portable layout which uses Peco Setrack turouts and Radius 1 curves and can run the Bach On30 Mogul and the BLI C-16.

       Eric UK

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Atlantic Central

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« Reply #39 on: August 12, 2007, 06:30:21 PM »

Is DCC worth the price/time?

Well, this answer will suprise some on here who know me, but my short answer is YES, if it meets your operational goals.

What many fail to realize with DC or DCC is that as layout size and complexity increase, so does the needed wiring infrastructure, and it makes no difference if it is DC or DCC. The only difference is HOW the wiring infrastructure becomes more complex.

This is the "myth" that was propagated in the early days of DCC. "no more complicated wiring, just hook two wires to the whole layout". Boy, that didn't last long. Nex thing you knew they where talking about power districts, circuit breakers, reverse units, etc, etc.

Again I will remind all that the "best" control system for any model railroad is the one that meets the owners operational goals. If you almost always want to be the "engineer" on an intimate level, than DCC is probably the best choice.

But there are other choices and there are numerious ways to wire DC layouts for multi train operation without "block toggles".

Cost, well DCC is expensive, and, I would argue it is more expensive than most DC choices for most medium to large layouts. Maybe not a lot more expensive, but more expensive none the less, especially factoring in the cost of decoders for a moderate fleet of locos.

I have 150+ locos, at $20 a pop for a simple non sound decoder, that is $3000.00. I can buy a lot of power packs, relays, computer interface boards, wire and toggle switches for $3,000.00

But again, ANY medium to large layout is going to require an expensive and complex electrical infrastructure to operate multiple trains.

Sheldon
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r.cprmier

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« Reply #40 on: August 12, 2007, 08:03:41 PM »

By George, you're right, Renniks!

You can surely run a layout without a panelboard, blocks, etc etc etc. 
NOW, you build a layout of any appreciable size and tell me that.  You can put a circle on a piece of plywood and call it a layout-the same way that Someone might call Hall and Oates a Jazz group...

Rich
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Rich

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Jim Banner

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« Reply #41 on: August 12, 2007, 11:22:21 PM »

Jim; that might be a lopsided statement.  The context  I was writing in was that of an existing layout; the wiring is already there; and with some alterations, DCC is a very viable option.

Rich.  In that context, I agree with you.

I was taking it in the context of the original question where the originator of this thread was contemplating a new layout.  In that context, I believe he should go to DCC early, before he spends a lot of money on dc blocking.  In fact, I believe in going to DCC just as soon as you want to run more than one train at a time on your tracks. 
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Jim Banner

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« Reply #42 on: August 13, 2007, 12:49:16 AM »

I have 150+ locos, at $20 a pop for a simple non sound decoder, that is $3000.00. I can buy a lot of power packs, relays, computer interface boards, wire and toggle switches for $3,000.00

Sheldon, $3000 does indeed buy at lot of components.  Please do not let me discourage you by saying that converting even a medium sized layout to computer assisted automatic block control will quickly eat that up and a bunch more besides.  Lets take an example.  A medium sized layout with 25 blocks and designed to run 8 trains at a time will require 25 x 8 = 200 relays, using Bruces Chubb's approach.  If you manage to find DPDT relays for only $10 each, that is already $2000 spent.  Custom printed circuit boards to hold these relays plus their drivers could easily run $50 each or you could set up the required equipment and make them yourself for about the same price.  These 25 boards would add another $1250 to just the relays sections of your dc system.

I assume you would buy computer output cards that would plug into your computer.  Three cards, each with eight 1-of-8 outputs, would just about do it.  As an industrial item, I think these sell for about $100 each.  Along with these, you would also require a couple of cards with sixteen single inputs each for another couple of hundred dollars.  I assume you would build your own block occupancy detectors, something along the line of a Chubb optimized detector modified for DCC.  That would be another 25 printed circuit boards plus components, say $500 for the lot.  That would just about do it for the custom stuff except for the wire, a whole lot of wire.    But we can assume you can scrounge a mile or two of small wire for free.

Lastly there are the power packs and the computer.  Let us assume you already have the computer to dedicate to this project or can get one free.  The power packs with pulse power and momentum might be as cheap as $50 each off eBay or up to double that new.  And you will need eight of them.

You can add it all up, adjusting the prices up or down depending on your preferred suppliers and local conditions.  I came out with about $4650.

Lets compare converting the same layout to DCC.  Let us use an 8 amp command station/booster, 8 throttles, and divide the whole thing up into 8 power sub-districts.  This will let you run 8 double headed trains with you and seven friends each controlling your own train, just like you could with the computer assisted automatic block control example above.  Using Digitrax equipment, which I am most familiar with, you would pay

8 Amp Super Chief set              $470
7 UT-4 throttles                      $560
2 PM42 power managers           $160
1 18 volt, 10 amp transformer   $100 (est.)
250 ft. of 14-2 bus wire           $100 (est.)
TOTAL                                  $1390 (est.)

Taking the DCC total off the automated block system estimate would still leave you over $3000 for installing those decoders.  In fact, you could probably install decoders in over 200 locomotives and still break even.

I don't mean to scare anyone with these prices.  But having built a computer assisted automatic block system and painfully programmed it in machine language, then scrapped it all in favour of DCC, I am all too aware of the costs involved.  My present DCC system cost less than shown above but will easily support 16 or more locomotives running at once.  I own only 4 throttles - when we need more, my model railroading buddies have to bring their own.  And the transformer and wiring I used were all no-cost salvage.  Lastly, I do not own anywhere near 150 locomotives that are worth converting to DCC and suspect that is true of many of us.  But if I did, then even simple, low cost decoders would allow me control way beyond the capabilities of any dc block system.


 
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Hunt
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MBB


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« Reply #43 on: August 13, 2007, 01:14:25 AM »

...
Again I will remind all that the "best" control system for any model railroad is the one that meets the owners operational goals. If you almost always want to be the "engineer" on an intimate level, than DCC is probably the best choice.
...

Sheldon
Jim,
If I correctly recall Sheldon's operational goals for his layout, then cost and proprietary control system notwithstanding, a computerized control system such as Oak Tree Systems to me is a better choice for him than a DCC system.
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Jim Banner

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« Reply #44 on: August 13, 2007, 01:52:15 AM »

If I correctly recall Sheldon's operational goals for his layout, then cost and proprietary control system notwithstanding, a computerized control system such as Oak Tree Systems to me is a better choice for him than a DCC system.

Hunt, it seems to me that on his own layout, Sheldon was working toward totally automatic control, but I may be mistaken.  But in the present thread, I believe he was talking in general about DCC vs dc in medium to large layouts.  I hope he will clear up these points. 

There are a great many points where I do agree with Sheldon, in particular his statement
Quote
But again, ANY medium to large layout is going to require an expensive and complex electrical infrastructure to operate multiple trains.

Like most things in life, the more you want to do, the more it's going to cost.

Incidentally, even though I did not mention it, the infrastructure for computer assisted automatic block control works for both operator-oriented operation and fully automatic operation.  The only difference is in the programming.  Back in my dc days, one of the programs I had for my home layout was written for train shows.  This program  would automatically run five trains and keep them from colliding.  When it comes to shows, I wish I still had that same capability with DCC, but I am unwilling to make the rather large investment just for shows when this is not the primary use of my layout.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2007, 02:45:27 AM by Jim Banner » Logged

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