Re: DCC journey


I would say play with some DCC and decide how into it you want to get.
But you will probably want something that can read back CV values and change more than just the locomotive address. 
I built a dual-purpose layout designed so I could switch back and forth from HO to On30 by changing trains and structures and intended only to use the DCC on the On30 – and that even by accident initially, I bought an old MRC system that uses a dial to select locomotive address for like $15 at a show and figured I’d try it out.  But it has a design flaw, easy to short the wires and mess it up, I paid once to have it fixed and managed to short it again.  So I figured it was time for something better, and I bought by price an MRC Prodigy Express.
Which is fine for the On30 (all the engines are Bachmann and use the same decoders), but as I have dabbled more into HO with DCC I find it lacks a couple of key features, primarily the ability to read back CV values. 
Another thing you may run into is trying to consist units to run together, different decoders will behave differently out of the box and you need to be able to adjust and tune them.  In another fluke deal, my supposed to be DC Bowser C430 came through with factory DCC Sound.   So I got a DC C630 to run with it and put an NCE decoder in.  The C430 has some momentum programmed in and my next learning experience is programming the C630 to play nice with it – right now, it starts and slips a bit until the C430 starts moving, then when I stop them the C630 stops right away and the C430 pushes on it and slips a bit until it stops. 
I also picked up a couple of used engines with decoders and couldn’t get them to go – I never considered they were consisted together – and without the ability to read CV’s I couldn’t ID who’s decoder it was to reset them.  I eventually got one running, the other I haven’t finished straightening out; I got it to where it will run only in one direction and only with the lights turned off.  A lot of trial and error. 
Bottom line is were I to do it over again I’d buy a little better system, and at some point I will upgrade this one; one of the few things I like about the MRC is I don’t need to buy the whole works again, just the better throttle. 
And it seems to have power enough to run trains on a roughly 10x14 semi-modular layout with a middle peninsula. 
Bill K.

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