Topics

Converting to DCC

Pete
 

Hi,
I'm new to using this forum.
I have a DC layout that I want to convert to DCC so I'd like some help from the experts so I can do it right the first time.

I added a pic to the photo section under "Pete's layout".
My room is 8'x13',  with a swing gate to enter the room.
All rails are connected to a common 12g bus.
There are two isolated sections fo changing polarity.

What do I need to change to convert to DCC?

I'm considering using the NCE wireless system.
I want to be able to have 4 trains running at the same time.
I want to be able to have more train addressed and ready to swap in from the parking yard below my layout connected via a long perimeter ramp.
Hmm, What else do you need to know?

Paul O
 

Pete, I added a second drawing to your photo album showing where you could put double-insulated gaps.

For the lower layout, (which is basically a loop), double-gap as shown by the four 'X's.

For the upper layout, double gap at the four locations as shown by the 'X's.
That will give you a reverse loop (A thru B to C and back to A) long enough for roughly a 125" long train.
Also in the other direction, D to C to B and back to D.

Just one way to do it.    Paul O

Mark Gurries
 

What do I need to change to convert to DCC?

I'm considering using the NCE wireless system.
I want to be able to have 4 trains running at the same time.
I want to be able to have more train addressed and ready to swap in from the parking yard below my layout connected via a long perimeter ramp.
Hmm, What else do you need to know?
What scale are you running?

How many people (Engineers) will be running trains? This is not the same as how many trains you run.

How many running engines per train?

The room suggest one could use a NCE PowerCab to start. You can add the same wireless system to it.

If you determine you actually need more power, then you can expand with the SB5 booster. This has many benefits over the PowerPro.

Although one person can run multiple trains, the problems show up when there is a problem with a train. Why? Each Engineer only actively control of one train at any given time. The others will run without an engineer but someone will have to select the engine of the problematic train to regain control giving up control of the train they currently are running.

Best Regards,

Mark Gurries
Electrical Engineer
DCC Website & NMRA DCC Clinics: www.markgurries.com

thomasmclae
 

I recommend a system that can connect to JMRI. (See JMRI.org page to see list of systems)
JMRI lets you connect to any smart phone to use as wireless throttle, either android or Apple. So each operator can use his phone as a throttle. The limit is about 8, depending on your wi-fi router capacity. (And most folks have an old phone to use. Just need wi-fi to log on to network.)
Once you connect to JMRI, the actual hardware fades into the background.

Our club runs both DC and DCC on the layout. The main difference is we no longer need 'kill' switches for each siding to isolate a Lok we want to stay put. DCC does that for us.
Also, with DCC there are auto-reverse options, either as booster connection or stand-alone modules. No more DPDT reverser toggles switches!
You do need to completely isolate any power districts, isolating both rails. (No more universal common.)
Also, it is recommended you use at lease one booster, even if you use only one. That protects your DCC system from shorts, zaps, etc. Fry the booster, not the more expensive DCC system.
Good luck!
The Digitrax wiring diagrams are pretty good for getting the DCC wiring options, even if you do not use Digitrax.

Thomas
DeSoto, TX

Pete
 

Thanks Mark.

My train layout is HO scale. See new drawing with dimensions.

Max Engineers - The operating area is only 32" x 70" so at most 2 Engineers in the room.

Running Engines - 2 at most, others would be dummies.

I don't want to do the upgrade path. 
I want to buy the full wireless system from the start with a 5 amp power supply and one extra wireless controller.

I maybe naive, I imagine with only 4 trains running, each on it's own loop or in the sub-yard/ramp, I should be able to manage the one that is switching around possibly if I have each on a separate handheld controller?

Pete

Pete
 

Thanks Paul.

I made the changes you suggested to my drawings and reposted them.
I also added some dimensions and comments to verify I got your suggestions correct.

Where do I connect the Auto Reverse units?

Pete

Al Silverstein
 

Paul,
 
Hardware recommendations are often a matter of personal taste. All DCC systems do one thing and that is control the direction, speed, lighting and sound functions where features of the engines and the DCC system overlap. There are as many recommendations on what to include when even considering the conversion from DC to DCC. Only you can determine what to purchase for the satisfaction of your needs to handle the DCC operations of your model railroading empire. I generally do not provide hardware recommendations on hardware until I have a basic understanding of the individual requesting information. The long term goals of an individual have a lot to do with recommendations.
 
“More” is not always better. “More” is only better if your long term plans include the “more”.
 
But there is one recommendation that I do profess to any one that is converting from DC to DCC and that is to purchase a good general purpose book dealing with the general application of DCC. The book should present general DCC information in an easy to understand format and yet at the same time avoid any bias towards or against specific manufacturers.
 
So with the above said I do recommend the book “Practical Guide to Digital Command Control” by Larry Puckett and published by Carstens’ Publishing.
 
After reading a book like I just mention you should be making a dream list of everything DCC related that you would like to eventually include in your model railroad empire and make your choices of hardware that will allow you to reach your goal.
 
There are a number of good resources on Groups.io that can help you solve the problems you will incur along the way. This list handles the wiring of side of the DCC for your layout.
 
Al Silverstein
 

From: Pete via Groups.Io
Sent: Thursday, January 16, 2020 1:02 PM
To: w4dccqa@groups.io
Subject: [w4dccqa] Converting to DCC
 
Hi,
I'm new to using this forum.
I have a DC layout that I want to convert to DCC so I'd like some help from the experts so I can do it right the first time.

I added a pic to the photo section under "Pete's layout".
My room is 8'x13',  with a swing gate to enter the room.
All rails are connected to a common 12g bus.
There are two isolated sections fo changing polarity.

What do I need to change to convert to DCC?

I'm considering using the NCE wireless system.
I want to be able to have 4 trains running at the same time.
I want to be able to have more train addressed and ready to swap in from the parking yard below my layout connected via a long perimeter ramp.
Hmm, What else do you need to know?

Paul O
 

Pete,
For each reverser unit, connect the input side to the red/blue tracks; connect the output side to the green tracks.

The location of isolators B, C and D can be anywhere within their short arcs of track.

Paul O

Mark Cartwright <marcdecapri@...>
 

Pete,
Good Luck in being able to do it "right the first time."
I did not.... Maybe.
I have owned at least 8 different DCC Control Systems, before eventually landing on the ESU ECoS; as the chosen one.
===
This is not to say I have bad things to say about Digitrax, NCE, MRC or even Bachmann....Just my requirements of eventually running two large layout Systems; through many rooms throughout my house and connecting both - via a Central Bridge (Operational) between them.
=====
Actually there are various features of all the systems I particularly like....
With that said and not wanting to start a Political nor Religious Debate....
> Just a Heads Up...
Before making a final decision, I simply suggest viewing this video.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ApxjEciFr40
======
With that said and viewed
Here are a few more debatable concerns.....
1. Clean Track !!!
which means a Clean Room.
My last house has a Basement...and Attic where I had planned to run N Scale in the Basement and HO in the Attic...Oops!
The Attic is too hot in the Summer and the Basement has too much humidity.
Warped and a near need to constantly clean the track HAD been an issue till I bought a different house just over a year ago..
2. DCC Resets and Glitches between the Controller and Decoder....
I now believe in soldering nearly everything with a further second conductivity system of drop down leads to a Central Buss.
Part of this also includes....ESU LokSound Decoders to a paired ESU Matched Controller.
>>> Sorry, not sure how to explain this...but I have decoders which respond and act very differently between even my Digitrax Chief and Digitrax Zypher.
Someone may contradict what I just said...and say they have never experienced such a phenomenon....
However, just this past week I sold one of my favorite HO Scale Models for it contrains the Paragon Sound Systems which though they may even be ESU or ? = I have witnessed such Paragon Systems not working well with my ECoS but working perfectly well with my MRC DCC Systems.
========>. Once I decided on my primary DCC System....
IF !?!?!  a Decoder any Decoder even an ESU Decoder, doesn't want to get along with my ECoS ....Poor Decoder....I sell it or trade it away.
There are simply too many distractions into this Century which I simply do not need.
:)) Mark

PS..It Is very easy to control Four Separate DCC Controlled Locomotives with sound with one ECoS (Dual Controls) and two wireless controllers.

Ross Kudlick
 

An update to Al Silversdtien's book recommendation.

“Practical Guide to Digital Command Control” by Larry Puckett is now published by White River Productions;
https://shop.whiteriverproductions.com/products/crs-pdcc?_pos=1&_sid=c9a716d5a&_ss=r

When I Googled the title I found several used copies published by Carstens that were selling at premium prices. 

Ross Kudlick

Mark Gurries
 


On Jan 16, 2020, at 8:12 PM, Pete via Groups.Io <Kayakerpc@...> wrote:

Thanks Mark.

My train layout is HO scale. See new drawing with dimensions.

Max Engineers - The operating area is only 32" x 70" so at most 2 Engineers in the room.

So that is a 2.6ft x 5.8ft or simply about a 3 x 6 layout.  This sounds to small for what you want to do as described below.   Do you mean a 32 feet x 70 feet by chance?

Running Engines - 2 at most, others would be dummies.

So that works out to be two train with 2 motor engines each per train for a total of 4 motor locomotives Or 4 trains with 1 motor engine per train.  That is about the power limit of a PowerCab assuming the engines are internally modern locomotives with low current motors.   On a 3 x 6 you will not have any problem.  The trains cannot be that big and there is no room to run at any high speed.  You essentially have a switching layout.

I don't want to do the upgrade path. 
I want to buy the full wireless system from the start with a 5 amp power supply and one extra wireless controller

Understood.  You know you will have everything you need to be up and running wirelessly from the get go.

I maybe naive, I imagine with only 4 trains running, each on it's own loop or in the sub-yard/ramp, I should be able to manage the one that is switching around possibly if I have each on a separate handheld controller?

Yes you can have all the train on separate throttles and you can grab the throttle you need to control the given train.  Functionally that is not much better than using one single throttle to control two trains but it might be easier to understand at a higher $ cost.

NCE has throttles that can run more than one train.

Cab04e
Cab05
Cab06
PowerCab/ProCab

The Cab04e and Cab05 are no longer made but had a single physical toggle switch on the top of the throttle that allowed it instantly switch between two running trains.  Quick and easy to switch between trains.  Depending on which side the toggle switch is leaning tells you which train you are running.  If the train you are NOT running is having a problem, just hit the toggle switch and you will have instant control of the problem train.

The Cab06 and the PowerCab/Procab use a button called RECALL.  Recall is a "circular list" of engine numbers that you can jump to with a push of a button.  Each push of the button moves the throttle control to the next train/engine in the list until it comes back to the train/engine you started with and repeats.   By defualt the Recall button only support 2 trains emulating the quick switching of the Cab04e toggle switch between two trains.   Unlike an actual toggle switch, to know what train you are curently running you have to look at the throttle engine number on the display.  But if there are only two, just one push gets you control of the other train.  Just do not push the button multiple times in panic!

The recall list can be expanded up to 6 locomotives (Actual recall upper limit value depends on the NCE command station your are using).  So on a PowerPro system, the ProCab can run up to 6 trains.   But you will quickly find out that it next to impossible to manage.   Instead the purpose of more recalls is to allow you to have your favorite trains/engines easily selected without having to enter the train/engine numbers each time you switch to another train/engine.  So it not so much about running multiple trains but ease of switching between each train you want to run one at a time.



Pete

Best Regards,

Mark Gurries
Electrical Engineer
DCC Website & NMRA DCC Clinics: www.markgurries.com



Pete
 

Clarification Mark, see the last photo I posted it contains dimensions.  My layout is 8' x 13' .  The opening in the center of the room "operators area" is the 32" x 70".

Pete
 

Thanks Paul,

I,ve re-gapped my layout as suggested.
I see I will need one AR  for the lower yard.

Can I get by with one AR for the upper isolated section?
(I can't see why I would need one at each end, wouldn't they both trip when either end gets a short?)


I've been reading about dividing the layout into multiple power districts.
Is this something I should consider being that my layout isn't that big?
The upper and lower yards are already sepperate busses. Is that enough?
What more would I seperate?

Thanks,
Pete - Bellevue(Eastgate), Wa

Mark Cartwright <marcdecapri@...>
 

Pete ...

Americans can be relied upon to do the right thing...
After they have tried everything else. - Winston Churchill

If you truly do not want to do the upgrade path....and prefer 5 amps and a wireless or two extra controller.....
But why stop at five when you can begin with 6 amps.
https://tonystrains.com/news/esu-ecos-command-station/
So....
Might I suggest an ESU ECoS once again...and you may find you don't need no stinkin JMRI.
Which can become like a whole other separate hobby !
I monitor  - but have never posted on the JMRI forum.
However...I purchased a TEAK combination Liquor Cabinet and Desk to eventually create a Computer/DCC programming station...
but before that came to be...
I bought my first ECoS.
========
Duh Me ...? and MORE
If you search back on our many forums to 2012...you may find me Forrest Gumping my way through DCC, DCC with Sound and Railroad modeling in general.
I started off with MRC and found myself nearly hoarding other systems and the layouts they rode in on from all over Northern California.
A funny thing happens to people on their way to being Homeless...they begin to sell off their stuff.
One guy though got smart...sold me some of his stuff...500 locomotives to another guy ...
THEN GAVE me all of his materials such as plastruck and such which filled up my BMW X5 FOUR Times.
Sold his House got on a plane and moved back to Oklahoma.
===> I am considering following him.
But I digress....
I own some DCC equipped locomotives which work > differently < or not at all on some DCC Controllers.
Works fine on a Prodigy but but not at all on a Digitrax Chief or the decoder tries to reset itself, far too often... with a myriad of other issues.
Even between the Chief and Zephyr which have slight programming differences and read backs.
I eventually offered my locomotives with DCC .... a deal which they should not have refused.
Get along with my ECoS...or you will find yourself on eBay.
Poor Paragons...some of which are old ESU Decoders.
Once I began that thinking...I cut way down on the Drama to my Hobby.
=====
So what is my plan with Two ECoS Controllers and a walk around or three ???
but there is more.....
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wv1K_-bjdXY
With the ECoS....I can use OTHER devices such as Cell Phones and such with Android Devices; which includes such things as wireless extenders.
Here is another view....and reality back to the ECoS,
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5TN_R-GonlE
and ...if you don't necessarily like the newest wireless remote....
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Psq_klf0kBo
Yes, you can connect and operate the old discontinued ESU Naviagotor or Bachmann Dynamis.
=====
You may have mentioned a Switching Yard.....
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C0iJlm-h8FA
Oh Yeah....
and if you gots to ...use your new 4k Scree to see the controls of your ECoS....
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1--SAhuitRY
and just in case you want to run Cameras on your Trains....
There is the Roko Z21
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5aqLtYx1KU
and perhaps broadcast it all on the internet.
====
If the ECoS had existed in 1981....
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2TDDjckT6MI
LOL
:)) Mark

It's thrilling to meet you Gloria.....
When one has obtained the Status of Elder and too many of your friends have already died or are soon to be dead or Homeless.
One begins to face life with a certain Distillation 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RunNMtpb5Bk
See 6:14
I am very pleased....

Pete
 

Thanks Mark,
I'm seriously considering the ECoS. I really like being able to to see the picture of the engine I'm wanting to to control on the display in front of me.
The thing I question though, is it more system than I need for my small layout. My layout is only 8×13 and no room for growth beyond that.
I went to the train show last week, saw a layout bigger than mine running on Digitrax WiFi using cellphones for controllers. Really like that. I have four old cellphones I can put to use and it will save me from buying throttles.
So many options to consider..

Pete - Bellevue(Eastgate), Wa

Jim Zarnick
 

I haven’t read the whole thread but have you looked at JMRI and running your layout from software on a laptop?  JMRI is free and will connect to you DCC controller through a USB port.

Sent from Xfinity Connect Mobile App



------ Original Message ------

From: Pete via Groups.Io
To: w4dccqa@groups.io
Sent: January 28, 2020 at 1:07 PM
Subject: Re: [w4dccqa] Converting to DCC

Thanks Mark,
I'm seriously considering the ECoS. I really like being able to to see the picture of the engine I'm wanting to to control on the display in front of me.
The thing I question though, is it more system than I need for my small layout. My layout is only 8×13 and no room for growth beyond that.
I went to the train show last week, saw a layout bigger than mine running on Digitrax WiFi using cellphones for controllers. Really like that. I have four old cellphones I can put to use and it will save me from buying throttles.
So many options to consider..

Pete - Bellevue(Eastgate), Wa

Pete
 

I'll check out JMRI. 
I want a system that is easy to use and doesn't require a huge time sync earning process. I alao don't want to have to be logged onto the internet in order to run my layout. It would have to be a stand alone system that I download to a laptop once then I run it offline.
I'll see what JMRI has to offer,
Thanks, Pete

thomasmclae
 

If you have a computer next to the layout, SPROG is an option.
For about $90 plus PC or laptop, you are JMRI, WII Throttle, good programming options, etc.
This gets you started.
You can switch tot he more expensive systems later if needed, and you can still use SPROG and JMRI as programming station. (The Digitrax WiFi uses the same interface as JMRI, you just pay for it more)
Thomas
DeSoto, TX