DCC Question

I have a few questions regarding DCC operation.
1. Engine #1 is being controlled by person #1 using a DCC hand set. Q: How easy is it for person #2 to assume control of engine #1 using a
different hand set? Q: Can this change happen w/o engine #1 coming to a stop?
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2. Engines #1 and #2 are lashed togther as a consist [back to back]. They are moving along with engine #1 as the lead engine: DCC controlled. Q: How easy is it to reverse direction and have engine #2 become the lead engine? Q: Or, does engine #1 remain in control even though it is now behind engine #2?
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I have not yet purchased a DCC system. I am trying to design a track plan on paper, and I want to try to accomodate these types of scenarios.
Many Thanks!
Matt and Kathleen http://www.brennanfineart.com/
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Person 1 signs out, person 2 signs on. There's also a 'stealing' function with some handhelds.

Yes. DCC controlled trains keep their last command, so if you signed out the engine would keep running in the short interval while nobody is signed into it. That has some good and bad features!

If you just mean go the other way, it's one key. If you mean to swap the engines around, you have to break the consist, and then set it up again with the engines in the reverse top-bottom order. Both of these operations are pretty easy once you get the hang of it.

If you just swapped the engines around, the consist would still work fine - in a DCC consist, it's simply that both engines get the commands cloned to them - the top-bottom thing is for the convenience of the human setting it up. On the other hand, you might have issues where the direction indicator on the handheld doesn't match the direction the engine is going, but that's not all that hard to deal with. It's only a problem if you like running your engines back-to-back.

There's not much you can't do with your engines in a DCC setup, including some that would give your average model railroader fits. Since you're doing it on paper first, concentrate on where you're going to need to set up reverse sections and track breaks for block detection and turnout protection. It will save you a lot of wire tweaking and gap cutting later on. *
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wrote:

Speaking for Digitrax ONLY - - - - -Very easy

Speaking for Digitrax ONLY - - - - -Yes

Engine #1 remains "in control" even though it is now behind engine #2.
Engine #1 is not really "in control", it is simply the DCC address of that locomotive consist. When you consist a group of locos with DCC, what you really do is program the control station to issue identical commands to each decoder address that you include in the string. You select any address that you wish to be the consist address, and then add the other addresses to it. It does not need to be a locomotive number, I have consists that have the train number as the address. If you get train 41, that is the DCC address of the locomotive for that train. The actual loco is an ABBA set of Alco FA-1s numbered in the 700 series. Some of my locos that always operate as a fixed consist have identical addresses. Others that may or may not operate in concert with another loco(s) have discrete address and are then MUed as needed. The system is very easy to use. So easy, in fact, that even * I * can understand it.

You didn't ask for a recommendation, but I would suggest that you stay near the top of the heap and look at Digitrax, Easy DCC, Lenz, and NCE. Of that group, I would place Digitrax and NCE ahead of the other two.
Froggy,
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In reference to your question #2. With the NCE, North Coast Engineering DCC system you can control a consist from either end. For example: you have engine #1234 as the lead unit in a consist and engine # 6789 as the rear unit. If you select #1234 with your throttle and forward as the direction, the consist will move as if # 1234 is in lead of the train. If you select #6789 and forward as the direction, the consist will move in the opposite direction as if #6789 was leading the train. There is no need to take the consist apart and rebuilt it to run in the opposite direction.
Stuart Sabatini Palm Coast, FL

engine
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Excellent - thanks everyone.
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wrote:

IMO, that is better than the Digitrax way of doing it
Froggy,
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With digitrax it is the same as long as the second unit is on the display. You can do it only with a DT throttle.
wrote:

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wrote:

Which DT throttle, there are three of them. Explain how you do it, since you can't log on to a consisted locomotive with a digitrax system. Froggy,
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I am using the DT400. When I set up a consist I start with the right knob for the top engine. The left knob is for the remaining engines. If you have a two unit consist A-A leave both units on the throttle. You can control the sound and lights of the left throttle but the speed is controlled by the right.
I think that it is similar with the DT100, 200 and 300, but I would not sell or buy a system on that. I can vouch for the DT400.
Also, you can acquire a consisted engine, but you have to have the top engine acquired to run.

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wrote:

Which is what I thought. You cannot acquire the consisted loco, only the one to which all the others are consisted, AKA the "top" loco

As I understand it, the NCE system can acquire either of a consisted pair and run the pair from that address. Digitrax cannot do that. With Digitrax, you can only drive the train IF- AND ONLY IF- you acquire the "top" loco. Acquiring a consisted loco- meaning any one in the group that is NOT the top loco- will only allow you to control the lights and sound. You cannot operate the loco consist from that address. This is a shortcoming that Digitrax needs to address. Totally wireless operation is another. Not to just drive the train but everything from initial acquisition of a loco to the final dispatching or release of it. I should be able to go over to a friend's house with my controller and run trains all night without ever once plugging in.
Froggy,
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Froggy @ thepond..com wrote:

Why? This same "shortcoming" allows you to MU locomotives to an address not necessarily assigned to a locomotive... like the train number. It's not a "shortcoming", in my opinion it's simply a different approach... and my preference in how to handle it. It also means, given only one "control point" for a consist, that you won't have two operators fighting each other for control... at least, not without them knowing about it.

So if you're at a show, how would you keep from interfering with other layouts? I looked over the NCE site and could find no information about different layout IDs or running multiple layouts with radio control in the same space. Digitrax, on the other hand, allows you to set up as many as 7 different layout IDs with their radio/IR systems for completely independent operation within the same space, and it's a matter of a few seconds to change the ID when necessary. (For example, this last summer's NMRA National Train Show... the Operations Road Show and the N-Trak layouts both were using Digitrax DCC systems, with no interference, and some of the N scale people took their throttles over there to participate.)
Making each throttle plug in to acquire a locomotive or consist allows the throttle to communicate with a _specific_ DCC network (out of several that may be operating within range of each other) and makes the process transparent to the user. The train operator doesn't even need to know that there are multiple layouts using the same DCC system - only the layout superintendent who sets the layout ID. And an operator can go from one train on one layout to another on another layout, using the same throttle, without having to do anything other than the usual acquisition process. Frankly, I just don't understand what is so onerous about plugging in for 10 seconds to select your train, especially considering the multi-layout advantages.
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Yes, you can do that with Digitrax, but being able to do that has nothing whatever to do with what I am talking about. If you set up the train number as the top of the stack, you still have to consist the locomotives to that number. You cannot log on to any of the locos in the consist to control the train, but rather you have to log on to the train number that you have set up to be the ID for that group of locos. So I really do not see the point of your assertion here.

One man's bug is another man's feature.

You're comparing apples with alligators here. It's ok to plug in once so that the particular system to which you wish to be attached can ID your throttle and make appropriate settings, but that is not what I said. I said : "I should be able to go over to a friend's house with my controller and run trains all night without ever once plugging in." Interference with other setups in not an issue in this example. Now, allowing for your example: I should be able to go to a multi-DCC layout meet and be able to use my throttle without having to plug in but one time to establish ID. I should be able to acquire AND release locos without being required to plug in and I should be able to control my train without having to plug in. Although I do not have a particular problem with the address of a consist of locomotives, I think it is a nice feature to be able to log on to any address in a consist and use it as the controlling address without having to break and re-make the consist. I think the command station can know which locos are in any given string and can allow only ONE of them to be addressed at a time so that multiple log ons could not occur. Once the string is released, any loco in the string could then be logged on to.
Froggy,
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It seems to me that both NCE and Digitrax systems work well. If you have NCE, that is what you like and you will defend it to the death! Same for Digitrax. Frankly Froggy, it is personal preference and what you get use to. There is no "should be able to...." but rather there is what the system you have can do. Not worth arguing about. when shopping for a new system it would pay to understand the differences, but most people who are in the market for a system don't know enough about DCC to know what the right questions are! So it boils down to a crap shoot, unless you have a club or friends who you work (play) with that have a specific system. If so, get that one!
Peter

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I am a Ten-year user of Digitrax and, at one time, espoused it above all others. I know enough about NCE to know that it has a lot of features that I wish Digitrax had. This is not to say that I no longer like or use Digitrax, I do. But I am quick to say that there is plenty of room for improvement. In fact, as far as I am concerned, I would recommend to a newbie that they flip a coin between Digitrax and NCE. I believe either one is as good as the other. Customer support and equipment service is probably the only area where Digitrax has a tremendous advantage. They are leaps and bounds ahead of all the competition in that area. Froggy,
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Most, if not all, DCC decoders will run just fine using DC. There might be a setting in the decoder to prohibit running on DC (for those with DCC-only set ups), but it's unlikely to be set by default. It's a dual system world right now, both DC and DCC are used. (And they're being used in harmony... except you shouldn't let a non-DCC engine sit still on a DCC track for too long. On some units motor damage could result.)
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You probably meant to say "not DCC equipped" instead of "not DCC ready". A non-DCC equipped loco is by default just a standard DC- powered loco (unless we're talking about Marklin AC). In your case Athearn MP-15 is just a standard DC-powered locoequipped with a plug which will make the conversion to DCC easier when you decide to convert it to DCC. That makes it a "DCC-ready" (plug-n-play) locomorive. It is perfectly safe to use with a standard model train power pack.
Peteski
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