DCC - why not?



Yep!
I use mains rated wire for main buses and heavy duty figure-eight "speaker" wire for hooking up the track power. It is actually remarkably cheap. If you look around though, it's amazing how easy it is to come by FREE wire.
Ron
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RonMcF wrote:

And, as another poster pointed out, it's easy to build your own DC throttles for little or nothing using the sources mentioned.
OTOH, I have a lot of TIP120 transistors I bought to build "Switch Witch" circuits for twin coil switch machines, and by the time I got around to it, I'd decided to operate the turnouts manually with cables :-).
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I have to doubt you've tried to get "free" wire any time recently. Copper prices are up high enough that crooks are burning down warehouses in the process of trying to steal the wiring to sell. New homes under construction have had just-installed wiring ripped out of them during the night. Copper pipe for plumbing has doubled or trebled in price. Brass fittings, too.
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Eddie Oliver wrote:
> Joe Ellis wrote: > >> My, you ARE an optimist. Only AU$40 for wire, with 60 blocks? This >> tells me two things right away: >> >> 1) It's a physically small layout 2) You're not using big enough >> wire! > > Rubbish. If you go to buy such things new, you might pay a fortune; > if you do a bit of searching (e.g. garage sales, disposal stores), > the cost is minimal. Same applies to switches.
No doubt the cost of obtaining wire and switches this way is minimal. But to me, what you would be then doing is embarking on a new hobby - scavenging! <Big smile!>
Mark.
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I'm not trying to get the same capability that DCC offers. And what's more - I DON'T WANT IT! In a typical operating session, about one-third of my block switches (industrial sidings and yard tracks) don't get thrown at all. (They are there 'just in case')

I have a 20' x 18' room, with a point to point (staging yard to staging yard) N scale layout that runs around the walls, and down two peninsulas. There are classification yards at each end and five towns in between (each with a passing track and industrial sidings). I (simultaneously) run a switcher in each yard, plus a through freight and a local switcher. Operations are at a relaxed pace because that's how it was done on the prototype I'm modelling.

Plus S&H to Australia, and a power supply on Australian current ... over AU$1200. As I said.

I'll have to read my post again. Maybe I DID say that I want to "get _equivalent_operational_capability_ with DCC"

WTF? I don't WANT to run 10 trains at a time. Hello - did you read what I said???
Joe - what have you "proven" here? Your whole argument (and your costs) is based on your misguided notion that I have 120 blocks, and that I want to run somewhere between 10 and 120 trains at a time. Where did you get that from???
Ron
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RonMcF wrote:

I think that Joe has proven that he is one of the type of people who, after becoming addicted to a certain approach, must make everyone else's situation fit into their own framework.
However I certainly don't fit into it. I only have two eyes and therefore could not even watch 10 trains simultaneously.
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I think you missed the part of his original post where he said he has multiple operators...
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Perhaps... but you wouldn't need them AT ALL with DCC, and you wouldn't be limited in what you can do by where the block divisions are. "You don't want" the operational ability of DCC... probably because you've never HAD it.
The only _valid_ comparison in pricing between analog and digital REQUIRES you to compare _operational_capability_. Otherwise, it's an apples to coconuts comparison. You're not _REALLY_ comparing the same layout. You're just comparing _different_ layouts that happen to have the same track plan.

That's similar in size and concept to the N scale layout I'm building. I'll have just one peninsula, but it's a multi-level layout with over 6 double-tracked scale miles of track, point to point. My yards at each end will be working yards, with one in the middle of the run. Add a bunch of industrial sidings and a dedicated passenger hi=speed rail line. Guess what? The DCC costs are _exactly_ the same as the layout half the size.

Power supply can be the same one you use for the analog layout, which is why it wasn't included. The command station/booster takes 12-24 volt AC or DC input. AC Hz doesn't matter - it's rectified inside the unit. S&H to Oz is NOT over $100 AU.

As I said above, it's the only VALID way to compare costs.

You didn't say HOW many trains you ran at a time in your original post, so it wasn't there to read, was it? You DID say you ran 30 to 40 in an operation session. You mentioned 4 throttles, but said "luckily my friends have more", indicating more than four trains were run. But think about it... if you only have 1-5 running at a time, you only need one set of switches (but you still have to change the setting every time you enter/leave a block... and don't even TRY to tell us you and your operators never forget to do that!).
However, to add just ONE train (for a total of six), you have to add another _complete_ set of switches and wiring.. and flip one or two every time you enter /leave a block. You're good then until you get to 10 trains... then you need ANOTHER complete set to go to 11, and now you have to work one, two, or THREE every time you enter/leave a block. With the DCC system, you can go to 120 trains... and NEVER have to throw a cab selector. That alone is worth converting for many folks!
As anyone who has made the change can tell you, you run more trains on a layout with DCC than you did on the same layout with analog... BECAUSE YOU CAN. When you have to completely rewire a layout to add a train (as in your case) it provides considerable operational inertia.

Your whole misguided notion is that you can compare a DCC layout evenly to your analog layout and make the comparison based on costs without considering operational flexibility. As I said above, you're comparing apples to coconuts. Really tiny apples. Really BIG coconuts.
You say you have 60 blocks now. Got a track plan that shows them? Post a link to it and I'll take a look at it. I'm betting it would require AT LEAST 120 blocks to even APPROACH the capability of a DCC system powering the same track plan. It might well need _over_ 200 blocks to approach operational parity with DCC.
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Joe Ellis wrote:

I can't see why you would need 51 blocks with panel block switches for a DC layout that only runs 2 through trains. For DC layouts 3 blocks per train in motion is a good ratio. You only needed around 6 cab switched blocks for your example, not 56. Using route control wiring of your turnouts is how to wire a DC layout to minimise necessary panel switches.

With DC you can theoretically run as many trains as you like. The limit is the size of the layout, not the serial communications DCC bus. The DCC you describe only allows about 40 trains to be operated independently, the limit of hand controllers the system can use. I would expect some noticeable delay in response running this many hand controllers off one command station. Your DCC DC cost comparison is not realistic. There is more than one way to wire a DC layout. I can build a DC system for any layout, any size that is cheaper than the cheapest DCC system that will do the same basic job, if you include the DCC decoder costs. If you ignore the decoder cost DCC can become price competitive.

It is not necessary to use so many switches for a manual switched DC system. For your theoretical DCC example I can do the same Using my DC manual block control system on my web page, 3 blocks per train, 8 trains= 24 blocks. It cost's me about AU$30 per block, including block detection and a panel switch to operate a signal for each block. Total cost AU $720. No extra locomotive decoders needed. I can have 8 trains with more than 5 locomotives per train without extra decoder costs. If you want track detection for 24 DCC blocks, the price for DCC is higher again.

Wiring costs will work out about the same if you want reliable running.

I have, DC can be cheaper by far. Only when you decide to use all DC / DCC sound equipped locomotives does DCC become price competitive.
So one reason to go DC is it can be cheaper. Another reason is DC is easier to build your own control system. Another reason is you get locomotive noise from a filtered DC controller. Another reason is with DC you do not need to find space in locomotives for decoders.
Terry Flynn
http://angelfire.com/clone/rail/index.html
HO wagon weight and locomotive tractive effort estimates
DC control circuit diagrams
HO scale track and wheel standards
Any scale track standard and wheel spread sheet
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Folks:
All this verbiage and figurage flying through the air makes me want to use 1 throttle per block, and no switches, and maybe outside third rail. :)
Cordially yours: Gerard P.
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Yes. If you want to use Tricky Dicky's rotaries. 4 pole, 3 position rotaries were about $5 last time I looked. Putting it bluntly, they are awful. A decent rotary, break before make, with say 6 positions and 4 poles (swap the numbers around to suit yourself) is nearer $30Au from a reputable (not Dick) electrical retailer. Now, 60 blocks @ $30? You do the math. Then add rolls of colour coded wire - 12, to be the positive and negative of each cab, assuming you are not using common return - you're not using common return, are you?? Wire, large enough gauge to avoid v drop, $45 per 100 metres from Bambachs. Now, that's each roll. Chhhing. Add $540. Less, of course if you are using 4 cabs, I have based it on 6. Now throttles - decent ones. about $100 each purchased, $50 if you build them yourself - to the quality of, say, a TAT5. Ummmm - that's a lot....

Um. I wouldnt run them on 00. It runis it for everything else, and it is a protocol that is being phased out - not supported by NCE, for instance.
My cost to convert then comes to whatever

Er - there is no difference, on the railway side of the transformer, between American and Australian current. Or English, Swedish, German, Swahili or whatever you use. Feel free, however, to purchase one of Dick's transformers. (plus cord, plug, box, switch, output terminals, fuse holder etc etc, but you'll need that irrespective of DC or DCC.) You dont need Toroidal Core hi qual stuff, just something with the necessary herbs to run the layout.

Maybe - dunno about D throttles. NCE is under $200au each for a Cab04.

Try MRC - a bulk pack works out at under $20 each last time I looked.

I think the answer is reconsider.
Connect your PC to a railroad for easy fine tuning in DC? Priceless - as in you can't do it, irrespective of cost.
Run sound on DC? Haw. Fine if you JUST use BLI. Don't mix or match with anything else. Hope you haven't ordered one of Werris' AD60's.
Radio throttles? With Lenz you can use a cordless phone.
I went through the exercise in 1994, when I was building my prev layout and DCC just appeared. After musch research, I went DCC. Nobody forced me, or coerced me, it was a decision based on what I wanted to do. And there is one interesting thing. I have met lots of people who converted to DCC from DC since. I have met nobody who converted back from DCC to DC. Wonder why ....
Steve Newcastle NSW Aust
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Steve Magee wrote:

Or about a tenth that price for ten times the length if you go searching or if you accumulate such things when you see them available.
But isn't the real point much more fundamental? If someone is starting from scratch, obviously they would consider DCC. But if you already have a system that works (for which all these costs, real or imaginary, were incurred long ago) then the relevant cost to CONVERT to DCC is the cost of installing decoders and control systems (and maybe some other reconfiguration), which can be very considerable even if you can physically do it.
Which brings us back to the basic point - if it isn't broken, don't fix it, but especially don't spend money to "improve" it if there are no benefits sufficient to justify the cost.
It's like people wanting to spend thousands of dollars to get plasma or LCD TVs - if your existing TV works perfectly well and gives you complete satisfaction, why would you spend such money for at best marginal benefit? Some people will spend the money because they want new technology for the sake of it, or for snob value, or similar; but others will look purely at the practical benefit and conclude that it in no way justifies the cost.
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On Sat, 05 Aug 2006 19:43:49 +1000, Eddie Oliver wrote:

. . . you need to get a life, not a plasma TV!
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Steve

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Eddie Oliver wrote:

Using that logic, you're saying that we *should* spend money to "improve" it if there *are* benefits sufficient to justify the cost.
I have a smallish layout - 11x14 feet. I wanted to do some things with it, such as some basic signaling, remote dispatching, multiple operators, etc.
To do all that with DC is certainly possible, but by using the "intelligence" of DCC I was able to do it at a much lower cost in terms of dollars, time and wiring complexity.
Adding decoders to my loco fleet was like detailing a freight car, or converting a car to KaDee's and metal wheelsets - a minor expense/inconvenience compared to the benefits received, and one that could be spread over time. I consider it to be a non-issue because it's like any other rolling-stock upgrade.
So for me, converting to DCC was a no-brainer.
Stevert
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Stevert wrote:

Exactly. Isn't it like most other things: if a cost/benefit analysis shows that the benefits justify the costs IN THE PARTICULAR CONTEXT, then do it?
Recall that this aspect of the thread has emerged from DCC supporters saying (in effect) that DCC was the only sensible action for everyone? What I and some others are trying to get across is that it is only a sensible action for SOME people.
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"Steve Magee" wrote
| assuming you are not using common return - you're not using common return, | are you??
| Steve | Newcastle NSW Aust
Honest question - what's wrong with using common return? I haven't started my layout yet (and it'll be a while yet) but I'd prefer to do it "right first time" as much as possible. I would have thought that common return would save some effort and money?
Ivor
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On Sun, 06 Aug 2006 09:47:01 GMT, "Ivor"

Indeed common return does save effort and money, and there is nothing wrong with it, I used it for all my layouts and club layouts for 30 years without any problem. With DCC boosters there are can be problems depending on how the rest of the circuitry is arranged so if you want it to be easily convertible make it so you can easily seperate the common return between what would become seperate power districts. Blocks within each district can be wired common return, then when you convert they become common feed as well. Keith
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Ivor wrote:

For Analog DC, common rail is usable, WITH the understanding that it has it's own set of 'Quirks' for handling "Reverse Loops", 'Turntables", and any other 'polarity reversal' problems associated with 'Two Rail' wiring. Converting from a 'Common Rail' wired layout to 'DCC' shouldn't be any harder than the "normal', two independent wires to every block that is the common situation. If you have handled the 'common rail' quirks successfully, they shouldn't 'bite you' too often during the change, because you are already aware that there are differences.
If you are starting from scratch. I.E. New layout headed for DCC in the near term, don't even wave at 'common rail'. JMHO
Chuck Davis
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"Charles Davis" wrote
| Ivor wrote: | > Honest question - what's wrong with using common return? I haven't | > started my layout yet (and it'll be a while yet) but I'd prefer to do it "right | > first time" as much as possible. I would have thought that common return | > would save some effort and money? | > | > Ivor | > | > | For Analog DC, common rail is usable, WITH the understanding that it has | it's own set of 'Quirks' for handling "Reverse Loops", 'Turntables", and | any other 'polarity reversal' problems associated with 'Two Rail' | wiring. Converting from a 'Common Rail' wired layout to 'DCC' shouldn't | be any harder than the "normal', two independent wires to every block | that is the common situation. If you have handled the 'common rail' | quirks successfully, they shouldn't 'bite you' too often during the | change, because you are already aware that there are differences. | | If you are starting from scratch. I.E. New layout headed for DCC in the | near term, don't even wave at 'common rail'. JMHO | | Chuck Davis
Thanks Keith and Chuck - I will be starting straight off with DCC, so no common return then.
Ivor
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in article WIednU0LF-oLhEzZnZ2dnUVZ snipped-for-privacy@adelphia.com, David Starr at snipped-for-privacy@adelphia.net wrote on 8/2/06 2:28 PM:

Certainly, one of the benefits of DCC is multiple operators. But even for single operators, if you have multiple trains, like on an around the walls layout with double tracking either everywhere or in sections, DCC is perfect. With my Digitrax system, the DT400 throttle lets me run two trains with one on the left and one on the right knobs.
If you wire well for DC, conversion to DCC should be a snap; you'll wind up just putting all of control sections together with switches or jumpers as if you were controlling everything from a single DC cab; take care with your turnouts (see the DCC link below) to that when (if) you convert to DCC you don't have short circuits there. When I converted my first adult layout (1997) from DC to DCC, it took 10 minutes since I used Atlas turnouts which are DCC friendly out of box.
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Ed Oates
http://homepage.mac.com/edoates
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