DCC - why not?

Paul Newhouse wrote:


Manually switched Cab control as you describe results in numerous button pushes which do not correspond with a prototype action, for example controlling a signal or a turnout. It also means the switch can be easily changed to another controller, in other words it's easy to make a mistake with unprototypical consequences.

No doubt.

I found it interesting to operate because what I described was the simplest train operation on the layout, an express train which does not stop. All other trains would stop at my station, and would be required to do different things, according to what type of train it was. One empty coal train for example would be required to go into the up yard, detach from its train, cross to the down yard, turn on the turntable, cross back to the up yard and put the brake van on the opposite end. Then it could return in the direction it came to go onto the colliery branch. It would enter the colliery and after running around the empty coal wagons, would pick up some full wagons and back onto its brake van. Then off it would go. While this was happening main line action was still in progress. It kept me interested in operations.
Terry Flynn
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You'll have to do a lot more explaining on this one.

Cab control has has nothing to do with switch control. The dispatcher dispatches, i.e. controls the switches. Engineers drive the trains, i.e. they need control of the block in order to operate. Or do your prototypes have dispatchers driving trains and engineers routing trains?

You are making no sense at all.
Paul
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Paul Newhouse wrote:

I have seen manually switched DC cab control layouts were the dispatcher controls the cab selection switches. That's an example of bad DC layout design in my view. On the prototype drivers do not control blocks, therefore manually switched DC layouts that do this are another poor design. However if the cab selection also operates the signals, then you have a prototype result for your action of cab selection. Operating the cab switch is now part of a safe working procedure of a signalman for example. If your layout has a dispatcher controlling turnouts, you have CTC. If you do not have track detection expecting the dispatcher to control turnouts is a layout operation design mistake. If your DC control system has detectors, then the extra to make block selection automatic for DC block control is easy to do. A low tech non computer system only requires one relay per block.

I'm sure the DCC supporters here know of the 'who has my train' DC cab control call. That's why I prefer my DC block control over DC cab control for most layouts. DC block control is more suited for large layouts compared to DC cab control and if you build your own system, you can customise it to to simulate a specific prototypes safe working procedures.
Terry Flynn
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Paul Newhouse wrote:

Cab control through rotary switches that is not interlocked to a signaling or other safe working system results in frequent mistakes being made. Also the more cabs you need, the more difficult it becomes to wire and run. My web page gives examples of better ways to wire your manually switched DC layout.

When I used to operate an exhibition layout using DC, I would only run each train around ounce. With one rotary switch to operate the storage yard, it was easy to change trains. More interesting for the viewing public, not much interest for the layout operator.

See my web page for details of my old layout. There was plenty of operational variety.
Terry Flynn
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No rotary switches, where did you get that idea?

One train!? It takes twenty minutes to run a train around the layout NOW THAT'S BORING!! A train will be by every twenty minutes please come back in 19 minutes!! GREAT!!

So I can operate one train at a time!? Why?
Paul
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So is it easier to program analog or digital computers? Hmmm?
(My mother programmed and operated an analog computer back in the 1950's... it was done with patch cords and rotary switches! Gee, that sounds familiar...)
Give me digital buttons any day.
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Can you describe it further?
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in article V99Gg.39873$ snipped-for-privacy@tornado.rdc-kc.rr.com, Mark Mathu at snipped-for-privacy@mathu.com wrote on 8/20/06 7:48 PM:

But someone had to press or toggle one for each block on the "automatic" circle, including setting any turnouts in the right direction.
Assuming every selection is incorrect at the out set, the equivalent for my DCC layout (which can only run two trains in loops unattended) is to set each turnout in right direction, select each loco on the DT400 (4 digit addresses means 6 buttons per loco), then set the directions (one for each), the twist each speed knob the desired speed, and let them run until I get tired, the electricity fails, or something goes off the tracks. I usually get tired first.
But I think button counting to determine the superiority of one over the other is silly and pointless. The question is still, what capabilities do you want, which implementation do you prefer to build, how much can you afford, and which way do you prefer to operate.
I tried both and prefer DCC; others will reach a different conclusion with exactly the same layout as I have.
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Actually, I built a system back in the early '60s (from a MR article) that was able to run several trains automatically on a single loop. Ultimately, I found the system to be basically boring just to see 3 trains chase each other about on some track.
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Edward A. Oates wrote:

If it was DCC the same push button to operate the turnouts would be needed. DCC still requires more button pushes in this case.

With DC you don't need 6 button pushes per loco to select locos.

Button pushing is a simple measure of how easy it is to operate. It's only one factor and the other factors you have mentioned are also important.
Terry Flynn
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Mark Mathu wrote:

The temporary system consists of 8 blocks for each mainline loop. 4 trains run on each mainline loop. Each block has a simple inertia darlington pair controller, a relay and a track current detector based on a diode bridge and optocoupler. Logic is controlled by a PLC If the block ahead of a train is occupied a relay contact connects the inertia control voltage through a resister to ground, slowing down the train to a stop if necessary.
Terry Flynn
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Why is it a temporary system?
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Mark Mathu wrote:

It has it's limitations, one limit is the different top speeds of models, especially now we have DC sound equipped models on the market. It was designed to be a quick and easy way to get trains running while construction and wiring of the final system continues. The final system will have about 10 main line walk around controllers with in cab signals (one green and one red led). No serial communication is used between the layout and PLC's. All logic is done at the PLC software level. Signaling will follow our local prototypes block system which includes 5 and 6 lamp signals. It will have a central traffic controller who will control the main line turnouts and allocation of main line controllers. It's not my design so I am not familiar with all the details though it appears to be a automatic cab selection system. I do know the layout probably has about 3 times as many blocks than I think are necessary. I am told the number of blocks will be about 100. 6 yards associated with the main line will have a control panel which will have push button route selection. These yards will have one or 2 local controllers which can be locally switched in by holding on a button on the hand controller when selecting the route in the yard. There are a number of electrical tradesmen in control of the layout wiring, so it's done by the book, every wire is identified and numbered at each terminal point, and the documentation rivals the thickest manuals that come with DCC systems. There is allot of wiring on this system compared to most alternatives, DC or DCC. The final method of DC control of the branch lines is not decided yet.
Give me a no software DC progressive block control system any day.
Terry Flynn
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ea. = $540 Digitrax UR91 radio receiver = $115 3 x Digitrax UP5 Loconet sockets: @ $16 ea. = $48 10 x Digitrax DH123 decoders: @ $16 ea. = $160
from mouser.com: 2 x 100' of 14AWG stranded red: @ $50 ea. = $100 2 x 100' of 14AWG stranded black: @ $50 ea. = $100 1 x 100' 22AWG stranded red = $16 1 x 100' 22AWG stranded black = $16
from radioshack.com: 2 x 100' 24AWG 6 cond. cable: @ $4 ea. = $8
Total = $1268
Terry, Please demonstrate, if you can, a "properly designed" DC system that will do everything that my DCC does for under $1300, using only commercially available products (no custom built throttles for example...if you need an advanced degree in electrical engineering to build it, it should not apply as most model RR's are not that advanced you have to admit).
For the record: 6 wireless dual throttles 3 bench mounted throttles 200' of double track mainline 2 freight yards 1 passenger terminal 1 staging yard 2 industrial branchlines
Paul A. Cutler III ************* Weather Or No Go New Haven *************
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Pac Man wrote:

Paul, I am unaware of any commercial DC radio control system currently available. However your decoder cost is low, not many trains with more than one locomotive on them or spare locomotives for locomotive changes, or yard shunters.
One DC commercial system which will give DCC a run for it's money will be the Oak Tree system http://www.oaktreesystems.com/ when they get their walk around throttles on the market.
There is no reason why they will not cost the same as your DCC tethered throttles. They charge $150 for 8 blocks. You would need around 16 DC blocks for your layout. So we spend $300 instead to run 9 trains, which is more on paper if you only have 8 DCC locomotives on your layout. If we have 2 locomotives on each train, the DC DCC price difference is gone. Add another DCC locomotive to the layout DCC is starting to loose on cost. Yes this commercial DC system requires a computer and software but it does have in cab signaling, and automatic train control, something your DCC system does not have for this price. Unfourtunately if you look at commercial DC systems beyond a simple controller, we jump to computer control DC so direct comparisons with many commercial DCC systems is not straight forward. The other hardware costs for both systems will be the same.
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First, I'll even help you out, Terry. There is a DC radio system out there from Aristo-Craft. Secondly, I'll double my decoder cost to 20 locos total @ $16 ea. $320. The new total would be $1428. Better?

Ok. Let me know when they get radio throttles.

See, the nice thing is that my "tethered" throttles? Yeah, one of them is the Zephyr itself, and the other two are old DC throttle packs I had alying around wired into the Zephyr's jump ports.

Did you kinda forget that whole "wireless throttle" thing?

You also forgot all the wiring needed. Remember, I'm doing my entire layout with only 200' of 14AWG black and red wire. From what it sounds like, each Oak Tree block would have to be run back to the computer...meaning the cost of wiring just went up. And then there's your time. How much is that worth?

Yeah, you also forgot the cost of the software and the cost of a computer. Oops.
Paul A. Cutler III ************* Weather Or No Go New Haven *************
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Pac Man wrote:

Designed for simple one train operation.

My DC tethered controllers cost about $10 to make. There just a box, cable, plug, pot, dial and a reverse switch as a minimum. Add a few resistors, leds and an extra switch or 2 for luxury features.

Commercial DC wireless controllers comparable to the digitrax ones do not exist. It's build your own or modify something. Wireless comes with its own problems and limits.

Each block only need 2 wires using the Oak Tree DC system you only need to go to the board, and then supply power cable to a transformer. Not much different to DCC wiring if you are sensible enough to separate your layout into separate blocks for fault finding or have train detection. The Oak tree system uses serial communication to the computer, just as your DCC system uses serial communication back to your command station. That means there is a negligible difference in wire required for both systems if you wire for reliability and easy fault finding.

The cost of a computer and software is the same for both DCC and DC.

Or you can build a DC system, avoid commercial DC computer systems or DCC and save lots of money, for example using my DC home made system it would cost me less than $500 with track detection and in cab walk around signalling.
Terry Flynn
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out
Really? Then I guess that whole "A-B" switch and 3 micro toggles that allow one to change the frequency of the radio is for...what, exactly? You know, why don't you try reading up on the Aristo-Craft radio system. I used to use it before DCC, and other than it's usual DC limitations, it's not a bad system. You buy one radio reciever per train, and you can run two trains easily with only one transmitter by using the "A-B" switch if you want (and up to 16 trains total).

Sigh. Didn't I say that building your own throttles was *not* germane to this debate? This if for normal modelers, Terry. Not electrical engineers. Normal model railroaders do not build their own throttles, wind their own motor windings, or etch their own circuit boards, ok? Let's try to keep this debate in the realm of the possible for non-engineers. Otherwise, I could bring into the debate the fact that you can build your own DCC decoders, throttles, software, and the like. Is that reasonable? No, but it's possible.

And what would those "problems and limits" be? I've certainly never had that much of an issue with my Digitrax radios (200' range, so I've heard). BTW, too bad about the lack of DC analog radios, eh? Gee, maybe DCC does have something going for it after all...

Here's the thing, Terry. I don't have my layout divided up into blocks. I haven't for several years since the Zephyr came out. I don't have a problem with chasing down any shorts because, for one, a DCC short makes a high pitched sound that one can track down by ear. Secondly, most shorts are because something's derailed....which makes it pretty easy to spot. Since everthing is wired into one giant block and 90% of my switches are Atlas Code 83's (which don't short much at all, even under a derailment), I've never had a problem.

You need a computer for your super duper DC system, correct? I don't need a computer for my DCC layout.

Oh, I'm sure, I'm sure. :-) Just like that old curmudgeon in my club who used wires wrapped around nails pounded into a 2x4 for each block, then used an alligator clip to "switch" blocks on an off. He looked like an old telephone operator with wires flying all over the place, but he was happy...mainly because he was the cheapest SOB I've ever met. When we moved into our new club building in 1998, he went around and carefully pulled up 40 year old rusty rail spikes from what was left of our old layout and saved them in a jar for use on the new layout.
Paul A. Cutler III ************* Weather Or No Go New Haven *************
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And ad infinitum, ad nauseum . . . . .
Why do you bother to get into these ridiculous exchanges with Flynn? He is either a troll or else he has some serious personality problems, one or the other. Putting him in a killfile is the best course of action. He is possessed with trying to convince the world that his wretched little DC train layout has all the features and advantages of DCC plus more, and that it cost less than any possible DCC collection of equipment. It is quite clear that his postings are those of someone who has an absolute minimum of knowledge and experience with DCC, and as such should be discounted and ignored. Flynn goes to inordinately ridiculous lengths to try to make his DC work as well as DCC, which is patently impossible except on a toy-like model railroad that runs clockwork type operations, or no operations at all. Have mercy on him and us. Ignore him. Please.
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Charles Crocker wrote:

Typical rantings from a DCC zealot, attacking the messenger. I have been operating DCC layouts before the NMRA published their standard. Before that I was making my own command control decoders when I was using the Dynatrol system. My web page has the proof of what my railway was like. Note it had operating signals interlocked with the turnouts.
Terry Flynn
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