On 28 Jul 2003 10:28:51 -0700, morbo wrote:
=> I became interested in the Marklin Digital brand, because it
=>enables you to control the whole system more conveniently.
Well, yes it does, but it does not conform to the standard DCC (Digital
Command Control) specifications used by everybody else. Marklin has a history
of refusing to go along with standards, which means in practice that it's
usually some kind of hassle to run Marklin equipment on anything other than a
Marklin layout, and vice versa. Since Marklin, despite its size, cannot
produce a model of everything you might want, that can crimp your style.
(BTW, Marklin could have adopted the DCC standards, but then its customers
would be able to buy someone else's product to run their trains, thus
depriving Marklin of its rightful profits....)
As someone else has suggested, check out ordinary DCC. It's cheaper than
Marklin's stuff, and getting cheaper all the time -- because it's all built
to the same standard, is interchangeable, and will run anything.
Having said that, there are downsides:
A) You do in fact need three types of components, whatever system you opt
for: a) the Command Centre/Power source; b) the Controllers, and c) the
Decoders. You may also have to isolate a short piece of track to program the
engines. I suggest you try to find people within easy driving distance who
are using DCC, and ask if you can come over to see how it works, and to get
advice. (You will also make contact with likeminded people, and probably make
lifelong friends - a bonus!)
B) Installing decoders in older equipment may be a major hassle and may even
be impossible. You may have to mill away part of the frame or chassis to make
room for the decoder, build your own connector harness, and so forth. Again,
in-person advice from someone who's been there is essential IMO.
C) Converting an existing roster will be costly, and may limit your
operations. However, if you break your layout up into "operating districts"
("super blocks," if you will), you can continue to use conventional control
on some parts of the layout and DCC on other parts during the conversion
phase. Just limit different locomotives to different parts of the layout - a
very prototypical thing to do anyhow. You may need a little new wiring to
accomplish this. The operating districts can stay in place when you have
fully converted to DCC.
Re: computer control and DCC. Using a computer to do what DCC does has no
advantages - you still need decoders in every piece of equipment that you
wish to control from the computer, and having just _one_
computer) for _all_
your engines vs having one controller for each engine is
not exactly an improvement. Computers have their place if you wish to
automate the whole layout - but that's whole different task, one that
requires not only electronic but consderable programming expertise. BTW, DCC
developed out of several pioneering attempts to use computers exactly as you
suggest - it's in effect a dedicated computer system.
Computers are excellent for generating timetables or other aids to
operations, and for simulating or enabling dispatcher control of a layout.
Neither of these has any effect on how you control the locomotives, however.
Blind River, Ontario, Canada
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