OK folks. Here's the situation... I have a layout which consists of 3
continuous running tracks and sidings which are controlled by 4 DC
controllers (actually two double ones). I want to move towards DCC, but
don't have the cash to convert everything at once, so I'm looking for a
half-way-house where I can still indepentantly controll all 4 sets of
tracks, but convert one track to DCC, then 2, then 3 then all 4 as I get the
cash/time to fit decoders.
Can I do this? or is it a complete no-no?
If I isolate a DC section from a DCC section, what will happen if a loco
bridges the gap? Do I need a switchable section inbetween or is this just
If I get a Lenz Set 100, will I be able to run a DC loco as per the Bachmann
Ditto for the Lenz Compact set?
Here is a simplified diagram of my layout:
The alternative to all this, as I see it, is to start chipping-up all my
stock with DC-comaptible decoders, then buy the controller when I have it
Comments / advice / encouragement would be welcome!!!
"John Turner" wrote in > That is correct, but
control is poor, and there is a risk of motor burn-out.
Can you elaborate John? I've never heard either claim before and would like
an unbiased perspective.
Control IS poor, and it might upset some settings in CV's on other modules
(like it did to mine)
Please tell us more. This isn't something DCC enthusiasts generally talk
about. In what way is the control poor?
You can, but its awkward to wire up.
You need to keep complete isolation between the DC and DCC systems.
AFAIK, all will allow running of a loco on DC (check the Bachmann
instructions to see how their's does it), but see the caveats elsewhere on
the thread about the problems. Its not really recommended.
Err am I missing something...
With any of the DCC controllers you've listed, you can set running any
number of locomotives and they stay running until you call them up again and
change the speed (this is part of the DCC standard).
So, whilst you would have to swap the loco (chip) numbers in and out of the
controller, you can drive four trains simultaneously.
The limitation is the power supply of the controller, I'm not sure if the
Bachmann (or Lenz compact) would have enough power for four simultaneously
running locos (it depends on your motor efficiency).
If you want more control knobs (to change speeds without having to call up a
loco number first), you can add a second control unit to the DCC base
station (at least you can with the Lenz units, suspect not possible with the
Looking at your layout diagram, I guess operations are a combination of (a)
trains circling around on the red, black and blue, (b) shunting of trains on
the green, and sometimes (c) stopping the running trains to allow a train to
leave or enter the green section.
This would suggest that DCC with only one control would work as the red,
black and blue sections can be set running and left while you shunt trains
around in green. You can then stop green, stop whichever of red/black/blue
are needed, and swap the trains about (though obviously you may benefit from
adding a second controller as it means less calling up of locos).
From my playing with DCC equipped layouts, I'm starting to like the Lenz 100
push-button over those with knob controls. However, that is the most
expensive of the controllers of the ones you've listed, running in at almost
£300 UK list price once a mains power supply is included.
One way to do it on a budget might be to get the Bachmann (accept its cheap
and thus limited in capabilities) and chip everything. The Bachmann only
supports up to 10 locos, so your chip budget is less than the price of a
Lenz 100 set.
When your budget is able to stand it, upgrade the control unit to a Lenz one
and flog the Bachman on the second hand market (accept it for what it is; an
entry level stepping stone tool).
Or, as I'm implying above, chip everything and buy a single controller, then
upgrade the controller later ?
Switching between DC and DCC sections is supported by the DCC standard
and a lot of people have a switchable section in front of signals and
set decoders to brake on DC so making the section DC tells the decoder
to deaccelerate to 0. The feature was put in as a safegaurd for just
such a situation.
Might be interesting to try.
Depending on decoder settings decoder locos will either brake to 0 or
will try to go in the direcion of the DC controller which if not synced
will be could cause problems, best avoided for that reason.
The DCC standard reserses address 0 for DC locos and works for all
You could completly isolate sections of the layout i.e. don't run trains
between DC and DCC loops until everything is equiped.
Poor compared to what? It was good compared to the controller from the
Thomas & Percy R/C set. As for burnout, it didn't happen in the 24 hours
it took me to fit decoders. How many cases of burnout for this reason
have you ever heard of? Yes it is possible, but how likely is quite
I have run four locos simultaneously on my Compact --- all at something
near maximum speed. The locos were the Hornby Gordon, Percy and Thomas,
plus a Bachmann class 24 diesel. However running 4 locos with two
throttles (control knobs) on a layout with just two continuous run
tracks is 'exciting'. Sooner or later one runs into the loco ahead of it
--- my children find this hilarious.
I have the Compact plus an LH30 --- because I have two children.
"Mark Thornton" wrote
1] Poor compared with the conventional Dc controller (Gaugemaster handheld
'W' non-feedback) I used prior to conversion to DCC, and decidely p1ss-poor
compared with chipped locos.
2] I asked the very question on Demodellers before risking one of my own
non-DCC fitted USA 'kettles' on the Compact, and several people reported
having fried DC motors when used in this manner. In that case I reckon
there's a risk, and it's worth reporting.
Sorry this is a repost I failed to hit the "group" button!
I'm operating DCC in Australia, n scale based on American prototype so my
perspective is a little different from yours. Like you I could not afford to
convert everything at once so I did it in stages. I retained my DC control
equipment and ran either DC or DCC according to which locos had been
converted and using a double pole switch to select one or the other. Whilst
there are complications with running DC on DCC control ( buzzing and risk of
motor damage) there is no problem with running converted locos on the DC
system. In practice it did not take too long before I was running mainly DCC
and whilst I still have the dual system I seldom run DC now. I note comments
from others and I am a bit wary but I can and do run DC locos addressed as
"0" on DCC and it does not seem to have done them any harm.
With your system it should be possible to run some tracks DCC and others DC
simultaneously but it would require some pretty tricky electrical switching
and isolation. I think the only penalty of shorting between the two would be
tripping out the system. Check it but most DCC systems would not be easily
damaged. Remember that DCC runs on a constant AC like track voltage of about
15 to 18v so there's more power around on the tracks than with DC.
NMRA have developed a de facto world standard for DCC. Make sure that any
equipment you buy is to their standard and everything of any make produced
to that standard will work.
I use the American Digitrax equipment, there is a bigger selection than the
Lenz. The starter model DCS 50 "Zephyr" will run 10 locos and has full
programming capabilities. It is upwards compatible with the more expensive
systems. I think you are looking at about $US150 plus freight. Don't buy the
power pack they are all 110v, get one locally.
worth a look anyway and there are plenty of good mail order suppliers in
the USA if you cannot get one in the UK. I started off with a ROCO system
which was OK but not fully compatible and I regretted it, finally cutting my
losses and ditching it. Lenz, like Digitrax make to the NRMA standard.
I suspect that the 'poor control' is more a function of the particular motor
in the loco than of DCC per se. I have run a number of DC-only locos on my
layout using address=0 with no noticeable degradation over their performance
Having said that, a decoder-equipped loco is almost always going to run
better than one not-so-equipped because of it's optimisation for running on
Re poor control
Loco 0 does not have fine slow speed control like DCC chipped ones do. As
speed on the controller is increased (by small steps), loco 0 will respond
in much bigger steps.
Thanks for all the input... At least I am better informed - if still unsure
which way to go.
I could probably afford to buy a Lenz Compact and enough decoders to get 50%
of my stock converted, but the Lenz 100 (which sounds like the better
choice) is pushing it a little bit.
Am I right in thinking that I can add a second controller to the Compact
just as easily as the Set100?