Yes they are but the address range is different from the loco address
range. I used the DAC10 from http://www.cmlelectronics.co.uk/ when
setting up my fiddle yard can drive 8 sets of points and these can be
either single or double ended. Has a CDU built in and has 10 inputs. I
have programmed the inputs to set up routes so that pressing a button on
a panel will cause all the points for that particular route to be set,
in CDU operation you can each point switching sequentially as the unit
waits for the CDU to recharge. It also has separate LED output lines to
show the last position commanded to for each set of points. Lots of CVs
to tweak things. The points can still be set manually with address for a
particular set of points.
Of course this is one of the more complicated units but more basic ones
are also available.
You use an accessories decoder, the ones I've seen had four, six or
eight outputs. You should have a separate controller (or pushbuttons in
strategic locations) for the turnouts and signals etc. It's easier to
operate that way, unless you like pushing odd button combinations on
your handheld controller.
There's software available that lets you play at central traffic
controller or signal box operator. You can set up interlocking, define
routes through junctions, and so on. I don't know the status of this
software, as I last saw it in operation about two years ago, and haven't
seen it since. Worked nicely on my friend's layout, though. (He's since
moved, so the layout is gone.)
BTW, if you use the decoder to power the turnout motor, the latter must
not be the solenoid type, as these can draw surprisingly high momentary
currents. The recommended motor is a DC motor that turns gears till they
hit a limit, which may or may not turn off power to the motor. My friend
used low current motors that were left on at all times on some turnouts,
and low current relays to trip the solenoid turnout solenoids on others.
Just don't tell that to the many people who *do* use solenods ;-)
The answer is to use a CDU to smooth out the current pulses. Many
(most) commercial accessory decoders have the facility for an external
power connection and only use the DCC connection to receive commands.
Currently I'm using the MERG accessory decoders and an encoder controlled
by switches. However you can also use computer control for route setting
The MERG ones come in blocks of four. For solenoid points there is a CDU
version, for motor points there is a steady state decoder.
I have a mix and both work well, if the steady state version isn't
controlling motors instead of appearing as 1x4 points it can be made to
appear as 2x4 on/off controls for lights.
http://www.merg.org.uk/resources/dcc.htm has some more details. Although
you'll need to be a member to buy the kits.
There are also other options such as not going down the DCC route for layout
control (e.g. Gordon Hopkins RPC) It is very much upto you.
DCC wiring for points can be a lot simpler than traditional methods
(particularly if you go with computer control) but to be honest I'm not
convinced if you never want computer control. (There are separate advantages
for modular layouts)
 Actually I've still got rather a lot of wiring to do before the end of
the month when I'm showing it at colchester.
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I like the encoder idea. I had a quick look at the small US switching layout
at Manchester Ex (sorry can't remember the name). It had a conventional
looking mimic diagram with the encoder built in the panel. It would
certainly simplify the panel to board wiring, particularly with a
multi-baseboard layout. From my limited use of DCC with points via accesory
decoders, it looks a slow way to select and switch points, especially when
used on an exhibition layout, when you want to keep things moving.
I suppose the eventual aim is to go down the PC "signalbox" route as the
boys from the Wirral club have done.
I spent some time watching Wirral (layout) at the scalefour forum
(Wells) a few weeks ago. The layout is DCC Digitrax and the turnouts
were being run using Railroad and Co from a laptop in front of the
layout. It seemed to take an age to set routes, and turnouts. There
was a lack of activity on the layout. I understand the advantages of
route setting, but in the past I've settled for mimic panels to
control turnouts, as I would prefer to watch my stock running rather
than squinting at a laptop screen. I might use stationary decoders for
a fiddleyard, but I'm not totally convinced that additional cost
justifies the entire layout ?.
I notice that someone else on this newsgroup has noticed one of the problems
with DCC control which is if you get a problem due to a short you can lose
The MERG approach uses a separate DCC & Power structure to control the point
decoders so that problem goes away. For my modular layout I've used PowerPak
/ PowerPole connectors from Torberry (http://www.torberry.co.uk ) and 8 way
speaker cable to connect the modules together. The speaker cable is 8x2.5mm
Sommer Elephant cable used for pro-audio and the connectors are good for 30
Amps with a lifecycle of 10000 connections.
That gives me 2xTrack DCC, 2xAccessory Power and 2xAccessory DCC control
plus two connectors for spares.
I use DCC to control the Locos only, the point (motors) are analog.
To control the point motors by DCC you can get accusatory decoders that will
do that, all programmable with an address.
But in my opinion, it is easier to have the points analog, manual etc,
otherwise with 2/4 locos running, points to switch, that's a lot to do on
We were tempted to use DCC for the points on Farnborough Road. Decided
against it, with the deciding factor being the risk of shorting out the
DCC on an exhibition layout and having to re-programme the whole shebang
in front of the paying public.
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