Author Topic: DCC and DC together. Yes? No? Maybe just for a while?  (Read 608 times)

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craigolio1

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DCC and DC together. Yes? No? Maybe just for a while?
« on: January 11, 2016, 08:05:02 PM »
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I've seen discussion on this before and I know some say never do it, but in my situation I will have to for a while if I want to enjoy, and keep running, all of my locomotives.

Like many I have acquired a large fleet of locomotives and about a half a dozen of mine are DCC decoder equipped.  Some of the fleet are must haves which will become the workhorses of my railroad and others are in the collection simply because I like them.   Almost all of my fleet have gone, or will go, through some level of detailing and painting.  As it turns out about 15 of them are all nearing reassembly where I would have planned to install decoders.  In my current situation I don't have the funds to equip any of them with decoders, (some would get sound decoders),  how ever I want to "finish" them now.  At the rate I work and life being what it is, it's possible that only the workhorses will get decoders and the others may stay DC for a loooong time, maybe forever.  Who knows what the future holds. What I do know for sure is that I don't have, and never will have, $10,000 to drop on LokSound for every one of them so I need to find some kind of happy medium.

The reason for the discussion is that that first half of my "H" shaped  layout room is ready for paint and flooring.  I'm dangerously close to building some bench work and have been planning what I'll do when that time comes.  The DCC/DC issue keeps popping into my head.

Here is a link to my engineering thread which shows a very basic diagram of my plan.

 https://www.therailwire.net/forum/index.php?topic=35666.0

I'm still settled on the last two diagrams depicting a two level layout and will be starting in the smaller room to the left.  I'll be building level two first, which is centered around a large yard. The yard will be the focal point of that level and will be built fairly close to the prototype's design.  Actual "modelling" efforts will be focused on the yard.  A temporary single track main with a passing siding will go around the walls,  and will be completed with a lift out across the entry so that the first portion of the track laid can be run as a continuous loop until such time that expansion occurs into the next room.  This will allow me to switch the yard while trains go round and round, and use the loop to break in locos etc.

So, after all of that, here is the question....   Whats the best way to implement a DC and DCC layout?  My first thought was to keep it simple, and wire the layout as I would for DCC so feeders, a bus, etc.   and swap out the controller. I have and old Tech Two 2400, the MRC controller with two throttles (name escapes me) and a Digitrax Zephyr so while walk around control is in my future, it's not happening right now.  Since my play time will be all based around a yard, and watching trains go around I can be very happy with a stationary control point for now. I would still need a means of isolating yard tracks for the DC controls so some sort of panel switches would be needed, at least between the main, passing siding, yard, and engine service/storage area of the yard.

Is the best way to keep it simple just to put a shelf on the bench work with a set of binding posts (speaker terminals) and then plug in what ever controller I need to run whatever train I've chosen at that time?  Operation will be mostly just me but the odd time I will have a wingman.

Obviously care must be taken to remove locos of the opposite type prior to any operation but that won't be difficult. It's not like I'm running a major opps session here. Since my time in the layout room is limited best practice would be to put locos back on their shelf to keep the dust off of them anyway.

Who has done something similar? Did you hate it? Did you hate it but it still worked well? What are your thoughts?

Thanks for the input.

Craig

edit: I should add that I have a large number of DPDT center off switches left over from my last railroad so added expense for those parts isn't an issue.
 
« Last Edit: January 11, 2016, 08:21:38 PM by craigolio1 »

jagged ben

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Re: DCC and DC together. Yes? No? Maybe just for a while?
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2016, 09:44:54 PM »
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Just wire the layout as you would for 2-cab analog control, and make DCC one of the cabs.   It is really not that complicated.  If you would prefer to use two analog cabs one moment instead of DCC, switch it out.  Or even better, put your DCC and one analog cab on a DPDT switch. 

In your situation I wouldn't overdo it with blocks.   I'm not trying to follow your plans in detail but it sounds like you only need a handful of blocks.  You did mention a passing siding, so if you want to actually utilize that with either train being analog then you will need 2-cab wiring and for the two tracks in the siding to be separate blocks, and for the single track on either side to be separate blocks.   It sounds like you also might like to run a train on the main while also switching the yard.  So, make the yard it's own block.   Think about an out of the way track or two in the yard that the switchers can sit in when the mainline train needs to enter and leave the yard, and put on/off switches on those tracks.   In other words, just think carefully about your operations, and make your blocks accordingly.   

BTW, it's possible to do common rail with analog and DCC but it requires special DCC boosters and I would strongly recommend against it in your situation.  Just use those DPDT switches and double-gap all block boundaries.  You could also use multiple analog cabs and DCC at once with a bunch of expensive rotary switches, but again that really sounds unnecessary for you.

edit:  BTW our club has 5 analog cabs plus a DCC system.  I love being able to convert locos at my leisure.  Granted, I didn't have to wire up all those rotary switches by myself (although I've done a few),  but I totally think it's worth it to not have a whole bunch of locomotives embargoed until I decide I have enough time and dough to decoderize them.  So to answer your question, do I like it?  Definitely yes.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2016, 09:49:48 PM by jagged ben »

djconway

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Re: DCC and DC together. Yes? No? Maybe just for a while?
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2016, 11:51:07 PM »
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In 1996 I converted my layout to DCC with the purchase of a Digitrax Big Boy system, an GP40-2, 2 Aztec SD45 frames and 2 DN93(?) decoders. The layout was wired for 2 cab operation, to convert it to DCC I removed one cab and replaced it with the Big Boy system.  To run DC I simply used one cab and flipped switches to the DC cab.  To run DCC flipped to the other cab, no muss no fuss.  20 years later and I still have quite a few DC pieces that get run every now and then. 

The DC wiring helps to trouble shoot problems with shorts and installs by allowing me to isolate areas on the layout.

I converted over 80 locos in small batches 2 - 4 at a time from day 1 until now, spread over 20 years the bite isn't that bad.

tdunbrook

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Re: DCC and DC together. Yes? No? Maybe just for a while?
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2016, 01:24:32 AM »
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Craig,

I have my layout set up to run either DC or DCC. However, since I have crossovers between the main lines, I never run both at the same time. This avoids the chance of an engine accidentally crossing a gap and having DC on one truck and DCC on the other. Pretty sure that this would result in some costly repairs!

I'm also in the process of converting engines to DCC which will take years.

By the way, I've been building some of the passenger car lighting circuits with led strips that you and Peteski worked out a few years back. They're working great and I really appreciate you guys sharing this idea!

Tom         

peteski

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Re: DCC and DC together. Yes? No? Maybe just for a while?
« Reply #4 on: January 12, 2016, 02:34:40 AM »
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By the way, I've been building some of the passenger car lighting circuits with led strips that you and Peteski worked out a few years back. They're working great and I really appreciate you guys sharing this idea!
     

I'm glad that you found them (useful). Someday I'm hoping to make that (and couple of related circuits) into a magazine article. But by the time I get to that task, printed magazines will be all gone.  :)
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Cajonpassfan

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Re: DCC and DC together. Yes? No? Maybe just for a while?
« Reply #5 on: January 12, 2016, 01:48:27 PM »
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Craig, in theory, it should be easy; after all DCC is just about hooking up two wires, right? :facepalm:

In reality you need to think it through in detail, especially if you have a layout of any size, with multiple districts, plan on signaling or detection, power your turnouts with DDC controls, power your frogs etc. It's doable but it does add complications that may or may not be worth it.

I have a sizable DCC layout converted from DC and initially thought I'd keep the DC option and quickly found that the additional complexities were just too much. Instead, I settled on one of the eight power districts to be DC capable via a simple DPDT switch. This allows me to test new DC locos on a portion of the mainline in a real operating environment with grades and curves. When I do this, I shut down the rest of the layout.

Just my two cents...
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VonRyan

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Re: DCC and DC together. Yes? No? Maybe just for a while?
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2016, 02:39:31 PM »
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BTW, it's possible to do common rail with analog and DCC but it requires special DCC boosters and I would strongly recommend against it in your situation.  Just use those DPDT switches and double-gap all block boundaries.  You could also use multiple analog cabs and DCC at once with a bunch of expensive rotary switches, but again that really sounds unnecessary for you.

My friend's home layout is all common-rail DC/DCC, and the DCC side of things is nothing more than a Digitrax "Zephyr Xtra", a couple UP5 panels, and a UR91.

It's pretty much a DC layout with DCC added on as though it were another cab.

When we open the layout to visitors, folks are astounded that a train has a DCC engine on the head end, but the helper on the rear is DC.

Technically we could do ops-sessions running DC and DCC, but for the sake of simplicity we only run DCC during ops.
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craigolio1

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Re: DCC and DC together. Yes? No? Maybe just for a while?
« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2016, 09:00:31 PM »
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   Thanks for the input everyone.  It's very encouraging.  I was expecting to hear a bunch of people telling me the idea is idiotic.  Really I'm at the  point where I'm tired of spending money on trains and want to get the layout started, so the thought of shelling out for dozens of DCC decoders is way less than motivating.  Even if it starts out as a loop around the room that I build the yard onto, at least then I can run a train while I work on other stuff.  Then I can see those lighted passenger cars!

   Tom, thanks for the thumbs up.  If I recall I used 10k resistors and after seeing the whole train lit up in the dark it's way too bright.  I don't know what value I'll use but it'll be way bigger for sure.  The train lights up like Times Square when it's all together.  That'll keep the current draw down too which is always good.

Craig