I am new to DCC

D

dcm70

Registered
10 Dec 2019
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I need help. I have done some research but still, I am unsure of what and how to do this. I want to get a DCC system going. I acquired about 70 feet of Aristo track and some switches. Theres also six LGB locomotives (all with single motors) some from starter sets and some in boxes. Of those.. three of them are #2 and the other three are #3 (below).
lgbdccmtslogos.jpg

They're from a mix of starter sets and single engines. They're all the steam type (no diesels). I also got a Bridgeworks 5 amp throttle/transformer.
So.. Here are my newbie DCC questions..

1. What DCC system will work with all this for an indoor layout? .. I'm setting it up (indoors) in my basement.
2. Could I use the Bridgeworks 5 throttle/transformer with a DCC?
3. Which decoders will work with those Locos? I'm pretty sure I can install them myself

I was looking at different makes of DCC such as Massoth, Digitrax, NCE and LGB and Piko and ... the list goes on. I don't want to spend too much money because I honestly don't have a lot to spend. So, I'd like to keep the price as low as possible.

I did look at the Mean Well LRS 350 24V switchable power, its around 30 bucks, could I connect that (and save lots of money) instead of purchasing an expensive power pack? If so, how do I connect it, what would I need?

I want to be able to run 3 at least locos at the same time.

I'd like to be able to turn some switches on the layout.

Oh.. I don't particularly care about if the system is wireless or not, I don't mind walking around with a wire.

I actually like the looks of the Digitrax throttle but not sure if I can use it anyway.

There aren't any local clubs for me to ask at because I live "in the sticks".

Sorry if I'm all over the place

The reason I got all the trains and tracks and stuff is my Dad recently passed away. I want to continue his legacy and show my kids the trains with the modern technology.

Sincerely,
Dave
 
dunnyrail

dunnyrail

DOGS, Garden Railways, Steam Trains, Jive Dancing,
25 Oct 2009
15,759
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Well the good news is that the 6 locomotives that you have will all take chips with relative ease. They have 4 wires exiting the chassis, 2 to the motor and 2 to the track. Understanding which is which can help with chip fitting.

Greg will likely chip in with some info re suitable State side controllers and chips. But you may be horrified at the costs. In the meantime did not Dad have a controller? The 6 will locs work fine for the moment with an analogue controller (ie not dcc) till you get some more reading and understanding under your belt. Look at some of the threads on here for fitting dcc chips, there are quite a few.

For final completeness battery power is another option and there are lots of systems in the States. Get hold of a copy of Garden Railways if you can and look at the adverts.
 
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Alpineandy

Alpineandy

Registered
25 Oct 2009
1,644
21
Alpennines
If you decide on DCC and all your loco's are LGB then personally I would stick with Massoth/LGB decoders as they are built for the job.
Use NMRA (National Model Railroad Association) standard equipment and you shouldn't go far wrong.
I started off with a second hand Bachmann Dynamis combined with 5amp booster.( sufficient for 3 loco's ) Only problem with the Dynamis it uses infra red to connect controller with command station so I couldn't use it outside so I switched to Gaugemaster prodigy ( MRC in the States ) wireless and have had no problems.
Wireless systems are more expensive so if indoors you can use a wired system.

Have a good read up before investing and you shouldn't go far wrong.
As previously stated it can be costly though....................:(
Hope this helps
 
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PhilP

PhilP

G Scale, 7/8th's, Electronics
5 Jun 2013
24,384
826
Tamworth, Staffs.
Hello Dave,

Welcome to the Forum!

Asking about DCC, you will get lot's of answers!

Firstly, what did your Dad run the trains with? - I would get some track down, can be just pushed together, no need to fasten it down, and get a train running, with whatever you have.

You might find one, or more, of the loco's needs a bit of TLC? - Tender Loving Care.. Have they been stored for a while? Might need a light oiling?
ONLY, use a plastic-safe oil, and use very little.

From the symbols you have on the loco's, they are possibly older models? - But can all take decoders fairly easily.

I will throw Digitrax into the ring, as a DCC system.. It should cope with three small loco's, and I believe it to be a popular choice amongst some in the US?

PhilP.
 
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Greg Elmassian

Greg Elmassian

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8 Mar 2014
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San Diego
www.elmassian.com
Bridgeworks are not normally recommended for DCC.

The original line was unregulated and suffered excursions under light load to 35 volts, literally blowing out lots of electronics.

The original owner passed on, and his son is running the business, and the newer designs do not have this specific issue, but still you should use a regulated supply, which is inexpensive. In most cases, if you don't need top speed, you can find a 20v 5 amp laptop supply for about $20 or buy a MeanWell.... but by all means please get a regulated supply, preferably 24 volts.

Now some of this depends on the DCC system you want.

Being in the United States, I would recommend something different than if you were in europe.

It's down to function, ease of use, and budget.

So here is an inexpensive way:

NCE PowerCab system, $150
Add 5 amp Tam Valley booster, $50
Meanwell power supply, $30

Away you go... you have a fully functioning 5 amp DCC system.

To go wireless, put JMRI on your laptop (free)
get the $50-$75 NCE USB adapter

Use your home wi-fi and cell phone for wireless throttles (free)

That's the most inexpensive DCC system with 5 amps and a full featured (hardwired) throttle plus unlimited wi-fi throttles

Greg
 
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Hutch

Hutch

G Gauge, Raising Peaches, Apricots
1 Feb 2012
383
10
Southwest Oklahoma, USA
The Revolution DCC works very well for me.
It is wireless with good range.
However it is text driven rather than icon driven (no pictures).

Had some trouble getting the serial mode LGB engine chip to work with it, but once ironed out, all my engines work fine.

---Hutch
 
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D

dcm70

Registered
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New York
Thanks for all the advice! I really appreciate it. I guess I should have stated I am in the USA, sorry bout' that.
But more advice is always appreciated.. If there are any other ideas for me.. please, post.
 
D

dcm70

Registered
10 Dec 2019
6
0
48
New York
Hello Dave,

Welcome to the Forum!

Asking about DCC, you will get lot's of answers!

Firstly, what did your Dad run the trains with? - I would get some track down, can be just pushed together, no need to fasten it down, and get a train running, with whatever you have.

You might find one, or more, of the loco's needs a bit of TLC? - Tender Loving Care.. Have they been stored for a while? Might need a light oiling?
ONLY, use a plastic-safe oil, and use very little.

From the symbols you have on the loco's, they are possibly older models? - But can all take decoders fairly easily.

I will throw Digitrax into the ring, as a DCC system.. It should cope with three small loco's, and I believe it to be a popular choice amongst some in the US?

PhilP.
Hi thanks for the welcome. My Dad ran the trains with the Bridgeworks 5 amp. It was a very small layout, it was a table top layout 4x8', and he mostly used (but rarely used his trains) a starter set Stainz loco. All the other stuff (track, switches etc.) he just collected over the years. There are lots of O scale trains too, but going to sell them and use the great G scale trains.
And yes I will properly oil the LGB's.
 
D

dcm70

Registered
10 Dec 2019
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0
48
New York
Bridgeworks are not normally recommended for DCC.

The original line was unregulated and suffered excursions under light load to 35 volts, literally blowing out lots of electronics.

The original owner passed on, and his son is running the business, and the newer designs do not have this specific issue, but still you should use a regulated supply, which is inexpensive. In most cases, if you don't need top speed, you can find a 20v 5 amp laptop supply for about $20 or buy a MeanWell.... but by all means please get a regulated supply, preferably 24 volts.

Now some of this depends on the DCC system you want.

Being in the United States, I would recommend something different than if you were in europe.

It's down to function, ease of use, and budget.

So here is an inexpensive way:

NCE PowerCab system, $150
Add 5 amp Tam Valley booster, $50
Meanwell power supply, $30

Away you go... you have a fully functioning 5 amp DCC system.

To go wireless, put JMRI on your laptop (free)
get the $50-$75 NCE USB adapter

Use your home wi-fi and cell phone for wireless throttles (free)

That's the most inexpensive DCC system with 5 amps and a full featured (hardwired) throttle plus unlimited wi-fi throttles

Greg
I like the inexpensive way here! 230 bucks or so, is very doable. Glad you told me of problems using the Bridgeworks, I will not use it.
As a matter of fact, your site, is where I saw the idea for the Mean Well power supply. Props to you sir!
 
dunnyrail

dunnyrail

DOGS, Garden Railways, Steam Trains, Jive Dancing,
25 Oct 2009
15,759
789
71
St.Neots Cambridgeshire UK
We appear to have another new user to DCC on the forum who is approaching things in a different way to you. I think that for both of you one of those reasonably priced starters bookzines on DCC may be a great help, though not specific on any system they do give much of the basics which is difficult to give over the full spectrum in this type of forum. Yes basic help and perhaps of some of the specific elements that are particularly tricky such as say for example cv29, a cv that you generally do not want to be messing with too much Without some clearer guidance!
 
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ntpntpntp

ntpntpntp

Registered
24 Oct 2009
7,269
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57
UK
Going back to the original post saying the locos have stickers or box labels of types #2 and #3 from the image, doesn't that mean they have circuit boards with pins ready to take LGB 55021 or Massoth decoders plugged straight into the board? That's got to be an option worth considering for simplicity even if those decoder ma be a little more expensive than other large scale decoders? In UK/Europe the Massoth equivalents tended to be cheaper than the LGB branded decoders.

This image shows the pins on the LGB decoder - top-down the groups of 4, 2 and 3 pins. Take a look at the loco circuit boards and see if they have matching receptacles?
 
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Greg Elmassian

Greg Elmassian

Registered
8 Mar 2014
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285
San Diego
www.elmassian.com
ummm.....

First NO, don't consider buying 55021 decoders please! If he thinks it's a pain now, he would probably commit suicide! Forcing him to serial functions, 14 speed steps could be punishable by law here in the states! :giggle:

There's lots of options on decoders, but I strongly suggest you solve the control system question first, from his post, that will be most critical, the decoders can be selected for features and there's many things he can choose and ways to get to the existing pins of his 5 locos that have simple connections.

Greg
 
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dunnyrail

dunnyrail

DOGS, Garden Railways, Steam Trains, Jive Dancing,
25 Oct 2009
15,759
789
71
St.Neots Cambridgeshire UK
ummm.....

First NO, don't consider buying 55021 decoders please! If he thinks it's a pain now, he would probably commit suicide! Forcing him to serial functions, 14 speed steps could be punishable by law here in the states! :giggle:

There's lots of options on decoders, but I strongly suggest you solve the control system question first, from his post, that will be most critical, the decoders can be selected for features and there's many things he can choose and ways to get to the existing pins of his 5 locos that have simple connections.

Greg
Whilst I would tend to agree with you on that one Greg, he does mention “and save lots of money” which may or may not be an issue. Perhaps one or two 55021 got in working order second hand may be a good starting place to get experience If money is an issue.
 
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PhilP

PhilP

G Scale, 7/8th's, Electronics
5 Jun 2013
24,384
826
Tamworth, Staffs.
The later 55021's can do more than 14 speed-steps, with parallel support, and the Massoth equivalent more-so.

Space is VERY restricted in the likes of a Stainz, and a 'straight plug-in' for a beginner has got to be a sensible option? - No matter the Central Station chosen?
 
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D

dcm70

Registered
10 Dec 2019
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New York
Hi all. I need to decide on which DCC system I wanted. I can come up with some money selling some of the O scale Lionel engines.
Even though I've never used them, it seems I've narrowed it down to the NCE DCC or Digitrax DCC.
Both the NCE system and Digitrax systems look nice and newbie friendly to me. Will the "straight plug-in" decoder of either system be interchangeable of each system? Not that I need to mix and match the decoders, but I was thinking which system would be more cost effective in the long run. For example, suppose I got the NCE system, and found a Digitrax decoder in the future on sale (or vice versa).. the decoder should work with either system.? At least that's what it looks like to me.. I really don't need anything fancy with extra decoder features, just something that will work, no problems.
Digitrax Evolution Advanced starter set 5 Amp.
NCE Power Pro 5 Amp.. and with the NCE, I'd still get the Mean Well power supply.
Will the power supply for either of those be enough for track length (about 70 ft) and 3-5 locos simultaneously with some powered switches be enough to power it all? Thats my biggest concern!
And then I'd just choose the decoders.
 
Greg Elmassian

Greg Elmassian

Registered
8 Mar 2014
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285
San Diego
www.elmassian.com
Between the 2 systems, it's really the NCE for a new person, the screen has 2 rows of characters to display, more information, and you cannot read LEDs on the Digitrax at all in the sunlight.

Yes, all the modern decoders work with the modern DCC systems. And for small engines, you can use 2 amp decoders that are often in the "HO" category, that handle higher voltages like the Zimo series. Honestly, it's only really old stuff, and most notably LGB that has these (nowadays) goofy restrictions and limits. You do not need to "buy into" going backwards in time 17 years ha ha!

track length means pretty much nothing to DCC, it's feeders and voltage drop. 5 amps will be marginal if you want to run 5 locos simultaneously. Under light load you can expect American outline locos to pull about 2 amps each (yes everyone, some will pull less, and some will pull more), so 5 amps for 3 locos would be as far as I would go, and that could be marginal if you have heavy grades or pull long trains. You can indeed add more boosters if you segment your layout into separate parts, like 2 independent loops both run from it's own 5 amp booster.

Bottom line, getting the 10 amp system initially would probably make your life easier rather than trying to split your layout into parts...

Another alternative is get the 5 amp system, run 2, maybe 3 locos at the same time, and when you need more at the same time, you segment your layout into 2 parts, add another 5 amp booster to the other part(s)... the NCE system is set up modularly to to just this...

Regards, Greg
 
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Zerogee

Zerogee

Clencher's Bogleman
25 Oct 2009
16,805
202
North Essex
The later 55021's can do more than 14 speed-steps, with parallel support, and the Massoth equivalent more-so.

Space is VERY restricted in the likes of a Stainz, and a 'straight plug-in' for a beginner has got to be a sensible option? - No matter the Central Station chosen?
There is also the new direct equivalent mXion decoder from MD in Germany.... haven't tried one personally, but they look good and the price is excellent. All the functionality of a Massoth L and more, I believe, including a SUSI port for adding sound later.
Exactly the same plug-in pin layout as the L or the 55021.

Jon.
 
Zerogee

Zerogee

Clencher's Bogleman
25 Oct 2009
16,805
202
North Essex
i would hesitate to recommend this for someone who lives in the usa, and who is not a native german speaker, for what should be obvious reasons

Not terribly obvious to me, Greg? All their manuals are in both English and German (downloadable PDFs so you can give them a good read through before buying)....


Scroll down to the "Drive-L" decoder.

The MD products can be bought either direct from them, or via Modell-Land.

Jon.