Which N gauge track system with DCC?

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I'm just begining in the hobby, haven't purchased a thing, but I'm very interested in DCC and I would to do it the right way from the start. For space considerations N gauge is the way I want to go. I also would like to use a ballasted track system, like Kato's Unitrack, so I can be up and running in minutes, and not have to wait to build benchwork, subroadbed, glue ballast, etc. Buy using a ballasted track system, I can ease my way into the hobby, slowly. I read in Gartner that Unitrack's turnouts are not DCC friendly and can't be made to be. Is there a ballasted track system in N gauge that is DCC friendly? What about Fleischmann? They have a digital system of their own, plus they have curved turnouts, which I didn't see in the Atlas catalog. Thanks for any info. Clay

-- Clay Krueger (rckr@earthlink.net), October 26, 1998



I don't model in 'N' so take this for what it's worth. The choice of track system can be very independent of the DCC system. DCC is the methods of control on the track and the decoders in the locomotives. The idea of DCC Friendly Turnouts is for the bullet proof protection of shorted wheels at the turnouts. Either by an actual derailment or when the front end of the engine enters from the frog when the points are thrown the wrong way. As you are getting started, any of the track systems you find accepatble for physical stability and the geometry of configuration can be used fine with the cavat that you will need protection from shorts. As you get more involved, you may want to go to the sub-roadbed, ballast, and flextrack route for greater realism and options of layout configuration. If you choose a 'non-DCC friendly' system at first - don't despair. Any of them CAN be made to work fine with (somtimes considerable) surgery. As a starter you will want to issolate the turnouts electrically and use the protection of the automotive bulb to protect against those infrequent - but inevitable electirical shorts. Look through all of Alan Gartners stuff on the web at (http://members.aol.com/wire4dcc/ homepage.htm). You may not find the absolute 'perfect' system that has full DCC friendlyness and the self contained snap together ballast and track you are currently looking for. But don't let this keep you from getting started. You may also find that a lower power booster - say about 2 amps fed from a power pack to be a reasonable alternative at first. You'll have sufficient power for multiple engines in 'N' scale for a small pike and you can expand latter as you need to. It's good to see you immediately considering the DCC control as a starter - it will bring great rewards to you for operations. I actually recommned the use of DCC for the smallest of layouts since trying to multi-block the small layouts is a real impractical chore to attempt running multiple engines. Welcome aboard! -ed mccamey-

-- Ed McCamey (emccamey@cheerful.com), November 09, 1998.

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