I am a beginner to dcc-- I want to maybe convert my trains to dcc but am totally in the dark as to what this entails.... I was thinking nce but don't know if that is the route or not? Most of my layout is up and down hills so I usually run 4 to 5 locomotives on each train and I usually have 2 trains running at once but I can handle possibly 4 trains at once with a possible 12 to 14 locomotives using power with different transformers although my current mrc master 20 can handle quite a few locomotives along with my mrc 9500. I don't know what I would need to get started or if it would even be worth it. I would also like to get into soundtraxx and that also is a mystery at the present time. Would it be better to just put sound traxx into my trains and forget dcc. My layout is only 8 x 16 with 4 separate tracks with a possible reverse loop in the future.



Thomas, there are two things you need to do to convert to using DCC. The first is to connect your existing layout to a DCC control system (generally a command station and a booster). The second is to prepare your locomotives by installing a DCC decoder in each one. The first should be fairly easy. Since you have more than one power pack and can run more than one train. You can convert your layout by connecting your DCC booster in place of one power pack and setting the block switches for your whole layout to connect to that booster. The second is more time consumming but doesn't have to be done all at once. Put a decoder in one loco and try it out. As you have time you can install decoders in more locos.

Something to consider. Most DCC boosters can provide up to 5 amps of power. So, my rule of thumb is that you can have no more than 10 locos on the track at one time or you will overload the booster. (Assuming only lights, no sound and not all actually running.) To have more than that you will need another booster or ???. You need to divide your layout into electrical sections and power part from one booster and part from another.

If you want sound, then Soundtraxx decoders are the best answer. Install them instead of regular decoders. The sound takes more power too.

As to which system to choose, here is a link to a comparison chart. If you can try out a couple and see which you like. They are all good, some have more capacity and capability than others. If I were choosing today, my choice would be between the NCE Powerhouse Pro and the Digitrax Chief II. I chose a couple of years ago and chose the Chief. Today the choice between them would have been harder for me.

Anyway, there's my 2 cents worth. Once you try it you will never go back. Enjoy.


-- Dale Gloer (, September 04, 2001.

Hi Thomas.

Take a look at Zimo, another DCC Manufacturer. It is without a doubt the Cadillac of DCC. It provides 8 Amps of power without a booster. There are many other options You can't get anywhere else. For sound consider ESU. If You don't like the sound that comes with the sound decoder you can record Your own (or other prerecorded sound) sound on to it. You find them on this website:

-- Art Luescher (, September 08, 2001.

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