Implementing DCC on turnouts : LUSENET : Wiring for DCC : One Thread

Hello all,

I am new to the world of model railroading. I am finding it very fascinating. Right now I am planning my first layout. I have decided on a n-scale double track loop layout (inspired from the Atlas book, "N Scale Model Railroading") with a few sidings. I have planned it using Atlas' software. I have completely designed it using the conventional DC type of controls. I have been doing some research on DCC and that is something I would like to use from the start. What I am not clear on is how the DCC controls the turnouts. From what I understand you need stationary decoders. But every thing I seem to read hooking up DCC to existing layouts is like plug and play. Does that mean you do not need stationary decoders. Please advise. THanks

-- John (, December 08, 2002


Cheers, John,

I'm pretty new to DCC also, but yes, you have to have a decoder to make DCC do anything to anything - mobile decoders for your engines, and stationary for things like building lights, turnouts, etc., that you wish to control from your DCC unit. Hope this helps, Peace, vinny

-- Vinny Fasano (, December 12, 2002.

Greetings John.

I have been in the hobby just over two years. My advice? Run, don't walk to DCC if you are just starting out. There are WAY less wires to worry about. I recommend the Digitrax Big Book of DCC as a reference. Great reading.

I cannot speak for N-scale (I am just too old and don't have the eyes for that small of detail) but unless you want to spend extra money, you will have to install the decoders in the engines yourself. That can be scary in HO let alone trying to use my fat fingers in N.

But enough about mobile decoders. You wanted to know about stationary decoders. These are the guys that will allow DCC to control *everything* other than locomotives (switches, lighting, etc.). You can program them to operate lights and the two types of switch motors (pulse and always on).

I made a concious decision to NOT go the stationary decoder route since changing switch positions would most likely occur from your handheld throttle. This would be a pain for me. The throttle I have allows me to dynamically run 2 locomotives in unison. I tried 3 and it works, but you have to keep on SELecting the third train to control it. That is, I can only view or operate two trains with the handheld throttle. Add having to select switches on the layout via the throttle as well and it would drive me nuts.

So, I opted to use DCC only for the trains. I am wiring my turnouts to switches on a conventional control panel. I like the visibility of seeing what switch lever I have to move rather than having to know/remember/lookup an address and selecting it from the throttle. With my switches connected to bi-coloured LEDs on the control panel, I can see at a glance if I am headed for a cornfield meet.

Regards, Doug Fraser

-- Doug Fraser (, December 30, 2002.

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