DCC Control


I plan to control my layout with Digitrax DCC. DCC will allow complete operational freedom. Unrealistic block restrictions and the flipping of toggles as you follow your train are a thing of the past. DCC makes wiring simple. Even reverse loops can be automatically controlled. All the complex parts are in the 'black box' of the decoder and command station.

Right now, I am operating my test loop with a Digitrax Zephyr starter system. This basic system allows me to start equipping my locomotives with decoders and preparing them for operation. But thanks to the expandable nature of the Digitrax system, I will be able to use the Zephyr in the completed large layout.

I built my own decoder tester with an NMRA 8-pin plug so I can test and program decoders before installing them. Pictures and schematic will be added soon.

Decoder install in a Proto 2000 Alco S1. I managed to make a Digitrax DH163L0 work in this loco, thus there was no need to change light bulbs. Other smaller decoders would be a better choice but would require fitting resistors or replacing the light bulbs. Also note that this loco requires a wiring modification to avoid accidentally shorting out and destroying the decoder. See pictures of the process in my Webshots gallery here.

Other decoder installs: Click Here I have some others that I will be adding shortly.

New projects: I will post pictures of my simple decoder tester soon. This one's a prototype - if you like, I can build one for you. New is a combination tool, combining the popular 'beeper box' that you hook to you main bus wires while wiring up the railroad - cross the Rail A and Rail B lines and the beeper sounds, instead of shorting your booster - and the bi-color LED and resistor tester to check to mismatches across power districts. All in a handy 3x2" box with alligator clip test leads. As soon as the prototype is completed I will post pictures. If you are interested in either item, email me at rer@lehighgrads.net and I will let you know price and availability.

Here is is, the Beeper/LED box. It still needs labels on top. If you are interested in one for yourself, I can make them for you for $15 plus shipping.

(click on the picture to view larger image)

I now have a computer connected to my Digitrax system for decoder programming and loco control. I use the Locobuffer interface originally developed by John Jabour. I assembled a do it yourself version produced by Hans DeLoof. Here is a picture of the completed board:

(click on the picture to view larger image)

The software I use is the free JMRI Suite, which included DecoderPro for programming decoders and PanelPro for creating control panels. This Open-Source software runs on Windows, Linux, and Mac computer systems and can talk to most major brands of DCC systems (additional hardware may be required, depending on your system). Check it out here: http://jmri.sourceforge.net


Some useful DCC Links:

Digitrax - Makers of a complete line of DCC and control products

Don Crano's Model Railroading with DCC Page - Useful information for beginners and experts alike

Allan Gartner's Wiring for DCC Page - Useful hints and tips for wiring and trackwork with DCC

Empire Northern Models - Tim is a great source for DCC systems and components, as well as other modelling needs

Gadget Tom DCC - Excellent source of DCC Components

Litchfield Station - Another excellent source of DCC Components