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Beginner in DCC

6940 Views 28 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  mikeg
Hi all
I'm a total novice where DCC is concerned, so please be gentle with me!

The last time I had anything to do with DCC was in the 1970, when Hornby introduced their Zero One system. While this worked reasonably it did suffer from large chip size, motor incompatibility (Some motors overheated) and high resistance rails to wheel connections causing loss of data signal.
I am about to start wiring my new layout and until now I had only thought about a conventional common return DC system. However, I can see the advantages of DCC - two or more loco's running on same track etc.
If I decided to go down the DCC route what would you DCC experts suggest…
1) Do I buy two of everything - one setup (DCControl system) for the down line and the another for the up line etc or is one control system only needed? If one system how do you control up and down trains together without separate controllers or being a multitasker? My brain only works in 'slow mode' these days, so knowing which loco has what address is mind-blowing to me when perhaps four or more trains could be thundering around the layout on two tracks in differing directions!
2) Would my stock (some early 1990's locos - Hornby, Lima, Bachmann etc) run on these newer systems of DCC ok.
3) Are there still problems of 'loss of signal' due to high resistance connection (wheels to rail) which causes poor performance?
4) What general information - Web based, DVD or book form do you suggest for an electrically sound, but novice DCC beginner?
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I think I was tired last night. I meant Tonys Train Exchange for the Power Pax etc, and Walthers for models and bits. ThanKs for the price update Doug i wont be importing the heavy Walthers catalouge for a year or two!


I am looking for a new DCC system and I had considered buying from the USA but I wasn't sure if it would be worth it if the French charged the same import duty as the UK. You said that you bought from Walters at "Very reasonable shipping and no taxes"! Does you mean that it came through the French customs free of charge? And if so, is that normal?

Thank you. java script:emoticon(':D')

Bill Dunseith
I buy plenty of 'stuff' from overseas. In France everything is more expensive - why? - don't know... iPods are $100 more expensive, slotcars and trains are more expensive, DVD's and CD's are more expensive, books, computers, software... the list goes on.

Import duties are a required tax when importing from overseas. A European country sees an import as taxable so they will charge you tax - via the transporter. The collection of tax is the issue. DHL, UPS and Fedex are well equipped to handle taxes and they will quite often bill you later for the tax. UPS less so, but DHL every time. From the States, if they ship United Stated Postal Service (USPS) then there is no tax added. If the parcel is small enough it will come through without getting checked for tax.

I'm putting my money where my mouth is - I am testing a Lenz USB PC interface and I find that it's not working with my old Arnold system. So I'm buying a new Lenz Control unit and Cab controller (Set 100). I'm getting it at Tony's after looking for a cheaper shop in Europe. I sometimes buy from Lokshop (, but Tony's even with transport is still cheaper.
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Thank you for that Doug.

Some years ago when I lived in the UK I modelled US railroads and I too got lots of 'stuff' from the US. It seemed to be a lottery whether or not I got charged VAT or customs and quite often I 'got away with it' as it were. I have never bought from the US since moving to France, so I wasn't sure of the policy here.
I now model British Diesels and I haven't had the need to shop in the US. However, there are some good prices on DCC items, so I may give it a try. My original choice was the Lenz 100 and I liked the idea of push button control, but I want to look around before I commit to buy.
I have a Roco 'Lok-Maus' MkII which is an excellent starter set, but as the loco stud increases and I want to do more, I find myself growing out of it.

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I think the import duty over Europe is a bit hit and miss. The trouble is where I am, northern europe, the state never misses and I can not get the goods out of the post office without paying!! Last week an import from the USA worth 50 dollars came to the grand total of 49 pounds. can i import via you guys in France?

Anyway, Loco Mouse II. As I have said elsewhere I think the hand held is the best there is for controlling single loco's. I upgraded to a Lenz 100 set. The Lenz hand-held is a great engineering and building tool (checking decoders etc.). The two sit together on my control panel, but I pick the mouse most often.

Idea. I bought the Lenz set 100, and a Adapter plate La152, keep the Roco mouse and just plug it in.

p.s. is your loco stud at 99 already or do you mean you wish to double head etc?

No TVBG, unfortunately my stud is nowhere near 99. However, it is the double heading and the ease of selecting loco addresses, etc. that appeals to me.

I think that the Lok-Maus is very underrated. It is a great little controller and ideal for the beginner. And, as you say, there is no need to get rid of it when you upgrade to Lenz because it is fully compatible.

I have yet to try to import to France, but when I do I will report back.

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As an e-commerce addict, I have developed some tricks.

I sometimes order a small item from someone to see how its handled before ordering other more expensive stuff. My recent purchase from Lokshop in Germany was a case in point. I bought some Lenz items at a good price. I didn't see the final shipping as the system said it would have to be calculated. Then they added 0.4% Insurance; they charged €8.87 flat shipping and an extra €1.16 weight related shipping, then they added 4% of the total for a handling fee. I think that a handling fee based on a percentage of the sale is just greedy. It should be packing, and cost of getting the item to the post office or transporter if any. If I had bought the items from Tony's in the USA, it would of been cheaper overall.

Have just got the Gaugemaster Prodigy unit and am very pleased with the control, I started with a ROCO system but it could not cope with the power load from my O gauge locos and has burnt out. The prodigy seems to be coping and is much quicker to react to shorts. The only down side is that there is no computer interface avaiable and MRC have said they do not expect to produce one, have not asked Gaugemaster the same question.

The prodigy has programming on the main, a programme track and the programme track can also be used for reading the settings of the chips if these support this function. Also the knob is continuous so when changing locos you do not have to match the speed steps it carrys on from the last one used. The knob can also be set for a yard function which means it will control direction as well, very useful when shunting, works like my old H&M but with 100% better control.

I would be careful with electrical goods from the states as the supply over there is not the same voltage or cycles (Hertz?) and when you add the cost of a new adapter and possible import tax the cost is the same as in the UK and IF anything should go wrong you haven't got the same service as with Gaugemasters return policy.

Hope this is helpful

mike g
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