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At the BRMA convention in Adelaide on Saturday there was discussion on DCC and how it is impacting on the hobby. A conclusion which was part of the presentation was that DCC could never take the place of the control panel. While I disagreed with this I thought about it for a bit and concluded that there are a few people I know who have DCC and do not intend to use it for point and route control as they prefer the control panel..

When asked, out of between 50 and 100 people, there were only three of us who used DCC to control their points. I did wonder if this was the same elsewhere and if relatively few people choose to use DCC to control their points and routes?

In regard to the control panel, which is very popular here, there are DCC equivalents such as the on screen touch control on ECoS and the Veissmann GBS system. Do the forum members think that using DCC for points and accessories is a non-starter? Or are there others out there who think that it is the way to go?
 

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I for one fall into the catagory of "wire & switches" for point control - I know of very few (friends & customers alike) people who use DCC for point/signal control. Don't know if this is the same across Europe - I suspect that a higher ration of people use DCC there for point/signal control.
 

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Hi Neil

If you're after taking a bit of a straw poll here i'm afraid i'm not going to be much help. I have to sit on the fence and can see both sides point of view.

I am involved in building a new exhibition layout with a bunch of mates that is going to have only dcc control of locomotives. Point control, route control and signalling are all going to be run conventionally at the beginning but with an eye on introducing DCC / computer control at a later stage. My mates are seasoned modellers with conventional control layouts but are pretty much DCC virgins so don't feel terribly confident with the technology at the moment. So a decision was taken on three points, the first being cost, the second Knowledge and the third Time.

Being an ECoS and RR&Co owner, for my own layout i intend to go the whole hog and DCC control pretty much everything possible. I don't have the time constraint of exhibition dates already booked for mid 2008. On my layout i can spread the cost and learning curve over as long as i like and then through a process of demonstration to my mates i'll be able to (hopefully) transfer the acquired knowledge, familiiarity and confidence in the technology both to them and the exhibition layout over the next couple of years or so.

So. personally i'd go for DCC every time but my 3 mates are pushing back against it for the time being. That's a 1:4 ratio and in my opinion is probably a fairly true representation of where most of the modelling community lies. As new generations of modellers progress through the hobby this will change. DCC has been around for about 30 years in one form or another and it's only the past 3 or so years where it is even beginning to become anywhere near close to mainstream. Down at the club, there are still looks of absolute terror from most of the members when i hook my ecos up to the club layout for a DCC session.

Mark
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
QUOTE (markw @ 15 Oct 2007, 15:59) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Hi Neil

If you're after taking a bit of a straw poll here i'm afraid i'm not going to be much help. I have to sit on the fence and can see both sides point of view.

I am involved in building a new exhibition layout with a bunch of mates that is going to have only dcc control of locomotives. Point control, route control and signalling are all going to be run conventionally at the beginning but with an eye on introducing DCC / computer control at a later stage. My mates are seasoned modellers with conventional control layouts but are pretty much DCC virgins so don't feel terribly confident with the technology at the moment. So a decision was taken on three points, the first being cost, the second Knowledge and the third Time.

Being an ECoS and RR&Co owner, for my own layout i intend to go the whole hog and DCC control pretty much everything possible. I don't have the time constraint of exhibition dates already booked for mid 2008. On my layout i can spread the cost and learning curve over as long as i like and then through a process of demonstration to my mates i'll be able to (hopefully) transfer the acquired knowledge, familiiarity and confidence in the technology both to them and the exhibition layout over the next couple of years or so.

So. personally i'd go for DCC every time but my 3 mates are pushing back against it for the time being. That's a 1:4 ratio and in my opinion is probably a fairly true representation of where most of the modelling community lies. As new generations of modellers progress through the hobby this will change. DCC has been around for about 30 years in one form or another and it's only the past 3 or so years where it is even beginning to become anywhere near close to mainstream. Down at the club, there are still looks of absolute terror from most of the members when i hook my ecos up to the club layout for a DCC session.

Mark

Hi Mark,

that pretty much sums up my experience. I noticed that the pro dcc community was very much a minority when there was a show of hands but when it came to DCC control of anything else I felt pretty conspicuous. There were only two others in the room.


Neil
 

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With previous layouts my decision in the past has been to use conventional control panels over DCC control for turnouts. The reason for this has been:

1. Cost there is no doubt the DCC control is more expensive.
2. localised control, placing a control panel at the area on a layout where localised control is required is more convenient. The alternative is return to your
centralised DCC control such as the ECoS and then switching to the turnout control screen, and then making the necessary change. Hardly convenient on a
large busy layout.
3. An alternative is to wire for DCC turnout control and use a combination of the two methods, or hand helds with a localised turnout diagram/matrix. This is
probably the method I will use in the future, where localised control remains in the future.

There is no doubt that currently DCC control of turnouts is far more expensive, and this is the reason why folks remain with conventional control.
If using RR & Co you have to add the cost of a suitable laptop. I personally would prefer to operate a larger layout with a crew, and have the interface of friends, with convential control panels, than than singley and have a laptop as a companion. At the end of the day this is a hobby and it's got to be fun, interesting and perhaps challenging, rather than having some centralised computer doing all the work.
 

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I'm going for DCC control of points, but only because I intend to add a computer and RR&Co at a later date. Using MERG point decoders and running the software on an existing (but old) PC will keep the costs down a bit.
 

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QUOTE (Makemineadouble @ 15 Oct 2007, 10:47) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>So will you operate your layout with friends ?, I think friends are better than computer screens.


For those people who have friends
, there are four options:

(1) One acts as signaller, the others are drivers.
(2) I only plan to use RR&Co on the colour light signalled main line, the branch line will have manually-worked semaphores though probably with some kind of override so trains can still run when there are no operators available.
(3) It is possible to wire conventional switches and lights to DCC modules, and set up the computer to take the relevant action when the switches are worked. In this way remote control panels can be provided.
(4) I don't plan to do this, but with some of the available software several computers on different parts of the layout can be linked.

For me computer operation is attractive because I don't have the space for a big panel or the time to do the wiring, because it is closest to the prototype for my contemporary layout (some years ago I wrote some of the software for the prototype!), and because it gives flexibility to run a layout alone or with others, including automatically driving some of the trains. However I do see that these reasons are not important to everybody and understand why many people will stick with conventional control panels.
 

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I have a large loft layout running on DCC using a Prodigy Advanced 2 controller.
I have 20 points. 9 on the main lines, 5 in one siding and six in the other. I have the Hornby levers, and these are set as a bank of six next to the main siding, and in two parts on a control box.
I run my trains using Assymetric Braking Control as explained in another thread.

I have a control box with 9 switches controlling the lights and the ABC Lenz BM1's which start and stop the trains as required. I feel that DCC control would be more complicated trying to remember what was what.

Alan.
 

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QUOTE MMAD:
3. An alternative is to wire for DCC turnout control and use a combination of the two methods, or hand helds with a localised turnout diagram/matrix. This is
probably the method I will use in the future, where localised control remains in the future.

That's what I intend to do. That way I can gradually add DCC control to the points starting with the storage yard and working my way along the main lines.

On a brighter note, the cost of entry level laptops continues to drop. I believe the entry level may be as low as £250? If you do get a laptop with a hole in the side - it probably came from our offices


David
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
QUOTE (Makemineadouble @ 15 Oct 2007, 17:36) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>With previous layouts my decision in the past has been to use conventional control panels over DCC control for turnouts. The reason for this has been:
1. Cost there is no doubt the DCC control is more expensive.
2. localised control, placing a control panel at the area on a layout where localised control is required is more convenient. The alternative is return to your
centralised DCC control such as the ECoS and then switching to the turnout control screen, and then making the necessary change. Hardly convenient on a
large busy layout.
3. An alternative is to wire for DCC turnout control and use a combination of the two methods, or hand helds with a localised turnout diagram/matrix. This is
probably the method I will use in the future, where localised control remains in the future.

There is no doubt that currently DCC control of turnouts is far more expensive, and this is the reason why folks remain with conventional control.
If using RR & Co you have to add the cost of a suitable laptop. I personally would prefer to operate a larger layout with a crew, and have the interface of friends, with convential control panels, than than singley and have a laptop as a companion. At the end of the day this is a hobby and it's got to be fun, interesting and perhaps challenging, rather than having some centralised computer doing all the work.

This seems to be the concensus.

I was going with DCC as my layout isn't very big 15' by 9'. Over here people tend to have very big layouts and as MMaD says you have many freinds over to help operate and have several localised control panels. There's one guy here whos place we run trains at who has over twenty people operating trains and points at any one time. This is a pretty fun activity as we use a schedule and signalling techniques. If we used DCC we would all be standing around drinking tea and watching someone else operate them.

My layout is a bit small to have any more than one or two other people running trains so it's not that practicle to do this with mine. I suppose I also want to get as much out of my DCC system as possible after having forked out for it. The DCC option certainly isn't cheap.

I have thought about this a bit over the last couple of days and I don't see that on a very large layout DCC is an option unless you use computer control. Which, as previously said is a lot more money or have several central station or ECoS's located around the layout which is a lot more money too.
 

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QUOTE I was going with DCC as my layout isn't very big 15' by 9'. Over here people tend to have very big layouts and as MMaD says you have many freinds over to help operate and have several localised control panels. There's one guy here whos place we run trains at who has over twenty people operating trains and points at any one time. This is a pretty fun activity as we use a schedule and signalling techniques. If we used DCC we would all be standing around drinking tea and watching someone else operate them.

Both Johan De Villers and myself have been operators on the same large (US) DCC controlled layout. All loco's equipped with sound operating to a time table. DCC control, but conventional control of turnouts with localised control panels. This layout works brilliantly and continues to provide great entertainment for the operators month after month, because every operator is involved. Yes there's a bit more wiring, but it's a lot cheaper, Who needs RR & Co with this type of operation ?. I'd rather share a coffee with an operator / mate than bites with a laptop.
 

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I have to agree with MMD
Conventional operation of points by levers, stud & probe or centre off sprung switches from a central control panel is easy, considerably cheaper than DCC and much, much more fun.
With DCC operation you will need to leave the last loco being controlled and then enter the address of the point to be moved (if you can remember all those numbers!) press enter then wait a second for the point/s to operate, then return back to the loco originally being controlled or enter an address for another loco etc. During all this time your eye has been taken off the loco/s that are moving. Often with the result that they aren't where you expect them to be or have collided with another one. Of course much money can be spent on pc control with block sections etc. but isn't the joy of the hobby all about running and controlling locos yourself?
 

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An interesting thread. I, too, am going DCC for my new layout but not intending to use it for point control. One reason no-one has so far mentioned (I think) is that operating a set of control levers is like acting as a real signalman did years ago. Even more so if you are using wire-in-tube, although I shall probably only use that for signals not points.
 

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For me, the purpose of PC control is to run the main line and provide a backdrop for the work I will be doing in one of the yards, shunting, disposing of locos after their duty, preparing them for the next and so on. Or sometimes just sitting back and watching the trains go by.

The thing that has struck me about having DCC is that you definitely need some signalling and if I can't find a human to assist me, it's got to be electronics or a PC.

David
 

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On the small branchline, I use DCC for both loco and turnout control because I wanted to use a true walk around handheld without being tied to a control panel (I chose the Multimaus with Lenz LVZ100 because of the ergonomically friendly Multimaus)

However, anything above ten turnouts becomes a hardship remembering which turnout is being moved (OK, you can number turnouts from one end of the layout but what about parallel crossovers?)

The freedom gained is important as the new layout is designed to be one-man operated and I can answer the questions from the public but above ten turnouts and my brain hurts.

The physically larger (but simple) industrial layout is designed from the outset to be completely analogue, the need for sound is an irrelevance as expo noise levels negate any sound systems and all the locos are hulking great brutes with multi-wheel pickup and top quality motors. I can wire as easily in cab-control as DCC using a bus system in both cases therefore there is nothing to be gained from individual loco control. Horses for courses?

Bottom line, DCC is great for both loco and turnout control under certain applications. If I was using total DCC for a larger layout, I would employ software route setting as I believe that it is almost impossible to remember the numerical code for a large number of turnouts and software help is needed.
 

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One of the things I have noticed here, which is the same as the original discussion at the convention, is the assumption that a system with a numerical code for the points would be used. I would agree that this system is cumbersome and in all honesty more trouble than it is worth for any size of layout. What I was thinking of was a system like ECoS or Veissmann commander would have a visual display with names and pictures for points or routes. This would negate the need for scrolling through numbers and allow easy access to the point control screen. This makes the process easier although still only really practicle for a small to medium sized layout.
 

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QUOTE (Brian @ 16 Oct 2007, 17:32) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I have to agree with MMD
Conventional operation of points by levers, stud & probe or centre off sprung switches from a central control panel is easy, considerably cheaper than DCC and much, much more fun.
With DCC operation you will need to leave the last loco being controlled and then enter the address of the point to be moved (if you can remember all those numbers!) press enter then wait a second for the point/s to operate, then return back to the loco originally being controlled or enter an address for another loco etc. During all this time your eye has been taken off the loco/s that are moving. Often with the result that they aren't where you expect them to be or have collided with another one. Of course much money can be spent on pc control with block sections etc. but isn't the joy of the hobby all about running and controlling locos yourself?


My take on this subject is; to each his own. My layout is 20'x10' area and all my points(switches) are operated thru DCC. I even have some street lights, neon building signs operated with DCC. Why? Because I want to and because I can.
I would even op layout shed door with DCC if I could. There is a chap here in Aelaide that has a lift bridge on his garden G scale tram layout operated with his Lenz DCC system. It is the only way to get into his house thru the patio door.
I have been a Lenz user since Aug 95. I can switch any point on layout singularly with hand control from anywhere without having to move to a control panel. The elimination of miles(kilometers) of wire was also a very big attraction. I also had an old laptop(Win 98) set up as central train control which allowed route setting etc., using Zug DCC.
Nov06 I replaced the laptop with an Ecos which allows point control,route setting and a lot more.
I still use my Lenz system connected to sniffer port of Ecos which gives me full walk around etc .
How do I identify each point? Most point motors(Peco) are surface mounted. Getting to old to be crawling around under layouts trying to fit point motors.
Over each p/motor is a small scratch built hut. Each hut is numbered corresponding to DCC accessory number. Those very few p/motors that are attached under layout has post with number on a disc attached adjacent to point. Which means that all points are easy to identify.
The rule on my layout is such that all points must be set before starting train. I have seen many disastrous mishaps occur on DC analogue layouts(control panels) because points were not changed quick enough in front of a moving train.
My main lines are blocked with thru the rails block detection which operate signals which must be obeyed by operaters at all times. My points are slowly being fitted with ground signals to show which line is set.
I use Lenz LS150 accessory decoders which allows op of six(6) points per unit. I have found that operating two points(cross over) wth LS150 is not a problem.
So for me, the more I can operate with DCC the happier I am.
Happy DCCing
Iansa
 
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