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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm thinking about converting my standard DC layout to DCC in the new year.

Will I only have to replace the controllers and fit decoders to my locos to get it to run?

Also, does anyone know of any Hornby or Bachmann models which cant take a standard DCC chip within the body? Due to the costs of the 'micro' size chips, Im not keen to use less than the standard size/function chips.

Depending on the work involved, and the costs, I'm weighing up whether or not its worth it...
[I have about 10 locos which would need chipping]

Thanks!
 

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DT
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I have yet to find a loco that is impossible to add a decoder.

Some are downright difficult and I have a couple of French locos with the decoder sitting in the cab - but as the cab is not visible when the loco is running - I can live with it.

You can remove or modify ballast to fit a decoder, use the tender, or tanks and cab.

Give us a list of the ones you think may be tricky.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
For sheer lack of space I got the impression that the Hornby J94 would be a bit tricky - and I have three which would require chipping...
The rest are all express engines - so there should be room in the body no problem.

Just out of interest, can Bachmann loco's use Hornby Decoders?

Are the cheaper decoders worth the bother - or does it show in the running of the loco?
 

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Here is a review of a J83. Similar to the J94 in principle.

http://www.bromsgrovemodels.co.uk/hornbyclassj83dccinstr.htm

Cheaper decoders offer fewer features. Unfortunately some of those features determine how smooth the loco runs and how precisely it can be controlled.

I've tried the 'cheap' Lenz LA1000A. Didn't work out and I moved on to the LE1014W for cheapness and the Lenz Gold JST (10433) for ultimate quality.

You can use a Bachman decoder in a Hornby loco and a Hornby decoder in a Bachmann loco.

Some people have experienced some trouble using the Hornby decodes. We will be fully testing them soon so watch this space. I'm sure that if they can be set to run the loco smoothly at low speeds, then they are a good deal.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for that info, it should come in very handy.

I was thinking of using a Hornby Select DCC controller to start with. On my current layout I have 3 main lines and 3 DC controllers providing the power. Will i need 3 Select units, or can one be wired to power 3 lines?

Where do you buy your decoders from, by the way?

Thanks again for the info!
 

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The M7 could be a problem unless you pay for a micro decoder

The Hornby decoder is a bit controversial - there is no reason why it won't go in a Bachmann loco, but there have been reports of people struggling to program it with non-Hornby DCC systems , regardless of whose locos its been fitted to (although I've not heard any suggestion it won't run with other DCC systems) . Performance is still unclear.

Many DCC enthusiasts will tell you to fit only the best and most expensive decoders on the market. Clearly if you are paying £24 not £9 you will be getting a better performing decoder . The question is how modest or dramatic the difference is

One clear improvement is "back-EMF" - where the decoder adjusts according to feedback from the motor . This normally commands a premium: Bachmann have released a cheap decoder with back EMF , but it's an obsolete ESU decoder which only supports 2 digit addresses.

A cheap "Maccoder" (Lenz/Bachmann LE1000) will do a job for you and slow speed running onj a good mechanism will be adequete provided you've chopped out all the capacitors - the limited number of functions is irrelevant with steam. A top line Lenz Gold , at 2.5 times the price, will certainly deliver even better slow speed running, and will not care about capacitors

If you have locos without NMRA sockets, and need to make hardwired
 

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QUOTE Also, does anyone know of any Hornby or Bachmann models which cant take a standard DCC chip within the body? Due to the costs of the 'micro' size chips, Im not keen to use less than the standard size/function chips. While you can put any decoder in any loco, some are better suited to certain motor types than others. Some of the tender drive Hornby locos don't go too well with budget decoders. I have been advised to use at least Lenz silvers or I believe someone mentioned a Zimo decoder on one thread which was meant to be ideal. More recent models don't seem to have many problems with cheaper deocders it's just that the performance could be improved with a better one. I had a lot of bad experiences with cheap decoders so don't waste my time with them anymore. Try a couple of different decoders, some cheap and some better quality, and make the choice for yourself based upon the performance they give and your requirements.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for all the advice chaps!

Just one question:-

On my current layout I have 3 main lines and 3 DC controllers providing the power.
Will i need 3 Select units, one for each line, the same as DC - or can one DCC controller be wired to power 3 lines?

Thanks
 

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QUOTE (edzmen @ 11 Dec 2006, 11:26) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Thanks for all the advice chaps!

Just one question:-

On my current layout I have 3 main lines and 3 DC controllers providing the power.
Will i need 3 Select units, one for each line, the same as DC - or can one DCC controller be wired to power 3 lines?

Thanks
One DCC controller will do the lot but you may need a power booster if you are going to run loads of trains simultaneously.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thats good news!

So the controller just plugs into the existing track power pins straight from the off - or do you need to buy extra leads?
 

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QUOTE (edzmen @ 11 Dec 2006, 11:45) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Thats good news!

So the controller just plugs into the existing track power pins straight from the off - or do you need to buy extra leads?
You'll have to ensure power goes to all the tracks and that your points are wired appropriately. Some would go as far as ensuring every piece of track has a connection.
 

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Currently, I have 3 power pins on the layout - one to power each line.

I noticed the Hornby Select unit only has rear jacks to connect one DCC track power pin. Does this mean i can only power one line using the controller?

With the layout set up as it is, there is no way the power could flow to all parts of the line using one track power pin...

Is there a way around this or is the current flow on DCC different to DC?

Thanks!
 

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QUOTE (edzmen @ 11 Dec 2006, 12:44) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Currently, I have 3 power pins on the layout - one to power each line.

I noticed the Hornby Select unit only has rear jacks to connect one DCC track power pin. Does this mean i can only power one line using the controller?

With the layout set up as it is, there is no way the power could flow to all parts of the line using one track power pin...

Is there a way around this or is the current flow on DCC different to DC?

Thanks!

You have to think beyond one controller to one track power pin. With the cable coming from your DCC controller you need to get your positive wire and negative wire and add a couple of extra connections to power your other tracks. You can solder these on to the existing power line coming from the rear jack. At least one postive and negative power cable will need to go to each circuit or branch line you intend to use.

While with analogue power only one loco would be on the track at any one time it was only neccessary to have the current active on the section where the one loco was, with DCC you could have several locos on one track and it's branches and so all track should be powered to enable you to get the full benefit of DCC. The current flow from DCC is different from DC but this has no real impact on what we are talking about here.

Your one DCC controller will cover all three connections that your three dc controllers did but you will have to wire your three tracks to the one power lead.

I'm probably not explaining this very well and it may be worth having a look at Alan Gartners website which has a better explanation.
 

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There is enough room in the Hornby J94 for a Silver or Gold mini. When I get back down home in a week or soo I'll post some pictures of the J94 with a Gold mini installed. I'm also working on a Bachmann J72 which will get a Silver mini if I can get one but this will require some machining of the chassis to get it to fit.
Most British models made in the last few years can be fitted with a decoder reasonably easily but some are just a little difficult. Older 3 pole Ringfield or pancake type motors aren't really worth the effort unless you can get a remotoring kit for them. The later 5 pole Ringfields work okay but can be a bit noisy due to the sloppy mechanisim. I am also converting an older tender drive Britannia to can motor drive in the boiler with a NWSL gearbox. Yes you can fit any NMRA or NEM compliant decoder to bachmann or Hornby locos fitted with a DCC socket.

Ozzie21

QUOTE (edzmen @ 11 Dec 2006, 05:39) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>For sheer lack of space I got the impression that the Hornby J94 would be a bit tricky - and I have three which would require chipping...
The rest are all express engines - so there should be room in the body no problem.

Just out of interest, can Bachmann loco's use Hornby Decoders?

Are the cheaper decoders worth the bother - or does it show in the running of the loco?
 

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DT
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All you tracks should be connected to the DCC controller. Keep the DCC polarity constant and you won't have any problems.

Take care to isolate the frog rails of the points as that is where you will get a short. The green dots are isolating rail joiners.
 

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Hornby suggest that you insert these pins into their points when converting to DCC as these R8232 Hornby DCC Electric Point Clips bridge the insulating part of the point and send electric up both forks. No need for wiring at this stage:-



Alternatively Hornby do this track link wire pack R8201 to help you to jump power from one section of track to the next:-



See this picture to see how the point clips can help to simplify things:-



Now this information does seem to counter Dougs info where it is suggested you isolate sections. Hornby instruct otherwise and their whole circuit is live with no isolated sections. Hornby don't suggest the use of those wires with their digital set up and the use of the pins is considered sufficient. Hornby do provide instructions about how to wire up a seperate progaramming track that is isolated from the main circuit. At this stage it may be best to keep it simple and go with the Hornby way of doing things as you can always get help from Hornby customer service if you follow their isntructions. Now I don't know how all this impacts on the use of decoders which was the original starting point of the topic and it may be that if you are using non Hornby decoders you may have to follow some of the suggestions made that are not in the Hornby way of keeping it simple.

To me it makes sense to go with the instructions provided by Hornby if you are starting off digital life by operating with Hornby digital. If you want to then take it a step further and go beyond the simple set up that Hornby suggest then thats when further info will be required.

Now I am absolutely not sure what the impact of running non Hornby decoders is on all this and some of the safeguards suggested may need to be followed however it is starting to make DCC seem more complex and this surely is not the intention. I don't know what the answer is here as wiring diagrams can look offputting to the uninitiated. Even simple ones!

Nearly all first time users of Hornby digital will plug and go which if you follow Hornby's instructions, even with 3 ovals, you can do. The Hornby digital demo layout at the Warley show had no wiring underneath and one power connection and that had several tail chaser trains running on different ovals.

Happy modelling
Gary
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks for that.

Do Hornby make an instruction manual for setting up the track? My layout basically has three ovals, and a plug and go option would be great.

Since reading one of the DCC websites I've heard all sorts of nasty tales of melting plastic, damaged rails, burnt-out motors and fire hazards due to running the increased current through incorrectly set-up track.
I'd be lying if i said it hadn't put me off a bit. Is it really that tricky to get right - or dangerous if done wrong?

With the ammount of I've spent on the layout so far - it would be a huge blow if something nasty occured through 'making the switch'.

Or have i just been reading bad information?
 

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Gary, there are no isolated sections of the track in the diagram I provided. Look again - the whole track is live. The points are live electro-frog points and with those, you have to isolate the frog rails. You have to also provide power behind the isolated frog rails.

Judging by the post above, I don't think edzmen saw the plan on the previous page. Here it is again:


When using the Hornby DC power clip with DCC, open it up and snip off the capacitor that connects the terminals. This capacitor interferes with the DCC signal.

If you have a short and your controller doesn't cut out automatically, sure there could be problems. All modern DCC controllers have short protection built in so it shouldn't be a problem.
 

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edzman,
The 'high current' problem should not occur with small DCC layouts where you probably could not get enough moving locos on the track to make the current demand high enough to be a problem. And on larger layouts you will have the 'bus-bars' running round connected to the track at intervals which should eliminate the problem.
The only problems I've heard about are with the Hornby 'live steamers' where a single loco takes around 5 to 6 amps. Some people have experienced problems with loose 'fishplates' (rail joiners) when using these on small layouts and with some makes of pointwork other than Hornby. But on my layout (2m by 3.2m) (6ft 6in by 10ft) with track feeds about every 800mm (32ins) I've had no problems with live steam - the points are by-passed too to avoid heavy currents through the switch blade contacts. And where I've used rail joiners, I've soldered the outside of each track to the rail joiner just to be certain.
Hope this helps,
Regards,
John Webb
 

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Thanks for that John.

My layout measures 4.5ft [w] by 7.5ft [L] and consists of 3 ovals so I can run three trains at once under DC - so I presume high current problems wont occur because of the size?

So standard Hornby DC power clips can be used for DCC? Thats a relief! Can I just plug all the DCC lines into the existing DC clips, or does at least one power clip have to be a dedicated DCC design?

Also how do you go about connecting all the track power wires to the main controller lead - and also isolating the points?
 
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