Questions before I splash out on DCC for the TP&K

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Questions before I splash out on DCC for the TP&K

Postby Gnu Bee » Sun Aug 28, 2016 3:16 pm

I have not posted here for ages - sorry if this has been discussed before - if it has can someone point me to the thread?

I am seriously considering building my (long planned) layout with DCC controls.
I have no experience in this but it looks like a good idea - my wiring experience is tiny, indeed I have put off getting started because I don't really understand how elctrofrog points work, is it really simpler to wire a dcc layout? I did on one occasion several years ago operate a US layout which had a very sophisticated dcc system.

My planned layout will probably include a sector plate fiddle yard, end to end working and possibly a reversing loop if I can make it work. But train lengths will be unlikely to be much bigger than 4 wagons. I am using Hornby Smoky Joe and Halling mechanisms so far

My current research points to considering buying the Gaugemaster Prodigy Advance.
I am always surprised about how small my GN-15 locos are despite their apparent large size!
Some questions for those who are more experienced than I.
1. I like the look of the of the Gaugemaster DCC23 2 function decoder because it is really small (10.6 x 8.7 x 2.86mm). It looks like it needs a socket near to the motor - how long can the lead be from the motor to the socket and from the socket to the decoder? What size is the plug and socket - is it larger than the decoder?

2. Can decoders be encased? Do decoders get hot at all? I am thinking it might be disguised as a toolbox, tea urn, small mechanical dog etc.

3. I hope the following makes sense: One thought for the layout would be two or more separate diorammas which would use the same stock - do I need a system for each layout or can I plug the one system into more than one place?

Gnu Bee
My name is Geoff - a dabbler in all things narrow gauge and unlikely.

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Re: Questions before I splash out on DCC for the TP&K

Postby Nige » Sun Aug 28, 2016 4:13 pm

My own love is Smallbrook Studio's Emett engines and, in a mad moment, I decided to convert them to DCC with a view, ultimately, of building a computer controlled layout for them. In case you're not acquainted with them, they are based on Hornby Smokey Joes. I've not noticed any problems with heat even though the decoders are enclosed in the bodywork and quite a snug fit but I guess they must warm up in use. I'll also say that the decoders came with very long wires which I have had to cut down quite a bit so I don't think you'll have any difficulties there.

The biggest challenges I faced were:

1. fitting the decoder into the body
2. finding decoders that were small but with a good current rating (as I blew a couple of 'cheapies' in the process).

The good news is that I found some small ones with a 2A peak current rating and have fitted them in with little difficulty. I've used a Sprog II to program them (they need to be restricted to slow speed as they are rather top heavy) and they are so much more fun to operate now than they were when they were analogue. The only thing to watch is to make sure you remove all of the capacators when you convert them (the Hornby website says don't) as I had problems with controlling one brand of decoder until I did this.

Turning to the wiring, it can be as simple or as complex as you want. DCC can be as straightforward as the proverbial 2 wires or at a level of complexity that makes even the most extensive analogue cab control layout look childsplay.

The only problem is that it does get a bit expensive if, like me, you start off with cheap stuff and then realise you want more functionality than it offers.

I hope this helps
Nigel

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Re: Questions before I splash out on DCC for the TP&K

Postby Gnu Bee » Sun Aug 28, 2016 5:57 pm

Thanks Nige.
Just in case you have missed this - this is most of what I have made so far http://forum.gn15.info/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=9011 .I have also got a modified Nellie.
My name is Geoff - a dabbler in all things narrow gauge and unlikely.

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Re: Questions before I splash out on DCC for the TP&K

Postby rue_d_etropal » Sun Aug 28, 2016 6:14 pm

I would really think hard and consider why you want to go DCC. If it is to operate two locos at same time then maybe, but if it is just to simplify wiring then I definitely do not recommend it.
Best thing is to wire up layout for analogue, then you can also run DCC, but if you wire up for DCC then you are stuck with it,and all that money spent on DCC controller and chips could be spent on other railway stuff.
To get best out of analogue, wire up allpoints as live, so power is to both tracks all the time. Then add section breaks with simple switches across each break. This will allow all trains to operate, and you can always try out DCC if you really want to. Just remember that although DCC should be a simple 2 wire job, it requires better connections, including rail joiners, and more can go wrong.
If you want sound, USA DCC normally has ability to have limited sound options on analogue, and there are non DCC sound systems.

Just noticed you mention electrofrog points. For analogue these can be tricky, but there are a lot of problems emerging with DCC and short circuits, and you end up adding even more wiring. I would not recommend going electrofrog for either analogue or DCC. Modern locos run very well, much better that when Peco first brought out electrofrog points, and you are dependent on good connections even more so(Peco changed their rail joiners to be tighter to improve electrical contact for DCC). Insulofrog points wired up as I mention above works better, and has less problems. Don't follow the crowd just because they it is better because it is new(and trendy). I have a lot of exhibition experience, as well as watching others at exhibitions, and keeping it simple keeps the trains running. Even more so if you are not confident with electrics.
What I have fond is that some Bachmann DCC onoard locos run very well n analogue, but not sure if this is becaiuse of the chip, as I also have a new analogue loco, of similar size which runs as well.

An alternative might be to look at the rado control systems now being tried out, even in Gn15.
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Re: Questions before I splash out on DCC for the TP&K

Postby Nevadablue » Sun Aug 28, 2016 6:57 pm

I have to ask...

Why not dead rail and radio controlled battery powered locos for such a small layout? With a Deltang transmitter, you can run many locomotives by turning the selector knob. Now you have zero wiring issues. Run points manually or with simple wiring.
My layout isn't finished, but I can run two locomotives on it now and it will some day be many I hope. I'm also running 3 gauges of track on the layout and two of those are PLASTIC rails. All will eventually be RC, with zero track power.
I can't reach across my layout to get to remote points, so I will be using wired motors on those. Several are too far for extended wire-in-tube controls mainly because I failed to plan far enough ahead. The layout grew and points were not considered... duh...

Just sayin...

I don't do fancy stuff, my layout is just for fun. Here's the track plan in all it's glory. All of it dead rail, all RC with one transmitter. There is 45mm track on the far right, HO track (15") for most of the layout and two foot gauge for the logging operation.

Image

A shot of the center of the layout.

Image

Welcome back by the way. Stick around and show us your work again!
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Re: Questions before I splash out on DCC for the TP&K

Postby docnjoj » Sun Aug 28, 2016 8:46 pm

Radio control completely eliminates track wiring. The only thing you cannot have (as of yet) is sound. I like my trains quiet however. Radios are as small as 1x1cm. Batteries a bit bigger but they an easily fit inmost G9 or GN15 locos.

Check out Dead Rail guide. It is on the ON30guy website
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Re: Questions before I splash out on DCC for the TP&K

Postby docnjoj » Sun Aug 28, 2016 9:11 pm

Whoops. I just saw the ON30guy site and he no longer carries built up transmitters. This means the kits are about 50 bucks, but you must do the work. Sorry but while it is not a hard build, I would rather pay the extra 40 bucks and get it built and tested, which used to be an option. This does not seem to be an option any more.
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Re: Questions before I splash out on DCC for the TP&K

Postby Thorness » Sun Aug 28, 2016 10:12 pm

If you decide to go down the R/C route Micron Radio Control in Malton are still advertising ready built Deltang transmitters.
People manage to put R/C into 009 locos which are tiny compared to Gn15 ones.

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Re: Questions before I splash out on DCC for the TP&K

Postby rue_d_etropal » Mon Aug 29, 2016 10:17 am

I have seen someone at a few shows around her, demonstrating radio control, including OO9. There are commercial r/c units being developed. Think there was something in Railway Modeller about it a while back.
As for sound, I don't think it will be long before that is available for r/c.
All in all, a good reason to build layouts for analogue, so that anything can run. That is the starting point.

Also a bit ironical that many DCC control systems are now wireless, so are similar, but possbly more complicated than simple(but still digital) r/c. What has to be remembered is that there is a lot of r and d in radio control, because of military applications(drones). Weight and size is important for those, and the spin off is model railways. I visited a radio control airplane factory a few years ago, mainly supplying to the r/c hobby, and they proudly ponted out a commrcial(?) job of a r/c plane which was mainly camera. Seems archaic now(and it only 10-15 years ago), but drone technology, helped by 3D printing, has changed everything.
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Re: Questions before I splash out on DCC for the TP&K

Postby Gnu Bee » Mon Aug 29, 2016 10:49 am

Thanks everyone for the thoughtful comments. You all spotted the actual premise of the thread which was to not go the DCC route.
I think that I might do the conventional route as I don't really fancy rebuilding the chassis on my vertical boilered loco. Thanks for the idea of wiring points live - maybe I should try a dry run before committing it to a modelled track. Then maybe I will think about RC for the future locos and perhaps a disconnected dioramma.

As I have just found a way of growing vegetables that doesn't prevent another hobby and that I now have moved home and are settling into the new job I just might get some modelling done!
My name is Geoff - a dabbler in all things narrow gauge and unlikely.

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Re: Questions before I splash out on DCC for the TP&K

Postby Gnu Bee » Mon Aug 29, 2016 10:55 am

Something I forgot - do the RC systems use 12v motors still? Because I might want to adapt standard mechanism?
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Re: Questions before I splash out on DCC for the TP&K

Postby Gnu Bee » Mon Aug 29, 2016 11:02 am

Sorry I have just answered my own post - no it is about 7.4volts which should still work with an HO loco. After all all my stock is plastic and there is little weight in only 4 wagons. In fact I am designing locos which don't pull anything at the moment.
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Re: Questions before I splash out on DCC for the TP&K

Postby docnjoj » Mon Aug 29, 2016 11:13 am

R/C can run 3.7 to 18 volts.
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Re: Questions before I splash out on DCC for the TP&K

Postby Nige » Mon Aug 29, 2016 3:46 pm

Gnu Bee wrote:Thanks Nige.
Just in case you have missed this - this is most of what I have made so far http://forum.gn15.info/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=9011 .I have also got a modified Nellie.


Ooops, sorry, should have done my homework! Very nice work.

I know things have moved on a bit on this thread since I replied but one more thing came to mind. On the original Smallbrook Nellie, he didn't include a cover for the motor (of the type included on the later Hector and Hattie models). Therefore the decoder needs to be taped to the top of the motor (I used black electrical tape which has the added bonus of hiding the workings and making this part of the locomotive generally neater.).

Finding somewhere to fit the ancillary bits if you go down the DCC or RC route will always be a bit of a challenge in these locomotives but I've successfully converted all three of mine to DCC which shows it can be done.
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Re: Questions before I splash out on DCC for the TP&K

Postby rue_d_etropal » Mon Aug 29, 2016 4:38 pm

I thinkthat in a few years we will be looking back at DCC in the same way we look back at Betamax , and even tape recorders(sound and video). May not disappear, but if r/c is developing at the rate it is then I see it taking over, withnone of the track problems that are now bugging DCC .
As I said, whatever way you chiooose, wire up track so that it can be used for analogue. It is a lot simpler than messing around with bodges for electrofrog and DCC.
I originally tried out DCC with one of the Bachmann sets, using only a very small mini layout. I then converted the locos to Gn 15, and eventaually(because they were not designed to be taken apart), the motos and chips broke(I had one powering Gerry's old Tuk Tuk), added more to the fleet, but then found at exhibition9LYDCC group), that they ran better using analogue. Much of what I say has been learnt from my experiences, working out that a biyt of forthought, thinking about what can go wrong, and either avoiding problems, or buiding in ways that make maintenance easier. A good example, again with points, is to use a PL12 point adapter at side of points, and connect wire in tube to this, not directly to underneath point, as I have found that when something goes wrong I don't have to rip up point to fix it. My Gn15 APA box modules are all built the way I have mentioned, and work extremely well, even at Sedan in France a couple of years ago.
Another advantage of analogue, is auto shuttles, which only require diodes and a timer unit.


Don't get me wrong, I am not anti technology, I love computers(having worked in IT ), but partly because of that , use technology when it works and discard it when it fails. I may not be the best at planning ahead, but if I find a method that is sustainable will continue to use it and recommend it to others.
Simon Dawson
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Re: Questions before I splash out on DCC for the TP&K

Postby Gnu Bee » Tue Sep 06, 2016 8:08 pm

It strikes me that with RC may be the way to go.
I am also thinking that as there isn't any track voltage the possibilities for modelling plateways or rough overgrown contractors track are endless.
My name is Geoff - a dabbler in all things narrow gauge and unlikely.

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Re: Questions before I splash out on DCC for the TP&K

Postby Nevadablue » Tue Sep 06, 2016 8:26 pm

:D
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Re: Questions before I splash out on DCC for the TP&K

Postby EvadingGrid » Wed Mar 01, 2017 12:27 pm

I gave just been browsing for a suitable DCC system

The result is one very angry Gnewbie.

First off analogue.
Bit more advanced than napping two flints together.
Perfectly suitable for high speed running.
A marginal advance on clockwork.

Second Pulse Width Modulation
It works.

Ok, so I've got the smarts to figure out that I want Digital PWM to control my train(s) . . . But which to buy ?

A quick Google, and the prices are out of this world.

I want to be able to control more than one train, and have fine control for delicate low speed shunting. Since digital train control has been around since Hornby did Zero 1 in the 1970s . . . I'm at a complete loss for words.

It was only yesterday that I saw the brand new Raspberry Zero, with WiFi for £15....


[i]Sorry If I come across as angry[/i]

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Re: Questions before I splash out on DCC for the TP&K

Postby docnjoj » Wed Mar 01, 2017 8:04 pm

Deltang receivers now come as small as 0.5 cm^2. They are about 45 USD each with wires installed. The Transmitter depends but can be around 120USD built and ready to use. It can control up to 12 locos.

Seems like a small price to pay for pretty complete, smooth control and no wiring.

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Re: Questions before I splash out on DCC for the TP&K

Postby EvadingGrid » Thu Mar 02, 2017 12:59 pm

I've been reading about Deltang here : http://www.deltang.co.uk/
Its hard work, kind of like reminds me of reading Unix Manual pages . . .

The product itself looks very good, but the website is aimed at Geeks.
I'm left wondering about the batteries and all sorts of every day practical concerns.

Batteries in RC Boats - fantastic, running times in hours.
Batteries in RC Cars - awfull, running times just a few minutes.

Will have to read, think, research.

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Re: Questions before I splash out on DCC for the TP&K

Postby docnjoj » Thu Mar 02, 2017 1:24 pm

Batteries, like everything else in life, are rated on size and quality. Car batteries, plane batteries and train batteries are all the same, namely LiPo. You get the size and the quality that you need for the mission.

Check out Hobbyking for the cheapest and largest selection of Lithium Batteries in the hobby world.
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Re: Questions before I splash out on DCC for the TP&K

Postby chris stockdale » Thu Mar 02, 2017 2:53 pm

You might like to try talking to these people.

http://rctrains.co.uk/index.htm

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Re: Questions before I splash out on DCC for the TP&K

Postby Thorness » Thu Mar 02, 2017 3:31 pm

I'll add another vote for Deltang although I would agree with you about their website!

My own efforts are here:
viewtopic.php?f=1&t=10552&p=123048#p123048

I got the bits from Micron:
http://www.micronradiocontrol.co.uk/rx_ ... t_rx60-2-n

They were very helpful when I ordered the wrong receivers.

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Re: Questions before I splash out on DCC for the TP&K

Postby EvadingGrid » Fri Mar 03, 2017 1:11 pm

My big worry, is the running time for the batteries.
I realise, that would depend on the size of the battery, the draw of the motor, and so on . . .

Thing is I want to know what sort of times (roughly) are people getting, is it in minutes, or hours ?


Also thanks for all the replies, its taking me time to digest all the info, and finding one thing out tends to trigger more ideas and more questions.

Speaking of discoveries, if my maths is correct, 32mm track is 15" track in 1:12th scale.
1:12 has a lot of appeal as a scale, 1:13.7 looks like masochism.
BUT I'll admit I know next to nothing, its just how it appears to a G-n00b G-newbie.

I'll also confess to spending at least an hour on the IP Engineering web site and who knows how long on YouTube looking at anything large scale and narrow gauge...
Last edited by EvadingGrid on Fri Mar 03, 2017 1:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Questions before I splash out on DCC for the TP&K

Postby docnjoj » Fri Mar 03, 2017 1:17 pm

It also depends on motor quality and gearing but on 200 ma batteries I get 2-3 hours running. This is on 2 cells or about 8 volts. Batteries are about 6-10 USD from Hobbyking.
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