Is there a benefit of going with DCC for a very small layout?

drabina Oct 8, 2017

  1. drabina

    drabina TrainBoard Member

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    After I am done with an inglenook layout, I want to build a coffee table layout. It is going to be a simple oval with couple of sidings. It may have an outer loop for a train going continuously but that's not decided yet. Is there a benefit of going with DCC for such a small layout or should I just stick with DC wiring?
     
  2. bremner

    bremner Staff Member

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    I have a switch to go back and forth from DC to DCC, DCC allows for better slow speed control, custom light options and smoother operation
     
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  3. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Once you want to have two locos moving independently at the same time, then DCC has the advantage. And, wiring is actually easier.

    Now, if all you have are DC locos and don't want to upgrade them, then stick with DC.
     
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  4. jdetray

    jdetray TrainBoard Member

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    My N-scale layout is 32x48 inches. I went with DCC from the start. I knew that I would want to run two locos at the same time, so DCC was the simplest solution. I'm extremely happy with it.

    - Jeff
     
  5. drabina

    drabina TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks for the replies. I will stick with DC as all my locos are DC and I will be running just one train shuffling some cars around.
     
  6. jwb3

    jwb3 TrainBoard Member

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    There are advantages beyond those listed, including full ability to control sound features, ability to speed match locomotives, and ability to use accessory and stationary decoders. Continued improvements in technology will probably depend on DCC or related developments. If you want just a coffee table layout and are absolutely sure you will never go beyond that, then fine!
     
  7. montanan

    montanan TrainBoard Member

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    You're probably going to be better off with DC.

    I am a DC operator with a decent size layout, but it was built mainly for switching, plus I am a lone operator.

    If I tried to run two trains at the same time, it would probably be a wreck waiting to happen.
     
  8. lyled1117

    lyled1117 TrainBoard Member

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    If you want to have two (or more) locos on a small layout, DCC is the way to go if you want ease of wiring as well as more 'realistic' operation. No more kill switches for sidings to hold an inactive loco. Just climb in the cab of whatever loco you need to use and use it. Park it when done. You may only move one loco at a time but it's nice to have the flexibility to move a 2nd if you want to. One scenario .... a local switcher moves out onto the main to pull off a cut of cars from a yard hauler that has brought cars for the switcher to handle. You don't have to have dead zones to stop the 1st loco while the 2nd loco comes out. Another ... a double headed local arrives, but only one of the locos will handle the work on site. DCC allows you to be more realistic. You don't have to use the capabilities of DCC, but it's nice to have them. Just something to ruminate on. :)

    Lyle
     
  9. wombat457

    wombat457 TrainBoard Member

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    I'd have to agree with the others. On a small layout the only advantage I can see is if you want to run more than one train at a time. I also have to agree that DCC wiring is less complicated, which is an advantage if your not electronically inclined.

    I'd also take into account whether or not you might want to extend the layout at some time. If so, then I would go with DCC from the outset.
     
  10. traingeekboy

    traingeekboy TrainBoard Member

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    What is most interesting about DCC is that a small layout with 2 locos can benefit the most from it. It's worth getting a basic system and two DCC equipped locos. After you mess around with it a bit you'll understand.
     
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  11. wombat457

    wombat457 TrainBoard Member

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    traingeekboy,

    This is good advice!
     
  12. MRLdave

    MRLdave TrainBoard Member

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    Size doesn't matter. LOL. What matters is how complicated the wiring will be. My last layout was not that big, but I wanted all the sidings to be switched (off/on) and I had 2 reversing sections, and I wanted to be able to run multiple trains. The amount of wire, number of rotary and toggle switches and multiple power packs easily cost more and required A LOT more work to install than if I had done DCC. My new layout will be DCC.
     
  13. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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    I'm at a loss to understand how DCC is simple for a layout which will only ever have one locomotive on it.

    You lay your track, you attach two wires, you're done. That's not simple?
     
  14. JimJ

    JimJ Staff Member

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    The joys of high quality sound sold me on DCC. I’m not an operator but the ability to use realistic braking, acceleration, coasting and other nuances of train control is very rewarding.
     
  15. TrainboySD40

    TrainboySD40 TrainBoard Member

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    DCC has more advantages than multiple trains moving. Speed matching two locomotives to run together is a breeze. Having realistic lighting effects. Better motor control. And last but not least, having one sound unit makes it 100% worthwhile. I'd go for it, every time. The NCE Powercab is like $150, and worth every penny.
     
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  16. wombat457

    wombat457 TrainBoard Member

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    Your absolutely right - if only ever running one train then DCC maybe a waste of time. However, I don't think the OP stated how many trains would be run or wanted to be run. I get the impression everyone is saying IF you run more than one train then DCC is the way to go as well as other (IMO) mind boggling wiring with DC in under some circumstances.

    In short though, if the OP is only going to be running one train at a time, then stick with DC. As you said, two wires from the power source to the track and your done.
     
  17. MRLdave

    MRLdave TrainBoard Member

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    Acptulsa......you missed my point. DCC makes complicated wiring simple. If you have simple wiring to start with, then DCC loses some of it's benefits. But very few people are happy with "two wires"......even a simple oval will benefit from adding a second feeder, one on each side of the layout.
     
  18. traingeekboy

    traingeekboy TrainBoard Member

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    I am on the fence with doing DCC or not on my new layout. I tend to run a lot of older mech locos and don't feel like the cost, or time involved are worth it.

    Having said that, if you had a small layout and lets say ran only small locos, lets pretend it's just two steamers like a small passenger loco and a switcher, the freedom of running one or the other loco right up to the back of a train and disconnecting it from the first engine, no matter where the train is, is pretty amazing.

    Or, you decide you want to just mess around and you back up one engine in front of the other and then combine them into a consist and just take off with them.

    Certainly there are those who only want one loco and a small switching layout, but over time everyone decides they need one more loco.

    My initial foray into DCC was because I wanted just one HO scale steam engine with sound. I still only have the one. Steam sound was a real thrill for me to play around with.

    But as you said, not everyone needs a DCC system. If you consider how cheap it has become, especially if you buy a used starter system on ebay, it's worth giving it a try just to see how it works.

    Lastly, loco reliability IS better on DCC. DCC maintains a constant voltage on the track. If you are creeping a loco along at very slow speed, the voltage to the track is still the same so any minor dirt or anything will have zero effect on performance.

    A good example of this benefit of AC on the tracks is this garden railway running during a real snow storm.
     
  19. Gary D

    Gary D TrainBoard Member

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    I went with DCC for my small layout for 2 reasons. First is the ability to have more than one loco on the tracks at any give time without any blocking or isolation switches. Second is the reliability and control-ability of DCC locos. I have locos that ran okay on the layout, now with Keep alive they runs beautifully and the speed is awesome. The added benefit is I can use sound when I want to.

    I am using a Sprog as it allows me to do programming and operates as a command station. It is a 2 wire hook up just like a DC power pack. Now I can run the same locos at home that I do at the club. I am also using a lap top and Decoder pro so I use my cell phone as a wireless walk around throttle my layout is a 16' x 18" switching layout. Eventually the computer will track cars, generate switch lists and Operate all the signals and switch machines.
     
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  20. JimJ

    JimJ Staff Member

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    Sprog was my first DCC system and I still have it. I used a laptop to program locos but now I now use NCE. I encourage anybody who’s on the fence to give DCC a try. I’ve not heard of anybody changing from DCC to DC (but I may hear about that now that I made that statement).
     

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