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Can I Run a DCC Engine on DC?

Henry models N Scale and asks readers:

“I just purchased a DCC switcher for my small Switching layout. My layout is DC. When I try to run the engine it is either to fast or stopped. The engine is a Backmann Spectrum with DCC and DC operation. The engine will not move on DC until I have almost full throttle. Is their any way to lower the starting voltage in DC operation so that I can use it as a switcher for a john Allen Timetable game?”

4 Responses to Can I Run a DCC Engine on DC?

  • Jaysays:

    Almost all DCC decoder equipped locomotives have the option to run on DC. The option can be programmed to be disabled, or enabled. Sounds like yours is enabled. Dcc equipped loco’s will not turn on until the power is at least around 8VDC, and that is because it takes at least that amount of power to activate the decoder’s circuits. If your loco has sound, it will be easier to tell what level of voltage the decoder comes on. Once the threshold level is set, you can control the loco’s direction by throwing you control’s reverse switch. If it’s going too fast, you will have to “fine tune” the voltage level to get the desired speed. You will have to play with it to get the feel for when it is in “Idle” or “Off”.

  • Greg Wiblesays:

    It takes about 7 volts DC to get your DCC/DC engine working. First sound, bell, horn. It usually starts slowly then picks up speed. Just let it go untill it reaches the speed you want. Then drive it with your throttle.

  • Frank Bsays:

    I have a few DCC locos but only DC control, and as Jay says, they only start running at around 8 to 10 volts because the control circuit needs that much voltage to turn itself on.

    Therefore there is only a small voltage range in which you have useful control of the speed.

    To achieve better fine control, use a controller with a large dial, so that the effective voltage range is spread over a larger mechanical rotation of the dial.

    Some of my DCC locos have a feature which requires a voltage polarity flip switch, so that flipping the switch over, or over and back quickly, will activate the bell and whistle, while the loco continues forwards.

    Attached image shows how to wire this.

  • henry Robbinssays:

    Thanks guys. The info you all gave me is helpful.

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