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9 Myths Related to DCC Model Trains

1. DCC is complicated and too technical for new users and beginners.

Not at all. In fact, many users find DCC more convenient and easy to follow than their traditional DC or analog railroad models. There are no isolated sections that you need to worry about, nor any switches that you will have to throw.dcc technology for model trains

You can control more than one train at the same time without worrying about wiring and additional constraints.
Setting up the system and controlling accessories and other equipment like lighting and sound can be done by just pressing a few buttons. If you can use remote control, you can simply run a DCC layout as well! It’s that simple!

2. I will have to convert all my old and favorite locos to DCC.

Most of the trains today come with the option of adding a socket that can be used to install the decoder in. Thus, they can be easily used with a DCC layout without having to change them or discard them.

However, even if you have some older models of locos that cannot be used with DCC, you do not have to let them go.

The same DCC layout can be used to run DC trains as well, however, not preferably at the same time.
So, it is a good idea to purchase some DCC ready locomotives for your new layout and utilize the older ones in the traditional DC format within the same railroad model. Twin advantage!

3. I will have to get rid of my old DC blocks in the Layout.

It is not necessary. You can leave your old DC blocks in place and then turn them all on. However, the problem of reversing loop which will occur will have to be sorted out through a reversing loop module.

These reversing loop modules can automatically detect the loop and switch the power between the tracks so that a short circuit is avoided. So, in short, you do not need to make any drastic or major changes to your layout! A little touch up here and there will do the trick!

4. Only 2 wires are needed for DCC operation.

This can be both true and false. Although it is true that you need two wires to power up the tracks and send them the signals, you will need extra feeding wires to connect the BUS wires and power up the rails after every few feet.

So, in simple words, there will be two wires that will leave the controller with the signals, and then they will be distributed into a few feeder wires to power up the entire layout.

Actually, the DCC power BUS, the main wiring in the layout, consists of two wires, red and black, that can be attached to the track and make the train run.

However, extending it to feed the track every few feet will result in a more efficient and trouble-free operation. Also, some other wiring on the layout will include the feedback BUS and the booster connectors if used.

5. Without defining DCC safe or friendly points, my layout will not run.

DCC safe points are nothing special – it just requires that the connections are done keeping the right polarity in mind so that no short circuits occur in the layout. As DCC is more sensitive to shorts, therefore the point work needs to be done accurately and then soldered correctly.

To make the switches or turnout points DCC friendly, the polarity of the frog needs to be considered.
Either, it has to be made completely isolated from the adjoining rails, or if it is a live frog, there needs to be a switching mechanism present to switch the polarity so that the frog has the polarity the same as that of the inside rails of the exit track.

6. DCC involves computer control.

It is helpful to use computer control, but it is entirely not necessary. DCC can easily be controlled manually through the controller and the cab, and you do not need to work on a computer or use complicated software to run the trains on a DCC layout. It will just be like your traditional railroad layout – only with a touch of more ease and added control!

7. I am a programming novice and DCC involves programming before use.

When people hear the word “programming” they instantly think of complicated codes, computer interface, and complex procedures. However, when it comes to DCC programming, you can easily refer to it as “configuring steps” or “set up procedure”.

DCC does not require any extensive programming as such, in fact, if you are a beginner you can easily purchase factory-ready decoders and equipment that do not require any additional setup from your side. Just installing the decoder will make the layout work and trains will start moving right away.

The only “programming” bit that you will need to do when using a DCC layout is allocating each of the trains on the track a separate address so that they can be communicated with the right signals from the command station.
This involves just a few key pressing on the controller so you need not be afraid of it! When starting, just leave the settings as it is. As you advance, you can play around with the settings and make it more feasible to your requirements.

8. The layout will have to be rewired for DCC to work.

Wiring for DCC can give the chills to new users, thinking that they may have to rewire the layout from scratch and make complicated adjustments and additions to the layout to get the trains working.

However, this is far from the truth. DCC wiring is fairly easy, simple, and straightforward. Just the track has to be powered with the right polarity and the joints soldered correctly to avoid any short circuits. All your locomotives on the track will be electrically isolated, so you do not need to worry about individual wiring constraints at all!

9. There is no reference or help available in my area.

Having some extra help down your sleeve can always be a great resource, especially if you have friends in your circle that share your hobby or there are clubs where railroad modeling enthusiasts gather and discuss ideas.
However, if you do not have the right resources at your aid, the internet is always a good place to start. There are several websites that guide users from basic to a professional level. One such resource is http://www.dccmodeltrains.org

4 Responses to 9 Myths Related to DCC Model Trains

  • Marklin edsays:


    • Robert Andersonsays:

      You are most welcome. I’m pleased it helped.

  • Borislavsays:

    Now I can keep DC switching points but use DCC only for Locs? And what is necessary to do?

  • Edwin Barlowsays:

    Further to Myth no.2, it is not too difficult to add a wiring harness or to hardwire an older locomotive provided the motor can be totally isolated. Wiring to 3 rail systems is a little tricky as the driving wheels are not normally insulated from each other, however, this too is not difficult provided the motor can be totally isolated. Generally it is the Marklin system in modern Europe and some old Hornby Dublo that uses the third rail. Just remember Red and black to the track, grey and orange to the motor. Good luck in your endeavours.

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