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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Part 5.a. DCC on your layout

DCC has changed dramatically through the years, going from a large, bulky, computer program to a sleek, self-contained, unit.  Digital Command Control basically allow multiple locomotives to operate on one track, without the need of complicated wiring.  Basically, DCC is the new thing, and most modelers already have DCC, or know someone who uses DCC.  This article is going over how to add DCC to your layout, and modify your layout and track plan for DCC.

DCC does need several things on a layout:

  1. A wiring system that is bulletproof and simple.
  2. A programming track that is separate from the layout itself so new locomotives can be programmed inot the existing system.
  3. Old block systems need to be turned off, or taken out, as they are not needed when using DCC.
  4. Track must be clean for the trains to work well and locomotives need to be maintained well.
So, with those four things in mind, let's design a train layout!

The Basic Plan

Here we will start with a basic plan of my own.  It is a basic plan with basic switching on a 4X8 piece of plywood.  It has a passing siding on one side, and a small industrial center on the other.  This plan is good for DC power, but it needs work for DCC.  So, let's go through the list of requirements.

Step 1, Good Wiring

Any layout needs good wiring, but let's go over what is needed here:  You will need to have feeder wires going to the different tracks (red arrows), powered switches (yellow boxes coming off of switches) if you want them, and places to plug in your throttles which are symbolized by black rectangles.

Here, there are feeder wires on every track, and electric switches on the main line.  Also, there are three plugs for DCC along the edge of the layout, allowing for two to three trains to be running.

Step 2, Programming Track.

A programming track, and separate wiring so that the programming track is in its own block.  We had room on the left, and so the programming track was located there, along with its own plug in.  In operating sessions, this track could be used as a interchange track, a place for cars to come and go. The track has its own feed, and a hidden the plug in.

Step 3 and 4, not shown.

In order for trains to work well, track and block system need to be in good order.  In order for DCC to work well, the block system (if you have one) needs to be turned off or taken out, otherwise a train can go into an area that is turned off, and you will have to dive in to get it.  The track being clean is a given, and it is good practice regardless of  what you use for track power.

There you have it, a simple train layout for DCC.

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