DCC or not DCC that is the question

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I have been considering going down the DCC route on my OO Garden railway but am unsure if it is worth the expense for the layout I have.

Any opinions would be welcome.

To give you some Idea, my layout is an extended dogbone (60' end to end 120' round trip) At one end there is a 5 track fiddle yard an both ends have 8' passing loops. At the moment the entire layout is pemenantly fed and the insu frog points are hard wired so they no longer select power to thechosen track ( they do better in the weather taht way) both legs of each passing loop has a switch to isolate giving a potential of four dead areas to store locos/trains.

The track gets cleaned with a rubber before every running session and I have no problems with pickups trains generally run well.

Power is currently supplied in two ways. for continuous running a bachmann transformer and cotroller (the type that comes in train sets) this gives anough power to run two locos on the same track. If I want dict control I have an unusual set up, By flicking a toggle swith I feed the bachmann controller at 100% into an Radio Control speed contoller of the type used to power model boat motors, the output from the speed controller is then fed to the rails. I can then use a Radio control transmitter to vary the voltage to the rails from 0-12. This means I can control the track voltage from anyware in the garden.

This video shows a typical running session


I have several reason to consider changing to DCC.

1.I have been told but am not sure if it is true. Because the rail to wheel transfer voltage is 16v it gives better pickup and is less susceptable to the odd bit of dirt.
2.I could have locos stationary without having to have isolated sections.
3 Slow speed control is finer and again I have been told loc will run a slow speeds for longer and more controlled than DC
4. I often run two trains at a time (tail chasing 60' apart) If the locos natrally have different speeds there is a chance of one catching up. With DCC I could control the speeds independantly.
5. I like the inertia effect at start up.
6. I currently have 6 locos and cant imagine having more than that on the layout at any time (Stock needs moving in and out manually for a running session)

1. If a loco is set at a speed does it maintain that speed if it encounters a gradiant ?
2. Is there a wireless DCC controller to give me the freedom of my R/C control, if not s there a way to be with the action on a 60' long layout.
3.Would one of the cheaper DCC units be suitable as I have a small number of locos.

Anything I have missed ?

Thank for any comments you may be able to share.



Fun Lover
Of your assumptions, in my experieince, DCC is more suseptible to dirty track.

1) Questions. An engine will slow just like the prototype.

2) DCC radio is very good.

3) Depends. What you should be looking at is the current draw from your engines. You will need a unit to handle your load. I have no idea what your maximums would be. You don't need to exceed all your engines' max stall current, as only those running at any particular time will have a draw, and those rarely run at maximum.

Steve B

I had a friend round with a cheap Bachmann DCC set, we had four or five DCC with sound loco's running at once and three standard DC loco's running together without a problem,,, the poor transformer was sweating a bit though.


Fun Lover
I had a friend round with a cheap Bachmann DCC set, we had four or five DCC with sound loco's running at once and three standard DC loco's running together without a problem,,, the poor transformer was sweating a bit though.
I saw garden, but not the OO part. I am familiar with the Digitrax Zephyr and know it will handle your situation. You can get radio as an add on as well. I don't know what your price would be. Also check out Prodigy and NCE products. You won't go wrong with any of them.
Thanks for the opinions so far, Im making a mental note of them all !! As for the weather Josh, I didnt include that in my criteria/requirements as although the track is out permanently the present and any future controllers are housed in doors, I dont run trains in the rain (I cant get the drops to fall in the correct scale ! :) ) so I dont see the weather being a factor.



Quick note.....On your reasons for wanting DCC : #1DCC is more susceptible to dirt because it "muddies" the signal #2 That's a BIG advantage of DCC #3 & #5 If you're using a "train set" pack, you will see those advantages, but there are DC packs that will give you both of those for less money #4 another BIG advantage of DCC #6 Not sure why this is a reason, unless it's because you don't need a lot of decoders?
On the question side, spacemouse covered it pretty well, except I'm not sure if you can do a RC controller and still have a "cheap" setup.
The only thing I would say is cheap usually causes problems and I would shoot for most affordable for your situation. I do HO and am in the process of wiring blocks as well as DCC. This way I can run the other 40 locos I have that I cant afford to convert. Also if someone brings a non DCC loco over to visit it would be nice to be able to run it. Just a thought.


just my 2 cents..... have you considered that now instead of just electic voltage going though the rails that now you will be sending a digital signal to the loco... not sure how an outdoor layout would work with DCC but I'd think that you'd be cleaning the track alot.. at least i think you would not sure what others would think of that

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