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Model Railroading > Need Kato DC or DCC layout build questions


Date: 09/09/20 17:20
Need Kato DC or DCC layout build questions
Author: jtwlunch

Building Kato Unitrak layout and have accumulated over 5 years a big mix of Kato DC locomotives and a few DCC sound equipped locos.  Appreciate advice on whether to go traditional DC or convert to DCC.  What is the real cost of going DCC?  I am building a fairly large layout and running mostly Kato's passenger trains and locos.  Have some freights to run too.  Mostly will be 8 foot long passenger trains with 1-4 Kato locos.

Thanks for any pointers

Jim Wilson



Date: 09/09/20 17:49
Re: Need Kato DC or DCC layout build questions
Author: fbe

Whatever trackwork you go with the track you go with can be used for DC or DCC depending upon the control circuits you install. Then you will find DC units will run on DCC layouts and visa versa. Determine what your long term goal is and build that layout trackwork then install the control system you have on hand.

If you have all those DC locomotives and you want to rum multiple trains you will need to wire in blocks. Then you will need multiple controlIers. It will save time, money and labor if you just buy the controllers you need for DCC.



Date: 09/09/20 19:07
Re: Need Kato DC or DCC layout build questions
Author: up833

I am very interested in this question..  I have a large layout in N and wondering what is the best brand of control system to start out with?
RB



Date: 09/09/20 20:02
Re: Need Kato DC or DCC layout build questions
Author: wabash2800

IMO, your biggest cost will be adding DCC decoders to DC locomotives. If you do it yourself, it will just be the cost of the decoder and your time. Some outfits charge $200 a loco to add a decoder with a $100 sound decoder and speaker(s).

One way around it would be to have both DCC and DC on your layout but be able to switch btw the two with a toggle at the power source. Just wire everything with buss wires and feeders which will work fine with DC.

Yes, some DCC systems allow you to run a DC loco on DCC but you are limited and sometimes it harms DC locos. I recall seeing that on one model railroad. The poor DC loco was running but humming very loudly. That couldn't have done that loco any good.

I understand there are decoders that can swtich btw DC and DCC, but I am not familiar with them.

Victor A. Baird
http://www.erstwhilepublications.com



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/09/20 20:02 by wabash2800.



Date: 09/09/20 20:13
Re: Need Kato DC or DCC layout build questions
Author: fbe

up833 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I am very interested in this question..  I have a
> large layout in N and wondering what is the best
> brand of control system to start out with?
> RB


Do you want DC or DCC?



Date: 09/10/20 05:43
Re: Need Kato DC or DCC layout build questions
Author: Bscale316

Honestly, I think you need to research a little more. I know it's hard to wait.
That's like asking "What city is best to live in?' or "What college should I go to?".
Nor being a smart aleck here. Learn about DCC vs. DC online, magazines, books, layout visits, whatever.
You'll be happier with your decisions and they'll suit your situation.
Bill in Ft Worth
Just an observation, no flames necessary, hope you enjoy your project.



Date: 09/10/20 06:22
Re: Need Kato DC or DCC layout build questions
Author: Dieselpower

For me I think the first question that has to be answered is what do you want out of your layout?  Some modelers are really in to operations with multiple operators and then I think DCC has an advantage.  If you just want to watch a couple trains snake through scenery and don't plan to "do" very much then you can probably get by with DC.  If you really like sound I have noticed that DCC sound is much nicer as it has many more features (at least in HO) than the same locomotives running on DC and some locomotives have better lighting effects in DCC as well.  So, if you have a layout and locomotives that will be optimized by DCC it will justify the expense.  Last point, I started building a layout several years ago, and for one reason on another I am finally getting trains running now and there are times I wished I had waited until now to buy the electronics because things change quickly. I have a bunch of decoders that are 10+ years old that I haven't installed yet and they don't have the functionality of the new ones.  Model railroading is purely for enjoyment so whatever you decide pick the one that makes you happy.

Just a thought,
Rodney



Date: 09/10/20 07:06
Re: Need Kato DC or DCC layout build questions
Author: jtwlunch

I posed this question to Kato and this is their response.

Generally speaking, if you are going to want to run engines that have DCC or
DCC+Sound, you will want to convert everything over to a DCC layout.

While you _can_ for the most part operate DC trains using a DCC system
operating on "00", this is generally bad for non-DCC engines since you are
exposing the motors to a much higher current than they are used to (18V AC
when they're rated for a maximum of 12V DC), and can burn them out more
quickly than if you were operating them normally. Certain other motors, like
our coreless motors used on our FEF-3 Steam engine, will immediately go up
in smoke if exposed to a DCC operation without having a DCC board properly
installed into them.

If you cannot convert your entire collection to DCC, you can always isolate
sections and keep them "just for DC" - some people will have an inner loop
of track or something similar that is isolated and just running DC so they
can run older engines that may not be DCC compatible.

I hope that this helps somewhat.

Regards,

Michael Conway
Kato USA, Inc

 



Date: 09/10/20 07:07
Re: Need Kato DC or DCC layout build questions
Author: tramfan

I think that the cost of the decoders is the determining factor of how expensive DCC actually is. The one advantage to DCC that I find important is running multiple units prototypically together and not having headlights, etc. indiscriminately functioning on each locomotive. To keep costs down, I have my even numbered units equipped with DCC and sound while the odd numbered units only get a simple decoder, or are even just dummy units.

Somewhat of an example is I have three Intermountain Western Pacific F-units (FP-7A, F-7B, F-3B) to power my BLI California Zephyr. The model train drawbar weight actually requires the protypical three F-units due to the friction involved  The F-3B only has a TCS TH150DP to give it DCC functions. Plus it was bought new on clearance for $44.00, then add a $20.00 decoder! The other two units are factory sound and DCC equipped. Running the trainset on my club's layout it is hard to tell that only two units have sound. Yet together they easily manage the 11-car consist with the far from friction free BLI trucks



Date: 09/10/20 09:21
Re: Need Kato DC or DCC layout build questions
Author: railstiesballast

Three thoughts:
1.  The automatic reverse loop devices for DCC are great, I used to fumble the polarity change switches about half the time when I had DC.
2.  The central control panel for block and polarity switches confines you to one location, I really like the plug in and radio cabs that let one follow a train.  By now I only use the radio cabs.
3.  Your kato DC locomotives have cash value, you can perhaps sell two to get one DCC equipped.  Katos have "good bones" and many people like them.  "Drop In" decoder boards are offered for many of them.



Date: 09/10/20 23:33
Re: Need Kato DC or DCC layout build questions
Author: up833

Well I guess I will admit that I have a 10 year old layout, all in DC.  About 50 locos and never had any intention of any DCC conversions. I think the sound in N scale is about as phony as it can get but several nice things are head light control and stay on lights while the train is stopped.  Running multi lashup is not a problem, usually, but there can be limitations. My trains are 15-25 cars long and always have at least two units and sometimes 4
I have been in the doldrums for the last year on the layout. Thinking DCC might spice it back up.    But thinking the bennies of DCC mlght not be worth the cost or effort for me at this time.
Turning 80 this month..lol
RB














































 



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