Friday 3 August 2012

Simplicity of DCC (not)

Two weeks ago I hosted a regular meeting of the Oxfordshire Narrow Gauge Modellers. We spent some time reviewing the successful Open Day the group had had in my absence (I'm sure sure there is no connection really). The rest of the time was spent discussing my limited experiences of DCC. Since my last post, I had added in fresh GaugeMaster point motors to replace the old Peco ones. I could have stuck with Peco but I would have had to glue on frog switches. It was easier to start afresh. I also installed some Digitrax DCC point controllers. These worked fine with the NCE PowerCab that I have. However, I didn't install any point motors on the sidings of the layout, intending to do them later.

What did I tell everyone at this event? Firstly, that running a layout on 2 wires is a complete fallacy. Look at the picture to see the current state of wiring and it is incomplete. There is no control of two points, there is no electronics to tell the occupancy of a section and there is no short circuit protection, something definitely needed with the PowerCab.

Secondly, I demonstrated that DCC layouts can run as badly as any other layout if you don't clean the tracks and you don't wire the points. I think I put them all off DCC on cost and quality grounds. However, I shall continue with it as I seek to add more automation. The real question is whether NCE is really the best platform for automation. The PowerCab is a great starter set but I am not convinced it is going to be cost effective in the long term.

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