DCC Installation

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DCC INSTALLATION - OVER 15 YEARS EXPERIENCE!

Why use Professional Layout Services to install your DCC control system? 

We do not insist that we supply the DCC control system. We will install any DCC control system in working order and in merchantable condition. We will however provide systems if we are able to do so when requested.
We have over fifteen years experience in the installation of DCC systems. We have installed systems for clients all over the UK from most global manufacturers over the years. We ensure the system is installed and tested correctly to offer many years of trouble free use.
We are happy to offer advice and assistance to layout owners once we have installed a system. If any problems arise we will always try and help!

 

The above image shows the full DCC wiring on one layout board. DCC is sometimes sold as a two wire control system in its simplest form. Which two wires would you like to keep? This image shows the location of the accessory decoders (to the right) in close proximity to the turnouts they are operating. Try and avoid distances above one metre. 
Accessory decoders can be purchased form a variety of manufacturers. These Lenz decoders operate six turnout motors, others operate four or just one. The heavier black and white cable is the power supply to these decoders.  This image shows the underside of a Peco Code 55 N Gauge finescale scissor crossing. The device at the top of the image is a Digitrax auto reverse module used to switch polarity on the scissors. Much easier than a four pole switch in analogue format!

Capabilities

We have no limitations as to the size or scale of the DCC system installation. We are happy to install DCC systems to small table top train set style layouts, or very complex model railways. We offer the following installation services:

DCC Track Control
The standard DCC installation where DCC control of locomotives is required. We install the control system with the DCC ring main connected to dropper wires from the track. All cable is to manufactures standards and all joins conform to standard codes of practice. If cable of an insufficient capacity is used on DCC layouts it is possible that some data loss may occur, or the cable may overload. Remember most DCC systems work on a much higher power rating than conventional DC controllers. Most DC controllers have a maximum output of between 1 and 2 amps. Most non basic DCC systems have an output of between 2 and 5 amps. The cable on a DCC layout must be capable of this potential load! Where required DCC booster units are installed to provide addition power supplies and isolation switches to allow easy fault finding on larger layouts. Auto reverse modules can be installed for turntables (where required) and to automatically reverse polarity in return loops. These devices can also be used to switch the polarity of live frog 'diamond crossings' and 'scissor crossovers' removing the need for mechanical or relay switching of polarity. We now fit as standard DCC circuit breakers to protect the master controller from layout short circuits and when used booster units are also protected in the same way. On larger layouts we break the layout down into DCC blocks each protected by a circuit breaker to ease fault finding. In the event of a problem only the problem block will shut down, the rest of the layout will continue to work.

Shown above are the DCC Specialties circuit breaker and auto reverse module. The circuit breaker has many uses as described above for master and block protection - particularly useful on the Gaugemaster/MRC Prodigy Advance2 which does not have a reset button and needs shutting down once the fault has been cleared. We also use the circuit breaker to protect handmade track units e.g. Marcway Scissor Crossings which go to short circuit until the road is set; and some turntables which go through a short as they rotate. 

 
 
 
DCC Accessory Control
Most DCC layouts require not just the locomotives to be controlled from the DCC master controller, they also prefer to control the turnouts and other accessories digitally. We install turnout motors both solenoid (Peco, SEEP, Hornby, Fleischmann, Marklin etc) and slow action types (Tortoise, Fulgarex and Lemaco etc) together with most other accessory requirements e.g. signals etc. Signals can be colour light types or semaphore. When programming DCC decoders avoid doing so when installed on the layout. Program prior to installation avoiding moving around or under the board. If you are doing more than 'base' address programming test with grain of wheat bulbs as shown in the image. The images below show a ZTC304 (we no longer advise their installation due to a lack of power even with a cdu) and a Hornby R8247 accessory decoder being programmed with the outputs of Channel 1 to be used for continuous output e.g. for use on colour light signals. This is tested using grain of wheat bulbs to ensure the programming is correct prior to installation. Also shown is the ESU ECoS SwitchPilot accessory decoder.

 

 

Team Digital SMD84 Switch Machine Driver

          
Probably the best accessory decoder available. This device will switch eight solenoid and/or slow action stall type machines. It has 16 programmable remote controlled routes, 13 programmable local routes and five conditional routes. It has an advanced buffer to hold information and switch macros/route settings using the on board capacitor. The device uses smart programming for simple basic addressing and set up. Works on the faster DCC systems including NCE.
 
 
Computer Control.
Most quality DCC Control systems feature the ability to connect to a computer (either via an interface or pre-installed) and integrate with commercial and open source software. We offer hardware installation e.g. block detectors and their associated units to provide the data for the PC software. The image below left shows NCE Block Detectors used in conjuction with the NCE AIU Unit (Auxiliary Input Unit) in these case to feed train presence data to JMRI Open Source Software. The right image of the AIU shows a lit LED to confirm the presence of a train which is fed into the cab bus.

 

Controller Setup
More advanced DCC systems require a little more time when setting the system up particularly when operating accessories. For example the ECoS ESU Command Station is one of the best DCC controllers available however many enthusiasts need assistance when it comes to using the touch screen interface. The touch screen interface offers clear operation of locomotives, accessories and routes. Your track plan can also be schematically represented on the screen with turnouts and signals etc. operated by touching the screen plan. 
Route Settings/Preset Routes/Macros.
Most DCC operating systems offer the facility to program complex switching operations by pressing one button. This is usually associated with setting track routes via accessory decoders but this can also involve signals and other accessories. Manufacturers use different terms for this process including Routes, Presets and Macros. The maximum number of routes and settings within a route varies depending on the system memory. For example Prodigy Advance2 offer 32 routes with a maximum of eight switches per route, whereas the ZTC511 offers around ten routes as supplied (number of routes depends on the number of settings per route) but can be upgraded to a maximum of 256. The EcOS ESU Command Station offers a lerge number of route settings plus a touch screen for turnout control via a track plan. PLS Layouts offer a full route program service which can be included in the setup of your DCC system, or as a separate service. More information on Routes/Presets/Macros can be found here.
 
Layout preparation for DCC installation.
To optimize the performance of certain DCC layouts we can alter Peco turnouts from electrofrog to livefrog to prevent short circuits as rolling stock wheels pass through the turnout. This alteration also vastly improves the performance of the layout as the pressure contact between the stock rail (fixed outer rails) and the switch rail (moving rail that travels with the tie bar) is no longer required for electrical continuity. If you are thinking of DCC computerisation we can block your layout to allow units to detect a loco present in the block.
Hardware Programming - Decoder and Controller.
We are frequently asked to program accessory decoders. Most accessory decoders are supplied by the manufacturers to operate solenoid turnout motors requiring a pulse of a short duration. When using these decoders for other applications such as motor drive turnout motors e.g. Tortoise etc. or colour light signals it is necessary to program  the decoder. Some accessory decoders do not have to have sequential numbering e.g. Team Digital SMD84 and Lenz. Each output can be configured to its own number and function. We can set your accessory decoders to your requirements. The image below shows a Gaugemaster/MRC Prodigy accessory decoder installed on a clients layout. The channel timers have been set to 3 which equals a pulse time output of 0.3 seconds which is ideal for the Peco PL10w series of solenoid turnout motors. This accessory decoder automatically sets to pulse output for solenoid motors when the thin cable wire link is cut (on this decoder the link is yellow and can be seen over the large IC located in the centre of the device), however we find a small increase in the timer output is needed when the motors are located below the baseboard rather than fitted directly to the turnout.  We also offer a service to program your EcOS ESU Master Station for locomotives, turnouts and routes. We will also upgrade your unit to the latest software and upload images of your locomotives - customer registration on The ESU website required.
 
 
DCC Layout Upgrade/Improvement Service.
DCC has now established itself as possibly the number one in model railway control. Over the years that DCC has been available new ideas, new concepts and new products have been developed. An upgrade may improve the reliability and stability of your DCC layout, particularly if your system is now unable to upgrade e.g. ZTC. We may be able to make more efficient use of the hardware you have purchased. For example the images below show four auto-reverse modules located at each end of a large layout. These modules have replaced ZTC-550 booster units and ZTC560 transformers releasing high cost hardware now better used on power districts.
 
 
ZTC Installation Service.
We worked closely with ZTC Controls in their early years, in fact we had one of the first pre-production ZTC511 master controllers before the system was marketed. Although we no longer supply or recommend their products over the years we have supplied and installed many ZTC systems around the country and overseas. We offer probably the most experienced service with ZTC installation available. From small layouts to complex model railways we have installed ZTC! 
 

Some of the more popular Digital Systems in the UK:

ECoS ESU Command Station

Gaugemaster Prodigy2

Hornby Elite. 

ZTC 511 Master Contoller.

Bachmann Dynamis.

Lenz Digital

Digitrax

NCE - North Coast Engineering 

 

 

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