Analogue & Digital Control Livestream and Q&A
Wednesday, July 10 2019
by David Tovey
Analogue and DCC - Livestream and Q&A
Jack and Dave explore the different control methods and answer your questions about digital control. If you missed the livestream, you can watch the video here:
Q&A - We have gathered some of your questions and answers from the stream:
Q: What are the differences between DCC and analogue control?
A: Analogue control provides constant power to the entire track, or an isolated section of it, causing all locomotives on the track to move at the same speed and in the same direction.
DCC, however, controls each locomtive independently. This is done by fitting each locomotive with a decoder, which is a small computer chip that receives and responds to signals from the controller. Each decoder is assigned its own number, called an address, and then the controller can provide functionality to each locomotive individually by using this address.
Q: Which is better, analogue or digital?
A: This is a question with no right answer, it's ultimately up to you! Both systems have their advantages and disadvantages so choose whichever is best for your layout.
Analogue is very simple to get started with but provides limited functionality especially with large layouts, whereas digital provides a lot more options but can be somewhat more expensive and more complicated to use.
Q: How do I convert my locomotives to DCC?
A: To convert a locomotive to DCC, all you need to do is install a DCC decoder. A locomotive must be fitted with a decoder in order for the controller to recognise it.
There are several different types of decoder available; refer to our website or the manufacturer's documentation to find the correct one for your locomotive.
Many manufacturers also produce 'factory-fitted' locomotives, which come with the DCC decoder already installed.
Q: How do I convert my layout to DCC?
A: If your layout runs well on analogue, then you are already ready to run DCC! Just make sure the entire track is live, and you can run DCC locomotives straight away! Most digital controllers, locomotives and decoders are compatible with one another, regardless of the manufcturer.
Each DCC fitted locomotive draws power from the track, so you may need to purchase a power booster if you intend to run a large layout with multiple locomotives.
Q: Can any locomotive be converted to DCC?
A: Most modern model locomotives are 'DCC Ready'. This means they have a socket to plug a decoder into, making them very easy to convert to DCC control.
Older models (1970s-80s) are somewhat more difficult to convert, as they will not have a socket. They will often need the decoder hard-wiring in, however decoders are available with a series of wires that can be soldered into the locomotive.
Going back further to the likes of Hornby Dublo and Wrenn, these locomotives require a lot more power so fitting these with DCC decoders is not always possible.
Q: What cheaper DCC controllers do you recommend?
A: There are a wide range of DCC controllers on the market. We recommend the Hornby Select as a good starter controller at the cheaper end of the market, and the NCE Power Cab is another we recommend, which is slightly more expensive but provides more power to operate a lot more on the layout.
Some manufacturers produce digital train sets, which include a controller, track and locomotive, and this can often work out more cost effective.
Q: What points should I use on my DCC layout?
A: While this can depend on what locomotives you intend to run on your layout, however we recommend Unifrog points. For more advice, get in touch with us and one of our product experts can give you the right advice for your layout.
Q: What else can I do with DCC?
A: As well as running locomotives, DCC also provides independent functionality for lighting and sound functions, as well as being able to operate other accessories such as point motors.
Q: Will my DCC fitted locomotives still run on my analogue layout?
A: Yes! DCC fitted models will run on analogue, however may be a little slower to respond. The opposite is not true, however, and we do not recommend running analogue locomotives on a digital layout as this can cause internal damage to your locomotive.
Q: Where can I find out more?
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