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DC verses DCC

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Wednesday, June 05, 2019 10:35 AM

I agree that there doesn't seem to be any advantage of throwing turnouts with decoders.  In fact unless a turnout is hard to reach with my hands, I plan on throwing most of mine manually.  It seems simpler to look at a turnout and throw it with my fingers vs. having to look it up on a panel and push a button (DC) or worse, figure out which number on the diagram I'd have to design/build and then how many button pushes to throw the darn thing on a controller.

So while DCC allows you to control more than just trains, whether or not one finds that helpful and useful probably vary's person to person.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road  - Focus 1977-1983

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Wednesday, June 05, 2019 11:15 AM

riogrande5761

I agree that there doesn't seem to be any advantage of throwing turnouts with decoders.  In fact unless a turnout is hard to reach with my hands, I plan on throwing most of mine manually.  It seems simpler to look at a turnout and throw it with my fingers vs. having to look it up on a panel and push a button (DC) or worse, figure out which number on the diagram I'd have to design/build and then how many button pushes to throw the darn thing on a controller.

So while DCC allows you to control more than just trains, whether or not one finds that helpful and useful probably vary's person to person.

 

On my layout, only the mainline and passenger terminal turnouts controlled by towers/CTC are electrically operated. If the prototype threw it by hand, so do I.

All my trackage is arranged to allow yards, industries and such to have manual turnouts. Because I want electrical contacts for power routing and frog power even on these manual turnouts, I use sub miniature slide switches as ground throws.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by carl425 on Wednesday, June 05, 2019 1:31 PM

gregc

  

Doughless
The reason there is a push to make things with graphics is because global manufacturers can make one product that is Language agnostic.

 

i thought the "glass" interface gets rid of the keyboard and increases the display size.

 
No and no.  The reason for the touch screen is so that the buttons/menu/whatever could be made to fit the context of the task being performed.   Could you imagine switching between phone calls, camera, calendar, email, music player, etc on a device with fixed buttons?  The DT-400 would look sparce by comparison.

I have the right to remain silent.  By posting here I have given up that right and accept that anything I say can and will be used as evidence to critique me.

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Posted by gregc on Wednesday, June 05, 2019 1:54 PM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
With my relay based system, yes there is more wiring, but at each interlocking I push one button to set a whole route.

sheldon

just as you are uncomfortable with DCC, don't you think most, and I mean most, modelers would have a hard time trying to build a relay based control system since they lack your experience.

greg - Philadelphia & Reading / Reading

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Posted by carl425 on Wednesday, June 05, 2019 2:02 PM

riogrande5761
I agree that there doesn't seem to be any advantage of throwing turnouts with decoders

I think using routes to select a track in a yard and throw all the turnouts involved with one button is an advantage.

And yes I understand it can be done without DCC but I'm more comfortable with route tables than figuring out how to arrange a diode matrix.  And if you ever need to change it, I can redo the table faster than I can fry the first diode trying to desolder it.

I have the right to remain silent.  By posting here I have given up that right and accept that anything I say can and will be used as evidence to critique me.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Wednesday, June 05, 2019 2:32 PM

gregc

 

 
ATLANTIC CENTRAL
With my relay based system, yes there is more wiring, but at each interlocking I push one button to set a whole route.

 

sheldon

just as you are uncomfortable with DCC, don't you think most, and I mean most, modelers would have a hard time trying to build a relay based control system since they lack your experience.

 

Agreed to a point, but I'm not sure uncomfortable is the right description for my feelings about DCC. I will repeat again, I have successfully logged many DCC hours on others layouts.

As for others doing what I do, I have no expectations there, but, I also feel like it is just one more area where this hobby has changed from a craftsman hobby to a "plug and play" hobby.

The circuitry I use for the turnout control portion of my system is pretty simple, anyone who understands the elementary school battery, light and switch or the basic wiring of a Tortise machine could learn it and do it.....if they wanted to, faster and easier than learning Arduino processor programming from scratch with no electronics background.

Ok, the cab control and signaling part of my system is a bit relay logic intense, but guys in this hobby have been doing it for 60-70 years. Bruce Chubb built his first one in the early 60's.

I would challenge you or anyone to build a solid state system with all my features, but using DCC as the control platform, and do it for a lower hardware cost than my system.

I'm not uncomfortable with DCC, I simply don't need it to meet my goals. And I don't care for most of the throttles. But that aside, DCC would do little to improve my train operating experience at the staggering additional cost of $8,000 to $10,000.

And had I started with DCC, which I seriously considered 20 years ago, my other control system costs, signaling, CTC, turnout control, etc, would not have been seriously reduced. Believe me, I did the math and the research.

No solid state turnout control or signaling system available when I designed mine was less expensive or significantly easier to implement than my system. No new product since then has dramiticly changed that fact.

You think it is easier to blindly wire a lot of inputs and outputs and then write code, rather than write the code first and use the wires for logic. Having done both, I see no difference between the two, but the relay hardware is way less expensive.

Your way makes changes a little easier, I'm a good planner who knows what I need, like and want......there won't be many changes.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by Doughless on Wednesday, June 05, 2019 2:53 PM

carl425

 

 
gregc

  

Doughless
The reason there is a push to make things with graphics is because global manufacturers can make one product that is Language agnostic.

 

i thought the "glass" interface gets rid of the keyboard and increases the display size.

 

 

 
No and no.  The reason for the touch screen is so that the buttons/menu/whatever could be made to fit the context of the task being performed.   Could you imagine switching between phone calls, camera, calendar, email, music player, etc on a device with fixed buttons?  The DT-400 would look sparce by comparison.
 

I think its the same point.  One digital device houses many products/machines that used to be analog, but we've only got one screen to use for every one of them, so we toggle between functions on one device rather than fetching separate machines for each function.  No room for all of those buttons on the surface, so they are layered into the software and emerge on command.

Of course, I didn't and don't ever really need to perform those functions at a whim everywhere I go, so having all of those machines digitalized into a (pocket sized?) phone really doesn't provide convenience for me.  I assume so many think a phone is convenient because they used to carry around a bunch of separate analog machines everywhere they went but now find the compactness of having all them rolled into one device very advantageous. Big Smile  

- Douglas

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Posted by rrinker on Wednesday, June 05, 2019 3:28 PM

 Someday, maybe companies liek Apple and Microsoft will realize this. Having a smartphone means I carry 1 device in my pocket instead of 2 (I was a heavy PDA user - in fact I used oen fo the first smartphones, a Kyocera one that was a phoen and Palm compatible device in one - simply because i hated carrying around 2 things). But neither my smartphone or my much larger tablet can replace my laptop for most of my work. And the covnertible devices, basically tablet that run full Windows and have a removable keyboard are far too large in the tablet mode to replace my tablet for what I use it for - mostly reading books. Perhaps this will change, but a phone that cna be comfortably carried around, while it may have the processing power of a supercomputer, is just not a large enough form factor for comfortable IO using today's methods, ie touch screens. 

 Each tool has jobs it excels at, and in a pinch can sometimes sub for the otehr tool, like using my phone to quickly look up something on the web, instead of pulling out my laptop and firing it up, or using the speaker and mic in the laptop to connect to a conference call instead of using my phone. But each of these alternate uses is less than ideal - it's handy, but not somethign I would do all day every day. The phone is a better device for makign calls. The laptop, with its large screen and full keyboard, is a better device for browsing the web or composing documents. There need to be some major breakthroughs on the IO side to get beyond this, virtual on screen keyboards or removable bluetooth keyboards for phones are not the answer - adding a keyboard to a phone just adds another bulky device that won;t fit in a pocket so it defeats the handy always there nature of the phone.

                             --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Wednesday, June 05, 2019 4:16 PM

I still have a flip phone - it does one job, I talk to people on it......

I have a Galaxy S4 tablet, it does these jobs:

GPS with large enough screen in my truck, preferred app, WAZE

Text meassages, the messenger app is linked to the flip phone number. Keyboard big enough for my fingers, words big enough for my eyes.

Access to the web out in the field, my job seldom requires extensive stuff in the field, that waits until I get home.

Camera

Email - read and respond, seldom compose new Emails from the tablet.

Calculator

Nothing of real value or that is sensitive is on the tablet. Pictures automaticly backed up by Google.

Drop it, break it, loose it, its only a minor inconvience.

But I would never want to run a train from that or a smart phone.

My wife has a smart phone - I hate the thing.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by Midwest Northern R.R on Wednesday, June 05, 2019 7:07 PM

drcook

What is the difference between DC and DCC? 

DC (Direct Current) is basically just a regular household battery, but normally is 12x stronger in voltage, when looking at a 18vdc controller. It only flows in one direction, of course until you reverse it.

DCC (Digital Command Control) is a Alternating Current (AC) that carries a code, which DC motors cant decode, that a Decoder uses to tell what the motor, lights, smoker, speaker, etc need to do. A chip inside the decoder makes sure that the decoder is running on the right "address", which the user assigns each loco.

I'm not really an expert on this, I'm just using what I currently know from previous forum views.

 

I'm beginning to realize that being tall is a curse.

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Posted by OldEngineman on Wednesday, June 05, 2019 11:09 PM

Sheldon wrote: "There is no way I could accurately control the speed of a model train with a sliding bar on a touch screen"

I can control 3 engines simultaneously using my Samsung tablet and the Roco z21 app. The app only displays 2 side-by-side, with one of the trains on a loop. But switching back-and-forth takes about half a second -- just touch the small icon at the bottom that represents the loco, and it's "live". Need to make an adjustment on another engine? Just touch the icon for that one and away you go.

I can't understand why anybody trying to switch locomotives would have to first press a button, then press 3-4 number keys, then perhaps "enter"? And then have to repeat that to switch control to another engine for a moment? That would drive me nuts.

Do I ever touch the wrong thing? YES.  But it's very easy to correct yourself, the app responds quickly.

I guess some folks are "dos", and others, "Mac".

I've been Mac for 32 years.

Never did dos or windows, they just confuse and confound me.

By the way, I never really liked digital displays on "the big engines". I preferred actual brake valves to electronic controls, and real air gauges to digital readouts.

But on the "little trains", touchpads and icons seem to work just fine!

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Posted by tstage on Wednesday, June 05, 2019 11:32 PM

OldEngineman
I can't understand why anybody trying to switch locomotives would have to first press a button, then press 3-4 number keys, then perhaps "enter"? And then have to repeat that to switch control to another engine for a moment? That would drive me nuts.

OE,

That's why I like the RECALL button on my NCE Power Cab.  I can easily toggle between two or more locomotives by pressing only one button.  I never operate more than two locomotives simultaneously anyhow so I generally keep the recall "stack" at 2 or 3 address slots, maximum.

The Digitrax DT400-series & 500-series throttles have two encoder knobs that makes it convenient to control two trains at the same time.  No enter numbers required on either - i.e. unless that locomotive you want to control is not currently in the recall stack.

I'm also not that keen on cellphone-based throttles because they require way more "screen" attention than my simpler Power Cab throttle.  A lot of times I can do things one-handed (e.g. speed, horn) that I don't even need to look at the throttle.  It also doesn't require wi-fi or a computer to operate.  I also prefer the tactile feel of a button or thumbwheel to operate a train rather than a flat screen or slide bars.

But...the hobby is broad enough for all our givens and druthers. Big Smile

Tom

http://www.newyorkcentralmodeling.com

Time...It marches on...without ever turning around to see if anyone is even keeping in step.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Wednesday, June 05, 2019 11:44 PM

OldEngineman

Sheldon wrote: "There is no way I could accurately control the speed of a model train with a sliding bar on a touch screen"

I can control 3 engines simultaneously using my Samsung tablet and the Roco z21 app. The app only displays 2 side-by-side, with one of the trains on a loop. But switching back-and-forth takes about half a second -- just touch the small icon at the bottom that represents the loco, and it's "live". Need to make an adjustment on another engine? Just touch the icon for that one and away you go.

I can't understand why anybody trying to switch locomotives would have to first press a button, then press 3-4 number keys, then perhaps "enter"? And then have to repeat that to switch control to another engine for a moment? That would drive me nuts.

Do I ever touch the wrong thing? YES.  But it's very easy to correct yourself, the app responds quickly.

I guess some folks are "dos", and others, "Mac".

I've been Mac for 32 years.

Never did dos or windows, they just confuse and confound me.

By the way, I never really liked digital displays on "the big engines". I preferred actual brake valves to electronic controls, and real air gauges to digital readouts.

But on the "little trains", touchpads and icons seem to work just fine!

 

Good for you. Touch screen or by any method, I have repeatedly made it clear I have no interest in controlling two or more trains at once.

I have a Samsung tablet.....but not for controlling model trains, no thank you.

You don't do dos, but you have an android tablet rather than a mac tablet?

I simply don't need any computers to control my trains.....

Sheldon

    

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Thursday, June 06, 2019 7:46 AM

For me, here is the problem, I find touch screens to be very touchy and unreliable.  Sometimes they simply don't respond, other times they are too touchy, responding before being touched, responding with undesired choices. And I admit, it might be me. But my results using them are not consistent enough for me to want to run a model train, let alone try to make fine movements like switching cars, etc.

The Train Engineer wireless throttles I use have easy to feel buttons that allow complete operation without looking at the throttle, and have very predictable response.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by rrinker on Thursday, June 06, 2019 1:39 PM

 I find it nice to be able to control 2 traisn,w hen runnign alone. Usualyl though this means one is running continuously and I'm still only actively controllign oen train, doing switching or whatever. Except in the case of the Digitrax throttles, this means I have immediate control of the second oen if I need it, without pushing any buttons or frantically trying to activate control of it because something went wrong. A car starts dragging a truck, I just turn that knob to stop the train, no drama. You can't really OPERATE two trains at once, but the dual knob means I can have a circulating train that isn't really just free unning, it's controllable.

 I regularly run a train with my Digitrax throttle held at my side, never looking at it once a train is acquired. I don;t need to look at it, the screen or the buttons, to control the speed and direction of my trains. It's actually EASIER to hold the big throtlte at my side than it is to use the UT4 in the same manner, only because there is a toggle switch to flip on the UT4 to change direction and on the DT40x/DT500 it's just a matter of pressing on the same knob you are turning to control the speed. That leaves one hand free to work the uncoupling pick or whatever. 

 It's not quite as easy with an NCE hammerhead, since the speed wheel is in the middle of the case instead of at the edges. Still a one-handed job most of the time unless you have small hands. Reversing direction is less convenient, you have to find the button. I haven't tried one of the NCE utility throttles. The position of the knob relative to the case makes me think it would be difficult to do one-handed, and there's still the need to find the direction button. Except the encoder versions used in switching mode, where you turn the knob one way to go forward, the other way to slow, stop, and then reverse. Perfect for switching a yard with just one hand on the throttle.

 This is yet anotehr reason I prefer encoders, although I suppose there are clickable potentiometers out there. It's less common, click encoders are very common. Instead of feeling for or having to look for a direction button or switch, one knob does it all. No need to pick up the throttle and use both hands, or even look at it.

                                  --Randy


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by Doughless on Thursday, June 06, 2019 2:30 PM

rrinker

 Someday, maybe companies liek Apple and Microsoft will realize this. Having a smartphone means I carry 1 device in my pocket instead of 2 (I was a heavy PDA user - in fact I used oen fo the first smartphones, a Kyocera one that was a phoen and Palm compatible device in one - simply because i hated carrying around 2 things). But neither my smartphone or my much larger tablet can replace my laptop for most of my work. And the covnertible devices, basically tablet that run full Windows and have a removable keyboard are far too large in the tablet mode to replace my tablet for what I use it for - mostly reading books. Perhaps this will change, but a phone that cna be comfortably carried around, while it may have the processing power of a supercomputer, is just not a large enough form factor for comfortable IO using today's methods, ie touch screens. 

 Each tool has jobs it excels at, and in a pinch can sometimes sub for the otehr tool, like using my phone to quickly look up something on the web, instead of pulling out my laptop and firing it up, or using the speaker and mic in the laptop to connect to a conference call instead of using my phone. But each of these alternate uses is less than ideal - it's handy, but not somethign I would do all day every day. The phone is a better device for makign calls. The laptop, with its large screen and full keyboard, is a better device for browsing the web or composing documents. There need to be some major breakthroughs on the IO side to get beyond this, virtual on screen keyboards or removable bluetooth keyboards for phones are not the answer - adding a keyboard to a phone just adds another bulky device that won;t fit in a pocket so it defeats the handy always there nature of the phone.

                             --Randy

 

 

I've elluded to this thought in prior posts:  I'll present the smart phone in terms of its functions being converted back to analog machines.  

My household has 5 members.  We each have a phone.  As far as email, we have the household account, the old household account we give out when we think it might be sold to spammers, my wife has a separate account, we both have work accounts, and each of three children have their own account.

To accomplish that in the old days, I would have to have 8 mailboxes nailed to my curbside post, all with different addresses.  And 5 phone lines in the house.

When I grew up, we just took turns sharing one of each, and most of the day the mailbox and phone sat unused.

As far as carrying around just my phone and its other functions: In the analog days I would need to also carry around the mailbox, a TV, VCR, teletype machine (for texting when talking or mailing wasn't good enough), calculator, snapshot camera, movie camera, flashlight, CD player, a CD collection; and probably other stuff I can't think of.

Its a wonderful device and can be essential in some lines of employment, but I never remember feeling inconvenienced by not having all of that stuff at my fingertips everywhere I went.  

And having 4 other family members means I would have to have bought 4xs the stuff I just mentioned so they could each carry their's around too instead of taking turns sharing 1 of each.

I think my life feels more complicated than it used, and I'm spending way more on communications/media than I used to, because I'm carrying around and using a bunch of stuff in locations I never needed to in the past.  

That's basically the differences with how I see throttles too.

- Douglas

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Posted by rrinker on Friday, June 07, 2019 1:33 PM

 I see a smartphone as a jack of many trades, master of few, or none. As a phone - works just as well as any phone I've had, and unless you have one of those insanely large 'phablet' size things, it's no bigger than any other phone. As a music player - works well, same as a dedicated one, and far smaller than any old music players that used physical media. As a messaging device, plenty adequate to receive things. Less so to send them or reply, because of the tiny onscreen keyboard. Other media - works fine for media playback. Camera - most mid to high range smartphones are as good or better than most point and shoot, but DSLRs are still better cameras than any phone will be. Etc. Etc.

I want my throttle to be a throttle. Not a throttle plus camera plus messaging device plus multimedia player, etc. 

                                 --Randy


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by gregc on Friday, June 07, 2019 6:44 PM

rrinker
I see a smartphone as a jack of many trades, master of few, or none.

it's a generic portable graphical wireless communication interface.

greg - Philadelphia & Reading / Reading

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