There are two major objectives for this reference. One is to recommend practices that should be followed by clubs wishing to use DCC operations in conjunction. layouts. This manual gives many ideas, but in general remember that there .. layouts are now powered with. DCC. For very large NTRAK layouts with multi . In , NTRAK adopted a “Recommended Practice” (RP) for track wiring on mod-. The wiring practices described are based on Best Practices which have been demonstrated to work, both in a home layout and large modular layouts.
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With DC operation, whether using the old NTRAK throttles, the current Aristo dfc throttles or just a standard DC power pack you are essentially running your trains by adjusting the voltage to the track. All trains under control of the throttle are receiving the same voltage with the same polarity and running in the same direction.
With NTRAK throttles you give up control of your train to another throttle as you enter the next electrical block. With Aristo throttles you must change channels as you enter the next electrical block.
In either case the voltage on the track is probably different from your current voltage with a resulting surge or slowdown practicds your train as it cross the block boundary. DCC provides something better.
With DCC there is constant voltage on the track and you are controlling your train through signals passed from your throttle through the Command Station and Booster s to a computer chip decoder in your locomotive which controls how much voltage the motor will receive and its direction. Speed and direction is unique to your locomotive, and independent from all other locomotives.
Direction is controlled by the throttle and is independent of which direction the locomotive is placed on the track; forward is forward and backward is backward. Multiple locomotives can be MUed or consisted together to be controlled as a single unit from one throttle, just like the prototype does. By adjusting the decoder parameters Configuration Variables you can fine tune locomotive operation so each locomotive in the consist runs at the same speed, even locomotives of different types and from different manufacturers.
Locomotives can be added to or deleted from the consist at any time, even while the train is running. Multiple trains can be operated close together without regard to switching track power. All tracks are powered so multiple actions can take place at the same time, such as switching and make-up of trains in a yard.
DCC for NTRAK and T-TRAK Layouts
Electrical blocks called districts in a DCC layyouts are provided for reasons other than locomotive control. The engineer of a DCC—controlled train need not know the location of electrical district boundaries as they are transparent to operation of the train. Since decoders are essentially computer chips they can be programmed to the extent a particular decoder is equipped with the capability to provide many different lighting and sound effects.
As well as directional headlight and rear lights some lighting effects include ditch lights, Rule 17 headlights, MARS-type lights, beacons, strobe lights, etc. All are under control of the function buttons of the throttle running the locomotive. These lighting effects can also be added to rolling stock using a function-only decoder, available from several manufacturers. These decoders do not have control for a motor, but enable lighting effects in dummy locomotives, passenger cars, cabooses, etc.
Prototype realistic sound can be added to locomotives through decoders designed for sound.
Sound-equipped N scale locomotives are available, and sound decoders have been available for several years for custom installations.
Some sound decoders are sold with sounds for a specific prototype locomotive while others recommebded a custom sound download feature.
In all cases separate adjustment of each sound feature is provided to enable customization — volume and effects. Most DCC systems provide for walkaround control which allows you to walk with your train around the layout, staying where the action is. Walkaround throttles can be tethered or wireless. Tethered throttles must be plugged into a throttle bus to control the train, but they can be unplugged and plugged into another location on the bus as the train proceeds.
The train will continue to run at the speed and in the direction it is going while the throttle is unplugged. Wireless throttles transmit to a receiver using either Infra-Red IR like a TV remote control or radio, and provide complete flexibility for running your train. These are specialized decoders used to operate turnout machines and other electrical accessories from the DCC throttle.
This allows an engineer to control the route his train will recom,ended from his throttle without having to manually throw a turnout. These signaling systems can also interface to a computer for dispatching purposes. With DC control the speed of the locomotive s is proportional to the voltage on the track. Slow speed means low voltage in the track which limits the ability to overcome dirt and rcommended wheel-to-rail contact contamination. This results in inconsistent speed and operation.
NTRAK Standards and Recommended Practices
If a DC track is run in the same direction all the time it will also encounter a greater build-up of dirt and other contaminants in one rail than the other. DCC provides a constant higher-level track voltage, nominal 12 volts for N scale, which helps with the dirt problem.
DCC is also an alternating current which means each rail sees a constantly changing polarity. This results in a more even distribution of dirt and contaminants, and results in improved control especially at slow speeds, but it does not obviate the need to start with clean track.
The constant track voltage also provides for the operation of accessory decoders, turnouts, lighting and other accessories independent of train control. Since your are running trains rather than the track, multiple trains can be run at the same time, practicws on the same track. It also means that various forms of prototype operations can be carried out, from simple card order operation to timetable operation to a fully dispatched railroad.
Some DCC manufacturers have integrated a fast clock into their system where the fast time can be viewed on the throttle display or on a clock display that plugs into the DCC system. When desired this function can be used to enhance a prototype layoust session. The standards set the interoperability point as the track, which means that any DCC system from any DCC manufacturer will work with any manufacturer’s decoder.
This does not mean that every DCC component will work with every other component from any manufacturer — for example a throttle from one manufacturer may not work with the command station from another manufacturer, although most command stations can control boosters peactices other manufacturers.
Introduction & Overview | National Model Railroad Association
It does ensure interoperability at practixes track between the booster and decoder — decoders will understand the commands received from any booster. The fact that DCC involves electronics and computer chips tends to intimidate many folks who are not electrical engineers.
But computers have electronics and chips yet most people use computers. Many items — your stereo, television, cell phone, smart phone, tablet foe, microwave, etc. DCC is not difficult nor complicated. You can purchase locomotives with decoders installed. You can purchase locomotives ready for a decoder to be installed, either through a plug connector or by simple replacement of a circuit board in the locomotive.
Use this to get experience then plan what you need to expand DCC on your layout according to what your club desires. A great deal of information on doing this can be found on other pages in this web site. Appoint a Digital Master for the club. There is also a great deal of information on this web site targeted specifically at the Digital Master. Following is an explanation of how each component functions in a DCC system. The most visible part of the DCC system is the fog also called a cab in some systems as this is the prime user interface to the DCC system.
The throttle is used btrak control the speed, direction, lighting and sounds of the locomotive. It can also be used to control accessories such as turnouts, etc. There are several styles of throttles available, even from the same manufacturer. There are throttles that have lots of buttons laykuts few buttons, a display or no display, use knobs, wheels or push buttons or a combination to control the speed of the train, and buttons to control functions.
Some ntrqk allow control of two trains simultaneously.
It interprets signals recoommended to it from throttles and converts them into the recomended packets that will control the locomotive and its functions. It adds an address to each packet so only the intended decoder recomjended and responds to the information. This packet with address is then sent to the Booster to be sent to the decoder through the track. The Booster amplifies the packets received from the Command Station and sends them to the decoders through the track.
The Booster also provides the track voltage to power trains. The packets are superimposed on the track voltage. The number of trains that can be operated by a Booster depends on the current output of the Booster and the total current draw of the locomotives and lighted cars in the train. Booster are available with different current outputs, anywhere from 2. Note that most systems combine the Command Station with one Booster, although most manufacturers also offer standalone Boosters.
There is a Booster configuration that works very nicely for NTRAK layouts that can provide power for an electrical district that is about ft long assuming the modules are equipped with NTRAK Standard Powerpole connectors and 12ga buses. The current trip on the PM42 is set to 3 or 4. Yes four times 3 or 4. Components from pratices manufacturers can be used in place of oractices PM Many Command Stations and Boosters do not come with power supplies.
A power supply chosen to power a DCC component should be rated at the correct recommennded and at least the maximum current output of the device being powered. A decoder is needed for every item that is to be controlled from a DCC system. All decoders receive all packets sent from the Booster through the track. NMRA DCC-compatible decoders are available from several manufacturers, and can be fecommended to meet size, current capacity and feature needs of a locomotive.
While any club is free to chose whatever system it feels will best meet its needs the overall preponderance of Digitrax systems means that almost practicds major NTRAK and T-TRAK layouts at conventions and shows will be Digitrax controlled. You can learn a lot about the system you reccommended considering by reading the manual.
These lists provide a place where questions can be asked and answers received — Click here for an index of the lists. In purchasing a system an NTRAK club should steer clear of starter systems and go for the top of the line system offered by the manufacturer. Definitely stay away from any starter systems that have minimal or no growth potential. Additional Boosters can be either club-owned or member-owned and loaned to the club whenever the layout is set up.
Throttles should be member-owned. Each member can then purchase his preferred throttle from the selected manufacturer depending on the features and capabilities desired.
Also, with the individual member being responsible for maintenance and repair of his own throttle he is likely to take better care of it than if club-owned. The cab bus is the communications bus between the various components of a DCC system that are not part of the track bus. LocoNet is a peer-to-peer distributed network system on which all devices can monitor the network data flow. The network is event driven by different devices in time, and is not polled by a centralized controller in normal operation like other DCC systems.
LocoNet is a powerful decentralized and scalable distributed system. The LocoNet design allows very simple free form wiring, which makes adding extra devices htrak features simple, and provides expandability so new features can be added by simply connecting and overlaying the capabilities to an existing Fot system. All Digitrax DCC components and devices manufactured since are fully compatible and operational with systems purchased practicew.
All devices, even starter sets, are fully expandable to foe with other components of the Digitrax system without scrapping anything.