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Thread: Just seeking some clarification on DCC and Unitrack

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    Default Just seeking some clarification on DCC and Unitrack

    I am a complete noob when it comes to model railroading but I have been googling as much as possible. My track preference is unitrack, I have a generic 6' x 4' setup, big oval/passing lane with 2 turns outs/maybe adding more but its super simple.

    1. If I am understanding everything correctly. I can take something like NCE PowerCab and as long as I have good feeder layout, even feeding between the turnouts(so I guess full track power) and DCC equipped locos, i'll be good to go?

    2. I'll have to use the kato power pack and kato turnout switch to run the turnouts though, correct? Idk if it matters, but the kato power pack is the dc one from the M1 kit. (or install turnout decoders that the controller will recognize?)

    3. Is there a "better" dcc controller that will allow more room to grow into?

    I apologize if this has been answered a bunch, tried googling but I haven't had much luck.

    Thanks


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    Firstly, welcome to the Forums and to the Hobby, you are in for one hell of a ride and a great experience

    Quote Originally Posted by Dieselrob View Post
    I am a complete noob when it comes to model railroading but I have been googling as much as possible. My track preference is unitrack, I have a generic 6' x 4' setup, big oval/passing lane with 2 turns outs/maybe adding more but its super simple.

    1. If I am understanding everything correctly. I can take something like NCE PowerCab and as long as I have good feeder layout, even feeding between the turnouts(so I guess full track power) and DCC equipped locos, i'll be good to go?

    The NCE Powercab is a great system and easy to use and understand and is expandable. It will run 5 DCC equipped engines without a problem and possibly 6 I think. For your layout, and with the possibility of expanding it later on, I would think the NCE Power Cab Starter Kit (which gives you everything you need) would be ideal - especially as a new comer to the hobby and to DCC.

    2. I'll have to use the kato power pack and kato turnout switch to run the turnouts though, correct? Idk if it matters, but the kato power pack is the dc one from the M1 kit. (or install turnout decoders that the controller will recognize?)
    I don't know about the Kato unitrack turnouts or how they can be operated. However, if they are DC operated then I would use the NCE to power my Track work ONLY and a DC controller to operate all other things such as turnouts, accessories etc.

    3. Is there a "better" dcc controller that will allow more room to grow into?

    I apologize if this has been answered a bunch, tried googling but I haven't had much luck.

    Thanks

    As mentioned, I don't think you can go wrong with the NCE Power Cab Starter Kit and would recommend that if your going the DCC route regardless of what track you use.
    Cheers Tony

    "Knowing what to do is one thing ... being able to do it is another"
    "It is easy to criticize ... a lot harder when you have to justify it"

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    Hi @Dieselrob
    No problems asking questions, we've all been there, done that
    Q1; The short answer is yes, a sensible approach to where you place feeders will go a long way to avoiding future problems. It also depends on your layout, size, configuration and if you have any reversing sections as they need to be dealt with differently with an auto-reverser or DPDT switch. If your unsure, try posting a sketch of your layout and you can get a lot of advice
    Q2; There are stationary decoders that can run Kato switches or a unit that connects to the switches and can supply power from any suitable source
    https://www.nscale.net/forums/showth...track-Turnouts
    http://www.topslotsntrains.com/uploa...ry-Adapter.jpg
    Q3; There's been much discussion on advantages of different makes, it's something you will have to decide on. It helps if your able to talk to people in your area about what they use as chances are, that's what the local hobby shop carries and will be most familiar with. I've used a Digitrax Zephyr for years, even had radio throttles running off it but that's just me, my preference. Others will tell me how wrong I am and recommend some other brand but ultimately it's your choice.

    Just remember two things, the only dumb question is the one you never ask, and if you ask here, you'll get lots of advice, some of it might actually be helpful
    Cheers,

    Russ

    CEO of Devil's Gate Mining Co.



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    Quote Originally Posted by mosslake View Post
    Others will tell me how wrong I am
    Anyone who told you that you were "wrong" would be "wrong" to do so. As you said, and like most things in the hobby, it is personal preference and what works best for the individual
    Cheers Tony

    "Knowing what to do is one thing ... being able to do it is another"
    "It is easy to criticize ... a lot harder when you have to justify it"

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    Welcome. You already have some good answers above, one thing I'll add is don't feel like you have to use electronics to control those Kato turnouts. As long as you can comfortably reach them (which I'd recommend anyway), those built in slide switches also work. Of course if you want remote control of them, by all means go ahead. Probably the simplest way is with the Kato switch controllers on separate DC power (separate from your DCC system that is).

    Quote Originally Posted by wombat457 View Post
    As you said, and like most things in the hobby, it is personal preference and what works best for the individual
    And this ^^^. You'll get lots of answers here: all will be well meaning, most will be helpful, and despite that, many will contradict. We are lucky to have lots of choices, and most of the time the "right" one depends on personal preference, which feature is more important to you, and how you intend to use it.

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    +1 for the KATO Unitrack / NCE combination.

    Our club uses both for our modules and it is working great. We've expanded the NCE system to include a single sb5 track booster and also the NCE USB Interface using JMRI to be able to use our cell phones as additional throttles. The USB Interface has been a game changer for us at shows. We're able to walk around the layout without the hassle of having to plug into a port. It was cheaper then buying the NCE wireless throttle system.
    Bo D.
    B&O Keyridge Subdivision
    I'm not allowed to run the train, the whistle I can't blow. I'm not allowed to say how fast the Railroad Train can go.
    I'm not allowed to shoot off steam, nor even clang the bell. But let the damned Train jump the track, and see who catches hell!


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    Awesome, thank you for the responses everyone. I greatly appreciate it.

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    @Dieselrob

    That is what we are ALL here for and as was said above - don't be afraid to ask ANY questions about ANYTHING you want to do or try. Tis better to ask a question and (perhaps unjustifiably) feel a bit silly doing so, than not asking and then have to ask different questions after something has turned turtle
    Cheers Tony

    "Knowing what to do is one thing ... being able to do it is another"
    "It is easy to criticize ... a lot harder when you have to justify it"

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    Hey DieselRob, welcome! All the folks ahead of me have given you some sound advice! One thing I want to add is that it sounds like you are starting with something simple; "...a generic 6' x 4' setup, big oval/passing lane with 2 turns outs/maybe adding more but its super simple."

    For such simplicity you probably will not need feeders at this point. Unitrack's track connections are really solid. I would just set things up and try running a train of two. If, using a known good running loco, it pauses, slows or hesitates in certain spots, first try cleaning the track in that area. If cleaning doesn't work you will most likely need a feeder drop near that location. With something so simple I doubt you will have any trouble. I've run a 5' x 8' rectangle (temporary in the living room around an area rug to my wife's evil look
    ) with Unitrack with no feeders and all my locos ran just fine.

    Should you start going bigger or more complex, you need to think feeders at that point.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kingmeow View Post
    All the folks ahead of me have given you some sound advice!
    And a Wombat too ............

    Once again, I agree with kingmeow for a layout the size you are starting with you wont need feeders, especially if you use the NCE system. King makes another good point - even though you will be using "new track" give it a quick clean before running anything. I might be getting a bit ahead here but I'd suggest getting yourself some Acetone and using a soft cloth to wipe the "rails" over with, just don't pour it on and get it on the plastic bits, it might eat em

    I didn't mention this earlier but it is good to see some one new to the hobby starting small and taking "baby steps" to get things figured out - even the basic stuff. You'll do okay me thinks
    Cheers Tony

    "Knowing what to do is one thing ... being able to do it is another"
    "It is easy to criticize ... a lot harder when you have to justify it"

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    Quote Originally Posted by wombat457 View Post
    And a Wombat too ............
    Yes...well....'nuff said (beware the 'wandering' wildlife here, mooses and attack wombats )
    And to add to @kingmeow, and the wombat person, as you add sections, test to ensure everything works. You probably know this but it saves a lot of fault finding time later. There are helpful tools for this sort of thing as well.
    As you've mentioned two well known and proven, reliable brands for track and train control, your off to a great start.
    Cheers,

    Russ

    CEO of Devil's Gate Mining Co.



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    Quote Originally Posted by wombat457 View Post
    And a Wombat too ............
    Wait! So now to be politically correct I have to say, "All the folks and wild life ahead of me..." I heard Wombats are people too.

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