Jumping to DCC and Need Help with Everything
When it comes to DCC I am a real novice and beginner. My layout currently runs on DC. However, I do have a Bachmann EZ Command system that I can hook up when I need to run something in DCC. I know it is a very basic system and has many limitations.
Now that I am in the process of redoing the layout, I am ready to make the jump into DCC with both feet and I am looking for recommendations on a good starter set or system. I would like to run multiple trains some of which may use two or more locomotives. I am still on the fence whether I like sound or not at this time. I am undecided about operating turnouts, signals, and such things at this time.
I am looking for any advice, tips, recommendations, etc.
Silence is golden but Duct tape is silver
Ridley Keystone & Mountain Railroad
My Rail Images Gallery
Hello Tom,

my recommendations for the beginning with DCC:

- Run your locos with DCC, make consists as you like.
- But run your layout in analog mode, meaning operate signals, turnouts and such stuff still as you are accustomed to do.
- Later, later means when you became firm with Digital, it is still possible to upgrade the opration of turnouts and signal to DCC afterwards.

- If your existing Bachmann EZ Command is able to read out decoders, it will be o.k.
- Otherwise purchase a reliable Digital Command Station whis is able to read out your decoders. This is one of the main factors if you have hassle with DCC or not. I recommend the Digtrax Zephyr, not too expensive, but a full-fledged command centerpiece. 
- For the real benefits of running your locos with DCC, you have to set the decoders to act as you like to run locos. There is a whole bunch of options and possibilities you can choose to make H0 locos running like real locos.
- For the beginning limit yourself to silent loco decoders, here BEMF is essential. Sound decoders are far more complitcated and considerably to adjust; this is a option for "later" when you got expierences with DCC.
- RTFM is essential. Otherwise you will be get really lost into a sump of terms an definitions which you don't understand because you are missing the knowlegde therefor. Half knowledge is not really useful, it only raise the disturbance.
- Most suppliers of DCC components have their manuals online, common are pdf's. Have a look into them and compare. Some are written in really nerdy and upgeaked manner. Some others are written in a easily elegible manner even for laymens and beginners.

- There is still so much more to tell you.

I agree with the advise from Lutz. As for a good reliable system NCE seems to be very good but make sure you get one that will take a booster. 
I use an MRC prodigy squared and I love it and I would recommend the new Elite system they have but the company was sold recently and I am waiting to see how the new owners handle repairs. EDIT HERE (I just got my booster back and they did a great job so I can now reccommend MRC) (every system will need a repair sooner or later). I have 4 wired throttles, 2 wireless throttles and a wifi adapter that allows me to run trains with a smart phone (cheap smart phones can be had for 29 bucks because you don't have to have a sim in them to use the wifi) (most google system phones can run the ap. A program track is a real must too. Programing on the main works well, just be sure you are sending the information to the right address. 

You will need to set up power districts to prevent the whole layout shutting down. These are districts that are isolated on both rails and protected by circuit breakers.  I used an 1156 bulb in series with one track lead as a breaker for years. they limit the current and light when there is a short. I recently bought a breaker called voltscooters which are very reasonably priced and can be set to 4 different amperages depending on your needs. (and with the 8 amp booster they preformed great) 

It is all very simple and nothing special needs to be done with wiring to begin, just install the track leads from the dcc unit where your analog dc is attached. 

Remember to ask questions here first if you need help. Woodone is waiting for you. 
Hi Tom & welcome to the world of DCC.
If you are ready to go DCC I would go with a system that offers you more options .
The NCE Power Cab is a very friendly system and is expandable, the Digatrax Zephyr is also a very good system and expandable too. You need to read what you can to make your decision. Lots of info out there for you.
I lean to the NCE system because of the ease of use and the display prompts.
The sound can come latter if you decide to go that way. Sound decoders are made by several different suppliers.
I know you will find more questions has you move forward.
Jerry. AKA woodone
I haven't gone DCC because I have some British legacy locomotives that won't convert easily. I did work with a friend for several years.
It might help to do some New Math. We found that the leaflets that came with the DCC bits would randomly use numbers in decimal, octal, binary and hexadecimal. They also seemed to switch between starting counting at 0 or 1. (This was 20 years ago, so I'm a bit hazy.)

It might help to have someone nearby using the same system as you choose.

Hang on to your DC controller. Get locos working smoothly on DC before you add the chip (if they aren't chipped already).
Moderato ma non troppo
Perth & Exeter Railway Company
Esquesing & Chinguacousy Radial Railway
In model railroading, there are between six and two hundred ways of performing a given task.
Most modellers can get two of them to work.
Thanks for the answers thus far. They have given me somethings to think over.

My idea is to run two mainline trains while running a switching operation. I would be looking at 4 to 6 locomotives at the most. One thing I would love to do is run a coal drag powered by my Proto 2000 Lehigh & New England Alco’s in a FA-FB-FB-FA consist.

My current DC layout has only one electrical block.

I am a lone wolf in these parts. Other than Mikey I do not know of any modelers around me. The two that I did know were into N and G, no HO. Both have moved over the last ten years. I avoid the closest hobby shop like the plague. The owner is a jerk and some his hang around customers are obnoxious. My son and daughter went in there before Christmas to get my Christmas gift. According to him the counter person was nice and helpful but some of the other customers were know it all jerks. I used to travel to Wilmington, DE to go to a hobby shop but they closed many years ago. I may have to suck it up one day and visit the shop again, otherwise it means a trip to South Jersey or northern Delaware. Even in Pennsylvania I would have to travel about 30 to 40 miles from home to find a shop that specializes in HO.

There is only one club that I am aware of in the area. I was going to stop by but COVID messed that up. I have visited them a couple of times during their Christmas Open Houses. I was hoping being retired I could spend some time at a club.
Silence is golden but Duct tape is silver
Ridley Keystone & Mountain Railroad
My Rail Images Gallery
I dunno how far it is for you, Tom, but when I'm lookin' for serious shoppin' for model train stuff, the drive for me to Montoursville is only 250 miles...well, and the same to get back home, too.

English Model Railroad Supply

You could give them a call if the drive is too much....  The store manager, Rich, is the guy that can help with your shopping list.  1-570-368-2516.


You may have me beat on the driving. I used to travel to Mountoursville regularly for work. In the early days of CADD our CADD support staff was based out of the PennDOT District 3-0 office on Jordan Avenue and we go there for training and user meetings. The Jordan Avenue on the other side of town. Today I could kick myself for never making a trip to English Model Railroad Supply.

Next time you are in the area and looking for a good meal try the Bridge Tavern in South Wiliamsport. Best steak dinners I ever had were there. Anytime I was in the area we stopped there for dinner.

I will have to talk to the wife. Maybe we can swing it as part of something else. For me it is about 176 miles one way about 2 and half hours. However, I know many different ways to get there that are not boring interstate highways. When I drove there for work I rarely took the interstates.
Silence is golden but Duct tape is silver
Ridley Keystone & Mountain Railroad
My Rail Images Gallery
I don't usually do it more than once a year, but on at least one occasion when I visit my good friend Charlie, in Ohio, I do the "250-bounce":  roughly 250 miles from my place to Charlie's, another 250 from Charlie's to Montoursville, and, of course, the final 250 to get back home.

Last year there were no cross-border trips at all, so it's a wait-and-see when (or if) the border will re-open this year.

I do buy stuff from English' through their on-line Toy Train Heaven site, but their weekly offerings are a set list of sale items.  I have those orders sent to Charlie's place to avoid the fees which are charged when stuff bought in the States is shipped into Canada. 
If I'm down there more than 48 hours (my usual visit with Charlie is 3 or 4 days at a time - about the limit of my budget), all of those items can be taken back to Canada without charge, as long as the total value is under $800.00 Cdn.


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