How different is an H.O decoder from an O-Scale decoder?

Can I use the remote from an H.O system on an O-Scale system?

What H.O equipment can I reuse for O-Scale?

I am asking all these questions because I have decided to move into DCC only and I want to be able to switch between an H.O layout and an O-Scale layout without having to buy too much new equipment for each.

Thanks,

~ Ameen

Original Post

There is no difference between DCC for HO and O scale.   

There is a difference in the amperage ratings required for some locos vs others.    Many older O scale locos require more than one amp to run and pull a load.    Some old Max Grey brass may require as much 3-4 amps.

So there is a difTference between what is needed based on what you plan to run.    You should test the locos you want to run to find out what the typical amp draw is and what the amp draw is at stall.    Then look at the amperage ratings for the decoders you have to see what they can handle.    If the decoder is rated for more amps than the loco draws it will work fine.   If not, you burn out components.

Now similar logic applies to the command station too.    You need to add up how many locos you plan tun at one time how much current (amps) they will draw plus how much lights and such in passenger cars draw.    Then look at the rating on your command station.   If the total amps you plan to use are less than the rating of the command station, you can use it.    If not, you need a higher rated one.

Most large layouts use more than one "booster"    They ;use one command station and then add boosters as the layout grows and the amperage needed gets too  large for just the command station alone.

Any command station you have ought to run any single O scale loco.   And most new ones draw less than an amp, so a 5 amp station ought to handle 5 at one time but 3-4 might be safer to avoid over heating of the internal circuit breaker going out.

Any throttle that works with you system will work in O scale or any scale.    The throttle just tells the command station what signal to send to the decoder in the loco.    It carries no voltage or current for the loco.

I have many decoders rated at 1.5 amps continuous and 2 amps stall in smaller and/or newer O scale locos.   These are so-called HO decoders.    But it is all about the amp rating needed.

Thanks for the explanation. I have just a few more questions.

is DCC strictly DC?

If so can I use my MTH Z4000 transformer to power my layout if I can convert the AC to DC?

Can I run postwar Lionel on a DC layout?

How easy will it be to switch between a small carpet layout O-Scale to a larger H.O scale layout?

Regards,

~ Ameen

AmeenTrainGuy posted:

How different is an H.O decoder from an O-Scale decoder?

Can I use the remote from an H.O system on an O-Scale system?

What H.O equipment can I reuse for O-Scale?

I am asking all these questions because I have decided to move into DCC only and I want to be able to switch between an H.O layout and an O-Scale layout without having to buy too much new equipment for each.

Thanks,

I’m not sure about that but I’m gonna day no just to be safe 

TheRoyalHudson988 posted:

I’m not sure about that but I’m gonna say no just to be safe 

I'm no expert on DCC, but I believe nix to AC is the correct answer. However, as long as you are using locomotives with can motors, they are easy enough to add decoders and run on DC. When choosing decoders, they do make ones designed to handle higher current, and you'll most likely need those.

As for the power requirements, I think Jim has that part right. The command station is just creating the coded signal, and it's the boosters that provide power to the track.

Most DCC systems can use AC for input power as well as DC, in some cases AC input may even be preferred. Always be sure to read the instruction manual that comes with your DCC System to be sure of the proper power requirements (AC or DC, voltage & amperage) for that particular system.

Bill in FtL

DCC Means Digital Command Control.     As mentioned above most systems can use AC input.     I use a couple of Old Lionel Transformers to power my Digitrax Command station and 2 boosters.     You can just use the thing you have on a system that uses AC input.    You set the throttle setting for voltage range the system needs.    this is usually a range of maybe 15-20 volts AC.    You should not go beyond that range in either direction.   

The power on the rails is actually AC but a modified square wave signal.    the Voltage on the rails is always about 13 volts.     The decoder in the locomotive converts the input to DC and controls the voltage going to the motor.

Technically you could run postwar lionel on the system but it would run at full speed.    It is probably not a good idea.   Remember your speed control is in the decoder, not on the track.

As for changing from carpert O to big HO,  you will have to develop your own quick disconnect/connect system.    It still might be a little cumbersome.   Most DCC systems are made with at least 2 boxes.    On Digitrax, the command station box also contains a booster, but you need an external power supply such as your ZW4000.     With NCE I think the command statin and booster are separate boxes plus you need a power supply.    

The best advice for going to DCC is to select a system that other modelers in your area  use.    That way when have questions expecially during startup,  you have someone nearby you can ask.

I will be using the NCE command system with ESU decoders for my O layout.  I went with NCE as that's the same system my brother uses for N gauge and he loves it.  We can use our handhelds on either layout, but the command bases are different.  His has a built in booster, mine has a separate booster.  I went with the 10 amp booster as that would allow more locomotives and lighted cars on the track at once. I will be using the Lionel ZW-C to power my boosters.

For decoders, I went with ESU as they are more customizable then most.  That and they have a line of decoders they market just for large gauge trains, the L and XL.

Bill and PrrJim answered your question better than I could. I have never used a Digitrax system much less installed one so I don’t know much about them except that a lot of HO guys seem to like it. Just curious, for your O scale are you 2 rail or 3?

Phil

TCA Member

NYCHS Member

MTH RR Club

I run my NCE DCC system on an old Lionel ZW transformer. the important thing is not to exceed the systems recommend AC voltage. I suggest using a multimeter to check the voltage output of the ZW.  Dont trust any voltage markings on the controller dials. then to prevent any accidental adjustment in the controller, tape it in position so it cannot be turned up or down.

Hudson J1e posted:

Bill and PrrJim answered your question better than I could. I have never used a Digitrax system much less installed one so I don’t know much about them except that a lot of HO guys seem to like it. Just curious, for your O scale are you 2 rail or 3?

I have 3-Rail O-Scale. My main fleet will be H.O brass. The reason I want to be able to run 3-Rail O-Scale is that some of the trains I have I can not let go of. I will most likely sell the stuff I don't want, but I need some time to finalize everything.

~ Ameen

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