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Hi,

I've spent hours upon hours cruising the forums here and browsing manufacturers websties trying to sort out all the options available to power our trains. I think I've got the general idea but a few things still confuse me. I'm trying not to ask questions that have been answered hundreds of times already, so bear with me. I have done lots and lots of homework already, but there is still so much more to know.

What I want: To run a lash-up of multiple engines like the prototype does and do so with a wireless throttle. Multiple trains on the same track is no my concern at this point. I'm just starting out so I'm leaning towards DC as it's simplest and cheapest and gets trains running.

Now. Can I lash up multiple locos, say 2-3 Dash-9s using DC power and a Aristo TE and expect things to run well? I understand I need a sufficient power source to run multiple locos of course (thinking meanwell S-320-27). I realize this still relies on all units in the consist to run at comparable speeds so running an Aristo engine lashed to a USA engine is probably not advisable in this scenario.

All of this leads to my next question. What is the purpose of running a QSI (or any DCC for that matter) decoder in your locomotives if you're running DC power? If I'm running DC, and install QSI decoders, and have a wireless throttle, will the QSI system allow "consisting" or linking all the engines so that they receive the same commands and run at the same speeds? With this setup, would I be able to run Aristo Engines and USA engines in the same consist and expect them to run at exactly the same speeds without fighting against each other? Do I need a G-wire chip to run QSI decoders with wireless throttles? Is there a significantly cheaper decoder that doesn't have the sound included that I could buy instead of QSI that would allow me to consist for less money?

Another thing. If I start with DC power, then eventually install decoders, how hard would it be to someday switch to full DCC at this point? Or maybe there is no point in going that far and not going full DCC. I'm assuming this is simply a matter of changing a few wires inside the locomotive. I'm trying my best to start out small and on a budget, but at the same time not limit myself for future upgrades. Please keep in mind I have next to no knowledge of electronics, so simple language please. Soldering and switching wires and programming chips is not my idea of fun and definitely not why I got into this hobby.

This is all very confusing and I'm still trying to sift through and sort out technology names vs. product names and all that stuf. BLeh. I won't even get into some of the other questions I have right now, I think this is enough already. Thanks in advance for any help.
 

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I'm not an expert, I'm not far from a newbie, but I'll take a shot. Maybe coming form a beginner it will make sense. If you just want to run three of the same engine together on DC power, you will probably be fine--three dash=9s on DC I assume would be fine. They would all run at approxiately th same speed. You would proabably want a pretty bug power supply to run three at once, especially if you were pulling a big load.


If you wanted to run, say, 2 dash 9s and a UB25, you would have trouble (I'm assuming) because the engines would want to run at different speeds at the same voltage.

DCC lets you set the speed curves of each engine, so they run at the same speed if the throttle is set to halfway, say. Alll the commands sent to the lead engine would be shared by the following engines. It would also them let you break up the consist and run each engine independently. DCC can send a lot of complicated info and trigger lights and sound etc.


To do this you you need to have a decoder in each engine. QSI makes a decoder that will work on any DCC system. Airwire is a DCC system that sends the DCC commands over the air. To make Airwire work with QSI you need the "Gwire" add-on receiver.


I have this set up in four engines and it's pretty cool, but I'm still foguring out what it can do
 

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Well I am a newbie and certainly not all the experienced in any area, but I think your getting methods of operation scrambled with methods of power?
DC = Direct current. This the way electricity is delivered to your locomotive. Socket, to transformer, to throttle, to rail, to Loco. Less current the slower the Loco goes more current the faster it goes.
DCC = Digital Control. This is a means of controlling the speed (and other features) of the Loco by sending a digital signal through the rails to the decoder in the Loco. The current to the track is always consistant. It does not vary with the speed of the loco.
That is on off the advantages of DCC. You can have all of your lights on as bright as the can be and have the loco creeping along at a snails pace. The AMPS to the rail are always the same.

Form what I understand you can put a decoder in a Loco and it should run on any DC track... but only in the same manner as a Loco without a decoder. More power = more speed, reverse the polarity and the Loco will change directions. However if you put a Loco without a Decoder on a track that is set up for DCC... it is apt to run full throttle form the moment you put it on the rails.

As for consists and all that it can all be done with DCC or DCS as far as I know... but not effectively with just DC power.

I am sure you get lots of input... these guys are great!

Happy railroading.

Todd
 

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Stick in the QSI Quantum Aristo Sound/DCC cards in the plug-n-play socket and you'll be all set to go with sound and either DC or DCC. The QSI card will let you run either way. The TE has a 10 amp capacity so 3 Dash 9 will be pushiing it and probably exceed 10 amps running smoke, grades or long trains. You may need more juice.

-Brian
 

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You can run similar locomotives together with a power supply and a trackside 27 MHz Train Engineer. Similar locomotives do not have to be exactly the same. Many people mix and match Aristo-Craft and USA Trains diesels without problems. What you have is a radio controlled throttle controlling the power to the track.

You’re happy until you want to run more than one train, or install sound boards. Now the fun begins. Do want to run:
- track power with DCC decoders in each locomotive,
- track power with radio receivers in each locomotive,
- locomotives with a trailing car containing a radio receiver and batteries,
- locomotives with on-board receivers trailing a battery car
- locomotives with on-board radio control receivers and batteries, or
- locomotives with on-board radio receivers, DCC decoder and batteries.

Does your head hurt yet?

I can tell you from my experience what our club members have done, but you will find each has its own preferred method of running and will defend it vigorously.

Most people start out running a locomotive with a cheap power pack. A starter set perhaps. But the soon want to expand their circle of track and maybe add a few switches and sidings. They soon realize that running back and forth between the power pack and switches or cars is not enjoyable.

Next piece of the puzzle is a trackside TE. Now they can move with their train, throw switches and couple/uncouple cars. Life is good! Until they have a couple of locomotives and a number of cars. Now they want to run two separate trains and are faced with the list of choices listed above.

Our club abandoned track power and block control when the radio controlled Big Hauler was introduced in the early ‘90s. So that eliminated the track powered choices and DCC, leaving us with radio control and battery power. Unfortunately it was the only locomotive available this way at the time.

When the TE was introduced in 1995 we built trailing cars with the TE and Ni-Cad battery packs. Now we could independently power and control any locomotive.

http://ovgrs.editme.com/files/Vintage/old%20power%20car.1.jpg

We were happy as pigs in mud!

But as the years rolled by, new systems became available. Now our members could have on-board R/C receivers, battery packs and sound boards. A bit of a challenge to put it all together and it didn’t always perform as expected, but we were having fun anyway.

Now we can add a new 2.4 GHz Plug and Play radio control receiver and a radio controlled, battery powered DCC decoder with sound to the list. As many of the members of our club run track powered DCC in smaller scales, they are interested in trying on-board, radio controlled and battery powered DCC.

So that’s our club’s technology trail. But I am sure there are others who have taken a different path who can provide you with their insight.
 

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To add to the comments above, the QSI decoder will function as a sound unit under DC . for a $140.00 they are cheap and sounds great for dc use.you can run a consist under DC you just kinda what to keep the same type engines in the consist and you will have no problems then later if you choose to go with dcc your decoder is already installed...hence the QSI SOUND EQUIPT dc/dcc decoder.
Nick
 

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Manco: your stuff is in red, mine in blue.


What I want: To run a lash-up of multiple engines like the prototype does and do so with a wireless throttle. Multiple trains on the same track is no my concern at this point. I'm just starting out so I'm leaning towards DC as it's simplest and cheapest and gets trains running.

This is really a special case of multiple trains, but since you drew the distinction, it means the multiple engines are never independently controlled.




Now. Can I lash up multiple locos, say 2-3 Dash-9s using DC power and a Aristo TE and expect things to run well?

You really need to specify which TE. If you are talking about the 27 MHz Trackside TE, sure it will handle 10 amps. Notice you are feeding the track from this unit, as per your not needing multiple trains on the same track.





I understand I need a sufficient power source to run multiple locos of course (thinking meanwell S-320-27). I realize this still relies on all units in the consist to run at comparable speeds so running an Aristo engine lashed to a USA engine is probably not advisable in this scenario.

Absolutely perfect understanding.








All of this leads to my next question. What is the purpose of running a QSI (or any DCC for that matter) decoder in your locomotives if you're running DC power?

If you ONLY run one train per track, AND they all run on DC AND you don't need any independent control of sound, the only benefit of a QSI would be that it's a cheap sound system over putting a Phoenix in the lead loco. DCC would cost you money for something you apparently do not want.




If I'm running DC, and install QSI decoders, and have a wireless throttle, will the QSI system allow "consisting" or linking all the engines so that they receive the same commands and run at the same speeds?

Yes, but there are several ways to have a wireless throttle, some are independent throttle to the loco, some are part of a system, so be aware of that. The answer is yes for AirWire, NCE, Digitrax, Lenz, Massouth, and all the DCC makers that have wireless throttles.







With this setup, would I be able to run Aristo Engines and USA engines in the same consist and expect them to run at exactly the same speeds without fighting against each other?



Yes, DCC allows you to customize the running characteristices of each loco, and there are several ways to do this, basically a really easy way that gives good results and a more complex way that can do exact matching at all speeds. The latter way is not normally required.



Do I need a G-wire chip to run QSI decoders with wireless throttles?

No, I run track power DCC. I use NCE wireless throttles. Most of my locos are QSI.


Is there a significantly cheaper decoder that doesn't have the sound included that I could buy instead of QSI that would allow me to consist for less money?

Yes, you can buy quality decoders for about $50 or even less that will control motors and lights. There are some cheaper, but they are not as reliable in my opinion, so I do not recommend them. (I bought some closeouts for $13 each, but have had 4 fail, for example)














Another thing. If I start with DC power, then eventually install decoders, how hard would it be to someday switch to full DCC at this point?

No problem at all. A reliable running layout is a good start.



Or maybe there is no point in going that far and not going full DCC.

That is my opinion, research, see what fits your needs and go for it. I went straight from track power to DCC, a "half-way" solution would mean wasted money in my opinion.



I'm assuming this is simply a matter of changing a few wires inside the locomotive.

Well, the basic hookup for motor control is 4 wires. 2 more wires for a headlight. If you have an Aristo loco, the QSI plugs in. Other units will need to be wired, but it's not really terrible. On USAT locos, a "plug in" unit from QSI is on the near horizon. USAT is also not too difficult to "hard-wire" beause everything has plugs.


I'm trying my best to start out small and on a budget, but at the same time not limit myself for future upgrades. Please keep in mind I have next to no knowledge of electronics, so simple language please. Soldering and switching wires and programming chips is not my idea of fun and definitely not why I got into this hobby.

Understand. Just got off the phone with a friend, we just wired a QSI into a really old Aristo FA, took about 40 minutes, me on the phone, him with the loco.









This is all very confusing and I'm still trying to sift through and sort out technology names vs. product names and all that stuf. BLeh. I won't even get into some of the other questions I have right now, I think this is enough already. Thanks in advance for any help.



No problem, keep asking questions, and get the solution that is the right future for you.



Regards, Greg
 

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Also another option would would be MTH locos, as they have dcs installed with sounds and all their new locos will have a dcs decoder thats dcc freindly and they all work straight out of the box on dc/dcs or dcc and have the best sound in my oppion and the clearly have the best smoke system in g scale, some have said even better than live steam.. just more food for thought...
Nick
 

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Man there is always one dude that has to stick battery into a thread taking about DC/DCC. Give it a rest. Later RJD
 

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If using the Aristo 27 mhz TE, over 5 amps requires the optional fan to keep the unit cool.

Newer electronics use efficient/low resistance mosfets and pulse the current to the motor and heat is usually not a problem.

Always think about ventilating electronics, esp if sound is included as sound is not pulsed and a transistor must get rid of heat build up.

Batteries under a load heat up also (sound units have batteries for track power operation. Super caps are a better way to go.)
 

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Posted By Truthman on 01/08/2009 8:01 PM
My loco's batteries are DC and run on wireless DCC. Battery talk in DC/DCC.


Well not everybody is perfect...


Manco..There's some MTH Dash-8's on Ebay with a buy it now price of like 295.00 each..that's a pretty cheap way to get into DCS...
 

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By the way, since the originator of the thread asked a specific question about DC vs. DCC I answered him.

He did not ask about battery, so I did not mention it. If he want to expand on DCC - like track powered systems, I would of course mention DCS and also AirWire systems powered from the rails.

I think we really need to stop the competition of battery vs. track, ESPECIALLY when a newcomer works hard to ask a specific question.

Regards, Greg
 

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Posted By Greg Elmassian on 01/09/2009 9:24 AM
By the way, since the originator of the thread asked a specific question about DC vs. DCC I answered him.

He did not ask about battery, so I did not mention it. If he want to expand on DCC - like track powered systems, I would of course mention DCS and also AirWire systems powered from the rails.

I think we really need to stop the competition of battery vs. track, ESPECIALLY when a newcomer works hard to ask a specific question.
Regards, Greg


Way to solve the issue is for Newbie's or other to try BOTH, and see which one works the best for em!!!!! The Regal I run track power, and battery power BOTH, depending on the engine, and or where I run indoors or out!!!! The Regal
 

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When someone asks: "track or battery power", I agree.

When someone is trying to understand DC vs. DCC, as WAS ASKED, I disagree... Turning EVERY thread into a track vs. battery thread is getting really tiresome. (not to mention it does not answer the question!!)

That's the single point of my statement.

Regards, Greg
 

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Agreed. It took me a LONG tme to get unconfused because every time I asked a question about using Aristo's onboard TE with track power I got bombarded with battery propaganda. Airiwre does kind of fuzz the picture a littel. You could use Airiwre with batteries and effectively be running DCC
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Thanks everyone for your replies. I feel like I'm getting somewhere.

I guess I don't see any advantages in putting a QSI into a locomotive when you're using normal DC except for the sound. And if you're going to shell out the extra money for a decoder, might as well just use the full advantages of it.

Greg, thanks for answering all of my questions, very helpful. But your asnwers generated a few more questions of course :). I really don't like the idea of having to spend $150 for a decoder just to spend another $120 for a Gwire that allows me to use a wireless throttle with it. Seems like a ripoff. I guess by using an NCE like you do, I could spare the expense of the G-wire and still have a wireless throttle? That sounds much smarter to me. Will the NCE throttle still allow you to use all the sound functions on the QSI? Also, when you talk about the other, cheaper, soundless decoders, what brand are you referring to? For only $50 a loco, it would make senes to go DCC. Can you set up consists right on the NCE throttle itself?

Thanks again.
 
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