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DCC Set-Up

This section describes the set-up procedure for the DCC system.

This page was last updated on July 23rd, 2016.

DCC Set-up

1.  Chief /Booster Requirement

Each reverse loop requires a Chief or booster unless equipped with an ARSC. All remaining Chiefs/boosters should be assigned to sections of the mainline. Chief/booster sections should vary in size depending on the number of locomotives that will operate on each section of the layout. Note that the Chiefs/boosters are not necessarily physically located near the track they control. Instead, all Chiefs/boosters are centrally located for ease of set-up and troubleshooting. A 2-wire cable connects their power outputs to the sections of track they control.

Each Chief must be designated as either a Master (one only) or Slave (all the rest), and as either auto reversing or non auto reversing. The rules for determining this are:

a)      The Master must not also be controlling a reverse loop.

b)      Only every second (or further apart) Chief can be set to auto reverse.

c)      If the Master is next to a reverse loop, it must be set to auto reverse.

The diagrams below illustrate how to configure layouts with 3, 4 or 5 Chiefs and two reverse loops.

d)      M = Master

e)      S = Slave

f)       AR = auto reversing

g)      NAR = non auto reversing)



h)      Joiner tracks between each Chief's mainline section must have insulated rail joiners at one end, or one of the modules adjacent to the section break must have insulated rail joiners already built in to all rails on the mainline. Note that the large wyes used in the HOTRAK reverse loops already have these insulated rail joiners installed. Joiner tracks between modules should remain disconnected at this stage, to ease troubleshooting later.

i)        Leave the track power bus disconnected between each Chief's mainline section. For example, at the same point where the joiner tracks have insulated rail joiners. Ensure the track power bus does not connect back on itself around a reverse loop. Leave the LocoNet disconnected at approximately the midpoint of the mainline. The LocoNet must not be connected back on itself around a reverse loop.

j)        Do not connect the LocoNet to any Chief or booster at this time.

k)      No rolling stock or locomotives are allowed on the track until the system has been tested and is operational.

2.  Setting Up the Chiefs / Boosters

The following steps may be performed on all Chiefs simultaneously as they are not connected:

a)      With the power supply turned off, connect the power supply to the POWER IN (RED terminals) on each Chief.

b)      Set the SCALE switch to HO scale. Setting the scale to N is recommended for home use, as it gives a better low speed range for low power locomotives and provides the most realistic operation, but we use HO during club set-ups to provide more voltage.

c)      Turn the power supply on.

d)      Plug in a DT100 throttle to either of the Chief's LocoNet A/B connections.

e)      Set the Chief's MODE switch to OP.

f)       Press the MODE/DISP key on the throttle to enter "Switch" control mode. Browse through the option settings using the throttle knob. The option switch number appears on the left side of the display and the right side of the display shows either "c" (closed) or "t" (thrown) to indicate the current state of the option switch. Use the direction keys to change the option switch setting.

3.  Option Switches

For HOTrak operations, the option switches should be set as follows:
 (format is OPS Switch No, HOTRAK Settings, Factory Default Settings)

a)      OPSW#1 "t" "t"

b)      OPSW#2 "t" - Master "c" - Slave "t"

c)      OPSW#3 "t" - non auto-reversing "c" - auto-reversing "t"

d)      OPSW#18 changes the length of time a Chief will wait before shutting down the layout when it detects a short circuit. A longer wait can allow a momentary short circuit (for example, a metal locomotive pilot brushing the rails when travelling over a slight hump) to be resolved without forcing the entire system to shut down. The default is "t", which gives a shutdown time of 1/8 second. To increase this time to 1/2 second, use setting "c".

e)      OPSW#44 may also be set. This option switch changes the number of slot refresh areas (for example, the number of things that can be active on the system at one time). The default is "t", which provides 22 slot refresh areas. Setting "c" provides 120 slots, but at the cost of a lower refresh rate (for example, the frequency with which the system repeats instructions to locomotives), which may produce sluggish response in some decoders.

Once all option switches are set, set the MODE switch on the Chief to SLEEP.

4.  Connecting and Testing Chiefs / Boosters

The following steps may be performed on all Chiefs simultaneously as they are not connected:

a)      Connect the Chief to its section of the track power bus using the RAIL A/B connections (BLACK terminals). Do not connect track power or LocoNet between sections at this time.

b)      If applicable, connect the Chief to a separate programming track using the PROG A/B connections (GREY terminals).

c)      Set the MODE switch on the Chief to RUN.

d)      Check the track power status using the direction indicator lights on the DT100 throttle as follows:

e)      Both Solid ORANGE - System track power is OFF

f)       Both Flashing ORANGE - System is in "Stop" with track power ON

g)      Both UNLIT - System is in "Run" with track power ON

h)      Turn on the track power using the throttle by simultaneously pressing the RUN/STOP and "+" (plus) buttons. Once track power is on, you can toggle between "Run" and "Stop" by simultaneously pressing the RUN/STOP "+" plus buttons again.

i)        Check that the Chief's TRACK STATUS indicator is lit ORANGE.

j)        Connect the Chiefs at each end of the layout to their own section of the LocoNet. The end Chiefs are the only ones that connect to the under-module LocoNet. All other Chiefs are connected only to other Chiefs via the LocoNet booster cable (see below).

k)      Check that each end Chief's NET indicator is lit solid RED, indicating that that section of the LocoNet is OK. If the indicator is unlit, there is a short in the LocoNet.

l)        Once all Chiefs' track and LocoNet connections have been checked and shorts all corrected, turn off track power to all sections using the throttle by simultaneously pressing the RUN/STOP and - keys.

m)   Set the MODE switch on the Chief to SLEEP.

5.  Final Set-up Steps

a)      Disconnect all DT100 throttles from the system except for the one controlling the Master.

b)      Connect the short LocoNet booster cable (also called the bypass cable) directly between each Chief in series. Remember that other than the end Chiefs, Chiefs are connected only to Chiefs via the booster cable.

c)      Turn each Slave back to RUN mode. The Slaves must be brought online before the Master.

d)      Turn the Master back to RUN mode.

e)      Using a DT100 throttle, turn the system track power ON and set the system to "Run".

f)       Put a locomotive on the track and drive it around the layout. As the locomotive reaches the gap between modules, connect the joiner track and then drive across to the next module. If a Chief beeps when the locomotive crosses a gap between sections, reverse the track power leads on one of the Chiefs controlling the sections adjacent to the gap. If one of these Chiefs is the Master, reverse the track power leads on the Slave.

g)      Once this test is complete, the layout is ready for locomotives and rolling stock.