I am building a 12 metre around the garage WW1 themed OO Gauge wall layout representing Standard, Metre and 60cm gauge railways, using 16.5mm, 12mm and 9mm track respectively. I have been out of the hobby for many years and would like to make this a DCC operation in all three gauges, with the aim of computer operation in the near future. I have a Lenz 90 system stored away somewhere.
The Metre gauge will be a point to point shuttle, I am considering adding a short passing loop at each end to allow the loco to change ends. There will be some dual gauge track and gauge crossovers.
I would appreciate any advice knowledgeable Railpager's can offer. First switch motors, DCC ready Tortoise or Cobalt? Pro's and Con's of both? Second which DCC system? I do like the idea of the Roco/Fleischmann Z21 system,or a similar computer program with the ability for mobile phone control, would I eventually need three separate DCC systems? Sound and Light effects, I won't be using onboard sound, I plan on using various sound modules for the background effects, but would still like to add the loco effects, I saw a DCC below the track system advertised a few years ago using multiple speakers, could anyone point me in the right direction to that?
And so on.
A WW1 themed layout is quite topical noting that the "Great War" is a 102 years on. We are rapidly approaching the Centenary of the end of the so called great war (11 November 2018). Lest we forget....
Anyway, back to trains. Firstly, I am wondering about scale... You state OO scale
yet 12mm gauge
is HOm for metre gauge? Just making sure that you get the scale correct... HO and OO are quite different scales. I assume with that gauge selection, you intend to model the Western Front? If yes, then HO scale would be more appropriate anyway for ready to run European models. Check Herpa or Walther's for HO scale military vehicles. There may be some WW1 vehicles available???
As to your questions... Tortoise and Cobalt can be DCC enabled. The Cobalt can be purchased with a decoder, whereas the tortoise needs an after market decoder. I use Tortoise and am very happy with them but I don't use them with DCC!
. I know some who use Cobalt and are happy, but others who are not.... You should ask widely on the Cobalt and make up your own mind. However, the big advantage of the Cobalt over the tortoise in my mind, is that the device is considerably physically smaller.
I don't know about the Roco computer program, but the free JMRI program is very good and also enables the use of mobile phones to control your trains. Just Google JMRI and download it. It is also very useful for a whole range of other tasks. Even useful as an Inventory for your locos and rolling stock!
As for sounds, My preference would be to add sound decoders to my locos. I am a big fan of the ESU Loksound decoders, but the TCS WoW decoders have a good reputation and I know that many also use the Tsunami decoders. As for scenery
sounds there are systems around for them, though I have no experience in them. The below the track system that I think
you are referring to is made by MRC in the USA.
As for operating your layout in DCC, You should be able to operate all three gauges off the one Command Station. Though it would likely to be useful to make each gauge its own power district so that an ooops (such as a derailment causing short) in one doesn't stop all three.
Welcome back to the world's greatest hobby, and good luck with your layout!