Maerklin DCC: Getting Started

Maerklin DCC: Getting Started

By Roger Heid

 

In this blog I will address all those who are considering or already have decided to enter the wonderful world of the Maerklin Digital Command Control system. I know there have been numerous questions and concerns regarding how to get started and what items need to be acquired to make it all work.

One way to get going is to purchase a starter kit. They come in several sizes and price levels. Those kits are usually a bargain, and, most of all, they contain every item needed to get the train rolling, out of the box. It is solely your decision to choose this route.

If the idea of a starter kit does not appeal to you, you will have to assemble the needed items on your own. You need tracks, of course. If you do not have any tracks, at all, I strongly recommend the use of C-Tracks.

Now, let us take it step by step, starting at the least expensive level. Besides a track system, you will need the three items, shown below, to get the train on its way.

60653

Maerklin Mobile Station 2 (#60653)

60113

Maerklin Track Connection Box (#60113)

66365

Maerklin Power Pack (#66365)

The accompanying manuals will show you how to interconnect these three items. It is quite simple. It does not require any special tools or sophisticated surgical equipment. You need to carefully follow the instructions telling you how to make your digital locomotive come alive. I shall assume you are using a loco that has an mfx decoder, in which case it is easy to wake it up.

The connection box allows you to hook up a second Mobile Station 2. Be aware of the fact that this will not double the available loco list. The second Mobile Station 2 will be a mere slave of the first one. In both Mobile Stations, the loco lists are identical. The advantage you gain is the fact that you now can control two locomotives simultaneously, without having to scroll through the loco list menu to change access to a locomotive. Of course, now there can also be a second loco operator.

If you are the only operator, experience has shown that you really do not wish to drive more than two locomotives at the same time. You might as well take this for granted.

Take note that the system described above has limits in track power and feature availability. It is mostly intended for modest beginner set-ups.

Now, if you are willing and/or able to spend more bucks, you can step up to the full-fledged Central Station 2. It is loaded with a ton of features and options, but at a marginally higher price ticket.

60215

Maerklin Central Station 2 (#60215)

Once you have it, you don’t want to be without it. It is simply the cat’s meow. I can testify to this. I have one. However, in order to make this CS 2 come to full fruition, you will also need the power pack shown below. The resulting set-up will deliver a lot more track power. You will need that as your loco inventory grows. You’ll see! The small power pack you already have you will need for other purposes. So it is not a waste.

60065

Maerklin Power Pack (#60065)

Using the Central Station 2 does not require the connection box. Just set it aside, for now.

Myself, I have acquired my system going through each of the steps described above. Therefore, I have 2ea Mobile Stations. They both plug into the Central Station. This comes in so handy. My wife Wynn is also an operator. Now, each of us can control 2 locomotives simultaneously. What a luxury that is. Wow!

With this system, you can enter hundreds of locos into the Master List. Well, we only have about 50. It’s nothing to worry about for a while.

Any operational issues and expansion options will require additional blogs and/or answering questions posted in the Forum. Please, do not post questions in the Blog System.

Thank you.

 

Addendum I:  The use of off-brand power supplies is not recommended, unless you are a trained technician, ergo knowing what you are doing. Using the wrong type of power supply can ruin your day, in no time flat. Not a good thing!

Addendum II:  The old Maerklin M-Track can be used, as long there is no RF suppression capacitor present. It shorts out the digital signal. It needs to be removed.  This capacitor is usually found on the underside of the connection track, the one with the plug-in sockets. K-Track is also good, but the track connectors of both, M and K, are considered to be unreliable. They need to be kept real tight or soldered together. Keep that in mind.

Addendum III:  Old locomotives without a built-in decoder will not work on a digital layout.

 

2 Responses to Maerklin DCC: Getting Started

  1. Silvano says:

    With respect, I disagree on two points:

    1. The best way to enter the Marklin digital world is to buy a set with wireless (or now wired) remote control. It is MUCH more economical that using a set that contains the MS2 and has the wonderful ability of being able to add a second wireless remote so as to have two players play together each controlling one loco. I am not yet sure if this is possible to do with a wired remote control, but I expect that it will be.

    2. The difference in price between an MS2 and CS2 is not “marginal”. The first one will run you less than US$300, while the latter one close to USD1,000. A major jump.

    Thank you.

  2. peter martin says:

    I switched to digital about three months ago, with great apprehension and concern. But to my amazement it was a very easy transition and now I love it. So much more flexible and functional. I started with the Maerklin mobile station and have 4 locos running around with less hassle than the analog control systems. The CS2, the big brother to my unit, is a very complex unit, though a fantastic amount of control can be achieved using it. I am considering that transition after I fave completed digitizing all of my turnouts and lighting systems.

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