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Preparing For the Day You Have A Layout


NCE’s PH-PRO-R mounted on a component stand. That’s the programming track in the upper left. The power supply is seen on the bottom shelf

The customers I see in my business often have a common history leading up to the time they contact me. Due to time and/or space constraints they’ve gone decades, or even a lifetime, waiting for the day they can finally have a layout.


In an effort to get a jump on things, they’ve often accumulated rolling stock, locomotives, and structures. Let me add on more item to your “getting ready for the day” list. It will not only add enjoyment but give you a jump start on things when the stars align and you finally get that layout. Specifically, I suggest getting your DCC system now. Don’t just buy the system, but actually take it out of the box, plug it together, and hook it up to a piece of test track. Doing so is very simple and will allow you to:


Build familiarity with the system as a whole

Learn how to program locomotives

Actually program and tune your engines so they are ready when you have a layout

Get used to using the throttle

The components are simple to plug together, don’t require soldering, and can be easily tucked beside your desk. A three-foot long test track will be adequate. If you have the space, a little more length would be fun.


Although there are many good systems out there, one of the more robust and widely used is that made by NCE.


To get started you’ll need:


  • PH-PRO-R System (this is the wireless version, a feature I suggest)

  • P 515 Power Supply

  • A short section of track for testing and an even shorter section for programming. If you aren’t up to soldering yet, Atlas even makes a piece of terminal track to save you the trouble (Part no. 150-554).


Diagram of NCE’s PH-PRO-R (left). Atlas terminal track (right)

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