I just had a look at your plan, and keep in mind, this is your layout. Without fully understanding what you're trying to achieve with this layout, it's a bit difficult to pass judgement, and what I'm saying is only my opinion. There does appear to be quite a lot of storage roads on this part of the layout. It seems you've fallen into the classic trap of trying to fit as many sidings and track in as possible. The problem with this is you then lose a lot of "usable" track (as you can’t park rolling stock on points if you want access to as much of it as possible). There also appears to be quite a few "run around" points that don't really seem to serve much purpose (considering you could just run a train around the balloon loop and have the locos on the correct direction to shunt wagons with). Balloon Loops in practice (because of the enormous amount of real estate required to build them), are only really employed at mines (where trains can pretty well drive in, load and leave with no shunting required), and ports where the loads are transhipped to another mode of transport (generally a waiting cargo vessel). With this sort of design in mind, the first thing that comes to mind is a coal unloading point at a harbour. You could have an unloader to run coal wagons through, with a port next to the tracks, and a huge coal stockpile with some sort of reclaimer to load ships with. This would eliminate almost all of your track inside the loop, but it would create a very busy, interesting scene. As much as I love having as many sidings as possible to shunt with, the reality is, I very rarely used them, unless I was staging another train. Most of my operating sessions consisted of putting on a DVD on my TV, and starting the trains in motion, and watching them go by. That’s where I got most of my operating pleasure. As I’ve had to demolish my layout since, most of my pleasure in the hobby is coming from building kits. Also, looking at the design you’re working with, this kind of track layout might be something worth considering.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZDmSF1bG_g I’m already half way through construction of my new layout, but it definitely was some food for thought.
Now your second enquiry was to do with insulfrog vs electrofrog points, and the difference between the two.
Simple answer is both will work on DCC. I’ve successfully used both types on my previous DCC layout, so which direction you decide to go, is ultimately up to you.
They are different, and I will try to explain both types, and the advantages and disadvantages of both, so hopefully you can make an informed decision as to which you decide to purchase. It does get a little intense, so bear with me.
First thing to do, is establish what the points “frog” actually is. This is the part of the turnout where both the normal and diverging rail come together and travel in their respective direction. (See google if you’re not sure. Without a diagram, it’s a bit hard to describe adequately).
This becomes a problem on a model railway, as it creates a point where both the positive and negative track power can come directly into contact with one another and cause a short circuit.
To demonstrate this principle, have a look at a set of model railway points. Look from the facing end of the points (the point where, if you were a driver, you’d be able to go either one direction, or the other).
Place some alligator clips on the points at the facing end before the moving blades, then follow the current path for both the positive and the negative rail through the turnout with the points in their straight and diverging routes.
(Alternatively, go on Peco’s website, and download and print a points template. With this template and two different coloured highlighters, start drawing a line from the facing end of the points to where the current would flow if the points were set in either direction).
You will observe that with the points in the straight direction, the current at the “frog” will be positive, and with the points in the diverging direction the current will be negative.
If you have a dead end siding on its own, with no separate feeders powering them, then it’s not really an issue, but once you have separate feeds going to the tracks, and no way of separating them, you’ll have short circuits stopping any trains from moving.
Model rail manufacturers have devised two methods for dealing with this problem. One method is to insulate the frog (usually with a piece of plastic moulded to the correct shape). This prevents the current from coming together, and these type of points you can install, without any extra wiring to anything, and they will work.
For pure simplicity of wiring, these would be the way to go. They do have a small “dead” zone at the frog, and this can create big problems for small 0-4-0 shunting locos (especially on DCC) but if you don’t have any of those types of locomotives on your layout (or have keep alives installed to get them over the “dead” bit) then you should be ok (I’ve got an IDR X200 with a stay alive installed, and it worked no dramas over the insulfrog points on my layout).
The second way of dealing with this is to use what’s known as “live frogs”. They have just normal rail over the frog, and these do require either a points motor with switches preinstalled (such as a tortoise or cobalt) or a “frog juicer” (plus appropriate wiring) to ensure current is flowing in the correct direction. You will also need to install insulated rail joiners at the frog rails to isolate them from other tracks power supplies. These do require quite a bit more work to install, but it does eliminate the “dead zone” of the insulfrog varieties and generally (in my opinion) help things run just that little bit smoother. It may seem intimidating at first, but once you’ve wired one up and got it working, you’ll be able to do them with your eyes closed.
For a detailed installation video on how to install insulfrog points see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fz0xn5sySZE
Hopefully this is of some help to you. Best of luck with your build, and I look forward to seeing your results.