DCC Starter Sets...?

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SNCF

New Member
I am currently trying to decide on a DCC system. I have been flip flopping between the MRC Prodigy Advance and the Digitrax Super Chief...

My requirements are that I can run at least 5 trains at one time with the starter set; then hopefully later on run around 10+. I see that the spec for the MRC system only provides 3.5 amps...while the Digitrax provides 5 or 8 amps. How many locos can you run with 3.5 amps...? Then there is the whole issue of decoders whether to stick with Digitrax DCC and decoders or MRC and have a variety of different brand decoders...

Anyway, I would like some help from those of you that have been doing this a while...
I need a realistic approach to this... I really don't want to spend over $400 on a DCC system when I'm only going to use $200 worth of its capabilities...

Thanks...
 

SpaceMouse

Fun Lover
I've got a Digitrax Zephyr. I've run 5 trains with it. My club president, has one and we ran 10 trains, 3 with sound. Others report the same thing. Sounds like the Zephyr will meet your requirements for $150. It's 2.5 amp and expandable.
 

rhoward

S.L.O.&W. Trainman
I use the Radio Super Chief. It was an upgrade from an Empire Builder. Everything from the earlier system is still being used. I second Chips recommendation to get the Digitrax Zephyr. It can be upgraded as needed and has plenty of power for most layouts. You can also use a DC throttle as an add on for multiple throttles on the Zepher.

As far as decoders are concerned, I am using a mix of Digitrax 123 series and the 2 function NCE decoders. There is no reason to stay with all one brand of decoders. Make sure that whatever you get for decoders are good quality and suit the use you intend for them. Different locos may need different size or dimensions of decoders hence getting them from different manufacturers.

Just make sure that the system you get can be upgraded, added onto, and will do what you want it to do. If you are going to having friends over to run trains or plan on going to their house to run trains, it may pay to use whatever most of them are using. That way you may have more throttles meaning more people can "play" at one time. (It also means that there are more people to call if you are having a problem.)

BTW, Welcome to the forum!
 
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GatorDave

Railroading Fan~Gator Fan
I also have the Zephyr and I added a UT4 throttle for some mobility. In hind sight, I should have opted for the Super Chief. But at the time the price of the Zepyhr was appealing. Don't get me wrong, the Zephyr has met my needs. I just always want the biggest and the best available... Nancy says it's a character flaw!:eek: :rolleyes: Good luck, Dave
 

SNCF

New Member
Thanks guys, I guess you all recommend the Zephyr for starters... I'd love the Super Chief and was really considering it...but after much thinking of how much more money I'll need for decoders and the creation of a layout...
I'll stick to the basic set for now...

Thanks for the help and advise...

I guess no one recommends or has had experience with the MRC Prodigy system...?
 

GatorDave

Railroading Fan~Gator Fan
At the risk of sounding like one of the "MRC knockers", I bought a Prodigy system before my Zepyhr. Keep in mind that I am refering to the original Prodigy not the Advance or Express. I returned it the very same day when I discovered that other than setting the start and top voltage and changing the address, the system lacked any real programing abilities. And for what I paid for it, I got the Zephyr for just a tad more.

I have heard some good things about the Advance, but I can't give you any first hand opinions. Good luck with your DCC search. Dave
 

NYC_George

Well-Known Member
New DCC System

I bought the my first DCC system 10 years ago. It was a digitrax DT100. I bought a NCE PRO Cab 2 weeks ago. I love the NEC. I don't know if Digitrax still uses the HEX number system or not but if it does just that is enough to switch. Setting up consist and clearing them is very easy with the NCE unit. I run 3 to 4 engines per train and run 4 trains at once. Setting speed tables is a breeze. I run different types of engines in the consist so setting speed tables is a must. Ask others about these concerns. Find the system that does all these things easily. In the future you may be doing the same.

NYC_George
 

Cjcrescent

Master Mechanic
I bought the my first DCC system 10 years ago. It was a digitrax DT100. I bought a NCE PRO Cab 2 weeks ago. I love the NEC. I don't know if Digitrax still uses the HEX number system or not but if it does just that is enough to switch....

NYC_George
NYC-George;

Digitrax hasn't made the DT-100 in several years. For over 5 years, I had an Empire Builder set, that came with this throttle,and the DB-150 booster and I never had to use Hex to program with. (Except for 4 digit addresses, and some other basic stuff, I always used one of the 3rd party programmers, like the older PR-1 or the newer DecoderPro, if I wanted to get fancy.) I now have a Super Chief with the DT-400 throttle, and everything you have described as being easily done with the NCE Pro Cab2 is done just as easily with the DT-400. In fact the line between ability, versatility, and ease of use has become so blurred between the major systems in the past few years, that the choice between them is now a personal/esthetic one and not a technical one.
 

modelbob

Administrator
NYC-George;
In fact the line between ability, versatility, and ease of use has become so blurred between the major systems in the past few years, that the choice between them is now a personal/esthetic one and not a technical one.
I've been doing a lot of research on the two, and from what I've seen I'd have to agree that they are both capable systems and they seem to offer the same functionality for the most part.

One point I'm still not clear on though. Somebody mentioned the "loconet" system on digitrax and mentioned that NCE doesn't have a similiar system. Can somebody explain exactly what loconet is/does and whether NCE does or doesn't offer similiar capabilities.
 

SpaceMouse

Fun Lover
I don't know the NCE system and whether or not it has a ne like loconet. But basically loconet is a network similar to a computer network. Using the cable system you can link your boosters, throttle jacks, computer interface, radio receivers, etc. all though this loconet.

I agree with the above statement. There are more than one capable system. That said the choice must be made based upon personal preference and auxiliary factors like, what does your club use, what is supported by your LHS, what does your best friend the geek use, etc.
 

RexHea

RAIL BENDER
Bob, just look at Loconet as being the wired communication link that allows the throttle to talk to your command station, signal/detection control modules to each other, computer interfaces f/u/w (DecoderPro, PanelPro, Railroad&Co.) to the command station and etc .
 

modelbob

Administrator
Bob, just look at Loconet as being the wired communication link that allows the throttle to talk to your command station, signal/detection control modules to each other, computer interfaces f/u/w (DecoderPro, PanelPro, Railroad&Co.) to the command station and etc .
OK, but surely NCE must have something similiar, right? Or doesn't it do things like a signal interface etc?
 

jbaakko

Diesel Detail Freak
NCE has its ways, yes Bob. Besides, with most DCC you should be able to mix items, like a Digitrax module on an NCE system, with a JMRI computer interface...
 

RexHea

RAIL BENDER
Bob, all the systems have their own way to communicate for their own devices, but not all are compatible with the other types of communications. LocoNet is a unique and proprietary communications link of Digitrax that they do license to other manufactures. Third party peripheral devices may or may not be compatible with the system you use and you would have to investigate this before you purchased the device.

This does not include devices that use the track for communications such as mobile decoders, stationary decoders, reversers, and etc. They all operate pretty much within the NMRA SIG standards for DCC. I use Lenz stationary decoders on my Digitrax system. The throttle sends the command to the command station via LocoNet and then the command station sends the command to the decoders via track.
 
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