DCC systems...

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rainman

Stale crackers
I am about to expand my layout, and get more engines, and I was wondering, what is the most affordable and user friendly DCC system? I have heard that the NCE pro-cab is nice, and I am looking for something under 300$ :) Please help me!
 

conrail92

Member
I own the Mrc prodigy express. I have a mid size persoanal layout and im very please with it. Very user friendly. Easy too program and run rather well. Only problem i had was a mallfunctioning cord but that could be easily replaced with any eathernet cord. But if your making a larger layout you would probly neeed a mrc advance wicth is a littel over 300 but you could look on ebay and i bet you could find it for under. Only problem with mrc it doesnt have as many expanding features. Like the option to connect it to the computer. Or things like that. But thats not always needed or is it always an issue. Now i also heard that digitrax where a great invecement aswell but never used one persoanly. but im not entirely sure how much they run for. You haft to take into effect on how many people willl be running this layout, How many locomotives will be running at one time, And how many accesories and decoders will be used. And always if you need more power you can always buy a additional power a while down the road.

Well thoose our my thoughts Hope it Helps
 

rainman

Stale crackers
The prodigy express looks great for what I am doing :) The expansion will make it a mid sized personal layout, and basicly the only person running it will be me, and maybe a friend or 2. But I am :confused: when it comes to decoders and programming, so I will need to read the manuals quite a bit :D
 
rainman said:
I have heard that the NCE pro-cab is nice, and I am looking for something under 300$
I've never used that system but I hear it is nice. I have a Lenz LH-100, a Digitrax Zephyr, both of which I could recommend. I've also used and can recommend the CVP Easy-DCC.

I don't think the cost of the basic system will be difficult for under $300. Depending on the number of locomotives and how fancy you want to get with the decoders is what will run up the $$. The Lenz gold that don't stall on dirty track are amazing. Then there is the transponding option. Of course nothing says one must convert their entire fleet at once. I don't think I'll ever get all mine converted over.
 

NZRMac

In Training Down Under.
If you have anybody in your area or club with a system and you may have operating sessions there it's a good idea to have the same system at home so you can use your throttle etc.

Ken.
 

knewsom

New Member
I have the Prodigy Advanced, an NCE PowerCab, and a Digitrax Empire Builder. I just listed the Digitrax system on ebay however. As for ease of use, both the NCE and MRC PA systems are very intuitive and user friendly. I have not had any problems with either.

Hope this helps,
Kevin
 

grumpybob

Lake Shore Lines
Rainman,

I have been using the NCE pro-cab for 3 years now and when i and a number of us in the group I belong to did our research we found it to be about the best from a user friendly point of view. I now MRC prodigy advanced has many of the features, except read back capability, and i know that that price wise it is cheaper. At this point i would consider the NCE power Cab, if you are running 3 or 4 engines. As you continue to grow, then maybe the pro-cab system.

Would suggest you try them before buying if at all possible. Also, from a support stand point, see what is popular in your area. So that you might be able to get some local support.
 

BNSF dude

BNSF foamer
Awww NCE is for baby's LOL kidding. I was tought with digitrax and when you figure it out (which didnt take long for me) its fun! I started with Super Chief but the easiest one is Zepher Go with Super Chief Though you can MU locomotives with it and more.
 

ccaranna

New Member
I have a Digitrax Zephyr system which I was excited about initially because of the good reviews and decent price, but I was unable to get decoders installed and operating in my locos to the point I wanted, which was extremely frustrating. (I do have one loco that worked well, and the decoder was a plug and play.) I'm sure that my problems were a result of my own errors and not system related, but I don't think that I'm totally to blame since I was able to wire 40+ square foot DC layouts with multiple power sources, switches, and accessories when I was 15.

I pretty much gave up on modeling (hopefully only for a while) because it wasn't fun anymore. Hard to have fun when your trains don't run the way you want, or the way they should, so I took up photography instead! :rolleyes:

Chuck
 
ccaranna said:
I have a Digitrax Zephyr system which I was excited about initially because of the good reviews and decent price, but I was unable to get decoders installed and operating in my locos to the point I wanted, which was extremely frustrating.
Are the problems with the actual installation or the programming of? I've had serious problems with digitrax decoders to the point I don't buy them any more. I buy Lenz and NCE.

I was able to wire 40+ square foot DC layouts with multiple power sources, switches, and accessories when I was 15.
Yes, that would be much more difficult than hooking a black and red wire to the power and the grey and orange wires to the motor. I can't imagine what is going wrong. Do you have a more specific example and perhaps we can help you out?
 

ccaranna

New Member
G.D. said:
Are the problems with the actual installation or the programming of?
The problems were with the installation. The one (and only) model I had working satisfactorily was an HO P2K GP7. It was great, and I could program it like a dream. The rest never worked, so I could only assume at the time that it was an installation issue and not a programming one. It's been a while and my layout is not set up due to a move, but if I remember correctly, I had a Kato RS-2 (or 3) that only ran in one direction, and a P2K S3 that required a Z scale decoder that I may have just simply fried. The whole thing became such a pain and not worth the expense, so I just threw in the towel. :(

Yes, that would be much more difficult than hooking a black and red wire to the power and the grey and orange wires to the motor. I can't imagine what is going wrong. Do you have a more specific example and perhaps we can help you out?
I appreciate the help, but there's nothing I can really do until I decide to set up the layout again and try it all over again. The interesting thing is that DCC theoretically SHOULD be easier compared to DC, but it really wasn't for me. The layouts I spoke of from my teenage years were wired using Atlas componentry. Yeah, there was seemingly hundreds of feet of wire and quite a few connections, but as long as you kept them straight, and followed their instructions, it wasn't too difficult. The thing that really sold me on DCC was the operational flexibility, but if you can't get it to work, then there's no use. :( :mad: :(

Anyway, when I was having difficulties with my DCC, I received some on-line advice from the 5,000+ member Digitrax Yahoo group like, "Is your track clean?", "Are the wheels clean?", and "Do you have it turned on?", and the like. I just became further frustrated, put it all away, and just pursued other things.

Sorry, this is getting a little long, and definitely off the main subject, but I feel the only way I can learn is by seeing things hands-on and interacting in person! If you know anyone in the central Ohio area that would be willing to show me their methods on Digitax decoder installation, let me know.
 
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HaggisKennedy

Coal Shoveler
I just bought a PowerCab. That's to back up my Powerhouse Pro, which dates back to late '00. Also to program with on the workbench.

Can't wait for the serial port connector, so I can hook it up to my PC running Decoder Pro.....

:D

Kennedy
 

HaggisKennedy

Coal Shoveler
The Digitrax group tends to be like that. Though the other groups also have those folks who start their responses out that way. Mainly to get those simple questions out of the way.

I'm on the Digitrax group, as well as NCE, NCE-Sys1, DCC-Sound, Soundtraxx, Loksound, and QSI groups, so I see a lot of these kinds of messages. Seems to me, though, that the NCE group's responses appear to be more helpful and less 'condescending', if that's the right word for it.

Be that as it may, I also had problems doing installs on switchers, those never really worked all that well for me. I have better luck installing into Athearn Blue Box locos than I do P2K SWs and the like.

Kennedy
 

ccaranna

New Member
What do you guys think of the Atlas DCC system? Sometimes I think maybe I should have just gone with their system rather than the Digitrax because I was already familiar with their products. IIRC, the Atlas system had some limitations as to number of loco addresses that could be stored, but the more I think about it, I don't have 100+ locos anyway...

I did some research initially and read the Kalmbach book "DCC made easy", or "DCC for Beginners", or something like that, but I guess it didn't really help me make a good purchase decision :eek:, though it was good for learning how DCC systems work in general. I recommend the book for anyone new to DCC.

Chuck
 

grumpybob

Lake Shore Lines
Chuck,

I had the Atlas system when I first started out. For just a couple of engines, and with the understanding that you can only program for two digit addresses, and the limited consisting capablity, it is about the most basic system you can get. I don't think I have seen much in the line of modifications since i stopped using it, which concerns me about it's future. You might shop around on E-bay, or the like and be able to pick it up dirt cheap. If you have to go much over $100, then i don't think it is worth it because both the Prodigy , Zehper and NCE Power-pro are right in that dollar range and have much more features.

Bob A.
 

HaggisKennedy

Coal Shoveler
The Atlas system was based on the Lenz system, so when it first came out, it was the way to go because of the inevitable (to some of us anyway) expansion that we knew was going to happen. In fact, Dave Popp of MR mentioned this in one of his articles.

But, the Atlas system has been discontinued. It is 2-3 years old, and a lot of things have come out since it was originally introduced.

I picked up my NCE PowerCab from Tony's, and I think I paid about $140 for it.

Kennedy
 

ccaranna

New Member
HaggisKennedy said:
But, the Atlas system has been discontinued. It is 2-3 years old, and a lot of things have come out since it was originally introduced.
That is good to know. Should one be concerned with any other of the "big" companies (Digitrax, NCE, Lenz) going under or being bought out? I wonder about this sort of thing since DCC is relatively new, and if there should be a concern with investing money into a particular DCC system to only have it become obsolete.

Also, a member mentioned that they don't use Digitrax decoders much anymore, so it is safe to assume that all systems are interchangable for the most part?

Thanks,

Chuck
 

grande man

Bonafied Grande Nut
ccaranna said:
That is good to know. Should one be concerned with any other of the "big" companies (Digitrax, NCE, Lenz) going under or being bought out? I wonder about this sort of thing since DCC is relatively new, and if there should be a concern with investing money into a particular DCC system to only have it become obsolete.

Also, a member mentioned that they don't use Digitrax decoders much anymore, so it is safe to assume that all systems are interchangable for the most part?

Thanks,

Chuck
Hi Chuck. I'd say you're safe with Digitrax and NCE. Both are strong DCC contenders and believe in backward compatibility. Don't worry to much about their products becoming obsolete. New products will certainly come out, but their current equipment will be compatible with it.
 




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