Favorite DCC system and why do you like it?

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modelbob

Administrator
I realize this is a lot like asking which baseball team is best, or what your favorite flavor of ice cream is, but I'm curious as to which DCC systems folks like and why they like them.

I understand there is no right answer, and different folks have different goals. I need to get a DCC system for my layout, and trying to narrow down my choices a bit.

Tell me which system you prefer and why you prefer it.
 

grande man

Bonafied Grande Nut
We went with Digitrax and it's been fantastic. The company doesn't believe in obsolescence, so future upgrades will work with our current investment. Switch routes, decoder functions, signalling, you name it, with Digitrax it's possible. Two thumbs up!;)
 

grumpybob

Lake Shore Lines
Bob,


I went with NCE three years ago. Found it very easy to use and extremely friendly. NCE has already had 1 upgrade and I know they are about to do another. In addition to a nice variety of decoders, and cabs, I am using it for system switching and establishing routes. Will be doing signalling within the next year. One big thing for me and the groups that I belong to, is that we are predominately NCE which makes it nice when you have an issue. Someone usually has the answer and if not NCE has been very easy to deal with.

Bob A.
 

BNSF dude

BNSF foamer
Digitrax Super Cheif. I like it because it was the first DCC system I've ever used. Id never touch NCE or any other!
 

NZRMac

In Training Down Under.
I was all set to order a Digitrax system from Tony's, I went to our local train show and saw Lenz on display, I bought the starter set then and there, and have just added to it since (from Tony's) So I would be a Digitrax user otherwise, both systems easy to use reliable and expandable. AND futureproof.

Ken.
 

Railphotog

Railroad Photographer
Could there really be an objective reply to your question? I imagine most modelers chose one system for particular reasons, and don't really have hands on experience with other systems to give a real reply. It's not as if many have used and thoroughly tried and tested many systems.

It's sort of the same when someone asks what is the best airbrush. Each person thinks theirs is the best although they may have never tried any others.

I have an MRC Prodigy Express because it was available at a reasonable price when I was looking for a system. And I don't even have a layout, only some HO scale modules which are DC only. I've only used the set with a temporary test loop of my On30 equipment so I cannot comment on this system.

I do operate on a friend's large HO layout with a NCE system, but it isn't really a comparison because of the size.
 
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Cjcrescent

Master Mechanic
One thing that should help you make your choice is, what system is the most used in your area? By going with the system most used, you will have a built in "database" for troubleshooting and advice from people who use the system.

Once you find this out, then make your choice.
 

cuyama

Member
NCE. Works great, radio is two-way, controllers are very straightforward and their user interface suits me, lots of users in my area.

In my mind, most important criteria are the feel and user-interface of the handheld (this is objective and different for each buyer) and what most people in your area are using.

I've used all the major brands on various layouts and those experiences convinced me that NCE is still my best fit. And also that a couple of brands are real clunkers for me (but I'm not telling!).

Regards,

Byron
 
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jbaakko

Diesel Detail Freak
I love NCE, and thats what I'll be using as my Control, but I plan to use some components from other systems.
 

JeffShultz

Stay off the tracks!
I'm going with EasyDCC - basically because someone else in the area runs it (but will be switching to NCE) and because I think the NCE dogbones are just too large for me to be comfortable with. I've got a CS2 and I'll be picking up a wireless receiver in the next year or so along with a couple of the new throttles.
 
DCC Systems

Tell me which system you prefer and why you prefer it.
I have used DigiTrax and now have NCE. I left DigiTrax for several reasons. I wanted to get away from hexadecimal programming, and that hardwired antenna/plug-in wire on top of the DigiTrax controller. :( I also wanted to see if NCE's radio control was any better.

My Powerhouse Pro has been easier to use, and I sure do like being able to unplug completely from the network. :D

However, radio control is still a sore spot with me. I don't have a really large layout. So, I'm rarely more than a few feet away from the base station, and the lag in executing commands is so bad, I rarely unplug from the network... and I do have the latest software upgrade, which only changed where the lag occurs rather than making it shorter. :(

I only run sound locomotives now, and that has introduced another problem - not being able to readback on the programming track. I've even tried a PowerPax, without consistent success. Someone in the industry really needs to get a handle on this!!! :mad:

BTW, I also tried Bachmann's DCC, and that was a total waste of time! Decoders could only be numbered 1-9, which meant there was no way to program locomotives to their road numbers (not even just 2 digits).
 
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modelbob

Administrator
Could there really be an objective reply to your question?
If you read my first post, you'll notice that I said something along those lines. I realize it's a lot like asking "what's your favorite beer?". However, I am getting some good info from this thread.

I imagine most modelers chose one system for particular reasons, and don't really have hands on experience with other systems to give a real reply. It's not as if many have used and thoroughly tried and tested many systems.
More modelers than you might think have hands on experience with multiple systems. Some use a different system on the home layout than at their club, others have operated on friends layouts with different systems, and some unlucky folks bought one system, then upgraded to another after finding out they didn't like the first one...

In any case, what I'm looking for here is stuff like what you like and don't like about your current systems. Some of the useful comments so far are mentions of limitations like only 10 addresses, or difficulty working with sound. I'm also interest in a cordless system, and would like to hear how folks like the ones they've used.
 

modelbob

Administrator
I have used DigiTrax and now have NCE...
Exactly the kind of comments I was hoping for, great info there!

Now that you've used NCE more extensively, which would you select if you were starting from scratch? I'm not worried about working in hex, I've got enough of a progamming background I can do it, even if I might have to do a bit of figuring to deciper what D5 works out to in "real" numbers.

I only run sound locomotives now, and that has introduced another problem - not being able to readback on the programming track. I've even tried a PowerPax, without consistent success. Someone in the industry really needs to get a handle on this!!! :mad:
Sound is the main reason I'm going to DCC. So what does "readback on the programming track" mean?

Also, I seem to recall that one of my decoders, the one in my Reading T1, can have new sounds uploaded. That's good, since the ones it came with aren't that great. The chuff at speed sounds more "American Flyer" than "American Freedom Train". So it would be nice to change it.

Is there one system that's better for things like that than another?
 
Sound & DCC, etc.

Now that you've used NCE more extensively, which would you select if you were starting from scratch? I'm not worried about working in hex, I've got enough of a progamming background I can do it, even if I might have to do a bit of figuring to deciper what D5 works out to in "real" numbers.
I would definitely recommend NCE, but if DigiTrax has made ergonomic improvements since I had my system, that might make it more tempting. I do like the ability to control 2 trains simultaneously - something it's not possible to do with the NCE controller.

Sound is the main reason I'm going to DCC. So what does "readback on the programming track" mean?
This allows you to read the current setting of any configuration variable. It's very useful - especially if you don't like to have to write down your settings.

Also, I seem to recall that one of my decoders, the one in my Reading T1, can have new sounds uploaded. That's good, since the ones it came with aren't that great. The chuff at speed sounds more "American Flyer" than "American Freedom Train". So it would be nice to change it.
I also have the T1 (Precision Craft Models)! I have not tried the software download feature because it requires you to purchase some more hardware, and before I'd recommend that, I would recommend you check the ESU website to see if there is another engine sound set for this prototype. This may be the best it gets...

Is there one system that's better for things like that than another?
No, your DCC system does not affect sound - just the way it's accessed. Some controllers don't provide enough dedicated buttons to access all of the sounds. NCE can access up to 12, which is sufficient for me. MRC uses up to 19, but I wouldn't recommend that system based on the number of functions it offers.
 

HaggisKennedy

Coal Shoveler
We've had the 'sound decoder readback' discussion on the NCE list recently. First off, the PowerCab does have enough 'oomph' to read back sound decoders. I've done so with the QSI ones, so I know that works.

As far as the Power Pax is concerned, it was mentioned that the little box doesn't have enough 'oomph' to read all sound decoders. It was also mentioned that the Power Pax doesn't 'add on' to the command station voltage, it's doing the 'stand alone' thing to the programming track. This was mentioned by somebody who is totally familiar with how all this works, but even so, we did ask for clarification, which I don't recall seeing.

The best thing to do is to send the unit back to NCE and have them raise the voltage high enough to read all of the sound decoders out there. We know it can be done because the Power Cab can do it. When the unit is upgraded, you can ditch the Power Pax.

Kennedy
 
DANGER, Will Robinson - Danger!

The best thing to do is to send the unit back to NCE and have them raise the voltage high enough to read all of the sound decoders out there. We know it can be done because the Power Cab can do it. When the unit is upgraded, you can ditch the Power Pax.
:eek: It would seem to me that the reason for having a "voltage-reduced" programming track in the first place is jeopardized by adding more voltage back in. Did NCE say that they could do it, without compromising the safety factor? :confused:
 
The Definitive Answer from the Horse's Mouth

The best thing to do is to send the unit back to NCE and have them raise the voltage high enough to read all of the sound decoders out there.
Frank,

No. The program track output is determined by the NMRA and is limited in our Power House products.

Larry Larsen
NCE Customer Support


> >----- ------- Original Message ------- -----
> >From: Roundhouse Hobby Shop
> ><staff@roundhousehobbyshop.com>
> >To: support@ncedcc.com
> >Sent: Fri, 17 Nov 2006 11:52:27
> >
> >I was told that you can increase the voltage to the programming track so
> >that ALL sound decoders can be read back on the programming track. Is
> >this true? Can it be done without compromising the
> >safety of the locomotives and a system like our Powerhouse Pro?
 

cuyama

Member
I do like the ability to control 2 trains simultaneously - something it's not possible to do with the NCE controller.
I've used the "RECALL" button on my NCE "T-Bone" controller to do just that.

The manual says one can control up to six different trains, but I personally would not want to juggle that many at once. The factory default value is set to two. This can be changed in the "SET CAB PARAMS" menu.

In any case, this is a feature supported by the NCE system.
 

modelbob

Administrator
I also have the T1 (Precision Craft Models)! I have not tried the software download feature because it requires you to purchase some more hardware, and before I'd recommend that, I would recommend you check the ESU website to see if there is another engine sound set for this prototype. This may be the best it gets...
Well I've got an advantage there, though I'll need to wait until next spring. I'm on the engine crew of the 2100, so I can record my own sounds.

Thanks for your comments, that's some excellent info that will help me select which systems to take a closer look at.
 
Sorry, but it's not...

I've used the "RECALL" button on my NCE "T-Bone" controller to do just that. In any case, this is a feature supported by the NCE system.
Actually, I said "simultaneous" and NCE's implementation is a lot further from simultaneous than DigiTrax'! NCE's system is nothing more than "alternating" control, because when you're controlling one, you really can't control the other at the same time.
 




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