What DCC System are people running


Lake Shore Lines
Since there seems to be a number of questions by people who are interested in getting into DCC and the fact that a number of systems are available, I thought that may be a description of what you have and likes and dislikes may be appropriate here.

Currently i am running the NCE System. I have had it for about a year after going through a number of months of see and trying what other people have. I Love the system because of it's user friendly atmosphere where the large controller that comes with the initial system displays a number of well identified buttons to do programming, Consisting, Accesory control, as well as cab selection. the speed control consists of both a thumb wheel for increasing and decreasing speed as well as buttons to do the same. Surprisingly, it didn't take much time to master. i have found that many of the engine CV changes can be easily done on the fly so i only use the programming track to set up a new engine.

The smaller cab that is available with this system is really great for the casual user. Usually within minutes i can have someone running trains and doing most of the things a regular operator needs to be able to control with relatively few keys.

I am also using many of the accessory decoders to run my switches and have set up macro's to route engines thru a number of switches on there way to a different line with just a quick command.

I have found the manuals to be fairly straight foward, but you do need to read them carefully. There is a lot to learn.

I am sure i am leaving something out, but wanted to see if may be others would join in and talk about their systems as well. hopefully, along with some hands on at a LHS or show, this might help people make a decision on what they might buy.
I also have the NCE system. Though I bought mine in Dec 00. At that time, Digitrax hadn't come out with the DT400 throttle yet, and the DT300 require combo keystrokes to activate various functions. I felt that was the "Ctrl-alt-del" approach. Even though the NCE dogbone was like a big TV remote, it had a button for each specific action. Like, headlights, horn, etc. And, you didn't have to program in Hexidecimal (which Digitrax still requires). That was what sold me.

Since then, Digitrax came out with the DT400, which meant my personal distaste for the combo keystrokes was gone. I feel that they're comparable with NCE. A lot of it is personal preference; I did run Digitrax at a train show, I knew I could use it, but I felt the learning curve wasn't to my liking.

I don't want to get into, or imply I'm bashing anything, but it's important not only for the user to be comfortable with the system, but also approach it as the "owner" of the system. I knew I could use the Digitrax as an operator, but the key was what happens when I'm the owner? Was it easy to get up and running? How do I do things to maximize my use of all the features? If I had to keep yanking out the manual to do things because they aren't intuitive, that's a turn-off for me personally.

I skimmed the NCE manual briefly before I hooked it up and got it running. I don't think I've really read the manual straight through; though I've referenced it. There was a period of time where I didn't run trains at all, and when I started up again, it was simple to pick up.

BTW, there are Yahoo groups for pretty much all the DCC systems out there. I'm on both the Digitrax and NCE groups; the Digitrax group has way more users, but also way more messages. That was also a factor in the buy decision.

I have had Digitrax since 99, yes, the DT300 :mad: was not a thing of beauty. I have had very good success with the Digitrax, especially with the new DT400. I have always had command control. I had the MRC dual cab with the high frequency signal for the second loco in the early 1980's. I tried Onboard because of it's sound capabilities in the mid '80's. I love DCC. It is great. If you don't have DCC get it. Make sure the system you buy has the full range of functions on the throttle because you will eventually want sound. That is my only advise.
Hope that helps
I don't have DCC, but a local layout whose owner graciously runs operating sessions does, and he uses EasyDCC. I didn't get into it much, but he seemed very happy with it. Radio throttles all over the place.
Hi Jeff, well I read the CVP pages first, good site I got a lot of info there and was just about sold on Easydcc till I read the humerous post on the comparison page. I've read a lot of posts about the Zephyr and it seems they must be close to tops in customer service but I'll be doing a lot more reading yet, before deciding.
Thanks for the links they were a good help.
Cheers Willis
Currently I'm using the Uhlenbrock "Daisy" system which is not available in the US but an interesting idea. It's designed for beginners with DCC and handles also analog and the Maerklin Motorola digital format.
A much bigger system is the Uhlenbrock "Intellibox" handling DCC and MMII format. At the same time 2 operators can operate independently.

Since I'm operating a lot of DCC locos and in future some from BLI I want to change to an other bigger system like the LENZ 100 or NCE.

Hi Hartmut, I'm somewhat curious, in the top photo it looks like a hand held unit plugged into something, and in the bottom photo a device that seems to have lots of things to play with. Now does that hand held unit control more than 1 loco? If so how? If the handheld unit controls more than 1 loco, what's the box with the knobs and buttons for?

I'm having a bit of trouble putting all this together.
I'd guess that the box with all the knobs and buttons is a two throttle Command Station - perfect for use at the yard, as well as for programming the CV's into the locomotives.
Sort of like the same thing in this diagram from CVP for their EasyDCC system:
AH! that's a great diagram Jeff, all perfectly clear except for one nagging little thing.
OK now supposin I have 3 loco's programed with 3 different addresses, and I have 3 plug in throttles. What determines what throttle is going to control what loco? Do the throttles have to be programmed also? I have a nagging suspicion I'm going to appear stupid with that question. :D

Cheers Willis
D'oh! I believe it was starting to dawn on me when I kept looking at all the buttons on the plug in throttles, guess I'm still in DC mode.

Thanks Jeff, Cheers Willis
Both systems are not mapped in the same scale. The box is much bigger than the hand held! Both systems are completely indedependently from each other.

Main part of the hand held system is the little box (central unit). The hand helt can handle up to 16 locos at the same time by selecting the loco adress. To change from an digital system to analog operation you've to plug in the hand helt into the other connector of the small booster box.

The big system (Intellibox) can handle up to 9999 locos and has a lot of more features than the hand helt system. Both system can also handle accessory decoders to control swichtes,...
Also the Intellibox has a PC interface. Please find here a short description:

When upgrading from the hand helt to the Intellibox you can still use the the small box as a booster and the hand helt as an additional control unit since the system family uses the same bus (Loconet).

The Intellibox is very popular in Germany due to it's compatibility to the DCC and Maerklin's MMII system, the PC Interface and a lot of automatic operation functions. Price is about $390,- . Price for the hand helt is about $170,-

Thank's for the link Hartmut, that helped in that it explains that by programming, multiple locos can be controled by one throttle. Now :confused: this should about do it. My layout is composed of a LOOP to LOOP mainline. (note: it's not really that simple, there are 6 loops 3 at each end, two seperate throttles are used for control and isolation)
If DCC power is applied to the rails continueusly, and a loco enters a loop, the DCC polarity on the mainline would have to be reversed the same as I'm now doing with DC, when the turnout is thrown and the loco continues around the loop and out again ( Right or Wrong ).

Cheers Willis
Hi Willis,

In DCC there is a unit called a Reverser. This Automatically does what a double pole Double throw Center off switch with the wiring crossed ovr does manually. Any Engine entering a reversing block will have in effect its polarity checked and the unit will automatically correct the flow thru the decoder so that there is no short and the train moves on without hesitation. I use them for both the reversing blocks and the turntable. works like a charm and you don't have to remember to throw the switch. :D

I know several companies that make them, and have used a couple of different kinds so i know they work extremely well.
I use the Digitrax system. I recently added a DT400R radio controlled throttle and the UR 91 radio receiver. I need to ask someone else on this forum how they turn off the system. That is, what state do you leave the throttle in when it is not used? I turn off my booster and Command Station, but the throttle is still essentially powered up and the display is on. I do not know what to do with this. The battery in the throttle is not being run down since it is connected to the Loconet when not used.

Hmm guess I forgot to click submit Age I guess.

OK, Is it safe to assume that an insulating rail joiner is required in the loop, to prevent the inside point rail from shorting the inside rail to the outside rail when the turnout is thrown? Also in DC my mainline power feed is through the loops this is to keep the loco in forward when on the main line, again I assume this will not be necessary in DCC. Perhaps I should draw a rough sketch of what I have then you'll have a better idea of what I'm going on about.
Cheers Willis