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BELG
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Good morning guys, I know every owner of each system will say theirs is the best but here goes. I would like to buy a system which is expandable and will come with the easiest installation and use instructions. Also don't want a stripped down version and then have to buy a ton a separate components. When I get back to build the layout it will be in a domino style as I don't see myself staying in this house for much longer and would like to take the build sections with me. So from this we can glean that it will be one level and it will be in a room about 15' x 15'. Would like wireless throttle(s) but not so much into operations as it will be a one man show 99% of the time. Two at most. I think I covered most info for getting the conversation started fire away with anything I forgot, thanks Pat..:dope::bg:

mabloodhound
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Pat, although I don't have a system yet, I've done a lot of reading and one suggestion they make is to choose something that is in use by other modelers in your area.   That way you will have someone to go to for help.
Of course if you're moving out of the area, than that might not matter.   I personally like the NCE system as it has the most positive comments about ease of use and learning the setup (I'm not too swift with electronics).   Digitrax takes quite a bit of learning from what I've read.
Definitely go to the Tony's website and Litchfield Station, both of whom have excellent info.   And when you come up to the Springfield show you can ask them in person.

W C Greene
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Another product may be "easy dcc" by CVP Products. CVP is one of the oldest dcc manufacturers in the country and guess what? Their stuff is made here in the US. I believe they can be found on the net. Good luck and keep the faith.
Woodie

titus
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I started with a Digitrax Zephyr. I used it for a couple weeks and then decided not to keep it. I've seen a number of great reviews for it but I just wasn't impressed. A little while later I picked up a 2nd hand NCE PowerCab from a guy who was upgrading to a bigger setup. Overall I've been pretty happy with it but I'm certainly by no means dedicated to NCE.

I think you'll find systems from most manufacturers offer some kind of upgrade path and given a manual and a few personality tweaks here and there are somewhat the same. The one thing I wish I had paid more attention to was the speed control input. On the NCE there are two options for this. One is a scroll wheel, similar to what you'd find in a computer mouse, and the second is soft touch up and down buttons.

I don't really care for either and would have liked either a circular knob or some other device for controlling speed. One last thing though is that I'm still glad I went with NCE. It seems to be far more popular in my area which means I was already setup for the local module group should I join them. As someone mentioned that's also something to consider.

BELG
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Thanks for the info guys at least it gives me a direction for further research. Dave hoping to get to Springfield this year hoping my traveling companion doesn't have to go in for surgery before the show.

Traingeekboy
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For me price was a serious issue. I looked and read about systems for years. In my case Digitrax zephyr was the perfect fit. It has these additional ports that allow you to use analog power packs as digital controllers. So for the price of one unit I got three controllers.

But I'm not picky, my issue is always price as I think people pay too much for model trains these days.

W C Greene
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Yes, price is and will be a consideration. However, I remember when the PFM sound system/throttle was about $250...in the days when a nice MRC dc power pack was $14.95. The PFM sold out and was the start of the fascination with sound effects. These days, it is "old hat" being analog and all but still had/has the best sounds (my opinion). One of the precursors of DCC was the old GE Astrack. I don't know anyone who used one, but it was probably the first DCC type control. Then later, Hornby brought out their Zero One system which was also early DCC. Their decoders were small enough to fit into N scale steamers' tenders and the little locos actually ran much better with a constant voltage on the rails, again-something that is normal today. The Zero One cost about 200 bucks also, but it did the job. Oh well, I digress...
Yes, this hobby is expensive today...that old Athearn HO SW 1500 switcher used to be $9.95, now if you can find one, it may be $179. But today's SW doesn't need any detail parts or the time it takes to glue on all that stuff...it is already done for you. Thanks for listening to the ramblings of an old man...
Woodie

Paladin
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Yes price is a factor.

What ever you do . Do not send a boy to do a man's job.

Again you will get what you pay for. The hard part of going DCC is that we do not understand all the jargon. And we do not know  exactly what we want it to do.

Keep asking questions . And when you think you know enough, ask some more.

Don

bobh
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In a perfect world our trains would run just like the full sized ones. Each independant of the other in every respect.

Radio control for each cab and independant power supply for each is one possibility. DCC is the other. DCC uses a common buss (the track) to transmit instructions to the locomotive and to power the motor, lights and sound.

While its not a perfect system it is pretty good. Better in most regards for the average person than either DC or RC.

Nearly all DCC systems operate on the same theory. Data is sent to a receiver in the cab and the cab responds accordingly. This is the Digital part of DCC.

Each command has a binary neumeric value. This value gets translated into a working command for the receiver. This is then translated to action.

Most DCC systems will allow you to taylor your cab to an extent. Programming each Cab gives you flexability to custom each one. Or you can use the "factory" presets.

A major consideration for me is Ease of use, Real people support, Reputation for durability, Possibility of expansion and availibity of parts and accessories.

The two most popular systems seem to be Digi trac and NCE. Since I have an NCE dealer very close to me and who also is familar with the product, I chose them.

I have no doubt that DigiTrac would be fine too. So far I have no complaints with the NCE system.

Be advised that there is a learning curve involved. At first it may seem confusing. After using it it becomes less so.

Good luck and Merry Christmas.

moc13
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Pat:

At home I use Digitrax, but at our club we use NCE. There are good points for each system, but with NCE we found that it was easier to teach new members how to opperate. Also if you are going to use a progam such as "Decoder Pro" to program your decoders, NCE will read CV's right out of the box, as for Digitrax to read CV's you will need the high end system "Chief" or the low end system. The reason I have Digitrax, is because it's what I started with, but if I had to buy a new system I would go with NCE.

I hope this helps!

BELG
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Guys, thanks so much for the info I have a ton of stuff to weed thru now but it looks like NCE is a front runner for the beginner. Pat

dodgezilla04
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I started with an nce powercab and have just upgraded to an sb3a booster. The powercab ran two bachmann Connie's, my mallet, my #50 without a problem, all with sound.
I have an extra utility throttle for when my son joins me. I am pleased with the price, features, and reliability.

CNE Runner
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Virtually all DCC systems are great...a few are really nice. I operate from a budget (one of the 'perks' of being retired) and couldn't afford the 'top shelf' lines. Since I wanted to operate via DCC, I decided to go with the MRC Prodigy Advanced (this was before the Advanced Squared came out). I am completely satisfied with this unit and have added a second (tethered) throttle over the years. I guess it all depends upon your real world needs and the depth of your wallet.

Cheers,

Ray

lajrmdlr
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The CVP system does not have a starter system - you have to buy all or nothing. So it'll cost $400+ vs <$200. to start out.   I've used it but had problems as I'm more used to the NCE Power Cab.  Same thing w/ the Digitrax system. The Power Cab is VERY user friendly! Best advice to any DCC new comer is to go use as many different systems possible in your area (clubs, home layouts & LHS) to find the one YOU like the best.[url=javascript:%20document.editor_form.message.value%20=%20document.getElementById('text_editor').contentWindow.document.body.innerHTML.replace(re_rn,%20'%20');%20document.editor_form.edit_post.value=1;%20document.editor_form.submit();]Send[/url]

Last edited on Mon Feb 6th, 2012 05:55 pm by lajrmdlr

Faulcon1
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Pat I don't know if you've made your choice yet but I use NCE Procab 5amp radio which to those who don't know is only available in the U.S, Canada and Australia.
I see many people going on about how much it costs to start out in DCC. It makes me laugh that people can spend money on a new car but quibble over the price of a DCC system which may start as mine did at around $1,000. Good heavens my council rates cost more than that for just one year.
There is no best system there is just a system that is best for you. Try as many as you can but it is advisable to get a system that can be expanded as time goes on and you become more familiar with the peculiarities of DCC. There is SO much techno jargon that the techno files just love and anyone considering DCC can easily be put off for life. With NCE you get a manual that is easy to understand even for a beginner. I had no problems at all in using my NCE from the outset.
One thing I found was of a great help is to get the CV list if you have sound locos and have not put the sound on your locos yourself. Then if you have problems like losing the coast feature on a steam loco (side rods clanking) you can then read all the CV's on your programming track, which is about all it's used for. The rest of your programming can be done in POM Program On the Main.

Roy.

Duncan C
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Hi,

Just for anyone out there I have tried both MRC Prodigy and Digitrax, I find that MRC is quicker to learn, and reliable, but (at least in Georgia) Digitrax is more popular with the clubs in the area. Even though it is pricier it is a very good system, but is not as compatible with other decoders (so I have been told), it is more complex but can do more things. for beginners I would go with MRC, from my experience.

Michael D
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I was going to post this same question. Like the majority of you all, I've read up on the systems,price also being a factor. You've answered my questions!
Thanks!

Helmut
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Just to set things straight: Digitrax CUs and throttles are compatible with all decoder makes that confrom to NMRA's DCC standards and RP's. This is info gained from a lot of FREMO meetings, where they use all makes of decoders available and stress the CU's slot capacity to the limit.

CNE Runner
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As an update to my previous post: I have now been using my MRC Prodigy Advanced (not 'squared') for years, and have found the learning curve to be relatively shallow. The unit works as well as it did years ago. I recently added a second throttle (Prodigy Advanced 2 type); which worked perfectly with my older base version. I am now contemplating replacing one of my throttles with a wireless version. In short, I am one happy long-term customer.

Regards,
Ray


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