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Thread: Which DCC control center?

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    Default Which DCC control center?

    I have already decided on going DCC, and was leaning towards Digitrax for the main system, but not hardlocked into it. I've done some reading and youtube watching but it is a lot to take in all at once. So I am trying to figure out what is best for me.

    I am running an L shape layout which you can view here:
    https://www.nscale.net/forums/showth...st-ever-layout

    Mostly switchers with essentially 1 mainline.

    I would like to be able to run multiple locomotives at the same time. 2-3 joined for the main train, and then be able to control some switchers around the layout at the same time.

    While I know you can operate the point switchers with the DCC controller, I think I would like to keep that analog with toggle switches to keep it easier to know what switches are positioned which way. Same thing with layout lights, I'll run that with toggle switches too.

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    Everyone is going to give you their reasons for using their specific DCC system (I use Digitrax). If you live near a hobby shop, or have friends with DCC, go and play with the controllers. This is probably the biggest difference between manufacturers unless you want to get into more complicated stuff like transponding and controlling signals. Once you have the throttle in your hand, it will give you an idea of what works for you!
    Last edited by danb; 19th Sep 2019 at 12:03 AM.

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    What @danb said and also search this forum. This topic comes up frequently and it'll be the same comments as the last few times. Read them at your leasure and anything you want to know, we'll be happy to answer
    Cheers,

    Russ

    CEO of Devil's Gate Mining Co.



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    i like NCE system no bulky system and very easy to use. just plug an play pretty much. every thing is in the hand held unit

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    The systems with the easiest learning curve are NCE and MRC Prodigy. Digitrax is a great system, but its drawback is that the manuals are not especially user friendly. But NCE and Digitrax have good customer service.

    I have an MRC Prodigy on the Slate Fork, but am intending to install my Digitrax system on it. I have concerns with MRC's customer service.
    Paul Schmidt

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    https://www.modeltrainstuff.com/digi...p-starter-set/

    This is the one that I was thinking of getting. Can you control multiple trains simultaneously with it?

    Also, do these systems usually go on sale during black friday for example?

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    Quote Originally Posted by SS454 View Post
    https://www.modeltrainstuff.com/digi...p-starter-set/

    This is the one that I was thinking of getting. Can you control multiple trains simultaneously with it?
    Yes, you can control multiple trains with it. Generally speaking, you can always start one engine, leave it running and switch control over to another, on most DCC systems (that is to say: All DCC systems I know)

    I believe the Digitrax set you chose allows you to run up to 100 engines simultaneously. If that's far more than you want, the next smaller system - DCS52 - will run up to 20 engines simultaneously.

    On Digitrax systems you can also add another loconet throttle, from the $60 (street price) UT4 http://www.digitrax.com/products/throttles/ut4/ to the $254 (MSRP) DT500D http://www.digitrax.com/products/throttles/dt500d/ - connect with a cable to loconet or add a UR92 to use wireless throttles. Then you can control more engines at once.

    Also, the DT500 included in the set you linked to has two speed control knobs up on top (next to the L and R letters) so you can even control two engines simultaneously with that single throttle.

    I think you should take a step back and first decide if you prefer running your engines from a central command station or use walk-around style handheld throttles - and for walk-around style, if you want to run cables (for loconet or the other manufacturer's throttle control buses) or if you want to use wireless handheld throttles. Then see how many engines should be running at any given time and then with that info check the systems available.

    For me personally, the decision was easy: My modular club extensively uses loconet (with simple, $40, homemade handheld throttles) and at home I won't run more than a handful of engines, so I bought a Zephyr Extra for bench tests and a UT4 for walk-around style running.

    Hope this helps,
    Heiko

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    I am a NCE Power cab user . It was and is my first DCC system . I have the SB5 booster as well . In the past the booster was something i felt i needed as i had a larger layout and had more going on . But now im making a smaller layout , and the Power Cab will supply all my needs . Point im trying to make , is NCE is expandable , as is Digitrax . You can start with the basic systems and grow from there as needed with NCE and Digitrax at a reasonable price .
    Others will weigh in on different systems and how they can be expanded , but i have no knowledge of them .
    NCE is very easy to use

    Steve

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    One question you mentioned which has not been addressed is the cost. From what I saw when I was getting ready to buy my NCE basic set last year near black Friday, some places may have a little off, but otherwise, no, you'll be paying near full price. These things do not go on sale a whole lot. That being said, I did get mine after black Friday and for about 140 instead of the 200. It was on sale with Tony's Trains. I did not see any other places that low and not since either. It may have been a glitch. Either way, worth it, even at 200.

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    Seems like these are my two best choices:
    https://www.modeltrainstuff.com/digi...p-starter-set/

    https://www.modeltrainstuff.com/nce-...-power-supply/

    Is much of a benefit the Digitrax has over the Power cab?

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    The digitrax system you linked to is a more powerfull set than the Power Cab . Your layout that I've seen is not huge , but not tiny either . If it were me buying i would either buy the Power Cab AND a SB5 smart booster , or buy the Digitrax system . The Digitrax system it a much better system than a Power Cab alone . And the SB5 will push it past the cost of the Digitrax system . So when it all boils down , i would buy the Digitrax . But i also have a good working knowledge of DCC and i would be fine with the little bit higher learning curve on the Digitrax system . But having the 2 control knobs on the Digitrax throttle is a really nice feature . So even as a NCE owner and never having problems with it , i would lean towards Digitrax if i were to replace my system .
    And the Digitrax loconet is a great thing if you really get into what it can do .

    Does this help ?

    Steve

    PS , i may sell my NCE system soon . An i also have the USB module to hook up to a computer for JMRI .

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    Quote Originally Posted by SS454 View Post
    https://www.modeltrainstuff.com/digi...p-starter-set/

    This is the one that I was thinking of getting. Can you control multiple trains simultaneously with it?

    Also, do these systems usually go on sale during black friday for example?
    I'm a Digitrax user, started with Digitrax and will probably die with my digitrax system.
    Having said that, I agree, it's not the most intuitive to use as say NCE, but it's not impossible to use or figure out.
    The following is not a PLOY to get you to go with DIGITRAX. I want to explain what you can do with or what you get with this system and what you MAY want later.

    Personally I don't care which system you wind up with, no skin off my teeth and I'm not going to tell you which one to buy. Everyone is different and everyone has different needs.
    One system's throttle may be too big for your hands, another system may be able to run two trains indepently from ONE throttle, still another systems throttles may be antiquated.
    You need to find the one that works for YOU, and the ONLY way to do that is to take the time and play with different systems, be that through clubs, friends or stores.
    I understand that you may be stuck out in the sticks and have nowhere to go to get your hands on any of the systems. That's where forums are nice.
    But you need to know more than just
    "I have such and such and I love it, fast to setup and easy to use" or "It's cool system" That's not very helpful.

    That advice has been THE BEST advice that has ever been offered!
    Look at it this way, when your looking to buy a car or a truck, do you shop around and test drive several cars that you think you might like?
    Sure you do. It's the same with DCC systems.
    They are not all created equal.

    When I started with Digitrax and DCC I didn't know squat about either!
    Our group bought several sets for our modules and for our home layouts.
    Most of the 10 guys in our group bought Digitrax Super Chiefs wireless.
    Two bought The middle of the road at the time; Empire builder tethered.
    One bought the equivalent of today's Zephyr.
    Only one of the guys who bought the Empire Builder wished they had spent the extra few bucks and gone with the Super Chief. This was due mainly for programming needs that he later decided he wanted to get into.

    Our system started using the DT100 throttle, which was a POS! it was basic and hard to remember which buttons to use.
    Later thankfully they released the DT400. There was no more pushing two buttons to get to another level of controls.
    It was a beautiful thing! The system was a lot easier to use at that point and a lot easier to figure out.

    But I digress.
    The system you chose will have everything you need to get started with a Digitrax set.
    The only thing you would need to upgrade to would be wireless, by buying a UR92 panel (similar to the UP5) and another wireless throttle of your choice.
    Which would be a UT4D or DT500D.
    But for the layout that you posted recently, I don't see you needing to go with the wireless option, unless you expand the layout size.

    This set will almost be more than you really need, but not to a point of overkill.
    I would go this route because with the Zephyr, it's basically a base set that you have to work from. Yes you can add more UP5 panels and spread them out across the layout.

    With the Super Chief, the command station can set under the layout, out of sight, and all you'd need to deal with is the one throttle that comes with it.
    Controls and programming are done through that throttle, which is right there in your hand. You don't need to step back to the location where your Zephyr is at to program or to make changes.
    You basically carry the command station around in your hand.

    The DT500 throttle in this kit has a long curly cord that can stretch a good distance. If you need more length, you can buy another one or two UP5 panels that are about $15 each and add them to the layout and connect them with a couple of Loconet cables, now your stretched reach has been expanded.

    Should you want to go wireless, then you buy the U92 panel add it to the system and then you'll need to buy a wireless throttle such at a UT4D or a DT500D or you can send your DT500 into Digitrax and they upgrade it for about the half the cost of a new one.
    Another option, if you like you using a smartphone for controlling the trains, you can buy the LNWI for about $60.

    You will never need the 8 amp system.
    I have the 5 amp system and medium sized layout where I'd have 6-8 trains running with multiple unit on the same train and I never topped 3.5 amps.

    What I'm saying is if you buy this Digitrax system, you'd be set and wouldn't really need to upgrade anything anytime soon unless you want some extra luxuries like wireless, even if you expand your layout within a few years and cover half your basement. The least you'd need is more of the UP5 panels and some Loconet cabling to daisy chain them together.

    Personally, I have the wireless throttles, and I use to use them when I had 5-8 operators on the layout, but now with only 2-4, most of the time, we just plug the throttles in and follow the train, then unplug and replug as we follow the train. The one thing I hate about wireless, you need batteries, lots of batteries or rechargeable batteries, which are never charged when you need them.

    I hope this has helped with any questions about Digitrax?
    Now, someone needs to explain the pros and cons of the system THEY use instead of just saying "I use such and such and I love it! It's easy to use!"

    How about it?
    Someone want to follow suit with NCE, Prodigy, ESU....?


    And sorry, I hope I didn't bore you to death with my long explanation.
    This is the kind of things I wanted to know when we were first looking into DCC.
    The Little Rock Line blog


    “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience." George Carlin

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    Ok Allen , challenge accepted lol

    I have the NCE Power Cab and the SB5 smart booster . I wont go into the USB interface right now as we are comparing to the Digitrax system

    With the SB5 I have a 5 amp system . Like the Digitrax system , i can and have multiple facia plates that i can unplug the throttle and replug into the other facia plate and continue on in the new location . Nothing changes when you do this , as the SB5 is the brain and the Power Cab throttle is just a throttle and not controliing the system .

    With the SB5 i get up to 6 cabs available and 3 accessories such as the USB interface to a computer . The USB will also work with just a Power Cab system .

    Like the Digitrax system , the SB5 can be tucked away anywhere and it has all its hook ups on the face of the unit unlike the Digitrax .

    The NCE system IS really easy to use right out of the box .

    For someone who just wants simple DCC functions and JMRI , its a good system .
    It has a recall button on the throttle to bring up the locos you are controlling . But I like the idea of the Digitrax with 2 knobs , my system does not have that .

    With the SB5 you lose "program track" mode , but with the Power Cab , you can just unplug and change cords and plug into the power cab panel and do your program track mode for programming on a track that is dedicated to it . Its not difficult . The SB5 does have programming on the main , just make sure no other locos are on the track or your programming them all , not good

    Consisting is very easy with the NCE system , in fact its so easy a cave man can do it (sorry Gieco)

    I in the future can see myself getting the digitrax system , as i want to get more advanced in DCC . But for me the NCE set up has worked well and done everything i have asked of it to this point

    Steve

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    Quote Originally Posted by SS454 View Post
    Seems like these are my two best choices:
    https://www.modeltrainstuff.com/digi...p-starter-set/

    https://www.modeltrainstuff.com/nce-...-power-supply/

    Is much of a benefit the Digitrax has over the Power cab?
    I just picked up the NCE starter set you link here, brand new to the DCC world too and only have a single DCC loco right now with more decoders on the way. The NCE is really easy to set up and programming the loco was super simple too, not much more I can offer than that right now in terms of advice though as I've only had it about a week. Picked mine up second hand on ebay for $100.

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    Quote Originally Posted by aflica View Post

    PS , i may sell my NCE system soon . An i also have the USB module to hook up to a computer for JMRI .
    That's another $50 for the USB module.

    Bought NCE because I realized I may never get to half the depth of all the features and functionality these systems provide. I wanted the decision done so I could stumble forward. Not to mention I thought I'd get all glorious by adding JMRI. You are 100% correct Allen that is a piss poor reply and doesn't layout many issues for consideration.

    But I did it "Just for Fun" Buddaheads.

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    As Allen did, I purchased the Digitrax Super Chief as my first DCC system, and have since upgraded the throttle. But, amazingly, the command station is still the original one (I did send it back to Digitrax a few years ago for an upgrade). Their customer service has been first rate. I have a medium size layout, so could easily have gone with a smaller (less expensive) system, however, I really wanted a system that had longevity if I eventually decided to get more deeply involved with DCC. Some extra money up front means that I have had a system that has allowed me to connect to JMRI, and (soon hopefully) to install either detection or transponding to operate a signaling system. Whereas NCE is definitely easier to use right out of the box, the Digitrax system is not really difficult, and probably has the most robust expansion capability of any system. Finally, one of the things that did sell me on the system is that I just liked the feel of the Digitrax throttle in my hand compared with the NCE. The two separate controls on the top that allow you to very easily control two trains serve my needs perfectly.

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    I'm rather late to the discussion, but just for variety's sake I'll mention the Roco Z21 system. I'm not saying this is the right system for you, just that this is another system that is available. I find it extremely easy to use (I knew nothing of DCC when I got it) and especially easy when running multiple trains.

    For a control unit it uses tablets or phones - download the app for free onto as many devices as you want. In addition to using address numbers to identify trains, it also uses photos. Who can remember all the numbers? On a tablet held sideways, you have two train controls visible at once. While those are running, you can select other trains from the active library and run them, also, switching back and forth between trains you are running for speed and stopping. Here is a view of my Samsung tablet (also works with Apple products):



    This all works by touch screen. Put your finger on the throttle bars and move up to accelerate or down to slow down or stop. It does everything any other system can do. I generally run three trains at a time, but when I get daring I'll run two on each track of my double-track mainline and two on the spur. Only when sober or having delusions of competence.
    Cheers!
    Gordon
    Rheinland Bayern Bahn
    http://www.nscale.net/forums/showthr...4-x-9-5-layout

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