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Author Topic: Choice of DCC system  (Read 39590 times)

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Offline chrisd1974

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Choice of DCC system
« on: October 30, 2011, 06:15:09 pm »
Mod Note:
This thread is an amalgamation of various "Which DCC Controller?" type threads posted over the life of NGF where newcomers have asked for recommendations on which control system to use. Many posts are people advocating their own preferred system because it suits their personal needs, but then a range of opinions in one place will give an overall view to the popularity and value of most of the systems available. I have not edited any of the threads merely pasted them together, so some posts will appear to be duplicated over and over.

There are many more threads where people ask which is best out of 'X' and 'Y' system, and if opinions on a particular system are sought then it is probably best to use the Search facility to find threads on that particular system.

Finally there is a poll thread open HERE which may give some indication to popularity and hence what users deem to be the best value on the market and comments as to why they chose a particular system :thumbsup:


Paul




Evening all,

Just joined this forum and all seems good, I am just getting back in in to this fab hobby after 20years away and have been lucky enough to source an N gauge setup track only which is wired for DC.  My question is what DCC unit is best or should I say what do I need controller wise to operate a train????
« Last Edit: January 18, 2015, 01:13:01 pm by Sprintex »

Offline MikeDunn

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Re: DCC controller
« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2011, 07:01:16 pm »
Most would advise to stay away from 'train set' controllers, & in the main I'd agree.  I'd avoid all the Hornby units & the basic Bachmann one like the plague ...

As to others ... what's your budget & what do you want to do ?  The Bachmann Dynamis is a decent entry/mid level system (there are, of course, a number of nay-sayers about the Dynamis) that you may find does what you want (once you tell us).  Conversely, you might find that you prefer different methods of control than the way the Dynamis is handled (both by you and in the mechanism itself).  Personally I like it; it has stood me well these past 14 months when I have come back into the hobby and straight into DCC (didn't see the point of coming back to DC).  But that doesn't mean I'm not currently looking at replacing it with an ECoS system !  One extreme to another, I think  :smiley-laughing:

A number of other systems use a long narrow hand controller; this may be more to your preference (personally - no, I dislike that type after trying some).  Different manufacturers give different options at different prices ...

To be honest ...  Your best bet is to get along to a good-sized show (Warley is coming up shortly; based in the Birmingham NEC if you can get there ?), and get along to the various stands that have DCC controllers out on display & for testing.  One stall (DigiTrains ?) tends to have a lot of the different handsets available to try, and will offer good advice once you find a type of controller you're happy with. 

This choice can be very personal - after all, you're going to be using it a lot, so you want one you like the feel of !  Test as wide a range as you can, ask questions about them (to the retailers and here as well), and then make an informed choice.  Don't accept what some people and many retailers (mainly the shops that barely dabble with model rail) state you should have at face vaue ... they won't be using it, you will !

Mike

Offline chrisd1974

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Re: DCC controller
« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2011, 07:33:10 pm »
Thanks for the advice Mike, with regard to what I would like it to do well there is the question.  I am looking to setup around a 7 track loop system, with various sidings and fiddlers yard.  I think like you suggest it would be good for me to visit an exhibition to see for myself.  I am in the real early stages and there is so much to read about.   :o

Offline MikeDunn

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Re: DCC controller
« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2011, 08:23:46 pm »
Reading is good  ;D  The Peco leaflets are a good initial source, but if you're reading up you're probably past them already ...

One good book I found, when I started getting into it, was Aspects of Modelling : DCC from Ian Allen http://www.amazon.co.uk/Digital-Command-Control-Aspects-Modelling/dp/0711034990.  Lots to think about in there.   Make sure it's the 2nd Edition though !

Mike

Offline chrisd1974

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Re: DCC controller
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2011, 08:57:05 pm »
Cheers Mike I shall take a peek  :thumbsup:

Offline Dock Shunter

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Re: DCC controller
« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2011, 08:58:33 pm »
Reading is good  ;D  The Peco leaflets are a good initial source, but if you're reading up you're probably past them already ...

One good book I found, when I started getting into it, was Aspects of Modelling : DCC from Ian Allen http://www.amazon.co.uk/Digital-Command-Control-Aspects-Modelling/dp/0711034990.  Lots to think about in there.   Make sure it's the 2nd Edition though !

Mike
If you are thinking of going DCC Chris i would recommend this book also.....(Second edition)Ian Morton is a well
respected modeller and he describes DCC in laymans terms rather than the technical gobbledeegook you
often find in some books.....

Offline Sprintex

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Re: DCC controller
« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2011, 10:10:01 pm »
To be honest ...  Your best bet is to get along to a good-sized show (Warley is coming up shortly; based in the Birmingham NEC if you can get there ?), and get along to the various stands that have DCC controllers out on display & for testing.  One stall (DigiTrains?) tends to have a lot of the different handsets available to try, and will offer good advice once you find a type of controller you're happy with. 

This choice can be very personal - after all, you're going to be using it a lot, so you want one you like the feel of !  Test as wide a range as you can, ask questions about them (to the retailers and here as well), and then make an informed choice.  Don't accept what some people and many retailers (mainly the shops that barely dabble with model rail) state you should have at face vaue ... they won't be using it, you will !

Mike

That is the best bit of advice you will get on DCC controllers, and exactly what I would have replied with more or less  :thumbsup:

Personally I went along to Digitrains in Lincolnshire on a pre-arranged visit and got to try half a dozen controllers for myself on their test-track. No sales pitch, no pressure towards any particular controller, they just asked me a series of questions on what I wanted out of it and what I wanted to spend, then gave me advice on what each system will and will not do. The final decision was all mine and I came away with a Gaugemaster Prodigy Advance, although it could quite easily have been the NCE Powercab  :)


Paul

Offline Tank

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Re: DCC controller
« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2011, 10:11:23 pm »
The final decision was all mine and I came away with a Gaugemaster Prodigy Advance....

I have the same! :thumbsup:

Offline 4x2

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Re: DCC controller
« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2011, 10:57:13 pm »
I was considering the MRC controller (much cheaper US version of the Prodigy), but in the end I choose the NCE powercab - when it arrives tomorrow i'll take some photo's and have a play, then i'll do a thread on my first impressions. Hopefully, this will help people to not be quite so nervous about DCC, after all it's mean't to be fun !

I avoided DCC like the plague (see my early posts !) until I was convinced to try it out on a mates layout, now i'm hooked !  ;D
If it's got rails... you have my full, undivided attention - Steam, diesel and electric, 'tis all good !

Mike

Offline Sprintex

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Re: DCC controller
« Reply #9 on: October 30, 2011, 11:12:56 pm »
. . .  after all it's mean't to be fun !

Exactly  ;)

There really is nothing to be nervous about with DCC, at its most basic it's just keying a number into a keypad to select a train before moving it, which to me is far easier than trying to work out which isolation switches need to be on or off and which cab needs selecting to control a particular loco with DC - let alone all the wiring needed !!

DCC decoders can be fitted by specialists if you don't feel confident doing it yourself (as long as you don't mind paying), and programming so that locos behave in a particular way can come later if and when you're ready  ;)  I've had mine for over 2 years now and I'm enjoying just running trains with it. Haven't even looked into programming yet, or consists (double-heading to you and me) - I will eventually, but there's no rush  :)


Paul

Offline red_death

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Re: DCC controller
« Reply #10 on: October 31, 2011, 10:55:35 am »
I think the other thing to read/think about is how far do you want to take DCC eg do you want computer control (of either the locos/points/signals)?  As that will influence your choice of system.

I would stay away from the Hornby systems (particularly the Select), the Bachmann cheapy one is actually a nice controller but it is pretty limited and you will soon need/want to upgrade.

I really like the Powercab but I don't like the NCE USB computer interface (which is limiting in what it can do).

If I was starting from scratch I would probably look to Digitrax.  The alternative is something like a Sprog with a cheap laptop + router + ipod touch/iphone/android...



Offline MikeDunn

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Re: DCC controller
« Reply #11 on: October 31, 2011, 01:06:04 pm »
The alternative is something like a Sprog with a cheap laptop + router + ipod touch/iphone/android...
That's the rub ... you need more than just the Sprog unit - and we don't know if the OP has such  :(

I like my Sprog ... it does what I need from it (that the  Dynamis can't do), and is pretty simple in usage.  But it can't be considered a stand-alone controller.  If the OP has a laptop or PC he can use, then it would be a low-cost solution (the router & phone are nice, but not essential).

Mike

Offline red_death

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Re: DCC controller
« Reply #12 on: October 31, 2011, 02:06:17 pm »
True, but I think it unlikely that the OP would be posting here without access to a computer.  Anyway my point was really that it is becoming increasingly more useable to do away with a traditional DCC command station and to use the likes of JMRI (with WiThrottle or the Android alternative).  You can pretty easily pick up a very cheap second hand PC or laptop that will happily run JMRI.

Incidentally I would argue that for a standalone controller use then some form of networking (it doesn't have to be a router, though I think it is easier) + some form of smart phone/tablet/Ipod Touch is pretty essential - it is taking the place of a normal handset.

Cheers, Mike



Offline chrisd1974

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Re: DCC controller
« Reply #13 on: October 31, 2011, 06:24:49 pm »
Wowzers thanks to everyone who has replied it is much appreciated.  In response to one of the replies,I would like to run both points lights and signals or would you stay I am going to advanced for a beginner?.

Sorry for what seems like daft questions but I guess this is the only way to learn :thumbsup:

Offline GWR-Kris

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Re: DCC controller
« Reply #14 on: December 09, 2011, 09:14:31 am »
Im in the same boat starting down the DCC route. Decide its prob the best considering how i want my layout. Like the idea of digitrains, dont like the pushy sales pitch more they push the less interested i would be lol.

Ideally i would love one powered from a computer or laptop, money is not much of an issue, as long as what ever i spend is suitable for my needs. Agreed about the train sets dont think they will be upyto what im after.

 

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