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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Having followed the posts here & asked a number of questions I have come to some conclusions that I will put forward for others to demolish & perhaps even to help beginners as confused as me!

I should start by saying that whilst price is not the main factor like most people my resources are finite & this could be a factor. I do however think that all DCC systems are expensive & when spending £200+ I would find it silly not to buy what I like. I want a handset type controller.

I decided that feedback loops were irrelevant as I do not anticipate computer control.

Here are my thought having tried the different systems.

1. Gaugemaster/ MRC. I liked this system considerably & really it did most things that I would want. It had a slightly lower rated output than the others but overall I was very impressed. It was initially much the cheapest & did what I wanted it to do. I would consider importing this myself as the UK price is higher than the world price.

2. Lenz 90 & 100. Lets get rid of the 90 first. It did not tell me what was going on - no screen - & just did not appeal compared to the 100. Again it did what I wanted but felt "light" & insubstantial with no backlight to the display. It did not seem to do anything for me that the Gaugemaster did not do & yet cost more in the UK. Lenz may be the brand leader but they did not appeal to me. At the import price of about £170 rather than the UK price of £240 it makes much more sense. The telephone remote idea is ingenious but there is absolutely no indication on the telephone handset which loco you are controlling etc which reduces its value considerably.

3. Digitrax. Again did what I wanted & I loved the remote feature. Being infra red it is fairly line of sight but would I think work for me. Why on earth they have not made the lead removable from the handset when it is used as a remote I cannot imagine! Didn't like the feel of the handset as much as the Gaugemaster or NCE but not that significant. For me this is a two handed control which is unhelpful when shunting etc. World & UK prices very similar.

4, Zimo. Wow! Price just too high for me.

5. NCE. This is the one I liked best. The handset felt lovely and was very easy to use single handed. Seemed very logical & well thought out. The backlit display is nice for when I want to run trains in the semi light so that I can see my lighting effect & overall it just had a quality feel. Unfortunately the remote version is both a lot more money & illegal for use in the UK. World & UK prices very similar.

6. The new NCC budget system. This is potentially a real bargain. For £95 you get the full NCE handset & functionality and a complete system that is rated at 1.5 amps. For an extra £40 you can make this three amps which I think is probably enough for me & most others. I could easily be tempted by this.

7. Bachmann. A bargain if you want very little but far too limited for me.

I would be interested to hear what others think of my observations.

Chris
 

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Fair observations.

For someone starting out from scratch it must be a daunting concept to choose one set over another.

I started out with a system that my local hobby shop recommended. There were no forums or user groups available at the time to find out from others what they thought. I don't regret the purchase though, even when the company making the items went bust. I even bought more components off eBay. I now have a good system that has a large capacity. I also now know how DCC works and what the limitations of my system and the various other systems that are available available.

I have recently ordered a Lenz system 100 as it will allow me to continue to use my existing Arnold system, but allow all the features of feedback, more expandability and computer control that I may (or may not) use some time later.
 

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Hi Chris
I imported the Prodigy Advanced from the USA (Scaledstructures) without any fuss at all.. Yes, I know that it will cost me a little bit more to return anything if there is ever a warranty issue to be sought, but I believe the savings made of between £60 & £100 well worth the risk - Electronics today is extremely reliable.
I have found the Prodigy a superb control system at a realistic price. I have now imported from the same supplier, a reversing loop module for £18 and four decoders for £12 each. All arrived within five days and are extremely well packed. I haven't been asked to pay any import duty either!
As you say the Prog Ad is a little under powered at 3.5Amps but boosters are available and not that expensive either.

Here is the ebay link to Scaledstructures site Scaledstructures as their shop is worth a look over too!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Yes Doug it is daunting particularly as it seems a technical subject and my knowledge was low. Your approach is probably simplest - go with the easiest to buy & get it from a dealer that you trust.

The whole decision was made much easier when I realised that all the market leading systems would do what I wanted & in many ways the decision came down to which one felt nearest to being right in use. If I had not tried them I would not have come to the same conclusion that I have. The biggest fundamental differences for me were the unexpected two handed nature of rotary throttle based controllers and the Lenz minimalist vs everyone elses lots of buttons approach. Personally I like a nice simple marked button to push rather than a hierarchical menu.

I either need four control points or a remote control & that is my last problem to solve. Oh how I wish the NCE system had the Digitrax infra red control facility!!!!!

Chris
 

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I started with Bushmann class 25 diesel DCC starter set. The EZ Command was simple to use and also had the facility to run one DC loco. I consider that it is a good introduction to DCC at a reasonable price (shop around though). One drawback to the EZ was that the control box got extremely hot during use, although this never caused a problem I was not too happy about it.

Having decided to move on I bought the NCE Power Pro after trying it out and comparing it with the cheaper Prodigy. I found the process of pressing three buttons in order to change locos a bit tedious, then I read the manual and found that the recall button could do the job much more easily.

I like the description of the new Hornby system but it wasn't around at the time, besides, having had your appetite whetted who wants to wait until September to get one.

Most modern DCC controllers allow access to at least 12 functions but check it out first, particularly if you want to run sound equipped locos.

Another plus is the ability to fit system update chips yourself.

Brian
 

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Damn spellchecker, changed my Bachman to Bushman. Honest folks, I can spell but my keyboard is dyslexic.

Bruin, or is that Brian? oh never mind.
 

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Useful observations.


We don't hear much about other European systems such as ROCO, ESU, TRIX and FLEISCHMANN etc.

Some of the newer systems have improved back-lit displays with the ability to select an alpha-numeric name in place of the basic decoder address.

e.g. decoder address "1234" could be displayed and selected by, for example:

37419 or
EWS419 or
EWS37 or

Jinty, Deltic, BB, class66, Thomas, etc.

Dependent on the number of characters that the particular system can display.

The new HORNBY ELITE has this feature.
 

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LENZ desperately need to improve their handsets, as newer systems are leaving them behind.

The COMPACT is surely a dead duck now that the HORNBY ELITE, ROCO MultiMouse, NCE POWERCAB etc; are heavily feature packed, and selling for under £100 !!!!!

The SET 90 handset is very poor for multi locos/functions etc.

The excellent SET 100 could do with a new updated handset and the ability to cope with some of the features now becoming available, such as alpha-numeric names, back-lit display etc.

PS. The SET 100 is available in the UK for £200 from a well known source.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Oakydoke.

I thought that there was a problem with Roco - the company not the DCC.

The Lenz 100 may be available in the UK for £200 but as they appear not to advertise the fact they are unlikely to sell many - unless a clue was forthcoming of course.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Are there any signs that new handsets might be coming from Lenz? I agree with Oakydoke that the ones currently offered are a little dated.

Chris
 

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I think you have to be congratulated for covering all bases and not buying on impulse.
In defence of Digitrax they also sell the UT4 which fits nicely in the hand and has a lerge control knob "perfect for shunting and those non technical guests.
In short your looking for 4 digit addressing, Amps 3 or more 5 is prefered. A clear up-grade path or expandability. Dependability of support and supply. You then have to select Loconet, Epress-net, or Can-bus, being the three choices. Finally all this has to fit within your budget. Lenz handcontrols while solid don't match Digitrax for functionality,
but for usability I'm told NEC are great.
Well at least if you make a poor choice you can flog it on Ebay and buy something else. Until you've run your layout for a while you simply won't know which system suits you the best. Personally I'd buy Digitrax again, but I'm sure Lenz and other system users will tell you the same thing. If you have a friend who's using DCC and who's happy with his choice, this is probably the system to go for as you get a quick knowledge base.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Makemineadouble,

Never been complemented on my lack of decision before! Actually ir wasn't really a lack of decision but simply a lack of knowledge & a recognition that none of them were perfect for my needs so I had to decide which problems mattered & which did not.

The Digitrax UT4 is fine but it does not have a display. This is very limiting where say more than one engine is being shunted. I really want all the info on the handset that I am using which both the main Digitrax controller & NCE offer. As I said I prefer the NCE but like the remote wireless function of the Digitrax.

I am afraid the Loconet, ExpressNet etc debate is one that I am ignoring. I cannot see that it is going to make any difference to me at all & on that basis is not part of the decision. Would it really matter to you if your chosen system had one of the other systems? Compared to whether I can live with the system this is, to me at least, minor.

Chris
 

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The XpressNet, Loconet, CanBus issue only matters if you wish to mix and match components from different manufacturers. Stay with one brand on that side of the system and there is nothing to worry about.

However, the support for Railcom is an issue for future use. If you're happy without it, fine; but it will be standard for future applications.
Digitrax have gone their own way on this matter, which kind of isolates them; except that they are the biggest in the biggest market (N. America).

ROCO have been in difficulty and are continuing under a restructuring plan. I think they will be around for a long while.
 

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Have a look at 5-DCC. This was mentioned in the lastest issue of Model Railroader
and which should feature on their site by this weekend.
Model Railroader.
The opening lines of this article were:
Looking for a model railroad control system that works equally well with all scales ?. Look no further because 5-DCC is here ! New from SLF Control Industries, 5-DCC maybe the closest thing to a universal train control system we've seen. Simply purchase the starter kit, which includes a full colour instruction manual and your ready to begin running trains the 5-DCC way - without need of expencive decoders, a lot of wire, or costly power supplies.
I think this might be clock work

Anyway check the site for more details they tell me it should be avialable by the weekend.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
QUOTE (Makemineadouble @ 22 Feb 2006, 09:29)Have a look at 5-DCC. This was mentioned in the lastest issue of Model Railroader
and which should feature on their site by this weekend.
Model Railroader.
The opening lines of this article were:
Looking for a model railroad control system that works equally well with all scales ?. Look no further because 5-DCC is here ! New from SLF Control Industries, 5-DCC maybe the closest thing to a universal train control system we've seen. Simply purchase the starter kit, which includes a full colour instruction manual and your ready to begin running trains the 5-DCC way - without need of expencive decoders, a lot of wire, or costly power supplies.
I think this might be clock work

Anyway check the site for more details they tell me it should be avialable by the weekend.
<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

The latest issue isn't the April issue is it? S(e)LF Control Industries sounds too good to be true.

Chris
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
QUOTE (Oakydoke @ 21 Feb 2006, 22:12)However, the support for Railcom is an issue for future use. If you're happy without it, fine; but it will be standard for future applications.
Digitrax have gone their own way on this matter, which kind of isolates them; except that they are the biggest in the biggest market (N. America).

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Has Railcom actually been adopted as a standard?

I obviously do not really understand what Railcom is as I thought that it was only necessary with Lenz type systems which needed a separate feedback bus. Digitrax & NCE etc have had their version for years & I thought Railcom was thus of no significance to them.

Chris
 

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ChrisE,
You won't be disappointed with the NCE Power Pro.I have only had mine for a short while and am delighted with it.
As you say the hand-set is a joy to use, I am left handed,one of the reasons I chose it.
With the new system you get the same cab and at under £100 you get the best of both world's.
At the moment there is not much information available for beginners apart from forums like this one and word of mouth which makes choosing products a bit hit and miss.Getting to try different products is only an option at exhibitions if you live in a rural area as dealers around where I live are few and far between.
MickD.
 

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Just reading the minutes of the NMRA meeting here. An extract:
QUOTE ... We should actually talk about feedback systems instead of bi-directional systems. Nowadays we have 3 major developments: Railcom (Lenz and Zimo), Lissy (Uhlenbrock and Fleischmann) and Mfx (Märklin and ESU). It is the goal of the NMRA to reassure that DCC-standards based on non-commercial platforms are being developed and kept. To date we have different types of feedback systems. The NMRA accepts these different systems. The manufacturers should decide what system to use. A mid range plan (3 -> years) should make sure, that the different systems should be able to co-exist and work together on a single layout...
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
The minutes & notes make interesting reading even if I cannot pretend that I fully understand them. It is helpful that the manufacturers are trying to work together rather than to ensnare users by being proprietary and thus incompatible.

I hope this all means that if & when a feedback standard is agreed it will be available as an update to existing equipment.

Chris
 
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