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Hi all and thanks for reading my questions.

I purchased a bachmann E-Z unit around 2-3 years ago and fitted a few lenz (bachmann branded ) DCC chips to a handfull of modern image Bachmann Class 66 units. I was using hornby track and their standard hornby power clips. Shortly afterwards I ceased using my model railway and recently dismantled it.

The new layout that I am building will be a 30' long and 3 foot wide end to end , with four main lines.

Here are my main questions

1) I suspect i will need to upgrade my DCC command. I am thinking of the hornby elite. Will this unit handle a 4 track mainlaine a mixture of DCC Ready Hornby and Bachmann loco's. ??

2) Are lenz and hornby DCC chips compatible with both the E_Z and the Elite systems ?

3) do I need DCC power clips , as hornby did not make these when I brought the e-z unit.

4) How many wires from the DCC to the power clips would be requifed for four main lines ?

5) Is it feasible to use both DCC command centres at the same time ? EG the E_Z and the hornby Elite
 

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Hi Freightliner,

Have a look at the DCC systems chart to see some comparisons as to the different DCC systems that are out there. http://www.modelrailforum.com/forums/index...;page=DCC-Chart

In terms of Hornby DCC equipment, I would read these threads and draw your own conclusions from them.

http://www.modelrailforum.com/forums/index...?showtopic=4827
http://www.modelrailforum.com/forums/index...?showtopic=4832

Ultimately, it comes down to two things.

Do you want to tie yourself into one brand of locomotive decoder?
Do you want a controller that can operate a large number of other companies chips?

John
 

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QUOTE (Freightliner66 @ 25 Mar 2008, 23:57) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>1) I suspect i will need to upgrade my DCC command. I am thinking of the hornby elite. Will this unit handle a 4 track mainlaine a mixture of DCC Ready Hornby and Bachmann loco's. ??

I would personally investigate both the Bachmann Dynamis and the Hornby Elite. Personally I went for the Elite because it has a computer interface built in, plus two controllers. Additionally it has more amps to the track (3 on the elite as opposed to 2.5 on the dynamis) and with an Xpressnet port I am able to use my old Lenz Compact system as a further third controller. The Elite can also read and write CV's, where as the Dynamis (basic unit, which is all that's available right now) can only write them - the new pro extension will let you read them when it's released.

The dynamis is wireless, looks extremely sexy, supports up to 20 loco functions (12 on the elite), and has much easier access to functions than the Elite (which has a really long winded way of turning functions on and off by comparison).

Since I plan on using the PC for the majority of my access and my son doesn't really have much call for the advanced stuff, the elite is the ideal choice for me.

My Layout is not four track mainline, but it does have three complete loops plus engine sheds and sidings - there's always at least three locos moving, sometimes four. Most modern locos tend to be about 500 milliamps at most, and with 3 amps power you can in theory power 6 locos, the dynamis would (on the same basis) power five. I believe both systems plan expansions to give you power boosters later on.

The Dynamis will be getting a PC interface later, I believe it's coming in something called the "Dynamis Pro" extension, which also comes with a second wireless controller so you'll then have two. I suspect the price for the combined system is going to be closer to £200 in the shops though, as opposed to the £110 or so I paid for my Elite.

The Elite is fully NMRA compliant as at it's 1.2 firmware, and it's PC interface is fully compatible with the Lenz systems so software that works with the Lenz will work fine with the Elite, you don't need to wait for specific support. I have no idea yet how things will play out for the Dynamis.
The Dynamis is also fully NMRA compliant, so they're both sound bits of kit.

There is a wireless handset coming out for the Elite later in the year, no idea what capabilities it will have though, but it will plug in to the xpressnet port and use IR (the Dynamis also uses IR).

Bottom line, both are outstanding systems in my opinion. The Elite is more expensive than the basic dynamis by about £10 or so, but you get a lot more (IMHO) for your money.

There are many other systems out there that will certainly be recommended in response to your question and are in similar price ranges such as the NCE system - only thing i'd suggest is that you should always seek only NMRA Compliant equipment (i.e. you can find them on this list: http://www.nmra.org/standards/candi/warrants.html ) - while other systems are often perfectly good, even excellent systems, I don't trust something that isn't formally tested to conform to the standard and you would be shocked/amazed/disturbed to see how much kit does NOT have a conformance warrant. Just to re-iterate, both the Dynamis and Elite (1.2 Firmware) have got NMRA conformance warrants.

Whatever you do, do not be tempted by the Hornby Select.


QUOTE 2) Are lenz and hornby DCC chips compatible with both the E_Z and the Elite systems ?

I would tend to steer clear of the current generation hornby DCC chips (the new sapphire chip looks to be far better however, but it's not out for a while), personally my preference is the Bachmann 36-553 3-Function decoder which has back emf and pulse control, so you get lovely slow control. The 36-553 is an 8-pin mount, if you want to fit to a 21-pin socket then go for the 36-554 which is basically identical but has a 21 pin plug on it, and rumours seem to indicate it also supports four digit addressing (36-553 is two digit only)... i've not substantiated that myself however.

I've ordered a TCS T1 with back emf from DCC Supplies for a class 08 when they get them in stock, which will be my first TCS chip, so it'll be interesting to see how it compares. Can't go wrong (IMHO) with the bachmann 36-553 though, at about £8 they are a steal.

QUOTE 3) do I need DCC power clips , as hornby did not make these when I brought the e-z unit.

No idea what they're for, I don't use them! I just solder the wires to the railjoiners to get a good connection, I found power clips to be far too hit and miss. Hornby do make a much more reliable piece of straight track with the wire screws to tightly get a good connection so that might be worth a look.... quite what the difference is between a normal one and a dcc one i have no idea! However, see the next question...

QUOTE 4) How many wires from the DCC to the power clips would be requifed for four main lines ?

When you're planning the wiring you need to think about having good power everywhere and I think for what you're looking at, power clips are just not going to cut it. The general recommendation is that you wire up a "bus bar" around the layout which contains the feed from the control station, then you "tap" off that bus bar all over the layout - you could do this via a piece of cable that you join to (there are some solder-free kits for this i've seen around that look quite good) or some use copper tape around the track and then solder from the copper tape on to the rail joints.

Remember that each rail joint introduces resistance and noise, if you've got lots then you're going to damage the dcc signal and without lots of power drops you'll find things get more flakey the further they get away from the power joint you're using. Don't just think about where power needs to be in terms of a whole section is powered by one drop - put multiple drops in. Some people even power up every rail joint, some every other, personally i've gone for the four corners on each line since i'm only 7 ft by 4 ft - you might well want a few more.

You can't have too many, but you could potentially have too few.

Also, rather than using the dcc point clips that hornby sell, I tend to simply ensure that all the track is fully powered naturally, the point clips are just there to put power to all lines all the time, but if you've already put extra feeds to all your sidings and other lines then this won't be a problem.

QUOTE 5) Is it feasible to use both DCC command centres at the same time ? EG the E_Z and the hornby Elite

No, you can only use one command station at a time as a command station. Whether the EZ will work as a slave to the Elite I have no idea, it does have an Xpressnet port but I don't think it has the ability to be told to go in to slave mode. It certainly won't work with the Dynamis as that has no equivalent interface, the pro box will add an EcosLink interface but that's an entirely different beastie to Xpressnet.
 

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QUOTE Do you want to tie yourself into one brand of locomotive decoder?

Agreed, this is definitely a bad idea, and is why you should always stick to NMRA Compliant equipment listed on the C and I URL I posted above.

For what it's worth, on my system using an Elite, I have not got a single Hornby decoder in any shape or form. I've got some Lenz, some bachmann and recently had an ESU Loksound on there for a bit, none with any problems. There's a TCS decoder on its way too and I've read reports that these work great with the Elite also.

Again, note that this is NOT true for the Select. The Select should not be considered 'normal' DCC equipment, it's a novel way for youngsters to get a digital controller in a train set but really it's only any use with Hornby decoders if you want reliability; but then the Select does NOT have a conformance warrant so one should always tread carefully.

Personally I want to see more of what are otherwise excellent systems getting themselves certified with the NMRA standards body. For someone looking to stick only to conformant equipment there's not a whole lot to choose from.

Matt.
 

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If I remember correctly, the DC power clip has a capacitor fitted and the DCC one doesn't.
 

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HI

I've put my responses within your mesage to keep it specific. Basically your intended layout is physically quite large so wiring quality will be important.

You asked:

Hi all and thanks for reading my questions.

I purchased a bachmann E-Z unit around 2-3 years ago and fitted a few lenz (bachmann branded ) DCC chips to a handfull of modern image Bachmann Class 66 units. I was using hornby track and their standard hornby power clips. Shortly afterwards I ceased using my model railway and recently dismantled it.

The new layout that I am building will be a 30' long and 3 foot wide end to end , with four main lines.

Here are my main questions

1) I suspect i will need to upgrade my DCC command. I am thinking of the hornby elite. Will this unit handle a 4 track mainlaine a mixture of DCC Ready Hornby and Bachmann loco's. ??

***Yes, I would change the DCC system: Elite will work fine... So will Dynamis. Depending on budget I would also look at the NCE PowerHouse Pro system, which is definately better then either dynamis or elite. If you are looking to use sound a lot, then the ELite will frustrate you with its multi-button function access - the others are direct access.

2) Are lenz and hornby DCC chips compatible with both the E_Z and the Elite systems ?

***Yes They are generally OK with all systems. Some reservations on the Hornby chips but if they are OK with your EZ command they will be OK with all recommended brands of controller.

My recommended chips are Bachmann, TCS, Lenz, ESU (sound)

3) do I need DCC power clips , as hornby did not make these when I brought the e-z unit.

***No, don't use clips. Don't solder to rail joiners either. Solder directly to the underside of the rail. If you need soldering advice please feel free to PM me.

***Power Feeds:
You need to add lots of power feeds to avoid voltage drop and intermittent contact, especially if you use set track. I would have a pair of feeds each metre of rail if you use set track, no less tha nevery second length if you use flex track. Use good substantial wire for the power bus (3mm or greater) and no less than 1mm wire for the droppers.

Taking care here will guarantee better results later, and ensure no frustration as time goes on. Please don't compromise if its to be a big long term layout - adding more feeders later is much harder.

4) How many wires from the DCC to the power clips would be requifed for four main lines ?

***See above. Avoid power clips totally

5) Is it feasible to use both DCC command centres at the same time ? EG the E_Z and the hornby Elite

*** No, you cannot connect two systems to the same layout. Damage will definately occur.

Note: despite earlier comment the average loco is less than 200mA acerage load - less than 1/5 of an amp. With any of the above brands you will be able to operate more loco's than you can comfortably control!

Kind Regards

Richard
DCCconcepts
 
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