Although this discussion started with the long awaited Dynamis System it has grown into a fully fledged DCC discussion. Although the discussion concentrates mainly on the UK market, I have followed it with interest as most of what is said applies to the hobby as a whole.
I am actually glad that in South Africa at the moment we have a limited choice when it comes to NMRA certified DCC systems and in a sense it might be regarded as a blessing. This limited choice consists of some of the tried and tested DCC Systems available on the market today.
I do not regard myself as a DCC expert and do not intend on becoming a DCC expert as I believe that one should concentrate on the things you are good at and leave the rest to the experts.
When one decides to take the big step towards DCC however I believe that many of the basic considerations applicable to other aspects of the hobby could be applied to DCC as well to enable one to make an informed decision such as the following:
1. When you plan a new layout you do a lot of research to get as much as possible information to ensure that the layout will turn out the way you want it to be. When you consider DCC you must also do a lot of research to see what is available to satisfy your needs. Although it might sound like the obvious, the first consideration should be whether the DCC system of your choice conforms to all the NMRA and other similar specifications
Part of the research is to read some of the very good books on the subject. The authors of these books are almost always very objective and to the point when discussing the various options available to the modeller. Forums like this one also provides some valuable information although at times some of the participants are not as objective as it should be and things need to be addressed when it tends to get out of hand
2. Can the system of your choice be expanded or upgraded should it be necessary even years after your initial purchase and without having to replace your existing system. When you upgrade to a newer generation systtem, can your existing system be used as an extra booster for a reverse loop or something similar
3. Will spares and accessories be readily available from the dealer/agent where you made your initial purchase? What are the possibilities in obtaining spares and accessories from other dealers/agents and will it be economical
4. What kind of backup can the dealer/agent provide and will he be available at reasonable hours
This is an important issue especially when you are involved in shows and exhibitions and you pick a problem with your system. Fortunately the agent from whom I purchased my system is always just a phone call away to provide a backup and has been nicknamed "The -------- Helpline" by me.
5. Although cost is a factor when considering the purchase of a DCC System you obviously want the best for your specific situation. The gathering of information on the subject and listening to what the experts have to say (and there are many out there) is of the utmost importance to make sure that at the end of the day you are getting what you set out to get within your allocated budget. Sometimes after listening to the experts one realises that the budget you set aside for your new DCC System will not be adequate and then it is time ti maybe do a recalculation to see if you can accommodate the best system for your situation. I know of a few instances here in South Africa where modellers opted for the "budget" system for their not so "budget" layouts notwithstanding expert opinions only to realise within a short period after purchase that the system is not what they thought it would be. Their next step? Obtain the DCC System originally recommended by the experts. The result? The whole DCC excercise is now costing them at least 50% more than what it should have. The dissapointment of the first encounter with their own DCC System? I think we all know what the feeling can be like.
It is a tried, tested and well known fact applicable to this hobby and many other facets in life - good and thorough research and planning will pay off and you will have years and years of pleasure from your initial informed decision.
6. When planning to purchase a new loco we most certainly look at the different options available. Even when we find that much desired loco and it is more expensive than originally budgeted for we will make a plan to be able to afford that loco. Why? Because it is going to give us years of pleasure. Model train fanatics are well known to be very innovative and I am quite sure that no good modeller will differ from me when I say if YOU WANT that specific DCC System or anything else for that matter, YOU WILL make a plan.
7. There is no doubt that DCC is the way to go and that it is always good to see new entrants and manufacturers venturing into the DCC market. There is certainly a place for everybody in the market. There will always be a demand for the so-called "budget" systems as well as the middle of the range and top of the range DCC systems. Everybody must be given a fair chance to prove themselves in the market but at the end of the day it should be the modeller that makes the final decision.
Although MMaD gets very excited about the revolutionary DC System with a real promise of very little choice and zero programming I think it will be extremely difficult to sell the DC idea to the modellers who have already experienced the joys of DCC. On the other hand I am made to understand that the cost of DC is relatively affordable as one could pick up a top of the range DC controller and miles of cable for a few bucks at the swap meets.
MMaD - when you switch to DC I would like an option to buy your Digitrax system, or maybe we could swap it for my DC controller and miles of cable
Enjoy our fascinating and rewardind hobby to the fullest.