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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi Guys,

I've been looking for a cost effective way of getting DCC computer control and was wondering if the SPROG II could be used for this, or if it is just for decoder programming. The price of £50 does make it a very attractive option.

Has anyone used the SPROG II for layout control via the PC?

Thanks in advance

Chris
 

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I have not used one but from what I have read you can only control one train using it, it is mainly for programming and recording decoder settings.

Andrew Crossland who posts to this site will be able to give the full storey as he produces them for sell.

mike g
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I didn't realise that Andrew was a member on here - that is a stroke of luck.

I currently use the Dynamis, but with the delay on the Pro Box coming out, and also the uncertainty of the release date, I'm looking at other options.

A friend of mine is also looking at going down the PC Control route on the layout he is building so we are looking at a way of getting PC control for minimal cost, as the controller will in effect become just an interface device, so why spend more than you need to on it.
 

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My ears are buring again ;-)

You can use a SPROG but it is limited compared to a full system with a PC interface. You can attach an external booster for greater current but there's no back channel to tell the Pc if the booster shuts down due to overload. Also there's no way to attach block detectors, etc.

I have had 4 N gauge trains running
with a SPROG. More would have been possible but I think I've had an infestation of Farish split gears

Andrew
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the reply Andrew.

It's a shame that the SPROG can't be used as the interface, but I guess that's outside the scope of what it was designed to do.

Is there anything else on the market (MERG for instance) which could be used as a cost effective PC interface for DCC?
 

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QUOTE (Raider @ 17 Nov 2008, 20:06) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Is there anything else on the market (MERG for instance) which could be used as a cost effective PC interface for DCC?
If you want to control the track signal then you need the proprietary interface for the command station that you buy.

For general layout control then there are all sorts of systems. There are various RPC modules available from Gordon Hopkins (a MERG member). This is shift register based, similar to S88.

MERG CBUS is a new design based on CANbus running at 125kbits/s. PCBs (but no full kits yet) are available for avariety of modules. There's a yahoo group at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/mergcbus/

There are other more commercial systems such as CMRI and the above mentioned S88.

Andrew
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Sorry, most of that post sounds like it's in a different language.

However, if I'm getting the gist correctly, you need a controller (Digitrax, Lenz, Hornby, Etc) to act as the interface? What I was hoping to find is a 'box' that lets you connect a PC directly to the bus wire on a layout and let the computer become the controller with the relevant software.
 

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QUOTE However, if I'm getting the gist correctly, you need a controller (Digitrax, Lenz, Hornby, Etc) to act as the interface? What I was hoping to find is a 'box' that lets you connect a PC directly to the bus wire on a layout and let the computer become the controller with the relevant software.

At the bare minimum you need a "booster" to take the DCC instructions from the controller (PC) and create the signal on the track. The booster is required so that you get the current needed to run the locos. All DCC systems contain at least one booster, often built into the same unit as the knob, buttons and display. So what you are looking for is an alternative way to connect to the booster. For some systems this is available as an after market accessory; for others it comes as standard in the main unit. So unless you find a way to directly program a companies after market booster, I don't think you'll find what you want.

The reason for it being this way is that most people start with a standalone DCC system and then progress to PC control, not the other way about.

Does this help?

David
 
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