DCC decision time

Discussion in 'DCC & Electronics' started by segunda_aguada, Oct 4, 2005.

  1. segunda_aguada

    segunda_aguada New Member

    Dear Colleagues, hello from Spain.

    after some months reading and reviewing almost every post within the DCC section, I don’t seem to have found a specific thread clearly comparing the Digitrax Zephyr and the MRC Prodigy Advance. So –please- excuse me if this newbie question has been reproduced elsewhere…
    Though they differ in price, both have enthusiastic followers and few detractors.

    So let’s imagine you have 250 US$ in your pocket, and a point to point (with fiddle yards or multiple return ovals at each end) pike which you have to turn onto DCC. There will be a double track mainline with one additional regional branch line ending in the middle of it, plus a goods yard with six or seven sidings to mess it all up.
    Eight line engines doing continuous traffic over the main line, double consisting included; two locos adding occasional traffic via the branch line, and another couple of switchers in the yard. Maximum fifteen engines on the board (though not all of them running at the same time, but ready to move anytime –maybe eight at a time with continuous dispatching under schedule from the ends), and the necessity to address –at least- 25 engines (what –I guess- is not a limitation anymore).
    Digital control for the switches is not a priority, since I would be using block system run by signals, as it was customary in the ‘60s in Spain, but maybe –in the future- I would leave open the possibility to control track sectors from the trains themselves.
    Dead-slow speed is mandatory.
    System should be semi-automated (from the point of view of the scheduled dispatching), and all I will need is a couple of control throttles for my son and myself to play with the switching in the yards and the branch line traffic, plus some occasional foray into the mainland.
    Now, would you go for the MRC or the Digitrax ?; another stupid question: are all Lenz and Digitrax decoders compatible, and usable, with the MRC or Digitrax ?
    I take the opportunity to add some compliments to the excellent Atlas and Life Like material from the USA I’ve used to re-motor all my old Spanish material. They made the difference with regard to quiet and smooth running. And finally, why I have chosen Digitrax or MRC over European systems (Lenz, Ühlenbrock…) is because DCC seems to be largely better understood in the USA than here.
    Sincerest congratulations for a forum as knowledgeable as kind, and one which is a thorough pleasure to read every day.

    Thank you for your time and kind regards,
  2. rksstl

    rksstl Member

    Hi Antonio, Welcome to The Gauge.

    I have tried both the Lenz and the Prodigy Advance either way you go will be a good choice. I ended up with the PA, it's yard mode is a great feature if your going to be building and tearing down trains. Yes, all decoders will work with all systems ( BTW no questions are dumb ). With the slow speed motors and DCC, very slow speed operation is no problem I have a Atlas N GP-38 that absolutely crawls along. Programming and setting up consists is a breeze. Ive been using the PA for about 7 mos without any problems on an N scale 6x13x6 layout with a small thru yard, ind switching and mainline running 5 locos at a time.
  3. tillsbury

    tillsbury Member

    I would strongly recommend you go with the Zephyr, as it is at the bottom of a great line of expandable systems. I have the Super Chief, but I'm buying a Zephyr too (to use on my building workbench for testing). You can extend it in the future. In addition, I really dislike the plasticky feel of the Prodigy. I don't know how many cabs you can plug into a Prodigy... but you've probably done that research.

    Any decoder will work with any system (at least, they're supposed to). So whatever controller you buy you can choose different decoders to match what you want them to do (or what price you want to pay).
  4. kchronister

    kchronister Member

    Antonio -

    I came down to the same "final two" when I went DCC. I ended up with the Lenz in the end, only because I knew I was likely to overburden the PA's amperage limit.

    Having said that, a key consideration is the throttle - the "interface" you'll be using constantly to run your trains. Sadly, the Lenz throttles are among my least favorite out there, and in hindsight I rather regret not going with Digitrax or NCE... And may yet do so if I can stomach 'losing' my investment in the Lenz setup. Not that the Lenz isn't a good system - it certainly is - but I just don't care for the throttle choices. I've been told that the Digitrax wireless throttle IS compatible with Lenz and if that's true, it may be my solution: stick with Lenz, us the DT wireless as my primary throttle and 'live with" the Lenz throttles for my wired/other needs.

    Personally, I like the PA's throttle and if I were never going to run more than 2-4 trains at once, I'd probably choose it over the Lenz. If there's any chance you'll ever go past that and want to have operating sessions with many trains running, multiple operators, etc. then I think you need more expandability and capacity than PA offers. In that case, my advice is to consider going "up" to a Digitrax or NCE system, even if it means spending a bit more to do so.
  5. LisaP4

    LisaP4 New Member

    I'd back up the choice of the Zephyr, as it can be easily expanded in the future should you ever need to do so.

    Also you mention wanting to have trains running semi automated, this is probably esiest done with computer controll, so you can add a computer to the Zephyr but not the PA.

    On another note, kchronister, you can use Digitrax throttles on a Lenz system by connecting LocoNET to your LZV100/LV100, there's info on how to do so on the Digitrax site.
  6. segunda_aguada

    segunda_aguada New Member

    Thanks everyone who added their two cents of advice. Really aprecciate.
  7. siderod

    siderod Member

    I'd like to point out the fact that the Zephyr can not handle 25 locomotive addresses, it's max is 10 addresses and 2.5 Amps. If $250 is your max, then i would go with the Zephyr...but if you can scrape together the cash, i would advise you to go with the Super Cheif....much more expensive, but it comes with a throttle, and can hold 99 addresses at either 8 or 10 amps.

  8. LisaP4

    LisaP4 New Member

    The Super Chief holds 120 active addresses, compared to the Zephyrs' 10 (although rumour has it it can actually run 12!)

    For more on DCC system comparisons have a look at http://www.p4me.net/dcccc/systems.html
  9. Compressor

    Compressor New Member

    I got the MRC prodigy and very happy with it. But I am not an advanced user.

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