DCC Upgrade

Discussion in 'DCC & Electronics' started by oldtanker, Dec 12, 2006.

  1. oldtanker

    oldtanker Member

    I currently have the Bachmann EZ Command system. After the 1st of the year I'm laying track on my new layout and setting it up so that several people and kids can operate at the same time. On the Bachmann system I can plug in a DC controller to the Command system to allow a DC engine to be controlled from it. I can also add a 2nd controller for a total of 3 people running at the same time.

    I want to upgrade over a period of time for stuff for the larger kids (me) use. I've been looking at the different systems and can't figure out which one to go too. On my list of considerations are.


    Are there any others out there and what are the pros and cons of these systems?

  2. railwaybob

    railwaybob Member

    There are a number of factors to consider - the bottom line being that only you can decide what you want. Some of the things to consider are:

    What brand is being used in your area so that if you run into problems you can call on some local experts. This includes what system is your club using (if you belong to a club) and what is your local hobby shop stocking in case you need some after-sales service.

    You've encountered one of the basic rules of DCC - is the system that you're going to purchase upgradeable so that you don't lose all of your investment. Decoders are compatible with any type of system. However, the command stations, throttles, are not necessarily compatible with other systems, or even within the manufacturer's own suite of systems. In the case of Digitrax, the throttles, command stations, throttle plug-ins, are all compatible within the suite offered by Digitrax. For example, I can plug my UT1, UT4, DT100, DT300, DT400 throttle into a Zephyr, a DB150 Empire Builder command station, or a DCS100 Chief command station. Or, if I have a DB150 command station and I want to move over to the Zephyr, I can use the DB150 as a booster. And all of my LocoNet wiring with the throttle jacks all around the layout can be used on any of the Zephyr, the DB150 or the DCS100 command station. Can the system that you are looking at do this?

    And of course, the final consideration is the budget. What can you afford? And it you can afford it, always go for the system with the most bells and whistles. If you purchase a lower-level system, you will soon be wishing you had purchased the higher level system. For some basic rules of DCC, look at the lower part of this page on my website.

    In my case, because I belong to Ottawa Valley HOTRAK which uses the Digitrax system exclusively, and because Digitrax is very popular in Ottawa, and because my local hobby shops carry Digitrax, and because I know a bunch of guys who are Digitrax experts, my system is Digitrax. This doesn't mean to say that your choice will also be Digitrax.

    Have fun. (I am!)

    Bob M.
  3. Thoroughbreed

    Thoroughbreed Member

    Heres 1 more for you to look at, its a Roco (made by Lenz), the new Multi-maus at$109.99, looking pretty good. And its completely backwards compatible with the earlier Roco systems.
    > Function keys available up to F 20
    High performance micro controller
    > 9999 locomotive addresses
    > Programmable locomotive names
    > Alphanumeric display of locomotive names and locomotive database
    > 1024 turnout addresses can be accessed
    > Up to 255 CVs
    > Display background lighting
    > Custom LCD
  4. oldtanker

    oldtanker Member

    Bob, I'm kinda in limbo on that...I live in west Mn 55 miles from the ND border. There are no local clubs and the nearest hobby shop that has anything to do with trains is 90 miles, both east and west. Both can get DCC systems but only carry the basic Bachmann controller, the set that comes with the basic controller and 2 DCC engines and the starter set with the controller, 2 engines, an oval of track and 3 cars.

    The distances and so on are one of the reasons I'm asking for so much help on here. I've never done a proper layout before and have no idea about track planning and scenery.

  5. oldtanker

    oldtanker Member

    Throughbreed, Is that just the hand held throttle? I'm looking for a complete system.

  6. Thoroughbreed

    Thoroughbreed Member

    The base system which that works with has a power mouse controller that addresses 99 locos and is 2 amps. I picked 1 up off ebay new in the box for $79 inc shipping.:thumb:
    So for less than $200, you get a 2 amp system with 2 controllers. And the base system has room for adding more controllers and boosters.:D
  7. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    One advantage that I like with the Zephyr is the "jump ports". This allows you to add standard "smooth" (i.e. non-pulsed power) DC controller as extra throttles. Up to two can be used. This is great, as it works just like what you are (probably) used to. Good for kids to, as it removes any possibility that they can (re)program anything inadvertently. My 2.5 and 5 year-olds run my trains with a "jump throttle" on a regular basis.

    The only drawback is that there are no function buttons, so if you have sound, the whistle etc cannot be controlled from the jump throttle.


    (PS - Bob is one of the Digitrax gurus at a couple of the local clubs I belong to. He's right about finding something for which there is local support and/or information available...!)
  8. oldtanker

    oldtanker Member

    I know, I know, a lot of questions.....LOL

    Through so the link you put up was for just the throttle? No big deal, I had figured I would have to spend up to $600 on a good system.

    Andrew, do the DC controllers only control in DC or do they also control in DCC?

  9. oldtanker

    oldtanker Member

    Andrew, there is no "local" support, the 2 hobby shops within 90 miles are A. we can special order it but have no idea or B. I can order it but have no idea I only run DC on my home layout. The only local club was in Wadena MN (35 miles) and all the links for it no longer work and the PH#s for contact are no longer in service.

  10. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    Once the DC controllers are hooked to the Zephyr, they become DCC throttles. The track is controlled by the Zephyr, and is therefore a "DCC powered layout".

    Just to confuse you, the Zephyr (and other Digitrax systems) can address/control one (1) DC (i.e. non-decoder equipped) loco via address "00". The loco will run fine, but most make a horrendous buzzing noise, and it is not a long-term solution.

  11. oldtanker

    oldtanker Member

    Andrew, the Bachmann system uses the #10 address to run DC locos, and yea they buzz! If you plug the DC controller into the DCC controller them you have 2 throttles but only one person can run a DC engine, the address 10 goes over to the DC controller. You can get another DCC throttle with cable to tie into the controller that will address up to 10 engines (#10 only DC) but anything over 3 engines requires a separate power amp. By the time you are done you have close to $400 invested.

  12. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery


    If it was my $400, I'd put it into Digitrax for all the reasons Bob listed. Lots of local layouts that I operate at also use Digitrax. If I had to choose another, I'd probably go Lenz, as it is a somewhat distant second in my area.

    I know you don't have the local "connections", but the Digitrax Yahoo group is also supposed to be great. I know that some of the local guys participate on it.

  13. oldtanker

    oldtanker Member

    Andrew, I got the Bachmann at 90 dollars just to try DCC. It will work on my grandsons N scale track too or I'm thinking about giving a son in law a HO starter set. So no money lost and now that I'm sold on DCC I can invest in a better system.

    I'll check out the Yahoo Group.



Share This Page