Discussion in 'DCC & Electronics' started by witeagle, Jan 5, 2006.

  1. witeagle

    witeagle New Member

    I know this question has been out there and asked 100's of times.... So i've done some research and I am 95% sure I want to go with Digitrax super Emptire Builder. It may be a bit of overkill for running 4-5 loco's at one time but I really like having 5 amps over the 3amps that is supplied with the Zepher. Is 3 amps really enough for a layout of this size? And if I expand later, can I add more power by putting in another booster? I would think the boosters would run in isolated sections of tracks and wouldn't be daisy chained to bring my boost up to 8 or 10 amps?

    And lastly, Has anyone had any problems (not so much features) with digitrax that would sway me to another brand. Do they have a good customer service if I run into problems with equipment/warrenty etc?
  2. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    For only 4-5 locos, you really only need a Zephyr. And yes, it can be expanded with any/all other digitrax compnents (the first of which you'll probably want is at least one more throttle). I have one for home that I really like.

    The way I understand it, once you get into many locos, you divide up the layout into power disctricts, and power each with a supply suitable for the number of locos that will generally occupy that block. You do not simply boost the power of the entire layout.

    We run virtually all digitrax components (with the exception of the Zephyr) at the local modular club - www.hotrak.ca . I chose my Zephyr in part because I have access to the club "gurus" in the event that I have a question. Several of the members are active participants in the Digitrax Yahoo group too, which is a good resource too. Can't comment on customer service, as I have never had to return anything. One of the club guys deals with them as a "reseller" and has not reported any problems I am aware of.

    Hope that helps.

  3. pgandw

    pgandw Active Member

    The question is whether you will be using sound in your locos. The reports I am seeing say that adding sound is driving up curent draw of locos significantly. Without sound, very few modern HO locos draw more than 0.3 amps running, and even the older ones maxed out at about 0.6 amps. But the addition of sound to HO locos is pushing current draw up near 1 amp for each sound-equipped loco. N figures are typically 2/3 of the HO figures I've given.

    Hope this helps
  4. kadidle

    kadidle Member

    Honestly, I would go Zephyr unless you have a lot of locos since you won't really need it. 3 Amp power districts are plenty if your not running trains with 5 or 6 powered sound equiped loco's, lighted passenger cars, etc....

    My home layout is a quasi-club, so we went with the big boy, and it maybe a bit of overkill, only time will tell since we're not to the operating stage yet.
  5. farmer ron

    farmer ron Member

    I am far from knowledgeable in this topic but I am going with the digitrax system, I was concidering with going just with the zepher as all I am alao only going to be running 3 to 5 trains. I spoke with our club's electronic geru on this, we at the club use digitrax, he advises the same as Fred states, the zepher will do fine with a few locos until you, and who knows in the future that you won't, use sound. The sound units combined with the module use up a lot of amps and this is where the zepher will not be enough. I was advises to go for the larger set and spend the money now rather that have to upgrade later on at maybe more of a cost...Ron..
  6. HPRL

    HPRL Member

    Hey Ron: I was torn between big and small myself for the DCC system. then I figured with the loco's, switches, sound, etc. I won myself over Empire Builder II. I had plenty of time as I was not ready for the power so I studied a lot and shopped e-Bay. With a lot of patience I found this one for $150 (including shipping):

    Empire Builder II (DB150 Command Station, DT300 Throttle, UP3 Universal Panel, LT1 Decoder Tester, and all manuals)

    Digitrax PS515 Power Supply

    Digitrax UT1 Throttle

    2 - UP5 Universal Panels plus Power Supply to connect them

    PR1 Decoder Programmer plus Power Supply and Software

    MS100 Loconet Computer Interface

    2 - Tony's Power Shield and Auto Reverse Modules

    Switch-Kat Electronic Turnout Controller

    2 - 15 foot connection cables for UP3 and UP5

    The Digitrax Big Book of DCC

    DCC Made Easy by Model Railroader

    I also added a Dell Laptop; LocoNet; Loco CE and use my Axim i30 PDA for a wireless Throttle. I think I am set now.

    Remember, a lot patience when buying on e-Bay to get a good price. Look for somethng that ends in the middle of week during drive times. you can tell when someone lists something and they know what they are talking about. Good luck with the search.
  7. farmer ron

    farmer ron Member

    Nice find Steve, I also have the time as not yet ready to install the DCC system, will keep an eye you like you did.. thanks for the valuable info. Ron
  8. railwaybob

    railwaybob Member

    If your budget can afford it, go for the top of the line - the DCS100 Chief. However, if all you're ever going to run on your layout is 3 - 4 locos which draw about 0.5 amps each, the Zephyr should do the job for you. As has been pointed out, if you do run more locos at once (and that is the measurement you use) you can break your layout up into power districts and add a booster or two. You still have your original investment.

    Bob M>

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