Looking to start in DCC

Discussion in 'DCC & Electronics' started by riss2509, Oct 20, 2004.

  1. riss2509

    riss2509 New Member

    Can anyone point me in a good direction for purchasing DCC decoders. Pricing is always a good thing!!!! Also any reccomendations on a decent priced starter system. Any help would be welcomed!!!! THANKS!!!! :thumb:
  2. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    Check out www.loystoys.com. They have a lot of good information. I think they have a sale on right now, and they give a discount on orders of 5 or more decoders at a time and the decoders can be mixed or matched. The t1 decoder form Loys is a good cheap decoder for two function operation. I think the price is @ $15.00 each in groups of 5 or more.
    Regarding a starter system, how big is your railroad? How many locomotives will you run? MRC and Atlas both have inexpensive starter systems, but I think both only offer two digit decoder addresses. That allows addresses for locomotives between 01-99. If you are going to get into consisting, that is going to eat up additional numbers over the numbers you use for individual locomotives. Another thing, I think wireless starter sets are more expensive than tethered dcc sets, but the layout is much easier to wire with wireless than a tethered system. Additionally, with wireless, you don't have to worry about tripping over cords. What it comes down to is that you have to decide what you need in a system, then find the system to meet your needs. For instance, I belong to a modular railroad club. When we went dcc, we wanted wireless, we needed 4 digit addresses, we needed multiple frequency choices so we can avoid being "stepped on" by a neighboring club. When we checked out the possibilities, it was quickly narrowed down to "Ezy DCC" & "North Coast Engineering." We ended up getting "EZ DCC" because with our volumn discount it was quite a bit less expensive. My home layout will be a 7'x9' L shaped switching layout modeled after the L.A.Junction. The total locomotive fleet will consist of 1 CF7. I don't need dcc to run 1 locomotive by itself. I have the basic radio control system that puts a receiver between the power pack and the tracks. It is wired into the 15v dc terminals on my MRC 2400 and the the output goes to the track. The radio control handheld throttle tells the receiver how much power to give the track and the polarity. It does not identify individual locomotives, it only changes the voltage and polarity of the track. It will work fine for one locomotive, if I wanted to run more than one train, it would have serious shortcomings. The price was $70.00 complete. Conversely, the EZ DCC throttle I bought to use at the club was $120.00 with our discount.
  3. kchronister

    kchronister Member

    I like the Lenz System 90 as a starter

    But wait, you say, that isn't a starter systems! They cost like $200 even at the discount places online!

    Yes and No.

    To my perspective, yes, it's a mid-price systems. Definitely less than some of the NCE or other systems. Definitely more than the basic Atlas system... But I think it's well worth the extra (roughly) $100 over the 'starter' systems because of the dramatically increased expandability, massively greater function, greater power supply (5amp), etc. The basic systems (Atlas being a good example), are very nice little systems. But if you ever expand beyond a couple trains on a 4x8 I think you'll find them lacking. Think 10 locos is enough? Consider that this means 10 locos total -- not just what you want to run all the time, but ones you even want sitting in a yard concurrently. And unless you want to reprogram all the time, it means 10 locos total in your entire realm (you could have 20 decoder equipped locos, but if you want to use #'s 11-20, you'll have to set them up in the system - dropping one of the 10 you have in there - before you can use 'em).

    It amounts to "the future" - if you truly believe that you'll never run more than 2-3 at once, that you'll never expand the pike, etc. etc. etc. then by all means go with one of the 'entry level' kits. But think of it this way -- if you'd go to the hobby shop and buy one of those "boxed" Tyco-esque sets with a little power pack, sectional track in an oval, and some cheap plastic cars with horn-hook couplers, that's the equivalent.

    I'm not advocating the Lenz system particularly, but strongly consider a "mid-range" system with enough power, flexibility and expandability to handle where you're going, not where you are...

  4. moria

    moria Member


    Heres a good topic for my first post :)

    The subject of starter sets always crops up somewhere, so I would like to give you my own personal experience that I am very happy with.

    The world of DCC is full of technospeak and confusion.. ie its a huge learning curve. As you progress, it all seems to fall into place.

    I spent a year working through this same problem, and my route was.. I started with an Atlas Commander. Although only capable of 2 digit addressing and functions 0-4 being available, its simplicity and ease of use was to me paramount. Sometime after this initial purchase, I added an Atlas Handheld and a Lenz XPA adapter and cordless phone as additional throttles. This system worked great.

    Lately I have upgraded to a lenz 100. The major decision for this route is that by continuing with 2 digit addressing (I doubt I will get to over 100 locos on the layout.. its not big enough :D ), I can use my Atlas commander and handheld as additional throttles. Since the Atlas Commander is made by lenz, all the units work together as a complete unit very well.

    Currently I have a Lenz 100, Atlas commander (as slave), Atlas Handheld and XPA with an Li101 computer interface to link everything to the computer and my CTI control system.

    As always, I believe the benefit of all this was baby steps, one after the other and remaining happy at each stage without getting overwhelmed at any point in the whole process with technobabble and confusion and without having to make any previous purchase redundant and sacrifice the cost.

    I assume, although I wouldn't know, that a similar route could be taken with a digitrax zephyr and then adding to that if you wished to play the Digitrax route.

    As usual, I have no connection with any manufacturers, just a very satisfied user.


    Graham Evans
  5. fifer

    fifer Active Member

  6. kchronister

    kchronister Member

    Graham -

    Well said. My view (start with a mid-range system like Lenz 100) is admittedly skewed. I knew going in that I wanted to control my switches by DCC. I knew I wanted the computer interface. I knew I wanted to get into feedback eventually. So for me it was right. So perhaps I view the world through "everyone should have this option from the outset" colored glasses. My sole gripe with Lenz is that they don't have a controller with the direct-input capabilities of the 100 AND the wheel of the 90. In one way I'm old fashioned: I want to turn a knob to control the loco, not push up/down buttons. C'est la vie.

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