Ready to take the plunge

Discussion in 'DCC & Electronics' started by Voice2, Dec 8, 2005.

  1. Voice2

    Voice2 Member

    I'm ready to purchase a DCC system and I have a question about a comparison chart on Tony's Train Exchange web site. It shows that the MRC Prodigy Advance does not have "feedback".

    Is that a feature one would use just for accessories such as turnouts and signaling, or does it also include the ability to "fine tune" an engine for slow running such as in a yard.

    If the Prodigy cannot do the later, then I will take it off my list and go with Digitrax or NCE (although I like the cabs better on the MRC & NCE than the ones on the Digitrax sets).

    I hope my question is clear.......

  2. ukon30fan

    ukon30fan 0n30 Rail Baron of Leeds

    Your question is clear, but I don't know the answer! However, I have the PA and it runs my Bachmann and BLI locos just fine - yard work is excruciatingly slow, you can time the rotation of the Drivers! There is a mode you can switch to that allows the control knob to be used as a reverse/forward contrller instead of having to use the equivelant buttons.
    Accessory decoders for turnouts etc are catered for.
    The term feedback may refer to the ability to read back the CVs on a Decoder - not sure.
    Hmmm - TT Exchange glossary defines Feedback as:-
    The ability of a device to transmit information regarding its status back to the command station. Is that really a neccessity?

    I am sure that I like it for my locos - the only drawback for me is the inability to connect it to a PC as per some other systems.
  3. Voice2

    Voice2 Member

    David - thanks for the input.

    I guess my real question is what are the real differences between the PA and the Digitrax Super Chief. (I know that there are many, but for about $150 more they may not be inportant to me.)

    Using Tony's comparison chart - here are the differences (am I missing any?):

    (Digitrax specs listed 1st)

    1) # of cabs (I'll never use more than 5)
    2) MU: 120 vs 128 (no big deal too me)
    3) Knobs (I like the PA cab)
    4) Functions (PA has more)
    5) Feedback - his chart says "yes" for Digitrax and "no" for PA (I don't know what that means)
    6) Amps: 5.0 vs 3.3 (3.3 is enough for my N scale stuff)
    7) Software upgrades (PA has the advantage)
    8) Wireless: Digitrax has the advantage here (and could be a tipping point for me)
    9) Position Reporting: Xponding vs "no" (this is another feature I need explained to me)

    So - in summary - I need help with #5 & #9 - and your thoughts on #8

  4. railwaybob

    railwaybob Member

    The DCS100 command station booster (which comes with the Super Chief set) allows you to read back the values of the Configuration Variables (CVs) that you have previously programmed or just programmed into the decoder. The CVs are what controls the characteristics of your loco (lights reverse when direction reversed or lights constantly on, start voltage, momentum effects, etc, etc). I presume this is what Tony's means by feedback.

    Position Reporting is what is referred to as "transponding". If you hook your layout to a computer, add some software, you can "see" where your locos are on the layout. Or, if you use a signalling system that is DCC controlled, the signals will change depending on where the locos are located on the layout. The decoder in the loco sends signals back to the command station/ booster through a block-detection unit and determines where the loco is on the layout. But that's a situation you might never use.

    If all you need is 3.5 amps, you might want to look at the Digitrax Zephyr for about the same price as the NCE but with all of the above features. It doesn't have wireless but, as with all Digitrax command stations/boosters, this can always be added later on. It's a simple matter of adding a UR91 receiver and a wireless throttle - either the DT400 or the UT4 with radio.

    It all depends on how much you want to spend. I went Digitrax because that's what my module railroad club uses and that's what's most popular in this area of the country. Another thing to consider when making a purchase and you're looking for help.
  5. Voice2

    Voice2 Member

    Bob - thanks - good advice.

    I've decided to get a Digitrax system. Now I have to decide which one. As for that - I'm leaning toward the S Chief. It will put a dent in my little empire's budget for a while, but I'll have the stuff I'd eventually upgrade to later right now.

    Off topic - I went to your web site - great job!! In the module section near the bottom of the page you have a picture of a module painted with the foam showing. On the side of the module is a sticker with the word "Bancroft". I work for Bancroft Nissan in Massachusetts! The font in our logo used to look just like the one in the sticker! What is the Bancroft on the sticker? [​IMG]
  6. LisaP4

    LisaP4 New Member

    Here's a slightly more up to date comparison chart for you -
    It was created by modellers not retailers so isn't biased toward one brand like most such tables are.

    Just to clarify on what feed back is.
    Feedback allows devices such as a stationary decoder to report back to the command station, this infomation can then be displayed on throttles or a computer screen.
    For instance a stationary decoder might report back which route a switch is set to.
    Feedback is also used for block detectors, a block detector can sense when a loco enters it's section of track, using feedback it can then tell the command station that a train has entered it's block.
    Used simply like this feedback allows the operator to see what is happening on a layout without actually looking at the layout! For instance you could change a switch which is hidden in a tunnel or at the other end of the layout, and you can be certain that it has changed because it has told you so.
    However feedback can also be used to affect other devices on a layout automaticaly, some examples are;
    1. When a loco enters a block the block detector can tell a signal that it needs to change to red, or it could tell the level crossing lights to flash or the gates to close.
    2. When a switch is set to the right hand track it can tell the signals to show a red aspect for the left hand track.
    3. You could use a block detector to sense when a loco is passing through a switch, it can then tell the points not to change while the loco is passing through them.
    4. Anything else you can think of.
    I hope that clears up feedback for you.
  7. railwaybob

    railwaybob Member

    Hello Dave. I have a series of "Laws of DCC" on my website. One of the laws is the "Law of the Pocketbook". It says that if the pocketbook can afford it, go for it. Speaking from experience, if you buy the lower level one, later on, you'll regret it! So, if you're budget can afford it, go for the Super Chief. I originally bought the Empire Builder, the DB150. Nine months later, I upgraded to the DCS100. I should have bought the DCS100 in the first place.

    "Bancroft" is Bancroft, Ontario, Canada which was on the Central Ontario Railway. If you search my website, you'll see some photos of the real Bancroft around 1900.

Share This Page