To DCC or Not To DCC...that is the question.

Discussion in 'DCC & Electronics' started by Will_annand, Mar 12, 2008.

  1. Will_annand

    Will_annand Active Member

    Just a quick couple of questions for all the DCC experts here.

    I am in the process of rebuilding my N Scale layout. With the advent of new smaller and cheaper decoders, I am seriously considering going DCC.

    I have 2 questions:

    First regarding DCC Systems:

    1. For an N scale layout that will have about 100' of track and maximum about 24 locomotives, what would be a good system to buy? Currently I am looking at the Atlas, Bachmann, Digitrax and MRC systems.

    Second, since my layout is based in 1900, I will have mostly small steamers.
    Atlas 2-6-0, Bachman 4-4-0 and 2-8-0, Model Power 4-4-0 and 2-6-0. Also right on top of my wish list would be a 4-6-0, the "Hooterville Cannonball" was one of my favorites, I watched the show just to see the train. :)

    2. What decoders are best for small N Scale steamers?

    Thanking you in advance.
  2. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Hi Will,

    I would vote "yes"! Especially since you are moving/rebuilding a little now (goodbye alcove! ;))

    24 engines operating simultaneously is too much for any one system, but I don't think this is exactly what you mean. Any of the systems listed should be able to operate at least a couple at once. With the exception of the Bachman system, I believe all should also allow for unique addresses (even if you only need 24).

    My choice would be the Digitrax Zephyr, possibly with the addition of a walk-around throttle (wired or wireless, although wireless is more $$). Without wireless, you should be looking at about $200 to do it.

    As for the latest in Nscale decoders, I would think that even the newer Z scale ones have enough capacity (i.e. amp rating) to be used in newer steamers.

  3. Will_annand

    Will_annand Active Member

    Thank you Andrew. I have always respected your opinion.

    You will note that in the new plan, there is still the "Batchelor Estates Apple Orchard" located in the corner of the Orangeville module. I will be right beside the door on the new layout (the green square).

    Plan is here:
  4. TrainNut

    TrainNut Ditat Deus

    Where to put the decoder in some of those smaller steamers will be the question. I'm not saying it can't be done, just that it will probably be a tight fit. The Digitrax Zephyr system will allow you to run one DC engine at any one time (using the 00 address) along with your other DCC engines. I have found that very convenient when I want to run engines that I don't want to convert.
  5. Will_annand

    Will_annand Active Member

    Looking at it, the Digitrax Z125 decoders seem to be the smallest.

    For the Bachmann 4-4-0 I have a file saved at home about how to mount that decoder in the tender. Then pile wood on top :)

    Here is a link to a video of one running with a decoder.
    YouTube - Bachmann 4-4-0 with DCC
  6. Will, you mean the DZ1X3 series?

    I'd go with the Zephyr (erm. I DID go with the Zephyr lol) to start, it's $200. Then get yourself a DT400R when you have the money ($220 or so!). Also, a DB150 isn't a half bad idea either, it's an 8-amp booster (I think? Either that or 5 amps).
  7. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    Whether 'tis nobler in the mind
    To suffer the slings and arrows....Oooopsss...wrong forum....:mrgreen:
    I second Spawn's opinion...Particularly if you're a "lone" operator that can't handle more than a couple of trains running at any one time...The Zephyr will have you well covered. As for installation, I believe Z decoders will fit comfortably in your tenders. Just keep in mind the higher load rating of N-scale motors vs Z's...
  8. Will_annand

    Will_annand Active Member

    Well, I have been checking...

    The reason I mentioned those, Atlas, Bachmann and MRC, I can get from my wholesaler (I run a computer shop with a small section of model RR stuff).

    Digitrax seemed to be getting all the press.

    Been comparing and I think I will go with the MRC prodigy express, it is $190 retail and I can get it wholesale.

    For decoders I found out that MRC is coming out with a new "mini" one that will retail for $25-30. Direct competition for the Digitrax Dz125 and Lenz Silver Mini.

    MRC seem to be a good one.

    now to figure out how to wire it...

    I have one reverse loop so I will need one auto reverse unit.
  9. steamhead

    steamhead Active Member

    Hi...If you need advice on the MRC...our good friend SD40-2 (Deano) has that system and swears by it, and he knows all the ins & outs of it...
  10. Will_annand

    Will_annand Active Member

    Thanks gus, I will keep that in mind.

    I know I have a lot to learn. :confused:

    Downloaded a couple of PDFs and am busy reading. :mrgreen:
  11. woodone

    woodone Member

    DCC is the wave of the future. You will love it, as you will control trains and not a control panel.:mrgreen:
    I would not rule out a NCE system ( Power Cab starter set) less than $200.00. Most of the time, someone will have it on sale for about $150.00
    One draw back on a Power cab set up is it will not run any non DCC equiped locomotives. It is expandable and you will find good support.
    It is more user friendly than Digitrax (imo)
  12. Will_annand

    Will_annand Active Member

    Well, I went and ordered the MRC Prodigy Express to start with, and an auto reversing module for my "Y".

    I here that you can control Tortoise switches with DCC, I have 14 currently and with 27 turnouts in my track plan, I hope to have them all pwered eventually.

    What is needed to power a Tortoise and can I power 27 of them?
  13. Will_annand

    Will_annand Active Member

    Been doing more reading, now I am confused... :eek:

    Hare, Wabbit, Stationary decoders.... which to get,
    or get none and power them all with a wall transformer (black box) and mount toggle switches in the fascia. :confused: :confused:

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