What DCC system should I buy?

Discussion in 'DCC & Electronics' started by Nscalemodeler, Aug 10, 2004.

  1. Nscalemodeler

    Nscalemodeler Member

    I just traded all of my HO scale model railroad equipment in for N-scale due to space requirements. Since I'm switching and have no layout at all right now, I thought it would be a good time to consider getting a DCC system. Can anyone tell me if going DCC is the right thing and also what would be the best DCC system for me to buy? I don't think I'll ever have more than 20-30 locomotives and my layout will definitely not be larger than 4' x 8' and I will be starting much smaller.
  2. Matthyro

    Matthyro Will always be re-membered

    I think the move to DCC is wise for any size layout if you can afford it because you can contol all those locos independantly. Now when it comes to what is best for you is tough. There are starting units available from most manufactures like Atlas, Digitrax and a few others I don't know about. I personally have the Digitrax Empire builder and love it. A friend of mine has the NEC system and he thinks its the best.
  3. I have just purchased a DCC system, it is not up and running yet but will be very soon. I believe you have to ask yourself several questions to see what sort of system suits you best.
    1 cost.
    2 power requirements, can the system supply the power you need to run the number of locos you want.
    3 controller style, base only, base w/ handhelds, tethered handhelds only, infra red, etc.
    4 2 or 4 digit addressing
    5 # of functions controlled
    6 easy to program locos
    7 easy to operate
    8 sound
    and on and on and on and on and..........................

    Only you know what your needs are, determine those first so you know what you are looking for. Many people will tell you what system to get based on what they like, but that may not be what is best for you.

    I bought the MRC Prodigy, most people bash it, but it had all I needed and was affordable.

    Check out Tonys train exchange and Loys Toys online, tons of info to be getting on with, as far as new layout wiring info check out Alan Gartner's wiring for DCC.
    here's the links:

    Good luck, don't rush it.
  4. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member

    :wave: Nscalmodler, :wave:

    And welcome to The Gauge. :cool:
    Remember, also, that you may not need DCC. On a 4 * 8 layout, I'd envisage you'd have a single or dual mainline, with no more than 2 trains running at once. Maybe with a small yard for switching, which you can isolate. DCC may not give you the cost/benefit advantage when running a layout like that. Unless you want sound, of course, **TOOT** and full turnout DCC control, and auto reverse loops and plug it all into your pooter, and run it remote via webcam and .............. :) :eek:
  5. Nscalemodeler

    Nscalemodeler Member

    Answer to additional questions

    To answer some of the questions posted above by basement dweller. I don't have a large budget and am not looking for the top of the line system. I'm looking for something that is easy to set up and operate and will give me the basics of functionality. Sound would be fun, but not required. I would like to control my locos and turnouts at least. Is there a brand that has a reputation to be better and more reliable as well as being easy to set up and operate?
  6. jwmurrayjr

    jwmurrayjr Member

    DCC, a long journey but not necessarily a difficult one. Basementdweller about has it down. Just take your time and try to handle some systems. I think that all of the systems are pretty reliable and easy to install at this date.

    You'll probably have to spend at least $200 to get started.

    I don't use DCC for turnout control and probably never will. It seems cumbersome but maybe I haven't seen a good implementation yet.

    But you will love DCC! And I think that it is appropriate for any size layout where more than one train will be run.

    Read, look around, try some systems if you can and have fun.
  7. Chessie1973

    Chessie1973 Member

    I run a single mainline 4x8 layout and I use the Digitrax Zephyr system.

    It is extremely easy to set up and the nice thing about it is it can be programmed using the ops mode on the mainline or a dedicated programming track.

    Plus lots of expansion options availible like the signalling system.
  8. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    My first suggestion is that you ask at the local clubs (if there are any) which systems they use. It helps if there is someone in the neighbourhood with experience.
    You can also ask if they'll let you try various controllers. You may find you prefer a knob control to the TV remote type.
    Your base units should probably all be the same brand. The loco chips can be from anyone; that's what standards are for. Some seem to suit certain locos better than others -- see various threads in the forum. Sound can wait -- it usually takes a few of the functions on the controller that aren't making the lights blink.
  9. Iron Goat

    Iron Goat Member

    I am putting together a 53 Sq. Ft. layout, and I have a Digatrax Zephyr system also... I really love it, and now, I would never go back to DC operation. If you decide to go DCC
    I think you will really be happy with the results you get, and the fun you'll have with it.

    "High Green's, and Clear Tracks...."

    Bob / Iron Goat
  10. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    I think one question you need to ask yourself is whether you want a tether, or cordless. If you want to go cordless so that you are not tripping over the cord all of the time, it will limit your choices. The club I belong to wanted to go cordless, and the choices for us came down to "Ez dcc" & North Coast Engineering. We decided on "Ez dcc" mainly for cost reasons, but NCE was just a little more expensive. Of course we bought as a club, and a number of members bought smaller set ups for home use, so we got a group discount.
  11. Tileguy

    Tileguy Member

    Digitrax and Lenz are the 2 biggies.Lenz makes the atlas unit.
    I have a Digitrax zephyr for an N scale layout in a 11 x13 room(9x11 area for layout) Its an excellant starter system.Combine the zephyr with a cordless throttle and you have an excellant starter setup.If down the road you decide you want to operate alot of turnouts,signals,transponding etc.You can upgrade to a super chief painlessly and still keep the zephyr for either shortline work,bench testing and programming or just as a stationary throttle and booster(for a small layout i like the workbench option ;) )
  12. fifer

    fifer Active Member

    I prefer Lenz and I think it is easier to learn than the Digitrax systems , or at least the manuals are smaller LOL . I have had almost all the systems and like the Lenz and you just can't beat their service and the ten year upgrade warranty.

  13. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    What a surprise to see Gregs post here after having seen it it two other threads. At least it's somewhat relevant here as opposed to the BLI switcher thread. How much you selling them for Greg?

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