Zephyr good for 9x12?

Discussion in 'DCC & Electronics' started by Hammerli, Nov 28, 2005.

  1. Hammerli

    Hammerli Member

    After years of Marklin Z layouts, I'm building a HO layout to return to my model railroading roots:) I have two possible layouts, one of which is 9x12 and one of which is 10x16. To be honest I'm not all that impressed with any of the DCC systems, as the last one I used was the new Marklin HO central station(loved it), and the user interface is much better than any of the button sequences I seem to find are the norm in US systems. My local shop recommended the Digitrax Zephyr system, and so I bought the entry package thinking it would be fine. At that time I was planning a smaller layout, so now I'm having second thoughts. I have 7 new steam engines, all DCC and sound equipped, maybe a little much for the size of my layouts, but the big steam engines are what brought me back to HO away from Marklin. The layouts have between 25 and 35 switches, all DCC controlled, as well as a turntable and various other components such as lighting, signals, etc. I'll want DCC. I'll probably be expanding either layout with a larger yard at some point so I'd be adding a reasonable number of switches later. Complexity of the system doesn't bother me, I'm looking for optimum functionality. I really wish someone offered a system like the Marklin but I can't seem to find one. I'd love any suggestions from the better DCC informed.
  2. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    I have the Zephyr, and I like it very much. If you plan on running all those engines at once on the layout, you will need to check that the Zephyr can handle the draw (amps). If not, it is relatively easy to create a second power district and run an additional booster. The Digitrax components are all compatible, and "expandable". Your local shop should be able to help. If not, try Digitrax's web site, or Tony's or Litchfield station also have decent information.

    What are the features of the Marklin system, and why won't it work for you now?

  3. Hammerli

    Hammerli Member


    I won't be running them all at once, I figure with the relatively small layout size I'll have a maximum of 3 running at once, and normally probably only 2. I was planning on adding a booster since I plan to expand. As you can see in the picture below, the Marklin is much more graphic interface oriented rather than the IMO inadequate displays on everything else I've seen. Perhaps that's just the design engineer in me, but my calculator has a better display than most DCC systems I've seen. The Marklin can display switch positions, engine parameters and much more with one glance without having to toggle through each independent address on a keypad. It also runs two engines from the main unit with seperate controls for each, which would be ideal for me. I guess I just assumed the Marklin wouldn't work due to their different current system, but maybe that is an incorrect assumption.

  4. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    I know what you mean about interface. With the tiny little colour screens you see on cellphones these days, you'd think it would be easy to have some better displays on the dcc throttles.

    But overall, I think my current favourite is the UT-4R from Digitrax. It is a real throwback to the powerpack days, with a directional toggle switch and a big ol' knob for speed control.

    Don't forget that turnout feedback, block detection and so on requires more than just a throttle that can display/control those things. There is a lot of work (and financial investment ;)) required to build a layout that way.

  5. Hammerli

    Hammerli Member

    I've prepared myself for both of those (work and $) since I know that if I build a new layout without those things I'll just go back and add them in a short time later. Easier to just do it once rather than redoing it once. I figure that if I go through all of the extra work now when companies do start offering what I consider to be a better panel, it'll be easy to incorporate that since all of the extra stuff elsewhere will already be in place.
  6. Railthumper

    Railthumper New Member

    Man I can relate with you on that one. I'm looking at DCC systems for myself and after handling the MRC PA, DT400, and the NCE Pro remotes I can't believe that these products don't have a better human interface for the $$ :( . DigiTrax has dual rotary throttles but no backlighting on the bitty' display[just a little flashlite thingie]. The NCE Pro dogbone has a backlit display but not on the buttons and no dual throttle wheel. And what's up with those external RF antennas? One has a mouse tail and the other a rubber ducky whip hanging out. Compare any of the DCC remotes with a good programmable remote stereo/home theater control that has backlighting on all the buttons, a large backlit alpha-numeric display [with graphics], both IR and RF output [with internal antenna] and a battery life good for months of nearly continuous, one-fisted, ergonomic fit-your-hand-like-a-glove, couch potato operation!. Oh, and they can be dropped, sat on, spilled on and lost in the cracks of the couch and somehow they still work :p .

    Maybe the new Zimo [when it's released] will address some of these issues...but probably not the $$ one.

  7. Hammerli

    Hammerli Member

    I hadn't seen the MX31; it's the first one I've seen that doesn't look like a Gen 1 cell phone. I'll have to look into that, I see the owners manual for it was added for download end of Nov.

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