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Discussion Starter #1
I realize this could be a "flame war" type of question and I really hope it will not go that way because I think it is really important for those of us who know very little about DCC to have some sort of information about the various brands.

Some of us (like me) know virtually nothing about DCC beyond the fact that some of our LGB locos came with decoders pre-installed by LGB. We know the decoders were designed to work with LGB's MTS equipment and that Massoth made the LGB electronics.

I also have a friend that uses Digitrax to run his large HO layout. That is about the end of my DCC (brand) knowledge.

I respect the quality of Massoth and by no means is this topic either for or against any manufacturer. I don't know enough about DCC to understand what capabilities Massoth products offer or how other brands might compare with them not just in price but also in capabilities.

I would like to find cheaper products for less demanding applications (such as LGB 41352 sound boards that do nothing but chuff - not even a bell or whistle - but it does have a LGB decoder interface). I don't want to pay $90 just for a DCC chuff on a sound card I only paid $50 for.

The simple fact is that there must be differences between the various brands of DCC including but not limited to decoders so there must be reasons (including but not limited to price) between the various brands of DCC equipment.

My personal viewpoint is that I already own LGB locos with LGB factory installed decoders and LGB Central Stations I, II and III so those are facts that I must consider in any further purchases.

I would really appreciate hearing from members about what YOUR preferred brand of DCC equipment is and why you prefer it and how you use it.

This is NOT about which brand is best or which brand is cheapest but simply why you buy the brand that you do (which features influenced you to buy that brand).

If you mix and match brands I would also appreciate hearing what influences your decisions to buy what.

Compatibility with LGB Central Stations and LGB Remotes is important to me so please mention that if known.

Thanks,

Jerry
 

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I just got into DCC last year and I went with the NCE Pro system with the wireless Cab. I am very happy with it and some of my friends have went with NCE and are very happy with theirs. I understand your considerations for your LGB stuff. One of the things to consider is support, support, support. Like Greg E. said in another thread you want to have support. Also if you have friends that have or planning on going DCC it helps if everyone is using the same system. It seems each system has its idiosyncrasies and it will help with the learning curve to standardize your systems.
 

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I'd recommend what I did, which was to go to a hobby shop that has some DCC systems and check them out. I ended up getting the NCE Pro wireless as I found it to be the easiest to use for beginners, but it has all the advanced stuff too. I primarily looked at Lenz, Digitrax and NCE. I didn't want to go the LGB route as it was proprietary and I wanted a more standard DCC system. I have one LGB loco and it works fine with the NCE. However, I paid Massoth $50 to upgrade the decoder to accept parallel commands (that means to trigger F3 just press F3, whereas previously I had to press F1 3 times to get F3). The newer LGB decoders accept parallel commands.

If you are LGB only and want to stay that way I'd recommend LGB, Massoth or Zimo as these are European vendors with a presence in the US.

You mentioned differences in DCC systems, there are some but the nice thing about DCC is its a standard so there are actually many similarities. That's why it is so easy to use a decoder from Digitrax with an NCE system, or vice versa.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
A large part of my problem is that there is not a large scale hobby shop or a large scale MTS or DCC layout within 100 miles of me that I am aware of.

There are hobby shops that handle mainly O and HO trains but I don't know how much they would know about the heavier power requirements of G gauge and I doubt that they would know much about how their decoders would be compatible with LGB electronics.

Jerry

Posted By jimtyp on 05/01/2008 9:04 AM
I'd recommend what I did, which was to go to a hobby shop that has some DCC systems and check them out..
 

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Jerry

This past weekend, Loy Spurlock visited Ottawa to deliver a clinic on DCC. Loy is the now retired proprietor of Loy's Toys, one of the leading DCC retailers in the USA. Loy lives in Wesley Arkansas but I have no idea if that is close to you

While Loy was here, we had an extensive discussion on possible uses of DCC in large scale. Loy seemed more than a little aware of the pitfalls and the benefits.

If he is in your area, you might try discussing directly with him ... if you wish, I could provide you with his email backchannel.

Regards ... Doug

ps: as you know, I use battery RC outside but I do use DCC for my HO - I prefer Digitrax because I like their hand held controllers, radio control and I also like their value added products like transponding and signalling.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Hi Doug,

I appreciate your suggestion and I was excited about it until I looked up Wesley and discovered that it is 228.9 miles (one way) from me. I did not know it was possible to drive 228 miles and still be in Arkansas.

Unfortunately that would be a 8 hour round trip for me.

Even the phone is not practical in that I can call cross country cheaper than I can make a intra-state phone call.

I may see about discussing DCC with a fellow I used to visit that has a HO Digitrax layout.

Qutite frankly I was very impressed with the guy's extensive HO layout and what he was able to do with Digitrax. At times he would have 12 people running different trains on it. If I were into HO I have no doubt that I would be heavily into DCC.

On the other hand for my limited plans for it on my layout - not much more than "lights, bells and whistles" so far it has been a lot more trouble and money than it has been worth to me.

It reminds me of my first computer. I bought it not knowing what it could/would do for me. If today I could get back all the money and work I put into computers over the past 30 years I would do it.

Regards,

Jerry
 

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When I was looking at getting into DCC I couldn't get my questions answered on the phone and when I would go to one of the train shows (SELSTS or the ECLSTS) the vendors didn't want to spend the time to answer my questions. So, I put off going with DCC. Then, I was on vacation in North Conway, NH and riding the Conway Scenic Railroad and at the station there was an HO layout and it was run by the local club and I was explaining my DCC getting answers problem and he said I should go to Tony's Trains in Burlington, VT. I brought it up to my wife, as it was going to take us way out of our way, and we decided to go. Best decision we could have made getting our questions answered and seeing actually how DCC worked. The guys at Tony's really went out of there way to help me.

I think it will be well worth your time and money to go see the gentleman in Wesley. Make it an over night and take your wife with you. You won't be sorry as you will get all you questions answered and probably get some demonstrations also.
 

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Hi Barry-

I agree with your comments regarding Tony's Train Exchange. I have purchased from Tony in the past and I have always found him to be very helpful. The TTX website is also quite good.

Best regards,
Bob
 

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Jerry, I'm not a DCC expert but I believe DCC works the same with the smaller layouts as the G ones. So if you have HO or O DCC layouts around I think that 98% of what they do works the exact same way in G, just don't purchase the same small amps and volt equipment they do :)
 

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Discussion Starter #10
That would not work for me because I will have a hundred questions but so far I have only thought up about a dozen.

My questions/problems only show up one at a time so I would have to make a trip for every question.

Regards,

Jerry

Posted By Marauderer on 05/02/2008 5:56 AM
I think it will be well worth your time and money to go see the gentleman in Wesley. Make it an over night and take your wife with you. You won't be sorry as you will get all you questions answered and probably get some demonstrations also.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
That is probably what I will end up doing. Unfortunately it has been a long time since I last visited the guy with the HO layout and worse yet I used to be friends with the Digitrax dealer in Memphis but he has since returned to flying.

Part of my problem is going to be learning to work with compatibility for the LGB plug in decoder sockets.

Thanks,

Jerry

Posted By jimtyp on 05/02/2008 9:17 AM
Jerry, I'm not a DCC expert but I believe DCC works the same with the smaller layouts as the G ones. So if you have HO or O DCC layouts around I think that 98% of what they do works the exact same way in G, just don't purchase the same small amps and volt equipment they do :)
 

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Come on Jerry. I know I don't multi task as well as I did 10 yrs ago but, you can do better. Each time I thought of a question I would write it down and by the time I got to Tony's I had 40-50 questions that I needed answers to. and when i got answers I would have to tell the guy talking to me to hold that thought while I would write down another question and so on. I made my time count and so can you.
 

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Hi Barry,

My memory is so bad that I often find myself walking down the hall or down the stairs only to realize that I have forgotten what I am going after (really).

More important I am retired so I have little motivation for multi-tasking of the sort you are talking about. Typically I go downstairs and run trains and when a problem comes up I think about it for a day or so until a potential solution occurs to me and then I go downstairs and try the solution.

I am probably the worst procrastinator you will ever know. I actually have mail that I have not opened that is weeks old.

Perhaps it is a subconscious reaction/rebellion to a lifetime of being at the beck and call of bosses and customers. Now I take nothing seriously and nothing is worth making a list of a bunch of questions to eventually ask someone.

The funny thing is that this makes me sound totally disorganized (and I don't try to deny it) but I constantly amaze myself when long after I buy something I discover a need for it that had never occurred to me when I bought it.

If MTS/DCC is so complicated that I have to devote an 8 hour trip and an overnight stay (or attend a seminar) just to figure it out then I can probably live without it.

I would prefer to handle it one question at a time and get answers wherever I can find them. After all I am under no pressure to get anything done by any sort of deadline.

UPS just delivered a LGB MTS Universal Power VHS tape and a MTS DVD II video. Perhaps between them I will find a few answers.

The fact is that there is no need for me to make my time count. It's taken me 8 - 10 years to get around to fiddling with MTS/DCC so it is OK if it takes a me few more years to sort it out.

Regards,

Jerry


Posted By Marauderer on 05/02/2008 10:22 AM
Come on Jerry. I know I don't multi task as well as I did 10 yrs ago but, you can do better. Each time I thought of a question I would write it down and by the time I got to Tony's I had 40-50 questions that I needed answers to. and when i got answers I would have to tell the guy talking to me to hold that thought while I would write down another question and so on. I made my time count and so can you.
 

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So, maybe some of us need to come to Austin, AR and have a talk about DCC with you. I retired in April of 06 and find I am so stinkin busy I can't stand it. When I make my comments i am not trying to be harsh but trying to gently prod you. Hope you get it worked out and if I can help let me know. I am a fledgeling DCC guy that my background doesn't support. 30 yrs of nuclear engineering on the mechanical side of the house with another 15 years as a Chiropractor. Trons are a different breed of animal for me but I am slowly learning it. I would like to personally speed up the learning curve so I get it down before I run out of time. :)
 

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Posted By Jerry McColgan on 05/02/2008 12:35 PM
Hi Barry,
My memory is so bad that I often find myself walking down the hall or down the stairs only to realize that I have forgotten what I am going after (really). ...
div>





My brother and I have often commented on the slowly drifting memory ability and he says he has embarked on a memory improvement program. He has been on this program for quite some time now and really believes it is improving things.

He says his memory is so good that he can remember things that never happened! /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/pinch.gif
 

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I hear that. i have good days and bad days and I know that they are only going to get worse. So, I work at staying actyive and using my mind as much as possible.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Only yesterday my wife's personal cell phone was ringing. She was outside so I picked up the phone (which was in her purse) but the caller had hung up by the time I got to the phone.

As I handed the phone to her she asked me who had called. I told her I had no idea - I just picked the phone up.

She then could not find her purse (to put the phone back) and asked me where it was. I told her I did not know.

She said I must know because I had just got her phone from it. I told her I had forgotten.

She said that was impossible. I told her I did not "look" for her purse. I followed the sound of the phone ringing and I found her ringing phone which happened to be in her purse.

I then reminded her that her work cell phone was probably in her purse so she could just use the phone I had handed to her to call her other cell phone and follow the ringing to her purse.

She was not amused but she did find her purse.

True story.


My brain is like a LGB analog sound system. It works just fine when active but the battery (memory) is dead.


The good news is that I can now read old books - often without remembering having read them before and the same is true of old TV shows. It does not work with great old movies - I still remember them.

Perhaps I like analog track power so much because it is a go - no go type of system. It does not expect me to make a bunch of decisions and then to remember which decisions I made yesterday, last week, last month or last year.

The reality of my life is that I know I am not as sharp as I was last year and I do not expect to be as sharp next year as I am right now. Reality does not bother me - I just make allowances for it.

Jerry
 

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Jerry,

I use the NCE wireless system. I picked it because at the time it was one of the few wireless systems that could handle the current requirements of large scale. NCE recently made an engineering change on their radios which increase the effective range and responsiveness. One of the major capabilities of the NCE radio is that it is full duplex â€" two way transmissions, so the equipment talks to each other, vice just a one way link. It is very easy to use. Factory support is excellent.

You might also look at George Schreyer’s tech tips. http://www.girr.org/girr/index.html .

Hope this helps.
Mike
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Hi Mike,

I did not realize that George got into DCC. His tech tips have helped me many times over the years.

The more I learn about DCC the more I start thinking that LGB had the right idea for people like me. All I want is the chuff, bell, whistle and to be able to have the passenger car lights on.

Their no-brainer idea of plug in decoders seems the best idea for me except that the LGB 55020 and 55021 decoders have become quite hard to find. The Massoth eMOTION L is the only directly interchangeable decoder I am aware of but to buy two of them (one for the loco and one for the sound system) gets too expensive (for me) too quickly to want to think about converting some of my LGB 0-4-0's with 0-4-0 motorized sound tenders as I had hoped to do for the grandkids to play with.

It seems that what I need is information on which other decoders can be used with the LGB decoder ready sockets even if the decoder is not plug in compatible.

So far no one other than Massoth seems to provide any interchangeability information in reference to LGB decoders.

IF I had started without any decoders, transmitters, receivers or central stations and I really had a strong desire for DCC I would probably have a different attitude toward DCC.

Thanks,

Jerry



You might also look at George Schreyer’s tech tips. http://www.girr.org/girr/index.html .
Hope this helps.
Mike
 
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