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Discussion Starter #1
I am saving a few pennies for the ECLSTS...  What do I need to get into DCC...

I run an indoor layout about 12x24 (2 loops with sidings etc)... want to be able to run 4 trains at the same time...

I figure DCC will greatly help in wiring this all up...

I have one LGB 2-4-0 with a LGB decoder in it ( I hear this will work with DCC)

Most of my other stuff is USA and ARISTO...

Who makes the cheapest decoders? What about with sound?

What else do I need? Base station? etc?

I would like to be able to control the layout with a PC so I can automate it at Christmas etc...

So help me out... What do I need... and what is the approximate cost?

Thanks

Philip
 

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Before you start worrying about cost, please go to a dealer and try out the DCC controllers he sells. The way a controller works is one of the lost important traits of specific brands of DCC systems. What one individual loves, another may hate, so you can't go with user recommendations. You really have to see for yourself with hands-on experience.

The best thing you can do is to go to train show where you can see the offerings of several manufactures and get to try their controls youself. If they are not set-up so you can actually try the controller on running trains, ask them where you can get that experience.



Another place where you might be able to get the hands-on experience is at an open house or on a layout tour.

Note: you need not have to get the experience on large-scale layouts. Most DCC manufacturers build systems that may be scaled to work on many scales, including large scale.  Once you find a set of systems that you are comfortable using, then look at their hardware and system costs.

It really pays do this before you start spending money.

Mark
 

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Another way to get hands on experience is to find local layouts where you can try differents systems. The layout will probably be HO scale, but the scale doesn't make any difference. I regularly operate on layouts with Digitrax, EasyDCC, Lenz and NCE systems. Find a cab (throttle) that you like. All of the systems I listed have advantages and disadvantages, so what you like is important.

In the large scale decoder area, take a look (listen) to QSI. You get both a motor and a sound decoder in one package. I have one in an Aristo-Craft RS3 and am very satisfied. I plan to put one in my other RS3. I'm not sure what I am going to do about my USAT locomotives. I'm concerned that their current draw may exceed the capacity of the QSI.

Bert
 

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Philip, I think you are on the right track wanting to use DCC for your layout. As far as wiring it will be pretty simple, because DCC acts as the wiring. That is the main reason I went with it. No need to run wires to switches, just send a command down the rail.

To get started you will need a transformer to provide power. A 10amp, 24 volt, DC supply is what I have (but it will depend on the system you choose). Then you will need a controller and station. Optionally you can get a wireless system. Also, if you need more power than 10amps, you can add on boosters. I have the NCE Pro 10amp wireless. I think it goes for around $500 - if you shop around, otherwise list is about $700.

Yes, your LGB decoders will work with DCC, mine does. However, there are some nuances, like to trigger a function F3, you need to press F1 3 times. I had my LGB decoder modified so I can just press F3, this was done through Massoth for about $50.

You will need motor decoder and sound decoder for each loco, unless you go with a combination decoder, like QSI. I use NCE for motor control (about $60) and Phoenix ($160) for sound. I love the Phoenix sound but others like other brands just as well.

Then there are accessory decoders, for switches, lights, signals and whatever else you want to trigger, these go for about $20.

As far as controlling your layout from a PC, I've heard that Digitrax has a transponding decoder that you can use to monitor via a PC.

I would take Mark's and Bert's suggestion and check out a few different systems (I did this) and see what each has to offer. Nice thing about DCC is that it is a standard so you have lots of choices, and decoders from one manufacturer will work with systems of another.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
What about the Bachmann EZ DCC system? it seems to be the least expensive?
Can it be used with Large Scale trains?

I currently have an Aristo Ultima 10 amp power supply... How many trains can I run with this? Can this be used with a DCC setup?

(as you can see I am way new to dcc)

What other brands are out there that work with Large Scale Trains?

I want something I can expand... and go wireless in the future... or maybe computer control as I stated before...

THANKS

Philip
 

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The problem may be too many choices :)

- The Aristo ultima 10 amp is what I have to run my DCC, works great.
- The number of trains depends on how much each uses. I have engines that use 1.5 amps and some that use 3 amps. On a 10amp system you could probably run 3 locos, maybe only 2, maybe 4 - it depends on what the locos draw and if they are to haul rolling stock, how many amps they use under max load.
- I have an NCE system.

Here is a good primer on DCC, check it out: primer

Here is a good comparison of systems: dcc comparison

There is more in depth stuff on this same site.


I'm not familiar with the Bachmann EZ DCC, but it does appear intended for smaller scales.  You mentioned you have some USA trains, these are the most power hungry locos on the market, some using 5amps or more for one loco.
 

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Hi Phillip,

I would suggest you spend as much time reading the downloadable manuals from the various manufacturers first to get a feel for the various systems and how they interact.  
Here is a link to Massoth, who I feel make the best wireless handheld out there along with well engineered products and good support:

http://www.massoth.com/index.en.html

Good luck with it!

Keith
 

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Phil, on decoders, the best choice on the Aristo is the $127 QSI for sure. I have about 6 now, can't beat the price and the sound rivals Phoenix.

Hang tight on the USAT ones, help is on the way. The LGB decoders will work ok with most any DCC system, sometimes their special functions are a bit funky, but there are solutions for that too.

I like the NCE wireless system and wired system, the controllers have lots of dedicated buttons, and their wireless system is very flexible. They are also manufactured stateside and have a great forum.

Regards, Greg
 

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I will be at the ECLST where I can take the time to demonstrate and tell you the ins and out of DCC.  Before we started the Train-Li-USA business we had many years of experience in our own layouts.  As you know from this forum we sponsor this section and that we represent Zimo.  If you want you can also give me a call tomorrow and we can talk at length.
 

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I am convinced of putting my layout on DCC, going to start breaking ground soon, and I was wondering about ZIMO, I know they are not the cheapest. Just wondering if anyone is using it with LGB and any problems they have encountered.

Thanks, Johnny
 

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I think you should take a good look at the MRC Advanced2 Wireless with the MRC 8 amp booster. I've just started using it and I'm very happy with the range and user interface is one of the best. There's currently a bug with some 4 digit address's that MRC has a fix for, but otherwise it does every thing you could ask for. There was a review in Model Railways News last month which agreed that it was a great G scale solution.

Peter.
 

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I have personally 20 engines for my layout, some of them I bought and have not yet converted from the original LGB decoder to the Zimo decoder due to lack of time. (There will be soon some semi-used LGB decoders available for sale;)).  Why would I do something like this?

So I tried to run a consist of two engines 1 with Zimo and 1 with LGB.  There was no way no get that done cleanly.  The LGB decoder (manufactured by Massoth) does not operate e.g. from standstill with such a smooth operation as my Zimo decoders.  I spend programming roughly 20+ hours, when I had them synchronized for one speed then they were fighting at startup against each other.

And while the base station is not the cheapest in the industry you can be close ot other prices by using the Economy base station, which lacks the seperate driver for the rpogramming track, so you have to use the toggle switch to hook a programming track and the main up.  Why?  You can actually program on the main but there is no confirmation back unlike when you program on the programming track.  But you can also buy the USB programming adapter in which case you don't program at all with the cab but with the PC:D.  The other element tha tis missing on the Economy station is the LCD read out screen which is simplified via a LED readout, which means you can't read the precise voltage.

When it comes to decoder the new sound/decoder combo at under $200 is an steal if you ask me.

The reversing loop has been tested in Europe and awarded Top Choice award.  

There are too many distinct difference, and at the end of the day you get what you pay for.  When I personally made the decision to buy DCC, I said to myself if I plunk some money down, then I want ot make sure that if I mature with the layout I want to be able that the capabilties keep up.  Zimo has all the capabilties in there and the GUI of the cab is up leading edge and looks the part too.:cool:  As I always say if it looks like 60th technology on the outside thre is probably also 60th technology on the inside.
 

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Thanks Axel, I am leaning to ZIMO for the same reason, the ability to upgrade with the technology. If it the best to swap out decoders then I just will keep that in my mind and budget as I save to add on to my engine collection. My theory is that this lifestyle is one of patience and endures for years. We are all guilty of rushing in, both in time and money, for our love and excitement of seeing trains running. A little patiences and saving $$ for better equipment, which ever system suits you, will be worth it.
 

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Johnny,
I highly recommend Zimo decoders for DCC operation. Definitely smooth starts and best slow speed operation I have seen. Another key feature is they work great outdoors for less cleaning in tough climate. For units without shoes (Aristo/Bachmann) they make a big difference. You can utilize any DCC set with Zimo even older LGB MTS. Good luck. Alan
 

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I tripped over the keys. Sorry.

Dan

DCC R/C or whatever. The super socket, and the K-27.

It's the lack of easy to understand information that stresses the end user. Causing waste of dollars.
The need for the supposed General Electronics politically motivated quasigurus is a sham.
Make it simple is what the model railroad industry needs now.
Remove the ego of manufacture and have simple FAQs updated rapidly on known problems. Compel dealers to have a semblance of insight, and utilize the factory. That or cut out the middle man.

Dan
 

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Boy, that was a REALLY USEFUL contribution to this thread, Dan!/DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/blink.gif                                                                    Tom
 

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Yeah, my head hurts a bit after that post too.

Well, the large scale socket thrust has spun down to the realization that there is a lot more work to do before any standard like this can work. And the K has helped show some good points and some things not to do.

That said, there are one or two decoders that ACTUALLY plug into a K (and work!).

But, the thread originator asked what is needed to get into DCC.

All good advice here. 

My 2 cents:

I'll echo the good advice about find the system with the controller you like. Unless you are stuck on transponding, pick what seems easy, convenient and fun to use.

Don't worry about the decoder side, there's lots available, and more to come, and no reason to worry about the brand of the decoder "matching" the controller.

Also, it's often tempting to get a lower function system "to start" to save a couple of $$ or be "easier". I would advise against this because there are often "limits" in the "entry" systems that will limit your operation later. 

Most people get into DCC because they will have a number of locomotives, want a standard system, and will use many of the sophisticated features. Limiting yourself at the beginning is just kind of shooting yourself in the foot. Of course there are exceptions to what I have just said.

Finally on the Aristo locos, it's REALLY hard to beat the deal of $127 for motor and great sound from the QSI plug and play decoders. I have a number of them and am very pleased. I also just put one in an Accucraft K4. (See my web site for installs on various locos).

Regards, Greg
 

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What do you need to get into DCC in large scale???

A LOT of $$$..:)

I tried the MRC Prodigy Advance and I didn't like it because it may program CV's but I couldn't get the dang thing to READ CV's esp. Digitrax decoders.

I ended up with the Digitrax 8 amp Super Chief Radio set at $700.00 and I still needed a power source.
That Digitrax Radio 400 throttle thing I didn't care for at all..too small of a screen and those stupid small dainty buttons.../DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/blink.gif

I still was having problems reading CV's..sometimes it's nice to know where they're currently set at so I spent another $70.00 and bought DecoderPro & hardware..so that I could use my PC & interface with Loco-Net and do my programming that way...with a PC & a 37" lcd monitor/tv.

To me the NCE setup would be the way to go..the handheld looks easy to use..:)
 And you just gotta have wireless..who want to be tethered??
And that big NCE 10 amp wireless system will cost $700.00 and you still need a power supply.

So right back to needing a lot of $$$..:D
 

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Discussion Starter #20
This all scares me more than anything...

Wired is ok... as I will be running inside... wireless in the future...

I want to be able to run 3 or 4 locos at a time...

HELP

Philip
 
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