Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Darren Jeffries

DCC question

Recommended Posts

Darren Jeffries

Two questions... What is considered to be the best DCC system? I was thinking of getting a digitrax system? any pros and cons?

 

Also Can you install the DT decoders to Kato, microace and tomix?

Share this post


Link to post
CaptOblivious

I never set out to be an exclusively Digitrax house, but...

 

The starter set (Zephyr) is complete, expandable and cheap, a combination I couldn't pass up. Their new DZ125 is now the smallest and one of the cheapest decoders on the market, and the DZ143, which I used in my KIHA110, is no slouch in those departments either. Moreover, all recent Kato electric locomotives will take the DN163K0a drop-in replacement circuit board (although you will have to remove and shorten the leads on the LEDs, so it's not completely drop-in). I just put one on an EF65-1000, and even with the surgery required, it took only 20 minutes, and was dead easy.

 

That said, is Digitrax the best? It depends on what you value in a system. I value easy decoder installation, but that's hard to get with Japanese outline products generally. Digitrax and recent Kato products get along really really well. There's no magic in using Digitrax with older Kato products or with any Tomix or Micro Ace products.

 

Likewise, while I really love my Zephyr, there's nothing particularly special about Digitrax's command station/booster/throttle products. Again, the Zephyr is inexpensive and easy to expand, which are nice, but it doesn't "work" any better than other's products. In fact, while it has every necessary feature to do anything you want, it has very few bells and whistles (pun intended), making some tasks require an inordinate number of button presses to achieve. One thing that is very nice is that Digitrax products are very easy to interface to a computer for automation, which was an important factor for me.

Share this post


Link to post
Darren Jeffries

Thanks for the info... one other question...

 

The zephyr is rated at 2.5amps. How many locos will that power at the same time? Also if you wanted to upgrade for more locos (capability as well as power) could you?

Share this post


Link to post
CaptOblivious

There are actually two questions here. The Zephyr combines a booster, a command station, and a throttle.

 

I don't actually know how many locos you can run off of 2.5 amps. I suspect not many? You can either partition your layout into two, and buy a second Zephyr to act as a booster for the second section, or you can turn off the built in booster and buy one of the products on this page: http://www.digitrax.com/menu_boosters.php. All of Digitrax's products work together b plugging them together via LocoNet cables.

 

The command station part of the Zephyr has only enough memory to drive 10 addresses—10 locos. Regardless of the number or size of boosters. You only ever need, and can only ever have, one command station, regardless of how big your layout is. This means that no matter how many Zephyrs you use as boosters, you'll still be limited to 10 addresses. You'll also notice that many of the Digitrax boosters have built-in command stations, all of them much better than the one in the Zephyr. So the easy upgrade path is to buy a DB150 or DCS100 or DCS200, all of which are combination boosters/command stations. If 10 addresses is enough, and you just want more amperage, you want the DB200+.

 

Note that even if you buy a new command station and booster, the Zephyr still works as a very nice throttle. Also, the DB150 has very limited programming capabilities: much less than the Zephyr has, so you might think (as I would) that this is something of a downgrade, even as you double the number of addresses and amperage available!

Share this post


Link to post
Guest bill937ca

 

Also Can you install the DT decoders to Kato, microace and tomix?

 

There is no mention of DCC in the Tomix 2007/2008 catalog.  At this point DCC is  not that common in Japan. Since Tomix focuses on the Japanese market primarily and Tomix already has the TCS system which allows a modeller to do quite a bit with its plug and play system without elaborate wiring I suspect Tomix could be slow in adopting DCC.  I'm not sure how adaptable DCC would be to Japanese temporary layouts which many times are 100% disassembled rather than constructed in modules.

 

The choices over here are DC or DCC. With Japanese trains the choices are DC, DC plug and play or DCC.

 

Members of the Japan Model Railroaders group in the Washington area have noted before how surprised other modelers are at what they can accomplish with power routing switches, Kato switch boxes and Kato power packs when set up from scratch without wiring.

 

I suspect the DCC offered in Japan is primarily aimed at Kato's operations in the US or at a small clique of Japanese  modelers running US prototype layouts. There is at least one dealer in Tokyo I think dealing solely with US trains.

Share this post


Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×