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Discussion Starter #1
Hi All,

Just getting started. Plan to start buying Kato HO Unitrack for my build and trying to decided on what kind of control system. Leaning towards a focus on MTH HO and DCS. I don't plan to do DCC but I would like to be able to run older DC (Analog?) if possible also.

Looked at the Digitrax ZEPHYR DCS52 and the DCS Wifi TIU combo. I can see the advantages of having a tablet app but I also wouldn't mind some physical controls either. I am guessing you could use a DCS Commander in conjunction with the Wifi combo?

Any serious reliability\connectivity issues with the wifi setup?
Any other better choices to go with?

Thanks for input
 

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With the Digitrax Zephyr DCS52, you can start with a stationary throttle, then add a wireless throttle, and even a tablet/phone app very easily, the system can grow as you do.
 

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Something to consider, and it's a potentially serious consideration, is that DCC will allow you to purchase and use interchangeably about 90% of the HO market, and that applies for N Scale as well. DCS is but a tiny fraction of what's available in all three major scales. While there is some crossover compatibility, it's not particularly generous in the DCS-DCC direction.
 

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It appears that the 4 most popular DCC systems
are NCE, Digitrax, MRC and Bachmann. Any one
of them would have the power to run 3, 4 or more
trains at the same time, each individually controlled.
All but the Bachmann are full feature systems that
permit fine turning of loco decoders if necessary.
All are totally compatible with all DCC decoders
and locos. You can add various hand held controllers
as well as wireless and even controls by your cell phone
to any one of them.

The important factor to consider is that there are so
many of the above systems in use that you can get
helpful advice on any problem or question that you
may have.

Don
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the input guys. I know DCC is the more supported and well known system but I don't plan to go to large or have to many engines so going to stick to DCS. The problem with the Zephyr is I really don't like their app. The MTH one looks much nicer with more features. So I will like start with the mth wifi unit and tiu and maybe add AIU later. Don't think I will get the remote unit, hopefully they replace it with something newer soon.
 

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I chose the Roco z21 system, but it's an outlier in the USA.

Too bad, because it makes everything easy.
You can go to youtube to check out how it works.

Works with any smartphone, tablet, even some media players that can run android and connect via wifi.

Roco is to my knowledge the ONLY system that you can "demo" before buying.
On your android device, go to google play and enter "z21".
If you're using iOS, go to the app store and enter "z21".
Download the app and try it out.

The "black box" Z21 is a bit expensive.
I bought the "white box" z21start, but I had to buy from Europe. No problems, just took about 12 days to get here.
 

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I have found the NCE system to be very easy to learn and have had great customer service from them. I got back into HO about a year ago and researched DCC systems and most reviewers preferred NCE. The NCE system also expands readily on to existing starter systems with little of the original pieces left behind.

It comes down to personal preference but the two the clubs seem to use, almost without exception, are NCE and Digitraxx.
 

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The bottom line is that you will find people (even here) who will endorse every system. Since it's all a matter of opinion, I'll spare you a ringing endorsement of the MRC Prodigy Wireless system that I use.

The bottom line is that as long as you stick with the leaders (Digitrax, MRC, NCE, Roco), you're going to be fine. They all have the same capabilities, and far exceed what all but the most ambitious home user needs. There are some minor differences with how commands are performed and so on, but the big differences are in the so called "human engineering" and user interface.factors. so here is the best advice I can give you.

1) If you plan to join a club, then use what they do. Not only will it be compatible, but you'll have a handy source of help and advice. Even if you don't plan to join, the help and advice is still a big factor.
2) try to get to a good sized show where you can try these systems. Hold the throttle, run a train, and see how intuitive it is for you.
3) make sure you purchase it from a place with a good return policy, just in case.
 

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That's true about DCC, but how many functions does a locomotive need?

That doesn't count accessory functions.
 

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Wow, Roco gets a loco running in just three moves. But wait a minute, that's the same with Digitrax, NCE, Zero One etc. Hit "loco", punch in the cab number then hit "loco" again. I guess my other question on Roco is: when you select your loco from the pictures, how do those pictures of your locomotives get in there. Oh, yeah, ya have to pre load them. They don't explain how to do that. Maybe ya have to send your unit to the Roco authorized dealer along with your loco to get that done. Great for the guy who might just have up to a dozen locomotives but the guy with about 200 or so, happy hunting. In the mean time, the Digitrax guy has already punched in the cab number of the loco that's in front of him and he's off and running while you're still swiping away tryin to find yours. Forget about having friends over to run their locos on your layout. As for the rest of the demo in the YouTube video, everything is push button selection.
If ya have trouble operating a soda vending machine, maybe DCC isn't for you. For everyone else, most DCC systems are pretty much the same in user interface. The more popular are easier to get support from fellow users. I don't know a single Roco user, so I would be stuck waiting for a response from the Roco support hot line if I couldn't get my horn to work.
Then there is the cheapest system available. Yeah, you can save $33 if ya go with the Marduke's DCC special system. He's the guy who runs his on-line store from Mongolia and has figured out how to hack DCC and created his own wave form and thinks he can corner the market and win everybody over to his unique system that only he can service.
 

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Digitrax doesn't store the locomotive addresses that are programmed? You have to enter the locomotive address every time you want to run that particular locomotive?
 

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Digitrax doesn't store the locomotive addresses that are programmed? You have to enter the locomotive address every time you want to run that particular locomotive?
Yeah, quite an undertaking, right?
Like I said, if ya have trouble operating a soda vending machine, maybe DCC isn't for you.
 

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Yes it could interfere with running multiple trains on the same main without a halting block control.

Unless you can enter those cab numbers fast enough when switching locomotive control bad things could happen.

Of course, using single digits for each cab instead of the locomotive number would speed things up considerably if you can keep them all straight.
 

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Not with NCE. Not sure about other brands.

Locomotive cab numbers are stored in memory and you can rotate through the locomotive roster in a second or two to get to another locomotive to control.

Running multiple locomotives (trains) on a single main could present problems on a medium size layout where trains are only 30 seconds or so apart head to tail, when it comes to slow stopping and starting, shunting maneuvers, track switching operations, or other operations where the two train speeds are not matched and one must move slower than the other.

Fumbling with entering a select command, and a three or four digit locomotive cab number, and maybe 'Enter' to gain control of a second locomotive wastes seconds while the other train is approaching. Then, what happens if you mis-key the entry? That may not seem like a long time, but you'd just have to experience what I'm talking about to appreciate it.
 
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