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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all, I need some advice from the pros....

I have been reading on the internet about DCC systems and everyone's recommendation. There are certainly enough opinions on what is the best system and I do realize its all based on what people use and their history with the product...totally understandable.

So little about what I am looking for in a system...looking to run 3-5 HO trains on my layout..DCC locos with sound. Also going to do about 15 turnouts and some accessories, lighting, signaling etc. Wireless is certainly something I would like as well. Not a huge system by any means, but this is all new to me.

My local club is using the Digitrax system and it seems to work well for them, but it might be a little less user friendly from what I am reading. I believe I narrowed down my decision to the MCR Prodigy Advance 2 (wireless) or the NCE Power House Pro. The other thing that I liked about each was the 3.5 output for the MRC and the 5 amps for the NCE. Originally I considered the Digitrax Zepher and the NCE Power Cab, but I am not comfortable with the lower 1.5 power output...not that I need anything more, but I prefer to err on the side of caution. Am I wrong in thinking that? Again, from what I am reading online, the functionality and easy of both systems seem to be an advantage. I am leaning towards the MRC at this point because I can get the wireless options and still be at a nice price point.

Am I missing anything or not understanding what I may be reading online? Am I limiting myself by choosing one system over the other? Any input in appreciated...
 

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If you are going to go cheap to save a few bucks, you're going to be disappointed in the long run. It sounds like you are heading into operations that is a bit more than most modelers do. When ya skimp on a few functions of the DCC machine to save $20 or so, you are going to spend the whole amount again at a later date.
Buy one good one now, or buy the cheap one now plus a good one later.
 

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I suggest you spend a little time on YouTube checking out the Roco z21 wireless system.

It can run from any iOS or Android device (phone or tablet), or you can use a wired controller if you like (but wifi is better).

Programming is a snap with this, and the entire system is easy to set up and get running.

It comes in an expensive (black) version (Z21) and a less-expensive white one (z21 with little "z"). The white version is probably all you'll ever need.

If you already have a smartphone or tablet, you don't need to buy a controller. Just use what's in your hands right now.

You can go to the App Store (iOS) or google play (Android) and download the software, which works fine "in demo mode". Search for "z21".

These aren't widely-known or used in the USA, but those who have them (including me) generally speak very highly of them.
 

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Any one of the three DCC systems you are
considering would be sufficient for your plans.
However, I agree that the MRC with wireless
hand held would be the most desirable. It is
an easy system to use and is full featured. One
other consideration. Since your club uses Digitrax
would it be an advantage for you to go with that
brand?

Some like to use DCC controlled turnouts. I am
not one of those. An operator already has to
be alert to see that the 2 or 3 trains he is running
have a clear track. Putting the turnouts also on
the controller is going to make the operator look
like a piano player punching buttons. It's much
easier to have turnout control panels. To throw
your points and power panel or trackside signals
use the Stapleton 751. It's available for Stall motor
or twin coil units.

Don
 

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I use a Digitrax Zephyr plus on a small layout, 5X10, double figure 8 and really like it, but looks like you need more. What I do use is JMRI on a laptop tied into Digitrax turnout controllers for turnout control, Peco twin coils.
 

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There is a bit of a learning curve with Digitrax,it's a very deep and well thought out system,once you get the hang of it,it's very intuitive and there are numerous add-ons for signal/turnout control and detection. I bought a NCE,a MRC and a Digitrax system and used all three. For my needs,the Digitrax was the best fit. I ended up with the radio controlled (wireless) Evolution duplex system and have been very pleased. If you can hold off a few months,I've been told that Digitrax will be offering newer user-friendly and ergonomic throttles with a improved GUI.
 

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You will not go wrong with the MRC Prodigy Advance2 Wireless. That's what I use, and it's perfect for my needs.

Not that you will go wrong with any of the others, either. The differences between them are a matter of personal preference rather than functionality or performance.

To address some of the other thoughts:
**Renember that DCC doesn't have a scale. All these units work fine in HO or N, and many other scales (although they many not put out enough power for larger scales).

**More power isn't necessarily better, but it's not wrong, either. At worst, it's an unnecessary expense. Keep in mind that you can always add a booster or several if you need more power.

**Getting what your local club uses may well allow you to take advantage of the members knowledge and support, which you wouldn't have with the other brands.

**If use of a smartphone or tablet as a throttle is attractive to you (it isn't to me -- touchscreen control is dicey at best, and almost impossible to operate without looking at it), both Digitrax and MRC sell add-on adapters that will allow the use of Gogle and Android devices as throttles. In my opinion, this is a far better option than going with a system that doesn't have a lot of support in the US.
 

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I use a Digitrax Zephyr DCS51. I have a couple UT4 wired throttles. I also have the LNWI adaptor which allows me to use my smartphone as wireless throttles. I have no complaints with my setup.

Digitrax has recently updated their Zephyr to the DCS52.
 

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Any of the systems would be good. One system that hasn't been mentioned, but I would not rule out, is the ESu Cab Control.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Guys, thanks for all the advice. There a few things I am going to look at from the comments. I am going to rethink the turnout control...looking around online, there seems to be some nice options out there.
 
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