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DCC -- as a control system -- is not so much "antiquated" as are many of the control systems still being marketed, particularly in the USA.

DCC is "a standard". Until it's replaceable with "a NEW standard", all the other "alternate" systems will remain on the outside, looking in, coming into being, and then fading away. Look at MTH's "DCS". How did that do?

Things like "dead rail", direct wifi control (not via dcc), bluetooth, etc. are all doomed to failure, because (again) there is no "standard", no "universality" or "commonality" between them.

If you look at what the Europeans have done with dcc, it's far more up-to-date.
More flexible.
More "customizable".

For an example of this, let's consider what Severn wrote:
"there's no "bell command" -- there's just command/function-code F8"

Not if one uses something like the Roco z21 or Digikeijs DR5000 systems (I reckon there might be one or two others out there that are similar).

The bell becomes whatever I wish to assign it to be -- any "number", or actually no particular "number" at all (at least that I can see on my control surface), but rather an "icon" -- and I can even choose that.

Look at the pic.
Without knowing the "f key number", can you tell which are the headlights?
The number boards?
The long horn?
The short horn?
The bell?
The mute button?
View attachment 575084
These controls that you see above are not "fixed".
I created them myself -- choosing my own icons, f number, etc.
I can even reposition them to appear in any order I wish.

And I can do this independently for every locomotive in the fleet.

The American manufacturers need to pull their control interface designs from the 1990's into the present, as the Europeans have done. User-customizable interfaces, wifi, etc.

It's not dcc that is the problem.
It's the stultified human interfaces that are hobbling it and holding it back.
Thank you for posting a vivid graphical example of something where the addition of technology is detrimental to the user experience. That screen has far too much information on it to be useful. What makes it worse is that it's packed into a small screen 25% smaller than my handheld (if it's a phone), and heavier as well, OR it's on a tablet that is not only much more cumbersome, but much heavier and fatiguing to hold for a long operating session. I can also map the function keys of my DCC system to do something different.... but why bother? They work just fine as is. The human interface of the "antiquated" technology doesn't hold me back; "unnecessary information overload" does. If I want to play with tech widgets, I'll use my computer. When running trains, KISS (Keep it Simple, Stupid) is the rule.
 
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It's an example of a technological advance that does not improve over the basic, older generation technology, so it's not only relevant but dead on the mark. I'm sorry if that's too complicated for you.
I think I would disagree and it chives Duan to personal preference. I prefer some physical knobs, sick as volume in the car, or speed for trains. But I greatly appreciate the touch screen for presets, changing inputs etc. Reason being that I can have them clearly labeled and have more of them. Can't do that with the old tech. So yes, it is an improvement.

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Thank you for posting a vivid graphical example of something where the addition of technology is detrimental to the user experience. That screen has far too much information on it to be useful. What makes it worse is that it's packed into a small screen 25% smaller than my handheld (if it's a phone), and heavier as well, OR it's on a tablet that is not only much more cumbersome, but much heavier and fatiguing to hold for a long operating session. I can also map the function keys of my DCC system to do something different.... but why bother? They work just fine as is. The human interface of the "antiquated" technology doesn't hold me back; "unnecessary information overload" does. If I want to play with tech widgets, I'll use my computer. When running trains, KISS (Keep it Simple, Stupid) is the rule.
Again personal preference maybe but that screen is very intuitive to me and looks much easier to switch between trains. Heck your even have an image that matches what your running. So if you want to run more than one by yourself I think that would be much simpler.

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Using a touch screen bouncing around in your car and using it to operate your train layout are the same….?

Not in my world, but I guess everyone’s different….I embrace change….. 😆
 

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If anything the future in dead rail is for maybe HO and anything larger, but current battery technology is not going to get you far with N scale.
I'm old enough to remember Hot Wheels "Sizzlers", which had a 1970's NiCad which was as a 1/3 height AA. They'ed run for 5 to 10 minutes and then you recharged them from Zinc-Carbon D's. Couldn't something like that work with modern Lithium AA's hidden in N scale box cars?
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
Maybe another way to think about is from an overall feature point of view... such as:

  • backwards compatible
  • track and wireless
  • direct or battery or "Mr fusion"
  • two way messaging
  • vendor mix n match
  • similarly priced to existing
  • hobbyists can still do things with it too
  • consist support mix n match

...

I'm assuming it's, whatever is it is, is a standard.
 

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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
What I get is most people are happy with it. And while I can't say that, I'm not dissatisfied either and do appreciate it's many strengths. I just see it increasingly as impeding further innovation.
 

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What I get is most people are happy with it. And while I can't say that, I'm not dissatisfied either and do appreciate it's many strengths. I just see it increasingly as impeding further innovation.
I would agree with that. I'm not really "happy" with it, but not entirely dissatisfied. I'm frustrated with the offerings and the outrageous prices they are asking for them. For $200 I would expect a more substantial product. The dcs51 feels VERY cheaply made. I get that it's the low cost leader, but $200 is still a lot of coin. I wish companies would put something for the more average home user rather than club layouts or the extreme users. I'm betting there are a lot of folks out there like me that want basic DCC function with 2 or 3 throttle options at a reasonable cost. Enjoying trains with your kids really seems like it would be something in demand. But the cost to get a system with multiple physical throttles just gets absurd. I don't need 10000 functions or 1 eleventy billion users. Just a handful of functions and 2 or 3 users so my kids and I can run trains together. I'm amazed that this doesn't seem to cross their minds.

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Discussion Starter · #30 ·
I'm rather found of an "auto" mode which appears a little in a few products ...
 

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I'm old enough to remember Hot Wheels "Sizzlers", which had a 1970's NiCad which was as a 1/3 height AA. They'ed run for 5 to 10 minutes and then you recharged them from Zinc-Carbon D's. Couldn't something like that work with modern Lithium AA's hidden in N scale box cars?
Well those would be 300mAh batteries @ 1.2V so they have 0.36 watt hours.

To be safe lets say an N scale loco with sound pulls somewhere around .5A @ 12V or about 6 watts.

You could run a single loco for about 3 and a half minutes on those batteries.

I'm not really keen on tethering a box car to my loco, so lets make it fit in the shell. So lets jam 2 lithium AAA size cells (AA are actually already wider than a narrow hood diesel) into a loco. 900mAh @ 3.6V x 2 = 6.48 watt hours. So a little over an hour. I mean I guess its possible, but that doesn't leave a lot of room for anything else in there and probably actually removes weight compared to the standard frame.

If we could get 2 AA size lithium cells in its a little over 3 hours run time. (3000mAh each).
 

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Wireless DCC exists as an add on. As with all wireless things, that added benefit comes with added cost…. And I do not mean in cash. I mean in loss of reliability of signal. For example; do an internet speed test while on wifi. Then run the test while using an ethernet cable. Mine was 35Mbps & 115Mbps. So the cost incurred for the portability benefit was 80Mpbs.
Not everything loses signal at the same rate, but everything wireless does lose signal & a greater susceptibility to interference. As more things go wireless, the more congested the air gets. Unchecked, some day your EMDs will blast their horns every time the microwave is used. There’s only so much bandwidth. Wireless is beneficial at times. It isn’t the solution for everything. I’ll use a half dozen wireless LEDs due to hurdles, everything else is hardwired or mechanical. Wifi smoke detectors are overwhelmingly beneficial, though need to become rechargeable. Wireless EV charging along roadways would be better than stationary chargers for another example. EVs would get a trickle charge on the fly, eliminating the need for large capacity batteries, & reducing EV cost. That trade off with tip the scales in our favor. But typically wireless is a great loss just for convenience sake… Which is a fancy way of saying “waste.”

DCC has a basic standardization, as stated. There are reasons that standardization is limited. I’m no expert but even I can see why. Leaving more elbow room for manufacturers encourages innovation, at a geometric rate. Not having a “bell command” specifically but rather a series of numbers is more logical in tech coding, more versatile, and adaptive to future change (i.e. what if new locomotives don’t have bells at all in 2060?)
Speed steps are also, I think unofficially, standardly adopted.
Keeping wiring harnesses color coded a standard is obviously necessary. Keeping F12 the ditch lights or rotary beacon or whatever is not. But the headlight, rear light (which are reversible), the bell & horn all the same function is helpful for everybody, including manufacturers. If you want to go in and map any of those, I think that procedure follows a standard as well. Also, all decoders are shipped having the same pre-set factory address. That’s helpful.

I think DCC (wired or wireless) is about tech peak for train control. Computers have been integrated to some degree. But what’s the next evolution, A.I. control? Might as well take the hobbyist out of the hobby. Go let your brain melt in front of netflix while R2-D2 builds your layout & runs your trains. Nope. Ya can’t improve sliced bread. All tech has a peak in evolution. I don’t think smartphone control will ever become the dominant control method. Heck we’re one Carrington Event away from pushing trains with our hands as it is.
 

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I think DCC (wired or wireless) is about tech peak for train control. Computers have been integrated to some degree. But what’s the next evolution, A.I. control?
it's shouldn't be a question about what tech is used ... but what it can do that can't be done today

DCC economically allowed independent control of multiple locos on the same track
 

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it's shouldn't be a question about what tech is used ... but what it can do that can't be done today

DCC economically allowed independent control of multiple locos on the same track
Economically you say? DCC in most cases is absurdly overpriced and anything but economical!

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Economically you say? DCC in most cases is absurdly overpriced and anything but economical!

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I am curious how much you think it should cost?
Just coming back into the hobby, I found it rather reasonable.
One can get a used, basic system for under $150, and decoders are only $20 each.
 

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Economically you say? DCC in most cases is absurdly overpriced and anything but economical!
if it were absurdly priced, there would be no market for it.

from a business perspective, manufacturers should charge what the market is willing to pay.
 

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Discussion Starter · #37 ·
My overall feeling I keep coming back to is dcc is tied to track delivery. Which may well always be the best option for some. I'm a little familiar with one brand of "dcc wireless". It's not dcc over the rf but instead spoofs the dcc signal from the battery to the standard sound decoder, injecting somehow commands from the rf. Or... that's what I got out of an explanation given to me by the designer.

Anyway I just have this idea that if what we think of as dcc which are the commands was decoupled from the delivery system...

Then there might be multiple standard based choices for you to choose from on in the marketplace. So maybe track signalling for you but Bluetooth for your friend. And maybe even these could be mixed on the same layout... Or I think that's be a good goal in such a utopian design.
 

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My overall feeling I keep coming back to is dcc is tied to track delivery.
i think you're understanding that DCC only describes the electrical interface over the track between the command station which also provides power and the decoders, some in locos. venders can decide what the "codes" do (e.g. lights, bell, ...) and how to label buttons on their controllers

many people have issues with the user interface (e.g. what do the buttons do) which is not defined by DCC. NCE defined a "cabbus" between it's command station and controllers (human interace), locoNet is used by DigiTrax. JMRI supports several smartphone WiFi interfaces between applications on a PC or Raspberry Pi that know how to communicate to NCE, DIgiTrax, ... systems using a vender specific interface (often serial)

DCC++ is a DIY Arduino based command station that connects to the track to control DCC locomotives
 

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I am curious how much you think it should cost?
Just coming back into the hobby, I found it rather reasonable.
One can get a used, basic system for under $150, and decoders are only $20 each.
The key word there is "used" new systems range from $200 (digitrax) to $400 or more. Many places are charging nearly $150 extra for a sound decoder! I'm sorry, no way the additional hardware for sound justifies the additional $100+ over a basic decoder.

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if it were absurdly priced, there would be no market for it.

from a business perspective, manufacturers should charge what the market is willing to pay.
Oh I get that. The problem though is that it's short sighted. The bulk of the hobby right now is retired, older gentlemen (sorry fellas, it's life) with disposable income. That however, tends to price the younger crowd out of the hobby. This has been discussed here many times. Market something useful at a price a family man could justify spending on his kids and himself and my bet is you would sell a ton of them. Most just aren't willing/ able to spend $1000+ on a basic multi train setup.

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