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Discussion Starter #1
Looking for a basic DCC setup for an N project. The Zephyr seemed like the obvious choice but even though my layout will be small, where its going to be an arround-the-room I though a handheld unit would be nice, which lead me to NCE's 25 starter set. Up here in Canada its a lot less money as well. Any thoughts on one vs. the other? My needs will be modest, just a couple of locos. Is one company better in the long run if I have to get into frog juicers and such?
 

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NCE, Digitrax and MRC are considered the top of the line in DCC controllers.
Your personal preferences as to the physical appearance and layout of the
screen, buttons and knobs usually dictates which to select. Any one of
them would provide all the power you need to run 3, 4 or more locos
at the same time. Sound locos, however, do require much more power.
so, if sound is in your future, boosters are available to meet your needs.

Frog juicers have nothing to do with which DCC system to use...they are
usually not necessary on a layout unless you are running very short locos
or older models that do not have all wheel power pickup. They are used
for turnouts with metal frogs. Today, most of us use turnouts with plastic
frogs which do not require juicers.

Don
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Hi DonR, thanks so much! I took for granted that the tiny audio opamps in an N loco would have that much impact. How much more are we talking? Is there a per-engine rule of thumb for power?

Speaking of turnout frogs, I'm looking at Peco's largest code 55 turnouts which as far as I can tell are only offered in ElectroFrog (not their newer UniFrog). Is that a potential short, even if the leads to the frog are disconnected?
 

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My suggestion is different:

Digikeijs DR5000 hardware. Has all needed dcc connections AND a built-in wifi router. Less than $200.

Use the FREE Roco z21 app to control it from any handheld iPad, iPhone, or Android phone or Android tablet.

Can also work with handheld pushbutton devices, but I prefer a graphical "touchscreen" interface (that's a very personal thing).

You can try the z21 app in demo mode for free, right now.
Go to either the App Store or google play and search for "roco z21".
The app you want has a red engine on a blue background.
Download it and try it out...
 

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I would recommend the Power Cab. I have one (two, actually. One of them lives at the workbench.) Easy to learn, program, and use. NCE is a well established company with excellent support. There is an Io group for NCE: Log In
You won't regret it.
 

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My suggestion is different:

Digikeijs DR5000 hardware. Has all needed dcc connections AND a built-in wifi router. Less than $200.

Use the FREE Roco z21 app to control it from any handheld iPad, iPhone, or Android phone or Android tablet.
You assume he has a smart phone. And if the phone gets dropped and the screen shatters, or the phone gets lost, how do you run your railroad?
 

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How much more are we talking? Is there a per-engine rule of thumb for power?
Not really. Different motors, decoders, and sound decoders draw different amounts of current. You would have to total up the average current draw for each device and compare it to what the DCC controller is capable of providing.

Working in N scale I doubt very much if you would need to worry about current draw unless you are operating a large number of locomotives at once.

I don't worry about it too much. I can operate a combination of up to six sound and non-sound DCC locomotives on my layout, though that is not the norm. It's too much to keep track of. Two or three sound locomotives and a non-sound, or a couple of non-sound and sound locomotives do nothing to tax my system. There are also several LED'S running on track power.

I normally run only three or four at a time. One on the mountain spur, one on one main line, and up to two on the other main.
 

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Electrofrog turnouts require special track work. Because the frog rails
change phase (polarity) it is necessary to use insulated joiners in
both frog rails. I haven't used Electrofrog, but you must note that
the frog connects the left and right rails, so it would appear that
even with frog 'dewired' you would still require insulated joiners
in both frog rails. Experienced users should correct me if I'm wrong.
I wonder, tho, if you dewire the frog, would the length of the
no powered section affect your loco power pickup.

Don
 

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You assume he has a smart phone. And if the phone gets dropped and the screen shatters, or the phone gets lost, how do you run your railroad?
The system recommended by JAlbert certainly merits a look. Personally, I wouldn't want a touchscreen, for two reasons: 1)no tactile feedback, so it's nearly impossible to use without looking at it, and 2) it's hard to get fine control on a small touch screen.

The device used doesn't have to be the same one you use for the rest of your communications; it will work with ANY wifi enabled device. Of course, so do Digitrax and MRC if you get the appropriate product.

And for my vote: MRC.
 

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I've always had a preference for Digitrax systems. I fell they are better in terms of being a system. Everyone has there own idea of what works, so you really can't go wrong, but it would be nice to play with them to see which better suits your idea of a good human interface.
 

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I would agree with Lemonhawk. I have a NCE, and an ESu Cab Control, but the one I use, is the Digitrax system.
 
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