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You can't have more than one throttle
I have a question regarding what @vette-kid has mentioned... When you say you can't have more than one throttle, does that mean you have to run ALL the trains from a single throttle? So in other words, vette-kid and his son wouldn't be able to have separate throttles so they could each run a train? Just trying to clarify since that sounds like it could be a problem here...

Regarding the DPDT switches... Make SURE you get a better quality switch that either has a center-off position, or is at least a non-shorting type. A lot of cheap switches can bridge both connections together as you throw the switch, and that too could brick your DCC controller.
 

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I have a question regarding what @vette-kid has mentioned... When you say you can't have more than one throttle, does that mean you have to run ALL the trains from a single throttle? So in other words, vette-kid and his son wouldn't be able to have separate throttles so they could each run a train? Just trying to clarify since that sounds like it could be a problem here...

Regarding the DPDT switches... Make SURE you get a better quality switch that either has a center-off position, or is at least a non-shorting type. A lot of cheap switches can bridge both connections together as you throw the switch, and that too could brick your DCC controller.
I always have problems conveying this concept clearly. Full featured DCC systems allow multiple throttles (my MRC Prodigy Wireless up to 28). In normal practice, EACH operator has a single throttle. Otherwise, you have to hand them back and forth.

The throttles themselves can only issue commands to ONE loco at a time (unless programming on the main or consisting): whichever loco address is currently selected. One throttle can be used to sequentially issue commands to multiple locos, as fast as the operator can switch addresses (MRC has a 10 address recall stack, after which you have to press "LOCO", the 2 or 4 digit address, then "ENTER"), so it is possible to drive several trains from the same throttle, although things can get a bit dicey if more than one at a time requires fine control, like while switching. MRC also has a STOP button -- one press instantly stops the currently-selected loco; the Master Throttle can stop every train with a double press.

The EZ Command does not allow multiple throttles, nor does the Prodigy Explorer. Full featured MRC, Digitrax , and NCE systems do allow multiple throttles. So if the OP wants to run trains with his son, with each one holding his own throttle, then the intro systems won't support it. As I said above, the MRC handset can be used as a separate throttle on other MRC systems, the Bachmann unit doesn't have that capability, ever. You would have to replace it AND purchase a second throttle.

Now Bachmann also offers a higher end system, often sold as the EZ Command Dynamis. The marketing literature says you can add additional throttles; what they don't tell you (until you find out the hard way, like I did) is that before you can do that, you need to purchase a $400 upgrade called the ProBox. That's a non-starter in my book.
 

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Discussion Starter #24
That's why I'm now looking at the NCE DCC twin. With this setup we could, out if the box, run two trains with two throttles AND have the ability to add additional handheld throttles. I don't see us really running not than two at once, but perhaps another handheld controller would make functions easier down the road, but this would function as a starter system just fine. Correct me if I'm wrong on that system.

I also plan to run an isolated DC track around the DCC track, essentially allowing us to run three trains. Although I have yet to find a DCC loco to run and have four DC locos. One may be a candidate for an upgrade.

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I also plan to run an isolated DC track around the DCC track, essentially allowing us to run three trains. Although I have yet to find a DCC loco to run and have four DC locos. One may be a candidate for an upgrade.
IMO running DCC and DC on separate, isolated tracks is going to unnecessarily complicate things. You're going to have two completely different systems on one layout. I would recommend going all DCC and converting your existing DC locos. There are many videos and how-tos out there. I've linked one that covers several different brands and chassis.

 

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Discussion Starter #26
IMO running DCC and DC on separate, isolated tracks is going to unnecessarily complicate things. You're going to have two completely different systems on one layout. I would recommend going all DCC and converting your existing DC locos. There are many videos and how-tos out there. I've linked one that covers several different brands and chassis.

Probably something I'll work towards. I think our first track with be fairly simple layout. Probably just oval or figure eight inside and basic oval outside.

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I like the idea of a separate track for DC, rather than a DPDT switch. The switch method makes it too easy to have a DC loco on a DCC track and poof no the motor overheats and lets out all the smoke! In either case, you still need to be observant, but at least your protected against an inadvertent switch throw.
 

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I agree with that! Just hook up a powerpack! Like I suggested a few days ago:

"Lay down a few feet of test track with a used HO loco and you will be running trains tomorrow.
Major decisions can be deferred until you get some sense of what you all might prefer! IMO "

Powerpacks, trainsets, used locos, roadbed, track all available on ebay if u don't have a shop open...:D(y)
 

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Whoa, CTvalley...you are usually so informed and correct, I was really
surprised when you said that the EZ DCC system can only have one throttle.
Tain't correct . The EZ, like all DCC systems has a connection for a plug
in wired handheld throttle...OR that same jack can be used to attach
a series of fascia panels into which hand helds can be plugged. I had
a wired throttle that I used most of the time on my EZ system.

As I read the various well meaning posts intended to help Vette Kid
the situation seems to get muddled. He wants a simple DCC system
that his kid can easily operate. He wants ability to run 2 trains at the
same time. He wants to be able to control loco sounds. The EZ system
meets all of those requirements...and is probably the easiest system to
set up and operate of those on the market.

Vette kid also asked; can he control turnouts? Any DCC
system 'can' control turnouts with special 'stationary' decoders.
However, to keep the layout simple and less costly, I would
recommend using an inexpensive DC wall wart as power
source for turnout control. It should have output of around 12
or so volts. With the exception noted above, no
DCC system provides power for turnouts.

Don
 

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Although I have yet to find a DCC loco to run and have four DC locos. One may be a candidate for an upgrade.
Sorry if I missed it, but what did you have in mind for locos? For instance, are you looking for steam or diesel? Any certain time period? Is sound required, or are you just looking for something with a DCC decoder to get you started? There's a lot of folks here with a lot of experience, I'm sure someone could point you to some possibilities if they know what you're looking for.

Converting a DC loco over to DCC isn't TOO terribly difficult, provided that you are familiar with how electricity works, are good at keeping track of where a number of wires are supposed to go (and where they came from), and you're ok with figuring out how to pack things into tight spaces. For a very minimal DCC installation, you have two wires coming from the track and two wires going to the motor (and depending on the age of your DC locos, you may have to run new wires to all of these locations individually). The thing most people seem to have trouble with is figuring out where to mount the decoder board inside the loco once the wiring is complete, and adding sound means trying to mount even more new hardware.
 

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Discussion Starter #31
I agree with that! Just hook up a powerpack! Like I suggested a few days ago:

"Lay down a few feet of test track with a used HO loco and you will be running trains tomorrow.
Major decisions can be deferred until you get some sense of what you all might prefer! IMO "

Powerpacks, trainsets, used locos, roadbed, track all available on ebay if u don't have a shop open...:D(y)
Actually doing that. I bought a bunch of stuff in an eBay lot that should have us going as soon as it gets here. And I'm talking with a member about possibly getting some additional track and supplies.

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Discussion Starter #33
Sorry if I missed it, but what did you have in mind for locos? For instance, are you looking for steam or diesel? Any certain time period? Is sound required, or are you just looking for something with a DCC decoder to get you started? There's a lot of folks here with a lot of experience, I'm sure someone could point you to some possibilities if they know what you're looking for.

Converting a DC loco over to DCC isn't TOO terribly difficult, provided that you are familiar with how electricity works, are good at keeping track of where a number of wires are supposed to go (and where they came from), and you're ok with figuring out how to pack things into tight spaces. For a very minimal DCC installation, you have two wires coming from the track and two wires going to the motor (and depending on the age of your DC locos, you may have to run new wires to all of these locations individually). The thing most people seem to have trouble with is figuring out where to mount the decoder board inside the loco once the wiring is complete, and adding sound means trying to mount even more new hardware.
This is the challenge. As mentioned,I have DC locos. I'm not picky on the type of train we run right now, diesel or steam. I think sound is a must. Other than that, something with some color or visual interest. Ideally I'd like to keep the cost low, but that doesn't go have on hand with rest of the requirements. I'm not spending $500 on a locomotive though. I think if we get one DCC/sound and I can upgrade a few others to DCC as we go then we will be good.

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Discussion Starter #34
Whoa, CTvalley...you are usually so informed and correct, I was really
surprised when you said that the EZ DCC system can only have one throttle.
Tain't correct . The EZ, like all DCC systems has a connection for a plug
in wired handheld throttle...OR that same jack can be used to attach
a series of fascia panels into which hand helds can be plugged. I had
a wired throttle that I used most of the time on my EZ system.

As I read the various well meaning posts intended to help Vette Kid
the situation seems to get muddled. He wants a simple DCC system
that his kid can easily operate. He wants ability to run 2 trains at the
same time. He wants to be able to control loco sounds. The EZ system
meets all of those requirements...and is probably the easiest system to
set up and operate of those on the market.

Vette kid also asked; can he control turnouts? Any DCC
system 'can' control turnouts with special 'stationary' decoders.
However, to keep the layout simple and less costly, I would
recommend using an inexpensive DC wall wart as power
source for turnout control. It should have output of around 12
or so volts. With the exception noted above, no
DCC system provides power for turnouts.

Don
You seem pretty satisfied with the ez command for it's intended purpose. How would you compare it to the NCE DCC twin and for my started needs, which would you prefer? The NCE of around $150 and you can get the Bachmann for around $125, so price difference is negligible.

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I guess you never said what scale you are building in, but I'm guessing HO? If you want to get a nice-running steam loco, take a look at Bachmann's ten-wheelers (part numbers range from 51401-51405) which come with their value package DCC decoder and sound. These seem to be running at about $200 and it's ready to put on the track. Bachmann used to make a similar model in their Spectrum line which had a lot more detail (and a higher cost!), but for getting started the lesser detail will make it easier to pick up. Bachmann also makes the same model in N, if that's what you're looking for. And they do, of course, make cheaper models that are pre-built with sound.

The thing to remember is that the Bachmann models are meant to be cheaper, so they have what they call a 'value' sound card. This means you only have a few sound styles to choose from. In comparison, something like a Sountrax tsunami is the cadilac choice with a number of different models for different types of steam locos and diesels, and each model also has several different sounds to choose from and include several other options like random sounds of shoveling coal or the crew talking to each other. However for those, you're looking at $110 just for the card, but it's something to keep in mind for the future.
 

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Whoa, CTvalley...you are usually so informed and correct, I was really
surprised when you said that the EZ DCC system can only have one throttle.
Tain't correct . The EZ, like all DCC systems has a connection for a plug
in wired handheld throttle...OR that same jack can be used to attach
a series of fascia panels into which hand helds can be plugged. I had
a wired throttle that I used most of the time on my EZ system.

As I read the various well meaning posts intended to help Vette Kid
the situation seems to get muddled. He wants a simple DCC system
that his kid can easily operate. He wants ability to run 2 trains at the
same time. He wants to be able to control loco sounds. The EZ system
meets all of those requirements...and is probably the easiest system to
set up and operate of those on the market.

Vette kid also asked; can he control turnouts? Any DCC
system 'can' control turnouts with special 'stationary' decoders.
However, to keep the layout simple and less costly, I would
recommend using an inexpensive DC wall wart as power
source for turnout control. It should have output of around 12
or so volts. With the exception noted above, no
DCC system provides power for turnouts.

Don
Hey, I'm not perfect. I looked at the EZ Command for my son, I want to say 6 years ago, and it did not appear to have the ability to connect additional throttles to it. The guy who was selling them at the Amherst show "confirmed" my "belief" in response to a question. Who knows, maybe he was trying to push me to a higher end system, or just didn't know his product.

Not deliberately trying to misinform anyone, and I apologize for doing so. I will file the information about throttles away for future reference (hoping that the gremlins of dementia don't steal it from me). And now that think about it, you can hook up multiple throttles to the Prodigy Explorer by using expansion plate jacks too.

However, I did not say that the EZ command can't control turnouts, lights or sound. I said that your ability to take full advantage of these options may be limited by the programming capabilities of the unit. For myself, I consider the lack of robust programming capabilities to be its Achilles Heel anyway, but that's only because I like to tweak my locos so that they just barely creep in speed step one. But that won't be important for everyone. I'd also have to disagree that it's any simpler to install and set up than any MRC system. My 11 year old (at the time) son was able to set his Prodigy Express2 up on his own, while I was at work, multiple throttles, extension plates and all.
 

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I'm not familiar with the NCE DCC Twin so I checked on it.


NCE makes good stuff, but as far as I can tell, this unit does not seem to
be as flexible as the EZ system. I don't see any way to run more than 2 locos
with it, while with the EZ you can call from a roster of 10 locos and run 3
or even 4 at the same time. The likely
hood is great that as time moves on you'll want to add to the two initial
locos. Perhaps, you'll add a DCC decoder to the DC loco you have. This
is simple with the EZ.

If my reading of the link, as above, is correct, I would definitely prefer the
EZ DCC system that you can add a 2nd hand held controller. With the
EZ you can easily run 2 trains at the same time, even 3 or 4. You simply
press the number for the loco you want to run, say #2...then run up the speed
control. While the loco #2 is running, you press the button for the 2nd
loco, possibly #5, run up the speed control You have 2 running. You can simply
press the the 2 or the 5 buttons as you see something you want to change.
Simple. And if you add a hand held, it can run 2 or 3 more locos.

You can run train 2 with the Main controller while
your son has the hand held to run loco 5. It can get even more interesting.
Your son can run 2 trains on the hand held as you run 2 more from
the main.



Don
 

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That's why I'm now looking at the NCE DCC twin. With this setup we could, out if the box, run two trains with two throttles AND have the ability to add additional handheld throttles. I don't see us really running not than two at once, but perhaps another handheld controller would make functions easier down the road, but this would function as a starter system just fine. Correct me if I'm wrong on that system.

I also plan to run an isolated DC track around the DCC track, essentially allowing us to run three trains. Although I have yet to find a DCC loco to run and have four DC locos. One may be a candidate for an upgrade.

Sent from my Moto Z (2) using Tapatalk
Just curious, but why wouldn't they all be candidates for upgrades? Sometimes finding room for a speaker requires a little creativity, but otherwise, as Shdwdrgn said, it's not too difficult.

I ran my layout with dual inputs and a DPDT switch while I converted over. I intended to go it gradually, but as I saw what I could do with DCC compared to DC, the DC locos were banished from my layout. So I bit the bullet, bought 6 6-packs of Digitrax decoders, and just took a weekend and converted them. Well, ok, all except one very old (30+ years) Hornby switcher, on which I never did figure out where the motor was shorting to the frame.
 

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I'm not familiar with the NCE DCC Twin so I checked on it.


NCE makes good stuff, but as far as I can tell, this unit does not seem to
be as flexible as the EZ system. I don't see any way to run more than 2 locos
with it, while with the EZ you can call from a roster of 10 locos and run 3
or even 4 at the same time. The likely
hood is great that as time moves on you'll want to add to the two initial
locos. Perhaps, you'll add a DCC decoder to the DC loco you have. This
is simple with the EZ.

If my reading of the link, as above, is correct, I would definitely prefer the
EZ DCC system that you can add a 2nd hand held controller. With the
EZ you can easily run 2 trains at the same time, even 3 or 4. You simply
press the number for the loco you want to run, say #2...then run up the speed
control. While the loco #2 is running, you press the button for the 2nd
loco, possibly #5, run up the speed control You have 2 running. You can simply
press the the 2 or the 5 buttons as you see something you want to change.
Simple. And if you add a hand held, it can run 2 or 3 more locos.

You can run train 2 with the Main controller while
your son has the hand held to run loco 5. It can get even more interesting.
Your son can run 2 trains on the hand held as you run 2 more from
the main.



Don
I agree with Don on this. Based on what I know (and granted, I've just been served a big slice of humble pie for NOT knowing all the details), I would pick the EZ Command over the Twin. In addition to Don's concerns, as I see it, you're basically rubbing elbows with the other operator, which is fine while your son is little, but when he's 2 inches taller and significantly broader than you are (sooner than you think, trust me), you're gonna want some elbow room. Separate throttles allows you to be on opposite sides of the layout, if you want (and had the foresight to place a jack there).
 
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