What controller?

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f1_mw
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What controller?

Postby f1_mw » Wed Jul 07, 2010 6:15 pm

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As my Gaugemaster Model Q is currently attached to my soon-to-be-father-in-law's garage layout, and I fancy something new, I am thinking about switching to DCC. I'm about to enter my 4th year of a degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, so wiring doesn't phase me (I had to try really hard not to insert a bad pun there!), and have read a great deal around the subject.

The only thing I can't really work out is which controller to purchase. I know a lot of people start off with the E-Z Command or Select units, but I'd rather go for something better from the off, despite my layout being very simple and my DCC enabled stock totalling zero. I've read about the Lenz and Gaugemaster units, but can't find any useful comparisons of them, so if anyone can give me a run down of the pros and cons I would be grateful. Also open to suggestions of other units I should seek out.

Cheers,
Chris
Chris M.

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poliss
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Re: What controller?

Postby poliss » Wed Jul 07, 2010 6:45 pm

Here's a run down of all the DCC Command Station Consoles I know about. The NCE Powercab and the Roco Multizentrale Pro are very good. The Roco is expensive, but it's the only one with radio control DCC.


Bachmann Systems

Dynamis
http://tinyurl.com/ygk2hj3 (Getting Started)

http://tinyurl.com/ykwnzd3

Dynamis ProBox
http://tinyurl.com/yjljcmg

EZ Command
http://tinyurl.com/ygm8mer

CT Elektronik Systems

In German only, I have been unable to find an online manual in English.

ZF5/HR3
http://tinyurl.com/ydkxrju

HR3/RM5
http://tinyurl.com/ya7z3hm

Digitrax Systems

Super Chief Xtra
Includes DCS100 Command Station Booster / DCS200 Command Station Booster / DT402 SeriesThrottles
http://tinyurl.com/ydgeoxa

Super Empire Builder Xtra
Includes DB150 Command Station/Booster / DT402 Series Throttles
http://tinyurl.com/yetvpgq

Zephyr Starter Set
Includes DCS50 Command Station Booster / PS315 Power Supply
http://tinyurl.com/y9h53lm

Ecos Systems

ESU Command Station
http://tinyurl.com/yaqv67t

Radio Controller
http://tinyurl.com/y97be5v

Mobile Control 51100
http://tinyurl.com/ye2uf5b

Gaugemaster Systems

Prodigy Advance (DCC01)
http://tinyurl.com/yeq6dyh

Prodigy Advance²
http://tinyurl.com/yanvpso

Prodigy Advance² Wirelesshttp://tinyurl.com/yang9b8

Hornby Systems

Elite
http://tinyurl.com/yatg9zr

Select
http://tinyurl.com/ye7oeku

Lenz Systems

Set-90
LH90 Engineer’s Throttle V3.6
http://tinyurl.com/ykprlmq

LZV100 Command/Power Station V3.6
http://tinyurl.com/yl437bv

Set-100
LH100 Dispatcher’s Throttle v3.6
http://tinyurl.com/yfwdooy

LZV100 Command/Power Station V3.6
http://tinyurl.com/yl437bv

Set-100/10
Parallel LV102 Supplement (10 amp)
http://tinyurl.com/yht6s7m

Set-LI
LZV100 Command/Power Station V3.6
http://tinyurl.com/yl437bv

LI-USB Hardware Installation
http://tinyurl.com/yzqsjtl

LI-USB Software Manual
http://tinyurl.com/yfl9c9b

LI-USB Update for new Version 3.6 systems
http://tinyurl.com/yl8jxp4

LV102 Power Station
http://tinyurl.com/yknpqql

Compact Basic System Manual
http://tinyurl.com/yju5gkj

Digital Plus manuals for selected products out of production
http://www.lenz.com/manuals/index.htm

Model Recifier Corporation (MRC) Systems

Prodigy Advance2
http://tinyurl.com/y9lvq8e

Prodigy Express
http://tinyurl.com/cl8ux5

Prodigy Wireless
http://tinyurl.com/y9fs9c4

NCE Systems

Power Cab v1.28
http://tinyurl.com/ydmbxyu

Power Pro v3.1.07
http://tinyurl.com/y9thg6w

Roco Systems

Multimaus
http://tinyurl.com/y89pccb

Multimaus Pro + MultizentralePro
http://tinyurl.com/ya4muqh

Zimo Systems

MX1, MX1HS, MX1EC
http://tinyurl.com/yjx9hvy

MX31 Cab, MX31FU Radio Cab, MX31 System Cab
http://tinyurl.com/yhkfoo9

MX1 Command Station
http://tinyurl.com/yjx9hvy

MX21, MX2IFU, MXFU Cab
http://tinyurl.com/yfwoa3p

MX2, MX2IF, MXIF, MX2FU, MXFU Wireless Cab (infrared)

http://tinyurl.com/yc4tg88
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f1_mw
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Re: What controller?

Postby f1_mw » Wed Jul 07, 2010 6:47 pm

Woaaaah, a great list there, poliss, but I'm not sure it helps make my choice any easier :mrgreen:
Chris M.

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poliss
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Re: What controller?

Postby poliss » Wed Jul 07, 2010 6:56 pm

I reckon it comes down to about four systems, depending on how much money you're willing to spend.

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poliss
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Re: What controller?

Postby poliss » Wed Jul 07, 2010 7:12 pm

Here's a Youtube video of the Multizentrale showing the ease of use. Don't worry about the larger scale of loco he's demonstrating. The system is suitable for most scales, including OO and N.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PFe1sxSjTg

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f1_mw
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Re: What controller?

Postby f1_mw » Wed Jul 07, 2010 8:01 pm

Just found a really useful link on RMWeb that someone posted up about 10 mins ago, which gives a comparison of many of the 'favourite' DCC controllers, and makes for some good reading. From also reading this page of specs I am inclined to think that the NSE PowerCab is the one to start me off. Has anyone had any experience of this controller, or indeed this seller?
Chris M.

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EddScott
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Re: What controller?

Postby EddScott » Wed Jul 07, 2010 9:32 pm

I've only had experience with the Powercab and it really is very easy to get to grips with. I haven't really scraped the surface of what it can do but its very helpful when you need to check CV values and makes changes.

I've now decided that I want an element of automation on my layout and want to use the NCE mini-panel and/or PC control. However, the Powercab on its own can't do this - it needs to be upgraded with the NCE Powerbox (£200 - £250) which still makes it pretty decent value. My one issue with it is that in Powercab form it only has 2 locos in its recall stack which means if you want to access another you have to tap in the loco number - upgrading to the Pro means you have 6 in the recall.

I did, and in a way still am, considering changing to digitrax as I feel more confident Digitrax will work better with PC control but I would greatly prefer to keep the NCE system. I'm going to upgrade to the Pro buy buing the Powerbox and getting a mini-panel and a few of the NCE block detectors (these are quite easy to use as you just loop a wire through the detector rather than wire directly onto the detector. I only want partial automation of my fiddle so it acts as a ladder (train in occupies line vacated by train out) and stops at stations and I'm pretty sure the NCE system will do this.

locoworks
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Re: What controller?

Postby locoworks » Wed Jul 07, 2010 11:11 pm

good idea there EddScott, digitrax for me. i find quite a lot of people sing the praises of the powercab, but as you have discovered it does have limitations. but in its defense these limits only seem to appear at the top end of technical spectrum for more advanced DCC users. i went digitrax as a first system around 10 years ago for when i wanted to move up. i learnt from my RC aeroplane and heli days where i got a 4 function radio, then a 6 function radio, followed 6 months later by an eight function one and shortly after that what at the time was the king of the castle 9 channel computerised dogs danglys which i wish i had bought first off without taking the baby steps. it would have almost been cheaper in the beginning allowing for losses selling on used trannys for buttons. theer are a few gripes about digitrax manuals being a bit lacking, but their current stuff is pretty straight forward to work out with the DT400/402 throttles, back with the old DT100, you had a very limited display and because of the few buttons, many operations required you to press 2 or even 3 buttons at once. with the new throttles it is just one button at a time. also, with a PR3 and decoder pro software ( free from jmri ) you don't even need to look up what CV does what as the options for programming are in words for what the CV does rather than just a number. when the duplex radio finally gets a license for use in the UK the digitrax stuff will be lacking nothing anymore, except maybe a colour screen.

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Silver Surfer
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Re: What controller?

Postby Silver Surfer » Thu Jul 08, 2010 8:50 am

poliss wrote:The Roco is expensive, but it's the only one with radio control DCC.

Not so......
The Pro-cab-R (£105) is radio
http://www.ncedcc.com/component/virtuemart/?page=shop.product_details&flypage=garden_flypage.tpl&product_id=21&category_id=12
As is the PH Pro-R (£460)
http://www.ncedcc.com/component/virtuemart/?page=shop.product_details&flypage=garden_flypage.tpl&product_id=13&category_id=3

EddScott wrote:it needs to be upgraded with the NCE Powerbox (£200 - £250) which still makes it pretty decent value.

Can be got for £105
http://www.ncedcc.com/index.php?option=com_virtuemart&page=shop.browse&category_id=11&Itemid=49

EddScott wrote:My one issue with it is that in Powercab form it only has 2 locos in its recall stack which means if you want to access another you have to tap in the loco number - upgrading to the Pro means you have 6 in the recall.

Recall stacks are a red herring!! (I have the PH Pro)

To access loco using Pro cab or Power Pro you make following button presses;-
Select loco
Enter address (two numbers but could be four)
Enter
That's four possibly six button presses.

With PH Pro recall stack of six addresses;-
Recall
Scroll list (which could be one to six presses)
Enter
That's anywhere between three and eight presses depending where on the list your required address is. Also, I find, in your eagerness to get through the stack to the address you want you go past it and have to scroll again - resulting in even more presses.

Taking each method - normal entering of address -v- recall stacks - and based on its minimum number of presses the fact an address is in a recall stack is a pretty insignificant difference no matter what make you use. Some makes have multi zillion in their stacks, great, but to me that means multi zillion button presses and is a gimmick.

Also, I think you'll find if you research the matter properly, that the PH Pro computer hook up can handle pretty much anything you can throw at it - if it can't, their user forum will tell you how to do it.

Mike
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EddScott
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Re: What controller?

Postby EddScott » Thu Jul 08, 2010 9:54 am

Silver - Although the NCE products have radio, it is not cleared for use in the UK. Not sure why - I guess in case it interferes with the police or ambulance bands.

The box that you have linked to is a power booster not the powerbox. The powerbox is product number CS02. This has the RS232 port for the PC and allows use of the mini-panel. I don't know if the Powercab will only use the mini-panel with the CS02. Not sure if one of the SB3a boosters will do the job also.

As for recall, well it seemed to me to be easier if there were more train I could scroll through. Haven't had much chance to put it to the test as my layout isn't finished.

I think my post seemed overly negative towards the NCE product but it was meant to illustrate my findings. I think its an excellent bit of kit and I believe it will be my cheapest option for the level of automation I'm looking for. I priced up a full Digitrax and RR&Co software system and £1500 came up no problem. I believe for my needs using the NCE Powercab upgraded to Pro, Lenz LS150 decoders, Mini-panel and NCE BD20 block detectors I can have trains moving and stopping at each station and at designated blocks and have the fiddle operating on a ladder system. All this comes in around £500.

F1-mw - you also mention if anyone has had dealings with the seller in your post - not sure if your refering to NCE or your links to DCC Concepts. I've spoken to the chap at DCC Concepts via another form and his help and advice has been truly invaluable. Very helpful in all matters DCC related.

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ngresley
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Re: What controller?

Postby ngresley » Thu Jul 08, 2010 10:25 am

Silver Surfer wrote:Recall stacks are a red herring!! (I have the PH Pro)

To access loco using Pro cab or Power Pro you make following button presses;-
Select loco
Enter address (two numbers but could be four)
Enter
That's four possibly six button presses.

With PH Pro recall stack of six addresses;-
Recall
Scroll list (which could be one to six presses)
Enter
That's anywhere between three and eight presses depending where on the list your required address is. Also, I find, in your eagerness to get through the stack to the address you want you go past it and have to scroll again - resulting in even more presses.


The difference is that scrolling through a list you just use up and down buttons, pressing repeatedly. To enter the loco number, well, you have to enter a number. It's a more deliberate and less intuitive process, and requires you to look at the keypad.
"I'd like to die quietly in my sleep like my grandfather, rather than screaming in terror like his passengers"

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ngresley
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Re: What controller?

Postby ngresley » Thu Jul 08, 2010 10:27 am

locoworks wrote:i learnt from my RC aeroplane and heli days where i got a 4 function radio, then a 6 function radio, followed 6 months later by an eight function one and shortly after that what at the time was the king of the castle 9 channel computerised dogs danglys which i wish i had bought first off without taking the baby steps. it would have almost been cheaper in the beginning allowing for losses selling on used trannys for buttons.


Yep, been there done that (also an RC plane fan). I'm using a Select-based train set as a start, but when I get serious intend to go for a good system as the second.

Speaking of which, any thoughts on the Lenz Set 100?
"I'd like to die quietly in my sleep like my grandfather, rather than screaming in terror like his passengers"

Bigmet
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Re: What controller?

Postby Bigmet » Thu Jul 08, 2010 1:36 pm

The Lenz set 100 is by Germans designed and documented , the job efficiently and reliably to do. (The English language manual doesn't use idiomatic English, but it really is thorough.) Compact and beautifully finished command unit. Neat and ergonomically well thought out handset that can be operated single handed. I have past eighty locos on it, have used it daily whenever at home for coming up to five years, and it hasn't missed a beat, just faultless. Worth every penny.

locoworks
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Re: What controller?

Postby locoworks » Thu Jul 08, 2010 2:55 pm

ngresley wrote:
locoworks wrote:i learnt from my RC aeroplane and heli days where i got a 4 function radio, then a 6 function radio, followed 6 months later by an eight function one and shortly after that what at the time was the king of the castle 9 channel computerised dogs danglys which i wish i had bought first off without taking the baby steps. it would have almost been cheaper in the beginning allowing for losses selling on used trannys for buttons.


Yep, been there done that (also an RC plane fan). I'm using a Select-based train set as a start, but when I get serious intend to go for a good system as the second.

Speaking of which, any thoughts on the Lenz Set 100?


not personally, or at our club, as one member had digitrax all of us followed suit except one guy who went ZTC and as such he's on his own when it comes to trouble shooting and how to's. IF you are in a club see what others have, it makes sense to use what most others are using for the hands on experiece and extra throttle compatabillity on club nights. but only follow suit IF what they use CAN do what YOU want!!???, if it costs a few quid more than another system it is probably worth it for help and experience of others with the same make of system. but if every one has selects and elites they got with there christmas prezzys then you'd be better setting the standard yourself.


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