Cheap vs Expensive decoders

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matt1471
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Cheap vs Expensive decoders

Postby matt1471 » Tue Feb 26, 2013 12:05 am

80% of my DCC stock is either chipped with the Hornby basic decoder, or Bachmann version, with a couple having ESU LokSound V4 and one with a Zimo Sound Chip in it.

I see a lot of people use the digitrax DZ125 chip, and I just wondered what the REAL benefits are to spending almost twice as much as the bachmann decoder on one.

I don't use extensive lighting controls, and use hardly any of the functions and between my 'cheaper' decoder and the ESU and Zimo chips, I don't get any better quality of running or control?

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SRman
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Re: Cheap vs Expensive decoders

Postby SRman » Tue Feb 26, 2013 8:40 am

Some of the more expensive decoders allow for more fine-tuning of all CVs, while the cheapie decoders may not allow simple adjustments to, for example, mid-speed voltage or inertia.

Generally I use the cheaper decoders in items that don't get a lot of running. The dearer decoders often give much smoother and more progressive acceleration, deceleration and running qualities. I'm particularly thinking of ESU and Lenz decoders here but there are others as well.

Finally, I also use the cheaper decoders as function-only devices in, for another example, Bachmann DMU trailers to control lighting. these are often cheaper than buying purpose-designed function-only decoders.

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Roger (RJ)
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Re: Cheap vs Expensive decoders

Postby Roger (RJ) » Tue Feb 26, 2013 9:14 am

matt1471 wrote:80% of my DCC stock is either chipped with the Hornby basic decoder, or Bachmann version, with a couple having ESU LokSound V4 and one with a Zimo Sound Chip in it.

I see a lot of people use the digitrax DZ125 chip, and I just wondered what the REAL benefits are to spending almost twice as much as the bachmann decoder on one.

I don't use extensive lighting controls, and use hardly any of the functions and between my 'cheaper' decoder and the ESU and Zimo chips, I don't get any better quality of running or control?

If you are happy with the cheaper decoders there is no need to use a higher priced one. Some locos won't run very well with a cheaper decoder and in many cases older models need a better decoder to get them to run smoothly. The basic Hornby decoder is OK for the majority of modern Hornby models and many Bachmann models but doesn't have a high enough current capacity for older models which take more current. Some ppl have very specific performance needs, such as the ability to limit the maximum speed or obtain a really low crawl speed.

Decoder selection is about price, capability and size. You need a decoder that suits your pocket (IE what you can afford or what you are willing to pay), can do what you want it to do and will fit into the space available. If a decoder doesn't fulfill all these requirements you need to find one that does. I don't believe there is any single decoder that will fit all these needs - but there are some that come close.

Bigmet
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Re: Cheap vs Expensive decoders

Postby Bigmet » Tue Feb 26, 2013 9:51 am

My aim is the cheapest decoder (at the time of purchase) that will do the job to the standard required. Really smooth running drives as in centre motor both bogies driven chassis can take a basic decoder with little adjustment, because typically they hardly need any adjustment for smooth running. When Hattons were knocking out the Bachmann 36-553 and 554 at £9.99 a couple of years back I filled my boots, that was real value for a decoder for these type of chassis. Wouldn't attempt to put this decoder in a steam loco though, for a start it doesn't have anough acceleration adjustment for a slow old steamer. These get the Lenz Standard. (In fact now, everything gets the Lenz standard, because the price for this excellent decoder is pretty much bargain basement.) Any 'difficult' chassis gets whatever is the most economically priced Zimo with the right spec, though I haven't needed one of these for new OO RTR for seven years now; mechanism quality has picked up so don't need the extensive range of adjustments this very well specified decoder range offers.

There's a further factor in my choices, which is worth thinking about in my opinion. Operationally, they are 'transparent'. My majority decoder is Lenz, and these have the useful feature of shunt speed on F3, CV's 3 and 4 disabled on F4. The Bachmann 36-553 and 554 also have these settings, and the Zimo can be programmed to do the same. So I don't have to know what decoder the loco has if I want shunt speed or inertia off, just hit the button and it happens.

beeman
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Re: Cheap vs Expensive decoders

Postby beeman » Tue Feb 26, 2013 11:01 am

My aim is the cheapest decoder (at the time of purchase) that will do the job to the standard required
Bigmets sentiments are same as mine.With around 50 + chipped, most Bachman 553 and 554 exceptions being one ZTC Tsunami and 1 Opti. Satisfaction of performance in slow dependable running being the prime factor. The one point seemingly not mentioned is the motors ability to 'use' DCC satisfactorily. Some of the older motors do not perform on DCC well, modern locos/motors all being designed to be more efficient and usually electronic control. I suspect that if the motors not particularly suited to DCC then changing a decoder won't rectify. I have changed a number of mainly XO4 motors for that reason, the slow speed performance inadequate, and a 5 pole always will be better than 3. I bought a number of Mabuchi motors off Ebay reckon they were only around 10 for a Fiver +post, the performance data and cross sect. identical with the Bachman motor but downside was bit longer and shortish shaft. and they are 3 pole. !. replaced quite a number of XO4's and well satisfied. At present been 'bugg**** ing around with a Dock Shunter for the Wagon/carriage works I'm building.Only diesel on the layout, and with extra pickups, replacing wheels, Neo magnet, Bachman 553 have got the speed down to a reliable almost 1 Rev of the motor / sec,so a scale slow walking speed. In fact the 'cogging' of the virtual XO4 motor almost sounds like a diesel engine idling. Certainly did not expect this result when starting. Beeman
PS surprisingly motors are Mabuchi made in VIETNAM ???.
You wo'nt find you 'CAN' unless you 'TRY'.

HansP
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Re: Cheap vs Expensive decoders

Postby HansP » Tue Feb 26, 2013 3:43 pm

I'd go with the cheapest decoder that provides all the features you need and physically fits your loco. When I finally get to install my first* "proper" DCC system later this year I'll be going with Lenz Standard - it can do BEMF, Silent Drive and Railcom, and is available from Germany (www.modellbahnshop-lippe.com, other dealers do exist....) for just under EUR 17,-. This means I can afford to chip my entire fleet without remortaging the house.

*I had Zero One in the 1980s, just being able to run more than one loco at a time seemed like pure magic that never lost its fascination. How things move on - Roco five-pole motors with double cardan drive and DCC decoders will be, in terms of running qualities, a world away from the buzzing, stuttering Lima H0 three-pole pancake motors and Zero One loco modules I had back then. Still, the most valuable thing I took away from Zero One, apart from literally hundreds and hundreds of hours of playing trains, was knowing that a world existed beyond two-rail 12V DC.

Part of that fascination lives on, can't wait to place my Lenz DCC system on order and "feel the magic" once more :-)

Best wishes,

HansP.

beeman
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Re: Cheap vs Expensive decoders

Postby beeman » Tue Feb 26, 2013 5:53 pm

I suggest you ' get in quick' due to the Pound falling against the Euro won't be long before it balances and then they will have won their 'battle; to abandon the Pound and make it all the same, the cry being theres no reason now not to become part of Merkels dream. wait and see. been slowly 'engineered' for a very long time !!!.Lemmings ???????? Beeman.
You wo'nt find you 'CAN' unless you 'TRY'.

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flying scotsman123
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Re: Cheap vs Expensive decoders

Postby flying scotsman123 » Wed Feb 27, 2013 8:11 pm

I use hornby decoders, I get them from model railway loft, the cheapest I have managed to find them. I had one that seemed to go mad and ignore any instructions I gave it, just soldiered on, but I easily returned it for one that worked, you just need to be cautios in my experience.
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Bigmet
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Re: Cheap vs Expensive decoders

Postby Bigmet » Thu Feb 28, 2013 10:57 am

HansP wrote:...Part of that fascination lives on, can't wait to place my Lenz DCC system on order and "feel the magic" once more :-) ...

You won't be disappointed. Bought a Lenz 100 set in 2002, totally bombproof, not a single problem; thorough documentation that explains everything on the control system. Used the Silver decoders almost exclusively until quite recently when the Standard appeared, and also the cheap Bachmann decoders (badged ESU) which proved suitable for easy to drive chassis. The only exceptions are a few old chassis which needed the huge range of adjustment from Zimo decoders to force them to behave well. I still find it enjoyable just being able to park locos on a length of plain track with no bother about sections, and as for double heading, banking, or multiple loco movements out of the yard - it's all fun.

If I have one criticism of Lenz it is the strange lack of information about the motor set up options that are provided on the decoders. The options are there and work, but there is very little information about the how and why. However, this should be seen in the context of an otherwise really excellent system, as just a minor irritation.


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