Author Topic: Any remaining enthusiasm with DCC is pretty much gone  (Read 2199 times)

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randgust

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Re: Any remaining enthusiasm with DCC is pretty much gone
« Reply #30 on: September 10, 2018, 04:06:46 PM »
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If you are willing to try DCC again then (as I and few others have already mentioned) get the NCE Power Cab.  The entire DCC system (throttle/command station/booster) is contained in the handheld throttle (which can be also used as a standard NCE throttle on a fully-featured NCE  setup).  NCE throttle has a 2-line 16-character alphanumeric display and all the programming prompts are in English language.  JMRI is not really needed (unless you are planning on owning a larger fleet of locos or programming sound equipped models).  Compared to Digitrax, Power Cab is really intuitive and easy to use.  It can also program sound decoders without additional booster.

I own the Power Cab using it for bench-testing locos I service, and I also take it with me to NTRAK shows to have a standalone DCC system for programming and testing our locos during the show.  Actually for a simple setup like this I think that JMRI would actually make things overly complex. And you would need a computer attached to your DCC system, making it no longer standalone. I"m not against JMRI, but for simple DCC setups it isn't really needed.

If you are interested in sound decoders (especially ESU or Zimo brands), both companies sell special programmers for downloading the sound files to their decoders. Those programmers are also capable of becoming a basic DCC system, so you can run your models using those programmers.

Thanks Pete, that's useful.   I'll look into that.   I've got a small collection of local and regional power, steam and diesel, (that has no particular purpose on a 1972 ATSF layout) that I really would like to take to NTRAK and TTRAK shows and be able to run under DCC.   I had the privilege of having a Bachmann DCC sound-equipped PRR passenger train video'd charging across my "Hickory Bridge" and even on the video, was just amazing with the exhaust and whistle, an an actual doppler effect...

I also have more old computers that ever care to admit, one 'hot and ready to go' for each major Microsoft operating system that ever existed, all the way back to Windows 3.1.   They've been very useful to recussitate old programs, files, programs, and obsolete hardware for clients.  And I already have a computer within 3 feet of my layout(s).  I've seen the JMRI interface at the modular meets and was really impressed, I didn't fully appreciate what I was seeing until I really started investigating it.   I 'thought' it was all custom-code.   

nstars

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Re: Any remaining enthusiasm with DCC is pretty much gone
« Reply #31 on: September 10, 2018, 05:49:16 PM »
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I'm joining this discussion quite late (I was at a N Gauge meeting in the UK), but it's an interesting discussion.

My brother has done a very extensive test of motor-decoder combinations (more than 200 combinations) with all kinds of motors and decoders from Digitrax, TCS, NCE, Zimo, ESU, CT Elektronik and some interesting things have come out of these tests. Some combinations do work well and some don't, but the European decoders with Zimo and CT Elektronik on top came out the best in sofar that they performed well in most combinations. Perhaps interesting to know, the owner of CT Elektronik used to work for Zimo. This confirms in my opinion Peteskis statement of the quality of European decoders. I have to mention, that with regular Kato or Atlas motors, the differences are small, but Randgust mentioned that he used Kato pager sized motors and that is a different situation.

We also found out, that pager motors can result in some unexpected responses. We have already seen several times with pager sized motors severe stuttering at low speeds with TCS and Digitrax decoders, but even with ESU decoders. For example I ran this weekend a GHB Int. L1 with an Esu Loksound which also has such a small pager size motor. It ran really nice except at very low speed where it also had a slight stuttering. I know how to program these types of decoders (with JMRI of course) and I have been able to improve it in most cases, but I never could remove it completely. FYI TCS and Digitrax just don't have enough options to adjust it properly and in most cases ESU performs very well, but sometimes it reacts weird. In several cases we changed the decoder to either Zimo or CT Elektronik and then it was gone. Unfortunately that is not an option for the GHB loco, the Banshee whistle is absolutely marvelous.

Marc

peteski

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Re: Any remaining enthusiasm with DCC is pretty much gone
« Reply #32 on: September 10, 2018, 05:52:12 PM »
+1
Thanks Pete, that's useful.   I'll look into that.   I've got a small collection of local and regional power, steam and diesel, (that has no particular purpose on a 1972 ATSF layout) that I really would like to take to NTRAK and TTRAK shows and be able to run under DCC.   I had the privilege of having a Bachmann DCC sound-equipped PRR passenger train video'd charging across my "Hickory Bridge" and even on the video, was just amazing with the exhaust and whistle, an an actual doppler effect...

I also have more old computers that ever care to admit, one 'hot and ready to go' for each major Microsoft operating system that ever existed, all the way back to Windows 3.1.   They've been very useful to recussitate old programs, files, programs, and obsolete hardware for clients.  And I already have a computer within 3 feet of my layout(s).  I've seen the JMRI interface at the modular meets and was really impressed, I didn't fully appreciate what I was seeing until I really started investigating it.   I 'thought' it was all custom-code.   

Sounds like NCE Power Cab would be ideal for you. It is perfect for bench-testing DCC installs and running a small layout.  Since everything is inside the handheld unit, wiring is very simple.  The handheld unit cable  plugs into a small panel mount board with RJ-type connectors. The wall-wart power pack also plugs into that small board and the track output also  comes out of that board. There are actually 2 more RJ-type jacks on that board for adding another throttle and fr expansion.  This would be ideal for running on NTRAK layout. Just isolate one of the track loops and just attach the track output from the Power Cap to the track and you have a DCC controlled loop. The Power  Cab handheld retains and can cycle through several addresses, so you can control multiple trains from a single throttle. Or add a 2nd throttle so 2 people can run trains.  Wicked simple as we say here in New England.

I would send you my unit so you could take it for a test drive, but I find it invaluable on my workbench.  Tony's Trains I think has it the cheapest, for $135!  I don't think you can't beat that price for a complete DCC system (which is also intuitive to use).  :D  One of very useful features is that you can configure the display to show the track current. That way you can see exactly how much current your model is using.  Again, perfect for DCC installs.

You mentioned being impressed by JMRI and you thought that it was some custom code. Well, it *IS* a custom code written by bunch of model train enthusiasts who happen to be JAVA programmers in their real life.  So you had it right all along.
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greenwizard88

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Re: Any remaining enthusiasm with DCC is pretty much gone
« Reply #33 on: September 15, 2018, 09:35:13 PM »
+1
The problem with DCC is that DCC is a protocol, and Digitrax/NCE have a horrible UX for the protocol, which ends up giving DCC a bad rap. DCC the protocol is workable (and for 90's tech, quite good IMO). But the UX is still the same as it was in the 90's, and it needs to be updated horribly.

UP Simon

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Re: Any remaining enthusiasm with DCC is pretty much gone
« Reply #34 on: September 16, 2018, 06:04:14 PM »
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Coming to the conversation late as well.
So there is no-one near you with DCC that you can visit and check your decoder?
Or can visit you and look over your setup?
You definitely need to be using JMRI, it makes programming and checking decoders much simpler.
What your describing seems such a weird combination of faults (not saying I don’t believe you) that I wonder if there is an issue with your Zephyr.
Command Station faults can cause no end of issues that are hard to diagnose and the easiest way to check is have someone with another unit come visit, but JMRI can help here too.

That’s my 2 cents worth, if your in New Zealand drop us a line and we’ll find someone near you to come and help!

jdcolombo

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Re: Any remaining enthusiasm with DCC is pretty much gone
« Reply #35 on: September 16, 2018, 07:34:38 PM »
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The problem with DCC is that DCC is a protocol, and Digitrax/NCE have a horrible UX for the protocol, which ends up giving DCC a bad rap. DCC the protocol is workable (and for 90's tech, quite good IMO). But the UX is still the same as it was in the 90's, and it needs to be updated horribly.

THIS.

The user interface for DCC systems hasn't really moved forward . . . ever.  ESU and Zimo have made some strides, as has JMRI, but we're not yet at the point where the "standard" user interface for DCC is useable by someone uninterested in the technical detail.

John C.

peteski

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Re: Any remaining enthusiasm with DCC is pretty much gone
« Reply #36 on: September 16, 2018, 09:28:32 PM »
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You definitely need to be using JMRI, it makes programming and checking decoders much simpler.


Well, if all he wants to do with DCC is a simple layout with one or two operators, and owns half a dozen of non-sound locos then I really don't see adding JMRI to the equation as a requirement. A more intuitive standalone DCC system should work quite nicely.  All I'm saying is that IMO for a very small DCC setup JMRI is an overkill.  Useful, but an overkill.
--- Peteski de Snarkski

-"Look at me, I'm satirical!!!"
-"Look at me, I'm anal retentive!!!"
-"Look at me, I have the most posts evahhhh!!!"
-"Look at me, I'm snarky!!!!"
-"Look at me, I have OCD!!!"
-"Look at me, I'm a curmudgeon!!!!"
-"Look at me, I'm puzzled!!!!