NCE or Digitrax

NCE or Digitrax

Please, by no means do I wish to generate a good vs bad debate. They're both great choices. We have narrowed down our choice to one or the other based on access to a local purchase [and their ensuing support].

I am just looking for owner feedback per brand. I have seen both in use at train clubs. Both brands have received extremely favorable feedback from the end users that we have asked at these train clubs. We are planning to buy into one or the other this coming summer. We also like the wireless, hand held approach that we saw used with the NCE brand. I know that Digitrax offers this as well.

What [positives / features] convinced you to make your selection?

It's another big investment that I would like to make after having accumulated as much information and input, as possible, from end users. I'm not looking to split hairs, but I do want to be as well informed as I can be. There are just too many questions that I don't know to ask, yet I know they'll become high priorities once someone sheds light on a feature, or a decoder compatability issue, etc.

Thanks! Matt

Reply to
Matt & Kathleen Brennan
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I have the Digitrax Chief II system (with the old Empire Builder DCS150 as a booster) and am happy with it. I use a mixture of Digitrax, NCE, Atlas, Soundtraxx, and Broadway Limited decoders without any problems.

I suggest that if you participate in a club, or have friends with a DCC system that you use theirs for a while and determine if you are comfortable with those. Both systems are pretty much equivalent and which one is better is, I believe, a personal preference, not a technical superiority issue. The benefit of getting what your railroading buddies have is the ease with which you can move between systems: bring your own throttle, etc.

Ed.

in article snipped-for-privacy@corp.supernews.com, Jon Miller at snipped-for-privacy@inow.com wrote on 12/19/03 9:21 AM:

Reply to
Edward A. Oates

Matt,

Both systems are very good - and both offer great customer support. I got started with Digitrax and the customer support was alsway very good. The early cabs(DT100) were a 'learning cure' to use, but the new DT400's ave very easy to use. I converted everything to 'wireless' about 2 years ago. The Digitrax wireless is not '2 way' so you do need to plug in the cab to do programming, but they work fine when just running trains. I even got the coversion cable for my old M105 PalmPilot and use it as a teathered cab in the yard! One of the question to ask yourself is if you are planning on operation at other layouts or or haveing friends operate at you home. If the rest of your group is using one brand, you cab may not be usable when you visit. Where I live we have at least 4 guys with Digitrax, and we do bring cabs along when we visit. I do have 5 cabs available at my home, but its amazing how many trains you can get going at once with DCC!

Jim Bernier

Reply to
Jim Bernier

Two years ago I had narrowed my choice down to NCE and Digitrax. I was disinterested in DCC until I went to a Digitrax open house. I am not a club member. The two local clubs I know of don't use DCC. I chose NCE mostly because that is what my local hobby store sold even though he does not stock them. I have enjoyed everything I have tried to do with the NCE system. I do not have a radio system. I use NCE, Digitrax, SoundTrax and Lenz decoders with no problem. There are two NCE Yahoo groups if you want to follow some discussions.

Other than the open house I have never seen a Digitrax so I can't compare them. NCE was a great choice for me.

Merry Christmas Happy New Year

Reply to
Tom Groszko

Well, it may have something to do with what club(s) you have in your area, and the scale you model, as well.

For example. in N scale, about 90% of the N Trak clubs that use DCC use Digitrax. If you want to be compatible with your local group, you need to take that into consideration. It's not just a matter of "following the leader", tho... because they will also be a prime source of help when you need it.

Reply to
Joe Ellis

As the owner of both systems - NCE in the form of a 1997 vintage Wangrow Sys-1, and a 2001 model Digitrax Chief, my plan at this point is to go with the NCE new radio system on my next layout. I've used the Digitrax Chief a lot, and become comfortable with it. I regularly operate on a large layout running Digitrax, and I feel the expansion of the system to multiple boosters was a bit of a rough road, but most problems have been ironed out. I think you could be satisfied with either system, but to be quite honest, I have locos that run like pogo sticks on a live wire on Digitrax.... or not at all. Put them on Sys-1 and they run fine, without the slightest hint of a problem. I don't know why, I just know what I've seen.

Andy

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Reply to
Andy Harman

Please check out our articles on both radio systems...

Frank Eva Digital Railroader

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Reply to
Frank Eva

Great read. Thank you!

Great website, btw. Lots to read, and I will certainly spend some time pouring through your extensive list of links.

Reply to
Matt & Kathleen Brennan

Interesting commentary on the NCE radio. The delays are always annoying, I've experienced them with the Digitrax radio as well. But mostly it has worked well. What is annoying is that the DT400R will completely kill a 9v battery in 24-48 hours if you don't remove it after a session since there's no on-off switch. And the DT400R will sometimes be "forgotten" from the base system after a period of time without sending a command. The only way to bring it back is to plug it in to reset itself. I like the idea of being able to consist and select locos with the radio, which NCE provides but Digitrax does not (yet?). However programming.... I won't even use ops mode programming. Programming is something that needs to be done *once* for each loco, or more than once to tune a few things, or 11 times to figure out how to set a 163 series decoder for non-directional lighting. But once its done its done. If I have to program loco(s) every time I operate, something is wrong. So being able to program wireless is an ok feature to have, but not one I'd insist on nor would it make a difference in my selection.

Re. the NCE's recall feature: On my Sys-1, which as you know is an NCE in disguise, the recall was the very first thing to drive me nuts, and the cause of my first collision. The reason it doesn't recall the last train you selected is because the default number of recalls is

*six*. Yep, six. You have to push the button 5 times to go back one, because it's on a rotisserie. Or lazy susan. And I mean laaaaazy. It has just enough delay to make you think your button push didn't go through, and push again, causing you to overshoot and have to go around again. IMO the 6-loco recall loop is worse than useless, it's dangerous. Even if the recall was instantaneous, it would be annoying. Best bet is to go into the cab settings (forget how) and change the recall to it's minimum setting of 2. I'd rather have it be 1, but I don't think that's an option. If I want to run 2 trains, I use 2 throttles. Digitrax I think has a good idea in making their throttles all 2x, but it takes some getting used to. Mainly getting used to the fact that any other commands you punch in affect the side you last touched... which is not always clear, or obvious.

My reasons for prefering NCE/Sys1 is because I've experienced virtually zero flaky operation using all variety of decoders. In spite of a few quirks and limitations, and until recently, lack of wireless capability, it's still the most robust and predictable system out there.

Andy

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Reply to
Andy Harman

Reply to
Matt & Kathleen Brennan

[shut down] this main line engine while I engage [turn on] the local switching engine to set arrivals and acquire departures. Once completing the switching duties, I want to [shut down] the switching engine and re-acquire the main line engine to haul the newly established consist onto the next location.

With Digitrax, the main line engine consist (assuming diesels) can be on the left knob. The Local switcher can be on the right knob. The two groups of locomotives can pass cars back and forth with out any thing being "shut down" or any toggle switches being flipped.

Thus the main line train can get out of town sooner and make more money while the local digs in for the real work.

CTucker NY

Reply to
Christian

[shut down] this main line engine while I engage [turn on] the local switching engine to set arrivals and acquire departures. Once completing the switching duties, I want to [shut down] the switching engine and re-acquire the main line engine to haul the newly established consist onto the next location.

With Digitrax throttles (all but the most basic) you have two throttle knobs on a single unit. It's quite possible to control two trains-locomotives at the same time, independant of one another. In your scenario, you could have both locomotives under your control before you even arrive at the siding, no changes required. Or, you can keep the mainline engine under your control and add/remove various other locomotives as desired without affecting the mainline loco.

I've run steam engine helpers on a seperate throttle knob (on the same throttle unit)... more prototypical, and MUCH more challenging, keeping the rear unit moving just enough to bunch up some slack in the train.

Reply to
Joe Ellis

Well, the big difference here, IMHO, is not programming, but the inconvenience of having to be plugged in to the system.

Hmmm... I was under the impression that you could only recall the last loco. I'll have to check this out...

Yes, and you don't have to monkey around with hex!

Reply to
Frank Eva

[shut down] this main line engine while I engage [turn on] the local switching engine to set arrivals and acquire departures. Once completing the switching duties, I want to [shut down] the switching engine and re-acquire the main line engine to haul the newly established consist onto the next location.

I think any system will allow you to do what you've stated above. However, to run both trains simultaneously is what we're talking about - not switching between the two when one is no longer being used.

Reply to
Frank Eva

Reply to
Matt & Kathleen Brennan

Frank Eva wrote: [snip]

I don't know what equipment you've been using, Frank, but I've not had to do anything in hex on my Digitrax system since the DT300 and DT400 came out.

-fm Webmaster, Rails on Wheels, Washtenaw County, Michigan's HO Modular Club, at

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The address in the header of this message is deliberately bogus to foil address-harvesters. See my web sites for my real address.

Reply to
Fritz Milhaupt

I think you described it perfectly, and this was my understanding of what you said. The DigiTrax system will be the easiest to do what you want to accomplish. You can have both trains acquired and simply switch between the two by using the left or right potentiometer. Just set the one you're leaving to zero speed, and you can go ahead and control the other. As has been mentioned, the NCE system is not quite so simple or elegant, simply because they do not provide the hardware, like DigiTrax does.

Be aware that operating a consist does NOT require the use of more than one throttle. Once you have your consist together, the lead engine dictates the movement of all other consisted engines.

Reply to
Frank Eva

Some complicated lighting techniques require an understanding of hex. And I was using the DT400.

Reply to
Frank Eva

As another user suggested, I see in the NCE manual that 6 recall slots are available. However, I still don't understand why the last acquired locomotive is not brought up when you have left the default at 2 slots - wouldn't that seem to indicate that the last two units used would be in the recall slots? Well, that is not the case, and what I think was suggested here is accurate - even though the system defaults to 2 slots, you must reconfigure your system to access all six if you want to be able to recall one of the last few units acquired. If you leave it at 2 recalls, you won't get the last unit in the top recall slot! This would seem to be a simple programming error - easily correctable by NCE if they wanted to.

Reply to
Frank Eva

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