Newbie question - Marklin Digital

Hi all. I recently returned to the model railroading hobby. My entire collection is based on Marklin products from the late 80's and early
90's. I became interested in the Marklin Digital brand, because it enables you to control the whole system more conveniently. Unfortunately (from what I understood when I read the catalog), it seems that I need to buy at least 3 seperate components (Command Control, Keyboard, Memory) and install at least 6 decoders (seeing that I have 3 locos, and a lot of other devices), and this is very expensive (hundreds of $$...). My questions are:
1)seeing that I have a computer, would a Marklin Digital Interface + several decoders be enough ? or does it just control the 3 basic components and is not independent ?
2)is there another way beside this to control the set digitally with a computer? (maybe another company has a similar device, prefared with USB connection?
3)can you recommend sites/people that sell used Marklin Digital components for a resonable price?
4)Does Marklin plan to simplify it Digital System control ?
thanks in advance
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You might want to forget Marklin Digital and go NMRA D(igital)C(ommand)C(control). I believe some decoders could work with Marklin engines but Marklin is way out of my knowledge range. There may be a two vs three rail thing in play here also so all I can really say is to check out DCC.
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If you are determined to go Marlin Digital then you should check out the Marklin Bar& Grill group at .. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/MarklinBandG/ These guys will be able to answer all your questions and more.
Cheers, Gene

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On 28 Jul 2003 10:28:51 -0700, morbo wrote:
=> I became interested in the Marklin Digital brand, because it =>enables you to control the whole system more conveniently.
...snip...
Well, yes it does, but it does not conform to the standard DCC (Digital Command Control) specifications used by everybody else. Marklin has a history of refusing to go along with standards, which means in practice that it's usually some kind of hassle to run Marklin equipment on anything other than a Marklin layout, and vice versa. Since Marklin, despite its size, cannot produce a model of everything you might want, that can crimp your style. (BTW, Marklin could have adopted the DCC standards, but then its customers would be able to buy someone else's product to run their trains, thus depriving Marklin of its rightful profits....)
As someone else has suggested, check out ordinary DCC. It's cheaper than Marklin's stuff, and getting cheaper all the time -- because it's all built to the same standard, is interchangeable, and will run anything.
Having said that, there are downsides:
A) You do in fact need three types of components, whatever system you opt for: a) the Command Centre/Power source; b) the Controllers, and c) the Decoders. You may also have to isolate a short piece of track to program the engines. I suggest you try to find people within easy driving distance who are using DCC, and ask if you can come over to see how it works, and to get advice. (You will also make contact with likeminded people, and probably make lifelong friends - a bonus!)
B) Installing decoders in older equipment may be a major hassle and may even be impossible. You may have to mill away part of the frame or chassis to make room for the decoder, build your own connector harness, and so forth. Again, in-person advice from someone who's been there is essential IMO.
C) Converting an existing roster will be costly, and may limit your operations. However, if you break your layout up into "operating districts" ("super blocks," if you will), you can continue to use conventional control on some parts of the layout and DCC on other parts during the conversion phase. Just limit different locomotives to different parts of the layout - a very prototypical thing to do anyhow. You may need a little new wiring to accomplish this. The operating districts can stay in place when you have fully converted to DCC.
Re: computer control and DCC. Using a computer to do what DCC does has no advantages - you still need decoders in every piece of equipment that you wish to control from the computer, and having just _one_ controller (the computer) for _all_ your engines vs having one controller for each engine is not exactly an improvement. Computers have their place if you wish to automate the whole layout - but that's whole different task, one that requires not only electronic but consderable programming expertise. BTW, DCC developed out of several pioneering attempts to use computers exactly as you suggest - it's in effect a dedicated computer system.
Computers are excellent for generating timetables or other aids to operations, and for simulating or enabling dispatcher control of a layout. Neither of these has any effect on how you control the locomotives, however.
HTH&GL
--

Wolf Kirchmeir
Blind River, Ontario, Canada
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morbo wrote:

You need the "Central Unit" plus the "Interface" to control loco and accessory decoders via a PC, Apple or Commodore.

Intelbox.
Ebay.
Marklin keeps development to a minimum and prices to the maximum. There are a few competing products on the European market - eg decoders that operate with either DCC or Marklin/Motorola system, eg Intelbox, Viessmann, Roco etc.
Regards, Greg.P.
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On Tue, 29 Jul 2003 16:42:54 +1200, Gregory Procter wrote: [quotingoriginal poster;] =>> 1)seeing that I have a computer, would a Marklin Digital Interface + =>> several decoders be enough ? or does it just control the 3 basic =>> components and is not independent ? => =>You need the "Central Unit" plus the "Interface" to control loco and =>accessory decoders via a PC, Apple or Commodore.
I don't understand why on would want to control all locomotives from one controller. Seems counter-productive to me. One of those "practical" ideas that isn't.
OTOH, controlling the signals and turnouts etc from a computer makes good sense - you become the dispatcher. And because on even a large layout the load on the computer would be so minimal as to be essentially unnoticeable. , you could an old, therefore very cheap, machine. Unless of course Marklin's sytem presupposes Windows -- in which case I personally would prefer to go without.
--

Wolf Kirchmeir
Blind River, Ontario, Canada
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Wolf Kirchmeir wrote:

No, you can operate your locos from your PC, using any form of input you like or care to devise. eg keyboard, infra-red mouse, games ports, printer port, software, etc.

Ma's system comes with qbasic software, both listing and compiled. For those who prefer Windows <shudder> they suggest aftermarket software.

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On 28 Jul 2003 10:28:51 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com (morbo) wrote:

Marklin is incompatible with almost all other makes, it is for toy train collectors. First decide if you want to be a Marklin fan or a model railroader able to pick and choose from the whole market.
If the first, join the Marklin email lists, if the second sell your Marklin stuff on ebay and invest the profits in 2-rail dc/dcc model railroad kit.
Make friends in the hobby. Keith Visit <http://www.grovenor.dsl.pipex.com/ Garratt photos for the big steam lovers.
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