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Author Topic: Newbie question - pls be gentle :)  (Read 2460 times)
index2020

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« on: January 18, 2011, 03:24:21 PM »

Hello,

I am new to model trains. Apologies in advance for what might seem like a very basic question.

I have just ordered the Bachmann Trains Snap-Fit E-Z Track and a DCC locomotive (Athearn). Now I am looking to buy a DCC controller and power supply to connect to my tracks. Is the Bachmann E-Z Command DCC Controller sufficient to complete my model train (at least for basic functionality) or do I need  any other equipment such as converters/power supply as well?

Thanks,
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ACY

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« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2011, 05:38:27 PM »

The E-Z Command comes with all you need to connect to Bachmann E_Z track and plug it in.
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jward


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« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2011, 08:31:59 PM »

the short answer is yes, the ez command will serve a basic setup.

but......

are you sure the athearn locomotive is dcc equipped? or is it merely "dcc ready".....there is a big difference between the two terms. dcc equipped means it already has a decoder installed. dcc ready means that the motor is isolated from the chassis and a decoder can be installed without shorting anything out. dcc ready locomotives may or may not have a plug for a decoder in the locomotive, but they do not have the decoder itself. to run dcc your locomotive must have the decoder.

i believe the ez command system comes with everything you need including power supply. but bear in mind it is the most basic, stripped system you can buy. as such, it can only do very minimal programming of your locomotive, like changing the address it responds to and little else. fi that's all you want to do, the system will work for you. if you'd like to set things like minimum and maximum speed, mometum effects and other things too numerous to mention here, you will quickly outgrow the ez command.
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Jeffery S Ward Sr
Pittsburgh, PA
Doneldon

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« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2011, 10:10:28 PM »

2020-

Yes, the EZ Command DCC system will operate your Athearn DCC loco, and any other DCC loco from any manufacturer (as long as we're talking HO, S or N scales). It is, however, quite limited. It's programming ability only qualifies if one applies the narrowest definition of program. It can control only two to four HO locos, depending on their size, age, type of motor and presence or absence of sound. It is able to access only a few of the numerous light and sound features found on many DCC locomotives. On the other hand, it is by far the least expensive and least intimidating DCC system you can find. So it can be great for a new model railroader or an experienced modeler who is just starting to dabble in DCC.

If you plan to stay with the hobby, and maybe it's too early for you to know that yet, and especially if you think you'll want something beyond a minimal set-up and limited ability to use the plethora of features of modern DCC, you might want to consider starting just a bit higher on the sophistication (and cost, of course) ladder. You'll probably pay something in the $75-80 range for an EZ-DCC system. Add $50-75 and you can purchase the Bachmann Dynamis system which is more powerful, makes use of many more programming and light/sound features, and will permit wireless throttles to control your trains. It's a system which could serve you for quite a while in this hobby. The next step isn't a whole lot more money, maybe $25-50, and for that you'll have even more features and potential. Those systems will be from manufacturers other than Bachmann but that shouldn't present any operational problems; just about everything sold in the US (I'm assuming you're here which could be my error, I know) adheres to NMRA (National Model Railroad Association) standards which means all of the systems will operate one another's decoders except for a few features which are limited to a few manufacturers' proprietary systems.

Welcome to the hobby. I know you'll enjoy yourself -- mostly, there are a few frustrations, too -- and I hope you stay with the hobby and this board a long time.

                                                           -- D
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index2020

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« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2011, 12:50:46 AM »

Thanks for your reply.

My train is HO scale Athearn SD60M w/DCC & Sound, UP #6344.

I am willing to spend up to $200 for a power supply + controller. What would you recommend? I think I will stay with this hobby for a while!

Cheers,
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Doneldon

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« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2011, 07:28:52 AM »

2020-

Well, I can give you some suggestions about systems to consider but only you can decide which system fits best with your plans and desires. We're in the land of opinions here and what's right for one person may or may not be right for another. That said, let me suggest several systems to investigate and some ideas about how you can investigate them.

The four systems, all of which are NMRA conformant, are: Bachmann Dynamis, Digitrax Zephyr Plus, MRC Prodigy Express and NCE Power Cab. All have MSRPs which are roughly in the $200 range, but can easily be found at online hobby retailers or on ebay (new) for a good 20% less. That brings them all within your price point, a couple well within your price point. Don't skimp on your price comparisons. You just might bump into a source where the exact system you want is on sale at a great price or where your close seond choice is marked many dollars less than your first choice.

These systems are all-inclusive, i.e., everything you need to get started is in the box. That avoids the disappointment of getting the system home before learning that you can't run it because some key component is sold separately. It also avoids the intimidating task of weighing the suggestions of a salesperson whose primary motive may be to up your bill rather than sell you what is best for your needs. You do, of course, need a few additional items like wire and some tools but you likely already have those unless you are building a veritable empire. And these prices do not include the decoders you'll need in future purchases because even you probably don't know what those purchases will be.

If you go to:               

http://www.google.com/search?q=nce&rls=com.microsoft:en-us:IE-SearchBox&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&sourceid=ie7&rlz=1I7GGLL_en#hl=en&sugexp=ldymls&xhr=t&q=dcc+systems&cp=4&qe=ZGNjIHN5cw&qesig=UfGVzi81KkT_oGcLQk06-A&pkc=AFgZ2tkTZjQofZD2nFqQFa3lhi4TzGB3khRu-RPeVoOEpRj4z4JoQqBNdTGxVKoZWl0iaceMPnUhGwZGrz02KOTwbxPsZMqU8Q&pf=p&sclient=psy&rls=com.microsoft:en-us%3AIE-SearchBox&rlz=1I7GGLL_en&aq=0&aqi=&aql=&oq=dcc+sys&pbx=1&fp=5ea08b01bd7a8d2d               

you'll find some links to manufacturers' websites and a couple of DCC comparison charts. (Yes, that's a long web address.) Don't hesitate to consult manufacturers or retailers for information but always keep in mind that you are looking for what best suits you, but not necessarily what they have for sale. Do your homework, read other opinions on this board and make your decision. And remember, you really can't make too big of a mistake as long as you stick to NMRA compliant systems from known manufacturers and sellers.

Good luck with your endeavor.
                                                                 -- D
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mabloodhound


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« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2011, 11:12:35 AM »

Good info all and I would add, check out http://www.tonystrains.com/, one of the best DCC dealers.   He has numerous tips on the website which can help you decide.
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Dave Mason

D&G RR (Dunstead & Granford) in On30
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 in matters of principle, stand like a rock.   Thos. Jefferson

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BradKT

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« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2011, 12:59:24 AM »

Don't every worry about asking whatever question you want to ask on this site.  I have done so many times on a wide variety of subjects, learned a lot and how to do a lot of things from some very experienced model railroaders who are eager to share their knowledge and who have educated me and saved me a lot of time, money and grief.  If you don't know the answer...then don't be afraid to ask. 

There is no such thing as a stupid question.  My experience is that there are a lot of very good and knowledgeable people on this site who will respond to your questions and who will help you do things that are way beyond what you might have originally thought that you could do by yourself.

Regarding your question...although I may upgrade to a system like Digitrax that has  more capabilities at a later date, I have been pleased with the Bachmann DCC power pack and 5-amp booster.  If you have a relatively small and simple layout, this is all you need.

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Doneldon

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« Reply #8 on: January 22, 2011, 07:05:01 PM »

Brad-

The problem with the EZ Command plus five-amp booster is cost; you can get a
full-featured system, though with less brute strength, for what you'll pay for the
EZ Com and the very expensive booster. I did get the last one at Micro Mark
two days ago for $58 but I never saw one for less that about $145 before that.

                                                                               -- D
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BradKT

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« Reply #9 on: January 22, 2011, 11:50:30 PM »

Try Blue Ridge Hobbies.  They usually have the best prices on the internet that I have seen.

I certainly have no problem with your going to a system with more capabilities.  My advice is to examine what your actual and future anticipated needs are first and let that drive your decision.  If you want to control items that use stationary decoders, etc., then you will need a system that has more capabilities than the Bachmann system.   If you just want to control 2-3 trains on a midsized layout, then that is within the capabilities of the Bachmann system.

I can control 2-3 trains on a fairly large layout (3 main lines on an L-shaped layout...1 leg being 6'x10' and the other leg being 9'x5') with the Bachmann system (including the 5 amp booster) with no problem once I installed 3 or 4  multiple terminals around each of the 3 main lines.  I don't have anything that uses stationary decoders on my layout at this time.

I have heard good things about the basic Digitrax system and I am looking into it for the day when I decide to upgrade, but for now, the Bachmann system will do.

In the final analysis, it's what you are comfortable with...both in terms of price and capabilities.  For me, the system also has to be fairly simple to use.

Good luck with your decision.
« Last Edit: January 22, 2011, 11:53:57 PM by BradKT » Logged
CNE Runner


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« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2011, 12:36:42 PM »

Hi Index2020 - I would like to put forth a comment on your thread's title (about being 'gentle). I'm sure you have noticed that 99.9% of the posters, on the Bachmann forum, are supportive of anyone posting herein. Furthermore I am going to assume that you have been the victim of some rough handling on other forums (I have been in the hobby for years, and have also been 'roughed up' on other forums...'goes with the territory I guess). We are so glad that you have discovered our intrepid group and warmly welcome to our ranks.

Best regards,
Ray
Monks' Island Railway
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"Keeping my hand on the throttle...and my eyes on the rail"
Colorado_Mac

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« Reply #11 on: January 25, 2011, 12:35:22 AM »

Welcome to the asylum...er, hobby.  I started with the Bachmann EX DCC and then graduated to the Lenz Set100.  I'm very happy with it, but you have to shop around for good prices.  I also had no problem at all selling my used Bachmann DCC on craigslist for almost what I paid for it, though I wish now I had kept it for a "spare".
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