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Digitrak DCC system

Started by NscaleNJtransit, June 07, 2011, 09:20:45 PM

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ive heard a mix of different thing of the Digitrax DCC system for n scale. im thinking of going DCC but I sdont want to waste a lot of money on a DCC system that doesnt realy work. Ive heard about bachmann but it sounds like it realy ionly works well for HO, Also what about MRC & NCE. thankyou
Snip it on, its Frisco

Country Joe

Digitrax will work fine for N scale. In fact, any DCC system that works for HO will work for N. Decoders can be scale and even engine specific. The Digitrax Zephyr is a very good starter set, as is the NCE Power Cab. The best advice is to try each system at a club, shop or train show. It's more a matter of what you like and how easy you find each one to use. Many guys like Digitrax. I don't. I find it difficult to use. I have a Lenz Set 100 which I love. If you try them you may like Digitrax better.


I did hear a rumor that you can use the KATO power pack and a digitrax, MRC, or NCE DCC remote and something also and the speed throttle on the kato controls speed and the remote does the DCC. If its true that would be great because right now that's what I have
Snip it on, its Frisco

Country Joe

With the Digitrax Zephyr you can use two power packs as throttles. I don't know how easy or convenient it is, but I know it can be done. I looked into the Zephyr before I decided that Lenz was the best choice for me.


Confused? You will be.

DCC decoders that conform to NMRA standards should work with all DCC systems.

DCC controllers, however, are another kettle of fish.
You have XPressNet which is a Command Bus used by Atlas, Lenz, Hornby, OpenDCC (DIY), Paco Canada (DIY), ZTC Controls, Viessmann, and Roco.
Digitrax have their Loconet system while NCE use another system called the Cab Bus. I believe Bachmann use the Ecoslink bus.
There are some others too which I won't go into. None of them work together, so do your research first.


Quote from: NscaleNJtransit on June 08, 2011, 04:53:59 PM
I did hear a rumor that you can use the KATO power pack and a digitrax, MRC, or NCE DCC remote and something also and the speed throttle on the kato controls speed and the remote does the DCC. If its true that would be great because right now that's what I have


Part of what you heard is true. The Zephyr was developed by Digitrax in a joint effort with Kato, and the Kato controllers are compatible with the Zephyr's "jump ports". Kato markets the Zephyr in Japan under their own label. The Zephyr will have to assign a DCC equipped loco to operate with the jump port, and the controller hooked up to the jump port will only control that loco's speed and direction. It will not access any functions such as headlight on/off, that will have to be set by the Zephyr before the loco is handed over (dispatched) to the jump port controller. This is a great feature that allows you to use the Kato controller(s) that you already may own, until your budget allows the purchase of an additional Digitrax walk-around throttle (either wired or wireless if you also buy a wireless transceiver panel). Other brands of DC throttles may or may not work with the jump port, depending on the kind of DC they put out. If it is a pulsed DC, it may confuse the Zephyr because it's output may look like a DCC signal, in which case it won't work. Other brands of DCC throttles will not work either, because the Digitrax throttle bus is proprietary. If you already have one or two Kato controllers you are good to go with a Zephyr. None of the other Digitrax systems (or anyone else's DCC system for that matter) offer the jump ports.

Bill in FL

Albert in N

A cheaper and less stress option is DC cab-control wiring.  That was the standard before DCC was invented.  Check out page 41 (How to wire a layout for two-train operation) in July 2011 Model Railroader magazine.  Soldering tiny N Scale wiring never was my favorite activity.  Unless you plan on running five or more locomotives at the same time on a very large layout, I question the cost-effectiveness or need for DCC.  Of course I am old and have always preferred running electric trains over video games.  Call me a dinosaur, but I prefer to have the $500 plus in my bank account as opposed to converting to a DCC system.  Try it out at a friend's layout, club layout, train show, or hobby shop before you convert. 


 :)I have 2 Digitrax Zephyr systems ( i bought both from Ebay and one guy was jerking me around on shipping me his " end of the bargain " so I canvcelled his, ask for money back and bought another and he ships anyway) long story short, once you read and understand the "technical manuals" that come with the sets, these are straightforward, very user intuitive and user friendly systems. they have three types of programming modes, and can handle up to ten addresses (locomotives) running at a time. And the jump ports can use any non-pulsed dc controllers as throttles.  I agree that shopping around and try before you buy with a club or a friends system ( some hobby shops have systems you can try out) will make you the most satisfied with your decision on what system is best for you but don't knock the digitrax system or their decoders till you try one