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  • Topic: Wireless NCE vs Digitrax vs ?

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    • April 17, 2018 11:36 AM EDT
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      Wireless NCE vs Digitrax vs ?

      Anyone have any strong opinions one way or the other on the wireless capabilities between NCE PowerPro wireless and the Digitrax wireless handhelds?   NCE claims 100 or so feet with the latest upgrade.  I havent seen anything about range for the Digitrax.  Both systems seem to have similar functionality for similar prices.  Most of what Ive read has boiled down to "mine is better than yours", I havent really seen a technical reason to go with one vs the other.   

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    • April 17, 2018 11:54 AM EDT
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      Bob

      Our On30 club uses NCE (along with the local N scale bunch). The NMGR guys, DCC contingent use Digitrax. Having seen them both in action I concur with your comment about all things being equal as far as cost and performance. NCE is the newer technology with a better control screen.  Even though I own the NCE and like it, I think the Digitrax is the way to go for two reasons.

       

      1. We have had some trouble getting customer service with NCE. I think they have grown faster than their business model.

       

      2. Digitrax has the ability to assign 0 to any DC engine and operate it as if it were a DCC controlled engine. NCE does not have this capability. It has come in handy many times for demonstrating to new members who are considering switching over and want to see how DCC works or simply for test running a loco.

       

      $ .02

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      Boomer

       

      I am not complaining because the glass is half empty nor that it is half full..it is simply the wrong flavor!

       

    • April 17, 2018 11:57 AM EDT
      • Holiday Inn Express, School of train repair
         
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      Oh forgot this.....

       

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      Boomer

       

      I am not complaining because the glass is half empty nor that it is half full..it is simply the wrong flavor!

       

    • April 17, 2018 12:20 PM EDT
      • Chariton, Iowa
         
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      I just sold my NCE 10 amp vireless set up to go Battery/RC instead. I personally don't have any experience with Digitrax, other than using their decoders. But I have friends who use Digitrax systems.

      I acually had two NCE units. The first one quit working, so I sent it back to the factory for repairs. While waiting for it to be returned, I purchased another identical unit, which gave me a second wireless cab. I also purchased a wireless Cab-06 unit.

      As far as the range goes, I could still control the engines when I was far enough away that I really couldn't see them very well at all. I'd estimate close to 100 yds., and I never had an issue with interference from any source, that I'm aware of.

      I tried using NCE's Switchcat decoders to control turnout motors. These were a mixed bag of varying results. Some worked, some didn't, while others would work part of the time.

    • April 17, 2018 12:23 PM EDT
      • Chariton, Iowa
         
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      I almost forgot. The last time I logged in to Reindeer Pass's website I noticed he no longer had a listing for NCE. I haven't had a chance to ask Mike about the reason for this.

    • April 17, 2018 2:03 PM EDT
      • Port Orchard, Washington
         
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      Don't know if this helps, but NCE is supporting the development of the Protothrottle, but Digitrax isn't..

    • April 17, 2018 2:34 PM EDT

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      I've used both systems, and for some time.

      Overall I prefer NCE.

      First, let us make sure we throw out the original half duplex Digitrax systems... they were indeed crap.

      NCE came out of the chute with full duplex. Explained simply, the nce system sends a command wirelessly, and the command station responds, and ONLY then is your local throttle display updated.

      Therefore you know if the command was received or not, i.e. you immediately know if you are out of range. In the half duplex systems, like AirWire and the original Digitrax, you may be sending commands, but have no clue if they are being received.

       

      So after time Digitrax upgraded to full duplex. From my experience, the Digitrax system is less developed, and it also interfered more with NCE. NCE had more flexibility in their design.

       

      There's another important NCE advantage, you can have multiple base stations to cover a greater area, up to 31 of them... you could literally cover almost any space. I did use up to 3 base stations, since I have a layout on 3 sides of my house.

       

      Another difference, there is a much more active user's group, and there are several individuals that have HUGE amounts of information, Mark Gurries' site alone tips the scales in favor of NCE:

      https://sites.google.com/site/markgurries/home/nce-info/nce-dcc-systems

       

      Greg

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    • April 17, 2018 3:28 PM EDT

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      By the way, the user interface of NCE is way better than the cryptic Digitrax in my opinion, and I also like the shape and number of dedicated buttons on the ProCab a lot better.

       

      Greg

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    • April 17, 2018 8:17 PM EDT
      • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
         
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      Both HO clubs I belong to use a Digitrax. I agree with Greg, the display isn't as informative as it could be, and the handheld doesn't respond the way I want it to all of the time.

       

      One member brought his NCE Procab, to program decoders off the layout. It was so easy to program decoders with it, where programming decoders with the Digitrax involved a lot more reading and guesstimating on my part.

       

      I know that doesn't answer your question about range, and reliability when wireless, but ease of use is also something to consider.

      This post was edited by David Maynard at April 17, 2018 8:29 PM EDT
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    • April 18, 2018 9:07 AM EDT
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      Thanks for the info, folks.  Very valuable.  

       

      Ben: Too bad you have already sold that system, that's the one Ive been eyeing.  Ah well.

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    • April 18, 2018 9:51 AM EDT
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      Bob

      If Ben just got rid of the system you are looking at to go Batt / RC maybe you should consider that too. The best advice I ever got when I entered this hobby and was looking at Bridgeworks DC system was "Go battery and avoid the learning curve".

       

      ...and no complaining about the cost difference. I am sure there is a telescope pawnshop that could help you out with that.

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      Boomer

       

      I am not complaining because the glass is half empty nor that it is half full..it is simply the wrong flavor!

       

    • April 18, 2018 11:43 AM EDT

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      I believe that the features and capabilities Bob is looking for stretches ordinary R/C a bit thin. Also as time goes forwards, what "we" get will mostly be upscaled HO DCC stuff, it's the big market that will keep going.

       

      I hope we really are not going to start the battery vs. everyone else on the DCC forum! Especially when the OP is the owner of the forum!

       

      Back to the questions, I miss the simplicity and straightforwardness of my NCE system. I have always had good luck with any repairs, but I have also called them directly, and kept cognizant of what state and city they were in.

       

      My Zimo system can do more, but I miss the NCE menu system and great visibility in sunlight. By the way, I did not need the 3 base stations, I went back to 2 of them, and it was not so much that I did not have enough range, but function button response is faster with better signal.

       

      Greg

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    • April 18, 2018 11:54 AM EDT
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      I've been battery/RC since I got into large scale, almost 20 years.  I have various reasons for looking at DCC.  I'm digging and asking questions see if this looks like a reasonable direction to go in.

       

       

      This post was edited by Bob McCown at April 18, 2018 11:54 AM EDT
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    • April 18, 2018 12:19 PM EDT
      • Chariton, Iowa
         
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      I see I need to clarify one thing. I didn't sell the NCE because there was any problems with it. I just got tired of cleaning track, questionable continuity at the rail joints, and especially the manufacturers crappy excuse for track pickups and wheel material. Plus with dead rail I don't have to use reverse loop modules, I can lay track anywhere I can get it to fit.

       

    • April 18, 2018 1:11 PM EDT

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      Thanks Ben for making things clear.

       

      Hopefully I'm not derailing this thread, but when I started, I read all the forums I could get my hands on before laying track seriously (had 2 small test loops). Having a background in electrical engineering, and reading about all the problems, it seemed that you needed to start out "seriously" if you use track power. From my experiments and my proximity to the ocean, I knew I wanted SS track just to avoid the oxidation issues. From all my reading and people being upset about track power, and just plain common sense, I could see the rail joiners supplied with track just collected moisture and were a weak point. If I could have gone with brass, I would have soldered jumpers and be done forever.

       

      But spot welding jumpers to SS track looked to be a lot of trouble, so I went the best I could, SS rail clamps from split jaw, with SS screws. Now almost 20 years later, I MIGHT have to remove and clean/tighten perhaps 2 or 3 joiners per year on 850 feet of track. I call that success. I never have issues, but I put the effort into the layout at the beginning.

       

      I run lots of different locos, but I do clean the wheels on locos every so often. Just plain gunk accumulates. It's a bit more work than never cleaning wheels, but way less than maintaining 40 locos with batteries at full charge. So in terms of effort, I spend way less time than battery power.

       

      I get what Ben says that he does not need reverse loop modules. Well, I only have one reverse loop, and the electronics are in a little box and are almost 20 years old and going strong, only 4 connections, 2 to the main line, and 2 to the reversing loop. So, it's another zero hassle, zero maintenance item.

       

      But I get all the benefits of a large power bus, all my remote switch machine controls (stationary decoders, usually Digitrax) connect to the track wherever convenient, and the track also powers the pneumatic solenoids that throw the turnouts. HUGE benefit, really no wires to run all over the place and remote control of any turnout from any throttle anywhere.

       

      It's so much easier to convert a loco to DCC as opposed to doing a battery install, less wires, fewer components, and I can run smoke all day, trains all day, sound all day, lights all day, etc.

       

      I wonder Ben, if you had started with rail clamps or soldered jumpers, if you would have changed?

       

      Anyway, as always there's several ways to skin a cat, but a solid foundation allows DC, DCC, deadrail, live steam. Yes, I spent more money for rail and joiners, but that was 18 years ago, it's an investment that paid off.

       

      Greg

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    • April 18, 2018 1:26 PM EDT
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      Greg

      Well said.

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      Boomer

       

      I am not complaining because the glass is half empty nor that it is half full..it is simply the wrong flavor!

       

    • April 18, 2018 1:43 PM EDT
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      Bob

      When my On30 club started we were in pretty much the same situation you appear to be in. Some of the members wanted the ability to control switches and other features as well as non-motive items such as caboose and passenger lighting. DCC is the best way to do all of that, if for no other reason than the control is all from one point (throttle). Your comment about other features explains your desire to switch from RC/Batt.

       

      Not knowing much about DCC myself at the time I asked Scott Hatch (former owner Trains West), a member of the NMGR and a life long diehard Digitrax fan for his opinion. He is the one that told us to go with NCE pretty much for all of the reasons Greg outlines. I have a tethered NCE Powercab other members have different but compatible NCE products. I agree with all of the comments on performance for it. Still if I had to do it over again I would go with Digitrax for one reason that had not occurred to me before and it may be important to you. I have no technical support for NCE but I do have a local expert for Digitrax.

       

      Of course I could move to Carlsbad CA and stick with NCE. Or you could bring the telescope to NM. We do have the lowest light pollution quotient in North America (because sheep don't use electricity)

      This post was edited by Boomer K. MOGWAI at April 18, 2018 1:47 PM EDT
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      Boomer

       

      I am not complaining because the glass is half empty nor that it is half full..it is simply the wrong flavor!

       

    • April 18, 2018 1:47 PM EDT

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      Come on out Boomer! Got a spare room, lots of Scotch, fast internet, and all the cigars you can smoke. Plus it seems you like cats! Oh, we have trains too!

      This post was edited by Greg Greg Elmassian at April 18, 2018 2:16 PM EDT
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    • April 18, 2018 2:49 PM EDT
      • Port Orchard, Washington
         
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      Bob McCown said:

       

      I've been battery/RC since I got into large scale, almost 20 years.  I have various reasons for looking at DCC.  I'm digging and asking questions see if this looks like a reasonable direction to go in.

       

       

      I'm kind of in the same boat. I like the old RCS system I use, but with the introduction over the past few years of the top of the line sound decoders and other 'cool' things like the Protothrottle have me rethinking if my old ways of thinking are wrong. The good thing is that I would still be able to run the old stuff as I slowly switch over (and/or save the electronics to use in MOW trucks or something other than a engine).

    • April 18, 2018 3:29 PM EDT

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      Last weekend a friend came by with a K27. It had a phoenix in it, running from DC. I pulled out the Phoenix, unhooked the reeds for the chuff. Plugged in a QSI and we were off and going. Took more time to remove the Phoenix than to install the QSI.

       

      Ran it around the track, and the bell was too loud... ZAP... changed the CV for the volume while it was running around my smaller loop... sitting in my easy chair. Then tweaked up the whistle a bit. Increased the chuff volume a little and tweaked the "sensitivity" so it was barking a bit more on acceleration.

       

      My buddy was happy to get to "tweak" it just exactly the way he wanted. Now this loco is modern in design, has built in chuff sensors, etc. But the "fun factor" of it running right away, plus the ability to "tweak" it to his liking makes it more fun and enjoyable.

       

      It beats the poop out of a model that sounds like a motor in a sewing machine, or all your locos sounding identical. Now you add puffing smoke on top and woo hoo...

       

      Greg

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