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Using CVP EasyDCC

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  • Member since
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  • From: Phoenixville, PA
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Using CVP EasyDCC
Posted by nbrodar on Thursday, May 01, 2008 11:16 PM

I recently converted to DCC. After looking at Digitrax and NCE, I decided on CVP's EasyDCC system.  The basic system consists of a base station and Single Zonemaster booster. I opted to upgrade to the mid-level system that included the tethered handheld throttle and to add the Dual Zonemaster booster.

The Dual Zonemaster contains two separate circuits, one of which has built-in auto reverse.  I like this feature.  The booster produces a total of 7 amps for both circuits.   One downside however, is the booster requires a proprietary power supply.

I like having the base station to handle all the programming tasks, leaving the handhelds for control only.  The base station also contains two throttles.  I mounted the base station on my main control panel, in place of the DC controllers:

I mounted the booster (on left), booster power supply (middle), accessory power supply (the Tech II power pack), and throttle bus controller (top left) on a shelf under the control panel:
 

I particularly like the handhelds.  They are narrow enough to be operated one handed:
  

I also like the fact, CVP uses headphone jacks rather then RJ jacks and standard co-ax cable for the throttle bus.
 

It took less time to install the base station then for the paint on the panel to dry.  I was up and operating with the fixed throttles it about 30 minutes.  Setting up the handheld throttle bus and fascia jacks took a couple hours.

The CVP manuals are the best I've used.  It shows screen shots and gives the key strokes needed to accomplish the tasks.  The system itself is very intuitive to use.  After only 5 minutes, I was able to program addresses and set CVs.   The display walks you through most steps if you get lost.  EasyDCC supports both Ops (main line) and Service (programing track) programing.  When programming 3 or 4 digit addresses, the system automatically sets up the CVs for extended addressing.

The system software can be upgraded with user-replaceable chips, rather then having to send the base station back or buying a new one.

There are a few quarks to EasyDCC though.  First off, it DOESN'T support address 0. So, this is an all or nothing conversion.  Second, as I mentioned before, the booster require a proprietary power supply, that costs extra.   Lastly, the system is very powerful, feature packed, and completely upgradeable, it's not cheap.   My system base station, booster, power supply, tethered handheld throttle, throttle bus controller, and three fascia plates cost $550 including shipping.   

Overall, I'm happy with the system.   And I'll report more as I get deeper in the nuances of EasyDCC's operation. 

Nick 

 

Take a Ride on the Reading with the: Reading Company Technical & Historical Society http://www.readingrailroad.org/

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Posted by kjellgerik on Friday, May 02, 2008 6:34 AM

Hi Nick,

I have been using the EasyDCC for several years now, but is now in the progress to switch to ESUs EcoS station. This is because of one big drawback, it does not work together with advanced DCC-software like Railroad&Co Train Controller. The EasyDCC system is too slow to update the software with needed information, like locospeed.  EasyDCC probably needs a new faster cpu for that.

Besides of this I too have been happy with the system.

Kjell

  • Member since
    July, 2003
  • From: Sierra Vista, Arizona
  • 13,269 posts
Posted by cacole on Friday, May 02, 2008 7:24 AM

I have an Easy DCC system set up as a portable programming track and system that can be used to run our outdoor modular layout during open houses.

Several times I have had to use Easy DCC to program locomotive decoders that other systems couldn't handle without a special booster. 

I also use CVP's AirWire 900 exclusively to run my G-scale trains.  By running them on battery power, I never have to clean track or worry about reverse loops, which I have a lot of in my back yard.

One comment I don't agree with is the need for a proprietary power supply with Easy DCC's booster.  I use a surplus computer power supply for my 5 Amp booster and have had no problems with it.  Nearly all DCC manufacturers specify the need for an AC power supply for their boosters, but a DC supply will work just fine as long as it has sufficient amperage.

  • Member since
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  • From: Phoenixville, PA
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Posted by nbrodar on Friday, May 02, 2008 7:52 AM

Cacole,

That was true of CVP's previous Booster3, 5, and 10.   CVP's new Zonemaster boosters require the Zonemaster power supply.  Although I suppose someone with the skills could build a power supply with the appropriate plug for the Zonemaster boosters.

Nick 

Take a Ride on the Reading with the: Reading Company Technical & Historical Society http://www.readingrailroad.org/

  • Member since
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  • From: Abu Dhabi, UAE
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Posted by Scarpia on Friday, May 16, 2008 7:10 AM

After some research, both on this forum and others, I went with the CVP Easy DCC system as my very first DCC setup. From the sounds of it I have the identical configuration.

I have found it to be very easy to configure and operate. It's frustrating that you can only get things direct from them, but they are very nice and helpful on the telephone. I went with the CVP system as much for future compatability as any other reason. As I had nothing, there were no conversion costs for me.

I've heard a lot of "complaints" about a power supply being needed for the booster, but I have to admit I don't really understand the issue folks have. Sure, it was some extra cash, but this isn't an inexpensive hobby no matter how you cut it, and I've found the CVP setup to be flawless in installation and execution so far. I'm running nothing but Bachmann stock decoders, (haven't gotten brave enough to replace them yet) and the CVP system programs and runs them with no hitches.

I wish the LCD screen was a little less cryptic, but I guess I'll figure it out as I go.

I'm trying to model 1956, not live in it.

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  • From: Portland, OR
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Posted by jfugate on Friday, May 16, 2008 10:28 AM

As of last check, EasyDCC won't do direct mode programming on the programming track, which means it won't program some of the newer decoders (like BLI BlueLine sound decoders). I suspect they'll fix that in a firmware release, but just so people know if they're thinking of buying the system.

EasyDCC is a very solid system, especially their wireless throttles. I used the system for 8 years (2000 - 2007) and found it to be rock solid in its performance.

I finally sold my EasyDCC system and went to NCE last fall because it was cheaper than a full upgrade to all the latest stuff from EasyDCC, and NCE has fewer limitations than EasyDCC. My TX900 throttles had become obsolete and were sometimes acting funny -- and CVP couldn't find anything wrong with them.

I also have found EasyDCC's prices creeping up since 2000, to the point their prices are a tad on the high side compared to the other DCC vendors who sell through multiple outlets. For example, CVP's wireless display throttle sells for $230, compared to a street price of $180 for a full-function NCE display throttle.

But it's a good system, and anyone who owns it should find, like I did, that it will give you many years of solid service. 

Joe Fugate Modeling the 1980s SP Siskiyou Line in southern Oregon

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Posted by trainnut1250 on Saturday, May 17, 2008 3:26 AM

I have used Easy DCC for several years now.  Ive owned it since 2004.  Several of us around here (Bay area, CA) have bought the system after seeing it perfom well at one of the local operating guru's layout.  I like the ease of use and the reliability.  If you want bullet proof wireless, this is the system to have.  The throttles are very straight forward and user friendly.  I agree it is pricey, but everytime I operate on another system I am glad that I have CVP (My opinion, not a fact - no flames please) 

I should also add that I don't consist, I don't own any Blueline and I program long addresses using hex values in individual CVS (don't remember the specifics right now) to avoid address problems with the Tsunamis and the older QSI equipped locos from BLI.  I recently bought a programming track booster that should eliminate the need for hex programming.  I run smaller steam on a point to point operations based layout with five or fewer operators.  So far the system has worked great for me.  True, I have had a few issues with the system, but nothing to deter me from recommending it.  Now if I could just swing a loan for some more throttles....

 

Guy

see stuff at: the Willoughby Line Site

  • Member since
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  • From: Abu Dhabi, UAE
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Posted by Scarpia on Monday, May 19, 2008 7:09 AM

For my purposes I found EasyDCC more economical, as I started out with 3 cab capability (with the two on the control panel). With my smaller layout, and lack of other potential operators for the most part, the wireless really isn't necesary and the fact that the control panel comes with two built in throttles is really useful. I also don't have a local store that sells anything, so unfortunatley that didn't aid in my decision (Tony's Trains are physically located about an hour and half away, unfortunatley they don't do walk in business).

Joe, I'd like to publicly thank you for your fine articles and "clinic" on DCC. That went a long way in my deciding to go with CVP. I appreciate your time. Thumbs Up [tup]

I'm trying to model 1956, not live in it.

  • Member since
    January, 2002
  • From: Portland, OR
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Posted by jfugate on Monday, May 19, 2008 2:57 PM

You're welcome, Scarpia.

I also am doing an update of my DCC Clinic info at the NMRA National this July in Anaheim. I plan to video the clinic and then post it to the web so people who couldn't make it to Anaheim can benefit. 

Joe Fugate Modeling the 1980s SP Siskiyou Line in southern Oregon

  • Member since
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  • From: Central Texas
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Posted by mcleveland on Sunday, September 06, 2009 3:04 PM

I discovered your comments on the forum and since there has been over a year that has past I'm curious what your present feelings are regarding the EasyDCC system you purchased in 2008?

I'm currently building a 21x17 HO layout and I am doing research on a new DCC system.  I've used Digitrax in the past but I'm interested in looking at other systems.

Some of the other comments seemed to point towards issues with programming BLI Blue Line locos.  Have you found this to be an issue?

 Any current comments would be most appreciated.  Also where is CVP located?

 

Thanks

Mike

 

Mike Cleveland
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    March, 2008
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Posted by Valleycrest RR on Sunday, September 06, 2009 3:55 PM

The ZoneMaster manual states that it is designed only for use with an external, regulated, DC power supply. It does not require a proprietary power supply. Any regulated, DC power supply of the correct voltage and current should work.

  • Member since
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  • From: Phoenixville, PA
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Posted by nbrodar on Sunday, September 06, 2009 9:06 PM

mcleveland

Some of the other comments seemed to point towards issues with programming BLI Blue Line locos.  Have you found this to be an issue?

As I have no Blue Line locos, I can't speak to that issue, but I've had no problem programming any of the Atlas, and TCS decoders I use.


 Any current comments would be most appreciated.  Also where is CVP located?

Thanks

Mike

 

I'm still very happy with my choice.  Several of my friends use Digitrax, and I operate with them, but I prefer my CVP system.   The handhelds just feel more "right".  Of course I also know all the CVP keystrokes, and have to pause to remember the Digitrax ones.

CVP is located in Richardson, Texas. You can find them online here: http://www.cvpusa.com/

Nick

Take a Ride on the Reading with the: Reading Company Technical & Historical Society http://www.readingrailroad.org/

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Posted by trainnut1250 on Sunday, September 06, 2009 11:12 PM

Still standing by my earlier comments in this thread.  Still works great, programming track booster helped with Tsunami Issues.  Haven't had to think much about it.  Just go out to the train room and run trains.

Guy

see stuff at: the Willoughby Line Site

  • Member since
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  • From: Abu Dhabi, UAE
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Posted by Scarpia on Monday, September 07, 2009 7:46 AM

Like the others, I have no regrets in my choice. Simply put, it works great, and as mentioned the hand held throttles are comfortable.

I'm trying to model 1956, not live in it.

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    February, 2013
  • 45 posts
Posted by N6VC on Monday, February 04, 2013 4:14 AM

I built my first EasyDCC from a kit, when you could still buy everything this way from CVP. I don't remember the year, but it was still a 2 digit loco address system. I wound my own AC 18 volt transformers for the Booster3 kits I bought. The booster3s had their own built in power supply on the card. I'm still using them.

A group of us operated this setup at a bookstore, everyday, for two years without a glitch. Two of my sons also have their own EasyDCC systems.

An ignorant group here just sold me their EasyDCC setup for $125. They replaced it with a Digitrax system because "they couldn't figure out the EasyDCC manual". I got two booster3s, one with a power supply, seven XR1300 throttles, one wireless receiver with transformer, two throttle exxtenders with transformers, one command station with transformer and a bag full of 1/4" mono plugs to build a throttle bus with.

EasyDCC is a great system. Be careful and only buy NMRA warranted decoders for your motive power. I bought a bunch of Digitrax decoders before I found out they weren't warranted. I could do all the manual programming without a problem, but if I used the macros to do it, it scrambled the decoder memory. After purchasing warranted decoders, everything worked as advertized. I've never used Digitrax sound decoders, but I have other brands with no problems. It isn't necessary to add more power to the programming track if you disconnect one of the speaker wires.

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  • From: SE Minnesota
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Posted by jrbernier on Monday, February 04, 2013 2:42 PM

  'New' Digitrax decoders always have had a warranty. At first, Digitrax charged a flat fee of $17/decoder.  They later changed that to 'tell me a good story of how you blew the decoder' and we will replace it.  If you bought used ones(or discontinued ones), then you are out of luck. Expecting a manufacturer to support a product that they cannot get parts for anymore really makes no sense - Technology moved forward.   Most 'fleet' decoders can now be had for $15-20 each.  Even with the 'warranty', you still have to pay for the shipping cost of mailing them in.  Shipping/insurance can cost $7-8.  Now if you have a $75-100 investment in a sound decoder, then the warranty makes sense.

  Your comment on removing the speaker wire while programming does not fly.  The 'in-rush' current of the capacitors charging is still there.  older QSI and sometimes SoundTraxx Tsunami sound decoders have needed a 'boost' to program from my experience.  Maybe the EasyDCC programming track is putting out more current?

Jim

Modeling BNSF  and Milwaukee Road in SW Wisconsin

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Posted by Stevert on Monday, February 04, 2013 3:24 PM

N6VC
Be careful and only buy NMRA warranted decoders for your motive power. I bought a bunch of Digitrax decoders before I found out they weren't warranted. I could do all the manual programming without a problem, but if I used the macros to do it, it scrambled the decoder memory.

By "NMRA warranted", do you mean "having received the NMRA compliance warrant"?

All that means is that the NMRA "tested" them, and that they passed the "test".

However, if you look at the full range of decoders available today, you'll find that many of the top brands/models are not "warranted", and some of the brands/models with less-than-stellar reputations are.

There a number of reasons why any given decoder may not be submitted to the NMRA for testing:  Outdated testing gear/procedures used by the NMRA, competitive (dis)advantage, cost, etc.

Also, the most likely reason the CVP macro didn't work has nothing to do with the NMRA conformance warrant.  The reset process is decoder-specific.  For example, to reset a Digitrax decoder to factory defaults you write an "8" to CV8, for NCE, you write a "2" to CV30, and so on. 

That's the same reason the decoder reset function built into NCE systems won't reset other brands of decoders  - It sends NCE-specific commands.

I'm glad you like your CVP system, but please don't use that as an excuse to spread incorrect information.

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Posted by N6VC on Friday, February 08, 2013 2:52 AM

I'm not trying to discredit anyone's product. I am happy Digitrax has a warranted product now. Because of my experience, I felt people should be cautious when purchasing equipment. The NMRA warrant is an important thing to look for.

The capacitor inrush current is momentary, not continuous. Once the capacitor is charged the circuit becomes steady state. If the speaker is allowed to remain in the circuit, the possibility of a continuous load is there.

Personally, I've never had a problem with my system and sound decoders.

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