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Digitrax Vs NCE systems

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Digitrax Vs NCE systems
Posted by Capt. Brigg on Thursday, March 03, 2011 11:08 PM

I've asked this question of a number of modelers and always get very biased answers, If you own it you love it. I've had my hands on both throttles and there are very nice things about both, but I finally need to decide on one or the other. Reasons I find for each:

Digitrax DT402D:

Good: Computer connection through the PR3, programming decoders and running a second loco.
          Loconet connection so everything is connected together.
Bad: The hand held throttle is awkward to hold with little buttons and knobs.

NCE Power Cab:

Good: Beautiful one handed throttle with thumb wheel for speed and well identified large buttons.
            Our club layout uses the radio controlled Power Cabs.
Bad: No computer interface for my home layout.

It's down to the wire here. I have most of my engines wired for DCC and do own a Zephyr, but want to go wireless and use my PC to run a second engine. I've heard rumors that NCE may have a computer interface in the works, but nothing for sure. Any suggestions that will tip the scales are greatly appreciated. I know you love what you own, but why?

Capt. Brigg:
Pacific Cascade Ry

Tags: Digitrax , NCE

Capt. Brigg Franklin
USCG Licensed Marine Officer
Certified crazy train chaser
www.pacificcascaderailway.com

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Posted by tstage on Thursday, March 03, 2011 11:55 PM

Capt. Brigg

I've heard rumors that NCE may have a computer interface in the works, but nothing for sure.

Cap'n,

A slight correction.  NCE already has an RS-232 serial port connector on the back of their PH Pro Command station for a computer interface   There is also a USB Interface board available for the Power Cab.

Tom

My web site: http://www.newyorkcentralmodeling.com

Time...It marches on...without ever turning around to see if anyone is even keeping in step.

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Posted by Capt. Brigg on Friday, March 04, 2011 12:04 AM

Tom:

I just scanned the NCE site and noticed the USB interface. It also states that the JMRI Decoder Pro program will work with the NCE system. Has anybody had any experience with this system they can share? This may well be the answer to my system selection dilemma. Geeked

Capt. Brigg Franklin
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www.pacificcascaderailway.com

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Posted by simon1966 on Friday, March 04, 2011 6:35 AM

Why don't you just add a PR3 to your Zephyr, it just plugs into the Loconet giving you the PC interface and JMRI control.   Then plug a UR92 into the loconet and add a wireless throttle and you have everything you asked for.   My Zephyr is the command station in just such a setup.

Re-reading your original post, I suspect that perhaps this is exactly what you are considering?  If you decide you prefer the NCE route then you will probably be able to sell your Zephyr without much problem.

One thing you do need to be sure of is to make sure that the NCE Powercab meets your expansion needs and what that entails.   The PowerCab experts need to chime in here, but I think that adding the USB PC interface and the wireless transmitter may mean that you have to add the SB3a booster as well? 

Now, again re-reading your email, much as I love my Digitrax system, it I were in your shoes and a frequent attendee at the club I would convert to NCE at this point so that my home throttle would work at the club.

Simon Modelling CB&Q and Wabash See my slowly evolving layout on my picturetrail site http://www.picturetrail.com/simontrains and our videos at http://www.youtube.com/user/MrCrispybake?feature=mhum

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Posted by tstage on Friday, March 04, 2011 6:45 AM

Brigg,

I have a Power Cab and the USB Interface but I've only played around with the latter a little bit.  Decoder Pro seemed to work fine but I was still trying to figure it all out.

Tom

My web site: http://www.newyorkcentralmodeling.com

Time...It marches on...without ever turning around to see if anyone is even keeping in step.

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Posted by Phoebe Vet on Friday, March 04, 2011 7:15 AM

Capt. Brigg

I've asked this question of a number of modelers and always get very biased answers, If you own it you love it.

Capt. Brigg:
Pacific Cascade Ry

Of course.  That's why they bought it.

No one else can tell you which one YOU will like best, no matter how many times you ask.

I have the Digitrax Super Chief (Duplex wireless) and  love it.  That's why I bought it.

Dave

Lackawanna Route of the Phoebe Snow

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Posted by Stevert on Friday, March 04, 2011 7:48 AM

Capt. Brigg

Tom:

I just scanned the NCE site and noticed the USB interface. It also states that the JMRI Decoder Pro program will work with the NCE system. Has anybody had any experience with this system they can share? This may well be the answer to my system selection dilemma. Geeked

Keep in mind that both of the NCE interfaces have limitations:

The PH Pro's built-in serial interface does not echo throttle traffic.  Depending on what you wish to accomplish with your computer connection, that "omission" could be significant.

And NCE's USB interface has a whole list of system-dependent limitations.

If you want a complete interface, with virtually no limitations no matter which of their systems you use it with, Digitrax's LocoNet with either a PR3 or  LocoBuffer is the way to go.

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Posted by maxman on Friday, March 04, 2011 8:18 AM

Capt. Brigg

NCE Power Cab:

Good: Beautiful one handed throttle with thumb wheel for speed and well identified large buttons.
            Our club layout uses the radio controlled Power Cabs.

Capt. Brigg:
Pacific Cascade Ry

I'm a little confused here, and I think we need to be sure we are talking about apples and apples.

Unless there is a new product in the PowerCab line that I'm not aware of, what your club is using is a radio ProCab, not a PowerCab.  So if you buy the PowerCab, you can use that at the club but you have to plug it in.  It will work the same as the ProCab, but does not have the radio feature.

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Posted by tstage on Friday, March 04, 2011 8:29 AM

maxman,

Although it's not mentioned on their web site, you can purchase a Power Cab and have it converted to wireless by NCE.

Tom

My web site: http://www.newyorkcentralmodeling.com

Time...It marches on...without ever turning around to see if anyone is even keeping in step.

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Posted by yankee flyer on Friday, March 04, 2011 8:53 AM

Capt. Brigg:
Pacific Cascade Ry

Hey Big Smile

I have the Power Cab with the USB port and an extra throttle. Works fine with decoder pro and you can use the Decoder Pro as an extra throttle but the Power Cab will only accept 1 additional throttle. Two on the Power Cab to toggle back an forth and one extra. I never tried to automate the Decoder Pro throttle. 
The Power Cab is all I need on my small 5' X 30' layout.

Have fun.

Lee

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Posted by maxman on Friday, March 04, 2011 9:38 AM

tstage

maxman,

Although it's not mentioned on their web site, you can purchase a Power Cab and have it converted to wireless by NCE.

Tom

Tom, thank you for that information.  I just called NCE and asked how much that conversion would cost.  Larry at NCE said that the cost would be $89.95.  In addition, the conversion includes the internal antenna.

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Posted by rrinker on Friday, March 04, 2011 11:36 AM

 I find the DT40x throttles easy to hold with one hand and turn the knob with my thumb, and click it for reversing. It falls easily to hand - I picked up a ProCab and it's HUGE, and I'm a big guy with big hands.

 If you have an iphone/ipod touch/Android phone, get a PR3, hook your computer up to the Zephyr via JMRI, and you have wireless throttles.

                          --Randy


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by Capt. Brigg on Friday, March 04, 2011 11:40 PM

I believe I mis-spoke. The club is running the Pro Cab-R, which is what I would be purchasing.
I think my first priority is a throttle that is comfortable to hold with buttons and knobs that are easy to work, with one hand. Of secondary importance is the Computer interface. My model RR club NCE throttle interface is also important, but somewhat less than the first two as they supply throttles for running sessions.

After spending some time at the NCE web site I am a little discouraged by the lack of clear information for new users. They reference a "System Reference Manual" but I can't find it anywhere on the site. I'm also unclear what an AIU is or how it fits into a system.

I've logged into the NCE-DCC yahoo group and hope to get some clarification there.

Thanks for all your input.

Capt. Brigg Franklin
USCG Licensed Marine Officer
Certified crazy train chaser
www.pacificcascaderailway.com

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Posted by mfm37 on Saturday, March 05, 2011 6:16 AM

Here's a link to the Pro Cab R manual.

Documents can be found in the Document Archives section of NCE's web site. It's linked on their home page.

Not sure about AIU. I run Digitrax.

 

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Posted by Flashwave on Saturday, March 05, 2011 6:25 AM

Personally, I use a Digitrax UT4R to run with, and steal a 400/402 to program or consist, then go right back to my UT4R. In either case, I prefer the palm-sizers to the bigger controls. The UT4 has the same large nob and directional flipper. It's downside, is you cannot turn off the track power, consist, or program, but for just running, I don't think it can be beat. Or rather,  one could likely beat it with a baby sledge and she'll still work.

In fact, word is that the UT4 was design specifically so it could run trains, and ijits couldn't be able to fubar the layout programming. You get stop, go forward, go back, and the noisemaker buttons. That's it.

The one thing I did like when I used a guy's NCE was the Macros option. Instead of throwing one switch at a time, you could prgram entire switch routes to a single number, and out of his staging yard, that was a handy thing. As far as hand-fit, the NCE version of the UT4 was nice, but I couldn't quite so mindlessly run it at the side of my leg like I could the Digitrax. As you say though, Bias.

My advise: Anything you need a 40X for, your computer can do. If you want a wireless throttle, get the UT4. Leave the fancy junk in the programming area. Unless you're running 28function MTH equipment, the UT4 will do what you need and then some.

-Morgan
PR, CEO of the Madison Railroad in HO. no, not that one, the one based off the City of Madison Port Authority.
Exchange Passes? PM me.  
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Posted by tstage on Saturday, March 05, 2011 7:02 AM

rrinker

 I find the DT40x throttles easy to hold with one hand and turn the knob with my thumb, and click it for reversing. It falls easily to hand - I picked up a ProCab and it's HUGE, and I'm a big guy with big hands.

                          --Randy

So am I, Randy.  I'm 6'-4".  The size of the Power Cab/ProCab throttle has never been an issue for me.  I guess it's what you're used to.

If size is an issue, NCE does make smaller throttles like their CAB-04 and -05s.  They, too, can be operated with one hand.

Tom

 

My web site: http://www.newyorkcentralmodeling.com

Time...It marches on...without ever turning around to see if anyone is even keeping in step.

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Posted by jalajoie on Saturday, March 05, 2011 7:48 AM

As you must know by now, I own both a Digitrax and an NCE system. I did briefly compare both a DT400 and a PowerCab for size and surprisingly, except for the display area, they are almost the same with (spelling for wide?) and thickness. I also found the PowerCab to be light and I could hold it in my hand all day long without any problem.

I use both the DT400 and the PowerCab with one hand and with either the right or left hand doesn't matter. The only throttle that doesn't feel right in my hand it the MRC, it is really wider than the others.

  

Jack W.

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Posted by selector on Saturday, March 05, 2011 10:07 AM

Jacques, le mot en anglais pour largeur est "width". Smile

Crandell 

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Posted by Stevert on Saturday, March 05, 2011 10:22 AM

Flashwave
The one thing I did like when I used a guy's NCE was the Macros option. Instead of throwing one switch at a time, you could prgram entire switch routes to a single number, and out of his staging yard, that was a handy thing.

The Digitrax DCS100 command station has similar turnout support, but they call it "routes" instead of "macros".  I believe the difference is that NCE's macros can also contain commands other than switch commands.  But for your example (a yard throat) there is no difference.

And if you use DS64's to control your turnouts, they also have route capability, including cascaded (nested) routes.

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Posted by jalajoie on Saturday, March 05, 2011 10:27 AM

selector

Jacques, le mot en anglais pour largeur est "width". Smile

Crandell 

Thanks Crandell, it is noted.

Jack W.

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Posted by jwils1 on Saturday, March 05, 2011 11:43 AM

Here is a size comparison of a DT40x and an NCE Procab  (if I can get the link to work).  Click on the photo to see it larger.  Both throttles are excellent and both have some nice features.  It just depends on which one best suits you.

Jerry

Rio Grande vs. Santa Fe.....the battle is over but the glory remains!

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Posted by CSX Robert on Saturday, March 05, 2011 12:11 PM

Since you already have a Zephyr, it will cost quite a bit more to go with NCE(around $400 for Digitrax, but over $550 for NCE).  However, although I am a Digitrax user, in your situation, I would still strongly consider NCE since that is what your club uses.  You could get some of your money back from the Zephyr by selling it.

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Posted by rrinker on Saturday, March 05, 2011 12:30 PM

 Nope, no Blackberry, yet. Just iOS and Android. If you ask me, since a large part of my job is setting up email systems, Blackberries with their antiquated external server and sending stuff out via their dedicated servers can't go away fast enough. All other smartphones can connect directly to ie Microsoft Exchange without extra 'stuff' Lack of apps vs iPhone and Android doesn't help - slow to change, fast to fail.

                   --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by Hamltnblue on Saturday, March 05, 2011 1:09 PM

Wow, this probably the most head spinning thread on the subject.  The responses are apples and oranges mixing starter systems in with large systems.

To the OP.  Are you looking at a starter system or a larger 5 amp type system?

 

Springfield PA

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Posted by Stevert on Saturday, March 05, 2011 2:35 PM

maxman

 

 tstage:

 

maxman,

Although it's not mentioned on their web site, you can purchase a Power Cab and have it converted to wireless by NCE.

Tom

 

 

Tom, thank you for that information.  I just called NCE and asked how much that conversion would cost.  Larry at NCE said that the cost would be $89.95.  In addition, the conversion includes the internal antenna.

But, the radio throttle will only work with an RB02, and as far as I know the RB02 is only supported by either the PH Pro system or an SB3a.

So you're not really converting the Power Cab system to radio, you're just converting the Power Cab "dumb" throttle only when used with a different system, to radio.

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Posted by Hamltnblue on Saturday, March 05, 2011 3:03 PM

Actually converting the powercab throttle to wireless isn't possible if used as the command station.  This is because the track power is generated from the throttle. It's sister, the procab is another subject and can be changed.

Springfield PA

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Posted by maxman on Saturday, March 05, 2011 3:17 PM

Stevert

But, the radio throttle will only work with an RB02, and as far as I know the RB02 is only supported by either the PH Pro system or an SB3a.

So you're not really converting the Power Cab system to radio, you're just converting the Power Cab "dumb" throttle only when used with a different system, to radio.

If you would go back and read the original post, the OP said that his club was using radio PowerCabs.  He has since posted again and changed that to radio ProCabs.

Since I was confused, I said that I didn't think the PowerCab could be converted to radio.  TStage corrected me by stating that the PowerCab could be converted to radio.

He is correct.  I spoke to NCE and they confirmed that.  So, if he buys the PowerCab and wants to use it at his club, he can have it converted.

Nobody said anything about converting the PowerCab system to radio.  And yes, NCE says that if you convert the PowerCab to radio, you can still use it for its original purpose.

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Posted by Hamltnblue on Sunday, March 06, 2011 8:30 AM

The powercab is a system. It's all contained in the handheld.

It's interesting that that they can convert the cab to radio and still keep it's original functionality though.

Springfield PA

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Posted by rrinker on Sunday, March 06, 2011 10:57 AM

 There's a lot of space to work with in there! Laugh

          --Randy

 


Modeling the Reading Railroad in the 1950's

 

Visit my web site at www.readingeastpenn.com for construction updates, DCC Info, and more.

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Posted by jwils1 on Sunday, March 06, 2011 12:21 PM

Are they saying that the Power Cab throttle can be converted to radio and used as a radio cab at the club, but when used as a Power Cab system at home (no SBa) it can only be used as a tethered throttle?

Jerry

Rio Grande vs. Santa Fe.....the battle is over but the glory remains!

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