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Product Review - CVP Easy DCC

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Product Review - CVP Easy DCC
Posted by twcenterprises on Wednesday, October 03, 2012 7:36 AM

For those who are interested, or have been wondering about CVP Product's Easy DCC system, I offer the following review.

First, a bit about myself.  I've been in the hobby 25+ years, and up until now, have been DC only.  I model in HO scale, and have somewhere between 60-75 locomotives.  I had acquired a set of 4 Intermountain F units with sound, and wanted to be able to have more.  I know the MR staff uses this system on their layout, so I got one for myself.

I ordered the system by email, included my credit card number.  I ordered the Extended Starter System, and the SBZ7 to DBZ7 upgrade - since I needed the autoreverse for reverse loops.  The subtotal was 499+a few bucks for UPS.  I got an email the next business day, confirming the order and saying everything was in stock.

A couple days later I arrived home to a box on my doorstep.  I opened it and found a packing slip, credit card receipt, several smaller boxes, some foam packing peanuts and considerable documentation.  I unpacked all the boxes and checked the contents.  Everything was accounted for and arrived in good order.

I followed the instructions for hooking everything up.  Since my layout is still in the early construction phase, I only had a short length of track available for testing.  I wired up the booster (I used the Autoreverse side for testing purposes), connected the command station, and the respective power supplies.  I did not adjust the voltage switch for the booster's power supply.  Apparently it's only good for 120 watts, using a lower voltage allows higher amperage.  It was on the 15 volt setting, and for HO scale, I left it there.

The ZoneMaster Dual (DZB7) has a 4-page instruction booklet.  Since my installation was fairly basic, all I needed to do was run wires from the track outputs to my track, connect the power supply, and the data bus cable from the command station.  I did not adjust the trip current for the Autoreverse feature for my testing.  I did set the "AR" switch to on, thus enabling the autoreverse feature.

The command station has 2 built in throttles.  I hooked up the data bus cable, and the DC power wire and powered up the system.  I did try the programming track feature.  I was unsure if my "test mules" (Intermountain sound-equipped F-units) took the addresses or not.  My guess was that the decoders need more current on the programming track than the system delivers.  I opted to use "programming on the main".  I consulted the Intermountain instructions, and was able to successfully change the addresses with minimal difficulty.  I set the addresses on two units so I could try running them as a pair.

The extended system comes with a wired, handheld walkaround throttle, a throttle bus extender circuit board, and unassembled fascia plate kit.  I was able to solder the kit together in just a few minutes, but for those who don't know how to solder, you will either need to get someone to solder it for you, learn to solder, or see about getting assembled kits.  **IMPORTANT** Make sure to read and understand about the terminating resistor on the last fascia plate kit.  I did not install the fascia plate kit as of this writing, I use the plug on the extender board for testing the walkaround throttle.  I wired up the extender board with the DC adapter and cable to the command station (with the power off, of course!)  I powered it all back up and everything seemed to work as expected.  I was able to use the walkaround throttle with minimal difficulty.  The instructions explained how to set the throttle's channel/ID, and how to assign a loco/consist.

I had seen on a Digitrax system how one can assign more than one locomotive to a throttle/channel, and looked through the instructions on how to do this.  I was a little disappointed to find that, as far as I could tell, you could only assign one address to any given throttle/channel/ID at a time.  I'd have to set up my units in consists.  So I set the pair of programmed units into a consist, following the instructions for setting the second to run "backwards" (running them back-to-back), and assigned them to the handheld throttle.  I ran them back and forth a few times, trying out the various functions.  Headlights, horn, bell, brakes, start-up/shut-down, brake squeal, etc.  These decoders also have a "horn doppler" effect, but my track wasn't sufficiently long enough to test this feature.  One of my units had an intermittent stall, I'm not sure if it's dirty wheels, something with the decoder, or the BEMF feature (which is supposed to speed-match adjacent units).  Running by itself, I observed no issues.  Once I had read the instructions, and tried everything a couple times, I found using the system, assigning and programming to be fairly easy and intuitive.  I found that I did not need to refer to the manual on a regular basis, only for reminders when I forgot something ... and even then, I could usually figure it out on the command station without having to double check.

The DBZ7 comes in a black case, I observed no issues with assembly or finish.

The throttle also came assembled and ready to use.  Again, assembly and finish had no issues.

The Command Station consists of the faceplate, keypad, LCD display, power supply (separate, one of those "wall warts", as some call them).  The back is open and exposed circuit board.  It's clearly intended to be mounted.  I fabricated a couple wooden angle brackets, trimming a notch to clear the plug for the DC supply.

The Extender board was little more than a circuit board.  The DC power supply doesn't come with wires.  I used a length of 2-conductor doorbell wire to connect the two.  Again, this is clearly intended to mount on the benchwork somewhere.  You could save a few bucks if you don't need the DC adapter, it needs 12 volts.  When I mount this to the benchwork, I plan to use some plastic stand-offs so it's not mounted directly against the wood.  You could probably use a couple plastic beads if needed.

Overall, I was satisfied with the quality and assembly the factory did.  I might have liked to see the command station in a full enclosure, for those of use who don't plan (or have a place) to mount it.  I might have liked to see the extender board in an enclosure, or at least on a mounting plate or track.  As noted above, I was a bit disappointed in the inability to assign more than one locomotive to a throttle without the need for consisting.  Also, there is no ability to run a DC/non-decoder locomotive.  The system does support accessory decoders, but I don't currently have any, so I was not able to test this feature.

In closing, I'd give this system 8.5 out of 10.  I would definitely buy again, even knowing what I know now.  You might say a review like this before buying would have helped me be an informed buyer.  Hopefully it will help some of you with your decisions.

If anyone has any questions, or observes something that I missed, feel free to message me, or make a reply.

Brad

EMD - Every Model Different

ALCO - Always Leaking Coolant and Oil

CSX - Coal Spilling eXperts

  • Member since
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Posted by BIG JERR on Wednesday, October 03, 2012 8:00 AM

very nice review, always liked the EASY DCC system ,very nice people too ! but found a killer price on a used digitraxx ...Jerry

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Posted by tstage on Wednesday, October 03, 2012 8:38 AM

Brad,

Very helpful review.  Thanks for taking the time to write it! YesCool

I originally looked at CVP before I chose NCE.  I've done similar reviews myself on the NCE Power Cab, CAB-04p throttle, and Smart Boosters (both SB3 and SB3a); with the hope that the information is helpful in some way to others.

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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    January, 2006
  • From: Northeast OH
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Posted by NeO6874 on Wednesday, October 03, 2012 9:07 AM

twcenterprises

I had seen on a Digitrax system how one can assign more than one locomotive to a throttle...

If you're thinking of the DT400 throttles, it's actually two (2) throttles in one enclosure. So yes, you can control "two" locomotives from "one" throttle (from the "human holding stuff" standpoint), but the DCC system sees it as two discrete throttles.

twcenterprises

you could only assign one address to any given throttle/channel/ID at a time...


This part sounds more like you're thinking about how some people will assign two decoders the same address (e.g. an A/B set as "1001", because their road numbers are "1001A" and "1001B") ... though I could be misunderstanding what you're trying to do here ...

-Dan

Builder of Bowser steam! Railimages Site

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Posted by twcenterprises on Wednesday, October 03, 2012 6:28 PM

NeO6874

twcenterprises

I had seen on a Digitrax system how one can assign more than one locomotive to a throttle...

If you're thinking of the DT400 throttles, it's actually two (2) throttles in one enclosure. So yes, you can control "two" locomotives from "one" throttle (from the "human holding stuff" standpoint), but the DCC system sees it as two discrete throttles.

twcenterprises

you could only assign one address to any given throttle/channel/ID at a time...


This part sounds more like you're thinking about how some people will assign two decoders the same address (e.g. an A/B set as "1001", because their road numbers are "1001A" and "1001B") ... though I could be misunderstanding what you're trying to do here ...

You are right, if you programmed 2 decoders with the same address, they can be assigned as 1 address to a throttle.  This works well if you run an A/B set that never uncouples.  Since my prototype had equipped most (if not all) of its units with couplers, and differing road numbers, and the fact I plan to assign B units on an as-needed basis, you can see how this can become more of an issue.  Fortunately programming a new consist is pretty easy and straightforward, and only takes a couple minutes - if that long.

Brad

EMD - Every Model Different

ALCO - Always Leaking Coolant and Oil

CSX - Coal Spilling eXperts

  • Member since
    February, 2004
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Posted by farrellaa on Thursday, October 04, 2012 10:49 PM

Very well written and impartial review!. I too had looked at the CVP system and planned to purchase it when I had saved enough $$$ (they are a little more than others) but I found a Digitrax Zephyr for $77 on Ebay and couldn't pass it up.  I am very happy with the Digitrax and now feel that it was a better choice for me. I have since upgraded to a DT402D wireless throttle and rarely use the Zephyr console as I have a large layout.

Thanks for your time and interest in informing others of your experience.

    -Bob

Life is what happens while you are making other plans!

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    August, 2006
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Posted by trainnut1250 on Friday, October 05, 2012 1:10 PM

I have used CVP Easy DCC for the last 12 years or so.  Several of my friends and I have the systems on our layouts.  We operate on a regular basis using CVP.  At the time I purchased the system (2002) CVP'S wireless was one of the most reliable out there.  The others have since improved to the point where the difference is now negligible.

Each system has its advantages and disadvantages.  I think of CVP as a no frills, rock solid, reliable system.  I use the wireless system and have been very satisfied with its performance.  CVP has great customer service if you should need it.

I would recommend that you join the CVP yahoo group to get info on any questions or issues that you might have with the system.

Guy

see stuff at: the Willoughby Line Site

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    August, 2010
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Posted by nssd70m on Friday, October 05, 2012 10:48 PM

Thanks for the review Brad. Earl...

Modeling the Southern, Norfolk & Western and Norfolk Southern in HO scale.

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