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Digitrax Advice

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Digitrax Advice
Posted by oldline1 on Saturday, June 03, 2017 9:37 PM

After a move I currently have packed away these Digitrax items:

 DB150 Command station, PS515 Power supply,  DT200 Throttle-full, UT4             Throttle-utility, UP5 Walk around plug-in panels *5 ea)
I'm currently building a new layout in a 14x16 building and was thinking of converting to the radio/Duplex EVO system. Will any of these items be useful or work with the new system? Would I be better off selling it all as a set and just starting over with the EVO?
Would I be better switching to NCE? Contrary to the sometimes angry comments I have seen about negative comments about Digitrax I have not been impressed with the way they respond to questions or help. I'm not well versed in electronics and DCC so I find it all confusing. When asking questions they tend to blow me off rather than try to help.
Anyway............I would appreciate some advice with this possible change.
Thanks,
Roger Huber
 
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Posted by Paul3 on Saturday, June 03, 2017 10:57 PM

The great thing about Digitrax is that it's all compatible with each other.  Your DB150 will work with the EVO.  Your DT200, UT4, etc. will all still work with the latest systems.

The question is what do you really need?  I ran my 25' x 50' layout with just a Zephyr, a UR91, and some DT400R's.  I ran with up to 5 operators, some with sound.  If all your engines have sound and a bunch of cars have light/sound, then  you might want to use the 5 amp systems.  Otherwise, the Zephyr is plenty, especially if you're the only operator.

I do like my wireless Digitrax throttles, and the DT200 throttle is just not fun to operate, compared to the DT402 or UT4's.  My recommendation is to sell the DT200 for sure.  Keep the UP5's.  The UT4 you might like due to the knob.

The DB150 is a decent system.  The EVO is better.  The Zephyr is suitable for most layouts.  I guess it depends on how you want to use 'em.

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Posted by oldline1 on Saturday, June 03, 2017 11:12 PM

Paul,

Thanks for the info. I will probably just be operating by myself or possibly one other. The layout will only have 7 steamers on it at any time. My engines will all have sound and cabooses and passenger cars will have working marker lights but no interior lighting.

What's the issue with the DT200? You said it's not fun to operate and I have to agree. My previous layout only used the Super Empire Builder set and the DT200 for a short time before the move. I liked the UT4 throttle.

I like the idea of not having to plug in a throttle all the time which is why I am considering the change.

Roger Huber

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Posted by hon30critter on Sunday, June 04, 2017 1:06 AM

Hi Roger:

I have NCE at home and the club uses Digitrax. I love my NCE. I hate the club's Digitrax. Niether system is wireless, but in my opinion based on limited experience, I would choose NCE. Better displays, more intuitive. The only reason to consider Digitrax IMHO is if you want to use the advanced transponding features.

My 2 Cents

Dave

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Posted by oldline1 on Sunday, June 04, 2017 8:33 AM

Thanks, Dave.

I'm not a fan of Digitrax because of their lack of response to questions and the (to me) complexity of their manuals. I'm not interested in the high tech elements like transponding and turnout control with the throttle and all. My layout is ealk around with many hand thrown (Caboose Industries) operated turnouts among the Tortoises. There's no hidden track, staging yards or multi-track high speed mainlines. I basically want to be able to control trains without throwing block switches and have an occassional helper added to a road engine. I just would like the ability to operate without having to dance around plugged in cords.

The NCE seems to be simpler than Digitrax from my little exposure. Since I already have the SEB set I assumed it might be easier/cheaper to stick with Digitrax but if my current setup won't work well with the Duplex stuff them perhaps a change to NCE might be a better way to go.

I'd prefer RailPro due to the simplicity and lower cost but from what I have seen on youtube I think their steam sound is not very good and they don't seem to offer any better information after asking about it. More like, "buy it, you'll like it" which I can't swallow. One of the main reasons to have DCC to me is the sounds. I have several engines with older Tsunami's and they have great sounds to me.

Thanks,

Roger Huber

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Posted by richhotrain on Sunday, June 04, 2017 8:43 AM

hon30critter

Hi Roger:

I have NCE at home and the club uses Digitrax. I love my NCE. I hate the club's Digitrax. Niether system is wireless, but in my opinion based on limited experience, I would choose NCE. Better displays, more intuitive. The only reason to consider Digitrax IMHO is if you want to use the advanced transponding features.

My 2 Cents

Dave

 

I feel the same way as Dave. I have the NCE PH-Pro 5 amp wireless system and I love it.  Whenever I have the occasion to call NCE with a question or a need for technical help, they answer the phone and they are always responsive and helpful.

Rich

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Posted by ROBERT PETRICK on Sunday, June 04, 2017 9:07 AM

The good thing about Digitrax: there are a lot of users who offer info and advice.

The bad thing about Digitrax: there are a lot of users who offer info and advice. 

LINK to SNSR Blog

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Posted by CGW121 on Sunday, June 04, 2017 9:14 AM

The PS515 should be replaced as is is prone to failure.

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Posted by mfm37 on Sunday, June 04, 2017 10:20 AM

Are you sure you have a DT200 throttle? That throttle was the original "Big Boy" throttle and it was also the Big Boy's command station. It was packaged with the DB100 booster when it was available. The DT200 is a dead end. It will work with any Digitrax system as a throttle but only up to its own limits. Those limits include two digit (short) addressing only. It can no longer be upgraded (converted).

DB150 is a command station and 5 amp booster. It will work with any Digitrax equipment as either a command station/booster or booster. It will also work with other systems (including NCE) as a 5 amp booster.

The PS515 is a 5 amp AC power supply. It will continue to power your DB150 or any other manufacturer's 5amp or less sytem. Just like, Digitrax, NCE's 5 amp systems don't include a power supply. It will work with that as well. As far as it being prone to failure? Haven't heard about any more breaking than other brands. Mine is currently 12 years old and still working. I also have Magna Force MF615's that ere ten years old.

UP5's will work with any Digitrax system. They are extension jacks for throttles. You don't need them with Duplex radio but I wouldm not be without them. I'm old fashion and just can't get my head into 100% wireless.

UT4 is a  current throttle and it can be easily upgraded to duplex radio. You will need to add a UR92 to go duplex and the latest DT500D throttle should be on your Digitrax shopping list. They all just plug in to your existing equipment using a loconet cable.

So your choice on which way to go. If you stay with Digitrax, I have found price wise that complete sets are usually priced at or very close to the individual component total. Any current Digitrax set or component will work with any of their discontinued components. The only exceptions are the very old CT4 throttle and LA2.Those are from back on 1994 or so.

As far as NCE being more intuitive? I tried one and quite frankly got a little confused but I figured it out anyway. Same thing when I tried out an MRC sytem. That could be because I have been using Digitrax since 1996 and have no trouble figuring it out. You will get used to working with any system you choose.

Like the man said, there are plenty of people to answer questions. Your trouble will be to sort out the good info from the bad. I will admit that Digitrax tech support has never impressd me. With the notable exception of asking A.J. himself.(the owner)

 

Martin Myers

 

 

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Posted by CGW121 on Sunday, June 04, 2017 2:18 PM

The PS515 is prone to failure as per Digitrax itself. Mine failed and kind of slowly. i replaced it with a newer model and it cleared up what problems I was having.

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Posted by rrinker on Sunday, June 04, 2017 3:33 PM

 Everything is usable. That's th ebeauty of Digitrax.

The DT200/DT100 is actually quite usable as a 'train running' throttle. What you DON'T want to try to do is program with one of them. They are the reason Digitreax has a bad rap as "hard to use" - how can you program EFFECTIVELY when the throttle only has 8 buttons? You can;t even key in numbers. I picked up a DT100 on eBay for cheap a few years ago and I use it all the time to run trains, I don;t need 29 functions for my sound locos, I need a bell and a horn. And lights.

I have NEVER seen anything, especially by Digitrax themselves, that says the PS515 is prone to failure. It's a simple transformer, no active components other than that. You can;t use it to power the new Evo command station but it is fine for the DB150.

                                --Randy

 


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Posted by oldline1 on Sunday, June 04, 2017 3:34 PM

Just for information.......just what is wrong with the DT200 throttle? 

Roger Huber

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Posted by CGW121 on Sunday, June 04, 2017 3:41 PM

rrinker

 

I have NEVER seen anything, especially by Digitrax themselves, that says the PS515 is prone to failure. It's a simple transformer, no active components other than that. You can;t use it to power the new Evo command station but it is fine for the DB150.

                                --Randy

 

 

 

Again, I was having troubles with my Digitrax System doing weird stuff, so I CALLED Digitrax, and spoke at length with a tech. He was the one who told me the ps515 was prone to failure and I should replace it with a newer model. I did and it solved my problem. I will take his word, especially since it worked, over hearsay.

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Posted by saronaterry on Sunday, June 04, 2017 5:54 PM

I feel you should go NCE. I will take ALL your crappy digitrax junk off your hands for , say, $100? I will pay shipping. PM me?

Terry in NW Wisconsin

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Posted by oldline1 on Sunday, June 04, 2017 7:16 PM

saronaterry
I feel you should go NCE. I will take ALL your crappy digitrax junk off your hands for , say, $100? I will pay shipping. PM me?

If YOU think it's crappy junk why do you want it? I was just thinking about going radio or possibly switching to NCE and was asking for some help. Cutesy or inane comments don't help. Save it for amateur night at the comedy club. That's one of the big problems with the forums when people need some guidance and the morons come out of the woodwork.

Roger Huber

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Posted by mfm37 on Sunday, June 04, 2017 7:26 PM

oldline1

Just for information.......just what is wrong with the DT200 throttle?

Nothing wrong with it as a 'running throttle". It is limited to two digit addresses only and up to 5 functions. It can have two addresses selected. One on each encoder knob. As a two digit throttle, it works as well as any throttle being produced today.  I called it "dead end" because it has limits that I would not be happy with and there is no longer an upgrade path or repair available. (Digitrax can't get the parts anymore)

DT100 is a much better "running throttle" because it has more capabilties that users want nowadays. Short or long addressing, Up to 8 functions, and it was infrared equipped and there was a DT100R as well that is simplex radio equipped.

Martin Myers

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Posted by oldline1 on Sunday, June 04, 2017 7:37 PM

Martin,

Thanks for that explanation. I see your point. Like I said I had very little time using the old Super Empire Builder set so everything is close to new. That also explains a lot of my inexperience using the equipment.

I just ordered a new EVO system from YankeeDabbler on feebay. One other issue I had was the lack of ability to read back the CV's. I think this new purchase will help me through a few of the issues I experienced.

I'll just use the DT200 and UT4 along with the new DT500 in that set. I doubt if I'll ever have 2 other operators here but in case a miracle happens.....I'll be ready! So far I haven't found any fellow modelers close by here in the Ozarks.

Thanks for your input!

Roger Huber

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Posted by rrinker on Sunday, June 04, 2017 7:55 PM

 That's what happens when all the Digitrax haters jump in with a "change! change!" mantra - those of us who have not had one lick of trouble with our equipment are always willing to add more.

 If the only 'full feature' throttle you have is the DT100/200 (odd that you would have a DT200 with a DB150 - the DT200 was sold with the DB100 as the Big Boy set back in 1998. ), and you have not beeing using something like JMRI to assist with programming, no WONDER you are having issues. The DT500 in the Evolution set is light years beyond the old DT100/200. No multi-shift key sequences to access functions, and no odd "pseudo hex" notation for numbers above 99. The first throttle like that was the DT400 which came out some 14-15 years ago.

 What sort of issues are you having? Wiring up one or the other won;t be much different between brands. You still have a power supply input, and a connection out to the rails which most be good no matter what brand of system you have. The Evolutioon will also give you a dedicated program track, which means no more accidently reprogramming every loco, probably one of the more common issues with the DB150. Frankly, I'm glad they finally discontinued it, it should never have been sold as the command station for a 'starter' set, simply because of the ease with which a beginner could reprogram all their locos. Even the lesser (not by much) Zephyr didn't have that problem - part of why I bought one when I first got into DCC.

 It all depends on what your needs are. You can use the existing equipment with the Evolution set, even upgrade the UT4 to radio for just the price difference between the UT4 and UT4D. If you are runnign enough trains that you need the extra power, you can use the DB150. If it's mostly just you and your layout isn't barn size, just the Evolution system should be plenty, you can sell the DB150 to recoup some of the cost - and despite joking about taking it off your hands cheap, you can get a good bit for the DB150 on eBay simply because it IS still completely usable with any old or new Digitrax gear. If you sell the DB150, sell the PS515 with it. You will get more interest if it's complete and ready to use vs just the DB150 and the user has to get a power supply seperately. It took me forever to luck into an auction for an inexpensive DT100 - most of them go for a price that make no sense, at least, this was the case a few years ago when I got mine. The UT4 is handy for runnign trains too - no programming capability, it can ONLY run trains. Probably worth keeping and upgrading to radio if you don't want to always use the DT500 that comes with the Evolution.

                                      --Randy

 


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Posted by rrinker on Sunday, June 04, 2017 8:02 PM

 The DT100 is pretty tough, tooo. I think the shaft on the encoders is metal, not plastic, and it has real switches, not tactile domes. Like most things that Digitrax no longer supports, their reason is they can;t get parts. However, depending one what part it is - subsitutes are often available from electronic supplies like Mouser and Digikey. If you are so inclined, or have a friend who is so inclined - if something other than the main chip fries, it probbaly can be fixed. Problem is, Digitrax can't just throw any old part in there that happens to fit, it would change the circuit enough to require recertification for FCC compliance. But you the hobbyist at home can do pretty much whatever for your own personal use.

 I haven't broken mine yet, and that's despite hammering on the knob to change direction - from the DT300 on up, you can reverse your loco by clicking the speed knob in addition to using the direction button. The DT100 had no such thing, you have to use the direction button. I am mostly used to using my DT400 and DT402 throttles and forget that there is no click knob on the DT100.

                                        --Randy

 


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Posted by maxman on Sunday, June 04, 2017 8:12 PM

oldline1

 saronaterry

I feel you should go NCE. I will take ALL your crappy digitrax junk off your hands for , say, $100? I will pay shipping. PM me?

 

If YOU think it's crappy junk why do you want it? I was just thinking about going radio or possibly switching to NCE and was asking for some help. Cutesy or inane comments don't help. Save it for amateur night at the comedy club. That's one of the big problems with the forums when people need some guidance and the morons come out of the woodwork.

Roger Huber

 

 
Good grief, everyone take a breath.  I'm pretty sure he doesn't think it is "crappy junk".  He's just looking for a bargain if you happen to think it is junk.
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Posted by oldline1 on Sunday, June 04, 2017 8:57 PM

Randy,

Well, I'm not very savvy when it comes to electronics and computers so I really want and need to stay away from that stuff. I just don't "get it". I have no fellow modelers around here to fall back on and often the forums just have people that get so far off the subject they can't help much.

One thing that got me thinking about changing up my DCC system was the lack of being able to read back CV's. With my old stuff I managed to install several Tsunamis and get them sounding the way I wanted but it was a very hard road to go doing it. To make it worse the Tsunamis would sometimes go back to default settings if I left the railroad "down" for a while. Soundtrax is a great company & was very helpful in getting me straight but the CV experience had me convinced I needed a better way. The new EVO should make it easier. YES....I KNOW........JMRI will cure all my problems. That's what I keep reading and hearing but I don't understand nor want to understand JMRI and hooking my computer to my railroad just isn't going to happen. I'd go pack to DC before that happens.

I used my UT4 a bit before scrapping the railroad and moving and I really liked it. I'll just keep it and my DT200 and use them with the new EVO when I get things going again. I'll sell the DB150 and PS515 and use the money for some more Tsunamis or TCS decoders. I haven't tried a TCS but have heard good things about them. I'd like to hear their whistles but their site is limited to 4 of their offered 60 whistles. Bummer!

Thanks for your help and suggestions.

Roger Huber

 

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Posted by oldline1 on Saturday, June 10, 2017 4:37 PM

Maxman,

First I never said Digitrax was "junk" or "crappy" stuff. I did say I wasn't very impressed with the customer support offered by Digitrax and thought their manuals were confusing and needed improvement.

I asked for some serious advice from folks who are more knowledgable than I (almost anyone!) and got snippy comments. Some folks who replied were the ones who said my stuff was prone to failures and wasn't very good and I asked questions as to what the issues were. I thought those statements need clarification.

I claimed to not be well versed in DCC in specific, Digitrax in particular and in electronics in general. I only wanted to know if my present stuff would work if I upgraded.

One big problem with these forums and others is when someone needs some help a small percentage of people actually try to help, a larger percentage seem to think stupid and ignorant responses are called for and many more just drift off on non-related topics confusing everyone. It would certainly be nice if people could go here and find serious help without filtering out all the crap. All of us aren't expert at anything and need fellow modelers to help. Thankfully many folks are kind and considerte and truly offer great help or advice.

Roger Huber

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Posted by oldline1 on Friday, June 16, 2017 10:57 AM

Well for an update.

I ordered a new Digitrax EVO 5a plug in system. It will solve some issues as it will read back my CV's I've assigned engines, update my DT200 throttle, give me a better/more reliable power supply and still let me use my old UT4 and DT200 throttles giving me 3 to use now. The old DB150 and PS515 can be sold to someone needing a booster.

The EVO has a lot of features my original old Super Empire Builder set didn't have. I want to read back and I like having the connections for the programming track.

After thinking about the new layout and the design plus the lack of fellow modelers in my area to run trains I decided, for the money and all, I can live with the plug in and cables. I can use the additional money saved for a TSC sound decoder for my WM H-8 2-8-0.

Now to get the new railroad room finished and get track down to play with my new toy!

OH......and for those who claim the DB150 and PS515 can be sold quickly as folks really want them...............so far not even a question about them after putting them up for sale. SO.....don't continue telling people how readily saleable they are to others. It's obviously not how it works! lol

Many thanks to those who offered good advice and help with my questions. I appreciate your help!

Roger Huber

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Posted by maxman on Friday, June 16, 2017 4:07 PM

oldline1
First I never said Digitrax was "junk" or "crappy" stuff.

And neither did I.

If you go back through the posts and look, you will see that Saronaterry said that he would be willing to purchase all your crappy junk for $100 and was willing to pay shipping.

Then you posted back to Saronaterry asking him how come he wanted it if he thought it was crappy.

All I did in my post was attempt to point out that Saromaterry really didn't think the items were crappy, but was probably looking for a bargain.  That was just to point out to you that you might have over-reacted to something that was unintended.

Obviously I wasted my time.

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Posted by rrinker on Friday, June 16, 2017 4:40 PM

 Since eBay fails and shows a lot of things OTHER than a DB150 when the query is "digitrax DB150" it's hard to tell. Looks like 3 for sale right now, all full Super EMpire Builder Xtra sets, with a DT400 or DT402 throttle. One is duplex radio.  There are 2 sold ones this month, no completed but unsold. I guess it all depends on where you are trying to sell it. It's also nearing prime summer time and sales of ALL train stuff falls off sharply. This is when I look - because sometimes you cna grab a bargain because competition in bidding is low. Best time to sell is late fall, so there is still time to get the item delivered before Christmas, but not the week of any major train shows.

                               --Randy

 


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Posted by mfm37 on Friday, June 16, 2017 9:20 PM

I've always considered used pricing on Digitrax items based on their street price less the standard Digitrax repair cost. (just in case it takes a crap after I get it)

That being said, MSRP was $180 on the DB150. They were readily available for $150.  Repair cost is $35. That puts the maximum I would pay for a used DB150 at $100. plus shipping. I have one so not in the market, BTW.

With the power supply, I would stretch to $125 plus shipping. Those PS515's are heavy.

As I noted earlier the DT200 is a non issue. No repairs are possible and it is one of the oldest throttles made. So that is best offer material. I sold a DT100 a couple of years ago for $50 and was happy to get it. 

UP5's are keepers.

Martin Myers

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Posted by oldline1 on Monday, September 11, 2017 4:44 PM

UPDATE:

Well, I have purchased a new Digitrax EVO system for the new layout. It's the non-Duplex version. That leaves me with an excess DB150, PS515 and my DT200. I'll keep the DT200 and use it until when and if it craps out. The DB and PS are not needed from what I gather so I have been trying to sell them. Contrary to what some of you have stated there seems to be very little interest in the used items. Maybe the train show next year?

Thanks for all the help with this!

oldline1

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Posted by Renegade1c on Thursday, September 14, 2017 11:23 AM

oldline1

UPDATE:

Well, I have purchased a new Digitrax EVO system for the new layout. It's the non-Duplex version. That leaves me with an excess DB150, PS515 and my DT200. I'll keep the DT200 and use it until when and if it craps out. The DB and PS are not needed from what I gather so I have been trying to sell them. Contrary to what some of you have stated there seems to be very little interest in the used items. Maybe the train show next year?

Thanks for all the help with this!

oldline1

 

 

How big is your layout? Is it big enough to justify power districts? Do you have a large engine facility? The reason I ask is it may be worth keeping a the DB-150 as a booster and creating a second power district depending on the size of your layout. 

I have a fairly large layout (~700 sq feet) and have two primary power districts (DCS 100 on one, DB-100+ running the other) with 11 sub-districts using circuit breakers. This way is one part of the layout shorts, the whole thing doesn't shut down. 

Also with two staging yard and a fairly large engine facility I have the second power district so i don't have power issues. Granted I do power off the staging yards when not in immediate use it is still nice to have them on their own breaker so it doesn't effect main line operations.

Again it may be worth keeping the DB-150. In a pinch, it can serve as a back command station as well. if your new one craps out for some reason and you can still run trains while it is back in Florida for repair. Many of the layouts I go to for operating sessions keep a spare around ( I just get a zephyr for a good deal) just in case their command station gives out. 

Just a thought. They are still quite useful as a booster unit. 


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http://www.coloradofrontrangerr.com/

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Posted by oldline1 on Thursday, September 14, 2017 12:38 PM

Thanks. Good idea about keeping it for an emergency. Nobody wants it anyway! LOL

My layout is in a 14x16 building dedicated to the layout and my painting/work shop. I model the Western Maryland and it's a point to point line with code 83 Walthers track. Mainline is a single track with no hidden staging or anything. One medium sized yard (approx 60-70 cars). The engine terminal at the yard holds 6 engines plus the yard switcher and the far end is set up as a helper station. The grade out of there is almost 3.5% so I have a 2 stall enginehouse there with a pair of 2-6-6-2's as helpers. Pretty simple layout all in all. The most complex thing is a 90' turntable at each end of the run. No signals, detection or much anything else. Tortoises are being removed for Caboose throws. Since I have to be there to run the trains and switch I may as well be switchman too.

Thanks for the thoughts.

oldline1

 

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Posted by bearman on Friday, September 15, 2017 8:07 AM

I started off with a Digitrax Zephyr and agree about the confusing manual instructions.  I switched to an NCE PowerCab, mostly because I did not like having the Zephyr sitting on a shelf.  Turns out, in my opinion, that the PowerCab is a lot more intuitive when it comes operating and it has walk around capability.  My layout is a walk-in U folded dog bone.  I also like the information display on the PowerCab.  The only part of the PowerCab that is limiting is that you can only add one additional plug in panel when I would prefer at least two more.  The Zephyr is now dedicated to programming locomotives on the bench.

Bear "It's all about having fun."

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