Thursday, April 24, 2008

Digital Command Control system review

Right so DCC...what's the craic...

This is a review of the major systems on the market:

Bachmann Dynamis: big screen, well laid out, intuitive controls, wireless and with the pro box (not yet released) you can have multiple handsets. Very nice, and it was to be the system for me, but after consulting various DCC people at recent shows and the DCC forum at the issue is the infra red wireless. To be honest, when this system was first announced, my brother and I were dubious, and experience in the field suggests we were right - big problems when you have a 'L' shaped layout, or someone walks in front of you etc - when that happens you can't stop crashes etc - not good.

What we really need is a radio wireless system (see the ecos version below just made available on the continent, but not in the UK just yet - that's radio wireless!) or bluetooth or perhaps even wi-fi, but infra red is a no no for me.

Hornby have the elite, which has a good screen and interface and is now NMRA compliant. However it's just too plasticky for me, you can't program routes (multiple points/signals at same time with one button etc) and the walkabout select is even more basic. It's ok, but not for me.

Lenz set 100 - all the features you need, but it's like a remote control - buttons not knobs for accelerate and decelerate - not my view of a decent model railway experience!

The Lenz compact: now this does have a knob, but is very basic in terms of display and is limited to just a few functions- no good for sound, so it would get out of date quickly I feel.

The set 90 does have a knob but is also low on functions and the screen is very basic too.

Gaugemaster prodigy advance - super system, but very expensive at £225 for just the basic set.

Digitrax have a good name and the features are good too, but I don't like the weird little knobs to control the locos.
Their zephyr system is much more like it, but the screen is basic and difficult to understand when programming, as it can only show 4 characters.
The roco multimouse has the best name (!) but again has a basic screen with few characters visible.

The NCE power cab is super, well priced and has a good screen/interface but the bizarre thumb wheel puts me off it.
The ZTC 511 is a super piece of kit and their is a handheld to go with it, the screen is good, controls are wonderful (like a real regulator) but it is way expensive at over £500 for what I would need. Shame.
The 505 is similar and chepaer, but loses some of the functions that make the 511 so good.

So, what to go for? Well, the gaugemaster would be great if it was cheaper. Well, look at this...below is the MRC Prodigy advance - gaugemaster just rebadge it!!!
So let's have a look on ebay, oh yes here's one, imported from the US at £159, not £225! Get in!


No comments: