Andrew Fryer deepfat Show full post »
Pad-Ply-Pen
Using the Tesco method to understand this 
EVERY LITTLE HELPS
Other stores are available 
many thanks 
PPP
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AHJAY
Very long ago I wrote a series of articles about the DC-DCC transition and related decisions. It is generally neutral in relation to brands, focussing on what and why.

In the Manuals and advice" area of our website, look/search for <  DCC Advice #1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 etc. > They form a story that may help.

Here is the link to #1
https://www.dccconcepts.com/manual/dcc-advice-1-an-introduction-to-dcc-and-overview-of-model-railway-control/

regards
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Bunkerbarge
Just to add one thought regarding an earlier comment.  While it is possible to build the layout and then decide on how you want to control it and it is therefore possible to change the way in which it is controlled after it has been built, I really do think that it is a lot simpler to make the decision first and then build the layout according to that decision.

I'm sure that life is easier if you have an idea of what electronic equipment you need to incorporate and therefore accommodate within the build before you put it together.  I have no doubt it can be done but I am sure it would be so much easier to plan and build from the start.
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Iain Morrison wimorrison
I agree completely with you. 

I have recently helped couple of people who had ideas that wanted to eventually automate the layout but didn't know how automation works or how it could benefit them planning the automation before they built the layout - all they wanted to do was lay tracks and get trains running (understandable). In both caess I managed to convince them that it was beneficial planning the layout in the trial version automation software and simulating what they intended to build as it would help identify potential operational issues through simulation and also help the planning of feedbacks and blocks to be implemented during build.

One layout got through this process unscathed, the other looks very different from the pencil sketch as the simulation showed that it wouldn't work effectively for the intended purpose.

In both cases they weer able to accurately work out the bill of materials to eventually achieve their aim, and also create a plan of action that let them get rails down, trains running and implement their chosen solution gradually as funds permit. 

I am also assisting in the automation of a DCC layout that has been running for 15 years and this is involving a lot of rewiring as 'shortcuts, bodges and fixes' that have been applied over the years have not been documented and getting back to proper wiring was the only effective way to make it all work correctly

Iain
Iain Morrison
Modelling h0e using Z21 with iTrain automation and Railcom
There are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don't know we don't know
http://www.wimorrison.co.uk
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Andrew Fryer deepfat
All thanks for all the replies, but it makes me realise I am unusual that all I want is dcc black box and do everything from my PC phone etc. So while the ECOS unit and prodigy are good controllers I would not be using any of the buttons on there.  
So my next question is have you guys tried the DCC Concepts Cobalt Alpha power supplies with a SPROG III DCC Controller? My plan is to buy state of the art british tech and I think I can use this with BigBear. 
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Iain Morrison wimorrison
If you want a black box and to do everything from your phone then the Z21 is what you want - it’s black and the primary interface is a phone app, and because it is network connected it supports all the PC and Mac programs

no brainier given those requirements
Iain Morrison
Modelling h0e using Z21 with iTrain automation and Railcom
There are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don't know we don't know
http://www.wimorrison.co.uk
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AHJAY
While the combination you mention will work, I'd have to agree with Iain on this.... ''

Given your wish - The Z21 black version is a far better proposition in relation to functionality and reliability.

Ahjay
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Andrew Fryer deepfat
AhJay
The Z21 is nice but the layout control software it works with is either very expensive or hard to use and it is not particularly cheap given it is in my case just a black box. also I don't have an ipad or a smart phone so I'd just be using the PC interface.  Equally the Sprog 3 is cheap but only goes to 2.5 amps and it support more standards than the Z21.  So no ideal solution as yet for me, hence me waiting to see what you guys will do as I feel there is a huge opportunity here to come up with something that is reliable, easy to use and extensible.
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Briperran
The recommended Z21 is a very good system but for some reason you dont want to use that if you are looking at a cheaper alternative look at the
Digikeijs Dr5000 thats a lot cheaper not British but just over the north sea in Holland but in my opinion very much a second choice to the Z21.
If you want ultra cheap An Arduino DCC set up

Brian

 

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Iain Morrison wimorrison
I think that you will have more success finding the Philosophers' Stone than finding an easy to use, reliable and extensible DCC command station with the killer being reliable, that will meet your standards. PC control software isn't expensive, or doesn't have to be and as for hard to use, that is also subjective but with round two dozen software offerings in the market I am frankly amazed that you cannot match your 'needs'. I would also question your belief that a Sprog supports more standards than a Z21.

Good luck with your quest, when you find the Holy Grail on the way to the Philosophers' Stone please look back and consider us who have been using our command stations very happily whilst you have still been searching and looking for your Nirvana.
Iain Morrison
Modelling h0e using Z21 with iTrain automation and Railcom
There are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don't know we don't know
http://www.wimorrison.co.uk
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AHJAY
Yes, I understand that you want a lower cost entry.

Initially Sprog was a programming interface and it was evolved to do more leading to Sprog 3. The weakness we found while selling Sprog 3 was, unfortunately, reliability... It does not do well if used for other than a tiny layout with low power needs.

I therefore cannot in all fairness rank it with other options.

regards, Ahjay
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Andrew Fryer deepfat
Iain
I have Hornby Elite and Rail Master and that suits me fine excepting the reliability, so I am learning how to repair them. I only have a littel layout say 8m  x 6m it's a tailchaser with a figure of 8 over the the three beams that support my loft roof.  I am not too worried about lkots of throttles and I am not initially planning any kind of loc detecvtion or zones.  I only have a single bus for everything and 98% of the time everything works.  It's just that I seem to have gone througha couple of Hornby Elites and while Rail Master is suitable for my needs it only works with other Hornby stuff.  So I will continue my "quest" but in the meantime there is scenery to build and I do have a working setup.
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