Whats the best ho scale DC controller?

 
  thrillhouse Beginner

Hello everyone,

Just wondering what your thoughts are on ho scale DC controllers are? Which are the best value, most reliable, etc. I'm currently thinking of buying two controllers, those being:

(1) CDA #202 Inertia handheld throttle at $129.95 from J&J hobbies.

Looks pretty good, with inertia throttle & brakes. Don't know if it needs a power pack or not?

http://jjhobbiesonline.com/store/catalog/product_info.php?manufacturers_id=41&products_id=73

(2) Morley Vector Controller at $199 inc. postage direct from their website.

Also looks like a great controller, but no inertia throttle or brakes. But does come ready to plug in. Also has quite a good review from AMRM. Plus has to controlled outputs which is a positive, although not really needed.

http://aus.morleycontrollers.com/shop/shopexd.asp?id=72


Having a hard time deciding which is better as they both have good features, so just wondering if anyone would want put their two cents in as to what the best ho scale dc controller is?

thanks

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  anzac1959 Chief Commissioner

Hello everyone,

Just wondering what your thoughts are on ho scale DC controllers are? Which are the best value, most reliable, etc. I'm currently thinking of buying two controllers, those being:

(1) CDA #202 Inertia handheld throttle at $129.95 from J&J hobbies.

Looks pretty good, with inertia throttle & brakes. Don't know if it needs a power pack or not?

http://jjhobbiesonline.com/store/catalog/product_info.php?manufacturers_id=41&products_id=73

(2) Morley Vector Controller at $199 inc. postage direct from their website.

Also looks like a great controller, but no inertia throttle or brakes. But does come ready to plug in. Also has quite a good review from AMRM. Plus has to controlled outputs which is a positive, although not really needed.

http://aus.morleycontrollers.com/shop/shopexd.asp?id=72


Having a hard time deciding which is better as they both have good features, so just wondering if anyone would want put their two cents in as to what the best ho scale dc controller is?

thanks
thrillhouse

I  too once had this decision to make and it was about 2 weeks before the Petersham convention, and in the latest AMRM in their products columns they were writing about the NCE DCC power cab starter controller . I spoke to Gary from MRRC and he showed me how it works and I bought one on the spot for $275 and they were down to $200 when the $us += $aus and its heading that way again. Go DCC . There is also a very interesting flick on youtube from a guy who has installed a decoder to the track and runs all his DC locos that way. So that way he hasn't fitted decoders to his locos
  M636C Minister for Railways

I rather like the Hammat and Morgan Clipper.

It has a taper wound rheostat, if that impresses anyone....

I lke centre-off reversing, too
  Roachie Chief Commissioner

Location: Kadina SA (formerly NSW)
I'm a DCC "nut", but having just read the latest issue of Model-Railroad-Hobbyist on-line, my interest was pricked in the RailPro system.

I know the OP was asking about DC controllers, but by gum, I could never recommend that anybody stick with that old-fashioned type of operation. Sure, the controller/s may be a bit cheaper, but then you've got to have complex block sections, switches etc.

Have a look at some of these youtube clips before making any decisions.

Even the DCC systems that most of us are using are ancient technology by today's standards.



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xk0WLpqwfO0



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6uL69dp0qmA

Unfortunately, I have too much invested in the "old" NCE system, so I doubt that I will ever change over to Railpro, but gee whiz, it looks the business to me!!!

Roachie

PS: I would vote for the good old H&M as a good DC controller.
  miktrain Deputy Commissioner

Location: Adelaide SA
(1) CDA #202 Inertia handheld throttle at $129.95 from J&J hobbies.

Looks pretty good, with inertia throttle & brakes. Don't know if it needs a power pack or not?

http://jjhobbiesonline.com/store/catalog/product_info.php?manufacturers_id=41&products_id=73

(2) Morley Vector Controller at $199 inc. postage direct from their website.

Also looks like a great controller, but no inertia throttle or brakes. But does come ready to plug in. Also has quite a good review from AMRM. Plus has to controlled outputs which is a positive, although not really needed.
thrillhouse

I have used a CDA (earlier model without the inertia) and hated it the slide controls are hard to do smoothly. Yes it needs a power supply.

As some others have asked have you considered DCC? Not that I like the NCE but they are cheap

Tony
  Bill Robinson Station Staff

Location: Manangatang
Thrillhouse - I have used a couple o Morley's for years on me layout and they're great. Nice, solid, simple, value for money and service cannot be faulted. DC is nice and simple, cost effective and reliable.

DCC zealots - Yawn......

Anyway, enjoy! Bill
  TheBlacksmith Chief Commissioner

Location: Ankh Morpork
Unfair to call those advocating DCC zealots. DCC is far and away the best way to control a model railway system, and anyone who thinks otherwise is ignoring the obvious advantages. Sure, there is a compelling argument that it can be expensive to convert a large number of existing locomotives to DCC and in some cases, those models have crappy old motors that consume far too much current to be converted anyway.

But for someone starting out fresh, you would be nuts not to begin with DCC control. It is like trying to argue that a rotary dial telephone is better than a modern cell phone.
  Iain Chief Commissioner

Location: Concord, NSW
Mr Blacksmith, with deepest respect I am not entirely sure what the "obvious" advantages are. Certainly claims that wiring is simplified seem to be wrong as you still seem to need blocks and special wiring for points. The whole question of programming decoders seems to be a particular black art and the controllers seem to have been designed to be overly complex and hard to use.

The critical question Thrillhouse needs to be asked is what sort of railway is he operating?

Iain
  Roachie Chief Commissioner

Location: Kadina SA (formerly NSW)
Mr Blacksmith, with deepest respect I am not entirely sure what the "obvious" advantages are. Certainly claims that wiring is simplified seem to be wrong as you still seem to need blocks and special wiring for points. The whole question of programming decoders seems to be a particular black art and the controllers seem to have been designed to be overly complex and hard to use.

The critical question Thrillhouse needs to be asked is what sort of railway is he operating?

Iain
Iain

Iain,

I reckon the argument you are putting forward would be similar to the one that was probably put forward around 110 years ago by those folks who thought that this new fangled thing called the "motor carriage" was far too complex to ever take the place of the good old horse and buggy!!!! Sure the motor car was complex (by comparison to a horse) and they had to learn new skills in order to be able to drive one etc etc. But the advantages (presumably) out-weighed the problems.....otherwise I'd be a skilled horseman instead of a skilled four wheel driver and should I have decided to do a trip to Cape York I would have needed to allow about 2 years instead of 2 months!!!

Like I said earlier, the DCC that most DCC users are currently wrapped-up in (myself included) is already 20-odd years old and as such, is pretty well out of date...in the same way that the Model T Ford was superseded by more modern cars.

That new Railpro system looks to be the ducks guts, but to my mind it would only be feasible to be installed by a new-to-hobby modeler or somebody for whom money is no object.

I certainly agree with Blacksmith though.....if somebody is just in the process of building a layout they would be CRAZY (just my opinion) to even consider using DC....even if their proposed layout is only going to be a plain oval of track.

Roachie
  SA_trains Deputy Commissioner

Location: ACT
Mr Blacksmith, with deepest respect I am not entirely sure what the "obvious" advantages are. Certainly claims that wiring is simplified seem to be wrong as you still seem to need blocks and special wiring for points. The whole question of programming decoders seems to be a particular black art and the controllers seem to have been designed to be overly complex and hard to use.

The critical question Thrillhouse needs to be asked is what sort of railway is he operating?

Iain
Iain


As for DC controllers, sorry really can't help there. I just have a basic one for use on a test track because  I'm one of those DCC zealots.

If you are starting from scratch, then please read on. If you are just replacing a controller, then accept the advice on the various controllers suggested and stop reading my response here! Laughing

So DCC advantages.
Wiring is simpler, no block wiring is required to allow multiple trains to operate simultaneously. No "special" wiring is required for the points. If you used peco insulfrogs, you probably wouldn't need any point wiring. The only wiring I have done is for the frogs on my layout as they are "live" frogs. That said, some brands of points are not necessarily DCC ready but this is almost a topic in itself.

Technically, you do not need to program a decoder. They should just go. That said, if you did that, everything would have the same address! The only thing you really need to do is assign an address. This is usually well explained in the user manual. Any other programming is optional.

As for DCC being complex, well I would say the clear advantage of DCC is that you can make it as complex as you want to. The DCC system is sooooo powerful for not only operating locos, but operating points, setting routes, including signals and much, much more. The beauty of DCC is that you can do all of these things, or none of them!

So DCC disadvantages...
Well the only one I can think of, is that you will pay from about $20 upwards for decoders which equates to a bit of a premium for each loco. That said, I think the additional things you can do with having your locos controlled by DCC outweighs the additional cost of the decoder.

So, good luck! no matter whether you go DC or DCC, the important thing is to enjoy your model trains!
  NSWGR1855 Deputy Commissioner

I'm a DCC "nut", but having just read the latest issue of Model-Railroad-Hobbyist on-line, my interest was pricked in the RailPro system.


Roachie

PS: I would vote for the good old H&M as a good DC controller.
Roachie

The H&M controller is useless for many modern models if you want good low speed performance. Any properly designed transistor controller will produce much better motor regulation compared to old variable resistor controllers like the H&M.

I have converted to a NCE DCC power cab for my temporary test layout and get 10 times better low speed performance compared to my best home made PWM and regulated DC controllers.

Terry Flynn.
  viaprojects Train Controller



So DCC advantages.
Wiring is simpler, no block wiring is required to allow multiple trains to operate simultaneously. No "special" wiring is required for the points. If you used peco insulfrogs, you probably wouldn't need any point wiring. The only wiring I have done is for the frogs on my layout as they are "live" frogs. That said, some brands of points are not necessarily DCC ready but this is almost a topic in itself.

SA_trains

Start using a few NCE block Occupancy detector's (bod20) then block wiring is required for the layout.
  hosk1956 Deputy Commissioner

Location: no where near gunzels
Mr Blacksmith, with deepest respect I am not entirely sure what the "obvious" advantages are. Certainly claims that wiring is simplified seem to be wrong as you still seem to need blocks and special wiring for points. The whole question of programming decoders seems to be a particular black art and the controllers seem to have been designed to be overly complex and hard to use.

The critical question Thrillhouse needs to be asked is what sort of railway is he operating?

Iain
Iain

The critical question was that thrillhouse asked about DC controllers, he didn't ask about DCC.

Wayne
  dthead Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
The critical question was that thrillhouse asked about DC controllers, he didn't ask about DCC.

Wayne
hosk1956

I agree completly, someone has asked for help, and we DCC converts seem to have gone off on a tangent, and have really not helped the guy at all. I like my NCE DCC system, but that was not the question.

The two alternitives are good as  he  asked.  IF he can  solder and built electronics, jaycar have a model RR kit. Your local hobbyshop may have some controllers too.  Gaugemaster is another name to look up.

One point to be aware is the older  controllers are ,w ell getting old. One pften saw them a model railway shows in the 2nd hand section.  Beware of a 2nd hand unit, some are very old, dated, and can be dangerous, unless you know what you are looking at. The well respected H&M often is a good chice in the 2nd hand market, as long as it is in good condition and not modiefied.

there must be other DC brands and controllers out there we can reccomend.

I consider DC controller the topic, and not DCC.  Let's help the guy who asked for help, not our enlightened latest and greatest......

Regards,
David Head
  miktrain Deputy Commissioner

Location: Adelaide SA
I agree completly, someone has asked for help, and we DCC converts seem to have gone off on a tangent, and have really not helped the guy at all. I like my NCE DCC system, but that was not the question.

I consider DC controller the topic, and not DCC. Let's help the guy who asked for help, not our enlightened latest and greatest......
dthead

While the question was about DC controllers, there is the point that we could also be saving the OP some $$$. Buying a DC controller then later changing to DCC would be much more expensive.
At least if the layout were wired properly there would not need to be any changes as proper basic wiring for DC is the same as for DCC - double isolate all sections and no common wired track, keep the common back at the power supply (in the US this is called house wiring) Apart from not having isolated sections for holding locos I don't make any changes re DC/DCC and even run them on the same layout at the same time. In fact I have run from one to the other and back again on more than one occasion on Paradigm and never had a problem.

Tony
  Bill Robinson Station Staff

Location: Manangatang
zealot
ˈzɛlət/
noun
noun: zealot; plural noun: zealots

  1. a person who is fanatical and uncompromising in pursuit of their religious, political, or other ideals.


Two things stand out:

1. Relevance - As already noted, from the start DCC responses didn't answer the member's query at all, videos even, some make a pretence of answering him, most don't. Is DCC that important? No. Just because you believe in it Thrillhouse must know? No. There is a clear disregard for context.

2. Tenor
The member's new and has asked a well worded and informed question that he has obviously researched and is genuinely considering. The tenor of responses from the DCC people?


Roachie: "I could never recommend that anybody stick with that old-fashioned type of operation." ie. His choice is old fashioned


Blacksmithy: "you would be nuts not to begin with DCC control. It is like trying to argue that a rotary dial telephone is better than a modern cell phone. " ie. Given he's asking about DC, he must be nuts?


Roachie  - back again after a longwinded story about cars: " they would be CRAZY (just my opinion)" ie. He's CRAZY?


Then the Mod who after looking like he was being fair thought he better finish with a backhander though I would hope unintended: "Let's help the guy who asked for help, not our enlightened latest and greatest......" He's unenlightened??




It looks a lot like zealotry to me Blacksmithy.



Thrillhouse, if you are still bothering to read this thread, please accept my apologies for the treatment that has been meted out here. You asked a good and proper question. There is nothing at all wrong with DC. It does the job for many many less vocal members of the modelling fraternity in service day in day out. Good luck with your choice and future modelling.


Anyway, try and enjoy! Bill
  dthead Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
"Then the Mod who after looking like he was being fair thought he better finish with a backhander though I would hope unintended: "Let's help the guy who asked for help, not our enlightened latest and greatest......" He's unenlightened??"

What ?   Let's be clear I wish the original poster to get info he needs. I apologise If you took it the wrong way, and not note how I were also wishin the direction of the thread to revert to helping the guy. A backhanded summary  still stands, those who advocate DCC may be  not helping the guy. I did not say the original poster was unelightened as he had  two controllers he was considering two controllers very well. Not fair to judge me or others, I'm think their advise is  OK if one want to consider DCC.  But I think DC controllers are the point and we should all help out with what he wants, not what we like ourselves.

We jusr do not know more about his layout, position, skill etc. I hope he can comment and let us know more.

By the way Bill, pulling apart everyone's post also does not help.

And I agree there is nothing wrong with DC. In fact I had to get a DC system working recently so I could test locos first before chipping, important to know if going DCC that the loco works before converting.

David Head

ps if I post as a mod I usually say so. If I post as a model railroader I do not. This iss the case for my posts in the thread so far, including this one.
  MtBeenak Train Controller

Thrillhouse,

Just my two cents worth...I have not ventured into DCC, but I have used standard, direct DC controllers (In fact I used a H & M unit for my garden railway) and the momentum type.  I am now starting a new layout in VR On30, which will be my retirement layout.  I am going DC for it, as I cannot face cutting open perfectly good running locos to install electronics and speakers which may or may not work.  The added expense is also a major issue.  I use standard Peco twin coil point motors. Fitting decoders and slow motion point motors to over 50 Peco points is completely out of the question.

With regard to momentum throttles, I found them to be frustrating when trying to shunt.  Direct DC controllers offer quicker response, particularly when trying to couple or remote uncouple over Kadee uncouplers.  My advice is to find a unit that offers momentum control for starting off and 'mainline' operation, but can be switched to direct control for accurate shunting.
  Teditor Deputy Commissioner

Location: Toowoomba
I have always found the CDA/EDA transformer controllers and additional plug in controllers very satisfactory, we have used them extensively in the Darling Downs Model Railway Club Inc.

You can get the Transformer controllers as a single or double unit, they have ease of use, adequate power (usually 2amps at least) for the majority of uses, in the case of the Transformer equipped controllers, you get controlled 0-12 volt, uncontrolled 12 volt and uncontrolled 17 volt AC for accessories.

The uncontrolled 12 volt can be used for accessories or additional 'non' transformer controllers.

Keep in mind that they have slide controls, not rotary, you have to make your own choice on preference for this aspect.

Another one the DDMRC Inc. has used is the Radio Control Systems (RCS) units, these are conventional DC but use a radio hand held throttle (NOT INFRARED), a separate transformer is required, to find out more about these go to the RCS website which I think still exists.

Either of these two brands I recommend (though the CDA/EDA is the least complex/daunting) they both give good slow speed as well as overall control.

The RCS, being radio, is not tethered to the layout and allows you to walk around with your trains, layout design has an influence on choice.
  Aaron Minister for Railways

Location: University of Adelaide SA
MtBeenak you can go with DCC control of your track and trains without having to fit decoders to points. Even if you do wish to go DCC point control you can keep your existing snap action motors. 'Cutting up' of perfectly good locomotives to fit DCC is also a complete exaggeration of the effort and actions generally required to fit DCC. If these are the ideas that keep you from taking up DCC, that's fine, but don't use your own misinformation to discourage others, it does a disservice to the hobby as a whole.
  CAP_gauge Junior Train Controller

I have used two CDA controllers and found them to be very good, on a wide variety of motors, ancient and modern. Both were simple controllers without inertia and brakes. I have used DC controllers with inertia and brakes but did not use those facilities for very long. For me they just seemed to be gimmicks.

I changed to DCC about ten years ago. There are times since then that I have questioned the wisdom of that move. It is not necessarily as straight forward as some would have you believe.

I am still using a CDA controller for testing locos that have not been fitted with decoders.

Regards,

Frank



Hello everyone,

Just wondering what your thoughts are on ho scale DC controllers are? Which are the best value, most reliable, etc. I'm currently thinking of buying two controllers, those being:

(1) CDA #202 Inertia handheld throttle at $129.95 from J&J hobbies.

Looks pretty good, with inertia throttle & brakes. Don't know if it needs a power pack or not?
http://jjhobbiesonline.com/store/catalog/product_info.php?manufacturers_id=41&products_id=73

(2) Morley Vector Controller at $199 inc. postage direct from their website.

Also looks like a great controller, but no inertia throttle or brakes. But does come ready to plug in. Also has quite a good review from AMRM. Plus has to controlled outputs which is a positive, although not really needed.

http://aus.morleycontrollers.com/shop/shopexd.asp?id=72


Having a hard time deciding which is better as they both have good features, so just wondering if anyone would want put their two cents in as to what the best ho scale dc controller is?

thanks
"thrillhouse"
  Albert Chief Commissioner

I use CDA controllers and they do the job nicely. Used a friends Morley once, nice but didn't like the "feel' of it. No detent between fwd and rev when you turn the knob.

I experimented with DCC (NCE Power Cab) and absolutely love it. Chipping modern locos was a breeze and using the USB with decoder pro made life easy. However my layout is large with many locos, the cost to convert over to DCC doesn't make sense with how the layout is operated. Yeah I know I could do it over time but DC works for me and I can use the money to increase the collection. If I was starting out now with model railways I would go DCC from the get go.
  miktrain Deputy Commissioner

Location: Adelaide SA
MtBeenak you can go with DCC control of your track and trains without having to fit decoders to points. Even if you do wish to go DCC point control you can keep your existing snap action motors. 'Cutting up' of perfectly good locomotives to fit DCC is also a complete exaggeration of the effort and actions generally required to fit DCC. If these are the ideas that keep you from taking up DCC, that's fine, but don't use your own misinformation to discourage others, it does a disservice to the hobby as a whole.
Aaron

You beat me to it, I was going to post nearly word for word.
As for the "difficult" chip fitting unless there is no room there really are none. Putting DCC in my Climax was a 30 second job and no tools needed, remove coal (no screws), remove shorting plug, insert chip, replace coal. Most locos are now DCC ready

Tony
  MtBeenak Train Controller

How silly of me! I forgot that model railways did not exist before the Internet or that everything you buy for a layout is DCC ready.  

When I started modelling if you wanted a local prototype you built it from scratch, and coal loads were not removable to clip in DCC chips.  Wiring often formed part of the frame of your mechanism, and the mechanism could be part of the structure of the body. How stupid of us not to build things in the 1970's and 80's with room for DCC chips and speakers.

What a dinosaur I am.  How dare I have an opinion.
  miktrain Deputy Commissioner

Location: Adelaide SA
How silly of me! I forgot that model railways did not exist before the Internet or that everything you buy for a layout is DCC ready.

When I started modelling if you wanted a local prototype you built it from scratch, and coal loads were not removable to clip in DCC chips. Wiring often formed part of the frame of your mechanism, and the mechanism could be part of the structure of the body. How stupid of us not to build things in the 1970's and 80's with room for DCC chips and speakers.

What a dinosaur I am. How dare I have an opinion.
MtBeenak

That may be so but the OP is talking choices NOW not 40 years ago. I bet you don't still use a rotary dial phone, they were quite common in the 70's and 80's, but things have moved on and got better in the world and also in model railways.

Nobody is saying that you can not have an opinion, but you should also let others have theirs.

Tony

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