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Bachmann, HO scale, E-Z Command DCC system

Reviewed in the December 2004 issue
Bachmann's E-Z Command system makes it easy to outfit a small HO layout with Digital Command Control (DCC). This new system was developed in partnership with Bernd Lenz, the inventor who gave his digital control system patent to the National Model Railroad Association (his system became today's DCC standard). It's a simplified "plug-and-play" package that's easy to use, economical, and meets the NMRA DCC standards. E-Z Command allows modelers to independently select and control the speed, lights, sound, and direction of up to nine DCC locomotives with a tenth engine on regular DC.

The E-Z Command system is sold by itself or in sets with an HO locomotive that has a built-in DCC decoder. The initial sets are offered with a choice of an Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe or Chessie System GP40, or a Norfolk Southern high-hood GP50. Additional road names and separate DCC-equipped HO scale FT, GP40, and GP50 diesels will be offered separately.

System components. Each E-Z Command system includes a control center, a wall-mounted 1-amp power supply, connector cables with plugs, a printed instruction booklet, and a DVD that explains and shows how it works.

The 4" x 6-1/2" x 2" control center has a plastic case with labeled sockets across the back. It includes a large speed-control knob and a row of buttons marked stop, direction (lighted arrows), and function. Ten numbered buttons in two vertical rows connect preprogrammed locomotives to the throttle. Bright red light-emitting diodes (LEDs) indicate which button is activated.

An 8-page, 8-1/2" x 11" illustrated instruction booklet explains how to assemble and begin operation of the E-Z Command system. It takes only a couple of minutes to make the track connections and plug in its wall-mounted power supply. The LED under the stop button and one of the direction indicators light up to indicate power is on.
Bachmann HO E-Z Command DCC system
Bachmann HO E-Z Command DCC system
Bachmann's E-Z Command system makes it easy to outfit a small HO layout with Digital Command Control (DCC). This new system was developed in partnership with Bernd Lenz, the inventor who gave his digital control system patent to the National Model Railroad Association (his system became today's DCC standard). It's a simplified "plug-and-play" package that's easy to use, economical, and meets the NMRA DCC standards. E-Z Command allows modelers to independently select and control the speed, lights, sound, and direction of up to nine DCC locomotives with a tenth engine on regular DC.

The E-Z Command system is sold by itself or in sets with an HO locomotive that has a built-in DCC decoder. The initial sets are offered with a choice of an Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe or Chessie System GP40, or a Norfolk Southern high-hood GP50. Additional road names and separate DCC-equipped HO scale FT, GP40, and GP50 diesels will be offered separately.

System components. Each E-Z Command system includes a control center, a wall-mounted 1-amp power supply, connector cables with plugs, a printed instruction booklet, and a DVD that explains and shows how it works.

The 4"x 6-½" x 2" control center has a plastic case with labeled sockets across the back. It includes a large speed-control knob and a row of buttons marked stop, direction (lighted arrows), and function. Ten numbered buttons in two vertical rows connect preprogrammed locomotives to the throttle. Bright red light-emitting diodes (LEDs) indicate which button is activated.

An 8-page, 8-½" x 11" illustrated instruction booklet explains how to assemble and begin operation of the E-Z Command system. It takes only a couple of minutes to make the track connections and plug in its wall-mounted power supply. The LED under the stop button and one of the direction indicators light up to indicate power is on.
The sockets on the back of the E-Z Command system's control center are neatly labeled for easy wiring of the power supply and track connections.
Programming locomotives. The E-Z Command control center has 10 programmable address buttons. Programming a locomotive to a specific address button is simple, taking about half-a-minute. All you do is push a couple of buttons. To keep track of the addresses, Bachmann provides places to write engine numbers next to their assigned buttons.

Basic programming is done on the main track, one locomotive at a time. Then the programmed engine must be removed from the track before you can program another locomotive. After everything is programmed, all of the locomotives can be placed on the track so operations can begin.

The instructions also explain how to add and use a separate programming track for use with consumer-installed decoders.

To operate a specific locomotive, press the appropriate address button and use the throttle knob and direction buttons as desired. While one locomotive is running, you can press another button to control a second locomotive. In theory, you could operate 10 locomotives, but two are all Bachmann recommends on the 1-amp power supply.
The system can also operate two or three low-current diesel units in a "consist" on a single address.

Other operating features. The simplified E-Z Command system doesn't allow you to adjust configuration variables (CVs), so it has a built-in momentum feature that smooths operation. Locomotives accelerate and slow down gradually, so the engineer has to plan ahead to stop at an exact spot. It takes only a few minutes to get used to operating with the momentum.

Since this is a DCC system, the engineer has to avoid other trains. In case of an emergency, pressing the bright red stop button brings all trains to an immediate halt. While everything is stopped, adjustments can be made in any locomotive's speed and direction settings. Once corrective action has been taken, pressing the stop button a second time resumes operation.

Pressing the command center's function button switches the address buttons into DCC function controls to operate headlights and the sound system on an operating locomotive. A second activation of the function button returns the controls to normal. Function 10 is set for headlight controls.

The control center includes provisions to add a separate Bachmann no. 44212 power pack and controller (not included) to operate a DC locomotive. A power cable connects the power pack to the command station so one DC model can operate using address button no. 10.
Each DCC locomotive has a built-in decoder and directional lights.
DCC locomotives. Bachmann offers the E-Z Command system in an economical set that includes a smooth-running diesel locomotive with a decoder. These locomotives have a plastic body with acetal plastic hand-rails, eight-wheel drive, a heavy metal chassis, printed circuit wiring, directional headlights, and E-Z Mate magnetic knuckle couplers.

Setup and testing. I connected the E-Z Command system to a loop of sectional track, plugged in two cables, and had trains running within 10 minutes. I had no problem programming the set's locomotive to any of the button addresses. The system also correctly programmed an Atlas Master-series HO GP38, and it was easy to operate both models simultaneously.

Overall, I'm impressed with the simplicity and economy of this DCC starter system. It provides the basic advantages of NMRA standard DCC in a form that isn't the least bit intimidating. The E-Z Command control system is a great way to get started with DCC.
Bachmann HO scale E-Z Command DCC system

Price: control system only, $95;
with decoder-equipped
GP40 or GP50 locomotive, $140.

Manufacturer:
Bachmann Industries Inc.
1400 E. Erie Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19124

Features:
1-ampere power supply
128 speed steps
LED indicators
Meets NMRA DCC standards
Plug-and-play design
Simplified, on-track
programming
Single stationary throttle

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