Digitrax DCS52 Zephyr Express Review: An A+ Entry Level DCC Solution

Here’s what we’ll cover today:

  • Why is the Digitrax DCS52 Zephyr Express a favorite?
  • What do you get with the DCS52 Zephyr Express Set?
  • Basic Digitrax DCS52 Specs
  • Key benefits of the Digitrax DCS52
  • DCS52 Reviews: What people are saying

One of the most popular Digitrax products we sell is the DCS52 Zephyr Express All in One Command Station/Booster/Throttle. With the DCS52, you can run multiple trains simultaneously, without blocking.

The entry-level Zephyr Express is a great foundation for your LocoNet System, to which you can add components later on down the road. It’s ideal as an expansion set that can scale with other Digitrax components you may already be using on your layout.

Why is the Digitrax DCS52 Zephyr Express a favorite?

Just a few reasons why most everyone loves the DCS52 Zephyr:

  • It’s an affordable, user-friendly entry level digital train control system, built on the Digitrax legacy of quality.
  • It is a smart choice for beginners just getting started in DCC because it’s simple to use and works with any size layout.
  • It can grow with your model railroad – you don’t need to start over as you build or re-design your layout.

What do you get with the DCS52 Zephyr Express Set?

You’ll receive the following components:

  • DCS52 All-In-One Throttle/Command Station/Booster
  • PS314 Power supply
  • A Zephyr Express Quickstart Guide & Express Manual

Basic Digitrax DCS52 Specs

Here are some basic highlights of what the DCS52 offers:

  • Compatible with LocoNet
  • 2.4”-inch color LCD Screen with backlit keypad
  • Built-in USB computer interface
  • 2 and 4 digit addressing
  • Smooth speed control
  • 20 addresses. 20 throttles: that’s that’s the max number you can run at the same time

Use DC power packs as additional throttles with Jump Ports

  • Use one or two smooth DC power packs as throttles to control DCC equipped locomotives.
  • Functions on locos controlled by Jump throttles stay active.

9000+ Locomotive Addresses

  • For locomotives without DCC decoders, run using Address 00
  • For easy 2-digit addressing, use address # 01-127
  • For 4-digit addressing, simply use the # painted on your engines as the address

3.0 Amps of Power to run multiple trains.

  • Booster outputs 13V DC for safe operation in N and HO scales.

Function Control at your fingertips…

  • 29 functions (F0-F28) to control lights & sound
  • Function 2 is a special non-latching key that can be used to sound the horn for as long as the key is held down.
  • Constant brightness lighting. Headlights can be directional or independently controlled (depending on decoder).

You’re in control of over 2000 stationary decoder addresses

  • Get access to stationary decoder control for turnouts and other devices.
  • Control 2000+ stationary decoder addresses.

All locomotives can be consisted…even analog ones!

  • Universal consisting is Digitrax’s preferred method.
  • For basic consisting, you can program decoders to run on the same address.
  • For advanced consisting, only advanced consist capable mobile decoders are allowed.

Program Your Decoder Like a Pro

  • Easy, integrated read/write programmer can read and write all CVs.
  • Supports paged & register mode programming, as well as direct programming, which is Digitrax’s preferred method.
  • Program decoders on your layout with easy operations mode programming

Ready to expand? Digitrax makes it easy to add radio or IR via LocoNet. Simply plug in a Digitrax UR90 or UR92 receiver, then add your IR and/or Radio throttles.

Digitrax DCS52 Reviews: What are the Pros?

Overall, model railroad hobbyists love the Zephyr Express. Common praises often focus on the ease of use (even for DCC beginners), affordability, and its many features and functions.

  • “It was so easy to use, even my 7-year-old grandson had it figured out in no time.”
  • “The screen & buttons are well-lit and clear to read.”
  • “A+ on the instruction manual. Made it easy to understand.”
  • “If you’re new to DCC, I highly recommend buying the DCS52. Great product.”
  • “It was a long time since I last worked on my layout; I had this running in about 10 mins.”
  • “I have a small layout and needed a cost effective DCC solution. I found it in the DCS52.”
  • “I have some old DC locomotives I’m working to convert to DCC. With the DCS52, I can still run the old DC locos with no issues.
  • “Intuitive menus & a solid display. Setup was fast & easy even though I’m a DCC novice.”
  • “I had the older DCS-50 Zephyr, and this DCS52 has similar controls but it is more user friendly. Was easy to program my locomotives using the screen prompts.”
  • “Impressed with the PR4 interface. Got an adapter for my Mac to connect a USB cable from to a port on the Zephyr.”

DCS52 Cons: What needs improvement?

The Digitrax DCS52 is widely favored as a great entry-level DCC solution; if you research model railroad hobby forums for DCS52 cons, you’ll typically see a few remarks that:

  • Compare it to other DCC systems such as NCE, which some folks find to be even simpler.
  • Mention portability. That’s because out of the box, the DCS52 is a stationary unit – if you want something you can walk around with, you’d need to install a portable throttle, or upgrade to the Digitrax Evolution (read more about that here).

Most people find the Digitrax DCS52 well suited to smaller layouts; if your model railroad layout is larger, the Digitrax Evolution gives you the ability to effortlessly control your trains from different locations from around the layout.

All in all, many model railroaders will agree that the DCS52 is an excellent, affordable DCC solution that adapts to scale as your model railroad layout evolves.

Nightwatch Trains is proud to be an authorized dealer of quality Digitrax DCC & Sound products. See what we have in stock & ready to ship now.