Since my May 2018 DCC Corner article deals with using the LokProgrammer and also DecoderPro I thought it would be a good time to review the various computer interfaces that allow you to use these programs. For additional information please also take a look at my article in the June 2015 MR and do a search on this website for the particular device you have a question about–I have done a few posts in the past on this subject. I am going to cover the Digitrax PR3, Locobuffer, NCE USB, Sprog 3, and ESU LokProgrammer.
First let’s talk about what these interfaces do. In most cases they do what the name suggests–they act as an interface between your DCC system and your computer. Several also can function as stand alone programmers without having to be connected to your DCC system. The LokProgrammer is designed to only be used as a stand alone programmer. So let’s start with the true computer command station interfaces. I will give a brief description of each and get into the details in later posts.
The Digitrax PR3 is designed to operate as a computer’s interface with Digitrax systems. However, it can also function as a stand alone programmer. Digitrax also provides another program, SoundLoader, designed for loading new sound files into Digitrax sound decoders.
The Locobuffer has been around in various forms the longest and is designed to function only as an interface on Digitrax systems. It cannot do any stand alone programming and acts only as an interface between the computer and the Digitrax system.
The NCE USB interface is similar to the Locobuffer in that it acts only as a computer’s interface with NCE systems. It is not a stand alone programmer per se. However the PowerCab system is light enough to be portable and can be used as a stand alone programmer.
Sprog 3 is a very interesting device as it is a self contained DCC system and interface. It is my go to programmer because it can program everything I have ever tried it on.
Finally there is the LokProgrammer. This device works with the LokProgrammer software on Windows computers and is optimized for programming LokSound decoders. You can use it to modify and load sound files to your LokSound decoders. It will not work with DecoderPro.